The Refurbishment Of “Sweet Mahogany” – An Ideal Boat From The 1960’s
Fellow Woody Boater and Classic Crooner Charles J is determined to learn more about his rare 1962 Ideal Craft outboard “Sweet Mahogany”. After all, this classic wooden boat has been in his extended family since it was built in 1962 – where it provided great service and fun running the waters of Moriches Bays, part of the southern bays network of Long Island.
Charles lovingly refurbished (not restored but refurbished) the boat in 1997 and for years has been trying to learn more about the history of the Ideal Boat Company of America, with not much success.
Charles noted in his e-mail… “Texx – After doing much research I found my way to the Mariners’ Museum in Newport News, Virginia and yes indeed there it was found; a copy of a 1962 brochure for the Ideal Boat Company of America. I have the 15′ outboard model.
I was hoping I might get my little “Sweet Mahogany” posted on Woody Boater and perhaps get some feedback from your readers regarding origins of the company, how long in business, general insights into the company; I have personally only seen one other Ideal Craft in all my years – I suspect Ideal Craft was a short lived company of yesteryear.”
The Story of “Sweet Mahogany”
The boat was originally purchased in 1962 with a white 45HP Mercury, the bottom was “bottom paint gold,” red water line stripe, sky-blue in hull color and more of a brownish stain for the bright work. Over the years a cousin, the original owner changed the color scheme as did I in my 1997 make over. In 1969 in Man’s quest for speed, my cousin hung a four cylinder 80HP Mercury on her and I can still remember the aunts and uncles screaming “slow down, you’re killing us back here (many fond memories that drove the refurbishment),” my cousin claimed it was 50 mile an hour boat, not sure about that but in those days and in relative terms, it was pretty fast.
With my refurbishment (not restoration), I know the purists would be upset with my new controls, steering wheel and “Holey-Mackerel-Foreign-Imports-Batman,” is that a Yamaha on that piece of lovely Americana? Well bottom line when I originally made the boat over, it was at that time, more about usability and dependability and less about its classic heritage…it’s still a pretty little rig don’t you think!.
She’ll do about 40 WOT with three in the boat but you most certainly don’t want to find any serious wakes at that speed. I live in Northern Virginia and often use the boat for what I affectionately call the Classic Boat River Tour; put in at Gravely Point, cruise up into Georgetown and then down to Old Town for dinner and fun. The cruise back to Gravely point with Washington DC lit up against the dark sky is quite beautiful from the Potomac vantage point; it’s particularly satisfying if one doesn’t run into a floating tree, huge log or other incredible “Wood” that awaits you in the Potomac.
Any information that the Woody Boater community can provide for me on the history of the Ideal Boat Company or if anyone owns one or knows where others are, I would love to hear from them.
Best Regards – Charles J
When we received the most recent e-mail from Charles asking for our help to find more information on the Ideal Boat Company of America, my first thought was to go through my collection of “The Real Runabouts” by Bob Speltz – surely there would be some reference to the Ideal Boat Company in there. I carefully went through all 7 volumes, cover to cover – and found NOTHING. When you can’t find it in the Speltz books, you know you’re in trouble… Then I went through all the other wooden boat books in my library – and found NOTHING. Then I went to my 2012 ACBS Directory, surely a member of the ACBS must have an Ideal Boat Company boat listed… NOTHING.
So at this point I had no choice but to refer to my secret weapon, used only in emergencies – E-mail fellow Woody Boater & noted historian Lee Wangstad. I hated to bother Lee just days before the big Minneapolis Boat Show which he will no doubt be busy preparing for with the Bob Speltz Land-o-Lakes ACBS Chapter, but I was out of options… and this was making me nuts!
Lee Wangstad responded –
Texx – Sorry, nothing here, although it does sound familiar. I know that I don’t have any literature (that’s pretty well organized), but thought that I might have something in one of the periodicals. The obvious places produced nothing, but I’ll continue to look.
There were hundreds of companies building plywood runabouts in the mid to late 50’s, following the success of firms like Speedicraft, Swift, and Otis Borum. There were also companies that were buying kits in bulk and going into production. They were all somewhat similar in appearance, but each had its own identity. Carter Craft, Stamas, Lawrence, SportCraft, St. Cloud, the list goes on.
