Archive for the ‘wood powerboats’ Category

Gar Wood, Chris-Craft, and “Nap”

Miss Detroit II

Miss Detroit II

Joseph Napoleon Lisee was the hull designer behind Chris-Craft and Gar Wood race winning days. He was nicknamed “Nap”. He was a master builder, designer, pattern-maker, wood turner, and had a reputation as a  real perfectionist.

He was born in 1891, died in 1946. He started working for Chris Smith in 1905. He designed Smith’s 1916 successful Gold Cup raceboat, Miss Detroit. That racer was “a broken, battered hulk after the race, fit only for junk”. After the race, Smith lost a poker game and only had pennies in his pockets.

Gar Wood brought Miss Detroit from Chris Smith for $1,000 cash and a note for $800. Soon after Gar Wood also bought a controlling interest in the C. C. Smith Boat & Engine Company, what we now call, Chris-Craft. “Nap” as well as Chris’ sons; Jay, and Bernard came with the percentage ownership interest in the company.

“Nap” designed another racer (Miss Detroit II) to use the 250 HP engine from the hunk of the original Miss Detroit boat. That was also a successful single-step Hydroplane. She was 20 feet long.  Miss Detroit II set a speed record of 61.724 MPH. Jay W. Smith was aboard as the riding mechanic when the record was set. All of the Miss America hulls were a “Nap” design, including Miss America X, which set a record of over 124.42 MPH.

Gar Wood had “Nap” design the hull of the famous “Baby Gar’s”. They were a 33 foot long and had triple cockpit layout, brought to market in 1922. They were the cream of the crop of luxury runabouts.  A second, Baby Gar, at 28 feet in length was introduced in 1927. In 1930, a 22’ speedboat came along. By 1931 an 18 and 25’ models were added. By 1934 a 16’ sports racer was offered, primarily in the Clayton and Alexandria Bay area. A 40’ commuter was also offered.

Open cockpit or a Utility cockpit design came in 1936 in two lengths 18’ and 20’. By 1937 a 24’ model was available.  Later 19’, 22.5’, 24’ , 25’, 32’ models were added.

Chris Smith exited his ownership relationship with Gar Wood in 1922. He built a new factory and Gar Wood got the old C. C. Smith & Engine

company location. Smith’s sons (Jay, Bernard, and Owen) stayed with him.” Nap” stayed with Gar Wood. Chris Smith, born in 1861, died in 1939.

By 1930 the demand for Gar Wood boats outstripped the old plant. A new plant in Marysville MI was built from scratch. They could build 1,200 boats per year here. Demand for Gar Wood peaked just before World War II.

Gar Wood born in 1880 and died in 1971. He retired from racing in the fall of 1932, and retired from his business interests in 1940. He bought Fisher Island in Miami, FL in 1946 for his retirement home. He invented and tinkered until near his death.

After War II, the people that ran Gar Wood boats had noted industrial stylist, Norman Bel Geddes, restyle decks of the hulls of “Nap” to update them. Gar Wood boats closed in 1947.

Miss America X

Miss America X

Gar Wood Baby Gar

Gar Wood Baby Gar

Gar Wood Baby Gar engine

Gar Wood Baby Gar engine

1946 22.5 Gar Wood

1946 22.5 Gar Wood

1946 Utility Gar Wood

1946 Utility Gar Wood

bow photo 22.5 Gar Wood

bow photo 22.5 Gar Wood

 

 

Tempo VI race boat and Guy Lombardo

guy lombardo driving in Tempo VI

guy lombardo driving in Tempo VI

This racer was built in New Jersey. Owned and driven by Guy Lombardo, she won the APBA racing Gold Cup in 1946. This boat was a part of the way from stepped hydroplanes to three-point hydros where the boat rides on its front sponsons and either the aft tail end of the hull or on the propeller. Tempo VI was not a prop rider, she is of the earlier tail rider style, but newer in design than a stepped bottom hydro that had been popular in hydroplane racing before this. That final evolution came later in time and in other boats. Thus she is the middle of the evolution of Hydroplane bottom design, but clearly leading the way to our current Hydroplanes in the way they get their speed.

