A Trip to Chris Craft Boat Factory

Why is Chris Craft known as the undisputed king in the world of motorboats? A trip to their boat factory provides the answer. The brand spells quality in each process of boat making. Chris Craft boats are manufactured in a state-of-the-art facility located in Sarasota, Florida. The Chris Craft manufacturing plant is spread over 20 acres of land and employs a team of engineers, craftsmen, and skilled workers, many of which are industry veterans. Each boat is made to order and the company follows a detailed 6-sigma process to ensure the finest quality product. Though it has a rich heritage, the machines, tools, and processes used in Chris Craft manufacturing facility is state of the art.

A typical day at the factory starts with a discussion on the production schedule and the participants include all the different departments involved in designing and building a Chris Craft boat. A very important contribution that sets Chris Craft apart from the other boat manufacturers is its careful preservation of original molds. The first step in the production process is mold preparation and some of the molds have been preserved and utilized for nearly 50 years.

Lamination

The hull is designed by following a 6-step lamination process.

Step 1– A gel coat is applied to form the outer surface of the hull. The thickness of the gel coat is constantly checked using a mill gauge, as it needs to be between 18-22 mils.

Step 2 – Spray application of a vinyl coat that provides thermal protection and a smoother finish.

Step 3 – Application of stranded fiberglass to the whole mold, along with a resin coating that is applied by hand.

Step 4 – The whole interior structure is locked in place. All Chris Craft boats feature the trademark tumble home design. The unique closed cell foam construction incorporated in the hull is responsible for minimizing the sound of water lapping against the hull at high speeds.

Step 5 – This is the curing process after which the fiberglass hull is separated from the mold.

Step 6 – The quality assurance team monitors every area of lamination to ensure that a hull of exceptional quality is ready.

Electrical System

The finished hull is sent to the cutting department where holes are bored to support the electrical wiring that forms a main component of the boat. All electrical components used in the boat ranging from battery cables to instrument panels is manufactured in-house.

Fabrication

The fabricating team at Chris Craft is responsible for creating cabinets, seating upholstery and other key components that make a Chris Craft boat. All wood and plastic components are cut using CNC routers that are programmed to ensure proper fit and alignment of the components. The craftsmen design the beautiful interior and comfortable seating that Chris Craft boats are famous for. The upholstery has a luxurious texture and is very durable. The hull then goes to the engine station for installation and base assembly functions.

Decking Station

After engine installation, the hull is moved to the decking station where the boat’s look is completed with a wood finishing. All Chris Craft boats use the highest grade of teak wood, and this is installed by hand.

Assembly Department

Each boat has its own custom-fitted wood parts and the process of assembling the interior can take anywhere between 6 to 40 hours depending on the boat’s model and size. The boat is then ready to go on its maiden trip in water, in a pond located within the factory premises. After this test run, it is cleaned and packed after final inspection.

Now that you have completed a virtual trip to the boat factory, you know you are going to own the best boat in the industry when you contact your nearest Chris Craft dealer.

Chris Craft Antique Boat Club

Looking for information on the 1936 Chris Craft 19-foot race boat? Or wondering how you can renovate an antique boat?  The answer is simple, become a registered member of the Chris Craft Antique Boat Club. If you are someone who owns a Chris Craft or takes interest in antique collections of Chris Craft boats or classic boats in general, then you definitely qualify for a membership. This club is one of the prestigious and oldest active marine marque club in the world.Chris Craft Boat Club Image

The Chris Craft Antique Boat Club was founded in 1973 in honor of Chris Craft’s rich history. It is dedicated to research, documentation and preservation of classic Chris Craft boats. But what led to the launch of this club? In the 1960’s traditional wooden boats were rapidly replaced by boats made of fiberglass. This change had an impact on Chris Craft, the giant among recreational boat manufacturers. Production of Chris Craft’s classic mahogany-hulled boats stopped in 1971 and the last wooden boat was sold to a customer in 1972. But even after Chris Craft stopped production of these boats, the interest in them kept growing. All these boats that remind us of the golden-era of Chris Craft constitute what is known as the antiques and classics of today.

The Chris Craft Antique Boat Club was formed by a group of boating enthusiasts and chief among them was Bill MacKerer. Also known as “Mr. Chris Craft” because of his long-standing career of over 40 years as a Chris Craft employee, he was the first to suggest that a club be formed to encourage preservation of old Chris Craft boats. MacKerer was in charge of production at the factory and was a meticulous recorder of facts and procedures. He maintained detailed notebooks of boat specifications, both Chris Craft’s as well as its competitors. This habit of his led to the detailed engineering catalogs of Chris Craft’s operation in later years. Apart from preserving antique Chris Craft boats, the boat club was formed to establish a means of communication between owners, dealers and Chris Craft Corporation.

Chris Craft Antique Boat Club that started with a membership of around 100 in its early years, now boasts of over 3600 members across 35 countries. The club has an amazing website that makes it possible to complete membership formalities online. Members of the club become part of an international network that works together to solve problems related to classic boats. Do you know that every classic Chris-Craft boat was assigned a hull number and hull card that recorded details of the boat including dates, materials, colors and accessories? Owners of such boats can use the hull number to research the origin of the specified boat. Members of the club get exclusive access to an online hull registry that lists all antique and classic Chris Craft boats irrespective of make or age. Though owning a Chris Craft is not mandatory to become a member of this distinguished club, most current members of the club own a Chris Craft boat.

The next time you have a question on a classic Chris Craft boat or need help with restoration of a Chris Craft boat, you know you just have to take advantage of the benefits that come with being a member of this esteemed club. Participate in the club’s online auctions of Chris-Craft accessories, gain access to the club’s quarterly newsletter ‘The Brass Bell’, or take part in its online discussion forum ‘Boat Buzz’. And most importantly, realize that with each passing day your Chris Craft boat becomes more rare and invaluable.