by Dion Johnson member of the Southwest chapter

Miss Merc was home built in 1972 from Glen-L ‘Tiny Titan’ boat plans. She is a three-point hydroplane just a tad over 8 feet long weighing about 65 pounds. The two sponsons provide stability, while the air cushion rushing under the tunnel provides a lifting force so that little if any of the transom is in contact with the water while the propeller digs in below. I powered her with a 1954ish “Frankenstein” hybrid motor marrying a Mercury MK 20 powerhead over the Wizard WJ-7 lower unit putting out a screaming 16+ hp. Kind of pressed for hull space, I modified a Sears 3 gallon gas tank, and use a “Footcush” as a knee pad to ease my 73 year-old joints.

The genesis of boat names is interesting to me. The idea for Miss Merc was borrowed from a 1957 Mercury outboard motor sales poster featuring a little red and yellow hydro named “Mr Merc”.

The judges liked her at the 2010 Keels and Wheels Concours D’Elegance at Seabrook, TX, awarding her the Silver Award in the Contemporary Outboard Class.

Glen-L is still going strong and still markets the boat plans for the Tiny Titan, even after all the 55 years since she was featured on the cover of Popular Mechanics magazine.

I am getting too heavy to get the speed I need from Miss Merc, so she could use a new home now. Offered by Dion Johnson of Kingwood, TX


  1. I fondly remember always wanting to build one of these 8’ hydros when I was younger. However, I too am getting up there at 68. Thanks for sharing your story.

    That said, it may get be perfect for my grandson! What are you asking for Miss Merc?

    Dennis – Steamboater in Michigan

    • I bought a built one with a 10 hp Wizard OB built by Mercury in 1961 when 16 years old. My buddy had a little hydro too and we enjoyed hours of jumping tug boat wakes on the Black Warrior River here in Alabama! Great boat – fun time s!!

  2. I built one exactly like that when I was 14 years old with lots of help from my dad. I bought the Science & Mechanics Magazine in 1961 and still have the article and plans. It said you could build the boat for $20.00 and a week’s spare time. It took me all summer and about $100.00 To complete it. I first ran a 10 HP Johnson outboard and then late upgraded to a 15 HP Merc. Great boat, lots of fun and wonderful memories.
    I enjoyed your article.

  3. I built that exact boat back in 1962 when I was 17 yrs old. I had a Mercury 10 hp motor with a short lower unit and a two blade prop. Enjoyed taking it to local lakes in SE Wisconsin and even on Lake Michigan on calm days.
    It was sold when I went to the Air Force after HS graduation.

  4. I presently restored one a friend of mine, Ed Ferris gave me. It was in rough shape, but had good bones. I replaced the transom and the fore deck using the original magazine article I found on line. The only modification I made was to put a hatch in the fore deck so to move the gas tank forward. I’m a little heavier that I used to be. I powered it with a mercury mark 20.
    Glad to see old homebuilts still around and appreciated.

  5. Dion,
    I don’t know if you sold your boat or not? It has been 2 years since your post. I would be interested in the boat and the trailer but not the engine or fuel tank. I don’t know how to contact you other than a post here.

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