ASAP Dave Hits The Jackpot In Reno – 1928 28-foot Hackercraft

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ASAP Dave inspects “WHIFFENPOOF” – a rare 1928 Hackercraft 28′ Triple that came up a foot short at the Hacker factory.

WHENEVER WE RECEIVE A STORY from our good friend and fellow Woody Boater Dave Anderson (AKA ASAP Dave) – two things happen;

1. The subject boat is unusual, with an interesting history.
2. The boat will be beautiful when it hits the water.

STORAGE WARS (Woody Boater Style)
Story by Dave (ASAP Dave) Anderson & John (Mad Dog) Maddox


I had been in contact with Brian Robinson (from Robinson Restoration in SoCal) for months asking him to be on the lookout for an unusual classic boat for me at a reasonable price(???), maybe a Racing Runabout or ? If there is such a boat, I was determined to sell my 1954 Century Resorter and 14-foot 1950’s Crandall outboard, and everything short of “Wicked Wahine” (my 1956 South Coast 18′ Runabout) to be just a three boat family.

So Brian calls one day and says he remembered a boat in Reno from 5 or 6 years ago and knows who did the engine, etc. It has been tucked away in a storage unit for approximately 10 years. I contacted the owner and we negotiated a price, contingent on inspection of the boat.

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Brian Robinson sent us this photo of the 1928 Hacker that he snapped back in 2008 when he last saw the boat in Reno. It certainly got our attention.

Enter my SoCal ACBS friend and past President, John Maddox. John has built several boats and owns a few others as well, including a Chris-Craft Racing Runabout he acquired from Brian out of Dave Wright’s collection. He also organizes our ACBS Workshops with Tim and Brian Robinson. I couldn’t have picked a better guy and more knowledgeable friend to partner with. He was immediately on board!

I explained the situation and sent him some pics. Next thing we knew, a road trip to Reno, Nevada was planned for 3 days after Christmas. We loaded my Dodge truck with snow chains, hydraulic jack, creeper, hand tools, power tools, lights, awls (an awl is described as a long pointed spike that can be used like an ice pick – Texx), various trailer balls and hitches and a case of antifreeze for us.

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Brian also sent us a few more photos from 2008 including these – showing that it had the correct 780 cubic inch Sterling Petrel 200 HP engine.

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Another shot from Brian showing how clean the engine compartment looked back in 2008.

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Also this shot from 2008 of the forward cockpit, dash board and Hacker windshield. These photos got us excited to learn more, so we organized a road trip to Reno to see it for ourselves.

Now, timing is everything… my shop and John’s are about the same square footage. He’s got boats on a lift, with the motor pulled out of his Hankinson Design “Wet Edge” after burning up a piston at our San Diego event. I thought I would freshen up my Century (thanks, Tommy), with the engine, interior and now deck(!) removed. Both of us measured the length of our shops and knew we could manage a 32-foot trailer, not 32’2”.

Knowing that I would need to sell some aircraft engines (ASAP Dave is in the aircraft salvage business in SoCal), I made a deal with an engine shop in California’s Central Valley and loaded them in the Dodge for delivery.

Donner Pass Traffic

Winter in the Sierra Nevada mountains – John & I ran into a 2-hour traffic delay heading over Donner Pass on I-80 towards Reno. All you can do is wait-it-out.

We left early Monday morning, with temperature at 18 degrees and drove up old Route 99 to Sacramento, then took I-80 east to Reno. To say it was cold would be an understatement. No problems until we got to the infamous Donner Pass… light snow and traffic backed up for 30 miles. And our antifreeze was in the bed of the truck! It’s amazing what you can find out about two guys after sitting in traffic for two hours.

After checking into a hotel in Reno (non-gambling type, as this adventure was a big enough gamble), we got the room key and skated the Dodge through the parking lot until stopped. Good enough.

We called the owner the next morning and got directions to the storage facility. The name of the facility – ready for this – “Anchor Storage!” The stars were aligned and the boat Gods were looking over our shoulders. We tried to negotiate a snow and ice covered uphill road to the entrance, but after several attempts, decided to leave the Dodge in the weeds and walk up the hill to meet the owner.

Now, the good part: He unlocks the unit and lo and behold! – it’s the 1928 Hackercraft Dolphin II 28-foot triple cockpit that Brian told us was there – with its monster 780 cubic inch Sterling Petrel 200 HP engine that hasn’t seen the light of day in years.

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The owner opens the door and we get our first glimpse of the big Hacker triple that’s been living in the dark storage facility for too many years.

We’re all over it like a quart of new varnish on a piece of mahogany!

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We can’t wait to get her moved outside to see what she looks like today and if anything has changed since Brian looked at the boat back in 2008.

Done Deal! We hooked it up and towed it to a tire store for 4 new slippers on the trailer, while making a call to our friends at Hagerty Marine Insurance.

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The deal was done and the big Hacker triple gets hooked up for her trip down to Southern California. (I hope these guys wives know where they are and what they are up to here… John looks a bit guilty in this photo… – Texx)

After a celebratory lunch, we picked up the boat and headed down infamous Route 395 past Virginia City, Carson City, turnoff to Lake Tahoe and south to Bridgeport, where the temp was 8 degrees. No ice, but we needed a pit stop and ingestion of some antifreeze (the drinkable kind). On to Bishop, California and more antifreeze in a hotel room there. The Dodge was happy dragging the 28-foot Hacker, but parking the Queen Mary at the hotel was a new experience for us.

