1948 Century 16′ Deluxe Utility
July 31, 2018
It was in the spring of 2015, while I was still recovering from pneumonia when I received a phone call from Brian Bettinger. He was on his way to New York for the summer. We had been looking at a 1948 Century as a project boat that we could build here in Eustis. He suggested I take another look and I did.
The seller had purchased the Century in 2006 in Wisconsin where it had been stored in a warehouse since the 1960’s. He then took it to New York where he had a 5200 bottom put on, had the 75hp Gray-Marine Phantom 4 rebuilt, and had a new transom put in and then it was stored away again for another 10 years. He finally brought it to Florida and put the boat up for sale. Brian and I purchased it and I brought the Century home to Eustis and stored it in my garage for the summer. On my return in the fall, I assessed the pile of old wood that at one time was running on Brown Lake, Wisconsin in the 50’s. Brian was still in New York when I started in on the old girl. Once the old interior was removed, I started on the new mahogany covering boards.
Using the old wood as a pattern I traced out new covering boards, new floors, and seats. When Brian got back to Florida he started on the decks, transom, side planks and motor box. We must have worked 5-6 days a week all winter. We had to order the new interior covering boards that are Alaskan Yellow Cedar, a very clear pretty yellow wood. This Century was an all cedar built boat as many boat companies used cedar for a lack of mahogany during and after World War II. The cedar decks are also a pretty wood with small knots that give the wood character. We also had all the original hardware which we sent out to Space Coast Plating to rechrome. The original colors of the boat were white sides with red bottom and a baby blue boot strip and varnished decks and red upholstery.
Century made this model 1947, 48 and 49. 1950 they were built out of mahogany again.
Next we went to work on the motor. Though it was rebuilt it had not been run since the 1960’s. We up graded to a 12volt system, new water pump, restored gages, etc. With a few adjustment the motor was off and running and back in the boat. We launched the boat on Lake Dora February 2018 for the first time and it was the first time in the water in over 60 years. We ran the Lakes to build up some hours.
It is fun to bring an old wood boat back to life. We are lucky to live in the Mt Dora area where there is a wood boat support system made up of Sunnyland members that have a love of old wood boats. We took our Century to Amelia Island in April for a Festival of Speed Show and won the Great Gatsby Award for the restoration.
The Proud Owner In His Beautiful Century