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Sutcliffe Boats

24" Electric Speedboat

In 1930 Sutcliffe decided to introduce an electric speedboat into the range. Boats didn't automatically get names until about 1932 so alas this model missed the cut. At 24" long, this would be the largest and most expensive boat in the range. It's a rather peculiar boat; it doesn't really resemble anything at all 'real' and is also so long it feels almost out of proportion. Nevertheless, it's rather impressive and highly sought after by collectors; I've classified it as 'very rare'.

Fig 9.1 - 24" Electric Speedboat - circa 1930

The hull was pressed in two halves and the deck was fabricated out of 4 separate pieces of  tinplate, all cut out and soldered by hand. A flat stern piece (the only Sutcliffe boat to be produced with a flat stern?) took the number of pieces to make up a hull to 7.  The front canopy was a single pressing with a soldered 'bead' at the rear edge, and the rear motor cover was a simple rectangular folded and soldered plate.

 

There was also a pennant tube at the bows (often snapped off as it is very easily damaged) and the foredeck was topped off by a single cleat on the bow (unusual in that it never appeared in any other boats) and a single vent. The vent is attached my means of a threaded stub and nut; were these left over from the production of the by now obsolete 16" Cabin Cruiser?

 

It would appear that the 24" electric  was only ever painted in red and cream (a favourite scheme in the 1930s)  but the canopy was either either copper or, rarely, painted tinplate. The motor used in the boat was also rather unusual; rather than use a commercially available 'off the shelf' unit, the motor almost appears 'home made'. The whole assembly is bolted together with a variety of nuts, bolts and insulating washers which need to be spaced and positioned very accurately. It's a wonder the motor actually worked at all!

 

 

Fig 9.2 - Square stern of 24" Electric Speedboat

Fig. 9.3 Motor assembly from 24" Electric Speedboat, circa 1930

The motor was powered by a pair of 4.5 volt bateries that were located in a simple fabricated battery holder just fore of the motor (under the curved canopy). A sliding lever rather ingeniously either employs one battery or two batteries in series to give two operating speeds. Fig 9.4 (below) shows the rather convoluted instructions for use.

Fig 9.4 - Instruction label on the inside of the box lid.

The 24" boat was not a great seller. In 1932 the boat cost 26 shillings and sixpence; in terms of economic status, that is equivalent to over £360 today! This very high price, coupled with the cost of replacement batteries, would have put off a lot of parents in the austere 30's. The boat was discontinued after only 3 or 4 years.  Interestingly,  those that remain generally still have the original sturdy cardbard box; perhaps that is precisely why they do still remain?

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Fig. 9.5 (right) - battery holder and motor.