Kerry Price Has “True Grit”

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Kerry Price and crew on board “True Grit” during the 2015 Woods and Water pre-events in Minnesota.

TODAY ON WOODY BOATER WE ARE TIPPING OUR CAPS to our friend Kerry Price. Kerry is a true gentleman and I am proud to call him my friend. One of the many highlights of the Woods and Water 2015 pre-events last September was to once again spend some time with Kerry – and to finally see his beautifully restored 1946 Chris-Craft Custom Runabout in person. (Today you can click on the images to enlarge them – Texx)

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The beautiful 20-foot post-war Custom looks great from every angle, at any speed.

During the first day of the pre-events, we joined a group of boats that included Kerry and his crew, and we had the opportunity to snap a few photos of “True Grit” on the Whitefish Chain of Lakes.

Their flagship post-war runabout, Chris-Craft only produced 369 20-foot Customs (including 3 prototypes) between 1946-1949, which makes these runabouts quite rare today. And many people consider the 20-foot Custom to be one of the most structurally complex Chris-Craft runabout designs of that period – probably so complex that they were expensive to build, thus the low production numbers.

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Vintage Post-War Chris-Craft sales brochure featuring the new 20-foot Custom Runabout – Image courtesy Chris-Craft Antique Boat Club archive.

Kerry Price found the 1946 Custom (Hull No. 92) in 2001, in a barn in Minnesota – which is where it had been sitting for over 40 years. The boat had almost all of it’s original hardware, but was in need of a full restoration. He hauled the old wooden boat back to his home in Austin, Texas where he began the restoration project in 2005.

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“True Grit” proudly on display at the Lake Minnetonka Rendezvous the weekend before the Woods and Water show. (Freedom Boat Service photo)

What makes this story special is that although Kerry loved old wooden boats, he had no previous wood working experience – so a complete self-restoration of this complex design would be a significant challenge. Almost every aspect of the restoration project was completed by Kerry, with some guidance from his long-time friend (and mentor) Jim Frechette, a local wooden boat restorer in Austin. Jim is also the current Past President of the Chris-Craft Antique Boat Club.

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Kerry and crew arrive at Moonlite Bay for lunch during Day 1 of the Woods and Water Pre-events on the Whitefish Chain of Lakes.

Kerry outsourced the custom leather upholstery, plating and commissioned Austin Machine Works to rebuild the 158HP Chris-Craft Hercules M engine. The eight-year restoration project (Kerry refers to it as a “journey”) was officially completed in September 2013. You could say that taking on a self-restoration project of this magnitude takes “True Grit.”

Kerry admits that this was a very challenging project for him, but enjoyed every minute of it. Prior to and during the project, Kerry also managed to assemble an impressive list of existing Chris-Craft 20-foot Custom boats, hull numbers and ownership information.

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The 20-foot post-war Custom has a certain presence on the water, a combination of understated elegance with a sturdy, traditional appearance – and they are wonderful to ride in.

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One last look at “True Grit” cruising on the calm, blue waters of Minnesota.

We noticed on Facebook that Kerry is currently vacationing in Australia, taking in the Rolex Sydney to Hobart Yacht Race and introducing himself to Koala Bears this week.

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Rolex Sydney Hobart Yacht Race – Photo from Kerry’s Facebook page.

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Rolex Sydney Hobart Yacht Race – Photo from Kerry’s Facebook page.

So let’s see if he notices that we are talking about him today and if he reports in from the “Land Down Under.”


13 replies
  1. Troy in ANE
    Troy in ANE says:

    Had the privilege of meeting Kerry in Palatka on the St. Johns in 2013. We met up again last February to have lunch in Austin, which included Jim and Fender. Really enjoy all their company and friendship.

    I am very excited to hear about Kerry’s newest adventure with his ’38 19′ Sports Runabout.

  2. Ron-Seattle
    Ron-Seattle says:

    Kerry will be glad to hear that R-20-306 is in Rob DaPron’s shop right now, finally getting finished after 10 years. “Beautiful Day” will be at the ACBS Spring Quarterly Meeting where we will participate in Seattles Opening Day of Yachting festivities.
    Darn it! Wish I could figure out how to get a photo out of my iPad that I could post!

    • Texx
      Texx says:

      Ron asked us to post this photo of his soon to be completed 20-foot Custom (Hull No. 306) which is currently at Rob DaPron’s workshop near Seattle getting some finishing touches by one of the best. – Texx

      • Kerry Price
        Kerry Price says:

        I am happy to see that you are rounding the corner and nearing completion of #306. Rob DaPron was kind enough to walk me through several steps along my own journey. It was great to meet both of you at Woods and Water.

  3. 51Resorter
    51Resorter says:

    Kerry’s Custom was the first Forum Member Project featured on Don Danenberg’s website. There is a brief story and lots of pictures of the restoration process.

    Kerry’s Custom also suffered some dock rash shortly after restoration. Never heard how the repair was done though!

    Kerry, your boat looks great!!

    • Kerry Price
      Kerry Price says:

      I am happy to report that the damage to my hull was repaired without any wood replacement and looks fantastic. Thanks to the good folks at the Antique Boat Center and Hagerty Insurance.

  4. John Baas
    John Baas says:

    Love hearing stories of the self-taught! For me that’s the coolest thing about this hobby. Talk about emotional ties to a boat…wow! Congrats to you, Kerry!

  5. Dick Hansen
    Dick Hansen says:

    Nothing to do with the story, but all of a sudden I’m not getting any of the pictures in the body of the text.

    • Texx
      Texx says:

      Dick – I checked 2 of my MS based laptops and my iPhone and the photos appear normal. The only thing I can suggest is to clear your cookies, in other cases that has helped. – Texx

  6. carole price
    carole price says:

    Behind every great boat builder is a great sandwich maker..reporting from Australia where the koalas are cute..this is Kerry’s first mate…Carole. Thanks so much for giving this great recognition to my extraordinary husband who gave this project his all for so many years…with his friends and family cheering him on every step of the way…we never doubted him for a monment..

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