Miss Detroit III – As She Was Meant To Be
Saturday was a special day for Ken Muscatel and Ike Kielgass, as they re-launched “Miss Detroit III” with her remarkable Curtiss Model V-4 V-12 race engine, for a water test on Lake Tapps, WA. Legendary boat racer Gar Wood won the 1918 Gold Cup race with “Miss Detroit III” powered by a rare 1916 Curtiss V-12 aircraft engine. Beginning with our first report in April 2012, we have been following the story of vintage hydroplane enthusiasts Ken Muscatel and Ike Kielgass and their quest to one day reunite the Curtiss V-12 with “Miss Detroit III”.
Although the original Christopher Columbus Smith / Gar Wood designed race boat is long gone, Ken Muscatel was able to purchase the beautifully built “Miss America III Replica” race boat at the Warner-Mecum Auction back in 2010. Over 20 years ago, Ken Muscatel (assisted by historian Craig Magnusson from Seattle) purchased one of the two remaining 1916 Curtiss Model V-4 engines known to exist from an antique car museum. The only other example known to exist is on display at the Smithsonian Air & Space Museum in Washington, DC.
The restoration of the original 97 year-old Curtiss race engine was entrusted to vintage engine builder Robert Mishko at Rocky Summit Performance in Tennessee, which was completed and bench tested in August 2012.
Now, with the help of Ike Kielgass and some folks from the Hydroplane And Raceboat Museum, the ultra rare Curtiss V-12 has been successfully installed in the “Miss Detroit III Replica” race boat in Ike’s shop near Seattle, Washington – and on Saturday Ken & Ike re-launched “Miss Detroit III” on Lake Tapps, WA for her first water test with the big V-12 Curtiss. Just the way the original Miss Detroit III race boat would have appeared 95 years ago with Gar Wood at the controls. (maybe a bit more polish and varnish than in 1918…)
Fellow Woody Boater and local wooden boat restorer Robert DaPron was on hand at Lake Tapps for the re-launch, along with our friend and contributor Ron Stevenson. They captured some short video with their iPhones which has been posted below.
Rob DaPron commented – “It was an overcast day, but the water on Lake Tapps was perfect. They didn’t really run the boat that much – 3 runs perhaps 5-10 minutes each. Everything work flawlessly. Only issue was the motor ran a touch cool, but it is set up with a valve to control cooling flow so it is a simple adjustment. Seemed to be propped correct although they did not open it up.”
“They ran it up to about 1200 RPM and saw an indicated 40 MPH on the GPS. I would suspect that 1500 would put them right around 50. After that it is just a matter of how hard you want to push the old motor. The motor was built and tuned perfectly which helps greatly. Ken was very happy with how the boat performed.” – Robert
As we noted in the top of the story, we have had the pleasure of following this great story since April 2012, from the early days of the Curtiss engine restoration at Robert Mishko’s shop in Tennessee, right up until the engine was bench tested and installed in Miss Detroit III, including some history on Glenn H. Curtiss. To see those stories, we have provided links to the Woody Boater archive below. Also you will find a great YouTube video when the engine was fired up at Ike’s shop in Seattle, and finally a short YouTube video from the test day last Saturday at Lake Tapps.
Wednesday, April 18, 2012
Glenn H. Curtiss, Gar Wood And A Chris-Craft – A Winning Combination In 1918
Wednesday, April 25, 2012
Miss Detroit III Gets A New Set Of Jugs – Thanks To Robert Mishko At Rocky Summit Performance
Saturday, September 1, 2012
The 1916 Curtiss V-4 Is Alive! All 1650 Cubic Inches Of This Vintage V-12 Monster
Thursday, January 17, 2013
Miss Detroit III – Please Meet Mr. Curtiss
Miss Detroit III is now being prepared to make a visit to the ACBS International Boat Show in Coeur d’Alene, Idaho on September 17-23, 20013. After that, she will return to the Hydroplane and Raceboat Museum in Kent, Washington for everyone to see and enjoy this beautiful race boat.
Special thanks to Michael McBride for sharing his spectacular photos with us today.
Congratulations to Ken Muscatel, Ike Kielgass, Robert Mishko and the folks from the Hydroplane and Raceboat Museum on this remarkable project! I understand that there were two GoPro video cameras mounted on the boat on Saturday, so hopefully more video is on it’s way from this historic day.
It is evident from the results of this first water test that the people involved in this exciting project know what they are doing. The boat is beautiful, and truely a significant addition to the history of powerboat racing. Congratulations to all involved!
On behalf of the Michigan Chapter, ACBS, I would like to extend an invitation to Miss Detroit III’s proud owners to bring her home to one of our shows along the St. Clair River some day. We would be thrilled to welcome her, and it would be exciting to see her run on the same water where she was initially tested and raced. I hope you will consider our offer.
It’s always nice to see another project get splashed however, it this case it’s SPETACULAR with that beautiful unique engine singing (growling). A great looking boat with a high level of attention to detail. Boy, I’d love to see this one in person…..
What a piece of history.
Wonder if there are any more of those engines hidden away somewhere unknown to all of us.
There were not many made to begin with. It was more of a prototype than a mass production engine which is why it was available and not in a military aircraft headed to France.
It was quite an achievement for Garwood to be able to source an engine like that in the middle of the war and to be able to build Miss Detroit III. An even bigger achievement to replicate that 95 years later.
I would love to hear that engine roar in person, perhaps a little further back than the driver seat.
Gorgeous engine, and a lovely replica as well great eye to pipck that up at the sale. This really was an inspired project, and I am thrilled to read that it will be at the International next month. Are there any plans to run it at the show? I imagine it will be run sparingly, for reasons that must be obvious to everyone, but I sure would like to see and hear that spectacle.
Congratulations on such a successfull test!
Thats a great story. Can’t wait to see her in CDA. Will you bring her to Chelan for the raceboat show?
What an amazing package. Congrats on the successful launch. That motor looks like it should be under glass at Tiffany’s. Hard to believe those “hairclip” exhaust valve springs produce sufficient closing pressure.
There are some folks from Muskoka/Gravenhurst that might want to enlist your services.