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A Significant Find?

It was not until this boat had been completely rebuilt and restored that any inkling of its true age came to light. Research is still ongoing, but the name hidden under many layers of paint holds the possibility that it might well have been built in the mid 1920s. A Pit Box 'update' explores the origins of the boat and its restoration.  Sept 08.


A South London Experimental Power Boat Club gem found in Twickenham.

This lovely boat was built by another Stalwart of the SLEPBC, Harry Sharvell, and judging by the design and level of 'scale' decoration would date  to around the end of the 1920s. It is typical of a number of boats built during that period by club members, even down to the engine. The 25/30cc air cooled four-stroke motor is yet another example of the F.N Sharpe inspired unit that powered so many of the South London boats. Both boat and engine are now undergoing restoration and it is hoped to be able to publish photos after the refurbishment. Many of Sharvell's other boats were named, but as yet it has not been possible to positively identify this boat beyond its builder. Thanks to Steve Betney. Aug 08


Frederick Westmoreland's 'Minx'

The 30cc four-stroke engine was originally built by Frederick and his father Fred around 1934 and installed in a boat called appropriately 'Two Freds'. A new hull was constructed in the late 40s and the ,as yet unnamed boat, made its debut at Heaton Park Manchester in June 1949. The boat completed two runs, the best at 38 mph. The engine was later converted from spark ignition to glow plug and with its new name and Altrincham registration was run well into the 1950s, winning the Machin Cup amongst others. The boat is in wonderful condition, exactly as put away some 50 years ago, still with a leather starting cord and rubber bladder for pressurising the fuel tank. June 08


Not Quite What It Seemed!

With courage in both hands, the GRP and overspray inside  this very heavy 'Polyester copy' was dug out to reveal that it was in fact the female mould for Stan Clifford's most innovative boat. Why someone went to the trouble of joining the moulds, applying pounds of filler and then the superb metallic finish to make it a boat when they had the mould in their hands is lost in the mists of time. The mould makes building a replica of this 'iconic' boat a very realistic project.
                                                                                          March 07


Twickenham Twins

Ken Proctor from Sunderland was one of the countries top tethered car competitors during the 50s, yet like Gerry Buck was also involved with hydro's. Both of these boats were  built by him, based on designs from the US, EGO on a modified Harry Traband plan and IGO, a 'Scram' from Bob Graham. The boats were recovered from a loft in Twickenham without motors. IGO is a 5cc boat intended for an ETA 29, but never completed whilst EGO has obviously been raced, but as yet it has been impossible to match up any known engine to the mounts. The boats have now been restored by members of the Retro Racing Club, IGO with the correct ETA, and EGO with a McCoy, until detective work reveals the identity of the 'mystery' engine. Thanks to Mike Beech for these two interesting boats Oct 07


A shapely 'lady' from South Shields.

Thanks to Alan Thompson, Chairman of the South Shields MYC for photos of this lovely single step boat, built there in the early 30s. The water-cooled 25cc? Grayson engine with its separate water pump indicates that it probably did duty as a steering boat, although there is an attachment for a single bridle. After a long spell in the Midlands, it returned home to be refurbished. Hopefully this very nice example of a 'boat shaped' boat will soon be run on the 'club pond' again.             Aug 07


Veteran of many sheds?

This hull was offered for sale on ebay, identified as one of the Orthon series built by the doyen of tethered hydroplane racing, John Benson. The consensus was that Mr Benson never sold his boats on and so on balance this had to be a period copy. A deal was eventually done to buy the hull, sans incorrect Gannet, but an American gazumped that. A few months later John’s son Rick received an email from said American asking if the boat was genuine. To the surprise of all concerned John Benson confirmed that it was his Orthon II boat, and that he had loaned it to Norman Hodges to copy back in the early 50s. A little detective work traced its path through at least five different sheds since that time, with the last three owners being unaware of the true identity. So although it is just a bare hull and will need a lot of work to restore to any semblance of original condition, it is that rarest of finds, a genuine John Benson boat!
                      Pictures by D Brown
              May 07