PRESTO – Is She Or Isn’t She?

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PRESTO – Is She Or Isn’t She?

If you believe the trademe listing, this is a very old lady – it says Presto was born 1898. Built by Charles Bailey, 42’ in length, 3 skin kauri. Originally powered by a steam engine but now powered by a 1950 100hp, 471 Detroit diesel.

Our resident Bailey guru HDK should be able to confirm or destroy this woodys birth details. Builder aside – what more do we know about her?. Current home is Taurangi. Thanks to Ian McDonald for the listing heads-up 🙂

28-07-2017 Comments ex Russell Ward
Port Doctor’s Boat. General workboat around the place when I was a kid at school. Had a boxy wheelbase with control position atop. Always scuttling round Hobson Wharf. Eventually retired.
She lay at Barry Brickell’s Diving Creek property in Coromandel for many years and was sold to a man who did the honours and but put the rakish upper works on her. Painted her green which is what I always remembered her as. Her old wheelhouse may still be at Driving Creek.


Comments below ex Ray Morey
1st an aft view of PRESTO under steam, that cut from the pic of Lady Vie and pan-am flying boat at mechanics bay
2nd is part of the blue boats dated 1973 from left is RANGI-SPRAY-unknown and just showing on the right is PRESTO after rebuild. This when Subritzky owned her.

Photo below from Dave Stanaway from when he knew her in the 1960’s when Bryce Subritzky was her master.


Input from Harold Kidd – below is a clipping from the Auckland Star, 30 March 1898 – covering the launching.

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Read lots more on the Comments Section

19 thoughts on “PRESTO – Is She Or Isn’t She?

  1. The recently removed engines from Lady Eva have been in her since Keith Penny and Ted Ashby converted her to twin screw in the early 1960’s. One of them ( I think port engine) was the one Claude Miller fitted when he bought her. Keith ordered a matching mate from John Chambers and it had to be assembled as per Keith’s request. They had done a lot of work in their reign.


  2. Baden, Definitely Lady Eva. This was early 1980s remember. Brim sold lady Eva about 1983 if I recall correctly, certainly before he moved to Warkworth, which was 1983.


  3. Daniel, when you talk about the engines in Lady Eva are you sure you do not mean Eva?
    The engines from Lady Eva (2x 8L3) were removed about three years ago and are now in Thames.


  4. I have to correct a slight inaccuracy in Russells comments. Presto went from Barry Brickell to Alan Brimblecombe at Paeroa. I recall Brim telling me that she got washed up by the road in a flood while he was overseas, and when he came back he had to slide the the hull sideways down the hill again to the river. She was then exchanged for the engines in Lady Eva (Brim had bought the hull of Lady Eva, but couldn’t afford the engines, which were going to be removed until they were swapped for Presto). It was sometime after this that the current superstructure was built. It was recorded in the restorations column of Bearings Magazine in the early 90s.


  5. Don’t forget that my late mate Barry Brickell owned PRESTO at Coromandel in the 1970s.
    As lads we haunted the Auckland Railway Station trainspotting. Barry was a true steam enthusiast from a young age. When we tramped the Barrier together he would imitate the Westinghouse brake pump on a Wab in a siding while we were resting, do a wheel-slipping C class up hills, the roar of a K class with cut off down hills and the whistle of an F class, randomly.
    Barry was a genius at most things and an absolutely brilliant mimic. He was also very good at the hit and miss gas engine at the Devonport Gas Works.


  6. found some old notes–“PRESTO” converted to diesel 1938 42hp PETTERS.1952 re-engine with “Chrysler Crown” petrol and wheelhouse re-located.
    1953 in collision with ferry “Eaglehawk” off Northcote Point
    1962 damaged and sunk by ships propeller, 15ft of keel replaced in rebuild.
    1964 petrol engine replaced with 100hp Ford diesel.
    I was quite wrong with my dates in the previous post, sorry.


  7. ELSIE EVANS built by Chas. Bailey Jr in late 1901 for the Timaru Harbour Board was on similar lines but had a 30hp Union oil engine. She’s still in Timaru of course, and carefully preserved.


  8. In about 1949 when in Bert Subritzky’s hands she was drawn into the prop of a ship while running lines and sliced open. The A.H.B. salvaged and rebuilt her with their shipwrights.
    Was -is she plank on frame or 3 skinned. I would not consider a 4-71 a massive engine.


  9. Is she or isn’t she? Well any good traditional boat enthusiast will know that yes she is! Incredibly Mori Flapan and I have just been discussing her history, and going over her survey records in the last week or so, and then she comes on the market. The 14hp Simpson Strickland engine presents some difficulties as I’m unable to find such a beast in the Simpson Strickland records, certainly not one matching the rather unusual cylinder sizes listed on the survey documents. Definitely more research needed there. Interestingly this engine was replaced in 1915 by the engine out of Whakapara, (which of course still survives as Bondi Belle) built by A and G Price in Thames. If someone is quick, the drawings will still be in the drawing office, although with yesterdays disastrous news who knows what will happen to them. She became an infernal confusion engined vessel in 1938.

    The current superstructure is rather unfortunate, although she has never been a beauty above the belting. One of our rare counter stern launches, and definitely worth keeping going.


  10. PRESTO was one of the last boats built by the partnership of Charles Jr and Walter Bailey trading as “C & W Bailey” before they went broke and reformed as “Chas. Bailey Jr” and “Bailey & Lowe” in 1899. She was launched on 30th March 1898 for Bradney & Binns, the Auckland launch operators and was fitted with a 14hp Simpson & Strickland steam engine. Her funnel was red and black. Amazing history!


  11. Have just re-read the details & picked up on the 4-71 Detroit as being her engine, so please ignore that part of my last comment. — KEN R


  12. Auckland library collections has her listed, but cannot get page to open –
    ‘Sir George Grey Special Collections, Auckland Libraries, 786-A027-6′ when … Showing the steam launch Presto on the Auckland Harbour.’


  13. had a look inside her the other day.The engine is massive fills most of the fore cabin. Lovely shape and they haven’t wrecked her by trying to fair offfher hull.


  14. this ic correct I also believe it housed a railway engine been in front of the harbourside in Tauranga for years


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