Guy Lombardo, it would be fair to say, got more publicity for boat racing in the general press than others as he was a public figure leading his band (The Royal Canadians) during the era when that music was popular. Lombardo lived in New York state (he was born in Canada and a naturalized US citizen) and held outdoor concerts on the South Shore of Long Island. He hosted full scale Broadway plays there with his band as the orchestra. He arrived at the show driving up in his mahogany cabin cruiser and the fans loved it. He would begin his performance by leading his band in its first song with him in its cockpit and then disembark from the boat to finish leading for the rest of the night’s performance.

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His 41 foot cabin cruiser (also named Tempo by Lombardo) was triple planked in Honduran mahogany with over 52,000 screws and rivets.  He bought her used in 1941 from Jules Stein of MCA. Stein had her custom built in 1935-36. She was powered with twin Packard “PT boat style” airplane engines, similar to unlimited hydroplane engines of the 1950s – 60s. The fully equipped cabin cruiser boat ran as fast as 60 MPH with Lombardo at the helm. This classic boat has now been restored.

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The Tempo VI race boat shown here was also bought used by Lombardo. She was built in 1938 for Zalmon Guy Simmons. He raced her. But, Guy Lombardo improved her and won races with her and made a mark in racing history for his efforts.

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Marine Racing Duesenberg W-24 Engine

Horace Dodge, Jr. liked fast boats and Unlimited Class boat racing. He hired the Duesenberg Brothers Racing (Augie and Fred) in 1925 to design, build and deliver two of these W-24 marine engines. The W shape was made up from three double overhead camshaft straight 8 engines all going to a common crankshaft. There are the right, center and left banks of 8 cylinders to this engine.

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Mr. Dodge Horace Dodge Jr. (son of one of the Dodge Bros.) wanted this new boat racing engine for his racing activities. Besides racing he also was a production wooden boat builder (starting in 1923). His production boats were called Dodge Watercars. His first factory was in Detroit, MI. But, he is known for his Newport News, VA factory that he had built to his design specs and that opened in 1930. That business closed in 1936. Its building is now the home to the Mariner’s Museum.
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Two Duesenberg W-16 engines were delivered in the summer of 1926. However, the success of these engines came much later. That racing engine last win was with Dan Arena who drove one of his boat designs (Notre Dame) to First Place in the 1940 President’s Cup. Along the way, these engines had different owners, were installed in several racing boats by those engine owners, and had several famous racing engine experts work on them, various carburetor set-ups (both in number and throats of each carb), and supercharging. Starting out at around 450-475 Hp in the later 1920s, the final supercharged engine made 850 Hp at 5,000 RPM in 1940.

Engine specs for the W-24 Duesenberg were 623 cu. in. with a bore of 2.875 inches by a 4 inch stroke.

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Hornet II, a special Gar Wood boat

 

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Words © Chris (Seabuddy) Brown

29' Gar Wood wood boat on lake Tahoe

Stepped hull

Gar Wood designed and built Hornet II with a wood hull and deck. Her owner, Henry J. Kaiser, owned Kaiser Construction companies—which at that time built huge dams and roads, domestically and internationally—kept his Hornet II racer on Lake Tahoe. The story goes that she lost a race on the Lake, and Henry decided his boat needed to be re-made lighter to win in the future. Henry ordered a new deck and it’s rumored that Howard Hughes (of Hughes Aircraft) got involved in making the new deck and the deck’s aluminum framing. The top of the boat hull was replaced with a unique deck, cockpit, and tail fin constructed entirely of aircraft aluminum. Those replacement metal changes were in place on the boat for the 1939 racing season. She now won her races!

