Phantom - 4

“Phantom” A Bruce Crandell Designed Racer – Photo Courtesy Anders Værnéus

A few weeks ago, we received an e-mail from fellow Woody Boater Kevin Fitzke who is interested in building a replica “Flyer 13” wooden racer, which was originally designed by Bruce Crandell back in the 1930’s. The smallest of the Crandall Flyers, the 13 ft. – 91 cubic inch class boat plans are available for sale online from classicwoodenboatplans.com – but when we started to look into this further, we discovered some intersting history on these little Bruce Crandell designed racers.

Here’s the original e-mail from Kevin Fitzke…
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Hello WoodyBoater Crew,

I was wondering if you (or your viewers) have any information about Bruce Crandall and his “Flyer 13”, 91 cubic inch race boat? I have the book “Cutwater” written by Robert Duncan, which features a replica “Flyer 13” built by Ralph Glass and John Clark – perhaps built from original Crandell designs / plans.

I’m interested in building one of these boats, using detailed plans from classicwoodenboatplans.com but I would like to find out more information on the boat, the designer and more photos if possible. I’ve been looking around for information on the 91 cu in boat class, like where to get hardware, drive train, etc and just general information – but not finding a lot. Maybe there just isn’t much out there or I’m looking in the wrong direction….

Thanks for any help you can give! – Kevin Fitzke

Flyer-13-Assembly-11

Crandall Flyer 13 – Rendering Courtesy of classicwoodboatplans.com

Flyer-13-Assembly

Crandall Flyer 13 – Rendering Courtesy of classicwoodboatplans.com

I have to admit that, although I have reviewed the plans of the “Flyer 13” and some of the other cool wooden boat plans on the classicwoodenboatplans.com website, my knowledge of the Crandell designed race boats is very limited. But I remembered that fellow Woody Boater and Contributor from Sweden – Anders Værnéus (from Swedish Classic Boats) was knowledgeable about these Crandell designed racers. So I sent Anders an e-mail late at night (next day for him) and he responded within minutes as usual. When he responded, Anders was at a boat show in Sweden, but the next day he sent us this. – Texx
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Texx – Until 1935, Bruce Crandall was a totally unknown name in Sweden. If you had asked 10 members in the Royal Swedish Motorboat Club if they knew the name Crandall – all of them would have answered ”no idea”.

But the same year, the editors of the Swedish magazine Motornyheterna (Motor News) realized that the boat racing hobby needed an injection – some new ideas and some new way of thinking. Their plan was – of course – to add more value to the magazine, but also to open up possibilities for every reader to get in touch with boat racing in a very simple way.

Swedish Motornyheterna Publication - Circa 1935 (1)

Swedish Motornyheterna Publication – Circa 1935

In one way or another, the editors on Motornyheterna came in contact with Bruce Crandall and the self-building designs that he had produced the year before. They made a deal and Motornyheterna started to sell complete drawing kits of five different boats for racing – three outboard racing boats and two inboard hydroplanes.

Swedish Motornyheterna Publication - Circa 1935 (2)

Crandell Boat Plans Ad, Motornyheterna – Circa 1935

The idea became a great success. Orders for drawings came from all over the country and soon Motornyheterna started to publish pictures from proud owners on self-built race boats.

Swedish Motornyheterna Publication - Circa 1935 (3)

Crandell Boat Plans, Motornyheterna Publication, Sweden – Circa 1935

As you can imagine, the quality of the finished boats was of course very different. Some of these boats were built by some very skilled boat yards and were really great looking, but most of them were built in garages, barns and in narrow basements. But no one has a clue about how many boats that really were brought to life.

Today, 75 years later, we can see back. The Swedish Classic Motor Boat hobby has been alive since the beginning of the 70’s. And over the years, only three boats have been found here in Sweden from the Crandall-era. Only three out of maybe 100 or so that may have been built. But these three were all found in almost complete original condition with everything there except their original engines.

Phantom - 5
The most well known of the three is “Phantom” – a 91 cubic inch-racer, found abandoned in the mid 80’s in a boatyard outside Stockholm and today restored to a fantastic original condition. Her engine, a Gray Phantom 45, came new out from it’s original wooden box after 60 years under a bench.

