1909 Detroit Motorboat Show

Detroit, Mich., was the place of the most recent motorboat show, which was held in that city during the week of March 1-8. Detroit is the city where "life is worth living," if you read the signs that are posted here and there. It is a sort of rallying cry, like the "I will" of Chicago. To motorboat enthusiasts this phrase meant much during the show, for it certainly was a successful exhibition of motorboats, of engines and of accessories.

The scene of the show was the Light Guard Armory, a building well adapted to the purpose, which was decorated in a most tasteful manner for the occasion, from the top of which flashed a red beacon. Over the entrance was the bandstand, arranged like a dock. Everywhere about the building were flags, the National emblem predominating, with plenty of yacht club and signal code flags interspersed. Rows of Corinthian posts were arranged lengthwise of the structure, and between these swung dark green signs bearing, in gold, the names of the various exhibitors.

The show was held under the auspices of the Detroit Motor Boat Club, but its entire management rested with A. B. Moulder. Mr. Moulder, by the way, is the pioneer motorboat showman of Detroit. He undertook a show last year and carried it to success against obstacles such as the pioneer always encounters. The outcome of last year's show was such as to encourage Mr. Moulder to greater efforts, and this year's exhibition more than fulfilled the expectations of all concerned. During the show music was furnished by Al Green's orchestra, and in the evening Miss Jessie Moran, a soloist of more than average ability, pleased the visitors with a number of appropriate selections.

Detroit is a logical place for a show. If you know anything about the motorboat trade, you will know that it is the center of a large manufacturing industry. Further than that, it is the central point of a great boating district, a district where motorboats outnumber, one hundred to one, all other craft.

The attendance was excellent throughout, and on the opening night the figures showed that 50 per cent more people attended than on the first last year. All told, there were more than fifty exhibitors. of course, in many cases several firms exhibited in one space. The exhibitors report good business, and many sales were made during the first two days.


The first display to greet the eye of a visitor as he entered was that of the Scripps Motor Company, of Detroit, and the first thing in this exhibit to attract attention was the splendid 40-foot racer, Scripps II. Her beam is 4 feet 2 inches, and she is planked with 1/4-inch white pine, over rock elm ribs ½x?-inch, spaced 8 inches on centers. Needless to say, she is copper-fastened throughout, and the builder reports that 25,000 copper rivets were used in her construction. The interior wood work is of solid mahogany. The boat was built by the Pouliot Boat Company. The long, narrow hull is painted a glossy black down to the water line, which is indicated by a gold stripe 1½ inches wide. Below that the hull is pot leaded. The hull weighs only 625 pounds, but the construction is so stiff that, while she can be lifted by two men, one at each end, the hull remains rigid, even under this rather severe strain. She has five water-tight bulkheads. The motor is a six-cylinder, 100-hp. Scripps, which weighs 1,050 pounds without the gear, which will increase its weight slightly. The engine is installed a trifle forward of amidships, with the engineer's seat just aft of the motor. The steerman's cockpit is next aft, and after that, divided by a cross deck about 2½ feet long, is a cockpit with a seat arranged for guests. it is expected that the Scripps II will make a speed of more than 32 miles an hour. The forward deck is painted a light blue, the after deck is built of two thicknesses diagonal construction, covered with canvas. needless to say, this fine boat brought forth many ohs and ahs from the visitors.


The exhibit of the Buffalo gasolene Motor Company was in charge of the Detroit sales manager of the company, Henry H. Smith, 252 Jefferson Avenue. The exhibit is very much the same as that at the New York Show, with the exception that the 75-hp., six-cylinder, high-speed racing motor was not shown. Nine motors were displayed, three of the heavy-duty type and six of the medium-speed models.

The Strelinger Marine Engine Company was one of the largest exhibitors. In this space was shown a single-cylinder, 4-6-hp. Strelinger motor; a two-cylinder, 18-27-hp.; a four-cylinder, 30-40-hp., all equipped with the Strelinger gear.

The Regal Gasolene Engine Company, of Coldwater, Mich., had a large and attractive display of Regal motors. In the high-speed type Regals, four engines were shown, single-cylinder, 4-hp., 4½ inches bore by 4½ inches stroke, weight 340 pounds; two-cylinder, 6-hp., bore 4 inches, stroke 4½ inches, weight 300 pounds; two-cylinder, 8-hp., bore 4½ inches, stroke 4½ inches, weight 625 pounds; and four-cylinder, 16-hp. of the same bore and stroke as the preceding engine, weight 825 pounds. The normal r.p.m. of these motors is 600, and all are equipped with jump-spark ignition.

One of the littlest engines of the show was exhibited by the makers, Wilcox & Carlson, of Detroit, in the shape of the two-cylinder, two-cycle, 2-hp. machine, which was exhibited in connection with Van Blerck motors, which are built by the Van Blerck Motor Company, of Detroit. The latter company exhibited one engine, a six-cylinder, 40-50-hp. bore 5 inches, stroke 5½ inches. This motor was equipped with a Remy magneto, Lavigne oiler and Schebler carburetor. Scheblers, by the way, were very prominent.

The Scripps Company exhibited seven motor besides the one installed in Scripps II. The display included six-cylinder, 30-35-hp., six-cylinder, 50-60-hp. Finished in handsome aluminum paint that is a feature of all Scripps motors, they bore out in appearance the excellent construction for which these engines are noted.

(Excerpts transcribed from MotorBoat, Mar. 10, 1909, pp. 19-25. )

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