1908 London Motorboat Show

London Motorboat Show and the Situation

by T. Delve Sanders, A. M. Inst. N. A.

This show was opened at Olympia on Friday, March 27th, and as it is the only show of note in this country, it brought together all the best manufacturers and the models exhibited were of most excellent construction throughout; in fact, the writer has never seen so fine and representative a show of boats before.

In recent years enormous strides have been made over here in the development of handsome hulls and first-class machinery, due to a large number of engineering firms taking up the industry from a marine standpoint. All of the engine makers, even from the high-speed type, are taking care that working parts are stiff enough to carry the heavy and continuous stresses entailed in a sea-going outfit.

Years ago the exploiters of American-built engines had it all their own way over here; the choice was not between English and American engines, but between the American engines, and it is safe to say that at that time the field was held by the States. Of the exhibitors there are only four with American machines.

American manufacturers who send engines to this country would do well to study its special requirements and to see that nothing but what is of the very best is boxed for Great Britain. Up to now the American two-stroke engine has been without a rival here, but it is at present threatened. Two-stroke engines are being built at Stockport. They are being taken up largely at Norwich, Day is building them at barking. other factories are turning attention to this type of engine, speaking of gasolene only, but when kerosene is mentioned the number of two-stroke engines is increased; they are being built in large numbers.

The Ailsa Craig Motor Co. displayed a number of interesting models of the latest practice, all of the four-stroke model and designed to run on both kerosene and gasolene. The sizes range from 3 to 150 h.p.; the highest speed being 1000 r.p.m., and the lowest 750. Large inspection covers are provided to both the crank-case and the heads of the water jackets. The water jackets extend well down the length of the cylinders. All the valves are on one side of the engine and are mechanical, the cam-shaft being carried within the crank-case; this drives the vertical commutator shaft by bevel gears.

An 18-foot yacht tender, fitted with twin-cylinder, 8-hp. motor, was shown and a large variety of bronze propellers, including a weedless propeller and an adjustable blade propeller, the pitch of which can be altered without removing the wheel from the shaft, also reversing wheels and clutches. An interesting item was a relief valve which enables the engine to exhaust positively under water without back pressure. An extremely useful fitting is a waterproof case and insulated terminal for spark-plugs, enabling high-tension ignition to be used without short-circuiting.

The writer has considerable experience both in American and English engine manufacture and to his mind it is a certainty that any large firm here who seriously takes up American models and English finish will scoop the trade right and left.

I. B. Brooke & Co., Lowescroft, one of the first firms to take up four-stroke gasolene engines, had a big stand, with some interesting boats and engines. The former comprise an auxiliary cruiser, 26 feet by 7 feet 4 inches, 2 feet 4 inches draft. Also a racing boat 25 feet by 5 feet, with a large whale-back deck and a small cockpit; the motor is a six-cylinder, developing 120-hp. at 1,000 r.p.m. This boat is for Mr. brooke, the firm's president and her performance will be watched with interest. All are fitted with Bosch high-tension magnetos, clutch and reverse gear.

Dixon Bros. & Hutchinson, Ltd., Southampton, exhibited the fast launch Lotus, with 28-hp. engines. This boat is 30 feet long, of double skin construction; the power is the firm's 28-hp., four-cylinder gasolene motor. Among engines were shown the four-cylinder, four-stroke motor, fitted with Bosch low-tension ignition plugs, in which the make-and-break is at the plug points, a very ingenious and efficient system.

The Maudslay Company showed motors of considerable merit. Great attention is paid to bearings, pistons, etc., which in finish and adjustment forcibly remind one of first-class steam practice. An excellent system of lubrication is adopted and the general design admits of considerable flexibility in point of speed. The firm showed a four-cylinder engine, 5-inch bore and stroke, designed for their demonstration 25-foot launch Maudslay II, of which a model was exhibited. A three-cylinder, 5x3½-inches diameter, completed this exhibition. These engines are all four-stroke type, with mechanical valves and mechanical lubrication.

