Dedicated to those who love and care for Vintage, Classic Boats in America’s Heartland

By Gary Gebhard, Heartland Classics member from Nebraska

Here is my current project, my 1959 Chris Craft Cavalier.   It was needing a much-needed hull stripping above the water line and refinishing after sixty-one years of service.  I am the third owner since 2004.

She needed a new tank that a local sheet metal shop built for me out of 14 gauge stainless steel.  The loose wire is my reminder to ground the new fuel tank.

Here are my progress photos from the past weekend.   Of course, we had 60 miles an hour winds just after I put up the canopy over it on the driveway to start the work.

I am following the book titled “How to Restore Your Runabout.” I am enjoying the results from the author’s in-depth knowledge of the subject.

After much deliberation, I have decided on a name for my boat.   In honor of my Great Grand Mother, Delia Virginia Odell – The boat name will be Della Odell.  Somewhere I have a photo of her sitting next to me at the family dinner when I was about 4 years old.  She was the oldest of the 6 surviving children out of a total of 13 being born in the family.  Her parents were married 50 years!

Pictures in the boat are from earlier boating on the Missouri River.  Can’t wait to get her back to the water again.

May 24, 2021  Update

Getting ready to stain the remaining topside deck work.

 After years of use and numerous refinishing my stripping work revealed that the upper veneer layer had been sanded through leaving grain at a 90 angle to the original finished surface at four locations.  These repairs I did required removing the next layer down and then adding new thicker top layers with grain to match the original.  The cloud-shaped infill piece is an attempt to hide an over sanded depression on the stern deck.  An alternative solution would be to inlay a long piece. 

One of the nice things about replacing the fuel tank is that I was able to align the word “Fuel” on the fuel cap by turning the threaded intake fill pipe prior to setting the locking nut below deck.

I just took it out to get the new tank filled for the first time.

June 10, 2021  Update

The engine started last night!!  Some minor tune-up of idle speed and engine timing and it will be ready to hit the water.  A few weeks out as I am refinishing the engine cover.

Here is the damage to the head gasket.  A break between the second and third cylinders.  It was hard to start then it ran rough and noisy and then at full throttle the boat would hardly move.  A look in the engine compartment while still running on the water showed air escaping from under the head gasket.  I followed up by putting the boat in a u-turn and made it back to the dock while still under some power.

Sept. 22, 2021

I am about the launch the Della Odell again, as the first launch revealed the engine head gasket had failed two weeks ago.