THI-4′, SPORT AFLOAT
M°TORINO on the road has been getting steadily cheaper during the last few years with the result that the number of cars registered each year is increasing at a rate alarming to the road authorities and argumentitively interesting to the experts who predict a saturation point not far distant. While, perhaps not agreeing with the experts, it is apparent that motoring is losing half its charm now that the roads are so crowded. The car in front may have won a Concours d’Elegance but to see the back of it for twenty miles out of London on route for the coast is as little clever as it is amusing considering there is a highway out of town that is always free from traffic congestionin7short, the Thames. Roads are useless without cars and it must be admitted that until quite recent times there was no small car of the water. This light car of the water is a speed dinghy engined by an outboard motor and while having many of the attributes of the light car such as ease of control, and a good turn of speed, these dinghies have now established a name for themselves amongst yachtsmen, as being good, seaworthy boats. Speed and sea-worthiness in small craft were things seldom if ever combined by a boat builder of the old school. It only remains now for their general usefulness to become known to ‘land lubber’ public, and in this connection the trip accomplished by Miss Gladys Clements and Mr. Richard Cole, namely London —Brussels—London, is invaluable, and their outfit, a Watennota-engined Wood dinghy, here described may be taken as a typical example of’ sea-car.’
The Hull and Fittings.
The hullr.selected by Miss Clements was one built by Wood’s, of Whitstable, and in this respect she was advised by Mr. Cole who it will be remembered, made a double Channel crossing in one of these boats just about a year ago. Wood’s boats have distinguished themselves on more than one occasion when there has been any rough weather about, notable examples being the Cross
Channel race and the last 100 miles race held at Tankerton. Yet in spite of being a good rough water boat, the Wood was sufficiently fast to lift the Yachting World Trophy at Poole last year, when the water was comparatively smooth.
Miss Water-mota is 13 feet long with a 4ft. 6in, beam and weighs unladen about 170 lbs., which weight enables it to be quite easily man-handled, in and out of the water. The boat is decked for a third of the length, and as there is no superstructure under this deck one’s knees are kept in the dry, and dry stowage is provided for suitcases and any other vulnerable equipment. The craft is controlled from the front seat in the manner of a car except that the controls are limited to two, steering wheel and throttle, and these are placed on the port side. The starboard side of the seat provided room for the ” mechanic ” whose job it was to see that the engine was running correctly and to pump up fuel from the auxiliary tanks. Other incidental jobs included acting as part-time navigator, second pilot, complete crew, longshoreman, engineer and boat repairer when an obstruction was hit at Ostend. On the floor-boards between the pilot and mechanic was fixed an ex-aeroplane compass. In this position it was well protected and could at the same be quite easily read as it was of the direct reading type. Ex-aeroplane compasses, which can be purchased very cheaply from the various disposal firms are just the kind of instrument required for outboard work, because the cavity is fitted completely with spirit and the bubbling common with the more ordinary spirit compass is entirely eliminated.
The only other fitment on the dash besides the wheel and throttle was a hand air pump for putting a pressure into the auxiliary fuel tank. The watch—or should it be chronometer ?—was carried on the person, as it was found that if fixed on the dash it had soon to be reclassified as Class I ornaments. The space between the fore and aft thwarts was occupied with specially built racks to accommodate the
large supply of petrol and oil necessary, and any other such oddments such as spares, tools and oil measures. Right aft, one on each side, were strapped two empty five-gallon oil drums to serve as buoyancy tanks in the advent of the outfit becoming swamped, and with these tanks in position it was impossible for the boat to sink, no matter how full of water. The space between the buoyancy tanks was kept clear to enable easy access to the motor and to provide sufficient space for the motor to be lifted inboard, which was necessary on more than one occasion when a pin was sheared.
Should the motor have broken down rowing facilities were provided from the aft thwart, the rowlocks being placed above the buoyancy tanks. The oars were carried, well out of the way, down the starboard side of the boat and strapped to the aft thwart, but in this connection it was pointed out that they were not too easy of access and an additional paddle would have been appreciated.
The Power Unit.
From the description of the hull it may be the thought that the power unit must be something fairly big to push this boat with two people in, anything fast enough to justify the term speed dinghy, but such is not the case for the utility 4-11 h.p. Watermota engine is no larger than that of a medium sized motor-cycle. It only differed from standard in respect of its exhaust system which was unsilenced, for in Mr. Cole’s opinion when well out at sea, it is far better to have one big noise than a host of little taps and drones which can be imagined as anything from big-end to overheating. The Watermota engine is a 350 c.c. single cylinder twostroke, and develops its power at about 3,500 to 4,000 revs, per minute. This is, of course, high revving for a marine engine, but these engines have proved reliable in the majority of long distant events and being a twostroke there are few moving parts to wear or break. The magneto is an ordinary standard motor-cycle M.L., and is driven by bevel gears direct from the crankshaft which are situated just under the flywheel. The carburettor is an Amal needle jet type, and is readily acces
sible when the motor is in. position on the boat. A gear pump driven from the fore end of the propeller shaft attends to the water cooling and the stream of water is ejected in the normal manner through the silencer box. The propeller housing is a very fine piece of work and was designed on the lines of the airship R.100 by the Government National Physical Laboratory at Teddington. The common flywheel-rim cord starting was fitted, although an electric starting model is available, and Miss Clements says that never was more than..one pull necessary to start the motor. A point rather uncommon in the average outboard motor is that the motor two-strokes down to very low revs. The only criticism that Miss Clements had against the motor was the constant pull to starboard on the steering wheel which is due to the torque of the motor. The consumption figures on petrol and oil were reported as quite above the average, nearly 18 miles to the gallon being obtained on the former.
A Watermota steering system was also used and as described in a previous issue of MOTOR SPORT, the use of pulleys and taut wires are obviated.
The Additional Fuel System.
I think a paragraph on the fuel system is indicated as it was of a rather novel character. An ordinary twogallon petrol tin was fitted with a pipe lead from the bottom and a pressure tube connected to the air pump on the dash. A piece of metal bar was also soldered across the somewhat small cap to facilitate opening. The petrol pipe lead led direct up to the tank on the motor. Racks for petrol tins were arranged behind the fore thwart, and the special two-gallon tin which was fixed between pilot and mechanic on the seat was kept filled from the racks behind by the mechanic. The advantages of this system are that should the pump or pipe break the tank may readily be filled direct by hand, and also much less pumping at a time is required to raise a requisite pressure in the pressure tank. Of course it is obvious that this arrangement would not do on a motorwith a large capacity. —V . M.