MOTORING BOATING WITHOUT TEARS.
THOSE who, in these enlightened times, step into their nice new boats, start the engine at the first turn of the handle and cruise off to a prearranged destination, confident in the ability of their craft to return them, to the point of embarkation at a settled hour, may have forgotten the joys of motor boating in the bad old days. Imagine the joy of a youth in his middle teens, when he was lent a complete motor boat, with leave from the owner to go as far as he liked in it. “It may need a bit doing to it,” was the only indication of the owner’s confidence in the safety of the craft, as he was fairly certain that its voyage would not extend farther than it would drift !
First impressions were not unfavourable : 15ft. over all, “was once white” (so we were told), and decked forward. But her chief glory lay in the engine, a flat twin two-stroke of unknown, but believed foreign manufacture, which the owner later admitted had come into his possession by a: process of barter.
When once afloat the” Popoff “took in no more water than was enough to half fill her. Once bailed the next item was to get it started. This occupied three days, a pint of methylated spirit (for priming) nearly a dozen p’ugs, and a fund of blasphemy of which we had not hitherto believed ourselves capable. It should be remarked here that the plugs which were found most suitable were a Splitdorf in the port cylinder and an ex W.D. Lodge Areo to starboard.
Life was finally aroused in the engine by the process of swinging the engine backwards on full advance.
By the end of a week a voyage of half a mile was undertaken light heattedly and for at least three days the motor boat gave no more trouble than a daily bailing and perhaps a quarter of an hour’s swinging the flywheel.
One day for no apparent reason the Popoff popped— hence the name. Further investigations revealed that the starboard cylinder was full of water. It dawned on us that this was inhaled through the underwater exhaust by the unconventional method of starting. This trouble was cured by disconnecting the exhaust pipe so that it opened under the starboard thwart which caught fire in consequence. Furthermore such an exhaust system spared the expense of a Klaxon.
For the next fortnight voyages of ten miles or more were undertaken daily much to the anxiety of the owner. During this period we had been surprised to notice a few small fragments of a resinous substance appear as if by magic in the neighbourhood of the engine. Finally ten miles from home one of the crew received a smart blow on the ankle from a body which appeared to emerge from the flywheel magneto. It was one half of its total insulation.
The Popoff had popped its last.
Book reviews, July 1987, July 1987
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