Historic Grand Banks Pictures

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Historic Grand Banks Pictures

Postby skong_1999 » Thu Nov 05, 2009 6:50 pm

I posted this earlier under the topic: 2008 Puget Sound GB Rendezvous

As suggested by Bob, I am re-posting this here under General Information. The following is a link to the set of slides and the script I used for the presentation I did at the 2008 Puget Sound GB Rendezvous:

http://www.facebook.com/album.php?aid=1 ... 43e71fcd48

If anyone likes to have any of the .jpg file of the slides, just send me a Private Message with your email address and I can send them to you.

Attached are a few more old pictures from my collection.

One thing I hear a lot when I talk to Grand Banks owners is the long history they have with Grand Banks: Oh, this is the Nth GB I owned, I bought my first GB in 19?? ..." Or: "This GB has been in my family since ... " ... etc.

If you have any old pictures/stories relating to Grand Banks, I am sure many people on this board like to see/hear them. If you like, you can post a reply to this topic with your pictures and stories. May be someday someone can compile a coffee table book of all the historic pictures and stories from all the people on this board :-)

Shing
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Postby Richard Werner » Thu Nov 05, 2009 8:55 pm

Thank you very much for posting this story. Great reading.

Rich
GB32-1972
#277
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Postby JJKORN » Fri Nov 06, 2009 8:54 pm

Shing,

Great story .. thanks for the link ... it's an important connection and gives more motivation for our restoration of the "405" .. keeping the heritage of a great wooden boat alive.

Jeff Korn
"The 405"
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GB 28

Postby MitjaT » Mon Nov 09, 2009 10:09 am

Thanks for the story! Very interesting. I have a GB 28 from 1975 I think. She was built in Singapore in solid teak planking to be a mould for glassfibre mass production. That`s what I heard. Do You happen to know anything about the boat? Mitja.
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Postby skong_1999 » Mon Nov 09, 2009 11:43 am

Dear Matja,

Great pictures of your Grand Banks 28. What an interesting boat :-)
Considering the cost of "solid teak" these days, your boat is worth
a fortune just the teak alone, not to mention the uniqueness of the boat.

As far as the history of your boat is concerned, I have no 1st hand
knowledge other that what I read from Spray about 1 year ago
(you probably read about this already):

Apparently, a long time ago - circa 1972, America Marine was
looking at new models to add to its lineup. One idea was a smaller
cousins of the GB32, and the company even went so far as to
build a "plug," esentially a wooden hull that would be used to
construct a fiberglass mold. But with demand for models like
the 32 and 36 going so strong, the 28 project never got off
the ground: the factory was simply too busy filling orders
for existing models.

Exactly what happened next is far from certain. It is believed
that the hull, along with drawings for the GB28, was eventually
sold into the Philippines as a custom, one-off project for her
new owners.

I have also heard "rumors" that a project that was started in
Australia back in the 70s that tried to build a GB28 locally for
the Australian market.

In any case, I will asked around and see if I can find more
information about this project. It sure is an interesing boat
and THANK YOU for sharing this with us.

Thanks,
Shing :-)
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Postby Bob Lowe » Mon Nov 09, 2009 11:57 am

This has been discussed here before and from that as well as talking with the owner of one in Oak Harbor WA, I was under the impression that it is a Newton 28. Not sure if Newton built it or not.
Good luck,
Bob Lowe
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Postby skong_1999 » Mon Nov 09, 2009 12:24 pm

Bob Lowe wrote:This has been discussed here before and from that as well as talking with the owner of one in Oak Harbor WA, I was under the impression that it is a Newton 28. Not sure if Newton built it or not.


Thanks Bob. What you said just brings back some old memories that may or may not apply to this topic.

Right after the old American Marine went bankrupt and the Newton brothers were forced out of the management team in 1975, Whit's older brother John Newton came to Hong Kong and worked with my father (before my father started Kong and Halvorsen) on a project building a 28-foot boat. At that time, the boat was called "Polaris 28." The boats were built out of wood (they did not have the money to build any fiberglass mold). I recalled that boat looked a lot like the Grand Banks (what do you expect, both John Newton and my father had spent their entire career building Grand Banks up to that point :-) Not long after that, I think John Newton also tried to build more boats either in the Phillipines and/or south America. I wonder whether the "GB 28" was one of the "Polaris 28" or one of the other boats built by John Newton during that time. I will see if I can find out more information on that.

In any case, Matja, does your boat have a "Little Dipper" (the Polaris was named after the North Star of the constallaion Little Dipper") logo outside, on side of the superstructure near the stern of the boat?

Bob, thanks again for the reply.

