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Vintage Speed Boats

Discussion in 'The Antiquated' started by Ryan, Sep 11, 2006.

  1. Beau
    Joined: Jul 2, 2009
    Posts: 1,883


    A friend of mine's Father built this from scratch and finally finished it this year. It's practically vintage now. I don't remember the engine, but it's a HUGE V8. boat.jpg
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  2. Raiman1959
    Joined: May 2, 2014
    Posts: 1,427


    That 1956 Aristocraft Torpedo speed boat I had for years, was the first boat I ever tried to unload off a trailer....some guys told me to 'disengage' the winch 'before' backing the trailer into the rolled right off the trailer, and onto the concrete...bouncing twice with a heavy 'thud' sound...of coarse, everyone laughed, and I was beat red!!! I love wood boats, but they need a lot of care...the Torpedo had a huge fin under it, and taking a sharp corner, it would rise heavy on one side...and if ya' slowed down too fast, water would gush in behind the transem because the engine mount was very low in the water----malicious kids destroyed my boat with rocks one evening when I was gone...I was heartbroken....miss that old boat, and when I pulled up to the 'newer' fiberglass ski boats, it surely made a definate wood boats never go out of style!!!:D
  3. econopoor
    Joined: Jun 15, 2011
    Posts: 63

    from Jackson TN

    My 65 StarCraft.

    [​IMG] [​IMG]

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  4. The summer of 2014, on this early 50's Chris Craft, I rebuilt the steering and the fuel system, also had Bob Miller from Rebel Wire Co. (HAMB) make me a wire harness, I rewired the entire boat, works perfectly. This boat was my friend Rusty's grandfather's from Montana, Rusty brought the boat to Minnesota, these pics are on my lake in southern MN.

    DSCN8973.JPG DSCN9042.JPG
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  5. George Klass
    Joined: Dec 31, 2007
    Posts: 902

    George Klass

    This thread hasn't seemed to have created as much traction as I had thought it would, but I don't care. I'm going to post some stuff anyway.

    A few pages back, Rick Finch (I don't know him but I think we are brothers from different mothers) posted this photo:
    It was taken at a boat show back east in 2011. I know this boat, I was 10 years old when My Darling was "born". It's an interesting boat with an interesting story, and before I get into it, here are a few more photos.










    During the late 1940s and early 1950s, most Unlimited owners opted for the newfangled three-point design (two sponsons and a propeller). But there were those who still believed in the time-honored step hydroplane configuration that had worked so well for Gar Wood back in the 1930s. One particular "fast-stepper" of the post-war era was My Darling, owned and driven by Andy Marcy of Springfield, Illinois. Completed in 1949, the boat was built by Marcy and his father in their spare time over a 15-month period. Marcy also assembled his own gearbox. Designed by John Hacker, the boat was a virtual copy of Hacker's 1948-vintage My Sweetie, which won so many races with Bill Cantrell as driver. Measuring 31 feet, 6 inches by 7 feet, 8 inches, My Darling was basically a single-step hydroplane but with the propeller amidships, a buffer step forward, and a tunnel in the afterplane. Although originally powered by an Allison V-1710, the craft was later fitted with a Rolls Royce Merlin. My Darling finished second in the 1950 MVPBA Regatta at Keokuk, Iowa, and then won both heats of the Fox Lake, Ill., event. Marcy failed to qualify for the Gold Cup at Detroit that year, but took fourth in the Ford Memorial, seventh in the Silver Cup and was first in the Calvert Trophy at Louisville. My Darling was the first modern Unlimited hydroplane to attend the Madison Regatta in southern Indiana and took first place in the 15-mile free-for-all (for classes 7-litre and above) at the 1950 Madison race.

    Marcy showed up for two races at Detroit in 1951--the Detroit Memorial and the Silver Cup--but failed to finish either one of them. Nothing more was heard from My Darling for the next six years. It was a surprise entry in the 1957 President's Cup at Washington, D.C. Marcy qualified one lap at 75 miles per hour and then withdrew with a gearbox problem. Stored next to Hawaii Kai III in the Naval Air Station Hangar, the Kai crew offered any assistance they could to help get My Darling back in the race. But all offers were rejected.

