2015 Toronto ACBS Spring Tour Reveals Some Rare Gems & Fresh Varnish

Hall-Scott Invader

1930 ACF Hall-Scott Invader – 275 hp / 800 ft lbs torque with a displacement 998 cubic inches. Super cool engine at Clark Wooden Boats, for a 1930 30′ Minett-Shields.

CLASSIC BOAT RESTORATION SHOPS are always fun to visit. Regardless of the shops size, location or specialty – passing through the doors of a classic boat shop presents a unique combination of history, technology, fine workmanship and knowledge that we can’t experience any other place. It’s like visiting a working museum, and guaranteed – you will find something that will either surprise you, amuse you or make you want to learn more.

Today’s story is a report from fellow Woody Boaters Chris & Julie Bullen who are now back in Canada after their whirlwind classic boating adventure to Florida last month. – Texx

Spring Tour 1

Seaflea building inside the Heritage Boatwork facility. With Julie, my Boatress parter in life.

2015 Toronto ACBS Spring Workshop Tour
Story and photos by Chris & Julie Bullen

It’s spring… we think. The week started out OK – the ice on our lakes was out on Wednesday. Fantastic, there is hope for another classic boating season to start soon, though by Thursday the temperatures here in Southern Ontario were sub-freezing again, snow, ice rain, scraping car windshields and slow driving for 2 more days.

Today is Saturday, and that means it’s once again time for our Toronto ACBS Chapter’s annual SPRING tour. We lucked out – the sun is shining, the birds are singing and we are on a road trip to smell some fresh varnish, look at some shiny metal and talk with our classic boating brethren.

This year we had 16 places you could visit. That is a huge number of places to visit in one day, especially with all the talking, socializing and looking – it’s just not possible to fit them all in – but it is fun trying.

Spring tour 2

Families working together and learning work working skills on Seaflea construction.

The first photos are of the kid’s Seaflea building; Chris Taylor has been running our youth program for a couple of years with his brother Andrew. They have been a great addition to our club and a fabulous influence on the younger folks.


Normally on the day of the boat show they build Seafleas. This year the build was on the spring tour with hopes that the kids will return with the finished product for the boat show. If you want to learn more about Seafleas go to Muskokaseaflea.ca

Spring tour 3

At Clark Wooden Boats we discovered a very rare 1923 Packard Gold Cup engine – 1 of only 6 made. 4 are in running order (1- Rainbow III; 2- Ventnor Juno; 3- Scotty II; 4- Baby Skipalong)

Clark Wooden Boats was one of the workshops we visited on Saturday during the Spring Tour. Gary Clark notes – “The 1M-621 Packard Gold Cup engine is for “Rainbow III”. They were worked on by the talented engine builder Robert Mishko from Tennessee. Out of the four remaining running Packard Gold Cup engines, Mr. Mishko has worked on them all over the last couple of years. Glad you enjoyed the tour.” – Gary Clark

Spring tour 5

A Minett-Shields Ventnor designed wooden hydroplane, vintage / year built unknown. It has a 1937 Graymarine engine and a 1946 steering wheel from a Hudson car.

Instead of me continuing to ramble on – I will let the photos and captions explain the rest of todays highlights. – Chris

Spring tour 6

A new face in the boat building business – James Osler has just built a new shop and struck out on his own to continue the preservation of our boats. Nice to see a young man in charge.

Spring tour 7

A big Chrysler Straight 8 looking and running perfect ready to go back into service in a customers boat.

Spring tour 8

Ever wonder what happened to this rare gem from the late Martin Smith collection? This 1928 39’ Robinson Seagull Commuter “Flying Cloud” was originally built for Ransom E. Olds (REO) and later sold to Al Capone. Flying Cloud was recently purchased and is now going to live on the Muskoka lakes. Lucky us…


Vintage photo of Al Capone in “Flying Cloud”

flying cloud 2

Another (more recent) photo of “Flying Cloud” that Matt shot a few years ago at the museum docks in Clayton, NY.

9 - flyingcloud

“Flying Cloud” now under new ownership gets some TLC by Paul Brackley and his crew at Brackley Boats before the boating season starts.

Spring tour 10

During our tour of Windsor Boat Works we discovered “Norwood III” which has an impressive curved glass windshield.

11 - Norwood III is a 34 foot Minet Sheilds launch

“Norwood III” is a 34 foot Minett-Sheilds launch which is now close to being ready for some serious Muskoka Lake cruising this summer.

Spring tour 12

On display at Clark Wooden Boats was this stunning 1930 ACF Hall-Scott Invader.

