Shed Find: 1960 Chris-Craft Roamer 36

It’s not too often that a person runs across a 1960 Chris-Craft Roamer 36 in almost perfect condition sitting in a storage shed in Montgomery, Texas, but here we are. This sleek steel hull beauty can be found listed here on eBay with a current bid price of just $2,275 with no reserve and there is less than a day left on the auction!

36 feet, I could get 3-4 of my cars on this thing! We have all heard of Chris-Craft and most of us know them for their mid-century wooden boats which are as much a work of art as a fine watercraft. In 1956, Chris-Craft bought the Roamer Boat Company which was based in Holland, Michigan and they were known for building steel and aluminum-hulled boats.

I can’t help but think of two things whenever I see a boat like this: ultra-rich people and Jonas Grumby, better known as “the Skipper” from Gilligan’s Island. I know, those two couldn’t be much different than they are. The seller says that the owner of this gorgeous boat, or yacht, was an older gentleman who had a stroke a decade ago and had paid for long-term storage and the boat sat while he recovered. Finally, he realized that he wouldn’t be able to get this boat out on the water again and he sold it.

I could easily live in this gorgeous craft, what a great looking cabin! That woodwork is unreal and yet it’s real, if that makes any sense. Some updating is probably in order and for sure a lot of elbow grease is needed to polish this beautiful bobber and make it look like new again. And, in case you’re wondering: yes, there’s a head – i.e., bathroom.

The seller has the power listed as twin Mercury 225 engines and I’m assuming 225 hp each? Skipper, are you out there? They were running fine when this boat/yacht went into storage and they were properly drained and stored so getting them going again hopefully won’t be too difficult. They say that this Roamer was listed on craigslist for $29,000 and they reserve the right to end the auction early if they sell it from another source and I would expect to see this one end early if the bid doesn’t get up into the $10,000s at least. Can any of you shed any light on these Merc engines?

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Comments

  1. geomechs Member

    Quite a boat! Have a little difficulty with skiers but otherwise OK. I have no idea what I would do with a boat like this. I don’t think it would fit in the bathtub. Have to take it over to Flathead Lake and drop it in. Of course without a thorough inspection DROP just might be what it will do. Now, I’m trying to sort out what kind of engines those are. It says Mercury but in this case, it’s a ‘Mercury’ marine propulsion system; the engines, themselves, could have come from anywhere. The straight down angle throws me way off. I thought of a MEL or and FE but the distributor is in the wrong place for both. I’ll have to look at this for a while…

    • Chevy Guy

      Are you from Montana, or do you just know of Flathead lake? I was born in Kalispell, MT and lived for 8 years ( I am only 13 now) and later moved to Oregon. Love Flathead lake and this would be very fun there with some fishing poles.

      • geomechs Member

        West of Sweetgrass. The Flathead Valley was my playground for many years. Not so much anymore. So many people with bags of money came in and it just isn’t the same. Hungry Horse is still pretty good. Whitefish is downright stupid…

      • Nevadahalfrack Nevadahalfrack Member

        Used to be a great brewhaus there in Whitefish but like everywhere…
        I feel your pain, geomechs-flatlanders are moving in because of the mess where they came from, then want all the same “entitlements”. “Pay me now or pay me later” doesn’t register with some folks..

      • geomechs Member

        You can’t blame the people for coming in like they did. For a spell property was cheap, and where they came from was getting crowded. They came in droves, built multi-million dollar summer homes and thus drove the property values up past the stratosphere. I had a friend in Big Fork (east of Kalispell) whose modest acreage (built with his bare hands) was invaded on both sides by money bags. His taxes suddenly went through the ceiling and he came very close to losing his place or selling out. People everywhere were actually losing their homes. The county finally grand-fathered in tax breaks to those who owned their houses before the carnage took place. But by then, a lot of damage was already done…

      • Nevadahalfrack Nevadahalfrack Member

        You’re exactly correct, geomechs, and I understand the draw to the rural areas.Theodore Roosevelt said “The farther one goes into the wilderness, the greater the art action of its lonely freedom”.
        The problem is the attitude of wanting what they’ve found but wanting all the mollycoddling that goes along with it. And it’s obviously not everyone but unfortunately just enough of them don’t appreciate the FIRST rule of economics “you can’t get something for nothing”.. or, “for everything you get in this life you have to give something up-the big question is whether whatever you’re getting worth what you’re having to giving up”.
        In the end, though, geomechs, the point I suspect you’re making and correctly so it that it’s just the price of progress..

