Recipe For a Hydroplane — First You Take $30,000 [1958]
[Building the 1958 Miss Bardahl]


[Note: Click on the thumbnails to display larger images]

Miss Bardahl (2) construction, 1958 Spruce engine stringers are laid, leveled and trued fore and aft. Pre-assembled oak and plywood rib frames are then bolted across the stringers to form a wooden skeleton of the new Miss Bardahl. Unlimited hydroplane racing, like polo and yachting, is no poor man's sport. One hydroplane owner confided that to build and race his boat throughout the nation, the cost was $150,000 for the first year. In addition to the $30,000 for the boat and trailer, there were such items as two trucks (a tow-truck and a mobile shop), spare engines, gear boxes, propellers and shafts. Then there was $ 1,000,000 worth of insurance for the boat, driver and public liability. Though many of the crew are volunteers, one man-sometimes two-may be on salary. And when the boat hits the nation's highways there are transportation costs and living expenses for boat personnel.

So assuming you are loaded and want to build an unlimited hydroplane, here's a picture report on the construction of cup-winner Miss Bardahl from frame to name.

Miss Bardahl, U-40, was built to order in 1958 for additive oil manufacturer Ole Bardahl by Ted Jones at Bardahl's boat and engine shop. Miss Bardahl is a three-pointer, 30 feet long, 12 feet wide, with a racing trim weight of 6,170 pounds.

Jones not only designed the boat but supervised details of construction, while his son, Ron, served on hull operations as foreman and master shipwright. The boat was built in a mere eight weeks, something of a record in boat construction. The craft was plumbed, wired and fitted by the Bardahl crew and lead engine man Rudy Boppel. Originally powered by an Allison engine, she was reworked early in 1959 by Anchor Jensen and crew chief George McKernan and now carries a Rolls engine and a bow spoiler.

In her first year of competition, 1958, Miss Bardahl was National High Point Champion for being the season's most consistent finisher. She won the Apple Cup, the Buffalo Launch Club Trophy and was named the American Speedboat Champion for winning the Rogers Memorial Trophy.

Miss Bardahl (2) construction, 1958 The underside of the hull is completed first. Here the oak keel (center board), chines (edge runners), and battens (bottom planking) are bolted to the frames. The metal covered transom is then fastened in place.
Miss Bardahl (2) construction, 1958 After completion of bottom, sides, non-trip and transom, the oak and Dural sponsons are added. Next the intermediate strut and stuffing box are affixed and then the propeller shaft is inserted.
Miss Bardahl (2) construction, 1958 Twin spoilers are built onto each sponson rather than the standard single bow spoiler. This is a new Ted Jones innovation incorporated in both Miss Bardahl and Miss Thriftway to eliminate side boounce at high speed in the straightaways.
Miss Bardahl (2) construction, 1958 Deck frames of laminated spruce are fastened to the port and starboard sides of the boat and carried over the engine stringers. Twin 40-gallon gas tanks are on either side of the cockpit.
Miss Bardahl (2) construction, 1958 Oak deck battens are joined to the frames and the decking sheets are screwed into place. The decking is carefully selected, know-free, -inch African mahogany. It is sanded, sealed, filled and then given a complete final sanding.
Miss Bardahl (2) construction, 1958 The bow is fiber-glassed to seal the deck to the bottom. The dash, cowling and tail fin are positioned and the boat is painted. Crewmen are shown installing Miss Bardahl's racing engine — a modified Allison 1710-G-6.

[Reprinted from This is Hydroplaning, (Paul Lowney, 1959)]


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This page was last revised Thursday, April 01, 2010.
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Leslie Field, 1999, 2001