New Guy Here -- Albert Hickman "Viper"

Discussion in 'Boat Design' started by SaltOntheBrain, Feb 22, 2007.

  1. SaltOntheBrain
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    SaltOntheBrain Senior Member

    I need a little help with a history lesson.

    I've read everything I can about Albert Hickman and his boats, but I can't seem to find photos, drawings, plans...nothing for "Viper", his first boat.

    I've read several places that "Tennessee" and "Sneakeasy" were copied somewhat from his design.

    Can anyone give me a clue about where to look?

    Thanks in advance.
    ------------
    Lance.
     
  2. charmc
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    charmc Senior Member

    Lance,

    This article has photos, an excellent letter comparing Hickman's sea sled to racing boats of the time, and liks to still more info and photos:

    http://ivb-boats.netfirms.com/HistoryOf-SeaSled.html

    This article has much detail about Hickman, a copy of the Sea Sled patent drawing, and details a fascinating connection between Hickman and Ray Hunt's original Boston Whaler:

    http://ivb-boats.netfirms.com/Hickman_Bio.html

    Hickman sounds like a maritime Burt Rutan, but without the people skills.

    By the way, welcome to the forum. Lots of good minds meet here.

    Cheers,

    Charlie
     
  3. SaltOntheBrain
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    SaltOntheBrain Senior Member

    Thanks, Charlie......

    Both for the info and the welcome.

    I've read that stuff before, though.

    His first boat was a long, slender flatbottom.

    Length: 20'2"
    Beam: 3'6"
    Slight rocker: 2-1/4" over 20 ft.
    Speed: 3hp= 8mph
    7hp= 14.3mph
    12hp= 18mph
    I think the year was 1910.

    I'd like to see some kind of illustration. Grainy black-and-white. Line drawing. Something.

    Anyone?

    -----------
    Lance.
     
  4. charmc
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    charmc Senior Member

    OK, I missed that your sole interest was in Viper. The boats you mentioned are reported to be derived from Viper's design, but no one states how they knew what Viper looked like. I, too, have seen lots of stuff on sea sleds, but no pix or dwgs of Viper. If I find anything, I'll let you know.
     
  5. SaltOntheBrain
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    SaltOntheBrain Senior Member

    Thanks, Charlie

    I've read different info on different pages about Viper. Not contradictory, just stuff like 3 and 7 hp stats on one, 12hp stats on another, but no bibliography info given. They said it looked like a crude coffin. Does that mean it was square bowed like a pram or jon boat? Or just had a plumb stem?

    I know a marine architect on Tortola, old retired guy with a huge library that he used to loan me all kinds of stuff from when I'd work there. I'll see if I can get in touch with him. He'd know if anybody would.

    One more thing. Is it just me, or do search engines seem to be getting dumber? It seems like you get less good info and a lot more totally unrelated nonsense than 5 or 6 years ago.

    -----------
    Lance.
     
  6. kach22i
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    kach22i Architect

    From the apparent weight distribution it looks like it could never get over hump speed and plane.

    http://ivb-boats.netfirms.com/Hickman_Bio.html
    Hickman's patent drawings for the Sea Sled hull form filed March 12, 1914

    Guess I'll have to read the articles.:p
     
  7. charmc
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    charmc Senior Member

    The guy who wrote the most complete biographical article on Hickman probably explained why it's so hard to find anything on Viper, his earliest design, which was never developed like the later sea sled design:
    "To say that this was a difficult piece of investigative reporting would be a gross understatement. Hickman worked alone, confided in no one, and shared nothing. "

    Another reason is probably that he himself likely tossed his notes and drawings on the earlier projects once the sea sled proved so successful.
     
  8. messabout
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    messabout Senior Member

    The original Viper was apparently the product of a few guys who simply wanted to build a boat. If, in fact, they built it in 30 hours using flooring lumber, then there was nothing remarkable about it. There was nothing particularly inventive either. Long, narrow, flat bottom boats were not unusual at the time.