Shing
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Postby MitjaT » Mon Nov 09, 2009 2:44 pm

Dear Shing, thanks a lot for the information You gave me! No, she has a brass plate telling "American Marine Ltd Singapore, Grand Banks 28 hull#001". Also her interior is completely different to Newtons. It sounds Your story is finally the right one. If the superstructure is made somewhere else, it`s for sure they have had drawings for a GB 28. The house and the interior is like down-scaled 32. Also the hardware like the ice box, knobs handles, all the brass is identical to a GB. As well as the meters. Once again, thanks for the info and for the interesting story of the American Marine, Mitja.
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Postby MitjaT » Mon Nov 09, 2009 2:48 pm

P.S. The Original name of her`s was `Lorna´.
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The Newtons, the Alaskans, and the AM Singapore Boatyard

Postby skong_1999 » Mon Nov 09, 2009 8:54 pm

Bob Lowe wrote:This has been discussed here before and from that as well as talking with the owner of one in Oak Harbor WA, I was under the impression that it is a Newton 28. Not sure if Newton built it or not.


Bob had just made me aware of the "GB28" topic link. Here are some facts I can add to the discussion. Hopefully, this can answer some of the questions raised in that thread.

Were the Newtons senior managers at the American Hong Kong Boatyard?
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Short Answer: They were not only senior executives, they were the owners!

American Marine was started in 1956 by Robert Newton and his two sons Whit and older brother John in Hong Kong. The first Grand Bank built there was the Grand Banks 36. Then came the Grand Banks 42 as the luxury model. The Grand Banks 32 was the last to be introduced as the economy model.

Initially, both John and Whit Newton worked with their father in Hong Kong. At that time, John and Whit, together with their young families, shared a large 100-year old farmhouse not far from my parents. As I recall, John and his family lived in the back. Whit and his family lived in the front. The entire extended family lived under one roof, just liked what the Chinese did back then. No wonder the Chinese workers loved them :-)

Eventually, Robert Newton retired and moved back to the U.S. Not long after that, John moved back to the U.S. to run the company headquarters as the chairman. I remembered my father was a bit sad one day when he came home from work and told my mother that John was moving back to the U.S. John and my father were pretty close back in the early days of American Marine. Whit stayed in Hong Kong and ran the production side of the company as the president until 1975.

Was the Singapore Boatyard Started to Build Fiberglass Boats?
----------------------------------------------------------------------
Short Answer: Unclear. The preponderance of evidence says no.

By the late 1960s. the Grand Banks 32, 36, and 42 were already on their ways to become legends. John and Whit had big plan for the company. Their plan was to expand the production capacity and eventually turn the company into a public company via an IPO in the U.S. stock market.

The problem with their expansion plan was lack of land in Hong Kong. Fortunately, they got this great deal from the Singapore government: "Come, we have plenty of land, and financial incentives for you too" :-) Rumors had it that the deal was personally approved by the legendary PM Lee Kuan Yew himself. I recalled my father and some of his top shipwrights were sent to Singapore to set up the boatyard as well as served as technical advisors.

Were the GB48, 50, and Alaskans Ever Built in Singapore?

When the Singapore boatyard was first opened in 1968, only the GB32 production line was moved from Hong Kong. GB36 was moved to Singapore shortly after that, all built in wood. The GB42, however, remained in Hong Kong until 1973 when the production of 32, 36, and 42 were switched to fiberglass. Also in Hong Kong were the production lines for GB48, GB50, and the Alaskan 49, 53, and 55. The production of these bigger boats, all in wood, remained operational until 1975 when the old American Marine filed for bankruptcy. Furthermore, GB48, GB50, and all the Alaskans models were never built in Singapore as far as I know.

I guess one advantage of having two production facilities was that it enabled them to develop the fiberglass boats in secret while only giving customers/dealers tours of the Hong Kong boatyard. They needed to develop the fiberglass boats in secret because if the words leaked out, nobody would buy the wooden models :-(

While it is true that the fiberglass Grand Banks models were eventually developed in Singapore in 1973, I doubt fiberglass production was the main reason why the Newtons opened the Singapore boatyard in 1968.

How the Torch was Passed From the Newtons to the Livingstons?
-------------------------------------------------------------------------
Disclaimer: The events I described below happened close to 40 years ago and was based purely on my recollection of what my father told me. Many people may have different views of the events.

American Marine did managed to go IPO in the U.S. in the early 70s. My father used to have some very nice American Marine stock certificates with a nice GB42 drawing on them. Unfortunately, they probably worth less than the paper they were printed on after the company went bankrupt :-(

Looking back, the IPO may be more a curse than a blessing for American Marine. True back then as it is true today, once a company becomes a public company, investors expect constant quarter-to-quarter revenue growth.

