What’s My Line                                                                                                         By Syd “Bruce” Marsden
 I thought that I would do something a little different this time and share the story of my two FayBow outboard boats. It all started in January 1986. I was scheduled to work at the USCG station in Rochester, New York for two weeks. Rochester is near my hometown of Auburn, so on my way to Rochester, I spent the weekend at home with my parents. My Dad, mentioned that he'd had a phone call, from someone who had a 1929 FayBow outboard for sale, the caller wanted to know if we would be interested in purchasing the boat. We were familiar with the boats Fay & Bowen made and that they had gone bankrupt and the new buyers called the company FayBow.  But we had never heard of an outboard. Plans were made for the next weekend.
 
The boat was in an old barn with little light, but armed with a flashlight we proceeded to check it out. It was a gray boat in need of total restoration, but it had neat lines that reminded us of miniature inboard runabout. It also had something that we had never seen on an outboard, a brass cutwater and brass plate to cover the transom where the motor goes. On the back edge of the deck there was a metal FayBow nameplate. Well, the boat found a new home. The next weekend, it was off to the Geneva historical society. They had a photocopy of a brochure, but it was a 1931. The boat was called a “Middy”. This was all that they had on FayBow outboards. But while making copies, a lady told us that there was a man in town who used to work at FayBow. At that point I had never seen a photocopier work any slower. It turned out that the gentleman was only about ten blocks away. My mind was racing. Will he be there? Will he talk with me? What does he remember? He was home and would be glad to talk with me; the gentlemen was in his late 90’s. He started at the company when he was young and was employed there until the factory closed. He had some old pictures of the factory as well as some of the boats they produced. I was told," there was a lot of equipment and material at the factory when it closedproduction. The inventory was divided between the employee's still at the plant". He refused to allow me to borrow his collection, but suggested I return and take pictures of them.
It was a great experience... Then came the big question! Did they ever produce the Middy with a brass cutwater or  plate on the transom? His reply was “yes, we did one to try it out..to see how it looked”. It is times like this that you wish that you had a tape recorder. I have always wondered,.. was it only on the first one...? to make it look nicer,..? to take to shows,..?. maybe  a showroom sample? A few weeks later I went back with a friend of mine who had an excellent camera, we took pictures. The next month I gave the gentlemen a call only to learn that he had passed away.

Now on to June of the same year, Dad says, "guess what kind of boat I received a call on that is for sale?" A 1931 FayBow. First, we’d never heard of a Fay Bow. Then to receive two calls about them within six months of each other was a first. This one is about an hour and a half away, so off we go with the only empty trailer that we could get quick. It is for a 1929 26’ Chris Craft, the Middy is only 16’. Upon arrival the owner had pulled it outside on his trailer. The boat was in great shape, only three things not original, a strip of wood to hold a gas tank in place, a piece of wood to hold a throttle and eye bolts in the transom to tie it off. The only visual defect was the last person to put on some varnish, should not have. He did no prep work and it was all blistering. The other minor problems were the wiring for the lights were fraying and the “blue waterproof imitation Spanish leather upholstery” would crack at the slightest touch. How could you let a boat this nice not come home with you. So off of his trailer and onto the one we had brought. Now for the next problem, single and living in the barracks on Governors Island in NY Harbor, where do you do a restoration? Not a problem, just ask the three star Admiral that you work for if he would mind leaving one of this cars outside so that you can work on a boat. Not a problem. The next weekend I brought the boat down and started to strip it. I also had the upholstery redone using as close a match that I could find, reusing the original padding. During stripping I discovered how close the factory was cutting costs, the outside of the planks still had saw marks on them and the inside was planed to thickness and put on, even if the board was still not smooth.
 
The boat was finished and is very close to original. She has been shown several times with a 1931 Evinrude 14hp Fastwin. It makes a nice combination but I would like to find a 1931 Evinrude 22hp Speeditwin for it. This boat was even used as a display at a graduation ball, they made a nice sign for it. After that it went to the Finger Lakes Boat Show as a land display, after the show it was put in our barn for storage. A couple of years later, I noticed that the sign had gotten wet from a leak in the roof, so I took the sign out of the boat. When it fell on the ground it landed upside down. On the back was a note that said “my father Leo Davids designed this boat when I was a young teenager, I’m 78 (this was in 1996), if you would like more history feel free to call.” The writer of the note also stated that “the feature at the time was that no one could tip the boat over and if they could, they received the boat free”. My heart sank upon finding the note a couple of years after it had been written. I called the number and a lady answered…what a relief. She could not add much more other than her father also designed and campaigned the FayBow race boat called “Static”. She had some photos but no paperwork, one of the photos I copied was of the boat “Static”.  What a circle to complete.
     There is a difference between the looks of the two hulls. The ’29 has sleeker sides, is narrower, the back of the crowned deck forms a V-shape from the center out to the sides, whereas the ’31 has a flat back edge with rounded corners. The ’29 has two bench seats with fold down backs going across the boat and a small jump seat on each side of the motor by the transom. The ’31 has the same seating arrangement, except that the jump seats are up front by the deck. I have a copy of a brochure for the 31 and another that I believe is for a ’30 or else was drawn before the final plans were done for the ’29. The back of the deck still has the V-shape, but there are no jump seats. It has a third bench seat without a back. Both brochures show a steering wheel but neither of my boats have one. But the ’31 has the
optional running lights.



Specifications of each from brochures:
                                                                      1929                                                                               1931
Length                                                               16 feet                                                                             6 feet
Beam                                                                 52 inches                                                                        57 inches
Draft                                                                    5 inches                                                                         6 inches
Seating                                                                 6                                                                                   6 to 8
Speed                                                                Up to 22mph depending on power                                    up to 35mph
Finish                                                                 Philippine mahogany throughout                                       same
                                                                         except transom knee and ribs which are white oak
Fastening                                                           brass screws and copper rivets                                         same
Hardware                                                          solid brass polished, 2 bow chocks,                                  same
                                                                         one Bow cleat, flag pole socket 12”
                                                                         Steering wheel of solid brass with
                                                                         wood handles Bronze center, braided
                                                                         Tiller cord running through brass eyes
                                                                          and solid bronze self-aligning fair leaders
                                                                          Seats  Blue waterproof Spanish finish leather                     same
                                                                         cloth upholstery. Lazybacks fold on  Solid hinges.
                                                                         Seats may be removed if desired.
Price                                                                 Undetermined                                                                    $295.00 F.O.B.
                                                                                                                                                                    Geneva NY