Most were built in Florida. Of course, there was Aristo-Craft and SwitzerCraft, but they were into a whole different element. Bob Switzer told me that it was Otis Borum that told him that he was doing just fine building “boaty-boats,” bread and butter family boats, while he considered Switzer to be building state-of-the-art cutting edge type designs. After their meeting SwitzerCraft began building “boaty-boats” to sell more boats. It worked. I’ll continue to look. – Lee
Thanks Lee, we appreciate your help on this. So now, we are reaching out to our always knowledgeable, always helpful Woody Boater community to ask the question:
Does anyone out there in Woody Boater land know anything about the Ideal Boat Company of America from the early 1960’s – Please?
Charles J also has a website he developed with some photos from 1997 when he refurbished “Sweet Mahogany”. At the top our story today we also referred to Charles J as a Classic Crooner, which is the name of his music CD “Crooner Classics” – Music and wooden boats all in one place, it doesn’t get much better than that! Check it out by Clicking Here.
I did a check of the business/corporation area of the Pennsylvania Secretary of State office and did not find incoporation filings for Ideal Boat Company. I also checked newspaperarchive.com and came up empty handed.
I appreciate the repsonse! It seems that so far even the experts are stumped! Perhaps some other readers will ba able to offer up some clues.
My father purchased a 19′ Ideal Craft Weekender in 1964.
Had a 75 HP Johnson. Had a head that pumped into the water. Dinette converted into a bed.
IDEAL CRAFT was located in the Kensington section of Philadelphia, Pa. The advent of fiberglass boats put them out of business by 1965. I personally visited the factory twice with my father. (’64 & ’65)We have some pictures if anyone’s interested.
We had a 19′ Ideal Craft Weekender (1964) my father purchased then. Had a 75 HP Johnson. Had a head that pumped right into the water!. The dinette converted into a bed.
Ideal Craft was in the Kensington section of Philadelphia.
I was there with my father @ the age of 10/and 11. We went there twice. Was mahogany and had a gold painted hull.
The advent of fiberglass put them out of business by 1965.
I have no idea about the boat, but the CD/Album cover brings up a topic I have been thinking about lately. What is the proper musical soundtrack for Woody Boating? Is it dictated by the age of the boat, so that one should play music of the boat’s era? What about different times of the year – does the soundtrack need to change while varnishing, as opposed to times of actual water use? Are there songs to avoid at all costs (“Wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald” comes to mind) while boating? This could garner more responses than the shootout between the Arabian and the XK!
“Wooden ships on the water” by Crosby, Stills and Nash comes to mind.
“Boats To Build” by Jimmy Buffett w/ Alan Jackson.
Can’t beat this song!
In the case of my 55 Palomino with original 58 Johnson Seahorse I think Deep Purple’s ‘ Smoke on the Water ‘ is rather apt.
Switzercraft, Now thats a boat company!!
It’s ADD day at woody boater! Just think Charles, you can start your own Idealboats web site, be the nations … worlds expert on ideal boats. make a t shirt. Only one by the way, and be the ideal guy.make up your own history. Your dad started the company. Its all yours. And on that inevitable day when someone that knows something confronts you. BAM, you can name him the words expert! HA, See you on the potomac!
Matt I’ll have to give that some thought; perhaps I can reverse engineer my little Sweet Mahogany and in borrowing from the story-lead-in, come up with a modern day Ideal Boat for the times, yuk, yuk, yuk. Like you said I’ll see you on the Potomac this summer.
It’s always ADD day at WoodyBoater. In fact, it’s always ADD day.
I’ll second that comment regarding your ADD.
My boat is from 1972….. so there’s lots of great music to choose from!
I’m changing my mind. I’m going with “Riviera Paradise” by Stevie Ray Vaughn.
1962 brochure indicates Ideal Boat Co. world headquarters was situated at 2521 Orthodox St Phillidelphia.
2521 Orthodox is presently the home of a plumbing supply company . Given the smallish size of the building it looks like ideal boats was never a high volume operation.
BTW a quick search on Google also suggests that Ideal Boat Co. was established in 1955 and is still a registered ( but inoperative) PA company. Check this link
Charles might want to follow up on the reg info
Good job on the research! I stopped by the shop over the Christmas holiday. The owner and or manager at first didn’t have a clue. As I explained that I was trying to track down information on a former boat company at the location that jogged his memory. He mentioned that the people he bought the business or building from told him that the previous occupants before them were boat builders. Unfortunately he didn’t’ have anything more then that. I tend to agree that there was probably limited production but I have no solid insights.
Well thanks to the Cobourg-Kid for the lead to bizapedia!
What I learned form the site:
PA company file number: 2264228
Filing Date: 8/9/1955
Matthew A. Czaplicki
Status: Active 57 Years 6months…hmm this can’t be correct?
