- The Specs -
First we are going to start with the hull & deck of this boat. Schiada took a different stance on this boat then many others in the past and decided that they wanted to make the Hull strong enough that it could actually be run without a deck on it. The deck is typically an integral component in the strength of a hull (tying it all together). The hull itself is Vacuum bagged with a one inch balsa cored vinylester laminate with 40 oz directional knit on either side of the core. The Hull is set with stringers made of clear grain doug fur that are kiln dried. The hull itself has three major bulkheads, and then the deck that is now just along for the ride has 20 to keep it in place. While I don't have it in my notes, I do remember Lee telling me the boat is an absolute tank with the Keel being four inches thick! All of the underwater gear had to be redesigned and made with the additional thickness factored of the keel factored in. The deck of the boat was made by the infamous Harlan Orrin (Also a RDP member) for Schiada, and features a 24' long deck with a slightly exagerated 21 RC top deck appearance. It is made of an exceptional grade of Mahogany, that when finished now has 18 coats of Varnish underneath 12 Coats of UV Protectant Clear! The workmanship is flawless across the board, and the finish is nothing short of inspiring. You can literally see a perfect reflection of the sky in the deck as you are driving it, which you can see at points in the video.
The boat itself is powered by a Fuel Injected Twin Turbo 540 Inch Carson Brummett creation that makes 1000 hP on 91. That engine mates to a polished Turbo 400 done by California Performance Tranny (Art Carr) that in turn feeds a 10 degree split case casale (polished of course even though you can't see them). They are running 38's in the V-Drive down to the "recreational" propeller that is a 12 inch diamter / 15 pitch three blade Menkins. (Cruiser Prop) The prop shaft is 1 1/8th running gear to handle the extra weight and horsepower requirements of the motor. The whip strut and other underwater gear is all made from 17-4 Stainless, but unfortunately I forgot to ask if that was Hardened or Annealed.
This boat spends 95% of it's time on the water cruising between 35 and 45 mph with Randy Wilson of "Wilson Motorsports" fame behind the wheel next to his wife, so to say the running gear is up to the task is an understatement. Don't let the 45 mph cruising speed fool you though, when she comes on boost, she's a runner that will put a blow on 95% of the boats on the rivers ego's.
The boat was styled with retro looking gauges made by Stewart Warner that included (from left to right) Fuel Pressure, Oil Pressure, Oil Temp, Tachometer, Water Temp, Fuel, and Volts.
The interior is a classic front bench and rear bench design. They had enough room to do a back to back bench design on the front seat, but the ample space between the passengers and the dash, as well as the leg room for both front and back passengers was welcome.
Besides this isn't the kind of boat you are going to want to take nine to twelve people on. Point in fact if it was mine, I'm not sure I'd take anybody on it for fear they might breath on it wrong. The benches and engine hatch are classic "Tuck and Roll" style which matches the theme of the boat perfectly. On a side note, Schiada actually had to go up in the rafters and find their own patterns from the early 1960's to make the interior an exact match of their "tuck and roll" from back then.
The trailer looks to be a Mike Livingston creation (formerly of Ellis trailers) Triple Axle that sets on traditional torque thrust styled wheels with low pro tires. The LED tail lights are frenched in, as are the rest of them. I don't need to give you the low down on the whole trailer, it's the best of the best with quad disc brakes, and even the bow stand was made to be three dimensional with waterjet Schiada Logo's on the sides of it. Typical Frenched / or through the bow stand wench line that you would find on a higher end custom Ellis. The front of the trailer is a complete "cat walk" setup so you can easily walk the boat all the way on or off the trailer, but doubles as protection from road debris while towing. The kicker or thing that is a little over the top is the matched mahogany steps fore and aft of the fenders as well as on the rear step pads of the trailer.
- The Experience and the story of the Day -
Lee is one of the few manufacturers that takes full advantage of my offers to film his boats whenever he is in town. I'm not sure that he see's it as an actual sales tool, because... Well to be point blank about it Schiada has never exactly been struggling for sales with their cult following on the West Coast. He does however enjoy the videos we produce for entertainment value though, and it's a nice way to show off their creations and share a boat ride with some of their customers via an e-mail. That and invariably every time we do this, we end up having a kick ass fun day on the water that always ends with swapping stories over beers wherever we are at.
Lee calls me up and tells me "Dave I'm going to be out there this weekend and I have a boat for you to film, are you going to be around?" Of course as a product of my generation, and my instant need to know everything instantly my response was "Which boat?" Those that have dealt with Lee know that getting information out of him can be a tricky process at times and the responses often Vaque. "24 Schiada" is what I'm left with. A few texts and phone calls later I managed to crow bar out of him "maybe the wood decker." Now to those that don't know, that might not sound like a big deal, but to me it is, and I'll explain why. We heard on RDP that they were building a 24' Wood Decker, and we even got a few teaser pics when the build started, but ultimately the owner decided he didn't want the build on the web. What this means is occasional updates from people that happened to stop in to Schiada and catch a glimpse of this work of art would post "It's coming out sick" but no pics etc.. This boat was more of a tease to my curiosity and need to know, then all the other boats combined since I opened this site.
