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Paul -

 

You have a future as a suspense/thriller writer. You know how to put just enough information in a post to cause the brain cells to go into overdrive trying to read between the lines what the heck you are implying! We need info....especially if it involves boats and something else.

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Where it all started....

 

I remember as little kids going to local boat races with dad and gran-dad. Dad was the driver, grand-dad the crew chief. Dad raced A and B outboard hydros. Kneel down hyrdoplanes, all wood construction (mahogany and fir), the front deck covered in cloth and airplane dope.

 

The engines were German Koenig motors...A class was 125 cc and B class was 250 cc. Rotary intake valves, multi piece crankshafts, all hand built. Darn things would turn over 10,000 rpms and running dry exhaust, then had a very distinctive sound. Loud does not even begin to describe it...ear plugs were mandatory. Dad suffers hearing loss today and probably goes back to his racing days. These classes were fondly nicknamed A Alky and B Alky since they ran a combination of nitro/methanol and castor oil for lubricant (remember this is back in the '60s before the high tech synthetics were available). At a young age, I became addicted to the smell of burning castor oil; something you have to experience to appreciate. I guess this is where part of my addiction to model airplanes started, especially with the little Cox .049 engines and their nitro fuel!

 

This is the A class. Easy to tell as the motor ran two exhaust stacks (the letter E designated the region we raced in ; Region 4 covering North Carolina, Virginia, West Virginia, and Maryland). This boat could just touch 80 mph...when it would run! The A motor was the most cantakerous, aggravating engine I ever remember being around. When it could run 5 laps, noboby could touch it. The problem was it was so damn finicky, they were lucky to complete a race 50% of the time. To say high strung was an understatement and I remember Dad and Grand-dad threatening to sell the damn thing many times!

 

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The B (250 cc) had a different exhaust with both cylinders going into a single pipe. The B could run around 85 mph on the straight. This engine was the workhorse as it was reliable and got the job done. Consistently ran in front unless operator error caused an issue.

 

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As you can see, the safety equipment from those days was nothing like what I wore! Helmets were just about anything that would fit on your head. Goggles...well you can see for yourself. No shatter resistant material. Life jackets were kapoc filled with a skid collar made to hopefully float you upright when you got tossed out of the boat. If the plastic bag the kapoc material was in got punctured, you needed a new jacket as it would eventually loose its floatation ability.

 

Oh, and accidents did happen. The most common was getting tossed out of the boat in the turns. They did not have kill switches back then, but used a deadman throttle set-up. As long as you had the throttle handle squeezed, the motor stayed running; hand off the throttle and the butterflies would totally shut off the air flow to the engine and kill it. Blow-overs did not happen that much and then there where the incidents where the boat got stuffed. Dad did it once in the B at Elizabeth City, NC. Hit a roller on the front stretch and the bow of the boat went through the wave. Dad went over the bow of the boat, bending the steerning wheel and shaft like a pretzel! When the towed the boat in, the cloth covered deck was shredded along with the wood cowling over the steering wheel. Dad got checked out by the local ambulance but declined to get checked at the hospital. The next day, though, every muscle was letting him know they were not happy campers!

 

Unfortunately, these are the only pictures I can find from back then. The trailer we hauled the boats on was a double stack with a wooden motor box on the back. Engines, props, exhaust stacks (different lengths for different size courses), tools, and fuel cans. Nothing fancy back then. On race days, the best seat in the house was on top of the motor box...us kids loved it up there!

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Thanks Dan.

Cool crazy stuff! There's something special in the transfer of horse power to the seat of your pants and the grip on the wheel. ...

I have more pictures but my PC is in park for down loading.

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Since dad raced boats, all three of the boys felt like they should be able to do the same when we were little. Well, mom had other ideas, and about the time we were old enough for Little League and other stuff, mom told dad it was time to quite playing and move on to the next phase of life. This statement will come back to haunt me, I just did not realize when I was seven years old. Dad sold the boats and trailer, but kept the engines and props due to sentimental reasons.


