Miss Canada IV Restoration Update & Vintage Rolls Royce Griffon Engine Now Secured

In late June (2011) Woody Boater reported on “Miss Canada IV” the historic record setting Greavette multi-step hydroplane from the late 1940’s which was to be restored for the upcomimg Televison Docudrama “Harold & Lorna”. (You can see that story by clicking here)

Then in late July we ran a follow-up story which highlighted the transportation of “Miss Canada IV” from the museum in Ingersall, Ontario to Gravenhrust, Ontario and the celebrations that were planned as she returned home to where she was originally designed & built back in the late 1940’s. (You can see that story by clicking here)

This fall we received an update from fellow Woody Boater / Harold & Lorna Executive Producer Jamie Smith and the team at the Harold & Lorna site on the restoration work which is now well under way at Tom Adam’s Boat Restoration Shop in Port Carling / Gravenhurst, Ontario. Here’s some highlights and commentary from Tom Adams…

Free at last! “Miss Canada IV” is lifted clear of the cradle to which she had been secured for the last 20 years at the museum. She was then moved in to Tom Adams Boat Restoration Shop to begin the restoration work.

Tom Adams commented… We have been busy at the shop, since flipping Miss Canada IV up-side down. Plywood staging was scribe-fit to internally braced points along the decks, to support the shape of the hull during reconstruction.

After a thorough inspection of the state of the hull, we began dismantling the planking in the aft section. Our plan is to rebuild the structural components, stern to stem in three stages. The existing shape of the running surface of the bottom was checked against the original drawings to discover if any failures or contortions happened through storage or re-work since the day it left the Greavette Shop.

After removing the planking and inner plywood skin, we found plenty of rotten battens and frames. During a former repair, several aft frames had been fabricated and installed in such a way that the shape of the keel was compromised, resulting in a “sag” running down the center of the bottom.

The transom was also suffering from rot and needed replacing. We fitted an extra support directly under the transom and carefully removed deck fasteners to save our valuable pattern. The new transom is made up of a solid core of T.A. mahogany, sandwiched between marine-grade plywood sheets.

The blank for the new keel was temporarily installed in a straight line between two points from transom to mid step. This gave us reference points to fabricate replacement frames.

While we have the bottom opened up, we are cleaning, filling, sanding and sealing the deck carlings and battens. I estimate we will be able to save 95% of the existing deck sub-structure.

One of our next challenges is the removal of the structural aluminum plates running along the hull sides. The existing hex bolts are steel and are not salvageable. As well, they have a tapered inside head that fit into countersunk holes in the 1/2″ plate. If we can’t source these out, we may be looking at having them machined.

More later – Tom Adams

Thanks Tom – We will look forward to your future updates on the “Miss Canada IV” restoration project.

Harold and Lorna Wilson (who originally raced / drove “Miss Canada IV” in the late 1940’s) were the first racing team to use a Rolls Royce Griffon engine in a boat, paving the way for the “Supertest” and “Budweiser” teams.  An aero engine used in late model Spitfires, the Griffon needed to be extensively modified before it would work in a race boat. The Restoration Team is currently engaged in a search to find a “Marine Griffon” equipped with a step-up transmission. Below, Lorna works on “Miss Canada III” in preparation for a race.

Miss Canada III Image Courtesy - Harold & Lorna Facebook Page

Woody Boater received the following press release from Jamie Smith yesterday…

For Immediate Release
Novemember 23, 2011
Miss Canada Restoration Team sources Rolls Royce Griffon engine for “Miss Canada IV”.

The “Miss Canada IV” Restoration Team announced to-day they have hired Flight Engineering from Cumbria, UK to supply and install a Rolls Royce Griffon engine in Miss Canada IV next summer.

The Restoration Team also announced that they have entered into an agreement with the Hydroplane & Raceboat Museum from Kent WA. to work with Flight Engineering during the engine rebuild, transmission construction and assembly of the related engine and transmission running systems. The Museum team will also support Flight Engineering and boat builder Tom Adams, who is doing the restoration of Miss Canada IV, during the installation process.

