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Time for Some Alphabet Soup!

 In one of my pervious columns, I examined the process that the Lyman Boat Works used to document the various models of boats that they produced. Prior to World Was II, details of boat production was kept in ledger form and was recorded in the order of boat construction, regardless of the type; inboard, outboard, tender or sailboat. However, during the heyday of production that occurred following World War II, the shear volume of boats produced and the number of different models resulted in a somewhat formalized serial number system. Inboard model boats received their own hull specific serial codes and were each delivered with their own hull checklist sheet. In this article, I would like to examine with you the hull numbering system that was used on these post war inboard boats.

Following World War II, Lyman assigned all inboard boats produced a hull number that began with an alphabet letter prefix: for example, T 1020. These different alphabet prefixes were used to differentiate between the numerous hull models that were available. To help illustrate these different hull types, I have set up the following table.

Hull No. Prefix Hull Type Number produced

A

18' Islander

2616

B

18' 1950's style, or old style barrel stern Runabout

889

C

20' 1950's style, or old style barrel stern Runabout

146

E

23' barrel stern Runabout and Sleeper Models

892

H

24' Post 1961, or new style, flared stern, Sleeper Model

429

J

28' Hull (Includes Islander, Sportsman and Mariner Models)

189

K

25' Hull (Includes Sleeper and Cruisette Models)

770

L

30' Hull (Includes Islander, Sportsman, Mariner and Offshore Models)

177

N

21' Post 1961, or new style, Runabout

381

P

19' Post 1961, or new style, Runabout

150

R

26' Hull (Includes Sleeper, Cruisette, Mariner and Offshore Models)

670

S

22' Hull (Includes Sleeper and Runabout Models)

146

T

23' Post 1968 Hull (Includes Offshore and Runabout Models)

57

W

19' 1950's style, or old style, barrel stern Runabout

742

Y

20' Post 1961, or new style, Runabout

333

As you can see, Lyman produced a rather large model array and an impressive number of inboard boats during this post rera. As mentioned in a previous article, the total number of inboard boats from this period, late 1946 to the end of wooden boat production in mid 1973, totals around 8,850 units. That averages out, over this twenty six year period, to about one inboard boat per day. If that seems impressive, remember that the production rate for the outboard models built during this same period was many times this number, reaching a peak of approximately one outboard boat every twenty minutes during the late 1950's. Sometime soon we will review the hull numbers on these outboard models.

Let’s now look at a hull number as an example: A2115. From the table above, we can see that this is an 18' Islander model, however, the 2115 does not represent the serial position of this particular boat as it was produced; i.e. this boat is not the 2,115th 18' Islander built. In fact, Lyman used a four digit hull number system on inboard models that began with the serial number 1001 and then counted up from there. So, our example hull would have been the 1,114th 18' Islander built from a total population of 2,616 units. Also notice that unlike the current standardized hull number system used by boat manufactures today, Lyman did not employ the year produced in with their hull numbers, so it is not normally possible to tell the year of a particular vessel by merely looking at the hull number alone. And in those cases in which more than one model was built upon a specific hull type, these hull numbers may have included a second alphabet code character as a serial "modifier", used to denote which model this particular boat was.

If you haven’t already found your hull number on your own boat, locating it should be fairly easy. Most inboard models have the number stamped on the bottom of the transom at the edge of the keel. Frequently, this has become unreadable, due to years of repeated bottom paint application. Other places to check include the bottom of your cabin or vee-berth door, or under any number of floorboards and seat members.

Hope to see you soon,

Tom Koroknay,
Lyman Boat  Historian

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