1948 F.S. CRATE
SUBMITTED BY THE EXHIBITORS
John & Michele Donley
Make: 1948 F.S. Crate
Model: Custom Runabout
Engine: Chris-Craft WB 6cyl – 200hp
Hull #: N/A
Concours Catagory: Post-War Runabouts
THE HISTORY - RARE
The boat was named Robbie II after the original owner’s grandson. She was custom built in 1947-48 for the family of Saul Farb, a prominent Toronto entrepreneur who created the city’s first automated car wash business. The contracted builder was F.S. Crate & Sons of Lake Simcoe, located in Keswick, Ontario. Fred Crate started his boat building business in 1930, building small fishing craft and ultimately custom runabouts and cruisers. After a fire in the 1950’s (that destroyed all boatbuilding records) the Crate family shifted their focus towards marinas and sales operations. To the Crate family’s knowledge, this runabout is one of only three F.S. Crate vessels known to exist today.
HOW WE FOUND IT
In the summer of 2011, my wife and I were driving from Boulder to Denver, Colorado while traveling the country on our honeymoon road trip. Out of the corner of my eye, I spotted what looked like a ‘wooden boat’ sitting in cornfield. After claiming to my wife “this will only take a second”, we pulled a u-turn and drove up the dirt road towards the boat. I pulled up the cover at the transom and poked my head inside, completely surprised to find a large, unfamiliar triple cockpit runabout. The boat looked operational but clearly in need of a full restoration. After some research and conversations with her owners, we secured her purchase and transport back to New England.
After an extensive restoration, she is now lovingly named Nezzie. She floats on a new bottom but retains most of her original woodwork above the waterline. Her original power was reportedly a 6 cylinder Kermath but was replaced in the early 1950s with a Chris-Craft WB 200HP engine. She is decorated in plenty of chromed brass hardware, most of which is original. A very unique and striking design feature that sets her apart from virtually every other classic wooden boat is the overhanging aft deck and side planking which extend beyond the flat transom. This truly rare and one-of-a-kind runabout now spends her summers cruising Lake Michigan.