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(Possible) first Roamer and I have some questions...

Discussion in 'Chris Craft Roamer Yacht' started by dockrocker, Jan 12, 2006.

  1. dockrocker

    dockrocker New Member

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    Location:
    Lake St. Clair, Michigan
    First off, greetings to one and all, and let me introduce myself. Been boating for a number of years, almost exclusively in the offshore/performance world. Now that the Mrs and I have kids, we're looking to slow down a bit. I've always loved Chris-Craft boats (the guy who originally sparked a love of boating in me always owned a Chris, in fact he has had an '87 Amerosport 41 for over 12 years now) and am thinking that now might be the time to move into something like that.

    Reasons/justification: we won't be using the boat as much as we used to, so investing $100K or so in a modern cruiser just isnt' worth it. Between travel for work and all the kids activities, it just doesn't make sense to tie a lot of money up in a new(er) boat.

    We like to entertain/day trip on the boat, not a whole lot of overnighting so elbow room is nice to have.

    I like a boat that looks like a boat, not a Manhattan apartment.

    I also like a project, something that I can do my way, and look at with some degree of achievement and pride. Plus an older boat + some elbow grease is a heck of a lot cheaper than some of the new stuff!

    All that being said, there is a 1960 35 Roamer for sale near me that I've been keeping my eye on. It appears from pictures to be in decent shape, though cameras can lie and the ad does say that it could use some TLC (which I've learned is "broker-ese" for "barely floats..." :D ) Given that I'm fairly clueless on these boats, I thought I'd pick the collective brain a bit...

    I'm assuming that the hull on this boat will be steel. That being the case, I'd further assume that it will need some work. What will need to be done, and what kind of ballpark cost would be associated with "typical" maintenance / repairs?

    Aside from the structural integrity of the boat, my biggest concern is the running gear, more specifcally things like the fuel tank(s) and associated systems. What material was used for the tanks in these boats? How difficult is it to repair / replace the tanks. Having two young kids, safety is my absolute #1 priority, and the thought of a old leaky gas tank gives me the heebie-jeebies something fierce!

    Third item - engines. What power did Chris use on these boats in 1960? The ad lists "283 hp" so I'm assuming it has 283 cu in Chevy small blocks. Not a lot of muscle for a 35' steel boat. Were these engines standard equipment? Obviously if they are small blocks in there, a pair of 350's would probably bolt right in, but would there be room for say a set of 454's? Seems the added torque of big blocks would be just what the doctor ordered....

    In addition to the engines, what kind of trannies were used, and will these be a maintenance / spare parts nightmare?

    In summary, my goal would be this: take a classic boat, replace the 40 year old systems with modern components (power/fuel/electrical/plumbing) but leave the beautiful wood interior and exterior, ending up with a reliable boat that turns some heads. To get there, I'd concentrate first on the "bones" under the surface, then worry about the "skin" of interior/cockpit etc later.

    Doable? Or am I crazy?

    Many thanks!
  2. CaptainRoamer

    CaptainRoamer New Member

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    First off , you're right...pictures can be deceiving. You should take a look yourself.

    As for the hull, although they may look good, that too can be a wrong assumption. Most often, when you go to fix the hull, you end up neck deep in s**t. I just went through it. In short, all turned out well and at least we know a ripple won't pop a hole right through the hull!

    We sandblasted, patched, primed and epoxied our 37 Roamer Riviera this past spring. I'd be glad to give you some advide, just send me an e-mail.

    All in all, there isn't a nicer boat on the water than a classic Roamer. They were THE boat to have 40 years ago-- the most majestic on the water. Today, nothing has changed.

    It doesn't matter where we go with our Roamer, people cross marinas and streets to compliment us and take a look.

    Buy the Roamer is my vote.
  3. dockrocker

    dockrocker New Member

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    Nice to know there is a resource rather close - we're on the States side of the lake. The Roamer in question is listed as being in Harrison Twp here in Michigan. All is dependent on us getting rid or trading our current boat, however. I'm assuming there are yards that are competent in steel hull repair in our area?
  4. CaptainRoamer

    CaptainRoamer New Member

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    We checked and checked when we looked into ours. We were going to take it to Jefferson Beach but were told by numerous people to stay AWAY from that welder.

