Lyman History

Perhaps one of the oldest commercial builders, Bernard Lyman – whose original trade was cabinet making – started building boats in the 1880s. By 1891 Lyman Boat Works built everything from multiple 13-foot rowboats, selling for $24.50 each, to a custom designed 65-foot cutter-rigged sailboat for $3,300. Bernard’s son, Bill, joined his father’s boat-building business in 1920, and it was under his guidance in the 1930s that Lyman Boats really became popular, with the now famous "Clinker Built" lapstrake hull construction.

Lyman was producing stock outboard boats from 1918 through the 1920s in lengths of 11, 13 and 15 feet. Mounted with the new Lock Wood Ace outboard motors, they achieved speeds up to 18 mph. By 1930, Lyman decided to focus on larger inboard boats and produced wood vessels until the early 1970s. Lyman typically made subtle modifications to original designs as opposed to introducing entirely new models each year. The models listed in this price guide correlate to the official models identified in its catalogs.

Bill moved the Lyman Boat Works from Cleveland to Sandusky, Ohio, around 1932. By 1934 Lyman was offering four inboard production models in three lengths, smaller outboards and a number of custom cabin cruisers up to 47 feet. In 1937 Lyman expanded its manufacturing plant, building a new 18,000-square-foot building and equipping it with all the modern electric tools of the era. Prior to that, much of the assembly and component construction was done by hand. Lyman Boat Works played a major role in the popularity of the lap-strake “clinker”-built hull construction. Other manufactures like Chris-Craft, Owens and Gar Wood added lap-strake-built boats to their lines based on the success of Lyman.

This guide will first address these most popular models and address lesser production runs as data becomes available. More specific technical information may be found on the Lyman Boat Owners Association website at

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