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A lucky find in Lincolnshire.

Proving yet again that it pays to explore obscure categories on eBay is this delightful, and seemingly original, single step tethered hydroplane. It is typical of the simple flat-bottomed ‘boat shaped’ hulls of the early thirties, and the water cooled marine version of the Bond’s Petrol Engine that dates from around 1930 would seem to confirm the age of the boat although the articulated drive shaft would indicate a date nearer to the mid 30s. The addition of two large fins on the underside of the hull indicates that it was either built or converted at some stage in its life for straight running competitions, although it still has the tether bracket and ‘knock off’ switch for use with a pylon. An air-cooled motor would be more usual for a tethered hydroplane but the water-cooled engine seems to be original, so without trace of a name or club number at present it’s precise history is a little vague. What is heartening is the very good condition of the hull and engine, making it an excellent find for the lucky owner, needing only light restoration and ‘re plumbing’ to complete this rare find.

Thanks to Mark Russell for photographs and details.

Sept 06     See update  Nov 06


A ‘real’ discovery in the shed.

A vague description and the dimensions of a wooden hull that had been discovered in Glenridding turned out, on investigation, to be a ‘real’ find. It was none other than 'Chrysis', an ‘A’ class hydroplane built in the late 1920s by L.J. French, predating his more famous 'Little Star'. The hull had much fuller sections than 'Little Star', but was of similar shape with just one step rather than two. The original 30cc four-stroke engine, now missing, came about by the simple expedient of sawing a 50cc four-stroke twin in half and making two new engines. The delicate curved bow sections and step have been removed during the course of development, to be replaced by a shorter, flat, single step. The hull is in a ‘sorry’ state, but recoverable, and is now awaiting restoration. The only question being whether to revert to its original configuration or as it finished its career. The name 'Chrysis' and competition number 66 can still be discerned on the hull sides.  May 06


A very unusual ‘roundtuit’

‘Mona’ is a very rare boat indeed, probably the only example in existence of a Bond’s One Metre Hydroplane. As can be seen from the advert, Bond’s ‘O’ Euston Road marketed the boat, just prior to the Second War, in two stage of completion,. Mr S.A.C. Smith, who was an ardent aero-modeller at the time, obtained this example on one of his visits to Bonds, and it is believed that he intended to install a variant of Westbury’s Atom motor in it. The boat was painted and sign written by Mr Smith's father, a professional sign writer, but due to the onset of war was never fitted out. After war service with the RAF and time spent in a Stalag, Sid Smith set up Electra Engines in Chatham, supplying parts for tethered cars, manufacturing Pioneer engines, as well as repairing and tuning engines for customers. Somewhere along the line ‘Mona’ was forgotten and never did get finished. This lovely example of a pre war metre hydroplane has recently been rescued from the attic by Mr Smith’s son Ken and is awaiting completion after some 65+ years. An original racing version of the Bonds Simplex engine currently resides in the hull.     Information and photo courtesy of Ken Smith     Mar 06


This hydro originally featured on the site’s homepage. It is linked with the flash steam Water Otter as it was also built at BICC. Don Mason, who was an apprentice under Frank Burns, the builder of ‘Otter’ constructed both the boat and engine as part of his apprenticeship.

The boat is a relatively simple outrigger design with the separate sponsons built around 1954.   The engine is an example of the 10cc Conqueror from Ten-Sixty-Six Products of Worcester. Obtained as a kit, the engine was built with guidance from both Jimmy Jones and Frank Burns. The boat is unnamed and not thought to have run competitively although it may have been tested at the Birkenhead Club. Its last run was again at Crosby lakes in the mid 60s.   Feb 06


Water Otter was the generic term for flash steam hydro’s as well as the name given to the boat illustrated. This boat was built around 1949/50 by Frank Burns who worked at BICC with Jimmy Jones, who was a very well known competitor with boats and engines that he designed and built. The hull is a simple single step, scow or ‘kipper box’ design with a very well engineered single cylinder flash steam engine. The engine has a ‘shuttle’ steam valve on top of the cylinder and an adjustable water feed pump running off a reduction gear. The boiler consists of several feet of coiled steel tubing and is heated with a double petrol/paraffin blowlamp.

Water Otter last ran at Crosby Lake in 1966 where it virtually emptied the pond and has remained in storage until its recent sale. Underneath the accumulated dirt the boat was found to be in amazing condition and with the exception of a coat of paint on the boiler casing, no further restoration was required.    Feb 06