A Google search on John Wysoczanski led me to the ancient faces site. The site indicated John was born December 28, 1925 and passed away April 22, 2005 at the age of 79. Well if you do the math he would have been 30 years old when the company began, a reasonable age to start a small company. Are these the guys? Might these names show up on “The Real Runabouts” by Bob Speltz?
Keep those ideas coming; hopefully additional insights on the little Ideal Boat Company of Philadelphia are still waiting to be discovered.
Nice work CJP – Hopefully some more information will trickle in on the Ideal Boat Company maruqe…
It’s always fun to learn.
That is the building the owners were friends of my fathers I remember only the name of one of them it was Matt they were involved with the Wissinoming yacht club in Philadelphia where my father was vice commodore but I was only about 8 or 9 at the time. I did used to play with the 2 german shepards they had to guard the place the dogs were not friendly to many people I hope the yacht club connection pans out for you they all were a bunch of ww2 buddies
I believe my father told me that the advent of small fiberglass boats put them out of business as they couldn’t compete price wise with them
I would have thought the “Philly mafia” would have wiped out all the records, lol, apparently they missed some. Great job C-K on the research.
As to music, love the selections so far, since my daughter is deejaying for one of the top 10 college stations in the country, she pointed out this little ditty to me a while back. We both had quite a laugh: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9iUjx4_X1qA
Great Video. I think the Woodyboater Top Hat is the next sensation to rock WBville!!
Great comments today everyone! We appreciate your help with the research on Ideal Boat Co and the – (cough, cough)… music selections.
It’s amazing what you can find on line these days if you know where to search. That photo of the original Ideal Boat Company building that Cobourg-Kid found is cool.
We know there’s at least one other Ideal Boat Company survivor out there, we just have to find it… Maybe it was the owners personal boat.
Dreed – There are lot’s of great songs /song videos out there and Riviera Paradise is certainly one beautiful song from a fabulous guitar player, sadly his life was cut short way to soon…if the house is a rockin, don’t bother knockin. However for all you Woody Boaters out there, if your significant other isn’t as enamored by your Wood Boat and its maintenance calls as you are; repairs, painting varnishing and your in the dog-house for doing that work before the honey due list, just show them how much they care with “More.” They get beautiful lyrics, international scenery and hey a classic boat in keeping with this story; as to the performance, well you be the judge 🙂 http://youtu.be/JY56fd5LUBE
Keep the research going; Texx, Matt and the Woody Boater community have already offered some interesting insights.
Say it isn’t so; my little Sweet Mahogany with all that interstate culture, New York, Pennsylvania, Virginia is nothing more than a “boaty-boat” 🙂 If Lee is your secret weapon and has come up empty handed, perhaps you have a “secret secret” weapon that can provide a little more Intel on the Ideal Boat Company of Philadelphia? Is mine one of five, a hundred, five hundred that were ever built, there’s got to be someone out there who has the goods.
What we find here is that information often comes in over time, so hopefully this will be the case for your inquiry.
One thing is for sure – Our viewers will all be on the lookout this year for any other Ideal Boat Company of America boats at shows and events throughout the country.
I know I will be…
The only other Ideal Craft I’ve ever seen was a partially assembled one on line about a year and a half ago; with the little obvious information that has come forth to date, I wish I had pursued that lead more vigorously. I recall my cousin stating that back in the 60s/70s he once saw what he thought was the 17 foot version.
Once again thanks for running the story; you’ll have to let me know if you come up with any more info during your travels and reviews of the many shows and wonderful classics out there in Woody Baoaterville. As you said, perhaps over time some more information will be found and trickle in.
Ruth Wallis – “The Dinghy Song” …another good boaty tune… 🙂 Google it!
Great photo of boat. I actually owned an Ideal Craft, 19′ Custom Cruisette. Different windshield than the one pictured in their ad. We, my dad and I, had a 40hp outboard on it. We keep it in Ocean City NJ. It was quick but not real quick. I could water ski with it but used it more for fishing in the bay.
I actually watched it being built in I think at a factory in Egg Harbor NJ or a small town nearby. In the 1962 storm it was stored in a garage at 42st and central Ave in Ocean City. The garage was destroyed but the boat got out It was found by the coast guard but had been totally looted – everything. It was cracked down the middle and we took it back to the factory to be repaired. Had to sell it in 1964.
Thanks for sharing your story with us Lou.
Did you ever keep any photos of the boat that you can share with us?
Thanks for the feedback; sad story about the outcome of your boat! Based on the literature I have to date Egg Harbor would seem unusual as a manufacturing site but perhaps it was a bigger company then I thought. As you can tell from the article other than the loan brochure I was able to find, I’ve still not found out much about the company.
