A little Bird Told me

This is a general discussion area for those who are interested in Chris-Craft's connection with Century Boats.

A little Bird Told me

Postby Centuryjack » Thu Nov 20, 2008 7:56 am

AhHa! A little bird told me that there was now a forum established within the "Chris Craft Buzz" for Century boat enthusiasts. I thought I'd take a look. First, thank you to the CC Club for having the foresight to expand the forum and include those of us who love our Century Boats. A number of us have thrived on a Yahoo sight for some years now.

I have read the posts so far. Of course, it is evident that some are so channeled and nearsighted so as not to recognize the great contribution that Century made to the boating industry. I'm not here to argue which is best - for we all have our own individual interests and passions - and, much like love are blinded by those attachements.

The Century Boat Company was started by two brothers in Milwaukee, Wisconsin to manufacture and sell small outboard racing hulls. They met with much success. Because of limited resources and labor in Milwaukee, the company moved to Manistee, Michigan; induced in part by a grant from the city of Manistee to relocate there.

You should know that when I was reacquainted with wooden boats some 15 years ago, my first love was was a Chris Craft Riveria. I lusted after one of those. However budgetery constraints dictated that my first project boat would instead be a Century. I have never regretted the choice. I have studied the history of Century Boats and the company since then. I have all the Chris Craft books as well.

The discussion of a Century plank on batten seam construction vs that of the Chris Craft double planked bottom has raged for the ages now. It will continue to do so. Century's bottom was developed to be light,fast; provide a superior ride and be easy to repair. I have - in my role as a hobbyist restorer taken the bottom off of both species of boats. I have seen as much rot and destruction in a Chris Craft bottom as I ever have in a Century. When either boat was at the height of it's popularity, people just did not take care of these boats the way we do now.

The speed, control, and manueverability of the Century Resorter in the mid-50's adapted well to water sking. Thus, Century became the mainstay in most show and club fleets. In 1955 Century introduced the first of the Coronado line, and yes - it was available with both a Cadillac V8 and a Chrysler Hemi.

Cal Connell attempted to sell Chris Craft on his new marine conversion Cadillac V8 at the New York Boat show in 1953 and they turned him down. Century did not for they had the Coronado on the drawing boards and immediately recognized the fit this engine would provide for their new boat. Equipped with the larger of the two Caddilac engines this new Coronado went on to break many speed records. Chris Craft saw the error in their thinking and in a last minute bid to capture some of this lost market, designed and marketed the Cobra. All 55 of them, I believe. I have heard that upon occasion the Cobra provided it's operator with an excellant view of the lake bottom. Heresy, I'm sure.

As early as the late 40's, one could buy a Century with full length spray rails. These provided a much drier ride for the passengers in the boat. I happen to feel that the Century Sea Maid has always been one of the most beautiful boats marketed. The President of the ACBS has one of the few remaining 1942 Century Triples - tear drop design not unlike the barrel sterns all of us lust after that CC made in the late 30's and early 40's.

Of course Chris Smith and his sons got to the market place first. I would never dispute the contribution his family made to both racing and recreational boating. The development of the modern planning hull early in the last century (huh!, there's that word again)is never in dispute. Neither can one dispute the shear numbers of Chris Craft boats manufactured and sold - for, Chris Smith truly made his boats the Model T of the industry.

While I probably would never own one, the flat top carrier design of the late 50's 19' Resorter provides one of the driest and fastest rides around for that era. There are still a fairly large number of them around.

Richard Arib, a designer from New York was recruited by Century to "freshen" up their designs in the mid 50's. It was his application of crrent automotive design trends that found its way into the Century line of boats and produced the Coronado, Arabian, and Resorter of the mid 50's. Like almost any enthusiast for any interest, a love-hate relationship often exists when it comes to the heavily accented Coronado models introduced in 1959. Well, Buick had the Roadmaster too and I've often wondered, pound for pound, which had more tonnage of chrome - the Buick or the Coronado.

In the mid 60's Century rethought the concept of extremism and those Coronados and Resorters that resulted were very attractive (and fast) boats.

As with Chris Craft, wood Century boats went away with the end of the 1968 model year. Fiberglass Resorters and Coronados continued to be produced into the late 1990's, as did the Arabians and a number of other Century models as both inboards and I/O's.

In the late 50's, Chris Craft, too, slapped some fins and chrome on their boats. In comparing the design models, I think they came too late to the dance.

As enthusiasts, we will all individually have our own preferences. The Century Boat Club was formally created in 1986. Bob Spelz of the "Real Runnabouts" fame was one of the original founders. We - the CBC - currently have around 1,200 members on our roster.

As long as modern man argues the merits of Ford over Chevy (both of whom are at risk of the very same extinction as wood hulled boats as I write this)we boating enthusiasts will argue the virtues of the Century vs Chris Craft designs and performance. It is the human nature of our beast as man boys.

I, personally accord much respect for and to Chris Craft for all of their history and their design work over the ages. However, having done my homework my personal choice will always be a Century. And, when restoring one - as I am now, I will always choose the original design and construction for the bottom of my Century Boat. We all know that with modern materials and restoration methods - done properly - either design will probably allow our boats to remain long after we have departed this earthly plane.

So, let's go to the line boys. I'll show you my twin V8 tuned tailpipes everytime in a boat equipped just as it came from the factory.

What fun is this!!!!!

