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Motion Pictures Vintage Hydroplanes

Discussion in 'The Hokey Ass Message Board' started by Ryan, Jun 22, 2015.

  1. hotrodfords
    Joined: Apr 30, 2013
    Posts: 81


    Then I saw your boat run! I was born and raised in Seattle. Have floated on lake washington many times watching the races at seafair. You could even hear them from our house practicing prior to the big race. IMO the sport died after they went to tubines. NOTHING sounds like a flotilla of Merlins and Griffons at full song!
    36 ROKIT likes this.
  2. George Klass
    Joined: Dec 31, 2007
    Posts: 839

    George Klass

    shantyorig.jpg Race boats are a lot like race cars in some respects. When someone comes up with a design that works, everyone copies that design. Unlimited Hydroplanes are no different, which is why most of the 3-point hydro designs all look so similar to each other.

    And then someone comes along that wants to try something different. Sometimes that works and some
    times it doesn't. This is the case of a "different" design that did not work. The theory about the design was basically, "if the 3-point designs are good, maybe a 2-point design would be better". And so, Shanty II was born. In the photo above, the side view looks kind of like most of the other boats, but if you look closely, you will notice that it has a single sponson, under the center of the boat. It was supposed to lean over in the turns like a motorcycle but instead, all it did was to turn over. It was built in 1958 and was never raced. An idea that just did make it.

    It's gone through several owners, and has been extensively modified, by removing the single sponson and converting the hull into a step hull, like the boats were in the late 1940's and very early 1950's. Here are a few photos of the boat now, and a great link to the "story of Shanty II".




    Looks kinda neat, don't it?
  3. Blownolds
    Joined: Mar 31, 2001
    Posts: 2,335

    from So Cal

    What an awesome thread....

    I never got to hear any of them run. Very sad.

    20 years ago, I had heard about them, and thought how neat it would be to build one of those big V12's. Upon asking around about them , found out just how expensive the engine cores were.... big, big money just for a core!
    I also found out about Packard V12 PT boat engines as well, but I never heard of any of those being used for racing.
  4. Special Ed
    Joined: Nov 1, 2007
    Posts: 5,524

    Special Ed

  5. woodbutcher
    Joined: Apr 25, 2012
    Posts: 3,166


    :D Outstanding thread.Thanks to all who have posted pictures.
    Good luck.Have fun.Be safe.
  6. I was about to start a thread for this entry but remembered this thread already existed. I had the opportunity to lend a hand with the lettering on the Dusenberg W24 powered "Notre Dame" this past weekend. It is a replica hull, as the original was burned into ash, but the owner was able to secure the rights to all the blueprints and design notes, and was able to faithfully reconstruct the 3rd version of "Notre Dame" over a 20 year period using the original Dusenberg engine commissioned by Horace Dodge jr in 1926. This is a great article ( on the boat and it's dominant engine. She will be making her first public appearance this weekend at Lake Tahoe Keys Marina for a big boat show. I will add pictures that I took on Friday once I get some better quality phone reception here at work.
    Locomotive Breath likes this.
  7. ImageUploadedByH.A.M.B.1469584156.158912.jpg ImageUploadedByH.A.M.B.1469584175.024536.jpg ImageUploadedByH.A.M.B.1469584211.458789.jpg ImageUploadedByH.A.M.B.1469584242.558080.jpg ImageUploadedByH.A.M.B.1469584262.228060.jpg ImageUploadedByH.A.M.B.1469584276.890897.jpg ImageUploadedByH.A.M.B.1469584298.343386.jpg ImageUploadedByH.A.M.B.1469584319.674588.jpg
    This is it on the water in the late 30's early 40's ImageUploadedByH.A.M.B.1469584366.691332.jpg
  8. catdad49
    Joined: Sep 25, 2005
    Posts: 3,785


    Thanks for the latest on the Notre Dame, are you going to attend its debut? I will be sure to check out the article on this boat.
  9. George Klass
    Joined: Dec 31, 2007
    Posts: 839

    George Klass

    Great stuff on the N.D., Nick, thanks...
  10. George Klass
    Joined: Dec 31, 2007
    Posts: 839

    George Klass

    The term (or word) "hydroplane" is described in Webster's as a powerboat designed for racing that skims the surface of the water.

    In the beginning of "unlimited" power boat racing, the boats were designed to resemble the typical speed boat type hull. They didn't actually skim the water, they basically plowed thru it. Here are a few examples:





    If you want to plow through the water faster with a speed boat hull, you have to add more power (or engines).

    If two is better than one, four is better than two...
  11. George Klass
    Joined: Dec 31, 2007
    Posts: 839

    George Klass

    The transition in the Unlimited class was first, the speedboat hull, then the step hull, and then the 3-point hull, with some gray areas in between. Let's look at the step hulls (or stepper hulls, because many boats used more than one step):
    A good example of a speedboat hull with a couple of steps on the bottom, to reduce the wetted surface drag.
    These two boats have been restored by their owners (or companies that specialize in this kind of work). It's just like restoring your '32 Ford roadster....multiplied by about 4 or 5 times. Many of these boats use engines that have not bee produced since 1920. It's not just that parts are hard to find, in many cases they just don't even exist anymore, and need to be made by hand, and are unavailable at Auto Zone or NAPA Auto Parts.

