Last Gasp – Paul & His Falcon Outboard

If you are a regular viewer here at Woody Boater you know that Paul & Karen Harrison had a busy, and successful season this year showing their 1946 Gar Wood & 1948 Chris-Craft at Lake Tahoe and taking home the big prize at the ACBS International event at Geneva Lake, Wisconsin.

With the show boats now stored away for the long Canadian winter, to celebrate Last Gasp week Paul & Karen decided to share another of their rare wooden boats with us here at Woody Boater. However the great photo (above) of Karen in their cool cedar strip 1946 16’ Peterborough Falcon, on her maiden voyage after 40 years comes with a bit of a story…

Here’s Paul’s version of the story, and my interpretation of the story – Texx

“Our rather ignominious last gasp occurred just over 2 weeks ago and involved probably the most simple operational boat we own – an approximately 1946 16’ Peterborough Falcon, being trailered about on a 1946 EZ Float Trailer, powered by a 1946 Evinrude Lightfour 9.7HP outboard.” (Interpretation – They took the Peterborough to the boat ramp)

“With the big boats put away, and some decent weather, we decided to take the little cedar strip out on her maiden voyage after at least 40 years of being confined in a shed.” (Interpretation – They launched the boat)

“With the engine re-conditioned, the rainwater leaking from the hull slowed to a few drops and Peterborough oars in place, we tentatively got ready to start her up. With no neutral one has to approach this carefully. If the engine actually starts, there can be unwanted consequences for the unprepared. Regrettably, that turned out to be nothing we needed to be concerned about.” (Interpretation – We had to bail out a little water before taking off)

“After many, many attempts and having great difficulty even getting it to fire, we were close but it would not catch and run. I then decided to put it back on the trailer and stand in the rather cool waters of the lake so I could get better leverage on my pulls, the dozens and dozens of pulls. After dealing with a broken recoil spring and resorting to taking the housing off and trying to get it running using just a stray piece of rope, we achieved success! The little engine spooled up nicely, got warm and smoothed out.” (Interpretation – We finally got the “Falcon Outboard” to start, temporarily…)

“Okay – shut her down, get the boat off the trailer and pointed in the right direction and it should be simple! Alas, no luck. For whatever reason, that recalcitrant little so and so would not start again, but it was teasingly close. It was exasperating but for an hour or so we tried, just for the privilege of getting splashed and running about in a 65 year old 16’ open fishing boat on a rough day, already soaked to the skin from standing in the lake trying to get it running.” (Interpretation – After two days trying to get the boat to run with the outboard, we gave up and used the oars instead!)

“After a great summer of putting at least 90 hours on our antique boats and getting time on some of the nicest lakes in North America, this was not the way it should end! But it was – our last gasp was non-powered – Karen rowing the boat over to our dock while I manhandled the ATV and trailer over the shore rails on the way to our boat garage. A tip here – you need a bit more ground clearance than is provided by a hitch on an ATV when hauling a boat trailer, even an empty one, over a beach.” (Interpretation – Karen rowed the boat back to shore while I struggled with the trailer)

“The boat was put away, the engine laid up and they both wait in silent repose for next spring. No romantic, sepia tinged photo’s of gorgeous boats plying pristine waters amongst the turning leaves against the low sun for us this year. Just some frustration and the memories of all the other adventures and enjoyment we had had on the water this summer – things we thought about while we sat inside by the fire later, tumbler of Scapa in hand. Only 5 months to Sunnyland!” (Interpretation – I removed the outboard and submitted our Last Gasp photo of my lovely wife Karen in our Peterborough Falcon row boat, on Shuswap Lake… then went back to the cabin and had a drink!)

Thanks to Karen & Paul for sharing their Last Gasp experience with us here at Woody Boater… It was fun.


16 replies
  1. Matt
    Matt says:

    It’s so apropriate that this is the way Paul and Karen end the summer.. A small last gasp with a motor that fails them.. I am still laughing….

  2. Alex
    Alex says:

    Holy crap! are those mines in the water next to Karen??? In that case, I believe I’ve found your perfect, next project boat.

    Sure, it’s needs a little work. But it looks unrestored and unmolested, just like you like ’em. It’s not far from Mayer, so he can get started on it right away. Hey, I’ll bet your diesel can even handle towing it too. (Although I’d watch that drive shaft if I were you.)

    Just think, you’ll be the first on your lake with one. And, you’re an easy win at next year’s ACBS International in the “WWII Surplus Preserved” class.

    • Rick
      Rick says:

      Never realized that standard equipment was a bar and a hot tub on the fore-deck. Man they knew how to go to war back then. Really though, what a huge project this would be, pretty sure it would not fit in my workshop. And how do you turn it over for bottom work?

  3. chad
    chad says:

    No engine required. Row boats, kayaks and canoes need love too.

    I bet Karen loved watching your workout.

  4. Al Benton
    Al Benton says:

    Thanks for the fun story and photos, Paul & Karen! For those of us who don’t understand Canadian, thanks for the interpretations, Texx.

    Great looiking cedar strip row boat. Too bad the little engine wouldn’t start but the oars look great. Fun, fun!!!

    • Paul H
      Paul H says:

      I got those oars off E-bay. Original early ’40s Peterborough spoon tips, never re-finished, with the leather still on where the oar locks fit. I WILL get that thing running next spring though.

  5. brian
    brian says:

    Maybe in Canada the old children’s story was “The Little Engine That Couldn’t.”

    Perhaps Paul could read an excerpt: “And the little engine chanted, “I know I can’t – I know I can’t – I know I can’t” and Paul the Engineer replied, ” Oh you can do it you little f&^% bucket of bolts!”

    I would like to meet the person that designed that trailer.

    • Paul H
      Paul H says:

      The trailer was commercially produced, and they are rare but there are a few around. Absolutely as a coincidence I received an e-mail last night, before this story went up, from the guy that owns the the 1946 Gar Wood Ensign that was on that specific trailer when it was new. He would like to buy it back to complete the package. I don’t blame him, but not sure if I want to sell it. The trailer actually works okay, but there are some impracticalities.

  6. Dick
    Dick says:

    Paul–have you thought of checking this boat on the airlines when you fly to Sunnyland in March? Got to have something to run around with on Lake Dora and there are plenty of guys there that can get the engine going for you.

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