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Yellow Jacket Wood Boat Company History

 

The Yellow Jacket Boat Company was in business for 10 years from 1949 to 1959 and was considered to be a very popular molded plywood boat known for it's speed and durability. In the beginning the hulls were molded by a company in Canada and shipped to Denison, Texas for assembly. The company's founder was R. A. McDerby who pasted away in January 2004. I have had a few conversations  with Mr. McDerby and I must say that he had a lot of interesting storys and always enjoyed talking about Yellow Jackets and seeing there photos. We will all miss Mac…….

Mr. McDerby and Roy Rogers (also part owner for awhile) saw many speed records broken with the Yellow Jacket Wood Boat and a pair of outboard motors. The horse power varied depending on the year, the earlier the year the less the horse power. The boat really became popular in 1953 when two fellows drove their 14 foot runabout from New Orleans to St. Louis in a record time beating the old record with speeds averaging 28 to 44 M.P.H with a pair of 25 horse power Johnsons.

Some features that the Yellow Jacket Boat Company are known for are the bent wood spring seats(for a beter ride), stronger transoms that could take larger outboards, and toward the end years the transoms had no knee bracing (this led to the transoms of today). They also developed deeper hulls, for a safer and dryer ride.

Fageol Products Company produced two different types of inboards available, one engine was horizonal and the other had a vertical mount engine (see Jims Yellow Jacket) and (Marty’s Yellow Jacket) and (Johns Yellow Jacket). As I understand, there were less than 100 of these inboards made. Please follow the link to see the Fageol company tree and products. (inboard brochures)

Naval Architect

By Mike Cole(son of Richard Cole Of Miami Florida)

·         Dad was born in London England in 1909 and left to South Africa in 1935.  Dad became a Naval Architect,
started designing small wooden outboard cruisers in South Africa but saw opportunity in the US. 

  • In 1947 he and my mother came to Canada while waiting for clearance to come into the US.  It
     was about 1948 that he designed the Yellow Jacket hulls for Industrial Shipping in Nova Scotia Canada.
  •   McDerby saw opportunity in these hulls and had train loads of them shipped to him weekly in Texas. 
     Dad then designed the deck, transom, stringers, etc in order for McDerby to make a complete boat and the Yellow Jacket boat was born.
    Dad also originally designed the spring seats in these boats but discovered another person in the company attempted to patent his idea.  Dad
  • drove all the way from Texas to Washington DC and filed his own patent since it was his idea. I have not actually confirmed if the patent
     was ever issued and dad does not remember. By 1950, fiberglass was coming rapidly into the industry and dad had started designing for
     Thunderbird boats in Miami Fl.  Because these seats were not suitable for fiberglass boats, dad did not pursue the patent issue any further     
    ..  This patent can be confirmed by checking with the US patent office. Later, Roy Rogers apparently became a part owner,
     but dad was not involved with Yellow Jacket boats during this era and did not design the wings and things that evolved in the later boats.
    Dad went on the invent the Cathedral Hull (Patented) in 1958 for Thunderbird Boats in North Miami Fl (seen on the original "Flipper"
     TV series as Ranger Rick's boat.)  Thunderbird became quite successful actually building boats on three shifts during their most
  • prosperous times in the 60's.  He also designed the "Gullwing" Cathedral hull for Evinrude boats in the 60's.
  • In 1970 dad designed the Airslot Hull (Patented) for Wellcraft Marine and also created the very first Walkaround cuddy cabin in
  • 1974 in the 24' Airslot. Throughout he career he designed many boats, both wood, and fiberglass in the later years.
      Some of his earlier wood designs included Coronet boats out of Denmark and Regal out of Florida.  His fiberglass
     designs included Thunderbird, Evinrude, Wellcraft, Donzi, Nova, and many others. He designed all the way up through his 80's
     with his last boat being a 31' for Wellcraft Marine.
     
    Naval Architect Richard (Dick) Cole passed away 1-20-04 from Larynx cancer. Mike R. Cole
     
    Please check out the Patents
  •  D186480 oct 1959
  • D199602 nov 1964 "Boat"
  • D199768 dec 1964 "Boat"
  • D204522 apr 1966 "Longitudinally Stepped Cathedral Hull"
  • D204523 apr 1966 "Cathedral Boat"
  • D219627 dec 1970 "Hull for Planing Boat"
  • 3,602,179 aug 1971 "Hydroplane Boat"
  • D224275 jul 1972 "Power Boat"
  • D234349 feb 1975 "Runabout Power Boat"
  • D234685 apr 1975 "Fishing Cruiser" (airslot)

 

Yellow Jacket/ Sears/ Elgin

Courtesy of  Denise Goodwin

Here is a exert out of a document I have on the Angler/Penn Yan boat company:

 

Molded Mahogany

During the late 1950’s, Sears bought boats from a company called Yellow Jacket based in Texas. These boats were made from molded mahogany veneers. Their distribution of the finished boats from Texas to the Northeast posed quite a problem and Sears asked Angler to assist in the program. Yellow Jacket shipped train carloads of molded mahogany "skins" to Angler. These skins had no transoms and were nested like spoons with up to a hundred or more per car. During that period there was a four-story warehouse on the corner of Liberty and Lake Street, which is the present location of Pudgie’s Pizza. The first and second floors of this warehouse were rented by Angler and the mahogany skins were completed into finished boats. This operation was under the direction of Earl Newcomb, foreman. The parts for these boats were made in the Angler mill. The finished boats were shipped out to Sears by rail freight and by Angler trailer. This production was for one year only. During the season that Sears was taking both Angler cedar boats and the molded mahogany boats it became necessary to put on a second shift. When operating, the second shift was run by Larry Orr.

Follow the link to see the page out of the 1957, 1958 and 1959 Sears Catalog on the Elgin Molded Plywood Boats for comparison to the 1959 Brochure listed below.

 


Description: Description: Description: Photo courtesy of Mr. Robert Geoffroy

Description: Description: Description: Photo courtesy of Mr. J. Nicholas

 

 

For More Roy Photos and INFO Click Here


 

For those who want more info on the Yellow Jacket Boat Company I recomand buying the book "The Real Runabouts IV", by Bob Speltz.........this book has some pictures and info on the company as well as meny other companys.


Photos of the 1954 Yellow Jacket Line of boats

 


1950 Brochure of Yellow Jacket Boats

(click to enlarge)

Description: Description: Description: Yellow Jacket brochure........cover page

Description: Description: Description: Yellow Jacket brochure...............inside page

Description: Description: Description: Yellow Jacket brochure..........specification page

Description: Description: Description: Yellow Jacket brochure.............back page & mailer fold

1959 Brochure (click here) Photos courtesy of Chris Scott

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1957 Brochure

For more on the Fageol Inboard Conversion and the Pepco Supercharger click here

 

 

 

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Please "email" me with your questions or comments or if you have a Yellow Jacket Boat to martyf@mchsi.com