Miss Maggie Mae


1930 Chris Craft - 26 Foot Upswept Triple Cockpit Runabout

Owner/Driver - Bobby Crabtree

In October of 2011, Miss Maggie Mae was hauled to the Vintage Race Boat Shop to winterize the motor, survey, winter storage and then complete refinishing along with drive line and motor upgrades, scheduled for the Spring/Summer of 2012. These first photos were taken at the owners dock, when we did a very quick survey to prepare our project punch list and estimate.



After a more thorough survey and winterizing the motor at our shop, we hauled to winter storage at Andrews Marine Service in Alton Bay. This is a brand new and very clean storage building, and Andrew personally moves each of our vintage wooden boats with special care.


Then on a beautiful spring day in June of 2012, we picked up Miss Maggie Mae from winter storage and hauled to our shop to begin our refinishing project. There were also quite a few mechanical upgrades that were required, along with a cracked windshield and damaged prop.


Once back at our shop, we hoisted the boat off the trailer, lowered onto dollies and setup for work. But before any work actually began, we took a batch of "before" photos.








Project Update - August 19, 2012


After all the hardware was removed, we spent a week of sanding therapy on the deck and hull sides, getting the hull surface very smooth and preparing for the first build coat of varnish. We started with 320 grit paper followed by ScotchBrite Pads.




boat varnish, spar varnish, marine varnish, varnish ingredientsWe then applied four thick coats of amber tinted Epifanes Varnish, sanding between coats with ScotchBrite Pads. The white deck seams were then painted by Jerome at JC Signs along with the gold leaf bow numbers and outlining the Chris Craft lettering on the hull sides. The bottom work has also been completed, starting with thorough sanding using 120 grit paper followed with ScotchBrite Pads on our trusty DeWalt random orbital sander connected to a large Fein Vacuum System. This provides for near dustless sanding, and keeps the shop nice and clean. This is very important for both health reasons and also to maintain a very clean, two-bay shop where there is constant varnish and paint work.








The four thick coats of Epifanes varnish were allowed to cure for two weeks while the bottom work was completed, and the cracked windshield glass was replaced by Carroll County Glass. Then we installed all the beautiful 1930 Chris Craft hardware. Each piece was carefully polished and then installed using the correct screws. This process takes some time but is perhaps the most rewarding part of the project, for with the installation of each piece of highly polished hardware, Miss Maggie Mae was getting closer and closer to rebirth and launching ceremonies.








Project Update - August 24, 2012

After all the deck hardware was polished and then carefully installed using the correct screws, the two engine hatches were next. We spent an entire day on this process and the photos below show the hundreds of screws for the many trim pieces, all installed by hand using a screw driver and all lined up correctly. Powered screw drivers are never used, for one tinny slip would scratch the trim piece and ruin a beautiful varnish job. This is truly a labor of love, and the results are always worth the effort !!!






After all the exterior hardware was installed with the correct screws all properly aligned, it was time to varnish the interior trim, including the aft seat back and the steering wheel. We also installed a Groco raw water strainer for the engine cooling system, located right after the water pickup fitting and before the coolers for the transmission and motor. We install there strainers on all our boats, for they filter and trap all the milfoil, pine needles and other debris before entering the coolers and engine. The replacement engine in Miss Maggie Mae is a warmed up 502 Chevy big block with a nice pair of exhaust headers and 5 inch exhaust pipes, connected to a Borg Warner transmission with a reduction gear.




Then it was finally time to install the aft cockpit seat assembly and flooring. We took some time to make sure all the pieces fit properly, shimming the aft seat back and securing the seat support with extra screws to ensure a strong snug fit. The flooring pieces were thoroughly scrubbed clean and the many leather upholstery pieces were also cleaned and then finished with a special  leather conditioner. The seat cushions on Miss Maggie May are all kapok filled and the sumptuous rich leather deserved special attention, so we took the time to do the job right.




The mid cockpit seating and flooring were next.