16 - Scud II

The Hall-Scott engine (above) will be installed in “SCUD II” – a rare 1930 30’ Minett-Shields at Clark Wooden Boats shop. The engine weighs 2,000 lbs.

13 - Its a CC, sportsman, brought a smile to Toms face, he felt he was home

In Curtis Hillman’s shop in Milford Bay we found this – Its a Chris-Craft 22′ Sportsman, brought a smile to Toms face, he felt he was home.

14 - CC sportsman

A view of the transom of “Wump II” the 22′ Sportsman in for some last minute TLC.

The shops were all full and this shows that the industry is still pretty healthy and has bounced back a little from the slow years past.

15 - Buttertart

While looking and the replacement bottom on a 1947 Matlo – Julie is enjoying a butter tart that has been a great tradition at Tim Butsons workshop. Tim’s wife Sharon has done this for over 20 years. We figured out she has made us over 30,000 of them! – Chris

Thanks to all the shops for opening their doors and showing the over 200 people the wonderful work and boats of the area. We should also thank Gerry Lodge for his organization of this event once again this year.

Cheers – Chris & Julie Bullen

Hall-Scott Company History

1910–1921 – The Hall-Scott company was initially founded in 1910 by Californians Elbert J. Hall and Bert C. Scott to manufacture gasoline-powered rail cars. Hall was the engineer, while Scott was the business executive. They produced their first rail car in 1909, which they sold to the Yreka Railroad, and the newly named Hall-Scott Motor Car Company was launched, with manufacturing in Berkeley, California in 1910 and with headquarters for a short time in San Francisco.

Hall-Scott also manufactured aircraft engines for commercial and military aviation, also beginning in 1910. These engines possessed a remarkable power-to-weight ratio for the era, using an overhead cam, overhead valves, hemispherical combustion chamber, and extensive use of aluminum. Their engines also benefited from manufacturing cost efficiency by sharing parts and dimensions between types. Hall became associated with the design, joining forces with Jesse Vincent of Packard, of the famous “Liberty” airplane engine, which has a number of features that are discernibly Hall-Scott. Even so, Hall-Scott was too small a business to participate in the manufacture of the Liberties.

3 - Dane Saturday 151

Another fine example of a beautifully restored marine Hall-Scott LM-6 200 HP in “Rebel” (Dane Anderson photo)

1921–1945 – Shortly after World War I, around 1921, Hall-Scott dropped its aero engine and rail car product lines, and expanded into building engines for tractors, trucks, boats, and stationary applications.

American Car and Foundry purchased Hall-Scott in 1925 and used its engines in its buses and boats. In 1931, one of the firm’s most famous and important products, the Invader marine engine entered production. The company survived the Depression and then attained its highest production rates and employment numbers in World War II by building engines for a variety of military products, including a tank retriever, the M-26/M-26A1, and the Higgins boat (LCVP).

Hall-Scott excerpts courtesy Wikipedia. To see the entire history of the Hall-Scott Company you can Click Here.

3 - Dane Saturday 153

“Rebel” is a very rare 1925 HackerCraft 33′ Triple Custom Runabout powered by the Hall-Scott LM-6. From the Lee Anderson collection in Nisswa, Minnesota / On display at the Gull Lake Classic Boat Show at Bar Harbor, MN. (Dane Anderson photo)

Thanks as always to Chris & Julie Bullen for sharing the Toronto ACBS Spring Shop Tour story with us here today. Also to the Toronto ACBS for helping organize this great, annual event.


26 replies
  1. Troy in ANE
    Troy in ANE says:

    GREAT story!

    Looks like a fun way to spend a Saturday. Love seeing all the pictures, they really make it feel like I was there (almost).

  2. Phil Jones
    Phil Jones says:

    Wow, makes me apprehensive taking my wimpy boat up there for the show July 6-11, but I will enjoy visiting all the different shops.

  3. Jack Schneiberg
    Jack Schneiberg says:

    What a rich area of history filled places to visit. I really have to plan a “road trip” to Canada one day soon. Enjoyed the story and the pictures…..Thanks guys.

  4. cutwaterguy
    cutwaterguy says:

    “MALTESE FALCON”, 36′ Greavette, I believe this Sea-Raider was advertised at 500hp. on its display board during the late 80’s when it was shown. Photo by Jay Elliot

  5. don vogt
    don vogt says:

    Nice article, Texx. Love the canadian boats. would be great to see more on those. Particularly minett-shield, probably at the top of the classic pre-war canadian boats, and not so many of them as I recall.

  6. Alex
    Alex says:

    What fun seen these beautiful boats and learning about (a-boot) Hall-Scott, of which I had never heard previously.