    My Darling still exists today and, is owned by Morin Boats of Michigan and that in itself is a great story.

    Doug Morin spent a decade in search of the boat before finding it in a field in Springfield, Illinois.

    Many told him the boat would never be found or no longer existed, but he was tireless in his chase. He conducted countless interviews and put the word out everywhere. It was a pilot flying over the boat’s resting place in Illinois who first alerted Mr. Morin that he might have spotted the elusive vessel in a field on the ground below.

    It had been painted different colors and was wrapped with a tattered cover, but there was no doubt it was the right boat. Even in the wrap, My Darling had a peculiar design and shape that was nearly unmistakable. A comparison between the vessel Doug Morin found and the dimensions from My Darling’s original line drawing served to confirm the boat’s identity.

    In addition to refinishing the boat, it was completely dismantled and put it back together. This was about 2005. From that point on, it was entered in vintage races, where he was able to relive the boat’s glory days as a racer. Its fastest time remains in those yesteryears, when it clocked out at 118 miles per hour on a straightaway in 1951.

    Eagle Eyed HAMB'rs will have noticed that the front of the Allison engine faces to the rear of the boat. The gearbox goes into a V-drive, and the prop is just a little over half way back on the hull. Here is how this set-up looks on the sister boat, My Sweetie. The theory at the time was that the boat was better in the turns with this configuration, which might have been true at the time, but the new boats like Slo Mo IV would just blow by on the straightaways.


    Only these two boats were ever constructed from John Hacker's original design. The My Sweetie of 1948 was professionally built (by Les Staudacher), while My Darling was home built by owner/driver Andy Marcy and his father a year later. The woodwork and finish on My Darling would put a Stradivarius violin to shame...
  6. brigrat
    Joined: Nov 9, 2007
    Posts: 5,338

    from Wa.St.

    25 pages on a Traditional Hot Rod forum is traction as far as I am concerned......................Thanks for adding to the traction!
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  7. George Klass
    Joined: Dec 31, 2007
    Posts: 902

    George Klass

    Ya know what, you are right and I stand corrected...:)
  8. George Klass
    Joined: Dec 31, 2007
    Posts: 902

    George Klass

    Just to show that this "mid hull prop location" deal was not truly in left field, one of the most well known boats of that era used it and it was reasonably successful. This was the Miss Pepsi. Pepsi was a lengthened version of the My Darling and My Sweetie design, also from John Hacker and also built by Les Staudacher. It was lengthened to accommodate a pair of Allison engines.
    Chuck Thompson was a great hydro driver and won more than his share of races over his career. I knew him a little, as he also drove for Bill Harrah in the early 1960's. He told me that he never liked to drive Miss Pepsi "but that the money was good" (the Dossin family were heavyweights in Pepsi Cola). Chuck passed away in 1966 doing what he loved, racing for the Gold Cup, in Smirnoff when the boat dipped a sponson and flipped, killing him.
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  9. This thread is so old the original photo's were hand carved on stone and have washed away with the tide!
  10. treb11
    Joined: Jan 21, 2006
    Posts: 3,631


    From the " Keels and Wheels" show in Seabrook

    Attached Files:

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  11. revkev6
    Joined: Jun 13, 2006
    Posts: 3,351

    from ma

    I picked up a another distraction from my 32 on friday.. she's completely stripped but it's a 17' 1965 formula Jr. I have to pull the 454 out of the cockpit that the guy I got it from was "going to install someday" before I can get to any serious resto work. for a 60's fiberglass boat it's pretty rare, they only made about 150 of em. they were very early sterndrive boats like a Donzi sweet 16. in fact Don owned Formula when this boat was designed and sold it shortly thereafter starting up Donzi and making his own version as the sweet 16 which was very similar but had different lifting strakes. supposedly the formula has better manners than the donzi... we will see. plans are to find a newer donor boat and install the complete drive unit into this one.