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If you’re not used to towing a long boat, some advance planning helps when finding a safe place to park the 28-footer and tow rig at the roadside hotel. Always a bonus if you can find a street light to park under.

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The long, long trailer…

She is now resting in a shop next to mine back in SoCal. Next stop later thus month – Fallbrook, California to share our find with Brian & Tim Robinson.

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ASAP Dave (left) and John (Mad Dog) Maddox trying to figure out what they just got themselves into in Reno.

Texx, for John and myself, we are so excited every day that this Hacker is ours. Now we just look forward to warm weather to wet its bottom.

Dave (Wicked Wahine) Anderson and John (Mad Dog) Maddox

As Paul Harvey would say – Now, for the Rest of the Story…

May 1928 Hacker Ad

Vintage Hacker Boat Company ad from May 1928 Yachting magazine.

The 1928 28-foot Hackercraft File

Brian and Tim Robinson (from Robinson Restoration) are experts when it comes to their knowledge of these pre-war Hackercrafts – along with almost every other kind of antique & classic wooden boats. So we asked Brian to give us some information on this model of Hackercraft. Here is the file on the 28′ Hacker.

Brain notes: Texx – This particular boat is interesting in that a 28-foot model Hackercraft was not officially offered for 1928.

A raised-coaming, wood vee-windshield Dolphin DeLuxe was offered one-year-only in 1927. For 1928 the Dolphin DeLuxe was stretched to 29-feet and had a completely flush deck with a flattened center section (which became a Hacker staple) and a new three piece metal framed windshield (one of the most recognizable windshields of all).

As far as I have been able to determine, along with every other Hacker enthusiast aware of this boat, is that it was a left over 1927 28-foot Dolphin Deluxe bare hull that was not decked, rigged, and completed until 1928. It carries original 1928 hull tags, had the Sterling model engine that Hacker began using at the end of 1927, and is identical in every way to the 1928 29-foot Dolphin DeLuxe, except for the extra foot of length.

A lot was altered during its 1980s restoration (bridge deck added, wind wings, hatch rails, etc. etc.) but also a lot of really cool original details remain that are often lost. It is a great boat that has been out of the limelight for 15 years now. – Brian

Special thanks to Dave Anderson & John Maddox for sharing this story with us today, and congratulations! Also thanks to Brian Robinson for the brief history lesson. We look forward to seeing the big Hacker back in the water again soon, doing what John Hacker intended in 1927/28.

There is nothing quite like riding in a big pre-war Hacker triple.


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“Sea Flow II” 28-foot Hackercraft on Gull Lake, MN. (Dane Anderson photo)

18 replies
  1. Jack Schneiberg
    Jack Schneiberg says:

    Just shows to go ya that there’s always still just one more around the bend somewhere…………………..

  2. cenger
    cenger says:

    Great find. Reminds me of pulling my 28′ Gar Wood on a 34′ trailer from MN to CT with a full size box truck. Took a wrong turn looking for gas and wound up in downtown Chicago with about 70′ of truck and boat. Very stressful! I wish I had a picture with box truck and boat.

  3. Stephen Fowler
    Stephen Fowler says:

    So after it’s lay up, does the hull require TCL before getting back in the water? I have no idea what impact being stored has on these boats.

      • Wicked Wahine
        Wicked Wahine says:

        Thanks Wayne, Have drained the fuel tank and lines. Will flush the tank and put some marvel mystery oil in the cylinders, also will check out the carburetors

  4. R Daley
    R Daley says:

    Great story great find and in a modern day barn
    They could have brought here to Vegas and wet its bottom
    Yesterday on river below Hover Dam
    3 hours 50 miles
    20 big horn sheep in 3 groups with 3 little horns ( newbies)
    3 bald eagles 1 golden eagle
    5 blue herons
    Far to many other birds to count
    Warm sun 68 degrees no clouds and flat water
    Hard to get better than that in January.

  5. floyd r turbo
    floyd r turbo says:

    So little written info or records on Hacker. As I recall, most build sheet info was lost in a fire? Anyway, nothing like a Hacker ride. My little 24′ rode great, this 28 footer is going to be really smooth but a little tricky maneuvering in tight docking or narrow marinas but what a problem to have. What I don’t understand is the 4 piece windshield on “Sea Flow II”, looks like it was off a 28′ Gar Wood instead of the 3 piece with flat middle section on “Wiffenpoof”. Maybe I don’t know Hackers like I though I did.

  6. KW
    KW says:

    I had to make a phone call to an old friend to get the story right and make sure my memory was good. I first saw this boat in his yard back in 1976 : the boat came out of Spring lake Michigan where it had been delivered new. Dave or John feel free to call or email us at and I will put you in contact with my old pal he should be able to fill in some of the time line.

  7. R Hansen
    R Hansen says:

    Nice going guys! even got the attention of ace car guy Wayne Carini!. Will we see Wiffinpoof at Arrowhead? Have you told W Wahini about her yet?

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