This old girl was found in the Fall of 1986 on the edge of Gilmanton Iron Works (NH) village, where she lay in the woods for over thirty years.
RFD # l, Box 866, Gilmanton I. W. ,NH 03837.
My sons and I came across her as we were trying to walk off a big Thanks giving dinner.
In examining her, I was intrigued with the shape of her stern. I spent four years in the Coast Guard and had never seen a boat quite like her. She was in terrible shape, half full of mud and leaves. After looking her over, we left her resting as we found her. I thought about her all that winter and the next summer. That stern really haunted me, 'Could I bring her back to life?' I had never restored a boat before and didn't have the foggiest idea how to go about it or where to start. I just couldn't get my mind off that enchanting lady, so in November 1987 I went back to see her. I couldn't bear to see her exposed to another winter so I approached the land owner and, the fool that I am, brought her home.
She carried no identification of any kind, and several leads from local old timers as to her origin ended in disappointment. Her photographs were shown to every boat restorer in the Lakes Region, but no one had seen anything like her. In the meantime, restoration continued and it was decided that if she hadn't been a launch in her old life, she was going to be one in her new life.
It was not until the Fall of 1989 that she was finally identified and dated, thanks to the efforts of Ken Mac-Stephen of Ontario, Canada. Mr. Mac-Stephen is an authority on Mullins 'launches' (yes, I said launch), and owns a 1911 Mullins himself. By this time (1989) we were pretty well committed to design, so what you see before you is not a true replica of how she originally looked.
As luck would have it, we heard about a true Mullins engine (very rare) in Calais, Maine. It was in need of complete rebuilding but it was a Muffins, so we lugged it home, where an old friend awaited it. The engine, a one cylinder, is 3 HP and turns a 14' reversible pitch propeller at an outrageous speed of 300-700 RPM.
After two years and eight months of restoration work, on July 1, 1990 she was re-launched and sputtered back to life-a brand new, very old boat.
The W. H. Mullins Company built their first boat (metal) in 1894 (a kayak). By 1904 they were experimenting with motor boats. Two years later they were offering both 16 and 18 foot models. In the next ten years they sold 1,200 to 1,500 launches a year.
Reportedly, Mullins made their own engines until 1908. The price of their 3 HP (pictured) at that time was $90.00 including all necessary equipment from batteries to propellor.
After 1908, Ferro provided the engines, first under the Mullins name, then under their own name. (I have a Mullins/Ferro 3 HP, yet to be restored).
Salem, Ohio until 1935, at which time the business (including the Mullins trade name) was sold to the Mullins Boat Company in Oil City, Pennsylvania. This company continued to build boats until 1939, when the factory was converted for the war effort. Mullins boats were never built again, but by this time over 100 thousand had been sold worldwide.
I would like very much to hear from any readers who have additional information on the Mullins Company or their boats or engines prior to 1920. Or, if any of my information is incorrect, I'd sure like to know about that as well.