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Baby Bootlegger Limited 35"
Ready for Immediate Display - Not a Model Ship kit
Exquisitely crafted with precision detailing, this model speedboat of the sleek wooden-hulled Baby Bootlegger racing boat will take you back to the luxurious pleasures of powerboat racing across the lake. Feel as if you’re speeding across the water with the wind in your hair with this powerboat model of the classic mahogany hulled Baby Bootlegger speedboat.
35" Long x 9" Wide x 8" High (1:13 scale)
- Accurate scale replica model powerboat of the Baby Bootlegger
- Individual hull planks used for plank-on-frame construction
- Dual cockpits finely crafted and trimmed with leather-lined seats
- Heartwood Honduran mahogany used for hull construction just like real Baby Bootlegger powerboat
- Rare high-quality woods such as birch, maple and yellow siris also used for construction
- Amazing Details, including:
- Leather lined seats
- Engine compartment doors open
- Real brass and stainless steel fittings (not plastic parts)
- Authentic gauges and dials on dash (not decals or stickers)
- Individual decking planks visible
- Highly polished finish with multi-layered micro-sanded varnish
- Stearing wheel, deck fixtures and other details
- Sturdy wooden base included with speedboat model
- Meticulously painted to match the real Baby Bootlegger powerboat
- Limited production run of these Baby Bootlegger powerboat models
- Extensive research of drawings, original plans, photographs and the actual ship ensures the accuracy of this Baby Bootlegger speedboat model
Baby Bootlegger is perhaps the most beautiful wooden boat ever built. She was designed by George Crouch and built by the Henry B. Nevins yard in City Island, NY for Wall Street bachelor, Caleb Bragg. Caleb Bragg was year ultimate sportsman, have the 70th licensed pile in America, He pioneered speed records in the air and one land before turning to the toilets. After coming in second place overall, Baby Bootlegger won the 1924 Gold Cup race one has technicality, however, took home all the wins At the 1925 races one Long Island. Her Hispano Suiza aircraft engine was state of the art. She is the epitome of all speedboats
Mark Mason had bought, restored and sold many of the old racing boats of the twenties, but the one that he had always wanted to own was Baby Bootlegger, which had won the '24 and '25 Gold Cup race. Today, the Gold Cup race is an unlimited class with Miss Budweiser and other powerful boats. The race began as a free-for-all in the early part of the century, but the boats developed into grotesquely overpowered creatures with three and four V-12 Liberty engines. The race was changed in the twenties into a class with a requirement for four seats, one engine and a limit on engine size. It was to be a 'gentleman's run-about', and Baby Bootlegger was the pinnacle boat of this group.
Baby Bootlegger was designed by George Crouch-a man whose bespeckled American Gothic countenance more resembled that of a dry-goods clerk than the pre-eminent speedboat designer of his day-for a wealthy Wall Street bachelor named Caleb Bragg who, among other things, put money into Broadway musicals. (His secretary, Ethel Zimmerman, had the job of typing resumés for Bragg's many ladyfriends who wanted to try out for parts-until she begged Bragg to let her try out for a part, became an overnight success and dropped the 'Zim' from her last name.)
Baby Bootlegger had three technological innovations. First, the classic boat design has a 'hard sheer', which means that there's a sharp angle between the deck and the sides of the hull where they meet. Baby Bootlegger was the first boat to have a 'rolled sheer', with the deck smoothly rolling over to meet the hull.
Second, until Baby Bootlegger, the ass-end of the boat was either a straight or wide-vee transome. At the waterline, Baby Bootlegger has a standard transome, but immediately above the water there is a long overhang. This is essentially a large fairing that takes the hull shape back to a sharp point. This combined with the rolled sheer makes the boat look exactly like an upside-down canoe. There are good aerodynamic reasons for this design, but it was seen by many as a matter of styling, and soon after a number of cars were built with varnished mahogany and tulipwood aft-decks: the Stutz Blackhawk, various Hispano-Suizas and Isotta-Fraschinis, Duesenbergs and the Auburn Boattail Speedster-all emulating Baby Bootlegger.
And third, the rudder was a 4° wedge, like the X-15's controls, instead of the usual airfoil shape, which would wallow in a neutral band of marginal control before it took effect. Not only was this the first application of a wedge rudder on a boat, but it wasn't until 20 years later that it was tried again.