      • geomechs Member

        I don’t think that the newcomers realized what they were creating but the locals began to resent the newcomers. There was a scandal in Big Fork (that was narrated by Paul Winfield on A&E’s ‘City Confidential’) where two brothers started burglarizing those mansions in the winter. They ended up killing one of the newcomers. The locals’ reaction was split between ‘Good Riddance’ and ‘That’s Terrible.’ The murder was unsolved for some time before it was even given a full-fledged investigation. Even when the boys were caught the authorities weren’t very popular with a lot of the locals. However, we’re getting way off the topic of this boat, except that today there are a lot of newer versions of this one on the Flathead Lake. I would be very curious as to the reaction of the newcomers if this boat–cleaned up real good–showed up…

      • Nevadahalfrack Nevadahalfrack Member

        I’m with you-and Chevy guy-on that! Drop this in the water, go out to the point and hang a couple poles out to catch supper..

      • Al.B.

        Hi they’re chevy’s-they drove the trans thru the front,with the flywheel at the other end,to let it be angled with a lower height below decks they could be 283’s or 327’s i believe.the tach drive was where the distributor would have been,and of course drives the oil pump.

    • Mike H

      Mercury used a variety of engines from automakers and adapted them for marine use in this case these are small black chevy’s depending on the year of production probably 327’s could be 283’s later they had 350 versions as well. most of these engines were sold as pairs with cranks that turned in different directions to produce more even thrust patterns instead of the offset from props rotating in the same directions which would give some “crawl” under heavy acceleration at low speed counter-rotating props canceled out that effect.

    • piloterror

      retro fit 350’s
      crusaders.

  2. Bluetec 320 Member

    I love everything about this boat, except for the Prius parked next to it. As far as the engine goes, I believe geomechs is correct that it is a Mercury Marine product and not a Ford engine. If I had to guess, I would say it is an SBC? 327?

  3. bobby longshot

    Those engines are likely marine-ized chevy 327s or similar. The blue logs outside of the valve covers are water-cooled exhaust risers.

    Forty years ago, my grandfather had a 1964 Fairliner 33′, a similar layout to this one. I was obsessed with that boat. My dad would always ask me what I was thinking about, and I would say, “I’m thinking about going on the boat someday.” The “Hot Plug” had twin Crusaders, which I have since learned were a common inboard gas motor of the time. They were also marine-sized Chevy V-8s. It had a nice cruise at about 25 mph, but at full throttles it could do nearly 40 knots, at which point the boat was getting really, really bad gas mileage. Dad would synchronize the motor rpms by ear, which sounded simply amazing.

    You can get these kinds of boats pretty cheap these days. They are usually valued at approximately the salvage value of the engines.

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    • geomechs Member

      That was going to be my guess. It seemed more SBC than anything else. I should know what an SBC looks like as I worked for GM for many years. However, when you set an engine up with marine gear, you alter it a lot…

  4. tom schweikert

    they look like 283 s which mercury probably used , had rear distributors and an available 225 hp rating.

  5. Nevadahalfrack Nevadahalfrack Member

    For you guys into classy (smaller) old boats…
    https://laketahoeconcours.com/

  6. Bob S

    Chriscraft made, or had their engines custom built. I was thinking that they are engines sold under the Chriscraft brand name.
    If this is a Mercruiser, they used both Ford 351s and Chevy 350s for the 225 rated engines. All the Mercuriser engines I am familiar with were painted black. I am guessing this is the Ford 351, because it looks like the distributor is near the water pump.
    I had a Mercruiser with the Chevy 350, and the distributor mounts through a hole in the intake.
    I am done with boating, I live on the West Coast, and caught all the salmon I need. Maintaining a salt water boat is a big drain on time and money.
    I do like the boat, and hope it finds a good home.
    Bob

    • HaroldC. Griffin Sr.

      Right on the distributor placement, all the gas GM V8s have the distributor at the rear of the engine not through the water pump or at the front of the engine. Nice boat.

      • piloterror

        brilliant. ever hear of a v drive?

  7. Boatman Member

    Okay, these are not Mercury motors (car or marine). These are Chris-Craft marinized small block Chevys, Probably 283, possibly 327, though at 225 HP probably 283’s. As you can see, they were driven off the pulley(?) end, and one engine was opposite rotation.