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  12. My buddy's shop...

    The engine for the Sanger is in second photo... BBC 427

    Attached Files:

    Last edited: Jul 25, 2015
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  13. I was curious also. My research says it's a 1933 18' Minett-Shields Racer - "ALZED". See attached pic from front angle..

    Attached Files:

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  14. George Klass
    Joined: Dec 31, 2007
    Posts: 902

    George Klass

    When I think of vintage speed boats, I think of wooden speed boats. And because I spent (and still spend) so much time up at Lake Tahoe, CA, when I think of vintage wooden speed boats, I think of vintage wooden speed boats with V-12 power.

    A little over a week ago, I attended the annual (43rd Annual) Concours d'Elegance Classic Boat Show put on by the Tahoe Yacht Club (nope, I'm not a member). Every year the Club designates a specific class as the Marquee Class, usually based on manufacturer (Chris-Craft, Gar Wood, Hacker, etc.). This year the Marquee Class was for the boats that were V-12 equipped.

    Interestingly enough, the 1st V-12 engine was actually designed as a marine racing engine, in 1904. Although it's first usage was in a Russian airship, it was a marine engine and is believed to have ended up powering a yacht in Hong Cong. It had 1120 cubic inches and was built by the Putney Motor Works and was known as the Craig-Dorwald engine. Unlike most later V-12's, it used a 90-degree block and made 150 HP.

    As far as race boats in the early 1900's, the quest for speed in Gold Cup and Harmsworth Trophy competition, several important names stand out. Christopher Columbus Smith built some pretty fast boats. Chris Smith eventually founded the Chris-Craft company. Between 1904 and 1914, Smith built several versions of the "Miss Detroit" race boats. In 1917, a fellow by the name of Garfield A. Woods purchased "Miss Detroit II" from Smith.

    What about the engine you may ask? Prior to the U.S. entry into WWI, the British government contracted with Glenn Curtis for a new V-12 aircraft engine. When the test engines were refused by England, Gar Wood was able to acquire one of the few prototypes. The engines developed about 400 HP and could turn 2000 RPM (not a typo). The engine was installed in the latest Chris Smith "Miss Detroit II" and won the god cup in 1918.

    Yes, the engine still runs fine. Of the several prototypes built, only two still exist, and Ken Muscatel of Seattle, WA owns both of them, and this old boat.

    The war in Europe dragged on, and the need for new V-12's was required, the best of the bunch being the Liberty V-12, used by the Allied Army Air Corp. These engines were bigger than the Curtis unit, with a 5" bore and a 7" stroke (1649 cubic inches), and a reliable 421 HP at 1700 RPM. 20,842 Liberty engines were built during WWI, most of which hit the surplus market after the war. These engines were easily converted to marine use and were known as Liberty V-12's or Model LA-12's. Henry Ford's "Evangeline" used a LA-12 engine. (Side note: Evangeline was the name of Henry's mistress). Here is that famous boat. evanford.jpg
    That's Hank in the cap. Both of the race boats are using dual Liberty V-12's.

    And today...



    A one of a kind boat, and probably a one of a kind price, too. Now may be a good time to mention that the people that own these kinds of boats do not work at Wal-Mart.

    There are many vintage speed boats running on Lake Tahoe that use Liberty V-12 engines. Here are a few more.

    "Challenger", 1926 33' Gar Wood.
    Note the hand throttle and choke lever on the steering wheel.

    "Miss Catalina V". These 4-cockpit boats were designed as tour boats, for tourists visiting Catalina Island. They were built by Bombard, the owner of the fleet of six identical boats. In the 1950's, speedboats 30' and longer used for taking paying customers out for a spin, had to be approved by the U.S. Coast Guard. All of Bombard's boats were 29' 11" in length.