My wife’s family has a place in Ventnor so we’ll likely be back in the waters of NJ this summer. 🙂
Following up on what Texx said, I hope you can find some photos to share.
You got me to thinking, hmm always a good thing! Perhaps what I thought was a brochure from a small business was in fact an advertisement from a “Philadelphia Dealership” of the Ideal Boat Company, a company large enough to support dealerships. I’ll have to investigate the Egg Harbor/NJ lead.
Any luck on some Cruisette photos?
I remember the day we picked the boat up at the manufacturer. It was a very small building and had maybe 3 or 4 boats being built. We had a good friend that had the 15 foot custom. What we liked about the larger model was how much higher the sides were. We took it out into the ocean on many occassions. Not sure where the offices were, but I know we visited the manufacturing plant in South Jersey. I know I have 8mm pictures of it from when we found it after the 62 storm.
we moved recently so I will have to find the boxes of old photos.
Thanks Lou – We would absolutely love to see those old photos or even the 8mm video.
If you find the photos, you can scan and e-mail them to me at
and I can look at using them for a fresh story on these boats. If you need help or have any questions let me know.
Thanks – Texx
Wow this is exciting stuff; it will be great to see copies of those original 1960’s Ideal Craft Cruisette photos! You knew someone with another 15” Custom, now that’s a rarity; I’ve only ever seen one other. Picking up on your comment about freeboard, even the little 15’ has significant freeboard in the bow area and for its size is pretty beamy, allowing it to take on, albeit at slow speeds, large wakes rolling its way. By any chance do you have a recollection of the color scheme on your friend’s boat? They didn’t live in a New York City bureau, did they?
Well for all your engagement in this series, interesting information and hopefully future photos, if you’re interested in a copy of the CD, if not for the music, for the photos of an old classic Ideal Craft, just let Texx know and we’ll figure out a way to send you a copy, of course gratis from a fellow Ideal Craft owner 🙂
Just picked up a 1950’s 14 foot Mahogany Ideal Craft and I’m pretty stoked about it : )
That’s nice! I see it has the original higher windshield as mine originally had and what appears to be the original steering wheel. I decide on what I thought was the lower sleeker windshield for my refurbishment but yours is more true to the original. Can you offer any additional information about the company then what I’ve already provided? Good luck with the boat! Now I’m aware of at least three Ideal Crafts 🙂
My daughter and I just picked up Mike D’s 15 Custom this past weekend. We would love to talk to you about the restoration of your boat and see any pictures you have. Please get in touch if you can. She is looking forward to getting it in the water and bringing it to the shows in the area.
Sweet Mahogany running the Potomac towards DC; not many of these outings left for this year 🙁
Enjoy those Fall outings while you can!
Very nice! My Dad had a 17-foot outboard Ideal Craft with a 1962 Gale 40hp on the back. The boat was light blue, with that harpoon bit on the sides. I believe he bought it as a leftover-leftover, from a dealer for a fire-sale price. I have some pics of it somewhere… He ran it on the St. Lawrence for many years and it saw duty as a patrol boat during local boat races. He sold it in the early 1970s.
Thanks Scott – We would love to see your old photos of you can find them, scan & send them to us.
Sweet Mahogany docked at the Fish House restaurant with the Wrightsville NC Intracoastal scene in the background.
I am glad to have stumbled upon this thread. I purchased a 1962 Ideal Craft 15′ Custom this past summer in Hatboro, PA, a suburb about 15 miles outside Philadelphia. I have had zero luck digging up any information, until now. I was not in the market for this little gem but I could not pass it up. I spotted her at a yard sale which was being set-up one Friday morning on my way to work. She sat by the road, at the end of a driveway… Taped to the windshield, a paper sign read: “Must Go This Weekend -Best Offer”. I hadda stop! A gentleman, about mid-60’s introduced himself as the son of the original owner. He explained that he and his sister had recently sold their childhood home, all of the contents were for sale. H esaid the boat had been parked by his dad in the garage and lovingly draped with a dozen blankets and sheets back in the mid-80’s. He told of fond summertime memories, how the boat had been a big part of his youth. It was always garage kept and taken very good care of by his dad. I asked what he was hoping to get for the boat he said “Aw, I don’t know what it’s worth… maybe a few hundred bucks?” After briefly considering what my wife’s reaction might be if I came home from work with a boat. I said “Well, I have a hitch on my truck and $200 in my wallet…I can take it right now.” He hesitated a moment then smiled and said: “That’s a Deal!” We put air in the tires, signed the title, and I even made it to work on time! I bought it exactly as shown including the ladder, ropes, life jackets, gas tank, near-flawless cloth top, spare tire, even the old man’s tackle box was left on board. Since that day, 8 months ago, she has been in my garage. I am looking forward to really getting to work on her this spring. The controls, linked to the original 40 Johnson “Electric Super Seahorse” all seem be intact and functional. I appreciate all that you guys have shared so far and I will be checking back regularly for more info and to share my own progress. By the way, my wife is in love with the boat she says it’s “super cute!” and she can’t wait for me to add cushions and make it “all pretty again”. 😉 Happy woody-ing!
