Jones Building Jet-Propelled Craft [1960]

The challenge for the world straightaway water speed record may come from Seattle when Ted Jones, noted hydroplane designer, completes his new jet-propelled boat. Jones is building the jet racer in his shop, Ted Jones Research, where the new conventional hydroplane Miss Burien is also under construction. The Jones development will differ from the Les Staudacher and Guy Lombardo craft Tempo-Alcoa and Donald Campbell's Bluebird III , as the Ted Jones boat will be built for both straightaway speeds and competition.

It was just ten years ago the Jones hinted he had planned a fast combination boat to try to bring the world's record back to the U.S. and the Gold cup to Seattle. The result was Slo-Mo-Shun IV which changed hydroplane history. Jones' new jet boat will be a cabover tight similar to Thriftway Too, which is 34 feet LOA, 12 ft. 8 in. beam and weighs 7000 pounds.

The craft will be built of dural Aluminum Company of America, which will be used for the frames, sides, bottom and engine stringers. The power plant will be a General Electric-built jet engine, the J-47, which is used to power the B-47 bomber. It develops about 6000 horsepower within 6000 pounds of thrust. Jones predicts a straightaway speeds at 300 mph and closed course speeds more than 250 mph (on the straightaways) are possible with the jet boat because of the simplicity of design in tremendous power. There is no propeller, gear box nor strut to cause trouble in the water, only a short stub of a rudder. The engine is simple with no parts to disintegrate at high speeds, no cooling water system, no oil cooler.

With the jet's tremendous power, only 85 percent of the potential need ever be used, as Jones pointed out, so the engine will never be over taxed as are the World War II gas engines which are souped up for unlimited hydroplanes. Jones believes that racing of jet fighter planes will be quite practical.

"Due to the tremendous thrust, the jet engine will give a boat a very fast acceleration," he said. "The jet engine is very simple, with no gear box or other mechanical hookups to fail. With more power available boat construction can be heavier and safer."

He does not believe the heat from the tailpipe of the jet boat will deter the racing of jet boats.

"It is true that at the exhaust nozzle the discharging gasses are 1000 Fahrenheit; but this is dissipated by 100 Fahrenheit every ten feet, and heat is further dampened by a spray of water created by the ski or cleaning surface at the stern of the boat."

Jones pointed out the even at 100 feet astern, the roostertail from a conventional hydroplane is a dangerous weapon.

"Two racers on the course, the roostertail ahead blocks visibility, for the big ball water lots out of view of the boat ahead. Actually, the switch to jets may make racing safer, with better course conditions, less engine and hull failures."

(Reprinted from Sea and Pacific Motor Boat, January 1960, p. 172)


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Leslie Field, 2000