Saturday was a special day for Ken Muscatel and Ike Kielgass, as they re-launched “Miss Detroit III” with her remarkable Curtiss Model V-4 V-12 race engine, for a water test on Lake Tapps, WA. Legendary boat racer Gar Wood won the 1918 Gold Cup race with “Miss Detroit III” powered by a rare 1916 Curtiss V-12 aircraft engine. Beginning with our first report in April 2012, we have been following the story of vintage hydroplane enthusiasts Ken Muscatel and Ike Kielgass and their quest to one day reunite the Curtiss V-12 with “Miss Detroit III”.
Although the original Christopher Columbus Smith / Gar Wood designed race boat is long gone, Ken Muscatel was able to purchase the beautifully built “Miss America III Replica” race boat at the Warner-Mecum Auction back in 2010. Over 20 years ago, Ken Muscatel (assisted by historian Craig Magnusson from Seattle) purchased one of the two remaining 1916 Curtiss Model V-4 engines known to exist from an antique car museum. The only other example known to exist is on display at the Smithsonian Air & Space Museum in Washington, DC.
The restoration of the original 97 year-old Curtiss race engine was entrusted to vintage engine builder Robert Mishko at Rocky Summit Performance in Tennessee, which was completed and bench tested in August 2012.
Now, with the help of Ike Kielgass and some folks from the Hydroplane And Raceboat Museum, the ultra rare Curtiss V-12 has been successfully installed in the “Miss Detroit III Replica” race boat in Ike’s shop near Seattle, Washington – and on Saturday Ken & Ike re-launched “Miss Detroit III” on Lake Tapps, WA for her first water test with the big V-12 Curtiss. Just the way the original Miss Detroit III race boat would have appeared 95 years ago with Gar Wood at the controls. (maybe a bit more polish and varnish than in 1918…)
Fellow Woody Boater and local wooden boat restorer Robert DaPron was on hand at Lake Tapps for the re-launch, along with our friend and contributor Ron Stevenson. They captured some short video with their iPhones which has been posted below.
Rob DaPron commented – “It was an overcast day, but the water on Lake Tapps was perfect. They didn’t really run the boat that much – 3 runs perhaps 5-10 minutes each. Everything work flawlessly. Only issue was the motor ran a touch cool, but it is set up with a valve to control cooling flow so it is a simple adjustment. Seemed to be propped correct although they did not open it up.”
“They ran it up to about 1200 RPM and saw an indicated 40 MPH on the GPS. I would suspect that 1500 would put them right around 50. After that it is just a matter of how hard you want to push the old motor. The motor was built and tuned perfectly which helps greatly. Ken was very happy with how the boat performed.” – Robert
As we noted in the top of the story, we have had the pleasure of following this great story since April 2012, from the early days of the Curtiss engine restoration at Robert Mishko’s shop in Tennessee, right up until the engine was bench tested and installed in Miss Detroit III, including some history on Glenn H. Curtiss. To see those stories, we have provided links to the Woody Boater archive below. Also you will find a great YouTube video when the engine was fired up at Ike’s shop in Seattle, and finally a short YouTube video from the test day last Saturday at Lake Tapps.
Wednesday, April 18, 2012
Glenn H. Curtiss, Gar Wood And A Chris-Craft – A Winning Combination In 1918
Wednesday, April 25, 2012
Miss Detroit III Gets A New Set Of Jugs – Thanks To Robert Mishko At Rocky Summit Performance
Saturday, September 1, 2012
The 1916 Curtiss V-4 Is Alive! All 1650 Cubic Inches Of This Vintage V-12 Monster
Thursday, January 17, 2013
Miss Detroit III – Please Meet Mr. Curtiss
Miss Detroit III is now being prepared to make a visit to the ACBS International Boat Show in Coeur d’Alene, Idaho on September 17-23, 20013. After that, she will return to the Hydroplane and Raceboat Museum in Kent, Washington for everyone to see and enjoy this beautiful race boat.
Special thanks to Michael McBride for sharing his spectacular photos with us today.
Congratulations to Ken Muscatel, Ike Kielgass, Robert Mishko and the folks from the Hydroplane and Raceboat Museum on this remarkable project! I understand that there were two GoPro video cameras mounted on the boat on Saturday, so hopefully more video is on it’s way from this historic day.