New member here looking to purchase a 1968 35 Commander Express. I found this boat on Facebook marketplace located near Oscoda, MI. Current owner since mid 1980’s. Unfortunately I did not get the Hull number. Current owner has health issues and has not used boat in 3 years but boat is launched and welled every year. Motors are 427’s, owner states they have never been rebuilt, hour meters show 1600+ hrs each.Boat shows very dirty since it has not been maintained very well for past few years, but bilges are clean and free from any oil and strong odors, the headliner in cabin as well as over hard top is not ripped or torn, all interior fabrics look original without rips or tears, dinette cushions slide and drop.The interior is mostly original except for newer refrigerator. There is some plywood rot around the fwd cabin port side port hole, not too concerned about that. The interior mahogany wood and trim is all in very good condition with no evidence of rod around side cabin windows. Floors all feel solid. The mahogany around cockpit under hard top is all in good condition and well maintained. The only canvas is a drop curtain with sides that will require replacement. 

I was able to see the boat out of the water, the hull is sound and solid around shaft logs. There are a few large areas of past and current hull damage, one large gouge, owner states happened this year when boat was launched and one area just below the rub rail that looks like it was rubbing against a hard point on a piling or dock. 

So, my question..what is it worth? They are currently asking just below $20k. 

In the past I have owned an ‘87 34’ Sportfish, 2001 38’ Cruisers and last a 2014 Center Console. I am a USCG Unlimited Tonnage Master with 20+ years sailing experience, so not afraid to get my hands dirty with a project. 

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Start  at $15000 or less.  Not  because  of  value  but  do  to market. To my mind, with  some  basis, this  is  the  best  design  of the  Commander series, perhaps  I am prejudiced  as an  owner.  The   427 engines  are nearly  bullet  proof  but  not  owner  proof!   

This  is  an  owner  friendly  boat, all systems  have  good  access and  the  price  may  be  fair  in  that  market  but hull damage, no  matter  how  incurred, is a definite  negative.

Feel  free  to  contact  me.

Tim  

Congratulations on considering the sexiest boat CC ever made (bias acknowledged). Agree with all Tim said, but wouldn’t be afraid to start with an absurd offer, especially if it’s been sitting a while. One advantage you have here is it’s a ‘68 with the solid mahogany interior. They only did that for a couple years on the 35 before switching to laminate.

Thank you for your opinions. I will most likely make an offer soon, just need to talk the admiral into the project. I agree the full mahogany interior makes these boats, so much more pleasing than the laminate. The motors are a concern but as said, and from what I have read, these are great motors if maintained properly. 

Thanks again, I’ll let you know when and if I become the care taker of a Commander.

I would spend an hour or 2 getting compression numbers.....motors  in these are easy access and I would wait on any offer til you have those numbers. IMHO the only thing that can catastrophically kill these boats is when a motor goes and a$10k rebuild has to be considered for a boat that will still be worth $20k after you do it....

Ok, so I was not able to get back to the boat before owner winterized engines. So compression test and test start did not happen. I have been trying to read up as much as I can on the 427’s and possible complications. That said I have offered the owner what I felt was the most I can justify based on not being able to test anything.

The owner accepted my offer, now here is the crazy thing. I live 3 hrs away from where the boat is currently stored and I would like to move this boat on her own bottom in the spring from Lake Huron to Lake St. Clair.

So my next step is finalizing the deal and I have only spoken to the owner a few times. Current owner has health issues and I am not sure about the ancillary equipment locations, electronics, batteries, equipment. 

What would be the most prudent way to move forward at this point? Pay fully what my offer was since I gave no contingencies prior to offer, get all equipment, batteries and title. Or, give a deposit based on engines starting and running in spring, since I did not do winterization, protect myself in some way. 

I feel I can trust the seller since they are in a situation that will only end with one outcome, but I am still nervous. 

What is the best way to proceed?

How difficult is it to re-winterize a raw water cooled 427? What are steps, last IB boat was closed cooling so I just ran with red pop till it came out exhaust.

I am extremely excited for the purchase just want to protect myself.

Should only cost a couple hundred bucks to rewinterize the engines. If it was me I’d pay to have it put in the water and run it. If everything is satisfactory pay the full price and either pay for winterization or do it yourself. I could lay out my winterization procedure, but it’s abit over the top, I feel good on those cold nights though. 

Jason Law said:

Ok, so I was not able to get back to the boat before owner winterized engines. So compression test and test start did not happen. I have been trying to read up as much as I can on the 427’s and possible complications. That said I have offered the owner what I felt was the most I can justify based on not being able to test anything.

