by Allen & David Schrandt members of the Heartland Classics chapter

We were approached by ACBS to provide a little story concerning our antique boat. The request came with a question, “What is your favorite place to cruise?” Good question, and we’ll work on answering that in time. To do that, we have a lot of other questions to answer and work to do first! My brother, David, and I are Kansas natives (an area well known for wheat, not boats).

We have had the pleasure of boating now and then and have always enjoyed the experience; however, this isn’t what started us on a journey with our 1938 Chris-Craft Runabout (model 817). Our interest really stems from woodworking. As hobbyists, and some brief exposure to a couple of other all-mahogany Chris-Crafts, we, from time-to-time, discussed the idea of restoring one of these boats as a challenge. Approximately three years ago, David, followed up after one of our BS sessions where we kicked the idea around. He found our hobby on a ranch in San Jose, California. This was a put up or shut up moment; no more BS. It wasn’t long before we were headed on a 27-hour drive.

The Runabout was a true barn find. In the 1960s, the craft was housed in a barn on a ranch by the grandfather of the person we bought it from. For three generations, the idea of resurrecting the Chris-Craft to its former glory was the plan, but it was never realized. The boat was found complete and certainly held the promise to test our wood working skills.

Once back home, the disassembly started and we developed a better understanding of the challenge ahead. Thanks to David’s research, we located the references and experts needed (including The Antique and Classic Boat Society) to get us Kansas farm boys headed in the right direction. Since the start of this journey, we have: rebuilt/restored the Hercules engine and gauge cluster; rechromed all components; welded, straightened and polished the stainless steel and brass pieces; restored the horn and steering assemblies; and the gas tank is as good as new.

The woodworking has included the build of several tools: a wood steamer and steam box, various routing and clamping jigs, a leveling and moving fixture to hold the vessel once turned over, and a significant frame in my barn to lift and turn the hull.

The most challenging part to date has been the chines and bottom frames. New chines were built and most of the bottom frames were replaced with fresh wood using the original parts as patterns. The chines were crafted from 2 ¼ inch square material running the length of the hull. The chines were steamed, bent, and bolted to the frames. The chines were hand-planed to establish the outboard and bottom mold lines. Next, full boat-length router fixtures were fabricated to cut the rabbets that accommodate the mahogany cladding.


  1. Sounds like you are making great progress on a neat boat! (i have the same model, a jewel of mid ’30’s design, imho.)

    Looks like you are using the 6 gauge “cracked ice” instrument panel? Normally this 17′ deluxe double cockpit forward runabout series, which ran from the 1937 thru 1939, used the 4 gauge stewart-warner panel with engine turned facing, and the clum switch for the ignition. (The last few boats switched over to separate gauges and eliminated the clum switch). If you have the hull card from the mariner’s museum, it would tell you for sure whether your particular boat had a different arrangement.

    If you are not a member of the chris-craft antique boat club, i encourage you to join. there is a thread in the Boat Buzz on “prewar instruments and dash panel research” or something like that. Also i wrote an article for the club magazine, the Brass Bell, a few years ago that goes into considerable detail on this series, which you might find helpful. Good luck!

    • Don:

      I appreciate your comments. However, there is at least one 17′ Model 817 that was originally equipped with the 5 gauge panel. I do have a copy of the original Boat Equipment Record and it has listed under Extra Equipment “1 – 5 instrument panel in place of standard.”


      Allen Schrandt

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