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Pit Box

Never take the easy way out!

In the 70s, hydro hulls became so narrow that  a great deal of ingenuity was involved in mounting the motors. The stricter noise limits also introduced the concept of flexible mounting. To secure this OPS 29 with its lugs removed, an entirely new rear housing was made that bolted through the sides of the hull with a clamp round the nose of the crankcase, also screwed directly through the hull. A knock on effect was that the vibration from the  motor often resulted in broken needles, hence the remote set-up seen here.

Thanks to Stuart Robinson for this item. OTW photo Dec 2016


A 'piece of history'

This programme is from a regatta at Victoria Park in October 1910 during which the Wembley Park Challenge Cup would be raced for. Eight clubs were represented and notable entries included Ted Vanner, Arkell Brothers, 'Carpenter's Mate' W Blaney and F A Mills the Stentor engine builder. Steam, electric and petrol powered boats competed under the watchful eyes of the Marshall brothers and 'Uncle' Jim Crebbin.

Thanks to Alan Whitehead for this item. Nov 2016


Early mystery hydro

There are several clues that this hull might date back to the early 20thC. The design follows that of Groves, Westmoreland and the American Elmara. It is larger though at over 5ft, possibly built for the the Class B. The engine was intended to be mounted horizontally with the crankshaft across the boat, again common practice. The counter rotating twin props were driven by belt from the flywheel via a countershaft and bevel gears, but by steam or IC is guesswork as it was seemingly never finished. A significant find. Thanks to Peter Kelley for item and photos Oct 2016


Crebbin & Miniature Speed trophies

Again, two trophies from the earliest days of the MPBA. As its name suggests, the first was donated by (Uncle) Jim Crebbin in 1934 for competition by flash steam boats at the Grand Regatta. The second was donated by Gray's of Clerkenwell in 1933 for the fastest 15cc boat with a home built engine at the International Regatta. Gray's were responsible for the Grayson in 25 and 30cc versions that powered so many A Class boats. Both trophies are still being competed for. Bob Kirtley has won the Crebbin 12 times, Mike Daly, John Rose and Mike Rose the Miniature Speed 39 times between them.  OTW photo Sept 2016


'Vanner' reappears

We have known about this boat for a while and it is believed to have come originally from Len Gates,  one of Ted Vanner's fellow Victoria members. The motor is a mystery, although another has appeared very recently and the distinctive designs leads us to believe that they were based on commercial castings. Unlike Ted's usual engines, this was designed for vertical mounting, yet was mounted horizontally.

Thanks to Terry Slack and  Gavin Carter for photos. Aug 2016


The name provides an instant identification, but initially who we thought might be the builder did not tie up with any of the previous known owners. We found two original photos of the boat, and then after a search a captioned version in Model Engineer. It was W H T 'Harry' Meageen's boat.  Meageen was highly successful in another sport before he took to tethered hydroplanes, firstly at Fleetwood in the 1930s and later at Altrincham. Samuel is unusual in having what was variously described as  an 'unorthodox' and 'fearsome' two-stroke motor, much of it inspired by Andrew Rankine. Both Meageen and Samuel have sufficiently fascinating backgrounds to warrant a 'Pitbox Special' later in the year.
                                                                                    Thanks to Jo and Bob Hodgson for this item and photos. July 2016


Brockwell Park memento

The engraving on this trophy found in Nuneaton says it all. Sharp was an engineer from Wandsworth in London and responsible for the design of a range of four-stroke hydro motors sold by various companies as outlined in our earlier article. He was also a regular competitor from 1908 and entrant in the ME Speedboat Competition. Unfortunately, one of his winning boats was stolen in the early 30s. This cup was won at Brockwell Park towards the end of a very long career .

Thanks to the vendor Jon and owner Ken Butterfield for photos.  June 2016



The last of the King's Lynn 'mystery' boats and the most intriguing as it is significantly older than the previous two and intended for a much larger four stroke motor. The hull is a conventional single step scow, but with the addition of the aluminium side planes. The twin bridle attachment indicates that it was used post WW2. The recent owner of these three boats was only a teenager during the days of the King's Lynn Club so how he came by them and who built them still remains unknown.  Vendor's photo May 2016


Fasta 3

Another mystery from King's Lynn having had the same owner as the Challenger, and one assumes the third in the Fasta series? Numerous people were experimenting with the twin hull concept, but this one is unusual in having aluminium planing shoes rather than steps or sponsons. The entire front half and engine bay are sheeted in, similar to the Challenger, presumably to provide more lift for the very small motors being used.

Thanks again to Mark Russell for this item and photos April 2016



This original example of the ED Challenger ties in nicely with the George Stone articles as its design was taken directly from  George's Lady Babs. Marketed from 1949 and intended for the ED 2cc MkII it was said to be capable of 40mph and as fast as any C class boat with a full sized engine. This example is called 'Speed Queen' and came from the King's Lynn Club, although at present we are unable to establish who the original owner was despite a registration number.

Thanks to Mark Russell for this item and photos. March 2016