Yes, It Happened AGAIN! The Harrison’s Break Down!


Paul and Karen Harrison. That’s Paul on the left. In Florida, on Lake Dora

Ya, know, I can’t make this stuff up. No one would believe that one family could experience so many breakdowns, and yet see the humor in it all. Yes, we are talking about Paul and Karen Harrison.

You may recall the running out of fuel on Lake Tahoe?

or Breaking. drive shaft in a brand new GMC truck?

or a blown transmission in St Louis,

or a blown trailer tire in Montana,

or being stuck in a snow drift in Montana,

or the Sea Bird over heat at last years Lake Dora Show,

or the transmission issue on the Continental on Lake Dora,

or the sinking of Satin Doll. Do I really need to go on?

Okay I will, just this past Sunday, the reliable Sea Skiff with a BRAND NEW crate motor, well. DIED! Right at the Dora canal. We have pictures-ish

Out on the Dora Canal. Artist representation in case you were not sure.

Okay, okay we have no photos. mmm wonder why? So we hirred famed artist Pierre Brassau to do some sketches of the indecent. Hey, its winter, A mans gotta do what a mans gotta do to get the stories out.

Right at the entry of Lake Eustes, the new Crate Motor clunks to death

Karen quickly figured it out. Something significant in the timing gears or distributor drive let go. Less than 2 hours on engine.

New Engine, Paul, pictured above, once again, an artist sketch, ” I was very annoyed”

And this is where it get’s even worse. UGH. I am embarrassed for the entire culture of classic boats.

A pontoon boat had to tow them in. Note how Car-toon and Pon-toon are very close. Yes, these “pictures” capture the essence of the entire event.

Artist Pierre Brassau.

So you want to meet the artist? Sure. Meet Pierre Brassau. Yup.. Brother of Zip! Zip and Pierre have spent many smoky nights in the bars of Paris, drawing dancers and break downs on Lake Dora! Think I am kidding. He is a real artist. Here is a short film on him.

22 replies
  1. m-fine
    m-fine says:

    Timing gears or distributor drive (the cam!)? That sounds like a major mechanical failure of parts that are usually very robust. What kind of engine was it? Big block Chevy?

    My condolences to the Harrison’s. Hope they get it sorted out fairly quickly.

  2. John Rothert
    John Rothert says:

    As much bad luck as they have….there must be less of it to go around and hit us. Trying to find something positive in this sitch.
    If it is the big block, odds are that crate motor came from south of the boarder and assembled on a monday…just sayin……
    John in VA

  3. NR
    NR says:

    Ha! Somewhere in my files I have a picture of the Trusty Skiff being towed by a pontoon. We were in Dora for the show, it was a relatively new purchase at the time, for a few days and it sputtered and stopped throughout the trip. Finally for good at the mouth of the canal by the bridge. I kept it quiet. Until now.

    • Paul H
      Paul H says:

      That was our other Skiff, there is evidently sufficient malignant mechanical failure lurking about to cover all of our vessels.

      The location of this failure was not more than 500 yards from the incident you cite, Mr. NR.

  4. WoodyGal
    WoodyGal says:

    Breaking down & getting towed in is never fun, yet it has happened to us all. Hang in there Karen & Paul!

  5. FrankatFalmouth
    FrankatFalmouth says:

    The illustrations with the story were great! You never cease to entertain! A bit more time put in today’s effort and it paid off! Nice work

  6. Paul H
    Paul H says:

    This episode is particularly frustrating, as I arrived at the decision to install a brand new 350 crate engine (not re manufactured, but new) after managing to eke out an incredible 49 hours from the full rebuild we did on the original 283 last year, before it was re-admitted to ICU in critical condition. It’s final breath was taken after developing a cracked head and a hairline block crack – while these issues could be fixed, I felt the safe route was a new 350. So much for that reasoning….

    Pontoon guy was great, he refused to take any money for his help and simply insisted that we tow in the next guy. Karma I suppose in that though we were befouled by mechanical failure once again, we have towed many broken down boats in ourselves and would never accept a penny for doing so. So, it is good karma or bad karma we have?

    • Mark Edmonson
      Mark Edmonson says:

      After forty years of restoring boats I have heard a lot of stories of being stranded and towed, With engine rebuilding it is important you find the right guys, We have used Superior Engine & Machine out of St. Clair MI for 35 years (old School guys) They do it right the first time. As for new create motors I would stick with the old motors. easier to work on

    • Greg Lewandowski
      Greg Lewandowski says:

      I have been towed and towed a few over the years. The one I will never forget was when out on Water Lily early one Sunday morning. Came across a drifting fisherman with the cover off the 5hp outboard clamped to the saddest looking 12 ft. aluminum fishing boat duly adorned with a well seasoned coat of fish guts and empty beer cans. As a came along side and asked if he needed help he replied that he had been trying to get the motor started for almost an hour and did not have a paddle. I told him I would tow him back to the launch ramp and he replied “not with that beautiful old boat, I will wait for another boat to come along”. Since I could see he did not have a decent line on board, I got out my tow line and threw it to him.
      20 minutes later when I cut him loose at the ramp I yelled “see my friend, even old boats can get the job done. He waved and smiled, and I cranked her up to continue my ride. It was a good Sunday morning!

  7. Tommyholm
    Tommyholm says:

    Back when I lived in Goteborg, I used to hang with Pierre. We smoked Marlboro’ s together behind the kiosks that he worked selling meatballs and aquavit. It was during his renaissance years, he was mostly into painting bananas and 👙 frykas . Great guy but he couldn’t hold his vodka for shit. Glad to see he made it BIG. Tak sa mycket.

  8. Dan T
    Dan T says:

    At least when our old stuff breaks we have the possibility of fixing it ourselves. That’s part of the fun and most the time it’s just a bad condenser.

  9. Dave Nau
    Dave Nau says:

    Paul and Karen: All the best getting it sorted out. Hope to finally meet you face-to-face in March at the Sunnyland Show.

  10. Carla
    Carla says:

    Gotta love the Harrison’s. Hmm..I’ve been through a couple of those incidents with my friends over the years! So enjoy the comments on “towing or be towed”!

  11. MikeM
    MikeM says:

    I had a breakdown in my old ‘41 Chris utility. We drifted to a boat house and my friends held on to the door of the boathouse. I messed with the points and got the boat started. Before we left I looked under the door of the boathouse and found my 1929 24’ Hacker. Not all breakdowns are bad.

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