In order to provide that kind of growth, the Newton brothers had to open new revenue streams, which included ventures such as:
1. Greatly increased the production rates of GB32, GB36, and GB42. After all, these were now fiberglass boats that could "pop out" of the molds easily. As it turned out, it was a big mistake :-(

2. Set up their own sale channels to bypass the dealers. Many old timers will tell you that this was one of the fatal mistakes since this really alienated the existing dealer network. It is easy to see now with 20/20 hindsight, the dealers simply could not compete with the direct sales channel. After a while, they just gave up selling your boats :-(

3. Start a bunch of subsidiaries to manufacture marine products such as:
a. Marine diesel engines. They developed a very high performance
engine that was used in the Laguna series of fiberglass boats.
My father told me it was a very expensive development program.
b. Electronic navigation equipments.
c. Chalking compounds.
d. Marine paints ... etc.

Needless to say, this really distracted the company from their core competency, which was to build and sell highest quality boats.

In any event, they may still had pulled it off (and my father would have been rich with all his American Marine pre IPO stock :-) had history not thrown them a curve ball (I had just recently finished reading a book called "Black Swan." One important lesson from the book was that NEVER confuse your economic projection that is based on mathematical models with REALITY. History was shaped by unforeseen events). Right when the company was highly leveraged with all these expansion plans, the oil embargo of the early 1970s came alone :-(

With fuel price skyrocketed, the U.S. economy went into a deep recession, American Marine's bread and butter business of building luxury yachts suddenly found themselves building more boats than they could sell.

This eventually led to American Marine's bankruptcy in 1975. The Newtons were forced to resign, the Hong Kong boatyard was closed, and the Singapore boatyard was eventually sold to a new investment group led by Mr. Bob Livingston, the company controller at that time. So 1975 marked the end of the Newtons Dynasty and the beginning of the Livingston Dynasty. And we all owe Mr. Bob Livingston a big thank you for keeping the Grand Banks Dynasty alive and thrive. Otherwise, none of us will be discussing Grand Banks on this board today :-)

What Happened Shortly after the Hong Kong Boatyard Closed Down?
-----------------------------------------------------------------------------
It was the worst of time, the best of time :-)

After the Hong Kong boatyard closed down in 1975, there were some unfinished hulls for the Grand Banks 48 and Alaskan 49, 53, and 55 left in boatyard. My father Joe Kong, by that time the "General Manager" of the Hong Kong operation, then hired some of the layoff workers to finish them. They were all completed in the original American Marine Hong Kong boatyard. One of such boats was the Alaskan 53 Joanne and I came upon last year in the San Francisco delta, which was listed as a "1977 Alaskan 53" (click the following link to my facebook album: The Original Grand Banks AL53):

http://www.facebook.com/album.php?aid=1 ... d79d79db42

While my father was working on these boats in the old American Marine Hong Kong boatyard, John Newton had returned to Hong Kong with an offer my father could not refuse (when you were layoff, anything to generate an income was hard to refuse): To build a scaled-down version of the Grand Banks 32. After all, the U.S. economy was in a deep recession so the reason went: smaller cheaper is better. The boat was named Polaris 28.

My father did not feel comfortable building the Polaris 28 in the old American Marine boatyard since that could have legal consequences. Fortunately, my uncle, my father's younger brother, had a factory that made wooden dining wares (salad bowls, nut dishes ... etc.) just down the road from the American Marine boatyard. That was the place where the Polaris 28 were built, with all the Grand Banks spare parts my father purchased from the holding company that was appointed by the bankruptcy court to oversee the old American Marine boatyard. The boat was built with wood only since neither John nor my father had any money to invest in the fiberglass molds.

One interesting note. When my father hired the layoff workers to work on the unfinished Grand Banks and Alaskans as well as the Polaris 28, he had a large talent pool of workers to chose from. Consequently, he hired only the most senior and capable workers. So one way to put a positive spin on this is that all those boats were built by the all-star team from the old American Marine Hong Kong boatyard :-) I am sure this can be spinned in many negative ways too ... but I will stick to my positive spin and let other pundits spin the other way :-) After all, I like stories with positive endings :-)

In any case, that is the story as was told to me by my late father, a long time ago, at a far away place :-)

I really appreciate all the interests in these old stories and the opportunity to tell them in this forum. So a BIG heartwarming THANK YOU to all of you Grand Banks enthusiasts out there who have kept the Grand Banks brand alive all these years. Grand Banks Forever :-)

Sincerely yours,

Shing Kong
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Postby bob t » Mon Nov 09, 2009 9:34 pm

Shing..
once again from all of us ..thank you for these wonderful insights into our history and please keep them coming!!

bob thoma
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Re: The Newtons, the Alaskans, and the AM Singapore Boatyard

Postby skong_1999 » Thu Nov 12, 2009 9:05 pm

skong_1999 wrote: Also in Hong Kong were the production lines for GB48, GB50, and the Alaskan 49, 53, and 55.