    As far as I know, the only qualified welder is in Kingsville, ON. He is only an hour from you. He builds ships for the Canadian Coast Guard and did an excellent job to say the very least. We looked and looked and he was the only qualified "non- backyard do it yourselfer" in the Southwestern Ontario, Southeast Michigan area. On top of it, he is reasonable with prices.

    I can get you his contact information if you're interested.

    We boat out of Beach Grove Golf and Country Club in St. Clair Beach, ON as well as the Detroit Yacht Club...I hope to see you Roaming with your family. There is also a Roamer for sale at the Detroit Yacht Club. Let me know and I can get you that information too.

    Let me know if you need help.
  5. dockrocker

    dockrocker New Member

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    Wow, talk about a small world. The "old salt" that introduced me to boating is none other than DYC's Commodore, Len Maiser; I went to high school with his daughter and was "persuaded" to do all sorts of interesting maintenance tasks on his various CC's over the years (ever try putting on water line tape stripes when the boat is *in* the water? Even more fun in a leaky dinghy.... :D )

    I may take you up on that info if you don't mind; e-mail is starosciak (at) comcast.net.

    Thanks,

    Mike
  6. CaptainRoamer

    CaptainRoamer New Member

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    I'm the Membership Retention Chair at the DYC. I know Commodore Maisner very well. I've been looking for a decently priced boat like "Grumpy." It is a small world indeed.

    Which info. were you referring to? The Roamer or the steel guy...or both?

    I'll be at the Toronto Boat Show this weekend. But I can get it all together next week.
  7. dockrocker

    dockrocker New Member

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    Both, if you don't mind. Enjoy the show, we usually go to the Detroit show every year. The kids are really starting to enjoy it, one of the reasons we're thinking of going to a cabin boat.
  8. Hal Swinehart

    Hal Swinehart New Member

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    Mike,

    You're right about the engines--283 ci GM small blocks, listed at 185 hp. In 1960, CC also offered a 275 hp, which I believe was a 427 Ford block, and a 225 hp Chrysler (318 ci??). The 283 came with either a manual reverse gearbox (don't know who made it) or a Paragon hydraulic reverse, model HF2 with a 2.5:1 reduction gear. It cost me $3,500 to have one transmission rebuilt a few years ago, and parts were getting scarce. At the time, a couple of people suggested getting a little later model tranny.

    Are you looking at the Roamer listed in ************** that is located in Fairhaven? From the pics, that's a nice looking boat. Someone has put a lot into the interior. The helm is also rearranged and has some new instrumentation. But yes, the big question is what is under the deck and under the paint. It sounds like CaptainRoamer can give you some good guidance there.

    BTW, I have a 1961 35' Sedan in Lake Erie at Lasalle (south of Monroe). My original engines were 283s, but somewhere along the way, someone replaced the blocks with 350 ci GM truck blocks. The heads and manifolds appear to be original. The hour meters show over 2000 hours, but they start easy, I get around 3800 rpm wot, and 18 kts downhill. When I can afford it, I cruise at 3500 which give me 15 to 16 knots.

    Good luck on your Roamer pursuit. They're great old boats, and they turn heads.

    Hal
  9. CaptainRoamer

    CaptainRoamer New Member

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    We like the Toronto show a little better than Detroit, there's a ton more big boats. We like to look at the ones we can't afford and see how the other half lives!

    My girlfriend and I will be working at the DYC booth at the Detroit Show on the first Sunday for a few hours. We put in a little time and get free admission to the show!

    I can't believe you know the Maisners so well and they haven't recruited you to the club yet?

