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THURSDAY, MAY 10, 2007
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Houston Lovelace’s fully restored 1957 Chris-Craft glides gently by newer boats as it enters Riverwalk Marina.
Daily photo by Gary Cosby Jr.
Houston Lovelace's fully restored 1957 Chris-Craft glides gently by newer boats as it enters Riverwalk Marina.

Minnesotan spends a lot of time on Chris-Craft work

By Ronnie Thomas
rthomas@decaturdaily.com · 340-2438

Tom Moravec of Wyoming, Minn., knows all about wooden boats such as the Chris-Craft that Decatur's Houston Lovelace restored.

He builds them at his Sunrise River Boatworks.

Moravec, 60, said his business specializes in classic and antique boat restoration, as well as construction of boats that are often replicas of the classics.

"We still build new wooden boats, too," he said. "We build custom boats and everything from canoes to 30-foot offshore fishing boats. There are very few shops that do what we do."

A major portion of his repair work comes from Chris-Craft.

"They built 129,000 boats, all wood," Moravec said, "with styles ranging from small fishing boats to 60-foot river cruisers. From about 1922 to 1965, the company was one of the country's leading boat builders. Chris-Craft was like the most famous, the most visible and prolific manufacturer of boats."

Moravec said the advent of fiberglass "was killing them for doing wood boats. Also, the skills necessary to keep the trade going were no longer there. No one was picking them up. Between aluminum and fiberglass, it was all over."

But Moravec said many people still admire the beauty of the old wooden Chris-Craft boats and what they can get for them. He said that, now and then, someone sells an old boat for restoration that sat in storage for years.

Saying boat restoration is an interesting hobby, Moravec drew a parallel.

"It would be like restoring old cars. Some are into that, others are into old boats, airplanes, you name it," he said. "Someone, somewhere is out there restoring, whether it's an old juke box or antique fishing tackle."

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