.When Chuck Pool's son bought him this 1956 Yellow Jacket Catalina ln 2009, Chuck knew he was living a childhood dream...to own a boat made by his longtime Denison neighbor and family friend Mac McDerby.But he wasn't sure how he was going to make the boat look like the one he was dreaming of. So he called the Wooden Boat Association and arranged for club members to work on his boat. Chuck would foot the bill for materials, and the guys would do the work. This fit into the WBA's plans at the time since they had just begun an initiativeto find and restore Yellow Jackets.
So the WBA got busy, and before long had replaced the deck, stripped the hull and refinished the boat just in time for the February 2010 Dallas Boat Show. Chuck's boat joined three other Yellow Jackets at that event. Watch the video. See a slideshow of the restoration.
Bob and Roy Hit the Water!
By Bob Huff
Bob Huff is a member of Sunnyland ACBS and the antique outboard club, AOMCI, Florida Chapter. Long a fan of old boats, cars, motorcycles and jukeboxes a friend once told him he likes anything that leaks... gas, water, oil or air! A winter resident of Mt. Dora, FL, Bob and Doris live in Charlottesville, VA in the summer.
He bought his 1955 Yellow Jacket molded plywood boat, known for speed and performance in the 50's, from two college students in Ennis, TX. They had been residents of Canada, bought the boat from the estate of the original owner in Ontario and brought it to Ennis where they were going to go to school. Ennis and Denison, where all the Yellow Jacket boats were built, are close by on opposite sides of Dallas... so 55 years later this old boat did make it all the way back home… before moving on to Mt. Dora,FL.
Bob’s Yellow Jacket boat is a 15’ Capri with a 1957 Mercury Mark 75 "dock buster" motor...also known as the "tower of power" and the original Ajax trailer.
The motor is 60hp and was the first vertical inline 6-cylinder outboard. It gets its dock buster name from the fact that it has no neutral...so you need to know where you want to go, in forward or reverse, when you push the start button. It really takes off! The serial number is K9 7086. It is found on the keel just below the front edge of the front seat.
One of the things Bob likes most about his boat is its complete package originality. It is also an all Mercury boat. In addition to the motor, it has Mercury steering, controls and even has steel Mercury gas tank clamps that grab the bottom of each tank. There was never a windshield...he guesses you are not supposed to put windshields on a "rocket". The original Ajax trailer was also there. The whole package was sold by a Detroit dealer, Gil Schaefer, who was a featured Mercury and Yellow Jacket dealer who provided a lot of race support around MI and is shown in the YJ story in the Bob Speltz book, “The Real Runabouts“. There is a brass badge on the inside transom with Schaefer’s name and address.
It is a one owner boat that lived its entire life in Ontario. It was put in storage in 1971 and left there until sold as part of the owner’s estate to those two enterprising college students.
The biggest challenge Bob faced was deciding what to restore, if anything, and what to preserve or just leave alone. Many members face this challenge! Under a layer of dirt the boat looked great as did the motor, except it would not run. The trailer was a different case… it is the original Ajax made in Hazel Park, MI with some interesting and unique features such as the drop down parking stand and winch column but it was, Bob says, “not sexy“. He knows boat trailers are often not sexy but he likes for them to look sharp… he has two fully restored Tee Nee trailers with deco fenders under other boats. The alternative to preserving was to restore the trailer and Bob was afraid all that new paint would make it look out of place. His decision, rewire the lights and leave it alone as part of the charm of an old boat!
Bob’s boat preservation focused mostly on the finish and mechanical work on the engine, which now runs like a top. All of the original wood, paint and decals were excellent. He did a tremendous amount of cleaning while trying not to disturb the original patina. If you are going to work on an antique boat, car or anything else, get the very best core you can possibly find.“ He finished if off with a couple new coats of varnish.
This boat remains 98% original. The only things modified were the instruments and seat cushions... where there were none. He wanted all of the instruments to be the same so he looked hard for NOS pieces. He cut a teardrop out of mahogany and added it to the bottom of the original dash to accommodate the compass. He has the correct period brackets for a windshield but the boat looks so good without it and never had one before so he is holding off.
All that the boat was missing that was original was the front deck cleat… it had a knockoff. A fellow YJ owner and AOMCI member, Toby Hall, Rochester, NY, heard about this on the website, called him up and offered to take his off his boat and send it to Bob who then had a new one cast in aluminum… looks great. “One of the great things about working on these old boats and motors is the association you have with some really great people” says Bob. Through both the ACBS and AOMCI clubs he has gotten help from all over the country… one California member was particularly helpful getting the engine running. “A lot of local folks like Tom Flood are invaluable resources. I have always been amazed at how patient Tom is with friends and visitors while he is busy as heck out at the Temple”.
