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Saturday, October 3, 2015

Motorized ice yachts

I was traveling in Nova Scotia this August with the family. We stopped into the Alexander Graham Bell Museum in Baddeck. It is a fine little museum that presents the multi-faceted genius of Bell quite well. He tinkered in many areas and I have always been interested in his kite and flying experiments. As I was looking through some photographic images I discovered that he also fiddled with ice boats, though his experiments were with motorized boats.


 Here is an arrow shaped ice boat that he used to test propellors for his tetrahedral aircraft, the Cygnet II.  Note the trussed runner plank &  bow-steering. So nice to have your ice course plowed for you... This is from January 1909.  Bell did help form a group that designed and built the first successful airplane in Canada.  The Silver Dart made the first controlled powered flight in Canada on Feb. 23, 1909.

 George Buckhout also enjoyed tinkering with engines and iceboats.
The 12 foot long motorized ice yacht "Go Devil" was designed by naval architect George Davis, son of Theodore Davis of the Poughkeepsie Eagle. It was built in George Buckhout's Poughkeepsie boat shop  in December 1910. It was originally intended to be tested on the Hudson River, but conditions didn't cooperate. It was shipped up to the Rochester area instead. In time trials on Irondequoit Bay near Rochester it was reported to have clocked 120 mph. It had an 40 hp Elbridge 4 cylinder 2 cycle motor and an 8 foot propeller.  Notes on the back of this picture says it travelled 8 miles in 4 minutes. While the image here is not too clear, on the original you can see the distinct ice yacht runners & runner plank for which Buckhout was known. The distance between the runners was 6 feet. A news article from January 1912 quotes that the total cost of the experiment was $2000. "She was built to demonstrate a principal and has proved to be the fastest traveling appliance the world has so far known." (Poughkeepsie Eagle Jan 26, 1912)

I acquired this photo and other items of George Buckhout's a few years back. I believe this is George Buckhout in the picture. The writing on the back is likely his as it matches other handwriting of his I have from other items.

Here is another shot of "Go Devil"

This is an image from an Irondequoit Bay history site. 


There's a brief piece on Charles Lindbergh experimenting with motorized ice boats in the 1920s  in Wisconsin on the Four Lakes iceboat site.