1969 Commander 38 Fly Bridge

I am going to look at this 1969 38 today. If you can believe the photos it should be pretty clean. It has a pair of CM 454 350 hp and 1,650 on the hr meters. Looks like  factory stock interior layout with newer upholstery.  Can anyone fill me in on what to look for on a walk thru / survey and sea trial? WOT speeds, performance numbers other info ??? Given the year windows and tanks would be a concern I suspect. We recently moved and sold a 1970 Canoe Cove Pilot house we restored. We didn't think it would do well moving up the coast from San Diego  to Seattle.Would really like to find a nice Commander.... maybe got lucky...will know soon.

there is a gen set and an electric stove and an electric heater. What percentage of boats had that in lieu of propane? The cockpit and fly bridge deck have the Teak slats. Is this an area of concern for soft decks?

thanks guys

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  • Because of the hazard of propane being denser than air I don't think any boats are fitted with propane within confined spaces certainly none of the Commander line. 

    Soft spots often are the engine hatches if the coring is compromised. It can result in raw knuckles but you'll probably not be able to tap with a hammer, maybe one with plastic tips, and listen for a dull thud versus a sharp rap. You may want to have a certified survey done. 


  • I've never seen teak stripe on the floor of commander cockpit.

    As Tim mentioned I'd look carefully at the coreing in the  cockpit sole and hatches. If you have access to a moisture meter , it will tell you the condition of the core along with simple percussion testing

    I'd look at the tabbing that holds the Doug fir timbers onto of the hollow stringers , the old wooden rudder blocks, the old cast iron mufflers, inspect all the thru hulls and  Check that the sea cocks operate freely.

    Theres mor to it than this but hopefully this is a good start

    The orig gas tanks were galvanized steel. Send in a camera into the tank to see if they are rusting or if the galvanizing is flaking off.

    If the tanks are shot, the good news is that on a 38 the tanks will fit thru the lazerett hatch and can be replaced if needed.


  • Well I made an offer contingent on sea trial and survey. A few o bservations so far. Looks like the Crusader serial numbers date one engine 1992 and one 1995 so I would guess 1995 was when they were installed. They both have a freshwater flush hose installed on the raw water strainers so one of the previous owners was aware of the manifold weakness. At some point the trim tabs and any evidence of where they were installed is gone except the switches at both helms. Loriginal round galvanized steel tanks are still in service. For pressure test on the cooling system and compression readings mechanic wants 3 hours per engine. I am told anything less than 150 psi means there could be a problem. I have seen several Commanders of different sizes with aluminum sliders installed between the cockpit and the helm. Was this a factory option of something people came up with ? Comments? Advise!

  • Models with sliding doors are probably 'sedan' models, without would be an express model. Unless they were added later.

  • I have a 1967 38' Sedan Flybridge repowered with Crusader 454s. I make a consistent 22 mph at 3200 rpm and just a tad under 31 at WOT (4000 rpm). I burn 25 gph at cruise, 26 gph at 3300, and it appears to be exponential after that. 


    I also have aftermarket trim tabs which help balance out when carrying a full fuel and water load. You should have Rochester carbs on your Crusaders, which is a good thing because they have smaller jets on the primaries, meaning lower fuel burn at lower speeds than the Carter or Edelbrock options.


  • I couldn'tThanks For the info Matt

    Can you tell me what speed to get her up on a plane. Here in the San Juans the beaches are covered with logs that come down the rivers and lots of boats in the yards from hitting dead heads. It would be nice if she gets on her feet at a slower speed. What is the sweet spot . Also this boat has 23x21 which reading on the club pages is not optimum. What are you running? One engine serial number is 1992 the other is 1995 got a picture of this tag on thevalve cover says series XL does that confirm what you mentioned about the carbs?

     I couldn't paste the photo it says XL series

  • Mine stays on plane as low as 2600 rpm and roughly 16ish mph in calm water, but since the boats are aft heavy getting out of the hole is way easier with trim tabs bumping the butt up. I usually juice it to 3500 or so to just open it up and get her going, then back off to cruise rpm. It tends to level out pretty quickly, especially with 1/4 tabs down.

    You can tell if it's a Rochester carbs just by looking at the side. It should be cast right in the side. Google a photo and you'll see what I mean. If it doesn't have Rochesters it's not the end of the world, there was actually a Carter kit stock from Crusader.


    My wheels are smaller than that, but my gears are 1.88. I'm not sure what your gear ratio is, that'll really tell what the prime prop is. On your sea trial make sure it hits at least 4000 rpm while running WOT. Spec is between 4000 and 4400. Whatever the props, make sure you can hit that and you're getting close to 30 mph. Watch the temperature and oil pressure when you do. Make sure nothing is spiking.



  • Decks should be rock solid. They are on my 69' C38.

  • Anyone with standard. Trim tabs on their 38 Commander? What size are they? Location?  The boat I sea trial next week had them removed. I saw no evidence of the recessed ones on the bottom. Just thinking they would be handy for handling on one engine if for no other reason.

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