Freak Productions [1905]

by E. J. Williams

In all probability there is no other line of industry that offers any more advantages for freak production than that of the power boat and its equipment. This is not only an issue with power boats, but prevails with sailing craft to some extent. In an endeavor to reach various speed goals in power-boating the freak hull is the noticeable feature, every one of which, according to the inventor, will positively revolutionize the industry, and create a standard of design.

After completion "Something New" is ready for private trial, and, according to the news- papers, the reports are so favorable that the inventor's hopes are more than realized with but half the power exerted.

Occasionally official trials are made by log, with the same results. Her phenomenal speed, usually borderlining on 60 miles an hour, is heralded far and wide, and everybody interested continually refers to the craft as a speed wonder.

This craft later on enters into competition over an accurately measured course, against boats not capable of developing 23 miles per hour, and fails to make a favorable impres- sion by being defeated. It was too bad the water circulation stopped, or the ignition was defective, or the gasolene had water in it, or some other adverse condition prevailed. Furthermore it was nobody's fault if the blades of the log were bent in the proper direction during shipment for the official trial, when such phenomenal speed was developed.

Freak production only retards the advancement of the industry, and is nothing more or less so much time and labor expended on a pet product of personal satisfaction only to the originator or inventor.

Various endeavors have been made in the direction of fish imitations from the sea serpent variety to the skate fish style.

A few years ago a new means of propulsion was given publicity, and it was claimed the the propeller would soon be a thing of the past. This apparatus was supposed to be an exact duplicate of the action of the fins and tail if a fish. A rakish hull, resembling the lower body of a fish, was equipped with the attachment, and a gasolene engine was installed to furnish the power. Work on the outfit covered a period of several months.

A corporation was formed to defray a heavy expense, and the officials were on had to witness the first trial. The engine was started and the clutch thrown on. Excitement ran high and estimates of a speed of 50 miles an hour were rife. Alas! possibly 3 miles an hour were realized. Six months later the equipment lay in the junk heap.

From latest advices we hear of the raftboat, equipped with lateral planes, the whole outfit resembling a house blind, the principle being to force the boat out of the water as much as possible as the speed increases. Then there is the narrow wedge-shaped craft, built for a mill pond, occasionally found during the absence of wind and turmoiled waters; the flat skim dish type; the narrow double-ender with no flat floors, that rolls like an air ship; the boat with three propellers, each fan a separate shaft, all in a line from bow to stern; and so many other types that a schoolboy could guess out another fitting addition to the list.

The flat stern boat appears to hold its own and is proving its merits. What seems to be most in demand by power boat yachtsmen is comfort and seaworthiness, combined with fair speed. These qualities will, in all probability, eventually be a marked feature, and racing machines standardized by one-design class.

In the gasolene engine industry about the same conditions prevail, and each season records the debut of an engine that will cast a cloud over all competitors. We hear so many state- ments and claims made for the various types that they become the most conspicuous and fallacious part of the feature. There is not a gasolene engine for which great claims are made, but what someone can be found somewhere who is having a world of trouble with just that same engine.

All the revolutionizing productions at the present time die early, and are soon conspicuous by their absence, which only goes to show that it was a pet project of no earthly advantage to the industry.

The freakishness is not always so perceptible with the design of the engine as it is with some features or accessory attached to it. The latest endeavors in this line are lubrication by placing the oil in the gasolene; the nitro-glycerine engine; the acetylene engine, etc. One of the recent productions is the revival of the old hat piston, so long ago consigned to the scrap heap that it is nearly extinct.

The finale is only too evident: Ex nihil nihil fit.

(Transcribed from Power Boat News, Sep. 16, 1905, pp. 461-461)

[Thanks to Greg Calkins for help in preparing this page. —LF]


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Leslie Field, 2000