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Old 05-29-2003, 08:58 AM
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T2x
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Default This deserves its own thread

The following may be "The Greatest High Performance boating story ever told".............


"The Day I Flew a Boat" by: Robert Switzer

It all began with a phone call, (person to person) to me, Bob Switzer, from Carl Kiekhaefer, President of Mercury Marine. The date was July 17th, 1962. The meat of the call was a request for Switzer Craft to build a boat for twin Mercury 100 H.P. outboards that would exceed 100 M.P.H. on water.

The call was impressive. Imagine ... out of hundreds of boat builders, we were called to do this project. We immediately began designing our first effort based on the pattern of the Switzer Hydro Cat (commonly referred to as the "Switzer Wing"). In 1961, the Switzer (U4) wing was a major breakthrough in the twin engine Stock Outboard Pleasure Craft Class U. (Unlimited engines but required to be a minimum of 15 feet in length.) The first Switzer Wing was built in 9 days, just prior to the Winnebago Outboard pleasure craft event, where the Switzer Craft Wing finished first overall, and the next two classes were also won by other Switzer models. The U4 was the first Cat to exceed 80 M.P.H. with only a pair of 76 cu. in. 80 H.P. Outboards. (see below)

Our first new design developed to meet Mr. Kiekhaefer's request was not a complete success. At speeds of over 85 M.P.H. the bow had a tendency to kite or "bow up" (a feared maneuver of every driver).

In late August, we tried a new hull concept, mounting the engines mid-ship in a hull much like the Hickman Sea Sled. It featured square simple lines and a shovel nose. We hoped that the engines forward could control any bow lift tendencies. Much to our regret the trial runs showed that the thrust of the propellers forward and under the hull clamped the back of the boat to the water and drag was too much for our twin 80 H.P. Mercury's to overcome in the initial plane off.

Time was slipping away, the leaves were turning into their fall colors and we estimated approximately five weeks of open water to test on the Fox River near our plant. A decision had to be made... Do we call Mr. Kiekhaefer and postpone the project until spring, or do we keep going "right up to the wire" as the saying goes. The decision was made! Keep going!

My brother, Dave Switzer was the designer in charge of the construction phase of this project. He knew that now the pressure was on to design and build that 100 M.P.H. boat in minimum time. Russell "Pop" Switzer, a pioneer in light aircraft and sea planes since World War I, injected some new ideas he had long thought were necessary to control a boat at flying speeds. Dave welcomed these new ideas and also accepted a weight distribution change that I had recommended. We also concentrated on making a cleaner air-flow version of his original U-4. Several days later the materials were flying into shape and the U-6 hull was finished in record time. With time running out fast it was rigged for the first test runs.

The time was now! We proceeded to the test area on Nov. 29th, 1962, only to find that there was a 1/4" of ice on the river, stopping all progress. The weather reports promised warmer weather for the next day. All was held in readiness. November 30, temperature 45 -Sky clear -water open and calm. Time, 10:00 A.M. we launched the U-106. I got into the enclosed plexiglass cockpit (much like the capsule boats of today) , checked out all instruments, fired up engine #1, check, #2, check, water pressure and cooling systems OK, tachometer reading steady, fuel pressure normal, closed the aircraft type canopy over the cockpit, bring the engines to warm up speed and taxi to position for a wide open run.

Now, increasing speed to 50 mph -60-70 -80 and now at the speed range where the previous design started to kite I used the foot throttle over-ride and steering with my left hand, I put my right hand on "Pop" Switzer's stabilizing control lever which operated the elevon (wing tail flap) controlling the last 2 feet of the center section between the twin hulls. At 85 M.P.H. the bow lifted slightly off the horizon - too high for safety, I pushed the lever forward to position 1 ( of 4) and the horizon line returned to normal. Now, at 90 M.P.H. a slight bow lift again, lever to position #2, now the bow was normal in good trim again. Suddenly, at this moment many things seemed to occur. While my 17 pitch (Record props from Switzerland) were turning almost 6,000 R.P.M. my neck snapped back, the Hull lifted off the water about 2-4 inches ... no vibrations from water contact. I felt like I was in a sea plane just after lift off of the water. The R.P.M.'s suddenly dropped back to approximately 5,000, and at the same time the speed increased to the shrill sound of the two engines harmonically balanced. I glanced down at the Keller calibrated speedometer, reading 96-97 -98-99 -100 with those 76 cu. in. 80 H.P. direct reversing engines revving at nearly 7,000 R.P.M. I knew we had just what Mr. Kiekhaefer asked for. Now, almost tranquil from the experience of "The Day I Flew a Boat" with a full boundary layer of air between the hull and the water and seeing houses go by like a picket fence. I realized that the straight away water was fast running out. So, deceleration of the U-6 was started with the same caution used in increasing the speed. The stabilizer control was returned to various positions as the speed was reduced. When the boat speed was between 80 and 85 there was a loud sound and vibration from the hull re-entering the water almost like driving from the highway to a washboard gravel country road. Taxiing to the launching site where all the Switzer Craft crew were on hand for the verdict I could hear all the questions. How did it handle? How fast did it go? What was it like? .....And, you know the answers.

