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Building a link to his past

Photo Credit: SUBMITTED PHOTO:  WAYNE PURDY - Wayne Purdys 1926 Purdy Biscayne Baby is made of mahogony and required 18 coats of varnish. There will be many beautiful and unique boats on Lakewood Bay during the Classic Boat Show on Sunday, but only one “gentleman’s racer” has a family connection that goes back almost 90 years.

Lake Oswego resident Wayne Purdy built his 1926 Purdy Biscayne Baby using plans from the Purdy Boat Company — a company, he discovered, that was owned by distant cousins.

During the 1920s and ’30s, the Purdy Boat Company of Port Washington, Long Island, New York, was one of the more famous makers of custom yachts and racing boats. The Purdy name still evokes a bygone era of classic boats, custom designed and built by brothers Ned and Gil Purdy and their families.

“Since all the Biscayne Babies were alike, they raced against one another as equals,” Purdy said. “In theory, all the boats have an even chance in a race, with the only difference being in the skill of the driver. It was a relatively new concept in the ’20s and is now common on small sailboats.”

Purdy started building the boat six years ago as a retirement project, and he took great care to build it according to the original Purdy specifications.

The boat is made of mahogany and required 18 coats of varnish, with sanding between each coat. He found the engine — a 1924 Scripps marine engine — in the back room of a Detroit auto repair shop, where it had been stored for 40 years.

The rudder and gasket were custom made of bronze from wood templates he created. The running lights were found on eBay and the throttle came from a vintage tractor.

“The steering wheel is from a Model T, which is relatively common,” Purdy said. “And it is noisy — it roars! The engine has low rpm and high torque.”

The project was one long labor of love, and the finished product something of which Purdy has the right to be proud.

“It was fun, I am sorry to see it end. I really enjoyed working on it,” Purdy said.

Contact Barb Randall at 503-636-1281 ext 100 or brandall@lakeoswegoreview.com.

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