Farewell To Mr B – Bob Sloan Passes Away.
It is with a very sad heart that we report the passing of a true icon and deeply loved individual in the classic boat culture. Bob Sloan known fondly as Mr B. Back in 2013 We did a wonderful story about Mr B and we felt it might be nice to repost it today in honor of one of the greats!
STORY PUBLISHED APRIL 28 , 2013
To say that Bob Sloan (better known as “Mr. B”) is a life-long Woody Boater would be an understatement. To say the Bob Sloan is one of the nation’s leading authorities on the Chris-Craft “Model B” Hercules engine would also be an understatement. I have never met Mr. B personally, but am very much aware of Bob Sloan and his legendary reputation in the hobby as the man who knows and loves Model B Chris-Craft engines.
Chris-Craft first began installing the Hercules Model B engines in their smaller boats in 1934.
However, our friend Jim Staib from Fine Wood Boats in Illinois knows Mr. B quite well, and offered to help us put this story together today. A unique twist to today’s story is that it is almost completely made up from vintage snap-shots that Jim received from Mr. B and then scanned and sent on to us here at Woody Boater. The quality of the images may not be up to par, but the story of Mr. B is great – and hopefully will help Bob Sloan liquidate his inventory. But first the back story…
Mr. B is now 87 years young, and first became interested in the Chris-Craft Model B engine when he restored his two 16′ Chris-Craft Rivieras back in the 1980’s. The smaller 16′ version of the Riviera originally used the 60HP 4 cylinder Model B engine, which some say was somewhat under powered for the 16′ runabout. As a result of the poor performance, after producing only 174 copies of the 16′ Riviera in 1950 & 51, Chris-Craft ceased production of the 16-footer and today they are considered to be relatively rare in the classic boating hobby. But, if you want to restore one as it was delivered from the factory in the early 1950’s, they were only produced with the Model B Hercules based engine.
When Bob Sloan began restoring his 16′ Rivieras in the 1980’s, as a mechanic he decided to rebuild the Model B engines for the boats. Bob learned more about them, how to make them run better, collected a ton of parts and fell in love with them. Over the years he has become an authority on the little 4 cylinder B Model Herc’s, which eventually grew into a small business for Bob in his early retirement – Thus the name “Mr. B.”
As you can see from this vintage photo, Mr. B was first attracted to wooden boats and marine engines at the tender age of 12 years-old, and those experiences from his childhood got him hooked.
Mr. B’s first real job was doing tune-ups at Shank-Colbey, Inc a DeSoto / Plymouth dealer in Toledo, Ohio. He worked there from 1947-1953. Mr. B must have been one heck of a mechanic because he was even featured in this cool flyer that Shank-Colbey sent to their customers.
The back of the flyer read:
“You can assure yourself of quick starting this winter no matter how cold the day.”
– Remove, inspect and calibrate distributor for correct timing
– Clean and recap spark plugs
– Inspect ignition wiring for leaks
– Re-set mechanical and vacuum spark advance
– Test coil and condenser
– Test engine compression
– Clean and tighten battery terminals
– Test fuel pump pressure
– Test generator and voltage regulator
– Re-adjust automatic choke
– Clean and re-oil carburetor filter
– Adjust fan belt tension
Plus – Disassemble carburetor, boil out complete carburetor unit in special cleaning solvent, reassemble and adjust carburetor. (Parts extra, if needed)
Price $ 8.75
Then after that, Mr. B Drove a transport truck hauling Steel, Produce and Flowers until 1973 – But never lost his desire to go classic boating.
In 1974 Mr. B moved to Florida and bought a 1956 Wheeler 42′ Cruiser which he lived aboard for 5 years from 1974-1979. He stayed in Fort Meyers in the winter and moved north to St. Petersburg in the summer, to be protected by a covered slip.
He then secured a Captain’s job on a 61′ Hatteras yacht which he did from 1976 to 1990 out of St. Petersburg, Florida. Mr. B also held a 100 ton license.
