View Full Version : Tracking down Elco

03-26-2004, 10:36 AM

I hope you can help me.

My name is Cliff Farrah, and my wife and I have been in the process of restoring a 1946 Elco to health over the past year and a half.

The boat is Mercury (original name)

She is a:

1946 (although purchased in 47) Elco twin screw cruiser
Hull # 3905
Model 47-B-13
Series 417
Can be seen at Mercury Yacht Charters, LLC (http://www.yachtmercury.com)

We have much original documentation that came with the boat, as it has only had 2 owners prior to our purchase. She has quite a bit of history. Was purchased by a successful auto dealer and WW1 war hero in Seattle (named after his division) and shipped by rail to the West coast. The owner spent quite a bit of time and money on the boat, entertaining celebrities of the time including the likes of John Wayne, Lana Turner and friends (documented) for offshore revelry and late night poker games. The first owner, a Mr. Bill McKay, was also the founder of Seattle's Seafair...which was conceived at a meeting called with local business leaders aboard Mercury (as reported by her FT captain before his death).

Upon Mr. McKay's death, Mercury was sold for a very short amount of time to another owner who promptly grounded out the boat on its first run and decided to sell it. Mercury then was sold to the last significant owner...Bill Green.

Bill was a retired coast guard chief engineer who fell in love with the boat and moved aboard with his wife and daughter as a liveaboard in a boathouse in Port Angeles, WA for over 20 years. Mercury traveled up coast through the remote waters of the San Juan islands and to Canada in Vancouver and other outlying areas.

Bill did a great job keeping Mercury in top mechanical shape.

When he decided it was time to pass on Mercury , we were lucky enough to find her after a long hunt for that kind of boat.

After a magical week cruising Merc in the San Juan islands with Kim and our 2 kids, we shipped it back home to the NH seacoast via truck. We started a major refit on the boat, restoring the interior to original specs and upgrading systems and hull (thanks for the advice received previously from the forum).

We have since completed a 2500 mile cruise with our 2 kids in diapers from our summer berth in New Castle, NH to our winter berth in Destin Florida. We have wooded the topsides and restained and revarnished the boat. Thrilled to report no rot found anywhere...knock wood.

To make this long (but hopefully interesting) story short, here is what I am hoping to find out:

- During what years was this model produced?
- How many boats of this model were made?
- Do you have any correspondence/documentation about this model? About this hull in particular?
- Who was the architect?
- Are there any still in existence? If so, any contact information?

FYI...I've already reached out to the folks at the Mystic Seaport archive and Elco. Can you help me?


Cliff Farrah
m/y Mercury

03-26-2004, 01:25 PM
Hi- I spoke with you on the dock at Seaview East as you were getting her ready for the trip East- glad to hear she handled it all well- a beautiful boat! Cheers!

03-26-2004, 02:36 PM
Here's a long-shot:

Occasionally perform a search on e-bay.

One of the more brilliant business models I've seen utilizing e-bay is people digging up old magazines and carefully cutting out the advertisements. These they then auction off individually on the service.

I missed by a hair purchasing an original ad for my 1960 Kings Cruiser for about $4.

03-27-2004, 11:59 AM
Thanks for the advice all.

I'm an eBay addict, so I've pretty much scoured the pages there. Agreed, it is an interesting business model.

Conrad, thanks for the note. I remember our chat at Seaview East. Was actually a pretty hard trip for the boat - had to redo the hull and canvas decking because they towed it backwards through 4 days of rain. Also used shrinkwrap tape to seal doors - killed the varnish throughout the boat. Definitely won't use them again.

She is without a doubt the last big cruiser we will own. I'll always buy smaller power and sail, but Mercury has found a home till we pass him down to the next owner (hopefully one of my kids).

If anyone else has any thoughts on Elco 47 owners, please let me know.

03-29-2004, 12:02 PM
I'll bet there aren't many like her. If you don't already know Elco completely changed the design & appearance of it's boats during WWII. Their prewar boats were all soft chine, round bottomed with stately appeareces that looked like the 1920's & 1930's. All pleasure boat construction ceased during the war. After the war their boats were much more 'modern' looking (like yours). I believe all the post war Elco's had "V"drives (are your engines under the cockpit?) to cut down on engine noise in the saloon. I also think all post war boats were hard chine semi-displacement hulls capable of much faster speeds than the prewar ones (modeled after the PT boats). Considering Elco only made it to 1947 or 48 (as I remember) before going bankrupt I would think that your boat is quite a rare one. I know that even back in the 1970's it was much easier to find an Elco from the 1920's or 30's than the late 40's. - Beautiful boat! smile.gif

03-29-2004, 01:20 PM
Thanks for the comments Ned.

To your questions...

Yes, Merc has twin Hemi's with v-Drives in the cockpit. Is a pretty quiet boat. She has hard chines with a 3/4 keel. The planking below the waterline is double hull, carvel planked 7/8" mahogany at 45 degrees to each layer with tarpaper in-between. Above the waterline it goes to single layer. Although standard now, do you know when that practice started on powerboats?

I've got a call into the archives at Mystic, but no response yet.

Thanks for the comments on the lines of the boat. Even better up close.


03-29-2004, 02:53 PM
Cliff, That construction method, double planked bottom (diagonal & then longitudinal) and then carvel or batten seam sides was very common for the typical mahogany speed boats & their builders. That is srandard Chris Craft construction -from the early 1920's up to the end of wood in the 70's. It makes for a light, stiff, tight bottom. Though one that can require significant rebuilding if not maintained. When new, that bottom does not leak much when first dropped in the water in the spring, though as they get older it is better to try to avoid the annual drying out that happens when dry storing for the winter. The thinner planking of the two layers in the bottom tends to dry out qucker & there is a lot of shrink to the planks.

It was not until after WWII that Elco used that construction on its pleasure boats. I believe they were straight carvel construction on steam bent oak frames before the war.

03-29-2004, 09:39 PM
Thanks Ned...I didn't think they built them that way till later.

Why I love this forum.

03-30-2004, 02:54 AM
I bought a box of old Rudder and Aussie yachting magazines a couple of years back. The Elco and other wartime adverts are just great. I'll be framing a couple to put in Grantala when we finish the fitout.

I'm not sure how far you are from Mystic - but I would think a visit would be the way to go. They were great for me - I got a copy of the July '37 article on my boat's design from them.


John B
03-30-2004, 04:13 AM
as an aside Cliff, I've just been reading some Elco history in ClassicBoat. Feb 2004 edition. Its part of an article on George Selman and the MTBs and MGBs he designed.

08-15-2012, 05:56 PM
I just learned of a similar 1947, 47' B-13 Elco named Franqui, it was adopted through BYB, I was trying to adopt her myself and just missed by a day, Im curently on the list if this falls through and secretly crossing my fingers that the adoption doesnt go through so I can have at her. She is a stunning boat, the first time Ive seen one from that era, always seeing the pre-war Elco's and in love with those as well. But this one is just unbelievable for a livaboard, and thats what I need to semi retire on. BTW Clif, I have seen your charter Murcury and you have done a stunning job and I hope to get in touch with you after I get the B-13 lol, Maybe we could do doubledutch charters?? I currently have a 1969 43' Egg in pretty good shape Ill be restoring for a while, its my hope to have one up north here and one south around Maryland or N. Carolina for the winters