For us, this story began almost four years ago. In February 2008 Woody Boater ran a story about a rare 1929 24′ Schillo Triple Cockpit Sportabout that, at the time was listed for sale at Jim Staib’s Fine Wood Boats in Illinois. The story was titled – “1929 Schillo, Help Save History, Help Save The Soul Of Antique Boating.” (You can see this original story which is preserved in the Woody Boater archives by clicking here)
Fast-forward to May 2010 when we were in Post Falls, Idaho attending the 5th Annual Resort Boat Shop Show & Shine event where we spent some time visiting with fellow Woody Boater and restoration expert Jim Winslow from McCall, Idaho. Jim mentioned that he had recently purchased the 1929 Schillo triple from Jim Staib and was planning to some day restore this historically significant wooden runabout. For us that was exciting news as we knew the boat was in good hands with Jim.
“Though not a lot is known about the firm itself, we know a little more about it’s founder, Albert G. Schillo. Albert Schillo formed his boatbuilding operation in 1926. Magazine articles gave glowing accounts of several models offered by the firm in those first years.”
“Several different Schillo Runabouts were offered. The first was the 8-90 “Sportabout”, a 21’9″ length Runabout powered via a converted Curtis 90 HP airplane engine. This first Schillo Runabout could reach speeds of 35 to 45 MPH, which was pretty fast in 1926.”
“The craft sported a double planked bottom, the first layer was select Cedar with a glued layer of canvas between it and the outer planking, which was Honduras or African Mahogany… The larger 27′ Schillo Runabout was also available. This hull also came standard with a “marineized” version of the 90 HP Curtis but the big 220 HP Hispano-Souiza aircraft engine was also available. The most powerful Schillo Runabouts were fitted with the 450 HP V-12 Liberty aircraft engine.”
“In 1927 Schillo ran a full page ad in Motor Boating magazine discussing it’s all new 8-220 model. The boat offered seating for four in the aft cockpit, with engine mounted amidships and hidden seating for two more under a hidden hatch.”
“Local legend has it that Schillo Runabouts were very popular with the “Bootleggers” out of Chicago (due to their high speed capabilities) and sales flourished until the Prohibition Act was repealed. The original plant where Schillo boats were built was located in 3981 North Rockwell St., in Chicago, Illinois.” – Bob Speltz
Schillo Motor Boat Manufacturing Company operated from 1926 to 1929.
Here are a few shots of the rare 24′ Schillo Runabout before it left Fine Wood Boats a few years ago. Jim Staib noted that the boat had a new bottom installed but as you can see by the photos, some significant work was still required to complete the restoration.
So now fast forward again to August 2011… As we were en-route to Lake Tahoe, California to attend the Lake Tahoe Concours d’Elegance, we made a point of going through McCall, Idaho to hopefully stop by Jim Winslow’s restoration shop to visit with Jim and see how he was doing on the Schillo restoration. It was our lucky day, because I called Jim from town and asked if we could stop by and 30 minutes later he welcomed us to his shop just outside McCall. Not knowing where Jim was at with the project, what we discovered was simply amazing!
The 80 year-old Schillo was well along in the restoration process and was in the varnish room and just in between coats of varnish the day we arrived.
It was the first time I had ever seen the boat in person and I can honstly say that the photos don’t do it justice. Not to mention how difficult it is to photograph a 24′ boat in a tight varnish room with a tiny point and shoot “pea-shooter” camera and my limited photography skills on top of that… But, here’s what we found…
The attention to detail that Jim Winslow has put into this project is truly specatcular, and we spent probaby an hour just going over the boat and appreciating what this boat stands for… After all, although not documented this could be one of the last, if not “the” last Schillo Runabout known to exist. Very cool stuff…
Then, like two kids at Christmas that just couldn’t wait any longer, Jim brought out some of the original hardware that has been re-plated and we carefully placed it were it was to be located on the decks…and the boat just popped! So we had to bust out the “pea-shooter” camera again and snapped a few more shots.
This particular Schillo Runabout had the unique “Hidden Hatch” aft, which to me now is a bit confusing because after studying the sales literature that Jim let us photograph (above) it makes reference to the hidden hatch being forward of the main cockpit, not aft.
However in Bob Speltz comments, he makes reference to the “Hidden Hatch” but not the location, forward or aft. Maybe Bob was faced with the same unanswered question… I have not spoken to Jim Winslow to ask him what he knows about the location of the hatch. When the restoration is completed, Jim indicated that the “Hidden Hatch” (car guys would refer to this as a period Rumble Seat) will be fully functional just as it was over 80 years ago, which is very cool…
Jim also mentioned when we met that based on his research, he thinks this boat was actually built in 1928 and sold as a 1929 model, for the record.
I have not communicated with Jim Winslow since we visited his restoration shop in August, so we are not sure where he is currently at with the project, but if we get any new information or photos from Jim we will post them to this story as an update. I can hardly wait for the day when this rare Schillo Runabout is re-launched and hopefully will get the opportunity to see it in the water, doing what it was designed to do after all those years!
A footnote to this story. The same time I arrived at Jim’s shop, a customer also arrived with his awesome ’54 Greavette Shearliner “Carolita”, for Jim to do some minor mechanical tweeks. He joined in on the fun we were having looking at Jim’s Schillo and I admit we got a little carried away… I must have left the varnish room three times and then was drawn back in to admire the Schillo just one more time before I left on my journey to Tahoe. However, by the look on his face, after an hour, Jim’s customer was beginning to loose his sense of humor… Just kidding of course, he just thought we were nuts. We had a great afternoon touring around Jim’s shop and yard discovering some other very interesting and rare wooden boats, but that’s for another day…
Thanks again to Jim Winslow for allowing us in to his restoration shop in Idaho and for sharing this unique piece of wooden boating history with us here at Woody Boater.