The Hull was then returned to the factory for final preparations to be delivered to Mr. Kiekhaefer at Lake X where she was fitted with a pair of 99 cu. in. 100 H.P. engines with stacks and double pinion speedmasters. She went on to reach speeds in excess of 120 M.P.H. This same hull driven by both Johnny Bakos and Dave Craig startled many of the onlookers and the Helicopter pilots that could not keep up with her to allow the photographers to film her, as she won the Gold Coast Marathon from Miami to Palm Beach and return on the inland coastal waters, with a record average speed of 81.78 M.P.H. that may still stand today!


Now then....... back to our original programming..... The PBS presentation........ Stepped Vee hulls---- The Color of money..........

T2x
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Old 05-29-2003, 09:04 AM
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T2X,
Are you going to have your's on display at "Skaterfest"?
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Old 05-29-2003, 09:22 AM
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T2x...thanks for sharing that,...I love reading that stuff....it amazes me of the speeds that were had that many years ago....I can only imagine the rush of piloting something like that wing at those speeds..... WOW.....Fred
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Old 05-29-2003, 10:43 AM
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Cool!!!!
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Old 05-29-2003, 10:45 AM
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Awesome T2X........any more pics?
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Old 05-29-2003, 10:50 AM
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so cool, thanks!!!
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Old 05-29-2003, 11:00 AM
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Default Re: Re: This deserves its own thread

T2x Nice article Thank You

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...Marketing to the mindless masses. A case study of the step bottom marketing myth...
Keep Killing Me Fred.
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Old 05-29-2003, 11:03 AM
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I agree,best story ever,can you imagine actually being there?How many wings are still around? T2x has one, there is one in N Carolina, one in Texas, one in Arizona,where else? I would mortgage my house to buy one.
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Old 05-29-2003, 01:18 PM
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Default A great Story

I have read that story over and over trying to grasp the whole feeling of that day, and understand the tremendous feat that Mr switzer accomplished. I can't help but feel that there is many pieces to this amazing story. Taking a boat to over 100 mph at a time of 75 mph speeds is both daring, foolish, and an adventure that might end in disaster. Mr. Switzer didn't know if the sponsons would stay connected to the tunnel, would the wing area stay in one piece, what would happen when he pulled up on the movable aileron, all of these unknowns had to be put aside along with common sense, and try to run that boat the way Mr. Switzer envisioned it would run. I don't know about you guys, but every time I am running at or above 100 MPH, it is always thrilling, never mundane or ordinary, imagine being the one to first try. As a matter of fact, not too many of us on this board have gone that fast on the water, let alone in a unproven, design. Whenever I look at T2x's wing, i shake my head and somewhere in the back of my head I say "No not me", but i know when T2x says OK, lets go, i will be sitting there in the other sponson, feeling very much like Mr. Switzer, well, maybe more in awe of what he designed and built. When any of you guys actually see the wing in person, you will know what I mean. I have seen it quite a few times, and believe me, it is not a Skater, Shadow, Spectre, or any other modern cat. Hey BTW,why do so many names of catamarans start with the letter "S", even Switzercraft.
oh well, that answer will be forthcoming in another of T2x's postings.

Philip

BTW, is the U-6 boat the same as "Miss Skyway"
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Old 05-29-2003, 01:20 PM
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Default Re: A great Story

I have read that story over and over trying to grasp the whole feeling of that day, and understand the tremendous feat that Mr switzer accomplished. I can't help but feel that there is many pieces to this amazing story. Taking a boat to over 100 mph at a time of 75 mph speeds is both daring, foolish, and an adventure that might end in disaster. Mr. Switzer didn't know if the sponsons would stay connected to the wing, would the wing area stay in one piece, what would happen when he pulled up on the movable aileron, all of these unknowns had to be put aside along with common sense, and try to run that boat the way Mr. Switzer envisioned it would run. I don't know about you guys, but every time I am running at or above 100 MPH, it is always thrilling, never mundane or ordinary, imagine being the one to first try. As a matter of fact, not too many of us on this board have gone that fast on the water, let alone in a unproven, design. Whenever I look at T2x's wing, i shake my head and somewhere in the back of my head I say "No not me", but i know when T2x says OK, lets go, i will be sitting there in the other sponson, feeling very much like Mr. Switzer, well, maybe more in awe of what he designed and built. When any of you guys actually see the wing in person, you will know what I mean. I have seen it quite a few times, and believe me, it is not a Skater, Shadow, Spectre, or any other modern cat. Hey BTW,why do so many names of catamarans start with the letter "S", even Switzercraft.
oh well, that answer will be forthcoming in another of T2x's postings.

Philip

BTW, is the U-6 boat the same as "Miss Skyway"
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