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A lonely little Petunia in an Onion patch!

1957 J3 patiently awaiting adoption at an Illinois OMC dealership

Submitted by Brian Browning

Brian mentions that the dealership says the motor is "not for sale...or $1,000".  He says he is working on them and hopes to acquire the little guy.

Andy Kavathas' "PROJECT CHRIS-CRAFT"

Curator's note:  Andy is a delightful guy with an interesting story.  I am sure I speak for
all mentioned in his article that we had as much (or probably more) fun on this project
than Andy did.

My story starts with my wife's grandfather, who was (a) cabinet maker and installer at Chris-Craft Corporation in Holland, Michigan.  He was employed there for more years than there has been dirt on this planet.  I know he was in his seventy's and still putting cabinets in the big cabin cruisers.  Sometime during that period he purchased a Chris-Craft Outboard and passed it on to my father-in-law.  When my father-in-law passed away in 1970, I inherited the motor from my mother-in-law.  I became interested in fishing in 1973 and decided to get the Chris-Craft running.  All it needed at that time was a water pump replacement.  I had that done and never used the motor, because I purchased a bass boat.  It has resided in my basement.  I gave up fishing in 1979, bought a house, had a daughter and living in Chicago going fishing meant traveling long distances to find decent lakes to fish.  I developed a condition where my wrist would twitch every time I rode by a lake, so in June, 1998, I dragged out my tackle boxes and rods and the fever returned.  I decided to use the Chris Craft as a power source for the small lakes in the area and this is where my adventure begins.

I contacted several boat repair centers within my geographic area and was told, don't bother with that antique, or we don't work on anything that old.  It was suggested that I purchase a new motor and dump the Chris-Craft.  I went on the internet and found the Antique Outboard Society where I post a e-mail request about the Chris-Craft.  I was shocked to have over seven responses all of which said keep the motor.  Mr. John Tucker of Mesa, Az. not only gave me some history about the motor but referred me to another web site for more information.  Another member offered to help me carry it to the dumpster, so he could have it.  I said, "No Thank You".  I contacted the site John gave me and I met a gentleman who not only knew about the Chris-Craft, but has been my mentor through the rehab process.  Mr. Dick Gorz of White Cloud, Michigan has gone out of his way to answer questions and provide technical information.

The rehab process started with new lower unit lube, check spark plugs, putting it into water and start.  It started on the first pull.  Not bad after fifteen years in the basement.  The joy was short lived, it started leaking fuel from the carburetor.  I obtained a gasket and was about to disassemble the carburetor when I decided to try to find the source of the leak.  Put gas in and slowly opened the fuel supply valve and waited, and waited, and waited, no leaks.  I still do not know why it leaked in the first place.  My next task was to verify the water pump was working and it wasn't.

Dick walked me through the disassembly and after ruining the heads on the screws that hold the housing, I found the impeller, which disintegrated in my hands.  Help!   Dick referred me to Paul Moneski.  Unfortunately Paul had sold the only impeller he had for a Chris-Craft, but referred me to Brian Wilcox in Algonac, Michigan.   This talented young man makes replacement impellers.  I braced myself for the price and when he told me, I put away my nitro pills.  I ordered one.  During our several phone conversations I mentioned the screws and how I was not able to locate replacements.  Not a problem.  Brian first explained why the screws were stripped.  I used a screw driver and needed a Reed-Prince drive.  I said a "Reed what"?  Well, it's a screw driver that looks like a phillips but isn't.  Brian said Sears has them and he was right.  He referred me to Lee Holland, who also lived in Algonac.  This man has everything you need to rehab a Chris-Craft.  Ordered the new screws and I was now set to assemble.  Put all the pieces together, mounted the motor in a water source, crossed by fingers, and pulled starter.  It fired up and ran like a Rolex.  No fuel leaks, pumping water and begging me to get on a lake to do its thing.

I am writing this because I want to thank everyone I talked to and heard from regarding this project.  I now have a motor that will allow me to utilize the small lakes in the are.  So what if it doesn't have a detachable gas tank, a neutral shift position, and reverse is turning the motor around.  It is a Chris-Craft, it's neat looking, it's part of Americana as Paul Moneski told me, it's cheaper than a new motor, and I am sure it will draw a lot of comments at the boat rental.  One last thing before I end this.  "Dick", I am not going to start on another motor.   After talking to you guys and learning about how many motors you have in your collections, I will be in divorce court and anyway I do not have room for any more.

You can contact Andy at Putzger@msn.com



Andy's Challenger, Serial #J22837
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