Let’s Kick Off The New Year, With Some Old Wood – 82 Year-Old Wood


We would like to take this opportunity to wish all our viewers here at Woody Boater a Happy New Year and Prosperous 2012. And if your are thinking about making any New Years Resolutions… Here’s a quote from famous American author and humorist, Mark Twain – “New Year’s Day… now is the accepted time to make your regular annual good resolutions. Next week you can begin paving hell with them as usual.”

In traditional Woody Boater style, we are often more interested in looking back in history rather than what’s ahead in the future, so check this out.

Last week we received some great images from fellow Woody Boater Dane Anderson, of what is reported to be an all original 1929 Chris-Craft 24′ Model 3 Runabout.

Dane commented – “At this years Lake Minnetonka Antique and Classic Boat Rendezvous, hosted by the Bob Speltz Land-O-Lakes Chapter ACBS, Gene Grengs of Eau Claire, Wisconsin showed up at the docks with this beautiful, all original Chris Craft Model 3 Runabout. To me this is what the ACBS is about with preservation being the first principal.” – Dane Anderson

Thanks Dane – It’s just great to see and learn about these original 80 year-old survivors that are still out there, and on display at a local antique & classic boat show for everyone to see and appreciate. It’s also fantastic to see that Gene Grengs is maintaining and caring for the boat in it’s original, as delivered condition. (You can also click on the images to enlarge them too)

According to “The Essential Guide” by Jerry Conrad / Mariners Museum, Chris-Craft produced a total of 627 – 24′ Model 3 Runabouts between 1928 & 1931 (Hull #2002 – 2628) which included a few variations of a 24′ Sedan version, featuring a cabin-top over the two forward seat positions. Based on those production numbers, it must have been a popular selling model for the folks back at the plant in Algonac, MI.

1929 Model 3 Brochure Image - Courtesy of the Chris-Craft Antique Boat Club

It’s cool to see just how complete this old Chris-Craft Runabout really is, with it’s original interior upholstery, flooring and instrument panel and displayed with the original cork life preservers from back in the day. I zoomed in on one of Dane’s images and the script on the life preservers says: Adult – Armstrong Cork Company, Lancaster, PA. I don’t know anything about vintage 80 year-old life preservers, but it appears that they were manufactured by the same company that is now Armstrong Flooring.

The historical site says… “The Armstrong Company found new uses for cork, first with insulating corkboard and brick. Then, in 1906, it foresaw that the avenue to the future was laid with linoleum. A new factory rose from a cornfield on the edge of Lancaster, Pennsylvania, and in 1909, a year after Thomas Armstrong died, Armstrong linoleum was first offered to the trade.” You can click here to go to see the history of what was then the Armstrong Cork Company.”

Today there’s a Boutique Hotel on the site of the Armstrong Cork Company, and of course it’s called, what else… The Cork Factory Hotel and it looks like a cool spot if your ever in Lancaster, PA.

The black & white image of of the 1929 Chris-Craft Model 3 and the image above were taken from an original 1929 Chris Smith & Sons Boat Company Brochure, supplied to us courtesy of the Chris-Craft Antique Boat Club’s Archive. Having access to the massive archives is just one of the many benefits you enjoy by being a member of the Chris-Craft Antique Boat Club. If you are interested in learning more about the antique and classic boat hobby, or getting involved in the hobby, a membership to the Chris-Craft club is essential. To learn more on now to become a member, you can click here to go directly to the Chris-Craft Antique Boat Club’s home page.

Lastly, while I was searching through the Chris-Craft archives yesterday for this story, I came across a 1935 Chris-Craft Waterways Brochure which listed all the Chris-Craft dealers across the country in 1935. It’s interesting to see now many dealers they established in their home state of Michigan and in the state of New York, compared to the rest of the country at the time. It also makes you think that there are still probably a few old original Chris-Crafts just like Gene Grengs Model 3 Runabout hidden away in a barn or an old boat house somewhere in New York state. Check it out…

Thanks again to Dane Anderson for sharing his images and story with us here at Woody Boater. And stay tuned, we have a great line-up of stories for you this week to start off the New Year in style.

Happy New Year – Matt & Texx

19 replies
  1. andreas
    andreas says:

    I saw that boat at Lake Minnetonka show. She’s beautiful, except for the cover snaps screwed into the hullsides.

  2. m-fine
    m-fine says:

    They definitely sold a lot of boats in NY state in the early years. Many of them are still around and still in use on a regular basis.

  3. chad
    chad says:

    Sweet boat. I like the hemp rope touch.

    It’s also very cool to see the dealer list. It shows the same dealer of my boat as located in Three Rivers, Michigan, where she still resides.

  4. Jack Schneiberg
    Jack Schneiberg says:

    This brings to mind a similar boat I saw in Sister Bay, Wisconsin a couple of years ago at a Mariner’s Festival I attended. I believe the owner of the boat was a fellow by the name of Jack Bunda. According to local authorities, the boat had been originally delivered in Chicago and had then been driven up the western coast of Lake Michigan to Sister Bay. The boat was boat house kept and it was a very impressive boat house – full of memorabilia. Nothing except routine maintenance had ever been done to the boat, although I do think the original engine had been replaced -but not with modern power. The bottom was original, as was the stain, interior, decks and hardware. This boat was used on a regular basis by Mr. Bunda on the waters of Green Bay. Mr. Bunda passed away a couple of years ago…..and I wonder what became of the boat. Maybe I can find some pictures.