    The evolution of the steppers was to go away from the speedboat hulls and use a flatter, wider boat and lighter hull. "My Sweetie" was one of the first real successful boats of this period.

    There were several iterations of "My Sweetie" over the years, each one faster than the one before.
    The mid-ship prop was a John Hacker design (who also designed the boat) and seemed to work better in the turns. The engines used a V-Drive transmission.
    chryslerfan55 and tractorguy like this.
  12. George Klass
    Joined: Dec 31, 2007
    Posts: 839

    George Klass

    "Miss Pepsi" was also a Hacker design, with twin Allison engines. The drive system was very unique. The front engine was mounted facing forward, the rear mounted backward, with both engines running into some type of a V-drive trans.
    This one is my favorite, "My Darling". Built from the same plans as "My Sweetie", in the same year, it was built by a father and son in a barn.
    Shown here parked at the same dock as "My Sweetie", which is not a surprise as both of these boats are owned by the same man, Dr. Ken Muscatel of Seattle, WA. Other than being refinished and re-varnished, these old boats are as original as possible. John Hacker himself would be proud. Both boats can still run fast as hell and they do anytime Dr. Ken straps on his helmet, and he does not hold back (and he is 70 years old).
    A close up of the reverse mounted 1710 cubic inch supercharged Allison. This is the same as the engine mounting on "My Sweetie". The V-Drives were hand made when both boats were built (1949). Four or five were built, two exist now, and Dr. Ken owns them both.
    It's pretty easy to spot where the steps are on these hulls.
    As I said, this boat was built in a barn. This is the way it looked when it first appeared in the sunlight in 1949, and this is how it looks in 2017. This photo should be next to the word "workmanship" in the dictionary...
  13. woodbutcher
    Joined: Apr 25, 2012
    Posts: 3,166


    :D There ain`t but one thing better than a well crafted wood boat.And that`s two of them.
    Good luck.Have fun.Be safe.
  14. F.O.G
    Joined: Oct 31, 2006
    Posts: 259

    from Pacific,Mo

    The one I remember the most from TV was Buddy Byers and the Chrysler Queen from
    late '50s to early '60s.
    chryslerfan55 likes this.
  15. George Klass
    Joined: Dec 31, 2007
    Posts: 839

    George Klass

    While the stepper were doing their thing through the 1940's, there was a transition even then going on, to the 3-point hydros. It did not happen overnight and it was not an overnight sensation. Some 3-pointers did well while others didn't. It was nothing like the almost instant transition that took place when "Slo-Mo-Shun IV" first appeared in 1950. Here are some very early 3-pointers:

    Owned and driven by the famous band leader Guy Lombardo.

    Many of the early 3-pointers looked like speedboats with some sponsons added on.

    "Miss Pepsi V" became the "Short Snorter" when it was purchased by Stanley Dollar, shown here showing off at Lake Tahoe.


    When this boat showed up in 1950, there was no going back to step hydros. If you wanted to be competitive in Unlimited Hydroplane Racing, you had to have a clone of this boat.
    chryslerfan55 and tractorguy like this.
  16. George Klass
    Joined: Dec 31, 2007
    Posts: 839

    George Klass

    Speaking of Dr. Ken Muscatel, here are a few of his "toys", and I mean a very few. For those of you that ever saw the movie "Madison", Ken furnished almost all of the Thunderboats for the movie.
    Dr. Ken tore down a wall to get "Slo-Mo-Shun IV" out of the museum. It was 50 years after the old girl set the record and time to see if she could do it again.
    The Doc tightens up the helmet strap. Want to go for a ride? Dr. Ken loves to give people a ride. Better bring a change of shorts with you...
    If you are going to do it, do it early while Lake Washington is flat. All the neighbors got an early wake up call that day.
    Notice the passenger standing up, trying to get has pants out of his ass crack no doubt.

    Here is Ken keeping the cobwebs off of "Slo-Mo-Shun V". No room for a riding mechanic in this boat.
    Ken giving a ride to Jack Regas, who used to drive this same boat "back in the day". This boat used to belong to Henry Kaiser's son, Edgar.
    Yes, a man and his toys.
    "Hurricane IV", out for a spin (with a passenger).
    One of the last of the front engine piston engine Thunderboats. Dr. Ken gives it the final test after the complete restoration.
    A doctor doing what he loves, and I do not mean giving prostate exams.
    Last edited: Oct 11, 2017
    Stogy, iamq, chryslerfan55 and 2 others like this.
  17. I was born and raised in the Okanagan, and one of my car club friends raced various classes of hydroplanes. A person only has to listen to a hydroplane driver, or dragboat driver, for a millisecond to know that they are living right on the edge. I used to love going to the Kelowna Regatta to see the big boats race, it was really exciting to hear those big Allison engines on the circuit.
    Mark Hinds and chryslerfan55 like this.
  18. If I may, gentlemen (and ladies ). If you find yourselves in the Kent area, stop by the Hydroplane museum ( bring a towel, you might drool a bit).

    Sent from my iPhone using H.A.M.B.
    Stogy likes this.
  19. George Klass
    Joined: Dec 31, 2007
    Posts: 839

    George Klass

    Well, I don't know but I'm guessing this hydro is somebody's play thing. There are no racing numbers on the hull, it's got legal bow and stern lights, and it's surely a two-seater. Having fun in the neighborhood, but no place to store the water skis. Nice wood though...
    j-jock, chryslerfan55 and Stogy like this.

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