    In defense of Bolger and his Sneakeasy, Tennessee, and similar boats from his board: To say that he "partially copied" Hickmans design is borderline heresy. Bolger, like Hickman, is/was a free thinker. That trait has caused some consternation among the establishment as it did with Hickman. To be sure, Old Phil has used observations and experience with other peoples' design work as a basis for some of the things he does. Is that not the case for nearly all boat designers ? Marie Curie almost surely used some prior art for her work but We would not accuse her of plaigerism. "Copy" is an ugly word when used in contexts other than those that also include the word Xerox.

    Hickman deserves credit for having been creative and brave in his developement of the sea sled. He gets no credits for the creation of a flat bottomed skiff.
     
  9. stonebreaker
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    stonebreaker Senior Member

    After reading that little biography article, it sounds like winning flame wars in the press was more important to Hickman than actually doing business.
     
  10. SaltOntheBrain
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    SaltOntheBrain Senior Member

    Come On, Stonebreaker....

    Be fair now.

    He faced men and institutions with bigger egos than his own and (unfortunately) more power to bully with.

    Remember Turbinia? Showed up the British admiralty in public and finally got noticed. Changed The world of ships until diesel took over.

    That sounds just like a Hickman stunt, only if he'd done it, with his enemies, he'd have ended up in prison.

    All right then guys, anyone hear of Ken Handman? He built a cat with pointed bows that reversed at the chines, sorta inverted vee. Performed pretty well, ride, efficiency, all that. When I spoke to him in Hermosa about 3 years ago (4?) he was looking to license the hull design. Anybody hear anything new about this guy or this boat?

    ___________

    Lance
     
  11. charmc
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    charmc Senior Member

  12. stonebreaker
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    stonebreaker Senior Member

    I work as a contractor to the US Air Force. I'm fairly familiar with the whole bidding process for government contracts, and it sounds like it hasn't changed all that much in the last hundred years. My company isn't the biggest player on the block, and so we have to be careful sometimes not to make some of our bigger competitors look bad in the process of proving we're right and they're not. They often have well-developed relationships with their customers, and sometimes making your competition look bad can inadvertently tar your potential customer with the same brush. You have to be careful and you have to know the political situation, or you can lose a contract without even knowing what happened. Hickman's mistake was in believing that being right was the only thing that mattered.
     
  13. SaltOntheBrain
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    SaltOntheBrain Senior Member

    You're right

    He was not very diplomatic.

    What that article didn't tell was that one of his competitors believed that it was his surface drive and not his hull design that was fast. They built boats the same size, with the same power and surface drive, and then Hickman's boat proceeded to run several knots faster during the race and finished miles ahead of the other boat. As you read, he still didn't get the credit he deserved.

    ______________

    Lance.
     
  14. SaltOntheBrain
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    SaltOntheBrain Senior Member

    Thanks Charlie

    Did you notice how different the Aero cat and the Port Erie boats are?

    I was wondering if the harsh ride of a lightly loaded sea sled could be softened by making a cat with inveted vee hulls. Thing is, they'd have to be pointed because a sea sled bow won't work that narrow.

    I did a search and came up with only one like it. Handman's boat. I called him and talked to him for a while and he was (understandably) reluctant to give me too much information about it's design. When he found out that the folks I worked for were aluminum fabricators who specialized in boat repair, and built boats on the side in our spair time, he asked if I'd be interested in building one of aluminum, and I had to admit that the USVI was probably the most expensive place to have one built and suggested he seek out someone in Washington or Alaska, him already being on the west coast and all.

    From time to time, I'd look for news on his boat, but never got anything useful in my searches, so I appreciate the info, but it sure leaves a lot more questions than it answers

    ___________

    Lance.
     

  15. charmc
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    charmc Senior Member

    Handman a lot like Hickman?

    Lance,

    You're right, Handman doesn't give much straightforward information; in that respect he seems a bit like Hickman. Of course, Burt Rutan doesn't give out specific info about his aero designs until all the trade protection paperwork is filed and at least one has been built. Guys who think outside the box can be pretty protective of their designs.

    Having said all that, I see similarities between the two Handman designs. The Aero cat has the "sailboat" bows of the Port Erie design. I can't tell if the hulls are similar, can't tell much from the one picture.

    Charlie
     
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