Jamie Smith said during the announcement “This is a remarkable day for the team. We now have all the components necessary to restore Miss Canada IV to her original 1950 running specifications, and have also secured the best expertise available in Peter Grieves from Flight Engineering and David Williams and his team from the Hydroplane & Raceboat Museum to complete the restoration”

Following the announcement Peter Grieve, Chief Engineer said, “Flight Engineering is proud to be able to supply the Griffon engine, gearbox and the running systems for Miss Canada IV from here in the UK. In 1949 -1950 the original engine was on loan and was returned to Rolls Royce; now Miss Canada IV will have a permanent replacement. It will be amazing to see her in action once again.”

David Williams, Executive Director also added, “The Hydroplane and Raceboat Museum is thrilled to be part of the “Miss Canada IV” team. This was an amazing, one of a kind boat, and to be asked to help bring her back to life is truly an honor”.

The UK and USA groups will meet in Muskoka in early December to set the installation agenda, visit with Tom Adams to measure Miss Canada IV and set the “test run” schedule.

The search for a Rolls Royce Griffon engine started in March of 2011. A number of suppliers were located on the west coat of the USA, where rebuilt racing & warbird aircraft and vintage hydroplane groups source their engines. Friends of the Restoration Team ultimately opened doors to the Hydroplane & Raceboat Museum in early 2011 and to Fight Engineering in mid September.

Engine Rolls Royce Griffon 58, “V” Type 12 Cylinders
Cylinder Displacement 2,339 Cubic Inches
Exhaust System 2 x 6-Inch Diameter Exhaust Pipes
Horsepower 3000
Fuel 150 Octane with special water-methanol
injection at top speed
Top Speed + 200 MPH
Weight of Engine 2,050 LBS

Additional Information;

Miss Canada IV Restoration Team: Jamie Smith: 705 645 1991; email jds470@sympatico.ca

Flight Engineering: Peter Grieve 01228 541895, email flight@live.co.uk ;

The Hydroplane & Raceboat Museum: Dave Williams 206 764 9453 ext 2, email ddw@aol.com,

Tom Adams Boatbuilder: Tom Adams 705 765 2066, email tomadamsboatbuilder@gmail.com


12 replies
  1. MikeM
    MikeM says:

    That last picture is awesome. It’s hard to imagine what must be going on under water (and in the engine room) to throw a rooster tail that long. This is a great story, too. Will Texx get a ride in her when she’s done? With his racing experience I think he should be on the test team!

    • Texx
      Texx says:

      An almost 200 MPH record breaking pass in 1949/50 must have been a sight to see back in the day.

      The hydroplane guys at Lake Chelan said when things go wrong at those speeds, stuff happens in a big hurray.

  2. Alex
    Alex says:

    Texx, another remarkable story. Thank you.

    Remarkable boat. Remarkable restoration. Remarkable cost (no doubt). And another remarkable motor. I see it comfortably exceeded the 1 hp per ci measure, way back then. Of course, beaucoup d’octane surely helps.

    Please keep us posted, especially when there’s word when she will be run again — but before this happens. That would be worth traveling to see (and hear)!

    Happy U.S. Thanksgiving to all WoodyBoaters.

  3. Douglas Van Patten III
    Douglas Van Patten III says:

    I am sure my late father, Douglas Van Patten (designer of Miss Canada IV), is looking down on the restoration with a critical eye, hoping the restorers get the longitudinal center of gravity (LCG) in the right location, as it is particularly sensitive in a stepped boat of this configuration. That said, this is an awesome undertaking.l

    • Frank Miklos
      Frank Miklos says:

      Doug Van Patten would be very proud… I knew your dad… I was a teenager when I met him at a Century Boat Club event in 1983. He came to several club events over the early years of the CBC … He also over saw the restoration of “Liberty The Second” from our lake…. Great guy… Great designer…

  4. john dixon
    john dixon says:

    This is a most remarkable undertaking! Your efforts are surely appreciated by many. I have the pleasure of visiting the Gravenhurst boat show every year for several years now and certainly look forward to the completion of this project. I congradulate all responsible for the hard work and investment in the restoration of Miss Canada iv and the RR Griffen engine. You all must feel very proud to be a part of such a wonderful project.

  5. george wretham
    george wretham says:

    Tom is a MASTER builder and restorer.  He’s al;so fortunate to have associates  like Mark Wretham one of the finest, classic/antique Mechanics in the business!!

  6. george wretham
    george wretham says:

    Tom Adams is one of the Premiere restorers in the business.  His associate Mark Wretham (Mechanic) is an expert on classic/antique engines and drives-meticulous!

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