The Okauchee Lake resident has turned a passion into a profession, making his living restoring the timeless mahogany boats at Bottoms Up, the business he runs from his home.
Chris-Craft was established by Chris Smith, one of a long line of boat builders, and was originally called Chris Smith & Sons Boat Co. The wooden boats were produced until 1942, when the Navy’s needs during World War II turned the company’s efforts to making suitable landing for the Armed Forces.
The last wooden Chris-Crafts came off the assembly line in 1963, a fact that contributes to the mystique of the boats today. The planks must be planed to fit flush against each other, relying on a thin layer of bedding compound to retain the fit. Only after each hole is bunged by hand can Bunda begin the equally demanding tasks of sanding, paint colors and a special spar varnish that is resistant to ultraviolet sunrays.
Each coat must be fully dry before Bunda begins the refitting process, putting back the trim, seats, wheel, gearshifts, etc.
The labor intensive process is why Bunda takes on no more than three boats at any given time. The long lives enjoyed by so many Chris-Crafts are actually testimony to mahogany, not man. Boat lovers, especially of these increasingly rare examples, treat each boat as a treasured individual. It will come as no surprise that these old and lovingly restored and maintained Chris-Crafts have appreciated markedly in value. Internal plank walls, called seating planks, give a smooth finished look to each cockpit’s sides. Wooden Boat Restoration is a small, hands on, firm that does very nice work in a large shop in the eastern shore of Maryland. These photos are from that website and other Wooden Boat Restoration projects are shown there also. The Bellingham Maritime Museum prides itself on its diverse collection of informative exhibits, boats and artifacts, models and photographs dating from the first native canoes to the present time.
The collection of about a dozen boats in various stages of restoration, are on display to the public at any given time.  These include a wooden hull boat, created by naval architect, Richard Poole who passed away before completion.
A collection of unique fiberglass and wooden vessels are being restored on museum premises. The only surviving PACV Hovercraft combat vehicle from the Vietnam Conflict, as well as a working, restored, WWII, Army DUKW are on public exhibit.  The MK I PBR, nicknamed the “Ugly Duckling” for its combat damage, was built in 1966 by United Boat Builders of Bellingham. One of the world’s largest salmon canning operations, Pacific American Fisheries operated on Puget Sound and in Alaska between 1899 and 1965, with headquarters in Bellingham along the Fairhaven waterfront. Founded by Arch Talbot prior to WWII, the Bellingham Shipyards established a national reputation for excellence in wooden shipbuilding and the pioneering of fiberglass boats.
This exhibit features illustrations of canoe designs and construction.  We hope to expand this collection in the future to include actual canoes and other artifacts. With a large Coast Guard presence in Bellingham, our exhibit has information on aircrafts, ships, facilities and boats utilized by the organization. A very early iron cannon found in Bellingham, whose origin and age is yet to be determined, is on exhibition, along with the mystery surrounding it.
BMM’s wide collection of artifacts include many antique items, such as a brass ship’s telegraph, a Clift Engine, made in Bellingham in early 1900’s and a 100 year-old steam engine from a sunken steam tug, “Charlotte”. Also on display are genuine vintage telescopes, and an Azimuth Circle, an instrument used to obtain bearings on objects relative to the ship.  A Navy Standard liquid-filled magnetic compass and an illuminated dial Pelorus navigation tool are fascinating to see. Location: Alliston, Ontario, Canada Seat for Classic Wood Canoe I am building a wood canoe, Rushton's Wee Lassie design, and want to have an appropriate seat. Does anyone have any pictures or know of some on the Net that I can look at for inspiration? The Wee Lassie approaches the sensibilities of a stringed instrument, and requires a similar deft hand to build.


