Express [1903]

The Speed Launch Express [1903]

by E. W. Graef

Again I put before you a wonder, but this time in the shape of a small speed launch. The following portrayal is in good, solid cold facts and can be relied on in every particular, as her launching and subsequent trials were all made with yours truly, either at the engine or wheel, and her designer and owner, Mr. C. D. Mower, in command.

Dimensions of the Express
Length over all 26 feet 10 inches
Length water line 24 feet
Overhang forward 1 foot 10 inches
Overhang aft 1 foot
Beam extreme 4 feet
Beam at water line 3 feet 9 inches
Draught to rabbet 11 inches
Draught extreme 1 foot 8 inches
Freeboard bow 2 feet 3 inches
Freeboard stern 1 foot 3 inches
H.P. engine bought for 8 H.P.
H.P. engine actual develops 12.37 H.P.


This little boat is only 26 feet 10 inches over all and 24 feet water line, with a beam of 4 feet, and engined with an 8-horse-power Buffalo outfit, reverse gear and all. The Milton Point Shipyard built the boat from Mr. Mower's designs, and the work on her is very well done.

The remarkable points about her are the speed, the design, the easy control, the slight vibration, and, last but not least, the combination of all these in one. it is hard for one who is familiar with the usual launch condition to imagine that such a combination could be gotten together to the degree reached in this boat, and one minute in her while running convinces the most skeptical that she embodies all these unusual and much-sought-for features, they being so decided that they force themselves upon you without anyone calling your attention to them.

The speed is decidedly unusual for such a small power and hull, and is somewhat over twelve miles per hour. The sensation that comes over the passenger while going at that speed in a small boat is very enjoyable and somewhat exciting, and the impression it makes on most everyone when they see her slip by is that the speed is much greater than twelve miles. I use the words "slip by," because it really looks so, for she goes so easily and smoothly through the water, with but very little disturbance, leaving the water with an ironed-out appearance and no wave in her wake; the only wake is that caused by her entrance, and this wave leaves her at an angle of about 30 degrees. her bow does not lift, nor does her stern squat or settle at any speed, and in this fact lies the virtue of her design, and her designer can be justly proud for having succeeded so well in overcoming those enemies of speed -- that is, wave, lifting and squatting.

When one considers that the boat can hardly be called a racing freak, in that the hull is well and strongly built, the engine is complete with reversing gear and all, just a stock engine, and not stripped to get reduced weight, and that the boat has a full equipment, such as is found in all ordinary launches, it makes her more remarkable, and by carefully scrutinizing the pictures here shown a fairly good idea can be had of her performances, but must say they lack the life and excitement which the real thing gives when seen in motion. During the trial races of the Cup defenders off Glen Cove, in May, she created quite a sensation in going along with the fleet, and being well-able to keep up with them.

A glance at the pictures [not available at this time -- LF] show Express at full speed. The photographs were taken on a rainy day and do no justice to her, as they lack the life, but nevertheless show the flat wake so essential to speed, even though it was a choppy day. Some general idea can be had of the impression the little flyer makes on people who see her going, and are afterwards asked to guess at her speed, as even the old sea dogs will guess above 16 miles an hour, some even willing to bet more than that, and when they are told she makes about 12½ miles an hour they discredit the statement at once, and think you are telling them that for the purpose of keeping a few miles "up your sleeve," as the saying is. She is only to be seen to be appreciated.

The rating measurement of Express under the rule of the American Power Boat Association
Area of pistons 9.28 square inches 9.28 * .4166 * 4 * 800
= 12.37 h.p.
Stroke, 5 inches .4166 feet      
Number of cylinders 4      
Number of revolutions 800      
Length water line 25 feet √25 = 5 5 * 12.37
Area midship section 1.86 square feet 3√33.25 3.21
3.21 * 15 = 48.1 rating measurement


[Transcribed from The Rudder, June, 1903, pp. 389-390 ]

{Although the Express seems slow to us now, at the time of the article, with the liberal help of the APBA rating measurement, she was often a contender in sanctioned races of 1903 and 1904 - GWC}

[Thanks to Greg Calkins for help in preparing this page]