metal deck wood runabout

ready to race again

Who did Hornet II race against to launch the aluminum deck frenzy? A boat named The Mercury. “Originally named Cigarette IV, (The Mercury) was designed by pioneering marine architect Frederick K. Lord and built for L. Gordon Hamersley of New York City. Design and construction began in 1925. The boat was constructed at Brewster Body Works, a coach and auto body manufacturer in Long Island City. (they built automobile bodies for Rolls Royce).
“The double-ended, mirror-like hull is made from duraluminum, which is heat-treated polished aluminum. 979 pieces of duraluminum were fastened with 14,250 rivets, 7,087 bolts, and 238 screws; no wood was used in construction. Length overall is 35 feet with a beam (width) of 6’ 6”. The original engine was a Curtiss Conquerer built by the Curtiss Aeroplane and Motor Company of Garden City, New York. The V-12 produced 625 horsepower. Constructed even before aluminum skinned aircraft technology was developed, this is the first all-aluminum race boat ever built. Most of her wooden competitors weighed in at 5 or more tons, the Lord/Hammersley contender “weighs only 2,000 pounds wet.”

Since Henry Kaiser was an industrialist, his companies made Liberty Ships and also got into the steel and aluminum businesses. He had a home on Lake Tahoe and liked race boats. He also was the owner the racing boat that Ted Jones designed, the unlimited hydroplane Hawaii Kai in the 1950s, among other race boats.
The Hornet II boat was “built by racer Gar Wood, is a 29.5’ stepped-hull hydroplane built around 1930. Anthony Mollica says only 10 hydroplane hulls of this length were built by Gar Wood between 1929 and 1934.” Gar Wood’s “stock” lengths were 33’ and 28” Baby Gar models.
Over the years Hornet II had a variety of engines. Listed here are two. “A Packard 1237 Model 1A-1237 V-12 aero engine restored for Hornet II. She is No. 4 of 55 manufactured beginning in 1921-1922. And It is the only one known to exist. The stock 1A-1237 engine was reported to produce 450 Hp (max at 2400 rpm), weighed 1168 lbs, and cost $8000 in 1922.”
But, that engine is not in the boat. Hornet II got a Rolls Royce Meteor V12 engine. “The 27-liter (1650 cu in) Rolls Royce V12 Merlin engine was first developed in England The Packard V-1650 was a version of the Merlin built in the United States By the end of the war this “little” engine was delivering over 1,600 horsepower (1,200 kW) in common versions, and as much as 2,030 horsepower (1,540 kW) in the Merlin 130/131 versions specifically designed for the de Havilland Hornet. Ultimately, during tests conducted by Rolls-Royce at Derby, an RM.17.SM achieved 2,640 horsepower (1,969 kW) at 36 lb. boost (103″Hg) on 150 octane fuel with water injection. First Packard-built engine, a Merlin XX designated the V-1650-1, ran in August 1941. Total Merlin production by Packard was 55,523.”
The restoration of the boat hull, metal deck, and engine went well, if the substitute engine is OK with you. BTW, The high level of finish on the deck was done using the Evite system.

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First Niche Chris Craft

Words © Chris (seabuddy) Brown and photos CBMM
Chris Craft Corporation said this quote “Chris-Craft has the name, the prestige, the public acceptance. It has consistently advanced from the beginning and maintained the continued success for its merchants. Chris –Craft has been the leader, is the leader, and will continue to lead” in the early 1930s..
By 1936-1937 Chris Craft introduced what Seabuddy labels’ the first niche Chris Craft Runabout; the 19’ Special Race Boat. It had a cut down (lower) hull profile with less freeboard fore and aft. Plus, Chris-Craft boats used thinner dimension framing as well as thinner planking in the bottom for this 19’ Special Race Boat model. These changes made a big difference compared to their other 19’ by 6’2” sized runabouts that were made by Chris Craft boats for the masses. For instance, while there are different engine choices, it is perhaps fair to say that one of these boats were 20% faster.
Funny thing… Chris Craft made 51 of these boats, the same number of 19’ Chris Craft Cobras it made in 1955. So, this first niche Chris Craft Runabout is about a rare a boat as there is in the Chris Craft line-up ,just like a 19’ Cobra is! Note, they made some 760 plus units of this 19’ 0” by 6’ 2” hull in their standard models.
The Chesapeake Bay Chapter of the ACBS clubs St. Micheals Classic Boat Show had both of these rare boats, fully restored in its annual June event. They were displayed on the Chesapeake Bay Maritime Museum grounds over three days in 2015. It was a signature show! Seabuddy hopes that you made it to the show or plan on putting this show on your calendar in the future years.
Now, there is a new construction wood boat available for a custom new build with a period correct engine for the made-to-order newly built hull or a buyer can direct that a modern V-8 Seabuddy has seen this boat, it is a real head tuner. Please see… http://www.vintagewatercraft.com/classic_boat_construction.htm and scroll down on the left to the “1937 Special Runabout (19’)”.
It was only in 1930, that Chris – Craft Corporation was the boat building company’s new name that Christopher Columbus Smith started business back in about 1874. The name had changed many times to allow for various partners in the years between these dates. It (the name) was the family’s idea and a way to sell 1/3 of the company to Wall Street. That partial stock sale never happened. The family ran the company and kept it private until they sold the entire corporation in early 1960.