    I'll get you all the info. next week and send it over. Again, the Roamer will be alot of work, but it pays off, believe me. We've enjoyed every second of ours. We may get rid of it and move to something in the 35' range. Our Roamer has an aft enclosure and the only way to get outside is to get on the bridge or the bow. We have too many 'summer' friends for the bridge. We're looking for a smaller one so we can give more free rides and hand out more free beer!
  10. dockrocker

    dockrocker New Member

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    Oh, Len has tried on many occasions, but we live so far from the club that it's just not worth it for us (but not far enough to be considered "traveling members" or whatever the proper term is). It is literally an hour drive for us to get down there if there is any kind of traffic, and with free time being so scarce I'd rather put the boat a marina 20 minutes away.... Some day though, I'll join just for the Gold Cup weekend - I've put away many a beer, errr, soda on Race Weekend over the years :D Heck, I've still got some of the T-shirts around here; use'em when I'm cleaning the boat...
  11. CaptainRoamer

    CaptainRoamer New Member

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    We usually bring the Roamer to the Gold Cup Races, if you're down this year, stop in and see us. We'll have a few cold ones for ya. We're the only 37 Riv with a motoryacht enclosure and she's called Country Club.
  12. dogsharks

    dogsharks Guest



    A couple comments about the motors. If it's an aluminum Roamer then twin 283s would make a fine power to weight ratio. Even with steel, on a 35' boat they're not too bad.

    The 275-hp motor for 1960 would most certainly NOT be a 427, because the 427 was first produced mid-way through the 1963 production year. Therefore this would most likely be a MEL (Mercury Edsel Lincoln) 430 or 431 "Lincoln" motor, and they were rated at the 275 power range. Good motors,
    but tough to find parts for these days.


    Years ago I had a 35' Sea Skiff with twin 327 solid lifters, and it would fly. If you swap out those 283 motors, be very careful you don't get a set of generic gutless hydraulic "Taxi Cab" crate motors, with the only real gurantee being they come on a crate. Many times a repower with a motor that "looks" like a SBC will provide poor results.

    Regards, Dogsharks
  13. Hal Swinehart

    Hal Swinehart New Member

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    Thanks for correcting me on the 427 vs. 430 Lincolns. It wasn't ringing right when I wrote "427," but I couldn't figure out what was wrong.

    Hal
  14. kips ahoy

    kips ahoy New Member

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    I have the 283's in my Roamer and the manual reverse gear tranny's (paragon) With Chris-o-Matics
    I rebuilt it all!! yes the tranny's were around $3000 each and engines were a little more. I have been very pleased ........ at WOT I get around 4200 rpm and around 32 mph. From what I can tell I now have around 225 HP (185 b4 rebuild) I changed a few things in the engines (hyd lifters for 1 and correct heads)!!! one things that is common and happened on my boat is over the years when heads cracked dpo replaced with 350 heads :confused: low compression.
    There is something about lifting that hatch cover to show my engines (all Origanal) That makes it all worth it :p
    Keep it origanal would be my input
  15. dockrocker

    dockrocker New Member

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  16. CaptainRoamer

    CaptainRoamer New Member

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  17. acellist

    acellist Member

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    Hull Material 1960 35'

    There is a site with specifications that include the 1960 Chris that you mention and perhaps it may prove helpful to you.
    It can be found at: http://www.geocities.com/alloyed2sea/Express_35s.html
    The information there indicates that hulls were fabricated in both steel and aluminum.
    Best of luck and if you do obtain an aluminum hull, I suggest Westport Marina in LaSalle, Ont. where their docks are aluminum. They just finished the hull on my 46' 1968 Riviera and it looks like new.
    I assume that 283hp would be produced by a 327cu Chevy engine block or larger(there were twin 327's in my 37' 1966 Owens Majorca.)
  18. dockrocker

    dockrocker New Member

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    I spoke with the broker today. He tells me the hull is steel; apparently, the owner is a nice gentleman in late 70's or early 80's, and it's just too much boat for him to take care of. I may go take a look on Wednesday...
  19. CaptainRoamer

    CaptainRoamer New Member

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    Keep us all informed. We'd love to know how it went.
  20. dockrocker

    dockrocker New Member

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    Unfortunately, I didn't get out there this week; sick kids at home took priority. Might get to go early next week...