What Did My Dad And His Buddy Chubb Build?

The stills from the film are soft, but enough to make out what it is?

The stills from the film are soft, but enough to make out what it is?

We love fun stories like this at Woody Boater, cool mystery photos, and a heart warming story.

Good day! I have one of those great boat ID questions for you! I recently captured some stills from an old 16mm movie taken out on the Susquehanna river, near the old Olmstead Air Force Base runway (Harrisburg International Airport today), in Middletown, PA. This movie was made by my Grandmother and shows my Grandfather and his buddy Chubb and their boats around 1959/1960. Living in Highspire, PA, going out on the river was a favorite pastime of my grandparents, taking my father and uncle out to ‘their’ island in the middle of the Susquehanna, spending summer days with friends.

Grandpa Boat 2

As my father always tells me… almost no-one on the river in that day bought their boats, most of them made them, and my Grandfather was no exception… he had built a few smaller runabouts before embarking on this build. He and Chubb built these two identical boats (both shown in the one still) one winter (somewhere around 1958-1959) in my Grandfather’s garage behind a row-home in Highspire. Actually, the fact that two guys built two boats of this size in one winter isn’t the most amazing thing in my mind. To build both boats at the same time, my grandfather split his one-car garage at the peak and widened it so that both boat hulls would fit side by side… and then during the build Chubb cut off his one finger in the Sears shop-smith they used (Both boats built with just the shopsmith and hand-tools), so the story is my Grandfather essentially ended up building both boats himself (Chubb was also a truck driver, so he was on the road a lot anyways). My dad talks about Grandpa and Chubb building a fire in a barrel in order to heat water and burlap, used the steam the large pieces of plywood to the curvature of the Hull. He also remembers my Grandfather added a hatch up front, the bow had a bed in it, and Chubb added a head to his boat.

Grandpa Boat 8

My Grandfather’s boat is the one with the 1958 Mercury Mark 75 marathon six on it… Chubb’s boat had the smaller 1958 Mercury Mark 58. (both motors make these boats scoot in the movie!) In the still with the two men behind the transom, Chubb is the one wearing the swimming belt (As if you hadn’t figured that out).. my Grandfather is the tall lanky guy.

Grandpa Boat 7

Supposedly all the other boaters at the Highspire Boat club with their smaller boats and motors, said that these boat would never run on the river.. See, the Susquehanna isn’t exactly real deep then or now… but Grandpa and Chubb proved them wrong! To the best I can gather they used these 2 to 3 seasons before my Grandfather sold his…. No one knows what happened to Chubb’s.

Grandpa Boat 4

So, the reason I am writing… my Grandfather passed away a few years ago.. and neither my father nor my grandmother has ever seen the plans, lost to time I guess. Needless to say, we have no idea the manufacturer of the plans, or kit (although dad thinks all my grandfathers used was the plans, and bought the raw lumber to build, the fact that my grandfather used the scraps from the build to build my uncle a small dingy seems to back this up). Seeing your story in May about the Sears & Roebuck kit boat made me think of this one, but as one compares the photos, they are clearly not the same boat… although some details are similar (location of step pads, steering location, front hatch, etc.) the overall lines are not quite the same. It is also weird to me that both Capt’ Grumpy’s boat and Chubbs have similar hi-top bar chair-like seating in the back, although again, clearly not the same, must have been the thing to do.

Just wondered if you or your readers might have a clue… or at the least, might enjoy the stills, showing boating life on the River in the late 50’s early 60’s… the 16mm film has been transferred to DVD and I am still trying to figure out how to rip this segment from it so I can post on youtube. It would be cool to find out who made the plans and get a set if they are available… working on and off on a 1958 Lyman and 1956 Whirlwind runabout with my dad… I am pretty sure we could build one of these boats again… someday… but not two of them!

Grandpa Boat 1

Thank you for your time and attention, and thank you for a great website, the storys are always a pleasure to read.

Andy B.
Middletown, PA

23 replies
  1. Randy Rush Captain Grumpy
    Randy Rush Captain Grumpy says:

    Boy: I thought that was my boat for a few seconds!. My sears-chris craft kit boat originally had an outboard in 56. converted in 62 to an I/O. The lines look similar, but they are different. As far as the chair , the base was home made and the padded seat/back was bought with the boat. Here is a picture of the seat. Shoot me an email for more photos etc.

  2. Andy B.
    Andy B. says:

    Thank you Matt and Tex! I appreciate the help and glad you enjoyed the story.