We did not stray too far from racing during this time, though. Dad was a member of the local power boat club and a few years later they decided to run some races. A few of the guys in the club raced in the Outboard Performance Craft (OPC) division. Classes ran either stock v-bottom hulls or tunnel hulls. Most of the tunnel hull boats were made of wood, and when they needed to be repaired, dad starting doing that in the garage. Mom was not too happy with the arrangement since her car had to be left outside during the course of the repair, but at first she tolerated it. Dad then was asked to build a kneel down hydroplane like he used to race, so the car was stuck outside for a couple of months. That was the final straw and he was told to build a shop out back for his stuff! (Thinking back, I suspect this was his plan all along.)


I helped with the construction of the hydro, but working on the tunnel boats was my favorite. Just something about driving a boat from a seat instead of kneeling down appealed to me at a young age! Besides, they had those big engines hanging on the transom instead of those exotic, high strung engines, and the big thing was …wait for it…you could start it from the cockpit instead of having one person lift up the rear of the boat and another one yanking a start rope to get things going!


There was a racer out of Maryland that owned a fiberglass tunnel boat. It ran ok, but since it was glass, he was limited as to what he could do to make changes to improve how it ran. He asked dad if he would build him another boat based on his current boat, but with some small changes. Dad told him we were going into uncharted territory, but would give it a try. He left the fiberglass boat at the house and we started pulling dimensions from the boat and lofting the new design on brown butcher’s paper. No kidding, that is what we had to work with at the time as it was heavy enough to stand up to some abuse.


One of the changes on the new hull was a step on the sponson, just aft of the deepest part. The thought process behind this is when the boat is accelerating off the turn, the step in the pad would “break” the suction of the water and allow the sponson to get clear faster. This was the first time we tried this since the hydros never utilized such a concept due to their light weight and the sponsons only extending about 1/3 the length of the hull. You can see where the step will be in this picture, where the inner and outer stringers are in place on the sponson and a support block on the frame where the drop occurs in the step.


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I think this picture is from around 1981 time frame. Seems like this hull had 11 frames cut out of okueme mahogany and sitka spruce stringers. Frames, sponson strongbacks, and coamings were all 5 mm. Sponson pad from step to transom was 5 mm, forward of step was 4 mm as was the tunnel floor. Top deck was 3 mm.


The shop was small by today’s standards. Single story, 12’ x 20’, heated by a wood burning stove ( learned how to weld building those damn stoves while in high school!). You can just barely see the table saw that was 30 years old at that time. The band saw was about the same age, too. Both were Sears Craftsman along with the radial arm saw that Dad bought a few years before this picture. He finally retired the table saw a few years ago and replaced it with a heavy dutyr Ridgid table saw. The darn band saw is still going strong!

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I just sold my old 200lb. Craftsman Joiner that I haven't used in .....? in 10 years ?

The retired gentleman setting up his hobby wood shop noticed a spare motor on a top shelf in my shop.

Yes, A never been used 10" craftsman table saw motor. Even had mounting brackets on it.

I gave that heavy table saw away when the newer lighter weight saws came out 8 years ago.

The old 10" radial arm saw found it's way into a retired wood shop teachers new garage. His old one burned down with a antique Bugatti in it.

Those old heavy Craftsman tools sure gave alot of people a chance to pursue hobbies.

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Boat racing pictures are still pending.

I'm on my old XP while my Windows 7 is being repaired by the local beer vendor stock boy.

Oop's, shouldn't say that outloud. He will probably read that.

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No kidding. Its a shame the new stuff does not have the quality those old tools had. The only reason Dad got rid of the table saw was the motor...it was only a 1/2 hp, and was the original motor. The problem was that if you ran it more than 5 minutes, the damn overload button would pop. Then you had to let it cool down, hit the red reset button, and go again. I hated that saw when we were ripping down 3/4" x 3/4" inch stringers out of 16 ft sitka spruce (or later poplar). Make it through one board, then use the joiner to dress the stringers while the saw cooled down.