    Gar Wood went on to start the Gar Wood Boat Company in 1921. He was able to purchase 4,500 new surplus Liberty engines, for $50 each.

    Between the wars, other V-12 engines came out on the surplus market, including engines by Scripps, Kermath, Weight, and Lycoming, all developed for the military of course.

    The Scripps Model 302, introduced in 1933. 892 cubic inches.
    This is the "Big Boy", a 28' Gar Wood built in 1937.

    This is "Billie Bea II", a 23' Earl Barnes built boat, built in 1936. Equipped with a Kermath Sea Zepher V-12.

    "Mountain Lyon", a 28' Sea Lyon boat from 1932, with a Lycoming V12 for power. These were big engines, with a 4.75" bore and 4.75" stroke, and 1010 cubic inches.

    And the Rolls Royce of V-12's were built by...Rolls Royce. Not many people remember that R-R built other V-12's than the famed R-R Merlin. The same 1650 inch Merlin engine without the big supercharger was built as a tank engine, called the Meteor.


    Since I worked for Henry J. Kaiser at his estate during the summers when I was in high school, I know this boat.
    Here it is sitting on the ramp at Kaiser's estate kaisergw.jpg

    Here's Henry driving the boat prior to ripping the deck off and building a new "top" out of aluminum. The hull is a 29' 6" Gar Wood, built in 1930. As Henry once stated, "I own an aluminum company, not a mahogany company."
    "Hornet II" on the move.

    I'm going to close this post with the "Teaser", a 39' 11" Nevins, built in 1924.
    A Wright Typhoon V-12 for power.



    If you want more from the boat show, let me know...
  15. Terry Buffum
    Joined: Mar 20, 2008
    Posts: 285

    Terry Buffum
    from Oregon

    Are any of the wooden boats running the Miller or Duesenberg marine engines?
  16. George Klass
    Joined: Dec 31, 2007
    Posts: 902

    George Klass

    If there's one Lake Tahoe boat I get asked about all the time, it has to be the "Thunderbird". It's a 55' John L. Hacker design, custom built for George Whittell in 1940. It's been on the lake ever since it was delivered. The original engines were dual 550 HP Kermaths. After Whittell's death, the boat was purchased by Bill Harrah in 1962. Since Harrah was both a huge "car guy" and also an avid owner of Unlimited Hydroplanes, he ordered that the Kermath engines be replaced with twin 1710 cubic inch Allisons, rated at 1100 HP each.

    The "Thunderbird" became the ultimate party boat, and it fits right in with our theme. It's wood, it's vintage, and it's got over 2000 HP of V-12 power.





    Attached Files:

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  17. George Klass
    Joined: Dec 31, 2007
    Posts: 902

    George Klass

    Not that I know of.
  18. tevintage
    Joined: Mar 12, 2014
    Posts: 262


    Hi George:
    Great contribution to this thread. Wonderful pictures and some much fine infomation. I can only imagine how thrilling it must be in the seat behind those big V-12'S. Thanks. TEB
  19. seb fontana
    Joined: Sep 1, 2005
    Posts: 6,766

    seb fontana
    from ct

    Funny but I can feel my butt vibrating when I look at the pics...Some [well most!] of the V12 Race boats had the exhaust flanking the driver, musta been LOUD..!!
  20. Grandadeo
    Joined: Dec 24, 2008
    Posts: 808


    image.jpg You might not classify it as a speed boat but it's pretty cool. My buddy Normspeed's 1958 Glasspar.
    Last edited: May 6, 2016
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  21. George Klass
    Joined: Dec 31, 2007
    Posts: 902

    George Klass

    I'm going to finish up my posts on this thread for now, with some random photos of vintage wooden speed boats.

    This looks like another Lyon Boat Works triple cockpit, from the early 1930's. Note the single exhaust, probably a 6-cylinder Hall Scott engine, of around 600 CID.

    An older design, maybe from the late 1920's. My first guess would be a Chris Craft, but I'm willing to be wrong.