I plan to hinge the back so it rests against the thwart when fully reclined so I can slide up and sit on the thwart for dry exits.
At under twenty pounds, the Wee Lassie could be hung up in the barn easily, tossed on the truck at a moment's notice, etc..
Location: Alliston, Ontario, Canada With a tack where each of 12 planks crossed 47 frames plus lots more for stems, keel and scarf joints, the original construction method involved more than 1000 tacks. Location: Alliston, Ontario, Canada I haven't given up on this project and will post results and pics when I have some. In the meanwhile, many thanks to those who indicated interest and provided advice and support. I am now looking at getting the Wee Lassie project back into gear, maybe a cane-back would look right for that one. When making potentially dangerous or financial decisions, always employ and consult appropriate professionals. By 1924 the company was making a 26-foot –long double cockpit runabout, the original Chris-Craft, bearing the distinctive dashed name in script typeface, which would become the company’s standard.
Wide bodied, shallow hulled, true pleasure boats, designed much less for speed than for comfortable cruising and conversation. Sleek, shiny rich wood grain glows through layers of carefully applied varnish: they are truly crafts, vessels made with great care and workmanship. They run off Chris-Craft’s own 6-cylinder flathead engines – often originals – so the engine may be as old as the boat. The dashboard has a few basic easy-to-read gauges and the steering wheels look like they come from vintage cars.
The boat’s body is screwed together, hundreds of screws connecting the sleek exterior to the internal frame.
As well as repair and maintenance, I also assist with locating available Chris-Crafts,” he said. While it’s common to put an entirely new bottom on an old Chris Craft, the sides and deck may be in good enough condition to require only stripping, sanding, staining, and new paint and varnish. His 22-footer, named Laurie Beth for his wife, won first place in the antique and Classic Boat Society event held In Lake Geneva. Using serial numbers, you can find out when the boat was made, how it was originally equipped, who signed off on it and what its original destination was.
The seats are leather benches snugged into cockpits, which are rimmed with matching leather padding.
George likes his customers to get progress photos of their wood boat as work is done on it.
The Bellingham Maritime Museum is a working museum with groups of volunteers taking on the many challenges to preserve and restore boats, artifacts and Northwest Maritime History. During WWII, Bellingham Shipyards was the largest privately owned shipyard in the United States and was the only Shipyard to receive 6 Navy ‘E” awards for excellence. In 2000, Fairhaven Shipyards employed 110 full-time employees.  Next door, All American Marine continues the tradition of boat building in Fairhaven by creating state-of-the-art, foil supported aluminum catamarans. Included in this section are charts of the San Juan Islands and a map of local lighthouses.  A large model of a 110’ Island Class Coast Guard patrol boat is on permanent display. The original markings can still be clearly seen, but it is unknown where it came from and who made it. The engine had been in at least two vessels previously.  BMM plans to recover the boiler and recreate the engine room for exhibition.
The ones I have seen on books for similar style canoes are a pair of ply plates on a pivoted thwart with a ply seat bottom, and I wanted something a bit more ornate and maybe more comfortable too. Cane seats have been suggested but I don't think I can make one and the ones I have seen for sale are all for conventional canoes. It works but the hinges are ugly so I will design the slatted version with hardwood dowel pivots.


The Wee Lassie would make a fine boat using glued cedar planks with frames or cedar strip and glass and the original builders, if brought back to life today, might just have gone with that. At first I was considering using 2 inch wide ply frames spaced a foot apart to tie the planks together as an alternative to glued lapstrake, but I am now thinking of butted seams with glass tape on the inside and Dynol on the outside.
I think I have solved the problem of getting butted planks (not lapped) to stay aligned while I glue the seams (if it works I will tell how it's done).
I just finished the replacement canoe for the one that was trashed in the fire last year; here's pics of the seat I did for that one. I found the sliding seat was unnecessary as the boat is much easier to get and out of than the plastic kayaks I was using; they have been dry for months now as this wood boat is lighter, faster and easier to paddle. The boats are made of imported mahogany planks, which must be kept at the proper degree of humidity so they are neither too loose nor too tight. The boat, which listed for less than $2,000 in a contemporary Chris-Craft catalog, is now worth somewhere in the neighborhood of $50,000.
Also, runabouts tend to be worth more than utilities, because there’s more deck surface and more fittings,” said Bunda. For the restoration of what would be called a “bone yard” boat that most would just cut up, rather than save, rebuild, restore, and give another boating life to. We like to think that at night, they are telling stories and reliving their adventures.  The USN PACV Hovercraft was manufactured on the Isle of Wight, England by British Hovercraft Corp. Bellingham Shipyards set the Navy’s quality standard, for wooden Minesweepers and support craft during both WWII and the Korean War.
Uniflite became one of the largest and most respected makers of fiberglass boats in the country.  The company was later acquired in 1984 by Chris-Craft, continuing to build the boats under their brand until they ceased production in 1989.
The Smithsonian Institution Traveling Exhibition Service and NOAA produced a special 20-poster exhibit set that explores the Coast Survey’s history, accomplishments, and scientific contributions.
The frames would only be required to add cross-grain strength so you may get by with as few as a dozen. I have started construction on a replacement for a wood boat that was destroyed, which will likely get a slatted fan-back seat as originally planned. Wee Lassie is still waiting for an opportunity to start as another boat building project got in the way. It’s a simple, beautiful boat, whose only purpose is to take you out to enjoying the water. Wooden Boat Restoration is noted along the eastern half of the US for their ability to deliver any level of finish that one wants for a wood boat. Richly illustrated with photos, charts, and artwork held in the Survey’s archives, these colorful posters provide a foundation for programs and exhibits about your organization’s resources and associations with boating, shipping, and maritime history. I will make the seat bottom with cross slats per JEM's pic to replace the first trial ply effort.
It was innovative in its time, the NY builders were not using what they considered traditional construction. Currently I am running trials on method of getting the seams accurately butted without stitching. I will probably use a variant of stitch and glue rather than glued lapstrake, but I am still experimenting with joint test pieces to ensure I get the strength needed before I start cutting. And, especially it’s about the sound,” said Bunda, firing up one of the Chris-Crafts he’s been working on.



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