 

Funny story on the joiner. Back in the early 80's we built an A stock hydro for a local racer. Well, he over spent his budget on rigging the boat and apparently had indicated to his girlfriend at the time that she was getting a ring for either a holiday present or something else. Anyway, when it came time to buy the ring, he was short on funds. Knowing that Dad did not have a joiner and he happened to have one in his garage that was fairly new and not being used, made a deal with Dad and we ended up with it. Dad still has the joiner today and it works just fine. Can't say the same for either the diamond ring or the girl it was bought for :yahoo_rotfl:

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Maybe a new Website, Jointher.com

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Fast forward a couple years from when we first started building tunnel hull boats. All three of us boys expressed an interest in driving a boat. Mom and Dad had one rule; not until you finish school (as in college...not high school). I ended up going to college locally, so I was around the house to mess around on other boat building projects. We finished the first boat (around 13ft 6 inches), a Sport E (75 hp, 3 cylinder OMC, 49.9 cubic inches). The guy we built that boat for had a friend that raced and the following year he asked us to build him a boat for running in the Sport J class (Mercury 6 cylinder, 150 hp, and I am guessing 100 cubic inches). We took the original plans for the Sport E, scaled it up to a 15 ft boat, and went from there. Both boats did well in the regional races, so we must have been on the right track with the designs.

 

My senior year in college, the Sport E we built went up for sale and Dad decided to buy the complete boat, motor, and trailer. It had proven itself to be a good, steady boat, so we figured it would make for the perfect introduction into racing.

 

scan0003_zps6ba3e512.jpg

 

During this time, most of the races courses we ran on were the same ones inboard hydros ran on; 1 1/4 to 1 2/3 mile courses, big sweeping turns, long straights, and you made a running start on a big clock. Races were 5 mile sprints. Back then, it was all about top speed and being able to "float" the boat thru the turns. If you could not run 83 - 85 mph in the straights (as measured on an old style Keller speedometer using a pitot water pickup - no gps units back in the early 80's), you were a back marker. No matter what we did with the boat, I think 83 was the best we ever saw. Boat was a hell of a rough water boat, and you could trim the engine up as high as you wanted and never have a worry.

 

Finally figured out two things by the end of the season; (1) the boat was over built and (2) a little overweight. Rules said boat and driver had to weigh a minimum of 900 lbs at the end of the race. We weighed in at 935 every darn race and determined it was over built as in two too many frames and stringers closer together than necessary. We could also shed a little weight from the fiberglass cowlings we designed and layed up. We sold the boat at the end of the season for what we bought it for ( can you believe that!) and started designing a new boat from scratch that winter.

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The first hull we designed after #831 looked very similar on the outside, but we did make internal changes. Instead of 11 frames, we figured it could be done with 10. Where we had 2 stringers in the sponson pads, figured we could get by with one. Also changed the spacing of the tunnel stringers so we could reduce the total number by 2. At the same time, started playing with the plywood thickness, going from 5 mm on the entire bottom of the sponson to 5mm on the back half behind the deepest point and 4 mm on the forward third of the pad. Decks were still 4 mm...thought process here being the deck skins were providing a significant contribution to the hull stiffness.

 

Worked our butts off over that winter to complete the boat, rig and test it. It felt good during testing, seeing decent speed in the straights, so I figured we would be good at the first race of the season. Loaded up the truck and headed off to Bristol, TN, thinking we were gonna set the world on fire! What I did not realize (being new to racing) was that a lot of other drivers were ready to get over the winter doldrums and showed up at this race to blow out the cobwebs. Not just local drivers from within our region, but people from as far away as Ohio, Massachusettes, and Georgia. Also, this race had a new starting concept to me...the lemans start. Boats lined up in the water with crew members holding the boat, engines off. Once all boats were ready, the official would raise a flag and hold it for a minimum of 15 seconds. Anytime after that, he could drop the flag and the race was on. Hit the ignition and off you go!

 

Being a rookie at this and the number of entries (I think there were 10), I was able to drawn an outside starting position. Lined up ready for the start, a damn bundle of nerves just waiting to go! Flag in the air and I am like a cat wired on a hundred Red Bulls, one hand on the ignition switch, one on the steering wheel, throttle all the way to the floor. Flag drops, I hit the switch, and it just burbles! The rest of the boats rocket off the start, rooster tails flying from the spray, and I finally get the darn motor to fire and go! Ok, no problem, time to see what we can do, but remember to stay out of the way!!!

 

As I recall, I think I got lapped just past the half way point. In racing conditions, the boat was a handfull to operate, fighting multiple wakes and the intimidation of so many other boats on the course at one time. What the heck was I thinking? Finished the race, everything in one piece, but in last place. Talk about a reality check! Put the boat on the trailer and started talking things over with Dad as to what happened and what the plan was for the next day. Since we did not have any baseline numbers for running here (Dad had a small notebook that he recorded everything in when we tested and raced: air temp, water conditions, motor height, which prop, max rpms), so we could do some testing after the races ended on Saturday.