Hi Nick – Thanks for sharing your story and photos with us at Woody Boater today. Can you send me copies of all the original photos you have (and the ones posted today) and we will prepare a story on Woody Boater for everyone to share your experience. You can send them to Texx@woodyboater.com Thanks again. – Texx
Pretty cool decal…
My brothers and I believe this was the boat our dad had when we were kids. You can read an article on the FOP yacht club on line. My dad was a cop in Philly for 30 years. We pulled the boat to Ocean City as well as Margate. I am looking for old pics, I know there is one of me in a car seat on the boat. I am the youngest of 4 boys. The name of the boat was my 3 sons until I was born in 67 then my dad changed it to my 4 sons. Very interesting. We lived in the Port Richmond section of Phila at the time.
Bench seats. Front stationary, rear folding.
Needs some re-chroming here and there.
I wonder if the old Johnson will run…
Well my little baby is 53 years old this year. Thought I’d give her one more two part sprucing up before being structurally sound will have to do. Just back today with part one complete. You have to love the smell of fresh varnish!
I recently came upon this thread and was quite surprised to say the least. I am the son of one of the founders and had for a long time tried to find one of the boats built by my father and have it restored for him – I could never find anything. My Dad passed away in 2005 and I had long forgotten about my quest until the passing of my Mother recently. While going through old documents my interest was once again peeked and I was very surprised by the power of Google. So, for as much as I know, I may be one of the reasons why the company was abandoned (born 1963). To hear my Dad tell the story a couple of young kids and struggling company did not make things rosy at home. My Dad and Matt co-founded the company (a couple of old army buddy with a dream) and a love for working with wood. I have many memories of Riverside Marina in Riverside NJ, as a kid, I think that is where they sold their boats and they had a house there on the water. I think the second half of the story is that fiberglass was coming and they were all about the wood. They kept the shop on Orthodox St. in Bridesburg for many years renting it out over the years to many different types of businesses. My father become a union carpenter and focused on cabinetry for most of his career. The two stayed close throughout the years enjoying many fishing trips on Matt’s boat. Matt remained in the greater Northeast section of Philadelphia (moving to Florida later in life) and my father remained in the northwestern suburbs of the city. It was great seeing some of their boats survived and are doing well…They would be very happy.
Hi Steve, thanks for your great comments today. I have asked Charles (the boat owner) to also chime in here. Texx
Fabulous that you found your way to this story and a piece of your heritage! As my article suggests this little boat gave great pleasure and created life long memores for at least two families. Can you offer some more insight into the company so for example, how many years in business, from beginning year to ending year, how many total boats were built, how many each of the different models etc.? Until my friends at Woody Boater posted this article I had never seen any others like it, and my cousin who ran the boat in the Great South Bay of Long Island from 1962 – 1996 had only ever seen one other that he believed to be a 17 footer. Charles
Charles – I have tried and failed to get any more specific information concerning the actual company. There are no family members left that can remember any more specifics. Apparently I missed my opportunity with one uncle who I hear was a “shop rat” back in the day but he has also passed. The one thing I am sure of is if my dad built boats the way he built everything else they would stand the test of time. If I come across anything else I now know where to post it.
Steve – One things for sure, my little boat stood the test of time. I did replace the bottom in the late 90’s but just about all the other wood is original as well as the transom. Nice to hear your story and as you suggested, if you turn up any other interesting factoids or photos, you know where to put them. Photo attached is of this summers continuing work, put the white seems bach in as was originally on the boat. Take care.
My uncle worked for Ideal boats. They were stationed at wysonoming (spelling) yacht club.
Their dock was just south of the tacona palmrya bridge.
Uncle’s name was John Greenwood. From what I remember he did it all from beginning to end. Wish I had pics or could remember more but that’s all I got.
Bill J – Thanks for your comments, great to see how this story has driven so many comments and tapped into the memories of people related to the Ideal Boat company. Hopefully some day we’ll find some more original photos and information on the company. Thx CJP