    I’d love to hear one of those running. Doubt very much there’s a clip on YouTube. (Perhaps one of the owners can be persuaded to put something up there for us to hear?)

    These massive old engines are so worth preserving and keeping in our classic boats. Yes, modern power is nice and reliable and more efficient, but the sound of an old motor in a wooden hull is pure ear candy. Seeing these cool motors in the photos makes me appreciate my lowly Scripps 208 more.

    • rob
      rob says:

      Alex, if you are interested there is an excellent book available on the history of the Hall-Scott motor company.

      There are also many videos of Hall-Scotts on the web.

      • Texx
        Texx says:

        Thanks for posting the link to the book Rob. While preparing todays story (last night) I also found the book on Amazon (via Google). But for reasons of copyright protection I didn’t use an excerpts, etc.

        My interest in the vintage Hall-Scott engines for marine applications began after visiting the various collections in Minnesota. A number of boats in Lee Anderson’s collection are powered by Hall-Scott engines – and they all run perfectly. – Texx

  7. Cobourg Kid
    Cobourg Kid says:

    Norwood III (featured above at Mike Windsor’s shop) was built for Robert L. Clause, summer resident of Muskoka’s Lake Joseph, and president and vice chairman of the Pittsburgh Plate Glass company; which would explain the curved windshield on Norwood III.

    An old boat guy once told me that Norwood III’s windshield was a PPG experimental project and that it preceded the introduction of curved auto glass. A concept that did not appear on a production car until 1934 when the Chrysler Airflow debuted.

    Always happy to be corrected if some or all of the above is legend instead of fact.

    • cutwaterguy
      cutwaterguy says:

      Don do you know if Flying Cloud once belonged to the late Brian Wilburn of Port Washington Wisconsin? He’d be a proud guy knowing it finally got redone. He had it in storage many years.

      • Troy in ANE
        Troy in ANE says:

        cutwaterguy I think you mistyped that name. I heard tell it was once owned by Brian Williams. JK. 🙂

  8. Cobourg Kid
    Cobourg Kid says:

    From Ransom E Olds to Al Capone the elegant John Hacker designed Robinson Seagull was the “Darb” for the rich, the famous and the infamous.

  9. Cobourg Kid
    Cobourg Kid says:

    “Wow his jalopy can accelerate like a bearcat,,,, Hey Rockefeller …Ya you! Get off the cabin you dope!”

  10. floyd r turbo
    floyd r turbo says:

    Minor correction, Norwood III was at Mike Windsors Shop in Gravenhurst. Paul Brackley’s had the Robinson and huge Hacker Sedan on display.

    • Cobourg Kid
      Cobourg Kid says:

      My bad Floyd. Thanks for catching it and thanks to Texx for fixing it . Would have liked to been at this years TO chapter spring outing but life got in the way

  11. floyd r turbo
    floyd r turbo says:

    Even more interesting was listening to Tim Butson’s dad? grandfather? (of Butson’s Boats) talk about building Fairmiles Motor Gun Boats in Honey Harbour, Ontario during the war when he was 16. He was in one of the big shop rooms and was told to get to work on scarfing battens or planks (I’m not sure which)for this 112 ft long boat. There were markings on the floor to which he was to cut the plank out to line up on the outline indicated on the floor. The foreman came in and checked his work, they would be all dressed up in coats, vests, ties, starched collars but remove thier tie for work and don coveralls. At lunch, they would remove their coveralls and retie their tie. They were all properly dressed when out on the street. He was part of a planking gang that raced to see who could finish first, port or starboard planking gang. They were lead by a french speaking lead shipwright. Wish I could have spent more time with him, his stories were facinating and he himself was very dapper in a tweed sport coat, sweater vest and starched white shirt. Their family is famous for making butter tarts and calculated they had made over 30,000 for the past 20 + years of spring tours. Great Canadian tradition this American is very appreciative to be able to share.

    • Cobourg Kid
      Cobourg Kid says:

      Floyd thanks for this , I sure wish I could have been there to hear that Fairmile tale!

      Ron Butson is a veritable goldmine of nautical history and boat building knowledge , a very cool guy

      I think his late wife Doreen originated the Butter tart tradition way back in the early 80’s ; only person who could make better butter tarts than my mom.. and that’s saying something.

      BTW for those who don’t know Ron he is the dapper dude on the right in the attached snap

  12. Don Ayers
    Don Ayers says:

    I don’t know. I’m sure clay would know. I saw the boat at Tahoe in complete gray condition many many years ago. I think Clay bought it from Al Shinnerer.

  13. John
    John says:

    Norwood III’s curved windshield is believed to be the first successful piece of curved plate glass,

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