 

Strapped the tachometer and speedometer back in the boat (this was prior to hand held gps) and pushed off from the trailer. First couple of laps felt good, then I recalled hitting a boat wake on one lap. About half a lap later, while going around the far turn, the boat started listing hard to starboard...WTF??? Straightened up the wheel and it still had the list and now I had water where I was sitting! No time to let them know on the beach what was happening (no on-board communication) so I did the next best thing and beached my brand new boat! Jumped out and lifted up the transom to keep the power head out of the water, then had some other people on the beach help slide the boat out of the water.

 

Looking at the boat, could not easily see what was wrong while it sat on the beach. At this point, all we could do was remove the inspection ports in the rear deck, remove the duckbill drains, lift the bow and let the water drain before figuring out how to get it on the trailer. It was when we lifted the bow did the damage become apparent...the darn pad on the starboard sponson had split! The only thing I could think was when I hit the boat wake, it was enough to rupture the plywood skin! Dammit. So much for trying to shave some weight, but we will address this later; now we just need to get it back on the trailer.

 

Since where I beached the boat was close to the ramp, once we had most of the water out, I enlisted a volunteer to sit on the back of the boat so the bow was up and out of the water. I then walked the boat over to the trailer and we got it all back in one piece. So much for my start of the season!

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Trying to upload a picture or two. Test

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Planning on 6 events this summer with the Miss Vitamilk.

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Promoted to head mechanic for this summer's racing season.

Last summer & a

50 year old photo of Doug's dad's boat

 

Bill Brow  Miss Vitmilk.jpg

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THANKS GUYS Really enjoy reading tales of the past . Never a true racer but enjoyed watching. Had a kid Tom Harvey working for me that his father raced and he was just starting too. I would take my COBALO out and per checked for anything in the water that might do damage to the boat. I did drive it a few times but going fast ( clocked at 112 mph) and had enough as slowing down was the hard part until you get use to it. I don't remember the class but it had a built up 150 Merc on the back. We did this about 5 times until someone called the police about racers on the lake. . The cops show up and come over to us. First thing he asked where's the other boat and I said this is it. He finally recognized me and knew I worked for the boat co. And put in at the Presidents house on the lake. He laughed and asked who won the race. I told him my 16" with the 70 Johnson. He did ask us to leave as there is a max speed on the lake of 35 mph but never enforced .

So that ended my racing as we had to let him go due to him not showing up for work without any excuse. Besides I was more into offshore fishing and life went on .

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I am guessing that was on a tunnel hull. The stock 150 Mercury was know back then as the Sport J class. Now, there were a few different classes that ran modified versions of the Mercury motors. I am guessing from the speed you are talking about and thinking this was in the mid to late 70s or early 80s, your buddy had a Mercury T2 or T2-X racing motor.

 

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These were the motors to have back then...the only thing better from Mercury were only available to a select, few drivers. We did some work on a boat that belonged to Buck Thornton back in the late 70s. He raced in SST class. He pulled up to the house on a Monday with his boat and asked us to help remove the power head and bolt it down in a shipping pallet as he had to get it to the airport that evening so it could be delivered to Mercury Racing the following morning. We finished the work on the boat the following week and Buck showed up to get the the boat. He just happened to have a fresh powerhead still in the box that just arrived from the factory! Yup...we had to help install it so he could be on his way to another race that weekend! The funny thing was that Buck did not drive a flashy boat with big sponsor logos plastered on it...his was a plain grey boat trimmed in blue and orange pinstriping. The only name on the boat was SuperShip. Boat was a Seebold hull, which was the best one available from a US builder at the time. Talk about flying under the radar, here he was getting the best the factory had to offer so it could be tested for the their more prominent drivers at the time. Only problem was, every now and then, Buck would slip up on the Seebolds, Bentzs, or a few of the dreaded OMC drivers, and give them a reality check that there were others ready to be top dog!

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Kicking this back to the top so AsBoats2002 can have some fun talking about those rc boats!

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