Phantom - 1

“Phantom” A Classic Crandell Design Racer – Photos by Anders Værnéus

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Today, when she’s not in the water “Phantom” is on display at Museihuset outside Linköping, Sweden.

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“Phantom” On display in Museihuset outside Linköping, Sweden. – Anders Værnéus Photo

The other inboard is the bigger sister to Phantom, built for a flathead Ford V8 in1937. Today she’s lying unrestored waiting for the future. But her condition is remarkable. A dream project if I say so.

Crandell 135 Sweden Barn Find - 1

Crandell 135 – Found in a barn in Sweden

Crandell 135 Sweden Barn Find - 2

Crandell 135 Barn Find – Cockpit

And last – and also the smallest – is a A-class single step outboard hydro from 1936. Built in a series by a carpentry factory in mid-sweden in 10 pieces. She’s complete but in need of some wood work.

But when you talk about Crandall here in Scandinavia – you must also mention another boat. Built in a garage in Norway’s town Bergen, by the very skilled amateur builder Tom Heggem. Tom usually built canoes but when he found the drawings on the double ended, twin stepped 135-cubic inch Crandall-hydro, he fell in absolute love with it. He sold the canoes and started immediately to build a replica.

Anders Værnéus

swedishclassicboats.ning.com
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As always – Thanks for your help Anders. Among other things, Anders is the Publisher of Swedish Classic Boats / Classic Boater magazine, a bi-monthly magazine which is dedicated to the popular classic boating hobby in Sweden and is one of the leading wooden boat publications in all of Europe. The photography is spectacular.  Here’s a few pull outs from one of their recent issues.

Classic Boats Sweden - 2 Classic Boats Sweden - 1

Classic Boats Sweden - 3
They love their wooden boats in Sweden, and also classic race boats are extreamly popular in Sweden.

Anyway, getting back to the original question that Kevin Fitzke asked us for help with – If anyone out there in Woody Boater land knows where any of these original or restored Crandell designed racers are in America, any information or direction you could help us with would be apprectaed, as Kevin moves forward with his boat building project. We know what we published today isn’t exactly what Kevin is looking for, but it’s a good start.

We also know there is a very experienced & knowledgeable group of builders and restorers up in the north east, like Mark Mason and Bill John, who are experts when it comes to these old vintage race boats. Hopfully we will get a chance to meet them while we are at Lake Dora next month, as they will probably be involved with the race boat gathering and demonstrations a few days before the Sunnyland Wooden Boat Festival.

Thanks in adavance – Texx
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Story Update: Feb. 23, 2013

Earler today fellow Woody Boater Doug P. provided some additional information on Berg Boats in Bellingham, Washington and the replica Bruce Crandell racers that they have produced. From the Berg Boats website, here is one example, a very nice 14′ 91 Cu.In. 1930’s class racer named “Tashtego”.

For more information on Berg Boats you can go directly to their great website by Clicking Here. Nice work Doug P. – thanks for your assistance. – Texx

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Tashtego – Photo Courtesy Berg Boats, Bellingham, WA

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Tashtego – Photo Courtesy Berg Boats, Bellingham, WA

We really enjoy reaching out to the Woody Boater community to learn more about a specific marque or model of classic wooden boat. Keep the info coming.

Texx
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24 Responses to “The Timeless Crandell Flyer 13 – We Know They Are Out There, But Where?”
  1. WoodyGal

    Good morning Texx, would Crandall Craft be the same company? Or is that a horse of a different color?

    • Texx

      Hi WoodyGal – I don’t know for sure, but possibly a family connection. Was that not the brochure you found in Oklahoma a while back?

      • WoodyGal

        Yes! From the early 1930’s, they built racing runabouts and some small hydroplanes. A similar brochure is now for sale on e-Bay.

        • WoodyGal

          Has to be the same company, as both of them talk about the Crandall Flyer. Perhaps they built boats in 1931 and then switched to selling plans? That was during the great depression.