In the 1980’s, while he was the Captain of the 61′ Hatteras, Mr. B also successfully restored his pair of Model B powered 16′ Chris-Craft Rivieras and became involved in the classic boating hobby, attending boat shows around Florida. Below are a few snapshots of Mr. B at the Sanford Boat Show in 1986 which was the predecessor to original Mt. Dora Boat Show (in Mt. Dora), which eventually moved to Tavares a few years ago. Mr. B had both Rivieras at the Sanford show that year.
Looks like once you get all the boats tied up and rafted, they remain static for a while.
Mr. B and his Riviera 16′ “Bob’s Pride” was also featured in a circa 1982 Ski-Safe Insurance ad. At the time, based on what is stated here in the ad, Ski-Safe was the “Official Insurance Agency for the Chris-Craft Antique Boat Club.” Also note the photo credit in the Ski-Safe ad was to fellow Woody Boater and Chris-Craft Antique Boat Club co-founder Wilson Wright, who was recently acknowledged for his years of service to the club during this years Sunnyland Wooden Boat Festival in Tavares. If I remember correctly, Wilson also owned a rare 16′ Riviera during the early years of the Chris-Craft club.
It’s great to see this historical stuff again. Mr. B’s engine business was also a major sponsor of the Chris-Craft Antique Boat Club back then.
For the next 25 years Mr. B continued to restore Chris-Craft Model B engines for his customers and collect parts for them, many of which he still has in his inventory today.
Mr. B now lives in Katy, Texas just west of Houston. It would be fun to see him make it over to the upcoming Keels & Wheels Show next weekend at the Lakewood Yacht Club in Seabrook, Texas (near Huston) to share some stories with the folks.
At 87 Mr. B has decided it’s time to sell his huge collection of Model B engine parts which has provided him with enjoyable “side business” and kept Bob active in his retirement for many years. It has worked out nicely to supplement his retirement.
Below is a partial list of Mr. B’s huge inventory which he would prefer to sell together, lock, stock & barrel for a reasonable price, but anything is possible. If you are interested in aquiring the collection you can contact Mr. B (Bob Sloan) directly at 281.574.4537 in Texas.
Chris-Craft Model B Engine Parts / Equipment c/w Estimated Qty’s
Accessory Gears 8
Assorted Nuts, Bolts, Hardware Large Selection
B Fuel Pumps: Rebuilt 2
Bearing Caps 2
Cam Bearing Set 1
Cam Shaft & Gear: New 3
Cam Shaft & Gear: Used 3
Carburetor Flame Arrestor 7
Carburetors Kits 5
Carburetors: Rebuilt 5
Crank Shaft Caps 10
Crank Shaft Gears 6
Crank Shaft: Used 6
Distributor: Rebuilt 3
Elbow Mold 2
Engine Block & Transmission (rebuilt) 1
New rods, bearings, valve springs,
cam, cam bearings, oil pump
Engine Core 2
Engine Brackets 16
Engine Gasket Set 1
Engine Gasket: Misc
Engine Handcrank 1
Exhaust Elbow Nuts 11
Exhaust Elbow Sleeves 9
Exhaust Elbows Brass: New 5
Exhaust Elbows Brass: Used 1
Exhaust Elbows Iron: Used 4
Exhaust Manifold Gasket Sets 5
Fire Extinguishers with Bracket: Rebuilt 18
Flywheel: B 2
Flywheel: K 1
Flywheel: KBL 1
Front Supports 1
Fuel Pump Parts
Generator 12 Volt: Big 4
Generator 12 Volt: Small 4
Generator Belts: New 5
Generator Parts: Brushes
Generator Pulleys: Used 5
Head Gaskets 9
Heads: Resurfaced 2
Intake Manifold 1
Intake Manifold End Caps 12
K Fuel Pumps: Rebuilt 2
Main Bearing Set 3
Main Bearings: Used 30
Motor Mounts: New 11
Name Plate: Large 4
Name Plate: Small 4
Oil Filler Tubes 7
Oil Inlet Screens 10
Oil Pans 4
Oil Pressure Caps 2
Oil Pump: New 4
Oil Pump: Used 4
Pipe Couplings 2
Piston Rings: New 1
Piston: Used Standard 12
Piston: Used .020 4
Rear Supports 3
Rod Bearings 8
Rods: New 7
Rods: Used 4
Spark Plug Wires & Parts
Starter: Rebuilt 3
Tappets: New Style 30
Transmission (rebuilt) 2
Transmission Arms 2
Transmission Case 3
Transmission Parts #1
Transmission Parts #2
Valve Covers 7
Valve Springs: New 20
Valve Springs: Used 10
Valves: New 10
Water Pump Parts
Water Pump: New Style 2
Water Pump: Old Style 3
Water Pump: Rubber Impellar 1
Water Tubes 6
Thanks to Jim Staib from Fine Wood Boats for sharing this story with us today and hopefully Mr. B will find a new owner (custodian) to take over his collection of parts. Best of Luck Mr. B!