Cobra Chris Craft and Shelby Cobra 427 together at Classic Boat Show

Words © Chris Seabuddy Brown, photo by CBMM
A Chris Craft Cobra set to towed by a Carroll Shelby Cobra 427 at a Classic Boat Show. It was the winner of the Best of Show-Land Display at the Classic Boat Show. Only at a classic show would such icons of land and water, or keels and wheels, if you prefer would seabuddy see such a thing on a Saturday afternoon.
Boaters know the Cobra’s as the most collectible models of mid-fifties. Restored Cobra boats are the envy of most fans of the classic Chris Craft line-up. They were made in only one year and only in very limited quantities. These two models are rare Chris Crafts. They were style leader models, made to attract buyers to dealer boat showrooms and major boat shows of the Chris Craft models. These other roughly 150 boat models were each priced at a profit. Chris Craft was still privately owned by the descendants of Chris Smith (who had died in 1939 two weeks after being found in the Chris Craft boiler room bleeding from his nose) and many family members still worked in the business.
Chris Craft Cobras used gold finished fiberglass to fashion a big fin behind the seat that dominates the styling of both sizes of these boats. This was an early attempt by the world leader in wooden boat construction to use the new boat-building material. The fiberglass was made in one plant and the otherwise planked mahogany wood boat was made in another. Several fiberglass parts did not match up with their boat hulls when mated on the final production line, the trial and error of fitment was one of the first learning lessons.
The boats used some car parts like the steering columns and their steering wheels are said to be1949 Chrysler parts. Cars and their brand-leading styling like the Mercedes Gullwing, GM Corvette, and early Ford Thunderbirds with limited seating and more style than function are often mentioned with the Chris Craft Cobras. These models are runabouts. Get in, sit-down, and enjoy. One does not walk around in a runabout.
Now, for the other snake in this write-up.
The 289 Shelby Cobra had used the British AC Ace car that came to market in around 1953 which began with a 100 HP engine ant then later with up to 120 HP six cylinder engine. The first small block Shelby’s used Ford’s then new 260 cu. In. V-8 engines for 75 Cobras and then 289 cu. in. engines (about 525 cars). There were several changes in these cars over the production run including rack and pinion steering, inboard and outboard mounted disc brakes, wheel hubs, and various details like radiators.
The Shelby Cobra 427 was the big block Cobra that Carroll Shelby created. That car had a new chassis and coil springs (instead of the transverse leaf springs of the Ace and the Ford small block cars). That new frame and suspension were developed with Ford’s cooperation, (Klaus Arning and Bob Negstad at Ford and this suspension is similar to the Ford GT-40s) and it is best identified by the wide fenders and an even bigger radiator opening. The engine was both a 427 and a 428 Ford engines. The 427 was the more desirable “side-oiler” engine.
Both Cobras are show stoppers!

