Royal Falcon Restoration – 2021 Update


It is almost a year since I popped into the Panmure boat shed to check on the progress of the restoration of Steve and Colette Popie’s 38’ bridge-decker – Royal Falcon.So last week I accepted the invitation to view the 1934 Cox & Filmer built launch and woodys its a thing of beauty – check out the finish on the hull 🙂

Launch day is a few weeks away, then the final touches will be done on her berth. The attention to detail is 10/10 but in Steve’s words “its the best of both worlds – classic and modern systems, in terms of safety and ensuring she lasts another 80+ years.
Links to previous WW stories below

For the petrol (diesel heads) below is a short clip of the Commer TS3 being fired up for the first time post re-build. Owner Steve commented that the puff of smoke is the residual lube oil from the new cylinder sleeve installation 🙂

Details on the Royal Falcon – Rootes TS3 engine below ex Mark Erskine:

Some basic engine info and specs are as follows:

  • The engine is a Rootes TS3 2-stroke diesel, model 3DB-215 as used in Commer Trucks from 1967 to 1972-ish.
  • Designed and manufactured by Rootes Diesel Engineering Division of Rootes Group, UK.
  • Commonly referred to as “Commer TS3” through their connection to Commer trucks. 
  • Three cylinder, opposed piston (2 X opposing pistons per cylinder), scavenge blown 2-stroke, twin rocker beam, diesel engine (see video of operating cycle
  • 215 cu in / 3.562 litre.
  • Known around the world for their legendary reliability and extreme engine life, high power density and fuel efficiency.
  • This engine was extensively reconditioned and restored to new condition / factory specifications by Rootes Engine Services, Auckland (
  • This engine produces from 65 HP @ 1,000 rpm, to 140HP @ 2,400 rpm.
  • Maximum torque is 340 ft lbs at 1,250 rpm.
  • Most economical running between 1,200 to 1,800 rpm. 
  • Rootes heat exchanger for engine oil cooling.
  • Water cooled exhaust manifold for marine use.
  • Lees type heat exchanger for engine coolant.
  • Savage heat exchanger for gearbox oil cooling. 
  • Diesel fuel consumption (liters per hour) in “Royal Falcon” to be advised, but will be extremely low.
  • Maximum speed with current prop to be advised.
  • Designed as an “under-floor” engine for Commer trucks, these engines have a very low engine height above the crankshaft center line, allowing for a flat cabin floor with no engine box intrusion in the cabin. 
  • Gearbox is a Borg-Warner Velvet Drive 26 spline 72C model (1.91:1 ratio).

11 thoughts on “Royal Falcon Restoration – 2021 Update

  1. Pingback: Pot of Gold | #1 for classic wooden boat stories, info, advice & news – updated daily

  2. Pingback: Royal Falcon Re-launched | #1 for classic wooden boat stories, info, advice & news – updated daily


    When she was built, she had a locally marinised 6 cyl Studebaker petrol truck engine, which was sold to Bill Waters, when he was building the GAY DAWN in about t949 & my father Ralph Ricketts inherited her with this engine, when he bought her in 1956.
    He replaced it in 1958, with twin Leyland Diesels & sold the Studebaker to a young man who was building a runabout at that time.
    The Stude., was replaced in The ROYAL FALCON with a Graymarine flathead c90hp petrol engine, & this was eventually replaced, c. later 1950s or early 1960s with a TS3 Commer diesel, which she still has today. Have a feeling the original TS3 may have been replaced with a larger horse power version about the 1980s/90s. — KEN R


  4. Thanks for the positive comments, they mean a lot to us. Whilst it is true that Colette and I put in a massive number of hours of slog, the real credit for the redesign execution, ie the real boat building work should go to Leader Boat builders led by Dave Patterson and ably executed by himself and latterly Ken Stolpman. True craftsmen.


  5. But it can still improve even more, a beautiful job on a classic boat, Cameron. — KEN R


  6. …although brightwork always adds some welcome bling. Sparkling topsides finish. Well done.


  7. Whilst the Poples have not exactly followed her original concept as launched, nor the 1948 look, they have done an absolutely magnificent job, & given her the style of her age & era, to perfection in design & craftsmanship, not to mention the amazing mirror finish paint job, — INCREDIBLE!!, & without the slightest doubt, they have achieved by far the best of her now 3 coamings concepts — STUNNING IN EVERY WAY!!, — & long may she live — KEN R


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