The Holden Grey motor is often referred to as the Holden side plate. The engine earned its name as they were painted grey from the factory. They came in 2 sizes, 138ci and 132ci. More engineering and after market modifications have gone into this engine than any other engine in Australian automotive history.

December 19, 2014

Marlo - a 13ft skiff of Championship Class - Waggot Twincam Head Grey motor

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FROM time to time we hear of an outstanding racing craft that has performed so well that it puts it in the class of champions.  One such, is a 13ft. clinker skiff,  Lewis built, of the 135 cubic inch class, by the name of Marlo, owned and driver by Ken France, of Marrick N.S.W.

As recent as of this year, Ken scooped the pool and won the 20 miles Restricted Speedboat Championship of N.S.W.  for  Stuart F. Doyle Gold Cup in record time.  In the first heat,  Marlo covered the course in 10 minutes 31 seconds, which was equivalent to 58.779 m.p.h. and to round it off, Marlo in the second heat, reduced this time by 11 seconds, with an average speed of 60 m.p.h. This is believed to be the fastest heat ever recorded by a skiff in speedboat racing in Australia.

Corning into the third lap of the first heat, Marlo's time was clocked at 2 minutes 1 second. To have reached this time, Marlo had to do an average speed of 65 to 67 m.p.h. in the straights and clocked 59.3 m.p.h. for the 10 miles.

This victory was all the more remarkable, as in this partidular race it was for skiffs of the 266 cubic inch class and Mario was the only small boat to compete in it, in fact it was the only boat in the race. It was certainly a marvellous follow up to Marlo's performance in January. Ken's craft has carried off the State championships for the 135 cubic inch class. Marlo put up the fastest time of this event and recorded an average. time of 55 m.p.h. for the course.

Ken and his co-pilot stated that Mario obtained a speed of 67 m.p.h. but unfortunately this speed could not be verified, owing to the rum not being officially supervised. 

The power unit mounted in Marlo, is a six cylinder Holden motor and was modified by Mery Waggott of Bankstown, N.S,W. The feature of this motor, is the twin overhead camshafts designed by Waggott.

Compression ratio for this motor has been stepped up from the standard Holden's 6.3 to 1, to 10.5 to 1 by means of  high-domed pistons of a special aluminum alloy. The motor has a number of features, namely, twin ignition, six separate Amal carburetors, one for each cylinder and each exhaust port has its own exhaust pipe, each being  taken directly outboard with one slight curve.

In addition to the conventional oil pump, a scavenger pump has been mounted to keep the sump dry and free from frictional drag of the ordinary type of wet sump. Lubrication is by the forced feed manner with the cylinder walls being supplied through apertures in the oil ducts of the big ends of the connecting rods.

The cooling system, both for the engine and the circulating engine oil, is obtained by being scooped up by the momentum of the craft, through two ports on the underside of the hull.

During 1955, Marlo has won 23 racing trophies for events conducted by seven clubs. These trophies , included the cup for the highest points score for the year of the Royal Motor Yacht Club of Port Hacking. Mario also annexed and still holds the fastest time for both the Wagga and Goulburn courses.



Ken France, when he is not operating a taxi service in the Canterbury district, is an active speedboat enthusiast and has been so for the last ten years. Ken named Marlo after his two daughters, Margaret and Lorraine, with the latter sharing her father's flair for the game and often takes a hand at the controls, whilst Mrs. France and baby Alan make keen barrackers.

Ken attributes Marlo's wonderful successes to the efficiency of the motor, to a light, strong and tight hull of exceptional maneuverability and to the quality and efficiency of his fuels and lubricants.  Ken admits that skill, experience and judgment in driving are contributory factors, but places them last on the list.


-  Powerboat and Yachting - August 1956

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