Fellow Commandeers,

I've finally gotten my 31 Commander out of the water, after 4 years of just sitting (floating) and slowly degrading, and will start restoring her. I would like to modify the flybridge and move it back a couple of feet as well as adding a couple of feet to it but that needs the flybridge to be removable, as it is on the 35 and the 38. The boat arrives at my place next week and I will get to see then but this question was itching in my mind so I wondered if anyone could help?

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I've just bought one, and the paperwork shows the bridge as an option.  My friend has one, he's torn apart and reassembled more boats than I've even been on, and he thinks taking off the bridge would be difficult.  I'll get to spend time with my boat in the spring, that is something I'm interested in also.  But I do like the bridge as is, not sure I'd want much more weight up there.

Hey Rudy, I need a Sunday away for a few hours, invite me and Mimi down for show and tell, Im in Delray Beach.

Byron,

I moved from South Florida about 4 months ago, could no longer take the noise, traffic and general chaos. I'm in Gainesville now, where I have enough land to store several Commanders, but no sea :-) Once I get moving with the refit, you're welcome to come see the boats, if that is worth the 5 hour drive to you.

Byron Smith said:

Hey Rudy, I need a Sunday away for a few hours, invite me and Mimi down for show and tell, Im in Delray Beach.

By the way Byron,

Did you sell the 42 yet? I'm coming down to spend the holiday with family and will stay until weekend. If you haven't sold her, maybe I can come take a look at her. Give me a call or text at 305-815-3560.



Byron Smith said:

Hey Rudy, I need a Sunday away for a few hours, invite me and Mimi down for show and tell, Im in Delray Beach.

Rudi, Rudi, Rudi,  What are you THINKING????  Is your 31 an express or a sport fish?  First of all,  yes the bridge is removable in either case.  HOWEVER,  the bridge on the 31 express is a somewhat functionless top heavy attachment to begin with.  Why make it worse???  How does this make it a better boat?  I think it's too much expense and labor to be worth it.   

Paul,

Do I detect a hint of disapproval? :-) Mine is an express and where the 35 looks particularly sleek and handsome without a bridge, and so does the 38 for that matter, the 31 has always looked to me a bit squatty without a top. But the way the bridge sits originally makes the boat look a little triangular, if you know what I mean. So I was thinking about moving it back just a couple of feet so the bridge front does not longer align with the windshield but rather sits astern of it like on the older sportfish, which really makes for very pleasing lines. And I do like to pilot from the bridge, a habit I picked up navigating all the convoluted waterways, canals, shallows and shoals off of Miami and the Keys...



Paul Cavenaugh said:

Rudi, Rudi, Rudi,  What are you THINKING????  Is your 31 an express or a sport fish?  First of all,  yes the bridge is removable in either case.  HOWEVER,  the bridge on the 31 express is a somewhat functionless top heavy attachment to begin with.  Why make it worse???  How does this make it a better boat?  I think it's too much expense and labor to be worth it.   

Hi Rudi.  While I understand what you are trying to accomplish,  by the time you take down and replace the headliner under the hardtop for removal,  unmount the bridge,  move it back,   move the cables (or install new ones that fit),  fill the old holes,  repaint the hardtop, and then take into consideration weight distribution,  it just seems to me that it would be $7500 that could be better spent elsewhere.     

So you are going to scootch the bridge back a bit?  And extend the cabin roof back a bit so you don't fall off the back?  I have to agree these are a bit angular, straight-lines were the style of the time.  It doesn't look all that sexy in the non-bridge option either.

Mine gets delivered in the spring, no such lofty plans with it yet, but can't help thinking about it.  Why not ditch the whole flybridge console and sides, and build a minimalist, tube-frame console up there?  A lot of new boats come with a hard-top, and tube-frame exoskeleton flybridge.  Those massive exoskeletons seem excessive, bolt to the deck all around the cabin, but it is a popular look.  Ours would just need a small console for the wheel, shifters, throttles, instruments, maybe a radio.  I think I would like that look, it should be less top-heavy, and might gain room for more seating.  If you do take yours off, I'd love to see how it is done.

I love cruising on a bridge, and wanted a picnic boat, this is one of the few boats I've found that can do both.

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Paul,

I'm with you. BUT, I will have to do all those things anyway, most every surface in the boat needs replacing. Except the hull, where the gelcoat still gleams, thanks God. I have the boat now with me and see that the bridge is integral to the hardtop, not a screw-on addition as it is on the 35, so I will have to unmount the whole hardtop to work on it. In truth, extending the front of the top two feet forward and one foot backwards is not that big a deal, plywood, resin, filler and paint. I'm thinking of building a steel frame to reinforce the whole structure, which will hide between the bridge's floor and the headliner beneath it. Nothing major, a few rectangles welded together, out of 1/4" steel, coming down on chrome columns, and going to 1 ft square backing plates right under the deck. That will hold the weight of 3-4 persons on the bridge without issue. As for weight distribution, I was planning on moving the fuel tanks forward all the way against the cabin bulkhead since my engines, being so much shorter than the 307s that are there now, allow me such change. And I know it is a LOT of work for such a small, common boat, but after all, I am planning on keeping it for the foreseeable future, so that's fine.