chris craft cobra shelby 427 cobra

rare Chris Craft Cobra ready to be towed by Shelby 427 Cobra

Classic Boat Show Award Winner # 4

Words © Chris (Seabuddy) Brown, Photos by CBMM

Trooper II is both the current and original name for the winner of the Competitors Choice Award – Cruiser. She is a 39’ custom yacht from the Consolidated Shipbuilding yard in NYC. Trooper II was custom built in 1935.
The Consolidated company was a multifaceted boat and yacht builder from around 1896 to as late as 1958. The company still continues as a yacht repair center in City Island, is seabuddy’s understanding..
Consolidated Shipbuilding has been a builder of custom yachts and commercial ships. In the 1890s they built steam-powered yachts and naphtha-powered launches as well as tugs, cutters, schooners, cat boats, torpedo boats, and yacht tenders. Following various mergers, the company operated under the cumbersome name of Charles L. Seabury Co. and Gas Engine & Power Co., Consolidated, but dropped all the old names and became just plain Consolidated Shipbuilding after World War I. Then after WWII, Consolidated bought the Robert Jacob shipyard on City Island in NYC and closed its Morris Heights yard.
In the 1930s, when Trooper II was made, boats and yachts from about 33’ to 154’ were custom made at the yard. Most of the yachts were one-off designs as well as lengths but some of the government boats were made in series. Remember, there was a depression throughout the world during the late 1920s and the 1930s. Chris Craft boats was still losing money in 1935.
Trouper II is a traditional wooden boat. This yacht is a sedan style, not a sport fisherman nor a traditional, raised deck cruiser. She was built plank on frame with a bright finished cabin/deckhouse. She is a comfortable cabin cruiser that is enjoyed by her long-time owners.
Note her substantial anchors and the forward bitt to secure them to while using this ground tackle. She likes to anchor out, up and down the Chesapeake Bay and its rivers and the broad selection of the other mid-Atlantic cruising grounds. Also note her custom yacht opening forward windows that allows for a comfortable breeze in the deckhouse/main living area in the afternoon and early evening while swinging on the hook. Please remember, you are looking at a 1935 yacht!

tropper II CBMM image

1935 Consolidated yacht 39' custom wooden boat

wooden boat custom 39 plank on frame

Dressed for a Classic Boat Show

Classic Boat Show Award Winner #3

Words and photos © Chris (Seabuddy) Brown
The Judges Choice this year was a custom 1964 sport fisherman cabin cruiser. That is as they say… the boat that they personally want to go home with after the show has ended. She is a 36’ wood fish fighter that is the precursor which the modern sport fishers. This was the way one went after sailfish, tuna, and white and blue marlin for sport fishing fun. She has a flat bottomed transom (not a deep vee), no keel, and twin inboard shaft drives (no bullet to house the F-N-R gears of multiple outboard engines exposed in the wake of the hull, as the transmissions are inboard within the hull).
Her name is SAM V. She came up from Palm Beach Gardens, FL. Her owners are members of the Sunnyland Club of the ACBS as well as the Chesapeake Bay Chapter Club.
This 1964 yacht was built by the custom wood boat builder of Rybovich and Sons, of West Palm Beach, FL. as their hull number 58. First powered by twin gas engines, she has been re-powered years ago with twin Cummins diesels for a cruising speed of 23 MPH and a wide open throttle speed of 31 MPH.
Other features of this boat are her 1) Classic Rybovich broken sheer line. 2) “Palm Beach” throttles and shifts pod. 3) Open deckhouse aft “canvas wall” for free flow to/from the cockpit and the upper sheltered area (thus, she is a best called a “Day boat”, not a convertible or a sedan). From 1965 on, all Rybovich boats had an aft bulkhead.
She is like Miss Chevy IV, built in 1952 and not as close to mimicking Miss Chevy II, built in 1947.The 1952 Chevy IV has the broken sheer in the two boat photo.
Seabuddy brings these two boats into this discussion as these two boats set the pace for Rybovich sport fishers to come. Sam V has the early features / items and shares most of these key ingredients.

rybovich pod throttles shifts

custom Rybovich engine controls

rybovich bow

bow shot

dockside view rybovich sport fisherman

good side view

rybovich transom boat photo

transom photo wood sport fishing boat

side view wood boat

rybovich, custom wood boat,

Award winner presentation

Sunday Award Presentaion

New twin engined wooden Runabout

34 twin engine speedboat runabout

new wooden boat

see inside wood boat
deck members in place
swim step built in wood boat
wood boat swim platform construction detail
twin engine speed boat
at speed on the lake
new construction wood boat hatch
this engine hatch knocks my socks off