    Folding tops like these were not uncommon. Kept the hot sun off of grandma, and the wind wings on the windshield kept her hat from blowing off. This is a 28" triple cockpit, probably about 1928 or '29 vintage.

    A Chris Craft Cobra, from the early 1950's. The fiberglass upper part told us what was coming next in the world of "speed boats". When I was working for Henry Kaiser, his wife had one of these. She spun it out once trying to cut a sharp circle, and the water off the low transom pushed the rear fiberglass rear hatch/fin off the boat, allowing it to fill up with water and sink. It was about 800 feet to the bottom, and it's most likely still down there. Instead of trying to recover the boat(800 feet is deep), Henry bought the misses a new boat, a Besoto, a hot wood boat out of Stockton, CA.

    Typical Cobra engine from Chris Craft, a Caddy with a couple of carbs. My job was to maintain these boats so the family and friends of the family always had toys to play with. How many of you ever tried to change the engine oil in a boat, in which the oil pan is about 1" from the bilge?

    There is just something about a vintage boat like this Gar Wood, and a V-12 engine.

    An old G.W., maybe from the late 1920's. This photo was taken somewhere in up-state New York. I would say that between the lakes in up-state NY and Lake Tahoe, 80% of the wood boat restoration companies are located. Nothing like fresh water (and very wealthy enthusiasts) to keep these old vintage boats alive.

    In my opinion, there has never been an ugly Hacker Craft.

    Same boat as above. Note the second cockpit has a shortcut to the front cockpit, more for family style.

    The devil made him do it. Single exhaust, most likely a big Hall Scott straight-six for power.

    Another view of "Miss Catalina V", out for a cruise. 30' (less 1"), four cockpits and a Liberty V-12 under the hatch. Life is good.

    "Miss Catalina VI". This owner had the upper deck modified for additional "walk around room" in the cockpits. This is another Tahoe boat. What the new owner spent on the restoration and modifications, I could have a 4-bedroom home on the beach in Malibu, CA. This boat has had only two homes in it's 75 year life. Avalon on Catalina Island, and Tahoe City, CA.

    Dreaming is free. Owning and maintaining a boat like this is not.
    Last edited: Aug 19, 2015
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  22. Ned L
    Joined: Aug 19, 2015
    Posts: 3

    Ned L

    I passed my Jersey speed skiff on to a new owner this spring (16ft Chevy 350. National champion 1971) , .... Lots of fun theses boats.



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  23. George Klass
    Joined: Dec 31, 2007
    Posts: 902

    George Klass


    A couple of pretty neat old vintage boats, right? It's not what you think. Although they both look like they were built in the early 1920's, the one on the left was built in 2003 and the one on the right, 2007. This is kind of a new thing these days. If you can't find a boat you like, buy some old plans and have someone build it. They look original and they use new parts. Both of these boats are V-12 equipped.


    Tell me again that the upper 10% are going broke paying taxes and don't have any cash left over.

    I don't know anything about this boat but it also looks to me as if it's a "new build". I've never seen a vintage boat with a transom design like that. Also looks like it might be Allison or Rolls Royce Merlin powered, with a V-drive.


    This boat is the real thing, a 1930 28' Chris Craft. There is a great story that goes along with "Star Dust". If you were old enough to remember the TV show Amos & Andy, a sitcom about two black guys in Harlem, you might also recall that prior to TV, it was on the radio. The original radio show, which was popular from the 1920s through the 1950s, was created, written, and voiced by two white actors, Freeman Gosden and Charles Correll. One year (1930) Gosden and Correll took their families on vacation, up to Lake Tahoe for a week. Because they were rich, they bought this boat at the local Chris Craft dealer in Tahoe City to have something to play with. They used it for one week, and then they put it in storage. And then they forgot about it. After they both passed away, their estates paid the storage fees every month, for over 30 years. It just sat in this big shed, all covered up, until someone asked "what's under that big tarp?".