    • Margaret Williams

      Hello! Bruce Crandall was my great-grandfather. His daughter, Mary E. my grandmother. Mary raced and enjoyed boating her entire life. The family did build boats and also sell the self-made plans as stated in this article. I have the original plans….in a box somewhere.
      The last Crandall Craft owned by my family was sold in the early/mid 90’s in Montana by my grandmother when she upgraded to a new boat. I was surprised that she sold it, or maybe I’m just sentimental….
      Anyway, I am really enjoying reading these comments and articles and seeing these boats being built/restored still. ?

      • Patricia J. Lown

        Hi Margaret, Information about your great-grandfather is hard to come by. I would love know more about him and his designs for our WoodenBoat Publications research library, because his name/designs certainly come up from time to time. Regards, Pat Lown, WB research director

  2. neil

    There are three crandel flyers that I know of, one in the Michigan area; it has black hull and you can see pictures of it http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BMxCS80rSk4 running http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-FskmJM935Y
    being built http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yM7IaCC7EB4

    I know of a 20ft version in austrailia
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zsgKESDwmyY

    there was a flyer that was framed and had a inner plywood planking attached that sold 2 years ago on ebay for $2000 which was quite a deal. I am looking for pictures to post.

    I have posted another stretched flyer, 21ft built by a fellow who built all the mechanical components for the boat including items like the engine header, anything that needed to be cast. A very unique boat that represents a lot of craftsmanship

  3. CJP

    Texx/Matt,

    Stumbling onto the Woody boater site this past 2012 was a great find for me! How do you guys do it? I continue to see one fabulous craft after the other and these Crandells are no exception. All the Crandell Boats in the photos presented are beautiful but the one in the You Tube video; stellar!!

  4. matt

    Thanks, I have no idea how it gets done. It just happens. Stuff shows up. This community is very rich in friendship and sharring. We are happy to provide a place for folks to come and hang out . Especially when its crappy outside.

  5. Alex

    Very cool story! Thanks Kevin, Anders and Texx.

    FYI, I just checked. The other 97 boats are definitely not in Hessel. So you can take it off your list of places to search.

    Although I suppose it is possible, albeit remotely so, all of them ARE in Hessel, and I’m doing this to throw you off the scent.

    • m-fine

      I just took a quick look in the backyard and the barn. None here either, but I did find an empty trailer in case a boat shows up.

  6. D. Lachance

    Kevin,If you are looking for building hardware(screws and epoxy) driveline hardware(struts propshafts couplers and such)I would highly recommend you spend some time at the Glen-l website. But be ready to spend some time there,they have alot of good info,and alot of really helpful people.
    One of the many books they offer is called Inboard motor installation.Very complete,lots of good info.
    P.S. I do not work for Glen-L!!!

  7. Upton

    Is classicwoodenboatplans still in business I have email them 3 times. Anyone else have Flyer 13 by Bruce Crandall plans?

  8. Phil Burnside

    Crandall Boat Co. was operated by brothers Bruce N. Crandall and Willard S. Crandall and their father, Bruce V. Crandall. The company’s main plant, general office and experimental laboratory was in Newport Beach, California. An assembly plant and branch office was located in Phelps, Wisconsin.

    Bruce N. Crandall was a naval architect who, I believe, was involved with Higgins during WWII and played a role in the design of their craft. I have no additional information on that part of his career. He spent his days at his drafting board until the end of his life.

    Willard served as boating editor for Sports Afield magazine in at least the 1950s and 60s. He was my Godfather and both he and Bruce were close friends of our family.

    Neither brother ever married. During my lifetime they spent winters in Bradenton Beach, Florida and summers at Three Lakes, Wisconsin, which is only about 25 miles from Phelps.

    I have an undated copy of the company’s complete catalog from sometime in the early 1930s, I believe. The racing hulls are included in it, as are a number of other small craft.

    In the attached image, Bruce is shown smoking a pipe and Willard is shown navigating a boat equipped with an airmotor that I personally know to be the loudest internal combustion engine I have ever heard.

    • Texx

      Thanks Phil for commenting here today, and for providing this informative information.

      It would be great to do a story on Crandall marque if you have any additional photos, etc.

      Texx@woodyboater.com