Century Jack
Jack Schneiberg
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Postby qukalake » Thu Nov 20, 2008 9:51 pm

Jack, nice post, well written, thank you for the time. I looked at many Century boats,happen to end up with a CC. Maby next time....regards
Dennis

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Postby Thommyboy » Fri Nov 21, 2008 8:03 am

Hi Jack, Hope all is swell. Great information.

Century Boat Company was incorporated on 14 February 1928 with T.H. Spence, Lawson Adams, and J.A. Dietrich as incorporators. James B. Welch was president; A.W. Mellows was vice president; T.H. Spence was secretary; Anson Eldred was treasurer; and directors were: Mackey Wells; William H. Kieckhefer; Herbert Wuesthoff; and W.W. Sherman.

They must not have been all that successful because they were in receivership by 25 March 1929. Geo. W. Kiegel was the receiver. On 02 November 1929 Geo. G Eddy purchased at receivership sale all the assets of Wisconsin firm, Century Boat Company.

On 04 December 1929 a new Century Boat Company was incorporated in Michigan.

This information came form the Wisconsin Historical Society Archives, the "Defunct Corporations - Secretary of State" papers, series 356 box 171, file #C003305.

Interestingly, there was a William W. Sherman of Muskegon, MI who was vice president of Racine-Truscott-Shell Lake Boat Company starting on 20 August 1914.

The Welch brothers went on to form Welch Boat Company of Milwaukee and later it became Midwest Boat Company at Menomonee Falls, WI.

Andreas

PS: I shared this information with Geoffrey Reynolds and Thomas Holmes back in early 2006.
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Postby Centuryjack » Sat Nov 22, 2008 7:07 am

Good info! Yes, the Century Boat Company had it's share of restarts over the years. The 1929 reorganization was just one of many.

Two years ago, several of us met in Milwaukee to load a 1946 Sea Maid up for a trip back east. We decided to drive over to 333 Beecher St and see if we could find the original location of the factory. It took some walking around - but we were finally able to determine that the plot of land is now occupied by a pumping station for the Milwaukee Sewage District. I'm sure a few CC guys would call this a fitting end.

In 1965 a fire at Century's #2 factory in Manistee resulted in heavy water damage to many of the company's records - especially the production records of the boats. As a result we Century owners do not have the luxury of a source to trace our boats. We do have access to a large number of the warranty registration cards mailed by the dealers from the late 40's through the early 70's. A current project is organizing these into a database that will allow us to pull missing hull numbers up by using the engine numbers - this - assuming the original engine is in the boat.

None-the-less, actual history of the company is best obtained by searching old news articles and talking with the remaining few who worked there. One of the sales of the company to new interests took place in 1986, and resulted in moving the company to Florida and closing the Manistee operations. This abrupt move created a vacuum in Manistee employment and many of the factory faithful workers came away bitter as they watched their future and eventually their retirement plans disappear almost overnight.

A & A Marine Manufacturing in Manistee is the brain-child of Conrad Adamski - a Century Boat Company mainstay who had the foresight to buy up as much of the remaining parts, tools, dies and patterns during the move to Florida. Now run by Dave Kamaloski, the company is still able to remanufacture much of the hardware that originally adorned the boats. They also still have many of the interior materials available and there are still a couple of people who did the original work in the factory on tap to duplicate the stitch work if needed. Actually, Fortier Industries supplied much of the hardware and interior components for Century.

For those who may not know, Century and the rights to the name are currently owned by Yamaha. They manufacture a line of boats which is mostly geared to fish and ski applications and carry the Century name.

The current General Manger of the Century Division of Yamaha is a member of our club and seems interested in helping our club maintain the history of the Thoroughbred of Boats.
Jack Schneiberg
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Adamski

Postby qukalake » Sat Nov 22, 2008 8:35 am

Jack, do you think Conrad Adamski of A&A Marine is related to John Adamski, here in upstate New York. He is currently spearheading a "Fingerlakes Museum"
project which will no doubt have a well done wooden boat section.

John Adamski [jbadams@frontiernet.net]

I believe they are just getting their board together, and trying to finalize a location here in the Finger Lakes.
Dennis

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Postby Centuryjack » Sat Nov 22, 2008 8:48 am

I doubt it. But Conrad is Secretary of our club, and of course, one of the original founders. Connie worked his way up through the ranks with Century. It is highly informational to spend some time talking with him about some of the ways in which Century approached production challenges.

The original factory was located on the Manistee River which flows from Lake Michigan through the downtown area and into Lake Manistee. There is a picture - somewhere; maybe on our website - which shows two prototype '59 (I think) boats moored in front of the factory on the river. A recent conversation with Connie was about the Ore Boat that came up the river just after this picture was taken and completely crushed both boats against the docks. Kindling was the result.

Connie has never adapted to the internet and so my communication with him is limited to phone calls and snail mail. If I remember, the next time I talk with him, I'll ask about John.
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conrad adamski

Postby thomasholm » Sun Mar 22, 2009 3:18 pm

Conrad's only brother is Myron Adamski who lives one block from him in Eastlake,MI. Myron worked at the Century Boat Co. as well, in the R&D Dept.
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ore boats in the river

Postby thomasholm » Sun Mar 22, 2009 3:23 pm

Jack, after that great laker got frigthen by the narrow maple st bridge he did sway back into century's seawall and touch a couple of tied up brand new boats. BTW, they were not reduced to fire wood but to fire sale. A few twists here and there, and some lucky dealer got two boats on fire sale.
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