    This is the way "Star Dust" looks today, it's never been "restored". I have been told that other than checking the oil level and installing a new battery, the new owner did a quick re-varnish, and that was it. When they found the boat, it was sitting in the original wood shipping cradle.
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  24. Boatmark
    Joined: Jan 15, 2012
    Posts: 280


    If you want to relive your youth, Aristocraft is still in business, and will still build the wood Torpedo. I'm in the boat biz, one of the old guys I know is tight with the family that builds Aristocraft's. I don't know what I'd do with it, but I keep having the urge to buy one anyway!
  25. montero
    Joined: Oct 12, 2013
    Posts: 20


    There are few more beautiful machines than wooden speed/race boats!!!
  26. George Klass
    Joined: Dec 31, 2007
    Posts: 902

    George Klass

    I'm sure you guys are tired of me by now, but I found a few more photos.


    appache2.jpg A 1922 Hacker design, built by Hacker, for the original owner, Henry Ford. 33' with a Liberty V-12 for power. Even though it looks like a race boat, it was used for family fun on the Detroit River.

    A beauty queen even out of the water.

    Okay, it's not exactly a speed boat, but damn, this "woody" is slicker that owl poop on a brass door knob.

    Ya see that plastic boat towing the yellow raft? I can afford the little yellow raft.

    I should have included "Tango" in the V-12 post above.

    "Tango's" pretty power plant. Just think, if the U.S. government did not commission all these V-12 engines to be built, most of the boats would be powered by 6-cylinder Gray Marine 135 HP engines.

    I don't know if "Rare Wood" is a vintage boat or one of the "new built" boats, but it does grab your attention none the less.

    A "new" boat, a Glen L design, with a 1959 Caddy taillight and Moon decal. It's not "vintage", but it is beautiful.

    A 350 inch Chevy marine conversion (by Crusader) and a big fuel tank is all you need for all day fun.

    I wish it were mine, and the guy that owns it had a large wart on the end of his nose. Craftsmanship is craftsmanship, whether it was built in 1925 or 2015.
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  27. Ned L
    Joined: Aug 19, 2015
    Posts: 3

    Ned L

    George-- Absolutely stunning pictures and I am really enjoying your commentary as well. I certainly am a wooden boat guy, but mostly salt water so it is a bit of a rare sight to be able to see and enjoy these big beauties. I would love to see and hear more.
    (And sorry about dropping my little. Speed skiff in the middle of your posts.)
  28. tevintage
    Joined: Mar 12, 2014
    Posts: 262


    Thanks again George:
    For myself I never tire of admiring great craftsmanship, design and mechanical excellence/ingenuity! TEB
  29. weps
    Joined: Aug 1, 2008
    Posts: 533

    from auburn,IN

    Thank you for posting and the history/ commentary. I have a couple of spare ALF 12's and was wondering how well one would work in a reproduction wooden boat (after I finish my Auburn)
  30. George Klass
    Joined: Dec 31, 2007
    Posts: 902

    George Klass

    I've had a few questions about the straight-6 Hall Scott engines that were installed in many of the 1930-1945 Gar Woods, Hacker Crafts and other boats. This is what they looked like, the Hall Scott Invader. There were torque monsters, with 998 cubic inches.

    For many years, these engines were required on every bid sent out by the Los Angeles Fire Department for new fire engines or fire trucks. It was a mandatory requirement that these engines be installed. It was primarily because of their extreme torque, and the rolling hills that are part of the 500 square miles of L.A. City (25% of L.A. are in the foothills). These engines had no problems climbing the hills with heavy fire equipment. They were also used in most of the double decker Greyhound busses. Made for a great marine engine, too.

    Hall Scott's son, Bud Scott was a fixture at Lake Tahoe while I was growing up, and wrote two books about the history of Lake Tahoe and the boats on the lake. I knew Bud pretty well, he passed away in the early 1990's. He had a nice wooden cruiser, called appropriately, the "Tahoe". If I recall, it was either 42' or 45', and equipped with a Hall Scott Invader engine. It moved right along...

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