Of course, I may just leave all as is when I actually get to it, and laugh quietly at my well meaning but nevertheless silly plan.... :-)

Scott, my bridge looks a bit different than yours, same size likely though, as mine is an express. And yes, that's the plan, a very minimal set up with only the bare necessities. By the way, those thick sides on my bridge are not as heavy as they look, they are hollow inside, just a thin fiberglass skin molded around itself but not all that heavy. Most of the weight comes from the hard top itself, not that thin fiberglass skin, the railing or the seats. 

Ok, now I'm more confused.  An "Express" style boat as I understand it, is open with no hard top from the windshield back, and a cabin below the bow forward of the driving station.  No hard-top or flybridge, typical Sea Ray/Formula/Cruisers/etc.  I'm not sure when that style came to be called "express", it is a modern name. 

Chris Craft made the 31' Sports Express from '68-'71, then renamed it the Sports Cruiser from '72-74, same boat.  I assumed you had a Sports Express, or Sports Cruiser like mine.  My best friend has a '69, it is identical to my '74, they didn't change the bridge, so you must have something newer...? 

I've lived and worked around boats and marinas since the '70s, in the town where most of our boats were built, but I'm just now buying my first Commander and learning about them.  I did a lot of research before deciding on the model I sought and finally purchased, would like to see what yours looks like. 

This model has 13' of fishing cockpit, and mine has an open salon forward of that, a fairly ideal socializing or picnic boat.  Any mods I do will be toward socializing, I'd like as much seating as possible, and a removable table. An outdoor futon would be perfect, or two, for sitting or sunning.  Maybe a bimini canvas top for the bridge, and some sort of sun top for the cockpit that doesn't cut off the bridge from the socializing.

Rudi Herbert said:

Scott, my bridge looks a bit different than yours, same size likely though, as mine is an express. And yes, that's the plan, a very minimal set up with only the bare necessities. By the way, those thick sides on my bridge are not as heavy as they look, they are hollow inside, just a thin fiberglass skin molded around itself but not all that heavy. Most of the weight comes from the hard top itself, not that thin fiberglass skin, the railing or the seats. 

Hi Scott,

I think Rudi has this model - https://commanderclub.com/page/31-commander-express



Scott Miller said:

Ok, now I'm more confused.  An "Express" style boat as I understand it, is open with no hard top from the windshield back, and a cabin below the bow forward of the driving station.  No hard-top or flybridge, typical Sea Ray/Formula/Cruisers/etc.  I'm not sure when that style came to be called "express", it is a modern name. 

Chris Craft made the 31' Sports Express from '68-'71, then renamed it the Sports Cruiser from '72-74, same boat.  I assumed you had a Sports Express, or Sports Cruiser like mine.  My best friend has a '69, it is identical to my '74, they didn't change the bridge, so you must have something newer...? 

I've lived and worked around boats and marinas since the '70s, in the town where most of our boats were built, but I'm just now buying my first Commander and learning about them.  I did a lot of research before deciding on the model I sought and finally purchased, would like to see what yours looks like. 

This model has 13' of fishing cockpit, and mine has an open salon forward of that, a fairly ideal socializing or picnic boat.  Any mods I do will be toward socializing, I'd like as much seating as possible, and a removable table. An outdoor futon would be perfect, or two, for sitting or sunning.  Maybe a bimini canvas top for the bridge, and some sort of sun top for the cockpit that doesn't cut off the bridge from the socializing.

Rudi Herbert said:

Scott, my bridge looks a bit different than yours, same size likely though, as mine is an express. And yes, that's the plan, a very minimal set up with only the bare necessities. By the way, those thick sides on my bridge are not as heavy as they look, they are hollow inside, just a thin fiberglass skin molded around itself but not all that heavy. Most of the weight comes from the hard top itself, not that thin fiberglass skin, the railing or the seats. 

Yes Charlene,  that is the 31 Express, with the hardtop over the helm area.  And then the flybridge mounted above the hardtop.The sports express is the model with the flybridge mounted over the cabin top,  similar to the 28 or 31 Bertram or other similar 'sport fish' type cruisers. The 31 Commander express has the '6 sleeper' interior.  The Sports Express is a 2 or 4 sleeper interior.

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