  8. JBP Member

    Nice old motor boat. I think the price is super good, but these engines has to go, and in with two 6 cyl. Turbo diesel. So you also can feed it. Its almost like new inside, hope it goes to a good home, and not end up under a tarp somewhere to rot up.
    In Danmark i could sell it withinn 24 hours for 4-6 times that price. But when there isnt a trailer for it, it isnt a option to import it, also shipping is minimum 2x the price for the boat, if it dosnt go much higher than now. It shut sell for minimum 5000$. Otherwice its a steal. Imo
    I love it. Funny its from Holland Michigan. In Holland Eu they also have a long tradition for building steel boats a bit in same stile, but this hull have more curves. Look much better. 🇺🇸🇩🇰

    • Stillrunners

      If know one knew – these were fiberglass with STEEL hhull….rock solid old girl there !

  9. DavidR

    I’m in Australia and my love of these boats began when a friend of mine bought one 10 years ago, it had twin Chev V8’s but because they were direct drive without a gearbox one of them actually ran backwards.

  10. bob

    Would be a great project. Plan on new power though. Talking from experience here, those engine would not be worth trying to rehab. Start new in what ever direction one would decide on. I hope some one does buy it and turns it into a nice live aboard.

  11. Howard A Member

    Again, neat post, I shamefully admit, I was an avid watcher of Gilligans Island ( mostly for Ginger and Mary Anne) and I never knew Skippers name was Jonas Grumby,,I tell you folks, you want to win a trivia contest, Scotty’s the one to take! You won’t get the zing like the train engine. Boats have a limited following, they’re fun when you buy them, and a relief when you sell them. As a kid, we had small boats, so boats of any kind generated interest. Years ago, Chris-Craft was the Rolls Royce of boats. All I can say, is these people bidding on this must have deep pockets, and it better have decent bilge pumps. I believe it’s dual prop driven, so if one motor goes out, you’ll have to “corkscrew” your way home. I bet it leaks like sieve. Cool find, and when parked somewhere, if you don’t like your neighbors, just take off. Or better yet, put it on a lot somewhere and live out of it.
    BTW, a little research shows, the boat in Gilligans Island looked similar, but was a 1964 Wheeler 38 foot Playmate. The shipwreck was caused by Gilligan throwing the anchor overboard with no rope attached. That was a funny show, great TV back then.

    • Boatman Member

      Howard, this boat has a steel hull. Why would it “leak like sieve”?

      • Howard A Member

        Sorry, class A landlubber here. I’ll stick to trucks. I just figured it was wood, as steel got to be pretty heavy. Thanks for the info.

  12. Todd Fitch Todd Fitch Staff

    Nice find, Scotty!!! My bucket list includes buying about a 40′ boat for the Intracoastal and/or the Great Loop. Generally speaking you can find a working boat of this size (in rougher cosmetic condition) starting around $10,000, but a wooden boat with real wood interior panels, etc. much more. This one is out of my league. Love it though!

    • Boatman Member

      Todd, I know where there’s a Silverton 40 with your name on it!

      • Todd Fitch Todd Fitch Staff

        Hey Boatman – much appreciated! I’ve looked at those Silvertons – definitely on my list. I have a project car to finish before I can pursue the boat dream (potential nightmare?) Thanks again!

  13. CapNemo

    My money is on those engines being 283’s. I’d love to have this boat, but I was a U.S. Merchant Marine for 19 years and just don’t have the urge to spend enough time on the water to justify the time and expense of what this boat would need. Nice vessel tho!

  14. Samspade

    Just an FYI, Roamers are steel hulled.

  15. Clipper

    At least with the steel hull you don’t have the maintenance of a wooden one. Our family owned a wood-hulled twin-engine Chris Craft and, after the owner died, it was stored and fell into disrepair. Ultimately it dry-rotted, was not saveable and had to be taken apart. The two Chryslers went to a local Vo-Tech, and the controls column I repurposed into a kids play toy (with sound effects). Not the best end, but as someone said these big old boats are demanding both financially and time-wise — and so are not everyone’s cup of tea these days…

  16. William

    I’ve owned lots of cars, airplanes, motorcycles and one sailboat that was built in 1968. It cost $17,500 when I purchased it in 2000. I updated everything, new engine, brightwork refinished, new sails, and more. I estimated I put in $125,000+. Fourteen years later all I could sell it for was $20,000. Although not the worst investment I ever made, it was right up there! Don’t buy this boat and expect you will recover your investment someday, do it for the love of old boats and you will be happy.