 

She is a new wooden inboard speedboat. Hand crafted by one of the few boat yards that still do this “creation work” as compared to “restoration work”. Although the shop does both types of work. http://cdacustomwoodboats.com/process/ 

 

She was created under the personal direction of Jim Brown the wood shop manager and who is a master craftsman He has been building wood boats full time since 1991. He provides expertise in every phase of wood boat construction, from the creation and design of a project through the lofting, building, rigging and finish steps of the process. He has a team of wood craftsmen at The Resort Boat Shop to create the award-winning Coeur Custom line of boats and offer restoration for antique and classic boats. His e-mail address is jbrown@hagadonemarine.com

Seabuddy loves the engine hatch on this luxury speedster on the water. Twin 400 Horsepower rated engines are under there. It is a very unique way to access the powerplants. Jim also builds single engine boats and in different lengths. He has even crafted a sailboat or two.

Here is the boat builder’s comment on this 34’ inboard runabout “Pure is an example of the “pure” definition of Gentleman’s Runabout. She is hand-crafted from imported African mahogany and Western red cedar; cold molded using vacuum bag technology to produce excellent weight to strength ratios. This amazing 34’ runabout is powered by twin 6.2 liter small block engines that rate 400 HP each.  The purposeful design of the hull give her amazing lift, maximizing power and achieving a quick plane and smooth, powerful cruising stability.  The Alexseal Blue Hull sides add to her unique attractiveness while providing added durability.  A custom signature stainless steel windshield with special bent safety glass, Livorsi gauge package with custom dial faces give Pure a distinctive look no other boat possesses.

Pure is, from stem to stern, one of the most sturdily built, luxuriously fitted and handsomely powered hand-crafted wooden runabouts we’ve ever created”.

 

 

 

Wooden Runabout by John L. Hacker

wooden inboard runabout john hacker new york thousand islands

48' Worlds' Largest Runabout "Pardon Me" at the Antique Boat Museum

 

She is big! 48’ long with a beam of 10’ 6” and sixteen tons in weight. Power is a single screw Packard 4M-2500 engine, a supercharged 12-cylinder engine. This runabout speedboat’s top speed is 60 MPH.

 

Brooklin Boat Yard did the latest restoration. Prior restorations/upkeep/maintenance and a repower was done at Mayea Boat Works and on the St. Lawrence River at the Antique Boat Museum. She was built in this same area of the 1,000 Islands as the Antique Boat Museum is located in at Hutchinson Boat Works or http://www.hbwboats.com/.

 

Built in 1948, she has had several owners. The last owners donated her to the museum years ago. Google search “ Pardon Me” or “World’s Largest Runabout”  or read pages 76-77 of Robert Speltz’s book The Real Runabouts from 1977. Seabuddy has a signed copy of his book dated 1980. Mr. Speltz has now passed on.

 

Hutchinson  Boat Works or Hutchinson Brothers built boats along the St. Lawrence River since about 1908. The business continued under new leadership after the brothers passed on. They now sell boats, but they were a wooden boat builder originally. They also offered wood boat repairs in oak, mahogany, cedar, and teak.  While they could build and repair all styles of wood construction, most of their boats were lapstrake style or “clinker style”, like a Lyman boat. Pardon Me is not a lapstrake design. She has the double planked mahogany construction method.

 

Pardon Me was designed by Hacker and built by Hutchinson for Mr. Locke of Oak Island in the Chippewa Bay area of the 1,000 Islands (summer home) and MI (his winter home). She did not handle well and never has been used much in her history. Her sheer size, transmission shifting, handling around a pier, engine cooling, and her massive engine torque were some of the reasons for this lack of use. Call it fine-tuning, trouble shooting, or tinkering, problems have continued over her history since 1948.

 

She is now back at the Antique Boat Museum in the Thousand Islands for the upcoming summer months.

88u