1952 Chris Craft Riviera

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Forum topic by jd1976 posted 07-07-2011 08:01 AM 3317 views 0 times favorited 9 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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2 posts in 2663 days

07-07-2011 08:01 AM

I just got a Chris Craft I own a boat dealership in Georgia. I have already removed the motor and all the chrome. My questions is what is the white material used in the cracks on the top of the deck and where would be a good place to purchase it and the varnish I will be needing. Me and my guys are real excited with this project for our showroom any help somebody can provide would be very helpful.

9 replies so far

View NBeener's profile


4816 posts in 3321 days

#1 posted 07-07-2011 05:14 PM

My sincere guess is that a marine/boat building forum will yield you more/better responses.

-- -- Neil

View Planeman40's profile


1257 posts in 2908 days

#2 posted 07-07-2011 06:09 PM

First of all the varnish. Varnish for boats is made to withstand many days (years?) in the sun and most varnishes do not have that capacity. Ultraviolet light is the great destroyer of finishes. I would carefully research the ultraviolet resistance of any varnish and talk with the manufacturers. A few phone calls are well worth the time and effort of a refinish job later. I suggest using Z_Spar Captain’s oil-based varnish. First apply a polysulfide sealant such as Boatlife to the mahogany then put on seven or eight coats of varnish the first year and then a ‘final’ five or six coats after a season, because within a year the 12 coats will shrink down and the grain will show anyway

Caulking the seams between the mahogany planks done the old way was to use glazier’s putty which has been mixed with one tablespoon varnish and kneaded to a dough. Apply it and let it sit for a week before painting. The new way is to use Sikaflex 290 DC that is specially designed as a deck caulking. After the varnishing (first year’s) is done mask off the varnished mahogany before applying the caulking to get a neat job. When the caulking is done and is very dry you can apply some white paint to the caulked joints to spruce it up.

After all of this be sure to keep the boat under cover when not in use.

I’m in Atlanta GA. Where in GA are you? I’d love to see this thing when its finished!


-- Always remember: It is a mathematical certainty that half the people in this country are below average in intelligence!

View Bertha's profile


13550 posts in 2841 days

#3 posted 07-07-2011 06:20 PM

There’s quite a few experienced boatbuilders here, JD. I’m not sure how many restorers are lurking. I know nothing, so I’ll just wish you a good luck.

-- My dad and I built a 65 chev pick up.I killed trannys in that thing for some reason-Hog

View Gene Howe's profile

Gene Howe

10906 posts in 3576 days

#4 posted 07-08-2011 03:34 AM

I’d venture that “Shipwright” would have some advice for you. Hope he sees this and chimes in.

-- Gene 'The true soldier fights not because he hates what is in front of him, but because he loves what is behind him.' G. K. Chesterton

View shipwright's profile


8086 posts in 2945 days

#5 posted 07-08-2011 03:39 PM

If the “white material” in the deck is wood it will be Holly. Teak and Holly is an old standard in boats. If it is caulking it may be a white lead putty. I agree that sikaflex is a good way to go if you are really talking about caulking but if it’s an overlay of mahogany over plywood, then Holly or white colored epoxy are better as the (particularly the holly) will look more traditional.

The old Cris Craft varnished finishes looked great but understand they are a labor of love and an ongoing process. As stated above make sure you’re wee UV filtered.

-- Paul M ..............the early bird may get the worm but it’s the second mouse that gets the cheese!

View CaptainSkully's profile


1601 posts in 3706 days

#6 posted 07-08-2011 05:13 PM

Congrats on your new yacht! Sikaflex, and various products by 3M and BoatLIFE are popular for that application. Go into your local West Marine, and they should be able to help you. I would join a Chris Craft owners group and jump on the forum ASAP. They’ll give you more than enough info on taking care of your baby.

-- You can't control the wind, but you can trim your sails

View MrRon's profile


5086 posts in 3391 days

#7 posted 07-08-2011 06:59 PM

You should contact a Chris Craft boat owners group. I used to own a 30’ Catalina, but it had a plywood hull. Yours sounds like a real classic.

View woodboatal's profile


4 posts in 2660 days

#8 posted 07-10-2011 09:08 PM

Hi, I’m new to the site, saw this post via Google Alerts and just joined. I’m a novice woodworker and a fan of old wood boats as well.

Your best resource for information regarding refinishing your Chris-Craft Riviera would be the Chris-Craft Antique Boat Club. Their Forum is loaded with subjects on refinishing varnish, deck seams, etc. Marine finishes are quite unique, being normally exposed to the elements.

The deck seams are usually done with a caulk that cures to a rather hard finish but many use a white polyurethane, some use polysulfide (softer). It’s often striped with white marine paint if it is applied prior to varnishing. The varnish leaves a yellow or gold tint that some don’t like.

As someone mentioned, Marine Varnish has UV additives but the additives in even the best brands break down fairly quickly in the sun and must receive maintenance coats frequently. As with many multi-layer coats of finish, it needs to be sanded in the process of building up several coats to keep it level and mirror-like. Depending on personal taste, this could be 8 to 12 layers over time. As someone mentioned the varnish will conform to the wood grain as it fully cures over time.

If this Riviera has decent varnish now, no sealer will be needed. Work the surface carefully with 320 grit, clean and start varnishing. If the finish is beyond this (has bare stained wood) I would suggest stripping the finish down to bare mahogany (Philippine Mahogany), staining, sealing and varnishing. Note the Riviera has some blond wood that doesn’t get stained. The rest of the wood should be stained using Interlux Interstain #573 Chris-Craft Mahogany. It’s the proper color for any Chris-Craft built following WWII.

Hope this may help a little.


-- Al

View Bertha's profile


13550 posts in 2841 days

#9 posted 07-10-2011 10:15 PM

^Neil, you were right;)

-- My dad and I built a 65 chev pick up.I killed trannys in that thing for some reason-Hog

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