  5. Greg Lewandowski
    Greg Lewandowski says:

    Matt and Tex,

    Happy New year to both of you and your families. Thanks again for all that you do for the classic boat hobby and “lifestyle”. See you in Algonac in June, and


  6. Alex
    Alex says:

    Beautiful boat! Nice way to kick off the New Year, Texx.

    Re the dealer list Chad commented about, you’ll see E.J. Mertaugh Boat Works among them.

    The Mertaugh family is now in its third generation of wooden boat maintenance, restoration, and preservation. They no longer own E.J. Mertaugh Boat Works, having sold the marina 20 years or so ago, though that company still exists and operates in Hessel by that name, owned by Brad and Shelley Koster, servicing boats of all makes — glass, wood, and aluminum.

    The Mertaugh’s own Classic and Antique Boats (still in Hessel). This means Chris-Craft boats have been in this family’s blood and under their fingernails for 80+ years, about the age of the boat in this story! Jim Mertaugh, son of E.J., is 80 years old and every bit as well preserved — and original, ha! — as the boat too. That’s no exaggeration.

    I am doing a story for WB this year about the Mertaugh family and some of the preserved boats they have been servicing since E.J. piloted them up from Algonac (yes, all the way up Lake Huron to Hessel, pre- bilge pumps, radio, GPS, modern life jackets, doppler radar, insulated beer cooler, etc.).

    It will be a pleasure to interview the family — especially Jim — and write up the anecdotes. Those are things that should be written down and shared with the WB folks. And they will be.

    One other thing. I have always been told the Mertaugh’s were the very first Chris-Craft dealer. Not sure if that’s correct tho. If it’s not them, would be interesting to know who is / was.

  7. Jim Godlewski
    Jim Godlewski says:

    What an awesome boat. This is truly a fine piece of preserved history.
    I am surprised to see there was a Chris Craft dealer in Isle Royale Michigan. Does anyone have any history on that?
    Happy New Year to All…

  8. Paul H
    Paul H says:

    That must be the most truly original Chris of that vintage anywhere. What a great story, and a lovely boat. Authentic and really original boats are only going to get more rare. It is great to see the boat out and about and being enjoyed. I have two highly original boats, but nothing close to this. Would love to see this one sometime.

  9. Tom Mertaugh
    Tom Mertaugh says:

    I have the original franchise from February 1926, the original and on the top is NO 1. It is a beautiful colorful document. It is hard to believe that my Grandpa was able to get that done in 1925 – 26 with Hessel being 300+ miles north of Algonac. There are a lot of stories of Grandpa driving the boats from Algonac to Hessel, some come to mind of hitting a deadhead in Saginaw Bay, and jumping overboard to change the shaft and prop to be able to finish he trip to Hessel. I guess at that time, what else could he do? No radios or cel phones. I know he hauled gas in the rear cockpit in a barrel to be able to make the long trip. Alex, when you interview Dad and Dan and I, you will hear more stories like that.
    There are still quite a few original boats like the 24′ still in our area. Many of which were sold by E.J. Several of the boats are still in the same families, 3rd and 4th generations.
    At one time there was a box of the “original” sales invoices from E.J. Mertaugh Boat Works to the customers. It was always fun to see the date and price of the boats. That box disappeared 20 years ago. That was a shame. Just more history lost.

    • Texx
      Texx says:

      Thanks Tommy. We are certainly looking forward to our trip to Hessel this summer. Can hardly wait actually…

  10. Alex
    Alex says:

    Tommy, I think you just dangled a thick, medium-rare, 48 oz incentive in front of Texx. “Here Texxy Texxy Texxy. Come and get your nice, juicy, history.”

  11. Brian Robinson
    Brian Robinson says:

    I looked at the hull card for this boat and my suspicions were confirmed. This is a 1930 model 103, not a 1929 model 3. In fact it is a late 1930 model, shipped in July of 1930.

    • Texx
      Texx says:

      Thanks for the update Brian, good information to know. We will attempt to pass this information on to the owner of this very original Chris-Craft.

  12. DonD
    DonD says:

    Brian R,

    What does that hull card say for upholstery?

    I’m planning a trip to photograph that upholstery for research for #11047.

    I thought the throttle argued later?

    • Texx
      Texx says:

      Hi Don – If you are planning to photograph this particular boat, we have had a few inquiries from folks interested to see what the original tool kit looks like… please?

  13. DonD
    DonD says:

    My article in the latest Classic Boating magazine is on battery and tool boxes, along with a factory illustration showing the contents of toolkits for Chris-Craft engines, Kermath engines, and Chrysler engines.
    A different kit for each engine type.
    Renew your subscription for measurements for your Riviera tool and battery boxes.

    My father cannot pass a yard-sale. So far he has found about 40-lbs of wooden-handled screwdrivers, monkey-wrenches, bent spanners, etc.

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