purchase of a gray hull launch in September 2001 in
Northport, Maine, research began to determine the
builder of that hull. During the research process,
photos of a
Chris Craft 25-foot Express Cruiser
continued to make an impression.
search for Chris Craft Red and White Express in
December 2001 located a 1947 single engine model
without its engine in Mattituck, NY. Phone calls and
arrangements ensued; the boat was purchased and
picked-up January 26, 2002.
Red & White
Express, hull number 206 left the Chris Craft
factory June 5, 1947 destined for Muzzio Brothers
Yacht Yard in Stamford, Connecticut. Little is known
of the boats history from 1947 to the early 1990s,
it has been rumored that the boat spent its entire
life on the waters of Long Island Sound.
In the late
1990’s Tom Hilliker of Vintage Marine located hull
206 in the woods near his home and
restoration shop in Mattituck, NY. He later
acquired the boat and added it to his collection of
vintage boats, one of which was another 25’ Express
- restored and sold prior to 2002. Hilliker stored
hull 206 and began advertising it for sale in its state of
preservation, hoping to attract an individual who
would contract Vintage Marine to perform the restoration.
Hull 206 had
been advertised as solid and appeared to be intact;
looks can be deceiving. The boat was rough at best
with very little original hardware. The bottom had
been replaced with a combination of two layers of
standard 3/8" plywood, roofing tar and fiber-glass.
At some point in its years on Long Island Sound, the
boat had been painted numerous variations of red,
white and blue. The boat was red and white with a
mahogany transom when it was purchased in 2002.
arrived in Pittsburgh and was backed into the shop
behind the gray hull launch. It was decided that
both boats would be "restored" at the same time.
Work progressed on both boats until hull 206 had
been stripped and turned over. Once the bottom was removed, a task that took approximately 25
minutes, all work stopped on the Express. It was
very clear that hull 206 had led a very hard life;
all of the bottom frames and knees were broken in
multiple places. The plywood, roofing tar and
fiberglass had saved the boat.
In addition to
the search for the designer/builder of Molet-Mac and
additional information on the 25-foot Express, a new search
began; locating the missing hardware. Daily eBay
searches, along with phone calls and visits to
owners of 25-foot Express Cruisers began. A trip to
Florida in March 2002, introduced us to Lowell
Arnold and Stan Peterson, owners of 25’ Expresses.
Lowell and Stan helped to compile a two page list of
2006, the search for the original designer/builder
of the gray hull launch was located, a new
"restoration" shop had been completed, and all of
the hardware for hull 206 had been found. The search
took four and a half years and resulted in the
purchase of a second 1947 25-foot Express (hull
number x-25-217), a 1947 22’ Sportsman and a 1948
A survey of
the hull 206 was preformed and a decision was made
to dismantle the hull and rebuild the boat utilizing
pieces that could be salvaged from the original
hull. Carefully, the remains of the hull were
dismantled and patterns made for the new hull were
made. The new frames were crafted in Sapelli/African
The end of
February 2007, revealed a new 25-foot Express with
its first layer of marine plywood over the frames.
The ¾" cold-molded hull was formed with diagonal and
longitudinal layers of Okoume Marine Plywood BS1088,
fiberglass and Kevlar set in epoxy.
The hull was
primed and faired using AWLGRIP products and ready
to be rolled upright by the end of April. Work
progressed as the engine stringers and deck beams
were installed in May. June brought the installation
of the composite floor and berth beams, while the
driveline plates were fabricated and castings made
for additional hardware items.
installation of the engine and driveline took place
in July. Once again, Mark Fitzgerald of Fitzgerald
Marine Architecture in Camden, Maine was the consulting
architect and engineer for the project. Mark
specified a new Crusader 375 horsepower, 6.0L V8 as
the power plant. A Hurth transmission with 2:1
reduction was selected and matted to the Aquadrive
anti-vibration system and an Aquamet 22 1½" shaft,
spinning an 18" Nibrel 4 blade propeller.
painting (AWLGRIP products) and decking started in
August, and was completed in September, with the
installation of the cove base (unique to the 25-foot
Express). A new 65-gallon Rayco Manufacturing fuel
tank was painted and installed in September. The
helm station was constructed in October along with
the initial fitment of the freshly chromed hardware.
slowed in November, as two additional 1947 25-foot
Express Cruisers were purchased; hull number 234, a
twin engine boat from the northwest suburbs of St.
Louis, Missouri and Hull number 165, a twin engine
boat from the canals of Lake St. Clair, Michigan. In
between the trips to Missouri and Michigan, the new
mirrored stainless steel cutwater was fitted to the
The front deck
was painted in December; teak veneering and detail work continued through April, 2008. The wiring of the
electrical systems began in January; though planning
for the system began many months before. Hull 206 is
outfitted with complete engine management, GPS,
radar and audio systems. These electronic systems
are seamlessly integrated as to not interfere with
the original gauges and hardware.
Construction of the teak flooring and
motor box started in April and was completed in May.
During that time, the spray and rub rails were
shaped and fitted to the sides of the hull. Patterns
for the berth cushions, seats and motor box were
made and sent to the upholstery shop.
The wiring for
the electrical systems was complete by the middle
of May, which allowed the audio system to be
tuned and the engine to catch its first breath. The
custom trailer was fitted to the bottom at the end
of May in preparation for a June 1st
initial water test, the teak veneering in the cabin
was completed, as the final finishing began. All of the brightwork was sanded, sealed
with a penetrating epoxy , varnished with AWLSPAR and coated
with AWL BRITE Plus, a three-part polyurethane. The
topsides were painted with AWLGRIP, the bottom with
AWLGRIP and Interlux.
culmination of the paint and brightwork finishing Eulipion
was reassembled in four days, bound for its launching
in Narragansett Bay, Newport, Rhode Island for the
2008 American Super Yacht Forum.