    Randy, I appreciate the offer, will try to e-mail you this week… I poured over your photos, comparing them to these stills for quite some time, but things like the cabin windows, the coaming, etc. just do not line up.. although I wouldn’t put it past my grandfather to have made some changes as he built…

  3. Randy
    Randy says:

    Boy, there were a lot of suppliers of kits/plans (Luger, Glen-L, Roberts, U-Mak-it, just to mention a few) back in the ’50’s & ’60’s.

    I have some of the old catalogs and will look through them this evening to see if any of the profiles match.

  4. Andreas Jordahl Rhude
    Andreas Jordahl Rhude says:

    Taft Marine Woodcraft of Minneapolis also made kits. I wonder if they sold plans as well?

  5. Michael Maddox
    Michael Maddox says:

    Sorry, not a Nomad. I meant a Glen-L Sea Knight… that’s sure what it looks like to me.

  6. Kelly Wittenauer
    Kelly Wittenauer says:

    Looks similar to a 17′ cruiser built by the family that lived next door when I was a kid. Don’t remember for certain where he said the plans came from, but Glen-L rings a bell. I vaguely remember my dad going next door one day to help turn the finished hull upright. Photo is on the Ohio River in the summer of ’71.

  7. Kelly Wittenauer
    Kelly Wittenauer says:

    One last pic. Same summer, also at Manchester. The other boats are my dad’s 1959 23′ Chris Craft and a friend’s Owens. Hope you find the plans for a boat like you grandfather’s. And thanks for sharing – I love vintage photos.

  8. floyd r turbo
    floyd r turbo says:

    Crossing the Susquehanna at Harrisburg on I-81 year after year headed back to Maine, I couldn’t imagine anyone boating on that river with more than a canoe or kayak. The river didn’t look more than ankle deep where it wasn’t rippled with sand bars. Those outboard cruisers look well suited to the environment with shallow draft with an o/b that could kick up over a snag, rock, or shallow waters.

  9. Andy B.
    Andy B. says:

    Michael M. BOY! It sure as heck looks like a Sea Knight… hmmm… need another photo or two to tell for sure I think… that would add up and make sense. to me. In the Glenn L photo gallery of the Sea Knight, they show the test model mocked up with a 1958 Evinrude Model.. which would put the plans just at the right time… I believe my Grandfather bought the Mark 75 in 1959 as a left-over model.

  10. Andy B.
    Andy B. says:

    Floyd.. the area where these boats are photographed is just South of the New PA Turnpike bridge, between Harrisburg East and Harrisburg West Exits… actually you can see ‘their’ island from the bridge… I am not sure, but it might be “Spades Warf Island” or one of the small ones to the left of it.

    Another funny story.. when these photos were taken, Harrisburg International Airport was the active Olmstead Air Force Base.. I.E. the runway was off limits. My uncle took his little boat over there one day for some reason.. and beached his boat and started across the runway.. needless to say, the MP’s got to him pretty quick!

  11. Tobias Sullivan
    Tobias Sullivan says:

    At first I thought it might be the work of John B. Clark who was a naval architect that sold plans through magazines like Motor Boating in the 50s and 60s. I don’t have his catalog, just a few designs. There’s some similar styling ques but it seems like the mystery has been solved already.

    • Andy B.
      Andy B. says:

      Tobias… seems like the mystery is almost solved… but I agree, also looks a lot like the flavor of design you show above! Thank you!

      • J.A. Christoph
        J.A. Christoph says:

        Happy Fourth to all. Andy, I’m sure this riddle has been solved but I’d like to offer my vote for a Glen L Sea Knight. I’m actually in the process of building one now. It was actually featured in the May-August 1957 “Popular Mechanics” magazine. Included plans for lofting and a full write up each month on how-to. I wanted to thank you for posting this as I read it every now & again. On days I get discouraged I find motivation in knowing that your grandfather & his buddy managed to build two in a matter of months. If they can do that, I surely can have mine done by my “planned” Memorial Day 2018 launch. Thank you again.

  12. Perry Vernon
    Perry Vernon says:

    Taft Marine sold 18’Cabin Cruiser Kits”SARATOGA”for $576.00 including freight.I just purchased a 1959 model here in Charleston,S.C.that is in amazing condition!

  13. Reddog
    Reddog says:

    Susquehanna, Susquehanna, did someone say Susquehanna. Why, Do you know what happened on the Susquehanna.

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