68392RE: [bolger] Permission, please. ("Viper" info)
- Aug 1, 2012
Suzanne: so you can be brought up-to-date, here's my earlier posting to this group on the "Viper" info -- and status of the articles, from end-April of this year --
yep, I just checked: the files ARE at the original YahooGroup "Bolger" .
As promised, I HAVE uploaded a good bunch of articles from the great "Rudder" magazine of over a
century ago, about the build and launch of "Viper", which appears to be the design-inspiration (thus
predecessor) of all of Bolger's "states-class" power-sharpies (and of course SneakEasy).
Settle in for a good long read (early 20th century prose was long-winded!!)
These are informative of how getting speed was an obsession in the first days of internal-combustion
power --, and how it really was for the "inventor" even more than the schooled Naval Architect, to
come up with breakthru concepts.
And they are a hoot to read! What amazing prose-style.... Of course, Hickman was contentious and a
real rascal -- had NO public-relations skills -- a true "Flamer" but in PRINT not just thru
e-mails... there for posterity to read (and chuckle at???)
These articles are now in the YahooGroup "Bolger - Phil Bolger's Boats" , under "files" in the new
folder "Hickman's Viper"
Enjoy. (heck, there's even a very complete "how to build a Viper" article with offsets AND enough
construction details to construct one in the old plank-on-frame method -- reading THAT will
certainly make us appreciate Bolger's plywood "box-boat" methods...)
And throw up your own ideas/feedback... whatever bubbles up from your reading of this early
From: Wayne Gilham [mailto:wgilham@...]
Sent: Tuesday, April 24, 2012 1:46 PM
Subject: RE: [bolger] FOR SALE Bolger Idaho -- and its predecessor, Hickman's "Viper"
AHA! looks like there's an add-on of horizontal "spray-boards" at gunwale forward -- exactly what
Albert Hickman had on "Viper", the 1907 flat-bottom power sharpie that may have been
Bolger's inspiration for this whole fleet of "states-class" boats.
Any comments from Roger (please!), why his splash-boards were added (I presume the flat sides can
give a lot of spray at some wind-angles...) and what effect it had?
On the one long visit with Phil way back in 1982 - that I treasure - he proudly pulled out all the
old feisty "rudder magazine" articles from Hickman, which articles extolled the virtues of the first
"Viper" and (in Hickman's in-imitable grating form) derided all detractors -- great early 20th
This original Viper was a long, slender flatbottom.
Slight rocker: 2-1/4" over 20 ft.
Speed: 3hp= 8mph
His subsequent "Viper II" and "Viper IV" played around a bit with the length/beam ratio, but didn't
Sounds familiar?? Awfully close to "SneakEasy"... or "Tennessee" -- or (of course) "Idaho"
To show the genesis, I have in my files, a two-sheet BOLGER plan, Design #358, with all offsets and
construction details, for a 20'2" x 4'3" flat-bottom slab-side inboard-powered sharpie specifying a
Yanmar 2qm15G inboard (rated 14hp) -- this plan clearly includes the note in Phil's simple/elegant
printed hand, at the bottom of each sheet (next to title block): "Rework of design by Albert
Hickman, 1910" -- so obviously Bolger puts some credence in Hickman's design, to go to all that
effort, to essentially "re-create" this historical boat. Wonder if was ever built??
By the way, THIS Bolger design incorporated similar but much wider and much longer "spray-boards"
than I see on the "Idaho" now for sale, sticking nearly 8" out from the gunwale by the fourth spaced
12" station, and tapering back to only disappear at the twelfth station, thus more than half the
length of the boat! That duplicates the original "Viper" pretty closely...
Bolger also designed around the same time a very similar but larger boat called "Firebrand" to make
use of a client's steam engine -- He thought it would also work to get some creditable speed out of
one of those heavy slow-turning long-stroke Palmer ZR t-head gas-engines, which I owned at the time
-- that was the purpose of our meeting, to discuss what sort of boat might work for this gem of an
old engine. Unfortunately, I lost the engine in a warehouse fire some years later.
I was going to put a link here, to ANY sketch / photo / details of "Viper" that might be on-line,
only to find that (although many blogs or websites REFER TO "Viper" as an important milestone in
boat design) actually there's nothing in the way of a photo out here in the ethers....
So I guess it falls to me, to post the many many many pages I have subsequently copied from 1910 and
1911 "Rudder" (found at the Seattle Library's great marine collection) about this design -- which
include LOTS of photos! -- maybe in one of the Bolger photo files? stay tuned...
p.s.: Hickman went on to "invent" and (finally) successfully market the "Sea Sled" - considered by
Dave Gerr to be the most efficient offshore-suitable hullform ever developed - and a clear
predecessor to the Boston Whaler... He also was the first to actually "make work" surface-piercing
propellers! quite a brilliant mind. worth a Google-hour or two.
Thanks for your kind words.
Since I've overlooked this e-mail for so long, what became of the 'Viper' project ?
Apologies for this.
----- Original Message -----
From: Mark Albanese
Sent: Wednesday, April 25, 2012 10:43 PM
Subject: [bolger] Permission, please.
Good work on that SACPAS-3!
In the YAHOO group you may have noticed Wayne Gilham's recent comment on the lineage from Viper to your power sharpies. He's putting together some new scans from turn of the century Rudder magazines that may even go beyond what's shown in 30-Odd Boats. Perhaps as a courtesy to you, he's not offering to reproduce those pages too.
For fair use, educational purposes I'd like to offer the group Phil's own Viper drawing, scanned from the book's pages. A strong ethic of not building unlicensed boats prevails within the group, so I doubt you'd suffer loss of plan sales from doing so. Including the text would be most useful, of course, but can be withheld if you'd prefer to limit its exposure against your own future use.
What do you say? May I?
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