Today, for a change of pace, we decided it would be nice to take a break from Hot Topics such as High Restoration Costs, 3,000 HP Unlimited Hydroplanes, and preparing for the trip to Lake Dora – and take a quiet, peaceful putt across Lake Cyberspace in a vintage “Dippy” thanks to fellow Woody Boaters Julie & Chris Bullen. This story is so relaxing, that I fell asleep preparing it this morning. – Texx
“The Greatest Little Motor Boat Afloat” is a great way to see the sights.
The disappearing propeller was invented in 1915. W.J. Johnson started the company in 1916 and put the device in row boats. This allowed the boat to be beached easily and help the boat bounce over the logs that were everywhere at the time. By the early 20’s the Dispro co. was building 350 to 400 boats a year powered by a 3hp dispro motor. Affectionately known as the “Dippy” the boat was made with oak ribs with cypress or cedar lapstrake planking.
Going slow gives you a whole different look at the lake. We are always going fast. Going to work, going to groceries, going to the lake – cars get us there quick. Most of us on the water are going 30 to 40 mph. Glass boats don’t go slow. Even most wood boats go comfortably at 15 to 20mph. For some, us included, you need to be in the Dispro for a while to settle in and adjust to the slower speed of travel.
When you get into a Dispro and start her up you’re off, going full speed at 6 mph. Just like a race boat, once you start the engine you’re on your way! Ok that’s the only thing about them that’s like a race boat.
The Dispro takes you back every time you get into one. It’s magic. Well, when it’s running, but that’s another story. Let not ruin the magic. The soft “putt-putt” of the motor and the smooth ride lets you sit back and enjoy the cruise. Bring a few friends and you have a mobile front porch: a place to chat, gaze at the scenery and enjoy the water and smell of varnish.
You could say a slow boat makes your lake bigger. If you have a small lake the slow boat takes longer to get around. The Dispro club is strong with over 60 boats coming out to the annual meeting in September each year. In fact they have trouble finding a location to beach or dock 60 boats.
They are active all year long with their UMMTs (Unorganized Minnie Misery Tours). The light weight boat and small trailer allows you the haul the Dispro with any vehicle to explore lakes around the globe. The device makes for mostly a worry free experience in unknown waters.
Julie & Chris Bullen
Thanks Julie & Chris for sharing your story with us today, believe me – it helps beat those “winter doldrums” for another day. We look forward to visiting with Julie & Chris in Tavares next month during the Sunnyland Wooden Boat Festival, where we hope it’s a bit warmer.
Also – Chris mentioned that the Woody Boater Picnic & Poker Run planned for July 5th is a hit! The event, which leads up to the big Toronto Chapter ACBS Boat Show in Gravenhurst, Ontario is now offically sold out, with a total of 21 classic boats and 53 people now registered. However, they have conducted a “cockpit count” and according to Chris, there is still some room on some of the boats if you are looking to hitch a ride.
For us, this is fantastic news considering it’s just February 26th and we are looking forward to this great event and covering it with our cameras blazing.
To learn more about this amazing 98 year-old invention, here’s a diagram and a short video courtesy of the Dispro Owners Association, which also has a great website (Click Here) with everything you ever wanted to know about Disappearing Propeller Boats.
Just like these little 3HP vintage engines, the “Dispro” video takes a few seconds to get started and warm up, so please be patient – it’s worth the wait… – Texx
Story Update: Fellow Woody Boater Ian shared a link to another impressive Dispro video in the comment section today, so we added the video below. This is a very informative video which includes some great commentary from noted Canadian restorer Peter Breen, describing the Dispro boats and detailed engine operation, as well as some commentary from owner Bill Joslyn in Lake Dora, Florida. Thanks for sharing this with us Ian! – Texx