As with an airplane, weight was critical, and a racing boat was considered a success if it won the race and yet sank on the way back to the dock. Inside there's a predictable airplane-like structure of bulkheads and stringers, an engine, a bench seat, and nothing more.
The engine is a water-cooled Hispano-Suizo V-8 marine engine, which except for the water-jackets is essentially the same engine that powered Eddie Richenbacher's Spad. The aircraft engine produced 220 hp at 2000 rpm, but Baby Bootlegger's engine has the compression ratio boosted from 5.1 to 7.5 and probably produces 300 hp at 3000 rpm. Unlike V-8's of today, the Hisso has an even firing order, and Mark Mason fires the engine up. It's horribly loud, and the little boathouse begins to fill with a white vapor of exhaust while Steve and I pace about pretending to look at the boat from a new angle when we're each actually maneuvering for fresh air and an escape route when the others start to drop from asphixiation.
Although the boat officially seats four, it's really designed to be perfectly balanced with two, so Mark takes us out one at a time for a ride in the boat. The engine is just in front of your feet-and in full view-and it seethes, stumbles and sputters as Mark piddles with the fuel pump switch until he gets it up and running with a throaty roar as we rumble across the lake at about 50 mph. Fully race-tuned, Baby Bootlegger will do 70 mph flat-out and won the races in the twenties at 50-something around pylons.
The trees on the shore slide by as you peer over the long stretch of varnished mahogany, your eyes tear up from the blast of air, the waves sparkle in the sun and blur in your peripheral vision, and then mad Mark Mason-or is he Toad?-clad in 1920's race goggles slams Baby Bootlegger into a tight turn. An ordinary boat would skitter across the water, but not Baby Bootlegger which carves around a turn as eagerly as a starving bobcat after a rabbit. Most of the old race boats were terribly unstable, and Mark was astonished to find that, in addition to being a stunningly beautiful boat, Baby Bootlegger has the best handling he's seen in any boat..
Mark had already owned all of the other great boats of the twenties, and Baby Bootlegger was the boat he couldn't get out of his mind. It was the Stewball of speedboats, and after it won the Gold Cup races, it passed through a number of owners who continued to race her. The last mention Mark could find of the boat was in the forties, but he found a few leads and became obsessed with pursuing the legendary boat. By running up an enormous telephone bill, he was able to locate the family of the last owner in Montreal, but the man had run off with his secretary and his children didn't even know where he lived. Mark would not be deterred and finally, through the man's stockbroker, located the last owner in Florida.
He had kept the boat in a warehouse for years after he had stopped racing her, and then when he sold the warehouse, he tried to sell her but no one was interested, so he called in a scrap metal dealer to take her away and burn her. "You're too late," the man said. "She burned."
But Mark is persistent to a fault, and called back to ask, "Did you see it burn?" and "Did the scrappie actually tell you he burned it?" Well, no, he couldn't say that he knew it for a fact, and then Mark kept at it until he was able to locate the scrappie.
Baby Bootlegger had not been burned. Instead the scrappie and a friend had studied the boat and were struck by its appearance. The friend offered, "I don't know anything about boats, and I particularly don't know anything about wooden boats, but you should not burn this boat." So they put the boat in a corner of the warehouse, covered it with canvas and left it there for 25 years. When Mark Mason finally arrived to pick it up, the old scrappie said with a twinkle in his eye, "I knew that one day you would come for this boat, but I didn't think you would take so long."
That was ten years ago, and Mark walked away from his three-generation family business of estate planning (read: life insurance), restored Baby Bootlegger and has since operated New England Boat and Motor Company as one of a handful of this country's best restorers of old wooden boats. He's yet to laugh his way to the bank, but he loves what he is doing and keeps the doors open with a constant demand for his services. There's one financial problem that he doesn't even like to think about, but it has to do with Baby Bootlegger. He paid $2500 for the basket-case boat and then put around $100,000 into restoring the boat ten years ago. Today with greater interest in old racing boats, he's watching clients spend $600,000 and more to restore lesser boats in his shop, and it's obvious to everyone that Baby Bootlegger, the Bugatti Royale of raceboats, is more valuable.
Such are the problems that come with owning jewelry so fabulous that you can't afford the insurance to wear it for a single evening-but to hell with such thoughts, and we trundle into the old Hacker Craft, pop a few brews and regally hum across the lake. It's a great day to be alive, and a good time to remind yourself that sometimes it's best to judge people by their madnesses and obsessions than for all the sensible, mundane things they have done.