By Roberta Hegy, Glacier Lakes Chapter

All my life I have been a hands-on person. I was drafted into the crafts by my father who needed an extra hand and really enjoyed working with him. He taught me many skills and those interests later developed to become a way of life and a good living.

During high school, one summer I worked in a local restaurant and a family friend’s gas station. I had to make a choice when school started in the fall. I decided to stay at the gas station, where I learned about cars and mechanical things. Experiences gained there led to a 40-year career at our local power company where I was fortunate enough to have many opportunities.

I have always been interested in fast cars, planes and boats. Having grown up in the muscle car era, there were plenty of opportunities to be around them: Friends with boats and cars, a high school flying club, and my first car, a 1963 Thunderbird. I boated during high school and even had my own little hydroplane to play around on.

A career and family life kept me busy the next 20 years or so and fast cars became a dream of the past. Boats weren’t practical, not living on a lake, and flying lessons would be too big a commitment. I kept my interest in them all through reading, shows, and association.

Hegy and her RV-7A aircraft.

Once our son was off to college, I had time to think about those things again. I dabbled in RC model aircraft for the next few years and pursued my private pilot’s license after a friend asked me when I was going to fly a real airplane. Rich, my hubby, supported me in this effort. After a few hours of lessons, we decided to commit to this new hobby and purchased our first airplane, a Piper Cherokee. We made our home on a private airstrip called Air Troy Estates. Later I would go on to build a homebuilt seaplane and ultimately, a high-performance aerobatic plane called the Van’s RV-7A. I flew from the late 80s until 2008 when I began to drift towards other interests. It was time to move on and we sold the plane.

I retired from full time work in 2009 and decided to build that wooden boat I had always wanted. I had been looking at the Glen L and ClarkCraft designs over the years and decided on a 14-1/2-foot outboard runabout called the Zip, designed by Glen L. Witt. Another project was a 10-foot hydroplane built for our grandkids to play with on our neighboring lake.

Grandkids in Super Spartan Hydroplane.

I was invited to join the Glacier Lakes chapter of the ACBS in 2010 while visiting their display at the Milwaukee winter boat show and have been a member ever since. The bigger inboard woodies really interested me and I knew I would eventually have to build one.

In 2012, Glen L had just published the plans for the Torpedo and I was HOOKED. The design emulated the classic Ventnors, but with a modern twist. I announced my plans to build the boat on the GLEN L Forum. Construction started in the Fall of 2013. Frames were cut and assembled, motor stringers made, the build form set up, and framing populated the build form. Double diagonal planking was applied in the cold molded fashion as the hull took shape. The Fall of 2014 saw the completion of the hull and the flip. The installation of mechanicals and the decking, among a multitude of other things, commenced.

Torpedo framing under construction.

A motor and transmission needed to be selected along with all the other ancillary items. A Crusader 5.7L Captains Choice V8 with a Velvet Drive Liberty A transmission filled the bill. Consideration for access to all the necessary equipment needed to be made. Calls to Glen L. Witt and his daughter Gayle confirmed modifications to the deck and hatch could be made. With the OK from Glen and Gayle, a large hatch exposes the mechanicals for easy service and repairs when needed.

Mechanicals were completed in the Spring of 2014 and decking applied and finished. The boat was completed in July of 2015 and proved to be all we had hoped for. Performance exceeded our expectations. Currently, she is the only example of a Glen L Torpedo to be completed. There are plans out there purchased by potential builders, but I am not aware of any starts in construction. Perhaps, someday, I will see another at a show. Until then, I will be the sole proud owner of the only one. She proudly displays the name The Glen L in honor of her designer, Glen L Witt.

Torpedo at the 2021 Glen L Boat Gathering in Tennessee on the Tennessee River.

We have enjoyed showing the Torpedo over the years. She’s been to Florida twice to the Lake Dora show and St. John’s River Run, Brainerd, Minnesota, Racine, Wisconsin and Alexandria Bay, New York to the ACBS Internationals, five times to our Glen L Gatherings in Tennessee, and many of our ACBS events here in Wisconsin.

Getting older and having a new knee has slowed me down a little. Rich says I can’t build anything I can’t pick up with two hands. So, I built a 1/6th scale model of the Torpedo, radio controlled and electric powered. Not being able to find scale parts, I purchased a 3D printer and CAD designed many parts myself.

1/6th scale model of Torpedo.

COVID cancelled many events in 2020 and we were getting pretty bored, needing something to do that didn’t depend on anyone but us. We ordered a brand-new Porsche Boxster last fall and have spent many days on drives with our Porsche friends. Too bad I can’t tow the Torpedo with it. LOL

Road Rally with the Boxster and Porsche friends on our way to Road America, Elkhart Lake, Wisconsin.

I also got back into playing my guitar, and Rich his piano. We do some star gazing. Those things and golf keep us occupied.

People ask me “What’s next?” I have to say I’m just going to enjoy all that we have with my hubby. I think our platter is full. Life is Good.

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