Fellow Woody Boater Bob Weaver shares this very cool story on Barracuda his long… looooong time restoration of an amazing Dodge Watercar. Mind you Bob was very young when he started this, which tells you a bit about Bobs passion for classic boating. And a great reminder that, that classic boat out in the garage under piles of old Barbie dolls and paint cans is still a cool boat and worthy. Maybe this winter? Come on!
We are thrilled to share these photos and story. Thanks Bob, take it away. Oh and read on below on how he found the original engines. WOW.
I got this boat over 40 years ago. Worked on it on and off mostly off. I finally decided I had too many projects and I sent it to Brackley Boats in Gravenhurst Ontario. Better known as Muskoka.
Paul and his crew did a great job finishing it. Paul Hewitt also from Ontario worked his magic on re restoring the engine. The engine is a WW1 Curtis OX5 Aircraft engine. that Dodge bought up after the war and converted for Marine use. The boat itself is a 1929 Dodge Watercar 26′.
I found the boat on Grand Island NY where it has spent its entire life. It was just a bare hull with all the hardware and engine removed. With the help of Tom Frauenheim I was able to obtain all the correct hardware and rear stern light. Oh yes the dash was still in the boat. This boat was named Barracuda which was its original name. It was regularly raced at the Buffalo Launch club as shown in the programs from back in the day.
The original owner had 2 engines for it. A Race motor and a pleasure motor. He would switch them out on race days the race motor had dry stack exhausts on it . I still have the exhaust cooling manifolds that were found in the boat when I acquired it. The boat was also used to pull the first hydrofoil in its early testing.
The best story is that of locating the engine. I spoke to the previous owner that took the engines out and donated them to the Smithsonian museum. I contacted the Smithsonian and they said if they had them they would be willing to trade one for something they didn’t have. After checking they called me back and told me they never got the engines. Now what? I called the donor and asked what could have happened? He said he gave them to a friend to deliver to the Museum and he took a write off for them. I asked if he ever got any paperwork from the Museum like a receipt and he said no.
I tried to contact his friend that supposedly delivered them but he moved from the area and back then there was no way to locate him. Several months later there was an ad in Hemmings Motor News for 2 Curtis 0X5 aircraft engines the were Dodge conversions. I called the dealer and asked where he got them and he said he purchased them from a guy from Grand Island NY who was on his way to the Smithsonian to donate them,(some friend). So I purchased one of them, the non race motor,. You have to remember I was in my 20’s back then and I could only afford one engine( if I only had known). Fast forward 40+years she is all back together again and ready to go. Almost all the wood is original to the boat with the exception of the new bottom and a few damaged planks.
Thanks so much Bob for sending in this story. For those of you who don’t know Bob, here is a fun story we did on Bob, Woody Boater of the month a bit back on our quest for the Wicker chairs. Here is the story!