The front cockpit area took some time, first with the installation of a much larger capacity bilge pump, hose and thru hull fitting followed with the installation of the steering assembly with the freshly varnished steering wheel. We were on the home stretch and right on deadline, with our Launching Ceremonies only days away !!!




The propeller was sent out to AccuTeck in Dover to be reconditioned and blueprinted and our ace marine mechanic, Jim Kondrat began working on the steering wheel assembly and all the mechanical upgrades. After the new, larger bilge pump was installed, we also installed a new marine battery, a new impeller in the water pump and a new thermostat in the cooling system.






Finally, on August 31, 2012 it was time to hoist Miss Maggie Mae off the dollies, onto her trailer and set out for perhaps the most rewarding part of the project, Sea Trials. After a few more photos, our first stop was to fill both 30 gallon fuel tanks with fresh Sunoco 93 octane rocket fuel !!!





Then we hauled to the launching ramp at Roberts Cove Marina and floated Miss Maggie Mae off her trailer. We let the boat sit for a few minutes, visually checked all the systems and then tightened the drive shaft stuffing box. Everything looked good so we fired up the Chevy 502 big block motor and checked all the systems as the motor came up to the desired 142 degree temperature. Marine motors run cooler then car motors because they are always under constant load and run in a closed motor compartment. But all was not well, for the right exhaust header was running much hotter then the left side. We hauled back to the shop, removed the entire thermostat housing assembly and found/fixed a blockage. Then we hauled back to Roberts Cove, re-launched and this time the cooling system ran fine, with both exhaust headers running nice and cool. 



Finally, on September 2, 2012 it was time for our official Launching Ceremonies with the owner, Bobby Crabtree at the Wolfeboro public docks. And because it was Labor Day Weekend, we had a full crowd of spectators and helpers. We took our time and we all enjoyed the show, as we backed the trailer down the launching ramp, and Miss Maggie Mae floated off the trailer. We then turned the boat around at the dock, giving Bobby a clear path between the many spectator boats. The motor fired right up and the sound of that Chevy 502 big block marine motor through the twin 5 inch exhaust pipes was just magical. We let the motor idle for a few minutes and checked to make sure that the cooling system was working properly, with water gurgling out of the exhaust pipes. Then we sent Bobby on his way, for a magnificent Sunday afternoon cruise to his summer home in Moultonborough. It was a good day and a fitting end for our three month project, we thought.








But all was not well, the cooling system was functioning properly while idling at the dock, but acted up again while running at full speed. So we hauled Miss Maggie Mae back to the shop and took the entire cooling system apart. As suspected, the problem was a clogged oil cooler, plugged with all kinds of gunk. This is why we installed a Groco raw water strainer for the engine cooling system, located right after the water pickup fitting and before the coolers for the transmission and motor. We install there strainers on all our boats, for they filter and trap all the milfoil, pine needles and other debris before entering the coolers and engine. We also took the time to relocate the hatch stays to the proper location, forward of the hatches.




We then hauled Miss Maggie Mae back to Roberts Cove for more Sea Trials and finally, the cooling system was working properly. The motor ran at a steady 150 degrees both at idle and while running at speed under heavy load. The Chevy 502 big block marine motor just purred and the blue-printed propeller ran nice and smooth. After three months of refinishing work, this 1930 Chris Craft Triple Cockpit Runabout is now absolutely magnificent with four fresh coats of Epifanes varnish, bright white deck seams, two coats of Interlux Brightside bottom paint and all the polished chrome hardware. And after several rounds of sea trials and shop time the motor, drive line and propeller were now dialed-in and running smoothly, many thanks to our marine mechanic Jim Kondrat. And perhaps the best part of all, the water was flat and the two 30 gallon fuel tanks were filled with fresh Sunoco 93 Octane Rocket Fuel !!!




Miss Maggie Mae is now under our year round care. 

Check out these video clips - lots of cooling water flowing through 5 inch exhaust pipes !!!

Video 1

Video 2

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