RIP Mr. B.
I talked to his daughter-in-law and he went peaceful at 89.
There will be no service. As Bob said “I’ve been to the services of so many of my friends there are none left to come to mine”
Matt: Sorry to hear this one…Bob was one fine and talented gentleman. I first met him in at the earliest show in Sanford. As you say I too had a 16′ Riv and had read in Bob Speltz Vol I that it was “rare”. The show was small then and there was only one of each model Chris except for 16′ Rivieras. There was mine, Bob’s Pride and another from Michigan which prompted me to ask, “If this model is so rare how come there are three of them here when there are only one of the others?” Bob’s answer, The little boat would fit in a 20’garage and was therefore easier to store and more likely to be preserved.” It sounded logical to me.
Norm Wangard was there that year and wanted a centerfold of the three Rivieras. We went to an early morning shoot but two more Chris Crafts showed as well. The two non Rivieras wouldn’t go away and so the centerfold ended up with all five boats. Norm mailed me an unfolded copy which is now framed and hangs in my beach house. It serves as a fond memory of those days in Sanford with Bob.
Bob later showed up with 2 16′ Rivieras, the second named for his wife. We kept up thru the years as he was a faithfull Sunnyland show attendee. We’ve missed him in recent years but will long remember him. Fairwell and Godspeed, Mr. B
Sad to hear the passing of Mr. B. I did not know him but have heard stories of his love and knowledge of the Hercules B engine for may years.
On the positive side I am happy to report that I purchased a new boat yesterday, details on what later but it is a very well preserved and rare 1938 Chris Craft with its original B engine that I intend to keep in the boat.
Condolences to Mr B’s family and long live the Hercules B!
Bob’s favorite saying
I so love today’s header photo of Mr. B. It captures an amazing quality in the minds of many 12 year-old boys: the love of inventing and tinkering. (I was such a boy once, though my inventions certainly didn’t have gas motors, nor would they ever have floated. They rarely made it past the plan stage.)
Obviously, Mr. B developed his young talents and became an expert tinkerer of sorts, though in a quiet niche in a quiet way.
People like this man make me smile. They go through life much loved, respected, and admired, yet they shy away from publicity or accolades.
They also seem to be universally happy, content with their place in the world. Perhaps this is the reward of their humility.
Our community has lost a tiny little cog that helps it continue to move along. Though there are other mechanics and parts sources who can pick up the small business opportunity offered by servicing and supplying B’s, I have to believe a part of Mr. B’s contribution is irreplaceable. If anything, it’s the gentlemanly way he treated people and the loving way he treated those little 60 hp engines.
A subjective loss, perhaps. But one we feel, even if we never met Mr. B. Because out boats, too, are subjective.
Kind words for a very unassuming man that was, as Alex stated so eloquently, a small cog in the vast world of the wooden boat machine who went somewhat unnoticed (at least until you needed something for a Model B). As one of the small group of Sanford/Lake Monroe attendees I had occasion to chat with Bob at those (and other Sunnyland) events and he was such a quiet soul you had to really pull his experiences out of him as he was not of a boastful nature, quite the contrary. I had forgotten about his stint as a captain that he related after several short conversations. Both he and Staib are men of few words which is why they probably worked so well together. So glad Jim picked up his inventory. I treasure the 2 bronze mechanical Sherwood water pumps that Bob rebuilt with workmanship that polished all parts to such a high sheen I’d rather display them under glass than install them on a boat. My deepest regrets to the Sloan family and friends on loosing such an icon of our hobby.