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Riva Seat and interior construction

This is a general discussion area for those who are interested in Chris-Craft's connection with Riva, the legendary Italian boat marque.

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Don Ayers
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Riva Seat and interior construction

Post by Don Ayers » Thu Jun 03, 2010 7:30 am

Hey there...

In the interest of sharing I thought I would chronicle and share the work on restoring my Ariston interior back to original.

In 1959 Riva was still using Chris Craft engines and still some parts on the boat were US made. Starting in mid 1959 the far out Zebra interior was put into this model only to last into mid 1960.

This has got to be one of the wildest interiors ever put in a boat. My wife thought it was a little over the top at first but it has grown on her.

Anyway, I bought this boat a little over a year ago and knew that I was going to do something about the interior that was there. When I first looked at it I made the assumption that under the ugly stuff the original seat frames would be there for me to work with...NOT!!!

To my dismay I found that everything but the aft seat lazy back frame was all bogus.


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Don Ayers
1959 Riva Ariston
www.RivaForum.org
www.barrelback.com

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Don Ayers
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Post by Don Ayers » Thu Jun 03, 2010 7:41 am

So the next step which was not easy was to find other patterns for the seats.

1. Not very many Aristons in the Oklahoma area
2. Even fewer Aristons that have their interior out of the boat in a restoration.
3. Pretty much none!!!

But as luck would have it - and I mean it could not have got any better - another fellow Oklahoma boater found a project Ariston in Houston TX. My friend Dan Diehl out of Tulsa had gotten the Riva Ariston bug and was hunting like mad. He bought the Ariston and the first question I asked was if it still had the seats.

Not only did it have had some of the seats left but there was enough there to get the valuable DNA I needed. Funny enough the one he was missing was the only one I had.

So Dan being the kind of guy he is hauled the boat back to Oklahoma and dropped off what was left of the seats at my house.

And Get this...His boat is a 1959 as well, in fact the very first one and was displayed in the 1959 Miami Boat Show. AR 219


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Last edited by Don Ayers on Thu Jun 03, 2010 11:01 am, edited 2 times in total.
Don Ayers
1959 Riva Ariston
www.RivaForum.org
www.barrelback.com

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Don Ayers
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Post by Don Ayers » Thu Jun 03, 2010 7:49 am

So began my construction with Dan's stuff as a guide last Thanksgiving weekend.

I quickly found out that the seats were built in typical Riva construction methods...over complicated.

This stuff was built like furniture with mortise joints and all. A two frame spring/hinge affair with strapping etc etc.

I started taking measurements and making patterns and drawings. The original wood was determined to be very close to soft maple so I got the required materials and set up shop.

Slowly but surely I was able to replicate one frame at a time all the while hoping this thing would fit in my boat. :)

I've got to thank Jim Blake of The Woodshop because had I not worked with him several years earlier on a gray Barrel Back restoration I would not have been able to build these things.


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Don Ayers
1959 Riva Ariston
www.RivaForum.org
www.barrelback.com

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Don Ayers
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Post by Don Ayers » Thu Jun 03, 2010 8:02 am

At this point it's around Feb 2010 and I discover that Dan's boat was not quite complete in that the front seat base did not have the flip seat. Many people unfamiliar with Riva's might not know the great flip up seat feature that Riva put in their boats. See picture.

Well, 1959 was the year they started doing it so I was missing that important DNA to replicate and so was Dan.

Back to the phones... :cry:

Once again I got lucky. The only Ariston and I mean the only one in the US that is under a restoration and has the seats out is in Tavares, FL.

Can you believe it!!!! :D

I phoned up Steve Heitman and sure enough he said while attending the March Tavares show I could come over, peel off the old skin and do all the measuring and documentation I could stand. Thank you Steve!!

Having all my notes, pictures and video I jumped into the front seat base with the flip section. I can tell you I would have never been able to recreate this thing without an example to follow.

The Flip is the greatest thing since engines in boats!!! You can plop your butt on the top of the seat or stand behind the wheel.

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Don Ayers
1959 Riva Ariston
www.RivaForum.org
www.barrelback.com

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Don Ayers
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Post by Don Ayers » Thu Jun 03, 2010 8:16 am

Next was actually putting my creation in the boat for a fit adjustment...talk about nervous. I had butterfly's in the stomach when first dropping them in but all looked pretty good. Just some expected shaping and sanding. After the fit looked OK I moved to the seal, springs and straps phase.

I sealed all the wood, cleaned up the original springs and primed then began strapping with tacks following the original pattern.

Last tack went in last night and now they are heading off to Rod Souza's in CA for the actual interior to be installed.

Oh...finding the original zebra print with embossed horse hair. That's a whole nother story altogether!!

Thanks for reading.


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Don Ayers
1959 Riva Ariston
www.RivaForum.org
www.barrelback.com

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Ken Miller
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Post by Ken Miller » Thu Jun 03, 2010 10:16 am

Don,

What an incredible story. It sounds like fate was on your side.


Ken Miller.
1951 Chris Craft U-22-1705 "Miss Cynthia"

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Bill Basler
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Post by Bill Basler » Thu Jun 03, 2010 12:39 pm

Great documentation and work Don.
Bill Basler

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Don Vogt
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Post by Don Vogt » Fri Jun 04, 2010 7:21 am

very interesting Don. Great job.

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Post by Fortunato » Fri Jun 04, 2010 11:29 pm

To hell with the seats, just sprawl out on the deck. Damn that's a beautiful boat.
ML

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Post by Fortunato » Sat Jun 05, 2010 12:01 am

I hope that wasn't inappropriate.
Don - your work is both impressive an enviable.
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Post by James » Sat Jun 05, 2010 3:19 am

Beautiful work Don!

(It's comforting to see that some other Riva owners are as obsessional as I.......)

Tritone
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Post by Ken Miller » Sun Jun 06, 2010 7:37 pm

Can someone explain how the bimini top works in conjunction with the deck surface cushions behind the aft passenger seat? Do they lift to allow the top to be raised? And what happens to them after the top is up?
1951 Chris Craft U-22-1705 "Miss Cynthia"

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drrot
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Post by drrot » Sun Jun 06, 2010 8:09 pm

Ken,
The top comes up and the cushions are replaced. A well thought out accessory.
Jim Staib
www.finewoodboats.com

1931 Chris-Craft 26' #898 "Ashes"
1929 Chris-Craft 28' #3107 http://www.finewoodboats.com/1929%20Chris28.htm
1947 Penn Yan 12' Cartopper WXH474611
1950 Chris-Craft 22' Sportsman U-22-1532
1957 Chris-Craft 26' Sea Skiff SK-26-515
1968 Century 17' Resorter FG-68-174

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