So I'm at my house in Parker and I hear the sound of the exhaust coming around the corner. Turbo motors aren't loud at idle, but they have this weird kind of "hollow" sound to them that is recognizable anywhere. They don't sound angry, and boisterous, but rather refined and all business. As I catch the first glimpse of this thing I already knew... This would be undoubtedly one of the nicest boats I've ever been in.
Randy and Lee pulled up and Lee was quick to hold the boat off the dock. I walked up to the boat and tossed my camera bag on the back seat and my flip flops on the floor, and then the natural thought hit me, that would hit anyone in this instance, "Where the hell do you step on this boat to get in it?" I don't want to step onto the wood and possibly scratch it.. (Schiada) Manors dictate you don't jump on the seat... I elected the quick "very light" step on the seat and onto the floor. We cruised up river to the ramp, where Stan and a friend where on stand by. The boat was gently walked onto the trailer, and Randy jumped out I started mounting and turning on gopro's and we were promptly backed into the water again. For those that missed it in that last paragraph, when you have something this nice, it doesn't get tied up to a dock.. Ever.. It's either running or it's on the trailer.
As we started to idle up river I couldn't help but look out over the deck in awe. I have never used the word "beautiful" to describe a boat in my life, and if I ever did it would likely be a direct drive Chris Craft or something. The deck on this boat is beautiful, and as I was looking at the reflections of the clouds in the sky I couldn't help but wonder the amount of man hours that went into sanding, varnishing, and clear coating it.
Lee gently rolled into the throttle and you could hear the turbo's begin to spool as the boat rolled onto plane. As gentle as he was with the throttle, the picture became very clear how much respect he gives the boat, and it's well deserved. We cruised up river at around 45 until we got past road runner and we bumped it up to 50, then 60, then 65'ish where we fell into a nice cruising speed.
Now 24 Schiada's are basically like a knife in the water so smooth riding is an accurate description of that hull, but being that this thing weighs probably what two of them would normally weigh, it doesn't move much when you are crossing wakes. I have always loved the way a heavy boat feels, and while I know it does detract from performance traditionally you can always add more HP if you want to go faster. This particular boat is already a sleeper so it has the best of both worlds covered. We ran up around Big Bend and did a U-turn and came off plane. Lee asked me "what do ya think?" The only thing that could come to mind is "Pure Class."
I relocated the go pro's to get some different camera angles, and took some video of the engine bay real quick and we started heading back down river. We settled into our 60-65 mph cruising speed pretty quick and rounded big bend, as we past Fox's we bumped it to 70'ish, then 75'ish and as we settled into the straight Lee eased it up into the 80's somewhere and this big heavy hull started free'ing up and getting lighter. The water was now breaking right at the transom, and the boat took a nice happy set. The bow had just a slight little "wander" to it as the boat started getting into it's happier speeds, and as we crossed wakes we were no longer crushing them, but running across the tops of them with a nice flat stance.
I should note this boat is capable of running much harder, but with a three blade on it (they are notorious for throwing blades when running big #'s), and as much money as this program costs why push it.. The point was made on the performance end, and I had all the onboard footage I needed for a pretty decent video. Being that Lee builds this kind of stuff I'm sure he wasn't worried about it, but the whole time I kept feeling like we borrowed dad's brutally expensive car, and he was gonna look over every inch of it when we got back.
We had a chase crew at the ready waiting for us at RoadRunner so I could get some external footage and pics of the boat while running. Lee carefully dropped me off, and I jumped into the chase boat (A Hallett 270 with twin whipple charged small blocks.. not too shabby.. ) I can't remember the guys name but he's a riot..
Within seconds I was informed we were "well stocked" and the boat had an exceptional looking bartender on point for needed refreshments. Obviously I am not one to offend so "hospitality" was welcomed and enjoyed thoroughly..
We proceeded to get underway for our second run and I was snapping pics and trying to get some external go pro footage of the 24, when a second wood deck Schiada enters the picture! This was is a 1959 Schiada Flatbottom, and it absolutely stole the show for more then a few minutes. For those few minutes I was living in 1960 watching one of Leonard's boats leisurely cruise up the river.
The flat peeled off and headed home, and I was going to try and get one shot of the 24 "At Speed" so I motioned for Lee to come up along side, and told the driver of the 27 to "speed up." He slammed the sticks forward and those whipple's came to life.. Damn near through me out of the back of the boat in the process! We had a 150-200' head start on the 24, and I saw Lee grab some boost and he started catching up, but that 27 kept pulling and as we entered the 90 mph territory I saw Lee back off. It wasn't worth the risk of running the 24 that hard with a three blade on it.
In retrospect the defining characteristic of the 24 isn't unyielding performance (which it has with an owner reported 100 mph), it's the fact that it's one of the classiest, if not the classiest boat to hit the water in the south western United States. The craftsmanship, the time it took to massage, and polish, and fabricate is it's true claim to fame. The boat reaches out and grabs all of your senses and makes them instantly scream "UNCLE" as you come to realize the level of engineering and artwork that have culminated together to make this master piece.
For all of the pictures from that day click here.