Thornycroft, of Chiswick, had one of the standard 25-foot carvel mahogany launches, with seating capacity for twelve persons and a speed of 9 miles per hour with a double-cylinder 6½ hp. engine. Also a model of one of the 28-foot launches supplied to the King of Spain for the Giralda yacht, fitted with twin-screw, four-cylinder outfits totaling 60-hp. Thornycroft engines run on practically any kind of fuel -- gasolene, alcohol or kerosene -- and this is effected by means of a change-over valve; when running on gasolene the carburetor is in direct connection with the inlet pipe. When using kerosene the operation of the valve causes the exhaust to pass through a jacket surrounding the vaporizer and so to heat the charge. The engines have cylinders and water-jackets cast together and in the larger types, in pairs. Water-jackets extend about halfway down from the firing ends and circulation is by centrifugal pump. All the valves are mechanically operated. Connecting rods are of forged steel double I section, with gudgeon and big ends phosphor bronze bushed, the latter being adjustable. The cylinders are bolted directly to bedplates and there are inspection plates of ample size. There are large steel rollers between the cams and the ends of the tappet rods. Ignition is low-tension. They showed a 6½-hp. engine directly coupled to a dynamo. It was shown with the kerosene change-over valve and its capacity is 3½ kilowatts at a voltage of 220. A 13-hp. marine type, direct coupled to a Worthington 8-inch low lift centrifugal pump, with a capacity of 850 gallons against 30 feet, was also shown. This engine is double-cylinder, same dimension as the above. A 53-hp., four-cylinder, 6x8-inch, normal r.p.m. 750, was also exhibited, reversing gear with head drive through cone friction clutch. There are three crank-shaft bearings, and lubrication is by splash. The weight of this engine and equipment is 25 cwts. Power with kerosene 47-hp., against 53-hp. by gasolene. a 105-hp., 8x8-inch, four-cylinder engine, using fuel up to 105 degrees flash point, mechanical lubrication, completed the exhibit. Its power on kerosene is 85-hp.

The Wolseley Co., showed three splendidly built launches, the first of which was a high-speed 35-foot craft with high bow showing immense flare above very fine water lines which fill out aft to a low flat stern of great width. The power is six-cylinder engine, 4 5/8x5-inches, developing 55-hp. at 1,000 r.p.m.; the boat has attained the very satisfactory speed of 19 miles an hour. a new type of epicycle gear is fitted. The second boat was a 28-footer fitted with a four-cylinder, 18-hp. motor. The company also showed a standardized 25-foot launch equipped with a 12-hp. motor, speed 9 miles an hour. Twenty of these boats are now under construction. They are carvel planked of Oregon pine with teak fittings. The engines will run on kerosene or gasolene.

An exceedingly interesting exhibit was that of the Lodge Company, ignition experts, who showed the marvelous high-frequency spark system. The whole of these fittings are of great excellence, but the company's specialty is the spark coil, which contains special condensers or Leyden jars, which, instead of giving a steady electrical flow when contact is made, produce an oscillatory and instantaneous discharge of enormous capacity, breaking down any obstructions and producing a beautiful spark under water.

The American engines are in the minority, although the models displayed were, and most necessarily so, among the best productions of the States. The largest show od American engines was displayed by the Fairbanks Co., who had a 30-foot launch fitted with a 20-hp. motor which, under the able hands of R. H. Fairbanks, won the Nottingham gold medal last season. In engines the company exhibited a number, single, double and triple-cylinders from 5 to 20-hp. There was also shown two Bates & Edmonds agricultural gasolene engines adapted to marine purposes by the addition of propellers.

The exhibit included a line of Ferro engines in single and multiple-cylinders form from 3 to 15-hp.; also a 7-hp., with low-tension ignition. The banner engine was a four-cylinder, 20-hp., Ralaco, which has now for the first time made its bow to the British public. This is a fine looking engine and should command trade among buyers with long purses.

The whole show was very complete in hulls, engines and accessories, nearly every type of boat and engine being represented.

(Excerpts transcribed from MotorBoat, April 25, 1908, pp. 15-19. )

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