Oops sorry, I forgot to mention the Alaskan 46 and Bob's beloved Alaskan 45. They were built in the Hong Kong boatyard as well. Not that many Alaskan 45s (eight) and 46s (40) were ever built, all in wood. I think they stopped building the Alaskan 46 after the Alaskan 49 was introduced.

The production of Grand Banks 48, 50, and all the Alaskan models stopped after the Hong Kong boatyard was closed down in 1975. Consequently, the only wooden boats ever built in Singapore were Grand Banks 32 and Grand Banks 36. Some older wooden Grand Banks 32 and 36, however, were built in Hong Kong.

Officially, there were no Alaskans built after 1975. However, as stated in my last posting, my father's "all-star" team did finish some after 1975. I think for marketing reasons, some were sold as "1976 models" or even "1977 models," which was the case for the "1977 Alaskan 53" I mentioned in my previous posting.

It was unfortunate that American Marine never re-started the Alaskan line of raised pilothouse boats after the Hong Kong boatyard was shut down. I guess in the late 70s and early 80s, American Marine was just too busy trying to dig itself out of the financial mess they were in and did not have the resources to introduce (re-introduce) another model line. This gave Tony Fleming an opening. Tony left American Marine in 1983 and started his own company building the Fleming line of raised pilothouse boats, which is another story for another time :-)

For those who are interested in what an Alaskan 46 looks like, attached is an old advertisement as well as a picture of an AL46 Joanne and I saw at the Emeryville (CA) Marina a year ago when we spent a weekend there.

She is Hull Number 32 and belongs to Bob and Camille Avwerter. A nice young couple who lives onboard with their big dog :-)

For those who are interested in learning more about the Alaskan 45, I will leave that to our expert on this topic, Bob Lowe :-) Here is a pointer to Bob's Dreamer web site:

http://www.MV-Dreamer.com

Shing :-)
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Postby Marin Faure » Fri Nov 13, 2009 12:38 am

Shing---


Thank you for your outstanding recollection of GB's history.

A few years ago I read an interview with Howard Abbey who designed and built the original molds for the fiberglass GB36 (and I assume GB32 and GB42 as well). According to the interview he personally supervised the molding of every fiberglass hull from the start of fiberglass production in mid-1973 to the time he left the company in mid-1974. Did you know Abbey or have occasion to learn anything about him? He was one of the pioneers of fiberglass construction in larger boats and was also instrumental in switching Hattaras from wood to fiberglass.

Also, do you have an explanation as to why many pilothouse boats so closely follow the design of the Alaskan? The Fleming I understand since Tony had a GB background. But for example there is a DeFever 46 in our marina (don't know the year) and it is almost identical to the photo you posted of the Alaskan 46. And there are other brands of boats that use the same lines. I know that imitation is the sincerest form of flattery but some of these designs border on copyright infringement if there is such a thing for boat designs.

Thanks again for taking the time to enlighten us on the true heritage our boats enjoy.
Marin
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Postby Bob Lowe » Fri Nov 13, 2009 10:54 am

do you have an explanation as to why many pilothouse boats so closely follow the design of the Alaskan?

I believe the answer is that Defever is responsible for the design and it is hard to improve much on.

I believe DeFever designed the A46 and then GB modified the design to the A49 which left DeFever out of the picture as far as royalties on the subsequent Alaskans. Shing may know more about that.
Good luck,

Bob Lowe
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Postby uwhuskies00 » Mon Nov 16, 2009 4:41 am

I hope I can shed a little light on the pilothouse story here. We owned a wood 53'alaskan "Cantamar", but wanted to switch to fiberglass, so we sold out beautiful wood Alaskan, I no don't yell at me. We bought a Ocean Alexander 50' MK1. There is a huge fued between Defever, Fleming, and Monk (who designed our boat) on who is the real king of the hill. It is my understanding that Ed Monk was hired in 1978 to build and I quote "a boat similar to the Alaskan 49' out of fiberglass but lets build a better boat" The MK1s were built from 78 to 85 and we really like the quality of ours. One thing that people forget our 53' Alaskan was designed by Robert Norris, I don't know what ever became of him. I think Gb really went away from a great design in the early 80s, the pilothouse boat is a very functional design. I think the new generation Gb pilothouses are great boats and hopefully they keep growing in popularity.
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