Seven years ago, a customer asked Doug Brown to help fix a leaky bottom on an old boat.Â It was a 1934 Chris Craft, a real classic from a bygone era in boat-building.Â Doug could see that it was losing the battle that all wooden boats fight against â€“ time and decay.
In those days, Doug was a custom cabinet and furniture maker from the panhandle of Nebraska, with no particular affinity for boats.Â But as he rebuilt the old boat bottom, something stirred in his heart and a lifelong love affair began.Â The project grew into a full-scale restoration, and before long this proud old boat began a new life.
Since then, Doug has devoted his professional life to restoring classic boats â€“ and creating new boats based on classic designs.Â Thirty have come to life so far in his shop in west Loveland.Â The list reads like an encyclopedia of historic wooden boats, including Chris Crafts, Garwoods, Centuries and others.Â Today he is well along on a re-make of the 1956 Century Coronado, this one built from scratch.Â Itâ€™s all framed up, the mahogany topsides are in place, and heâ€™s reinforced the hull to accommodate a 502 cu. in. engine and a top speed over 60 mph!
Meanwhile, Dougâ€™s personal boat sits on a trailer outside the shop.Â Itâ€™s his interpretation of the Canadian Ditchburns of the mid 1920s, built with a gorgeous array of hardwoods including mahogany, ipe, chechen, curly maple and rosewood. The fittings are classic brass â€“ and many were custom cast to replicate fittings no longer made.Â Itâ€™s a beauty.Â Some, including Chris Smith, grandson of the Chris Craft company founder, say itâ€™s an improvement on the original!
To learn more about Dougâ€™s amazing work and to see photographs of the boats he has brought to life, call 970-635-2466