Tracking Down a Penn Yan Trail Boat.


Craigslist Special

A huge thanks to fellow Woody boater Mark Schallip fro sending in this fun relatable story.Ttake it away mark.
I have always had a special attachment to Penn Yan Trailboats. I took my first boat ride in one at the age of 6 weeks old, I haven’t stop boating since. I took that ride in a boat that is still in the family. My son bought it from his Grandpa when he was in high school. (or somehow they worked it out) But that is another story.

I felt that Backseat Driver, the name of my son Ben’s Trailboat, needed a sister. I began my search. My goal was for not exactly, the same model, but close enough that when we ran them together, they would turn some heads.

One night as I was searching the Eastern part of the U. S., I found a Trailboat on Craigslist. It was located in Hershey, Pennsylvania. The challenge was, that Hershey is 422 miles from my home in southwest Ohio. Luckily, the boat came with a trailer. Would the trailer make the trip?

This is the question that everyone asks themselves when they venture out to bring home an old wooden boat.

My wife had wanted to go to Hershey for some time. so I thought this could make for a fun trip. I asked her “Honey, would you like to go to Hershey?” She looked at me and said, “You bought a boat there didn’t you?”. Armed with tools, jacks, a lug wrench, new bearing buddies, a grease gun, and a spare tire that I hoped would fit the 1954 boat trailer, along with ratchet tie downs and ropes, we were packed. I made a reservation at a nice hotel and set out for Pennsylvania.

After a very interesting and fun stop at Hershey’s Chocolate World. We got a good nights sleep before we looked at the boat.

A stop at Hershey’s Chocolate World

When I pulled into the drive way, the seller had the boat sitting out. Upon first glance I thought “This little one is pretty nice”. The closer I looked at it, the nicer it looked to me. The difference from Back Seat Driver was that it was not a decked Trailboat. That is just I what I was hoping to find.

At first sight I thought “This little one is neat”.

The boat was owned by a young man who had bought it from the restorer while he was in college. He wanted a boat he could row or use with a motor. Now he had graduated and taken a job on the west coast, and wouldn’t be able to take it with him. I know we are all trying to get younger people into wooden boats, and now I was getting one out of woody boating. I am convinced though that when this young man gets established, he will have another wooden boat.

The deal was made. I installed the new Bearing Buddys, shot grease in the bearings, checked tire pressure, checked my spare for fit, bound the boat down and, hit the road.

A quick fuel stop at a toll Plaza showed no problems

Fortunately, all the lights worked. Now, I was setting out on the Pennsylvania Turnpike for a 425 mile journey, pulling a 65 year old boat trailer with 8” tires.The trip home was slow to say the least. After a few stops showing no problems, I was a little more at ease. It was a long day and I was very happy when I got her home.

While traveling home, a lot of names for the boat kept running through my mind. The name that kept coming back to me was “Little One”, so that is what I named her. I felt that it was fitting. When I got the boat home, I did some deeper inspections. As I had determined when I looked at it initially, there were only a few small things that needed to be repaired.These jobs could wait until winter. Summer was coming ,and it was time to enjoy her!

When Father’s Day 2019 came, My wife and son asked me “What do you want to do for your special day?” Without hesitation I said, “Test the new Penn Yann.”

Fathers Day 2019 maiden voyage. We weren’t going to let a little rain
dampen our spirits.

When we put her in the water on Fathers Day, I was really happy. The 1958 Sport Twin 10 hp Evinrude that came with the boat, fired right up. The boat didn’t leak very much, and soaked up quickly. The restorer who re-canvassed it, had done a good job. After spending the day in her, dodging rain, I decided I really liked the boat ,but it needed more horsepower. I had a 1954 15 hp Fast Twin Evinrude that I had not used in awhile. Although the boat was only rated for a 12, I thought I could slip a 15 on her.

The Fast Twin had not been run in awhile, but with some new spark plugs and some fresh gas, she fired up. With some carburetor adjustments, it ran well. The old water pump pumped as it should.

With the 15 Evinrude on, it is much more of a fun boat. I kept a close eye on the 65 year old transom to make sure that there was no pulling or tearing. Luckily, everything worked out quite well. Skimming across the water with the throttle wide open, I felt like I was 14 years old again.

Feeling like I’m 14 again
Who says you can’t recapture your youth


13 replies
  1. Bilge Rat
    Bilge Rat says:

    Very nice and relatable story. Mine started was when I was about 8 years old and it was in an early 1950’s Century Resorter on Canandaigua Lake in upstate NY. Convinced myself then that I had to own a wood boat someday. I’m using boat number 6 and restoring boat number 7 now. Not sure that I have recaptured my youth, but I am enjoying being an adult more now.

  2. Greg Lewandowski
    Greg Lewandowski says:

    Great story for a snowy Michigan morning. I’m glad this worked out so well for Mark. Many of us started out in a similar way. Mine was a 6 ft. cold molded home built dingy with a 4 hp outboard I ran like hell on Lake St. Clair.

  3. Ben with the Penn Yan
    Ben with the Penn Yan says:

    Great story! Here is a picture of ‘Backseat Driver’. Purchased by my grandpa (Mark’s dad) new in 1954 and in the family ever since.

  4. Ann L Guldemond
    Ann L Guldemond says:

    for those of you in southeastern Michigan, come to the Cottage and Lakefront Living show this weekend at the Novi Expo Center where MI ACBS will have two Penn Yan (what we think are) Cartoppers out of the ’40’s and 50’s on display.

    • John Rusnak wisconsin
      John Rusnak wisconsin says:

      So exciting to see some penn tan owners out there I’ve got a 1963 Penn Yan All Seas cabin cruzer I cannot wait to get her out this spring

  5. Mark in Ohio (sometimes da U P)
    Mark in Ohio (sometimes da U P) says:

    What a great surprise, when I opened up WB today and saw my story! Thanks for posting it Matt. It has been a fun ‘little one’ to play with. I realize that I will never be 14 again. But it is nice to feel that way.

  6. John Rothert
    John Rothert says:

    Trailer worries: In our Tidewater ACBS chapter we have a guy, Stuart Johnson, from Richmond. He is the go to trailer driver because he can, without any problems, drag the biggest piece of S..t on the planet across the country. It is a well known fact that if you want to move an old boat on a trailer…get Stuart. Fearless, or clueless perhaps, he can take off without grease, treads, lights, tags, safety chains…you name it. No problem. The rest of us can’t get the wreck out of the driveway…go figure…
    John in Va.

  7. Dick Dow
    Dick Dow says:

    This one resonates with a lot of us… My first boat was a 1964 13′ Whaler. I bought it in 1968 when I was 14 years old and sold it when I graduated college. I need another boat like a hole in the head, but if the right blue-interior 13′ Whaler crosses my path one of these days…

  8. Max Mueller
    Max Mueller says:

    Wonderful 14ft Chris Craft kit boat built by Chet Lyons was my ride at 14. Handled flawlessly with a green 10hp Johnson. Pulled kid water skiers easily and explored miles of lake inlets and channels. Max

  9. john h baffz
    john h baffz says:

    Good article. It encouarages me to continue my search for 12 ft Penn Yan Swift. Besides finding a boat only sale, I have been fretting on getting one home.Obviously it was a “swift
    ” when I was 14.

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