The owner accepted my offer, now here is the crazy thing. I live 3 hrs away from where the boat is currently stored and I would like to move this boat on her own bottom in the spring from Lake Huron to Lake St. Clair.

So my next step is finalizing the deal and I have only spoken to the owner a few times. Current owner has health issues and I am not sure about the ancillary equipment locations, electronics, batteries, equipment. 

What would be the most prudent way to move forward at this point? Pay fully what my offer was since I gave no contingencies prior to offer, get all equipment, batteries and title. Or, give a deposit based on engines starting and running in spring, since I did not do winterization, protect myself in some way. 

I feel I can trust the seller since they are in a situation that will only end with one outcome, but I am still nervous. 

What is the best way to proceed?

How difficult is it to re-winterize a raw water cooled 427? What are steps, last IB boat was closed cooling so I just ran with red pop till it came out exhaust.

I am extremely excited for the purchase just want to protect myself.

Hello again,

i have just returned from completing a more thorough inspection of the boat and completed a compression test of engines. I am a little nervous from the results of the compression testing. Perhaps some of you may be able to shed some insight to why may be going on.

Engines: Chris Craft 427 25 & 427 25L(port)

Port Compression #’s- tach reads 1662, cold and dry

1-165; 2-165; 3-160; 4-165; 5-165; 6-160; 7-160 8-0

STBD Compression #’s-tach reads 1609, cold and dry

1-160; 2-160; 3-160; 4-145; 5-152; 6-155; 7-156; 8-158

So, what could be the problem with Port Engine #8?

Tetsted #8 port dry and wet.

we have agreed to a good price but what could I be getting myself into with this engine?

Oil was dark in color, no fuel smell. 

I attempted to start both motors using starting fluid after compression testing but I think batteries were pretty much spent by that point.

thanks for any opinions.

No you need to do a leak down test on number eight to figure out if it’s the rings or the valves

My own cardinal rule when buying a boat: Never finalize the deal until you do a shakedown cruise.

Check engine temp at WOT, 427’s should turn 4100 rpm at WOT, oil pressure,etc. I’ve bought and sold 6 boats, 3 were Chris Crafts. Currently own a 41 Commander w/ 427’s, for the past 15 years. Engines had 1900 hrs at purchase, had the same problem with compression on the starboard side. Ran it home 400 miles@ 1600-1800 rpms. Never used a drop of oil. Laid it up for winter and did the “top end” with hardened valves. Ethanol gas probably caused the compression issue . The previous owner top ended the port the year before. The next “best” upgrade was converting to electronic ignitions. Just laid it for winter with 2500 hours on the the 427’s. In 15 years I’ve rebuilt the starter motors, rebuilt the raw water pumps and one circulating pump. Also had the carbs rebuilt too. Both engines run strong, never left me stranded. My 41 is much heavier than your 35. I usually cruise at 1700-1800 rpms. Found that to be most economical. As I recall, the top end job cost me $1500-1600. My two cents! Good luck!

Joe Marino

I think a leak down test on port #8 would show 100 % leak down, just as it shows zero compression on #8. There is something seriously wrong with this cylinder - - OR - - after not being used for 3 years this engine may have developed a #8 intake or exhaust valve stuck in the open position.. Would you be lucky if this indeed is what is wrong with this engine. Here's how to check it - -  remove the port side valve cover and roll the engine over while observing the 2 #8 valves,

Dick, wouldn’t you  be able to elimate the valves is a problem Be doing a leak down after turning the crank till the valve position is closed and see if it still leaks?

Dick Morland said:

I think a leak down test on port #8 would show 100 % leak down, just as it shows zero compression on #8. There is something seriously wrong with this cylinder - - OR - - after not being used for 3 years this engine may have developed a #8 intake or exhaust valve stuck in the open position.. Would you be lucky if this indeed is what is wrong with this engine. Here's how to check it - -  remove the port side valve cover and roll the engine over while observing the 2 #8 valves,

Glenn,

Usually a leak down test is appropriate for situations in which the cylinder pressure is at 50% or better of normal values. Below 50% and the leakage is bad enough that a leak down test is basically zero value.

When you have a reading of zero for compression, you either have a stuck intake, stuck exhaust, both intake and exhaust are stuck, or else there is a hole in the top of the piston.

Dick's advice to pull the valve cover is the next step. I would put a bore scope in the rough the plug hole and see what the cylinder wall look like.

It would not surprise me if there is not some serious water damage or corrosion.

The good news is that the other compression values are quite consistent and indicate good health for the rings and valves as a whole.

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