“Great boats deserve great motors.” As mentioned, Bob is also a long time member of the AOMCI which consists of approximately 3,000 antique and classic outboard fans across the nation. They have an excellent website with news, meet locations, tech advice and buy and sell… http://www.aomci.org/.
Finally, one of Bob's current projects is to attempt to set up a Yellow Jacket Registry that lists the owners name and background information on every known surviving Yellow Jacket boat in the US. He would love to hear from any other owner or fan via email at email@example.com.
Steve Shirk's 1955 Capri Ozarks Patrol Boat
My name is Steve Shirk from Wilton, Iowa. I have a 1956 Yellow Jacket Capri, length 15'6" which has a 1956 Mercury Mark 55e on it. The previous owner of this boat, who was a boatwright on the Ozarks, said that this was the first sheriff's patrol boat on the Lake of the Ozarks. I restored it to the original patrol boat. When I got it the deck and one side were rotted away.
Rick Wahl's '58 YJ Custom
Rick Wahl hails from Maryland and runs his Yellow Jacket custom on the Chesapeake! We've dubbed his restoration a "custom" because he's finished her to his own liking...a very pretty boat indeed!
Bob Forman's '56 Yellow Jacket Inboard
I have a 1954 Yellow Jacket inboard with the original Crosley Aerojet engine. The serial number is “K8 9317”. I have owned it for about ten years. The boat has been kept all original, right down to the 6 volt electrical system. I have refinished it in and out. It really is in magnificent condition. The boat is kept on Long Lake in Naples, Maine.
Bob Macaluso's '55 Catalina
The Yellow Jacket that Bob Macaluso found in Humble. TX in February of 1993 was a basket case, and that's being kind!
The deck was completely absent, the hull sides were in rough shape, and the bottom had a hole in it that would accommodate the average adult foot.
But this deplorable hulk only inspired Bob (you have to know him!) to begin an on-again off-again restoration process that would span the enusing decade and more.The demolition phase was facilitated by dry rot here and there. It wasn't too hard to remove the transom (and can you see the hole in the bottom?).
Before long, Bob had the structure intact and had repaired the hole in the bottom. But the sides were stained and damaged, and Bob wasn't going to be happy with them unless they looked brand new. The solution? Bob added another layer of laminate on top of the hull from the gunwales to the splash rails. It was a finicky process. Wood grain has a mind of its own, especially when you're trying to bend it around the comely curves of a boat hull. But Bob prevailed, and with some sanding, the new topsides looked great.
Next, some bottom paint:
And a new deck:
And all the sanding, varnishing, paint, hardware and trim to bring the Catalina to show condition. Bob's YJ has made appearances at boat shows in Houston and Dallas, and was the belle of the ball at Keels and Wheels. But no trailer queen is she, Bob takes her out regularly on lakes in the Houston area. Thanks, Bob for saving this Yellow Jacket from a inglorious end, and bringing her back for us all to enjoy!
Bob Macaluso's '55 Catalina at the land display at Keels & Wheels, Seabrook, Texas
My Grandfather's '57 Catalina
by Colby Choate
Here I am with my Grandfather, Richard Allen, in 1993 when he gave me the boat.
I have a 1957 Yellow Jacket Catalina that my grandfather purchased new. I was given this boat in 1993.
This boat has a late 60's Evinrude 55HP motor. My grandfather still has the original Mercury as well. This boat has not been restored and is needing a little attention. The boat has always been kept inside. The boat was in the water last around the mid 70's per my grandfather. I went to the Keels & Wheels show in Seabrook in April of 2011 and saw the restored Yellow Jackets there, and am now inspired to restore mine. The one thing that I would like to do to this boat is keep it the way that my grandfather gave it to me. Mr. Skelly glassed the deck on this boat and raised the height of the transom when the new motor was put on in the late 60's. I know that this will not make it an original boat but it's part of my family's history.
The boat has a thick stack of registration stickers documenting its history.
The Choate Catalina has been well sheltered all its life.
Keith Griffin's '56 Catalina
Keith "Griff" Griffin (seen smiling under that 'stache at left) and Rhonda Griffin's first trip to Keels & Wheels was well rewarded with a first place in the Classic Outboard class for their sweetly restored 1956 Yellow Jacket Catalina (second photo). The Griffins hail from Crosby, TX, northeast of Houston. Griff found the Yellow Jacket in a barn on a hunting lease property. The third photo below shows just what kind of shape the boat was in when Griff got ahold of it. Griff's natural ability with woodworking and occasional advice from the Yellow Jacket wing of the Wooden Boat Association got Griff all the way to a win! Congratulations, Griff!
Greg Carney's 1960 Trigger
Well, Roy Rogers was a partner in the Yellow Jacket Boat Company, after all! Why not have a Trigger model, then! What a beauty!
Yellow Jacket changed from bolt-on fins to molded fins in 1959. Greg's boat is powered by a 1961 Merc 80 hp Dock-buster and is at Thomas Hill Lake in central Missouri.