"The Building of Miss Thriftway!"
How it Started!
by Steve Payne - Crew Chief
One night at the Hydroplane and Raceboat Museum (H.A.R.M) fearless leader, David Williams, told us about some engines rumored to be close to the Southworth Ferry dock. “Us” are Larry Fuller, Crew Chief and Driver for the 1967 Miss Budweiser, Rob Wheeler, Crew Chief and Driver of the Hawaii Kai III and me, Steve Payne, loyal crew member for both camps. Rob and I were the fortunate ones who actually located the engines. Lloyd Jett had collected Allison engines and all the gear to build an Unlimited Hydroplane. He had a V-12, a very rare W-24, Volker gear box, steering gears and linkage, gauges, mag switch, strut, stuffing box, shaft, along with much, much more!
The three of us talked, thought and dreamed about the possibilities. After a week of indecision, we decided to jump in with both feet. We didn’t know WHAT we were going to do with our newly acquired treasure, but we knew it was rare and we had all of the hard to find stuff to make a Vintage Unlimited Hydroplane run. We figured we could buy the rest!
Our years of volunteering at the H.A.R.M had given us the knowledge, know-how, and contacts with people that have the knowledge to take the parts and turn them into a real live running boat! The decision was made…WE WILL BUILD IT!!!
Without H.A.R.M.’s education, this project would not have happened!
The three of us formed Vashon Unlimiteds, LLC. We then contacted Ron Jones, Sr. for plans and started the process in motion. Ted Jones had lived out his golden years on Vashon Island. We all got to know him quite well and were privileged to have had him in our lives. In his honor we decided to replicate the 1955 Miss Thriftway. The original boat was destroyed at the 1957 Governors Cup at Madison, Indiana. Ron still had the original plans, so we contracted with him to supply us with a set of full-scale templates for the boat. Having the Jones family pedigree is an honor and makes this project even more special because we can’t get any closer to the original!
As of the end of 2002 the Allisons are being completely rebuilt at Larry’s shop, with the expert help and direction of Peter Orton, H.A.R.M.s engine guru. In addition, Rob’s shop was being cleaned out so the hull could be built.
So… the next step was to start getting something to put the engines IN. Long time friend, and fellow hydro enthusiast, Stuart Jones volunteered to take the lumber list and start searching out a source. Stuart had been a long time customer of Compton Lumber, where many camps had purchased wood before, so down he went. He contacted Steve Compton and asked for a quote. While sitting in Steve’s office, the computers screen saver started to pop up pictures of, yup… VINTAGE HYDROPLANES! The next thing Stuart knew, there was a picture of the 1955 Miss Thriftway! The short version of the long story is: Steve is now involved with the team! (wood boat + lumberyard = a good addition!)
Just after Christmas, Steve Payne, Larry Fuller, Larry Vanderhoef and Peter Orton took both engines to Los Angles to have them “tweaked”. They also traded the rare W-24 for another V-12 (with parts), but THAT’s another story for the Engine page! (Coming SOON!)
©2003 Vashon Unlimiteds, LLC
Vashon Island, Washington USA
E-mail comments or questions to: Steve Compton