by John Williams member of the Chesapeake Bay chapter
In the fall of 2010 Mecum Auctions assembled the huge collection of boats F. Todd Warner amassed over many years, in an old factory in Winstead, Minnesota. There were more than 100 boats in the auction, and I went through the catalog of what was being offered about 3 weeks prior. This was an amazing collection of wooden boats, but my attention was drawn to lot “S 140”; an unusual Hacker-Craft runabout. I drove to the auction, and inspected everything, but couldn’t get my mind off that 1932-28′ Hacker with the canvas top. I was the last guy to raise my hand when she came up for bids. The bottom was original, and I knew it had to be replaced. I had restored two smaller boats, but this one was much too big for me to roll over in my shop, and truthfully, I was afraid to tackle the job. Doug Morin and his crew replaced the rotten bottom with the West System technique. I learned many things were either missing or were incorrect.
The boat deserved the effort, I felt, to bring her back to “as delivered” condition. To that extent, I dove head first into a six year project which included replacing the 454 Chevy power plant with a period correct Sterling Petrel 225 engine. Bob Mishko rebuilt the engine which elicits the “wow” response when the hatches are lifted. One of the great rewards of doing this project was networking with knowledgeable people who so willingly helped me in finding missing parts, advice on proper stain, how to make patterns for strut and manifold, and so much more. I bet there are twenty people who helped bring this old girl back to “original”. I can’t tell you how many problems I ran into, and these wonderful people got me the information and/or materials to finish the project.
New engine beds had to be built, incorrect instrumbentation replaced, mechanical linkage made, new wiring throughout, new strut, prop, rudder and so much more! I feel this boat is a magnificent example of the incredible talent of John L. Hacker; her designer and builder. Due to the extra 6″ of beam, she has a beautiful flair which transitions gracefully to a pronounced tumble home over her 28′ length. With the canvas top in place, the view from the bow is menacing! Although, I’ve only water tested her once since completion, the plan is to get her back on the water next summer. She has been an arduous project, but rewarding in so many ways. Todd Warner was right when he said she’s special!