Jet Surfboard JetBoard
Item History and Pricing
To start it, there was a flush submerged pull start handle in the top surfaceof the deck by the engine hatch. Air feed to the engine was controlled by a flappervalve vent forward on the nose of the board's top surface. It sucked air in,porting it to the stern (or rear) of the craft. It was constructed of a heavymarine grade aircraft aluminum alloy to withstand the saltwater conditions itwould be used in. The hull was self-bailing via a venturi effect off the gratedforward water feed port, on the bottom of the board, that exhausted through thejet drive nozzle to rear for propulsion. It required routine maintenance tokeep a tiny vent hole clear of seaweed or debris or the engine compartmentwould flood easily.
This board wasn't designed to be like a modern jet ski or later jet boards thatwere completely self-powered by much larger engines. The main design principalbehind it was to aide a surfer in getting out through the waves, instead oflaboriously paddling. This powered board also aided in times of smaller oceanwaves to push them along or in order to catch faster waves without paddling.Steering was accomplished by moving your weight around on the board and leaningsimilar to any standard surfboard. But this board was no lightweight andcarrying it any distance (despite its flip out handle) at 11 feet long andweighing 85 pounds, could be a real chore. Even with two people going to aremote access beach to launch it could be more work than paddling a normalboard once in the water. In heavy wave action, you would not want this beastcoming down on your head, if you fell off. So it was seldom used in rough waterconditions for this reason.
With its aluminum hull and unique flat lightweight custom Tehcumsuh6.25-horsepower engine and its custom Phelon Ignition, this board was indeedfairly thin. It was, however, remarkably buoyant with only the enginecompartment, air vent feed tube and jet tube to nozzle stern, not being filledwith flotation foam. Being that this board was only around five inches thick,made it much more like its big log board, non-powered cousins. In the latermodel, this original engine was further modified for reliability. Originallydesigned from a custom single-cylinder chainsaw motor with custom water-cooledjacket design, fed by the venturi effect of the enclosed jet prop that alsobailed engine compartment water out through the jet drive's stern nozzle. Thisalso carried the exhaust gases out the rear nozzle with a preventive flap tokeep water from getting into the engine, when it wasn't running.
The early mock up hulls were made of wood, but later production hulls were madeby the aeronautical company Sargent Fletcher in El Monte, California. They veryexpensive to build, being made of thick gauge form fabricated, marine gradealloy or modified aircraft aluminum (like a plane wing or floats on floatplane) and were mostly made of custom parts. They were priced expensive becauseof this costly fabrication process and only saw limited manufacture of justover six hundred. Sales were mostly to elite surfers and the wealthy. Sellingfor almost a thousand dollars, they were over half the price of a newVolkswagen Beetle in 1965. Their initial development and production was fundedby Alfred S. Bloomingdale who was said to dislike paddling and was heir to theBloomingdale's Department store fortune).
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