All about Electra (sold)

Electra has been sold to an enterprising individual who plans to rehabilitate her and put her into service as a tour boat in the Carolinas.object014

Electra’s hull is based on the Truscott Boat Manufacturing Company’s Compromise 47, built circa 1909. The 1905 Truscott catalog pointed out serious defects of the fantail and torpedo stern launches of the day and that a cure had already been sought and achieved by the Truscott Compromise hulls. Compromisehulls move throughout the water with significantly less power requirements than all other launch hull designs.

The original 1909 hull reportedly had a 10hp steam engine turning a 26×48 prop at 200-259 RPM and making 9mph. At a later date the boat achieved 21 mph with a gas flathead Chrysler inboard of 115hp. Operating on Lake Winnepessaukee as a tour boat it was able to accommodate 49 passengers.

Basic dimensions:

  1. LOA – 47’
  2. LWL – 44’
  3. Beam – 10’3”
  4. Draft – 3’
  5. Displ.- 11,000#
  6. Hull Weight – 1,800#

The propulsion system on Electra is twin 4.15hp, 36VDC motors each driving 30% disc area  10×28 prop with 3 scimitar-shaped blades designed for slow turning steam engines through a 5.6:1 gear box. Electric power is provided by 24-6volt batteries of 220 amp hour capacity arranged in 3 banks (48V, 660 amp hours.) The batteries are flooded lead acid golf-cart type. Speed control is by Curtis pulse-width modulators. Cruising at 5mph requires about 2hp and at 7mph around 6hp. The batteries can be charged with the on-board diesel genset, or from shore power. The fuel cost to recharge the batteries when the boat is operated at an economical speed (5mph) is about 10 cents per mile and is much less when recharged from shore power. Two high output 240VAC/48VDC power supplies are connected to the Mase IS 4500 generator. This will allow for extended cruising periods without running out of battery power. For short trips the batteries alone will suffice.

Electra was commissioned by Charles Chapin (an area artist) as Rachel from the Beckman Boatyard of Slocum, RI. The original hull (found in Moutonboro, NH) was used as a male mold to produce Electra from fiberglass with plastic honeycomb core. Electra is thought to be the “world’s largest electric powered pleasure boat today and the largest made in 90 years.” Electric yachts were popular with the well-to-do around the turn of the last century (1900) and the ELCO company of New York made them in even larger sizes then. Electric boats were used on the waterways around Paris in the early and mid 1880’s.

Electra has a fully-equipped galley with sink, stove, refrigerator with freezer and dinette which converts to a double bed. The head includes a shower and the aft cabin can sleep three, making the total berths 5. The pilothouse is raised affording 360° visibility at the helm.

She is impatiently waiting at Shell Point, Crawfordville, FL for the next owner to add solar panels on the expansive roof and turn her into a solar powered sightseeing or ferry boat. The owner will be happy to assist with the conversion.

Rebuilding the cabin corner

Aft cabin rotThe first sign of trouble was a discoloration of the mahogany rail inside the aft cabin. Further inspection reveals dry rot had pretty much claimed the corner of the cabin.

After some poking around I realized that I’d have to replace a couple of entire side boards at the corner of the cabin. Fortunately the boards do not support the roof, corner and side pillars do. The side boards are attached with screws and glue at the top and bottom to horizontal beam. The are joined along their edges with a glued shiplap joint.

I started by removing the horizontal trim strip running along the base of the side boards on top of the side deck. This required prying it out and making a scarf joint cut so that I wouldn’t have to remove the entire strip. I used a type of Japanese saw that cuts a very thin kerf.

Sawing a scarf jointSome of the short side boards under the windows were rotten at the bottom. I decided that instead of replacing the entire boards I would just cut off the rotten ends. This wouldn’t show when the job was done because the trim board would cover the joint between the old side boards and the new wood below. This was my first big mistake, as I would only discover four years later.