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Unique Electric Simmonds

This boat has now been sold, but was a genuine "first", to our knowledge, and a unique opportunity to acquire a classic aluminium-hulled Simmonds with 21st Century "green" credentials.

After seeing many years service as a ski boat at Teignmouth in South Devon, the boat was discovered in a field by her current owner about four years ago. Although in a very sad state of neglect, the hull was essentially sound, even though the non-original engine was a total loss.

The first task was to remove the scrap engine. This was not a genuine marinised Simmonds unit (usually based on the Ford Consul four-cylinder), so there was little point in attempting to salvage anything from the installation. In addition, the original engine cover had also suffered at the hands of whoever installed the engine, and would also need replacing. With both gone, the new owner was left with a significant gap in the middle of the boat, and a challenge on his hands.

Simmonds Ski Boat with electric motorIn recent years some Simmonds have had non-original engines installed, including one with a diesel unit, but this is the first time anyone has decided to go electric. By adapting the original engine mounting points, a Lynch Motor Company LMC D135 permanent magnet DC electric motor was installed, driven by a 48 volt DC battery system. The "pancake" motor is typically used to propel lightweight electric vehicles, such as golf buggies and city cars, and uses the relatively high voltage to achieve significant torque and efficiency from a very lightweight, compact design. The motor weighs just over three kilos, yet generates around 15 hp and 4.35Nm of torque. A new prop shaft and flexible coupling linked to a three-blade propeller complete the boat's whisper-quiet transmission.

Before the motor was installed, the hull was completely restored, right down to bare-metal. All the old paint was removed to reveal the aluminium shell, which was checked for faults and weaknesses before being given three layers of undercoat and a final colour top-coat in pale cream and ivory.

The battery compartment contains four 12 volt batteries linked in series, and encloses all the electrical control, battery recharging and operating equipment. The original steering wheel was renovated, but the new owner went to the expense of having a number of the unique Simmonds components recreated from scratch. These included replacement windscreen pillars and rudder shaft quadrant (although casts for keel fin and propeller end bearing were also taken), which were all remodelled and freshly cast for this restoration. New Perspex screens were fitted and the steering mechanism was re-cabled. To finish off, the cockpit seating was completely re-upholstered.

One of the delays in completing the restoration was sourcing suitable analogue dashboard gauges for a 48 volt system, such as voltmeter, ammeter and battery condition gauge. After nine months diligent searching, these were eventually sourced from the United States. The boat has also been treated to a brand new trailer.

The boat returned to the water for the first time in 2010, and performed beautifully. With no clutch to contend with, and offering both forward and reverse (in itself, something of a novelty on a Simmonds!), the electric drive is very responsive, and offers silent, fume-free running. Although lacking the top-end performance of the original four-cylinder petrol engine, the electric Simmonds still returns an easy cruising speed of around 15 knots at part throttle, but given open water is likely to exceed this fairly easily. For anyone looking for a boat with classic lines to use on inland waters, especially those with speed and noise restrictions such as the River Thames, then this Simmonds offers the perfect compromise of style and efficiency.

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Simmonds G519 For Sale Simmonds G519 For Sale Simmonds G519 For Sale
Simmonds G519 For Sale Simmonds G519 For Sale Simmonds G519 For Sale

This boat has now been sold, but the details and photos are left here as useful reference.

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to Simmonds owners and in good faith.

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