    11
  17. Jay E.

    A very nice boat. But I’m afraid that their asking price is in dreamland. It is REALLY hard to sell old boats, even beautiful ones like this (ask me how I know this firsthand).
    Ebay will determine its value, and I suspect it won’t get much more than 10k, (currently it is 6.5K) . I’ll be following it. If freight from Texas weren’t 2 times its value I would be the owner. Love it.

    • Johnmloghry

      Chris Craft is synonymous with great craftsmanship and luxury. I offer no guess as to the brand of engines, I don’t think it really matters though, the engines they used would move those boats wherever the fish or beautiful women were, depending on your desire at the time.
      God bless America

  18. NotSure Member

    I’ll bet this old girl burns a lot of gas getting up to plane! Love an old Chris Craft though as long as someone else is maintaining it…

  19. peter r

    I’ve been boating for more than 50 years and have owned both wood and fiberglass ones. I never bought a steel Roamer becasue they often had hull problems requiring major steel work which could be expensive. Assuming that is not the case here, $10k is all the money if it pases survey. Not much of a market for older boats today.

  20. rod444

    It’s the wood that gets me. Same reason we bought a 92 Monaco motorhome. The wood is done SO well and finished with a wood grain shine that just looks rich and inviting. Compared to today where most things are built of plastics or some cheaper composite woods, it just adds so much more class.

    I wonder if I could convince the wife to live aboard for a summer? Hmm…

  21. Ronald

    As the owner of wood Chris Craft boats this steel Roamer if in fact it came with the small block Chevy’s would have been 283’s as the 327 did not come out until 1962. The motors were purchased from GM and marinized by Chris Craft themselves beginning in about 1958, They are a flywheel forward design that uses a special adapter plate bolted onto the former timing cover area and then the Paragon brand transmission bolts to that that has a forward/neutral/ reverse only, The transmission uses the same oil as the motor sharing the oil pan and is ran off the crankshaft nose of the motor. They use an Autolite brand distributor, One common swap on these early boats is when the 283’s wear out is to install 350’s right in the same place as it all bolts right up. I have read that Chris Craft did not have the technology at the time to install the motor in flywheel towards the rear but I once owned a 1965 24′ Chris and it came with a 327 facing the correct? way with a Borg Warner velvet drive transmission that was much easier to shift than the paragon.Overall they both work great and are very dependable. The Roamer in my opinion is a great boat in that you don’t have to worry about rotten/leaking bottoms but the steel does rust as one can imagine and I have talk with a couple of long term owners that had to have their boat pulled and patches welded on. The Roamer division started building aluminum hulls about 62-63 and continued up through the end of production in the late 70’s I believe. Having said all this I agree this is a lot of money for a boat that is not in the water and running/usable.

  22. Nevadahalfrack Nevadahalfrack Member

    SOLD-for $8600!!

  23. Karl

    8600$ I would guess in order to get everything done to the interior full repower with Diesel will require new out drives or transmissions paint ets I could see spending another 150k on this boat, will you ever come out on that probably not but you will sure have a beautiful old boat!

  24. Dave at OldSchool Restorations

    Narragansett Bay…. 30- 40 years in SALT water will not be kind . Rust and electrolysis are costly…no surprise the steering froze
    .
    … Fresh water boats are more desirable, MUCH more desirable,

  25. Robert White

    okay lookit, this boat is not on a trailer likely because the trailer it was sitting on was worth more on the open market than the boat itself. Frankly, this boat will likely never be sold for anything other than the drivetrain.

    Too much real work has to go into restoring something like this. Few are this nostalgic to engage in restoration due to the fact that this boat will eat time & money like a divorce lawyer.

    Bob

  26. grant

    I’d be tapping on every rib and all over the bottom of this one. You think steel on a car rusts?

  27. Howard A Member

    I read on a CC forum, these get .4 mpg, that’s POINT FOUR, or a little under half a mile per gallon. No wonder these are always sitting in docks.

  28. Vudutu

    A very smart man once told me “if it flys, floats or xxxx, rent it.

    • Del

      Yup. The best days in a boat owners life are the days he sells it and the day the cheque clears.

      At this price there better be a recent inspection and free delivery to port of choice

  29. philthyphil

    I Would have bought it made sure no leaks….and parked it next to the Busted Flush…

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