Posted on: August 22, 2013 | No Comments »
Huckins was recently tasked with repowering Vagabond, a 1910 Consolidated Launch. Similar to Commuters, Launches were originally built for wealthy businessmen who lived on Long Island and commuted to Manhattan. They were often referred to as “limousines of the sea,” designed to meet the needs of privileged Americans who needed transportation from their homes along the rivers and coasts to their offices in the city. These boats were also used to go to the theatre in the evenings, enjoy afternoon cruises or attend yachting regattas. Some of the most elite socialites of the time, including the Vanderbilts, Morgans, Fords and Kennedys, were Launch or Commuter owners.
The current owner of the 1910 Vagabond Launch has owned the boat for five years and has done all of the renovations himself. He bought the boat from a family in the Catskills, where it sat untouched in their barn since 1954. The new owner, interested in repowering Vagabond with electric because it is highly efficient, extremely durable and an environmentally-friendly alternative to fossil fuel propulsion systems, contacted Huckins to handle the job.
The Huckins service team was responsible for removing the rudder, reinstalling a rudder port and a new shaft log, plus wiring and installing a fully-electric yacht propulsion system. Elco, another historical boat company and designer of PT boats, supplied Huckins with the electric motor used in the repower.
Originally, the Vagabond was powered by an 1,800 pound iron engine, which our team carefully removed and donated to a historic boat center. Jon Hall, the Huckins lead designer, was challenged with recreating the original weights and balances using the new Elco electric engine, batteries, and generator. Hall shared, “It became even more of a challenge because of the way boats were designed over 100 years ago – there was little to no room for electrical wiring equipment due to the small hull size.” Hall worked through several mathematical studies on paper before installing any of the new equipment.
One of Elco’s engineers, an 80-year-old man who was part of the original Elco company, played a major roll in the project as well. He offered insight on how many batteries were needed to power the boat to accommodate the needs of the owner.
The repowering job recently came to a successful completion. The Huckins team looks forward to seeing this elegant vessel glide across the water with the same poise displayed by its socialite passengers back in the Roaring Twenties.