Chris Craft Safety Alert ---> Exhaust Danger <--- (boats from the 1960s)
I'm a wood boat guy from way back, but I'm also an early fiberglass Chris Craft guy too. I presently have a 20' fiberglass Sea Skiff, and a 38' fiberglass Commander, both are 1966 models.
I've recently discovered something about the vintage CC cruisers that is haunting me, safety related, and I am passing this information on to every boat organization I can. It is the design of the early exhaust collectors on V8 motors that use two rubber exhaust hoses leading to a single welded steel collector, galvanized, which leads to a single exhaust outlet out of the boat. Early fiberglass Commanders (beginning in 1964) and many other wood boats of the era, perhaps Constellations, Sea Skiffs and other Chris Craft boats used this welded steel exhaust collector which was galvanized to add longevity to the assembly.
It now appears that the life span of the design is 35-years in fresh water. I suspect this is not a design that was initiated with the onset of the fiberglass Commander series either, as it could well be used in older wood Chris Craft cruisers, and maybe in other fiberglass Chris Craft cruisers too (like the Catalina).
My 1966 38' Commander, and a friend's 1967 38' Commander both failed in the exact same way, by rusting out the drain down hole intended for winter storage. One is in Tennessee, the other is in Texas. Both boats stay in the water all year long. Boats all over the Great Lakes may or may not have a better rust chance, if they are drained down each year for storage. However, due to what I have seen, it's only a matter of time, and the time is near.
The danger is from carbon monoxide that can also get through the rust holes in small spurts. Monoxide is oderless and it accumulates in the blood stream slowly over time, and the result can be headaches, drowsiness, and even death. The danger aboard a cruiser is much more of an issue, because of the enclosed air space. Therefore if you have a vintage Chris Craft (wood or fiberglass) that was built in the 1960's, please check the type and condition of the collectors.
My 1968 (two years newer) 35' Sea Skiff used a large cast iron megaphone device that should have solved the problem. I think many or all of the boats built after 1968 may have transitioned over to this cast iron collector, but I am sure there are lots of boats still out there (built a few years earlier) with the steel devices .
Owning a vintage boat as solid as a fiberglass Commander can be very rewarding, but it frightens me to know there is such a danger lurking in so many boats of this era, like a ticking time bomb. Products are available to replace these, and although it may take a little wrestling, the safety payback is well worth the effort and the price. I used a copper collector off another model Chris to fix my problems, and my buddy, Bruce, is either having a stainless steel replica made up, or will use the heat resistant resin/fiberglass product.
If you know a Chris Craft guy with a vintage cruiser, please do him (and his family and guests) a favor and tell him about this potential danger. If he has the steel collectors as shown in the following link, they should be checked (and probably replaced soon).