Monday, January 18, 2010

DoryMan goes over to the Dark Side

From all the time I spend here ranting about the evils of the internal combustion engine, you might think I detest motor boats. But that is not exactly true. The petrol engine is a blight, make no mistake. As are land based vehicles based on the infernal engine.

Which is a shame when one encounters a beautiful hull design driven by, of all things, a gas engine!

This is a "take off" of the famous BarTender from the 1950's, made by a Portland, Oregon company; Clipper Craft and was called a BarClipper. You might say that is an obvious rip-off and you would be right. The production of the BarClipper was cut short by George Calkins because it was just too close to his popular design.

It is a dory and for those who don't share my prejudice, it's a coveted surf boat design popular with ocean sport fishermen. I heard about this boat from Eric.
I have had the pleasure of corresponding for the last few months with Eric, who is building a ClipperCraft of a different design, more typical of the company. He contacted me because I worked for ClipperCraft about twenty years ago.
Though the dory is well suited for motor propulsion, a prejudice is still a prejudice. If a boat requires 50 gallons (or more) of fuel for a day's halibut fishing, it is simply not worth it, in my humble opinion!

That said, when Eric contacted me about Sparta to tell me she was to be given away, or scrapped, I couldn't resist. She is a fine design, pleasing to the eye and extremely efficient, driven by a 40 horsepower Grey Marine engine that is sixty years old, if a day.
I couldn't let her die!

I will probably not keep this boat, but will see her back to health. Ideally, she should be outfitted with an electric motor. Her hull design is efficient enough. That may be a dream for now, but as the infernal engine proves to be a dinosaur, maybe Sparta will live to see a new age.

The line drawing is of the BarTender from which this design was taken. The BarClipper is a foot longer, at 20'-6" and eight inches wider, at 7'-6"
Sparta is built of mahogany marine grade plywood and is a testament to the durability of that material. When I worked for ClipperCraft, we fastened the boats with stainless screws and Resourcinal glue, which is, I suspect, the same for this boat.


Unknown said...

The key to working on old inboard engines is finding the equivalent industrial block. I had a Graymarine 4-112 once that was difficult to find parts for. Difficult, that is, until I figured out that it was a Continental Y-112 engine with a marine transmission; you can buy those parts at Napa!

Good luck with it, wish it was mine.

doryman said...

The guy who had this boat says the parts are readily available. Haven't tried the engine yet, but it turns over nicely (by hand) and has newish ignition parts, so I think it'll run.
Surprisingly, Sparta was for sale for a while and the price kept dropping until she went for free. (Not counting the hundreds spent on hauling her home, broken bearings (installing new bearings in a NAPA parking lot in the dark), bad tires, no lights, rusted trailer, you know the drill).

Glenn said...


The point of Calkin's design was to provide sea-kindly performance while trolling offshore (the nice double-ended form) with kick ass speed to stay on the back of breaking waves while crossing the bars on the Oregon and Washington coasts inbound.
The speed of an open ocean swell is about 28 knots. You really want a boat capable of at least 30 knots, preferably a little more to achieve this.
An electric motor is very nice environmentally, but won't enable this boat to perform it's primary function; getting home safe across a breaking bar before the fuel (or battery charge) and beer get short.
Says the man who uses oars for auxiliary power.
BTW, no matter how many times you call it a dory, a v-bottom is no more a dory than a "Boston Whaler" is (the Brits have solved the initial stability problems of dories by calling Boston Whaler type hulls "dories").
That being said, I too, love the bartender design. I'm sorry I didn't get to know fellow islander George Calkins better before he died (he lived the last half of his life about 2 miles north of here on Griffiths Pt, Marrowstone Island.)


doryman said...

Glenn, I too wish I'd known George better. He knew his boats, no doubt.
I'm projecting into the future when I suggest an electric motor for a surf boat. There is no question that an electric motor can develop the power and speed require for this use, but we have a while to go before we can trust our lives in the east Pacific surf to a bank of batteries. Perhaps some other technology will prove to be the solution. There is no doubt in my mind, however, that internal combustion engines are the problem. A motor that will push this boat at 25 knots will get about 5 mpg, which is just not acceptable in my book.

I've been looking this boat over. You are right that it has a V hull, but only in the entry, the aft sections are flat and it would drag it's stern if it weren't double ended. Very clever design. I could show you how to get the "V" shape entrance and the flat bottom out of a single piece of plywood, with some calculated cuts and some stressing, so is it a true "V"? The frames are classic dory, with straight lines, so with a flat bottom and that flair in the side panels, I'd call it a dory.

Brandon Ford said...

I'm with you and the infernal combustion engines. That said, I sure do this this boat and the Bartenders. Good save. I know someone who needs a boat like this. Let me know when you are ready to pass it along.


svcontentment said...

What did you end up doing with the boat.i have a similar Barclipper in my garage in Seattle. Im very interested to hear more about your experience.

doryman said...

This boat went to a friend of mine who worked on it a little bit and has given up. It's now for sale, at a very good price.