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World's largest runabout returning to Clayton this week

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Its been nearly a year and a half since Pardon Me, the world's largest runabout, was in Clayton. The enormous 48-foot long boat, that once graced the St. Lawrence River - most recently in the mid-2000s, will return from Brooklin, Maine where it has undergone extensive restoration work.

The Antique Boat Museum is preparing for Pardon Me's return this Thursday. The boat will go on display later this summer.

Below, curator Emmett Smith provides a small look into the boat and the project that will soon be celebrated.

By Emmett Smith, Curator

It has always been hard for folks to keep their hands off of Pardon Me. The 48-foot edifice of mahogany and chrome is intoxicating, it begs to be touched, heard, and driven. More than any other boat in the Antique Boat Museum’s collection, it seems to draw people in and hold them under its thrall. It has the same effect on us, too.

Last summer, Pardon Me received a new bottom at Brooklin Boatyard, in Brooklin, Maine, in preparation for a return to in-water use in 2014.

One of the largest boats ever built by Hutchinson’s Boat Works in Alexandria Bay, NY, Pardon Me was launched in 1947. It was the creation of John Hacker, and drawn to the specifications of Charlie Lyon of Chippewa Bay and Ogdensburg, NY. Known as the “Roaring Lyon,” Charlie liked to make big statements. Custom speedboats were an important part of the boating culture of the time, and a big custom job like Pardon Me was a sure way to make a splash on the summer scene.

Since arriving at ABM in 1986, the gift of Jim and Tony Lewis, Pardon Me has been used half a dozen times as a floating or running exhibition. A single-screw wooden boat with a 1600 hp V-12 engine, it has always been a challenge to operate. The new bottom is part of the most comprehensive effort ever undertaken to make the boat stronger, more reliable, and more runnable than ever before.

The project began at the Museum, with a full documentation of the boat and initial repairs. As so often happens with restoration projects, we found unanticipated structural issues and decided we needed backup!

Brooklin Boatyard, one of the most well-respected wooden yacht yards in the US, was selected to complete the hull work. The engine has been completely rebuilt and certain systems updated by Rocky Summit Performance in Tennessee.

This past fall, the boat and engine were reunited for sea trials, and we will have this iconic power craft back in the water for summer 2014. The sight of Pardon Me thundering down the River again is truly something to look forward to this season, and for this year’s historic 50th annual Antique Boat Show - August 1-3!

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