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1977 Atlas Van Lines

Construction updates as the famous "Blue Blaster" is restored to her original racing condition. Updates by Don Mock and Phil Lampman - Photos by Phil Lampman

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Comment by Don Mock on October 21, 2012 at 9:12pm

Blue Blaster Atlas Update         Part 2


A few months ago, we got a jump on the wing assembly by restoring the two vertical fairings and the A-frames. They were fairly easy to finish and now are ready to be painted. But the wing was another story. I said from the beginning of this project that “if you build it....they will come.” Meaning; needed items for the boat might hopefully show up once word got out that the Blaster was being rebuilt. Sure enough, all kinds of things, some I still don’t know from where, started to appear. Skid fin mounts, struts, wing mounts and several other parts were donated by collectors, crew members, owners and fans.

One day several months ago, a vehicle showed up at the museum’s shop door. I don’t remember his name, but he was there to see if we had any use for a wing.........not just any wing, but a Lucero solid honeycomb Winston Eagle wing that was the exact size we needed for the Blaster. (in case you didn’t know, the wings from the Blaster, when it was restored after the crash, were “borrowed” for the 1982 Atlas project when we were under the gun to finish the boat for the Tri-Cities event in 2003.) It was amazing timing because we did not have a wing and were about to figure out a way to make one from scratch. The Winston wing was super light but it had one problem........it was broken in half. No big deal. We felt that it would not be too hard to fix and make good as new. Wrong. It was a battle for two months repairing and straightening the wing. One day it would be dead straight, and the next, it would be bent again. Drove us crazy. Thanks to the patience of Kent Snowden, who sanded, filled and sanded some more, got it perfect and is now also ready for paint. We also finished the support struts and adjust rods for the wing assembly. Rich Matkin, who was a vital crewman during the ‘82 Atlas restoration, helped figure out the wing hardware and placement. Thanks to our friends at Breedt Production Tooling and Design for their fine waterjet cutting and welding.

Somehow, after making the trip from Vashon Island to Chelan then back to the museum, a beautiful machined aluminum mixture handle ended up on the workbench. Another gem from the shop of Rob Wheeler, it will get mounted as soon as the cowl is glassed in place. Wheeler also fabricated the great foot petals along with several other items for the boat.

And if we only owned a Lear Jet....... We would use it to fly Tim Clark back and forth from his home outside Washington DC. Tim is a talented and energetic “long-distance” member of our team. He recently made his third trip to the museum since 2010 to work on his favorite hydro, the Atlas. Tim arrived on Tues evening and grabbed a hotel in Kent. He got up at 6am and walked the 3+ miles to the museum and was there ready to rock when the rest of us arrived Weds morning. Tim did an outstanding job sanding the front cowl and deck. He is a huge student of the sport and his enthusiasm is addictive. Wish we could have him working with us every week. Chip was so impressed with my description of Tim he wanted to meet him. So on Tim’s last night, several of us met up with Chip for dinner.

Comment by Don Mock on October 21, 2012 at 9:11pm

Blue Blaster Atlas Update         Part 3

Only a week ago I was stumped on what we were going to do with the huge amount of stuff on, under and around the work bench and under the boat. A restoration like this generates tons of left over materials which include unusable original parts from the hull. We plan to surround the boat with a plastic curtain to protect the rest of the museum from the inevitable dust cloud and paint over-spray coming as we finish the boat. To do this, we need to clear out the workbench area and move the boat over to make room for the curtain. I mentioned the problem to David Ginder who, along with his wife Marie, have been volunteering for a year or so. Dave works for a company who rents and overhauls shipping containers and a few months ago, arranged for the museum to use one of their 40 ft containers. It was filled to overflow capacity in only a few days with an array of parts, tools and general museum stuff. I asked Dave if there was any way we could get another small container for all the Atlas stuff. The next day, a great 10 ft container showed up on the back of a truck (painted blue of course). A huge thank you to Dave and his company Haulaway Storage Containers.

One of the themes of the Blaster project has been Bill Muncey’s famous saying in 1979: “Older is better.” In reference to his little feud with the younger Steve Reynolds. Most of us on the crew are now older than Muncey was when he died. Uncle Bob Burd is our elder statesmen and at 92, is there every Tuesday and Thursday morning ready to help in anyway he can. And if you need any info about unlimited racing, Bob is the guy. He’s been doing this stuff for a long long time and is one of the most well known faces in the pits.

But we do have one member who is a little younger. His name is Andrew Jaeger and he’s in his early 20’s. It’s guys like him who are the future of the Hydroplane and Raceboat Museum. Andy usually works with us on Saturdays and has a great feel for the tools and techniques needed to build hydroplanes. He studied boat building and welding in college and was instrumental in arranging to have his uncle Paul Jaeger donate a complete welding system to the museum. Andy has done a lot of welding for the Blaster including the steering wheel/dash and petal mounts.

This week we’ll cover up the final compartments with the last section of deck. This will include the non-trip panel where everyone who has been involved with the project has signed their name. And for those who were not able to get to the museum to sign the boat, we’ve added your name.
Maybe in the distant future, some restoration crew just like us will pull off the deck revealing the names of those who brought the Blaster back to life in 2012. I mentioned a lot of the names in this report, but there are many more who deserve a lot of credit for donating time to work on the boat. And on the wall next to the boat are listed nearly 100 more names of people who have offered their support to the project by joining the Blue Blaster Booster Club, which was organized by museum legend Bob Senior. Every name signed in the boat and on the BBBC wall will be printed on a plac mounted in the cockpit when the boat runs.

-Don Mock

Comment by Don Mock on October 21, 2012 at 8:49pm


Comment by Don Mock on October 21, 2012 at 8:37pm

Comment by Marc Connelly on June 26, 2012 at 11:11pm

Great report, as usual, Don!

It is really taking shape now that the battens are all fitted in place. Great to see that Detective Richardson is back on the case. I’ll bring the doughnuts on Thursday.

Comment by Don Mock on June 26, 2012 at 10:59pm

See report below photos.........

Comment by Don Mock on June 26, 2012 at 10:54pm

Comment by Don Mock on June 26, 2012 at 10:44pm

June 27,2012 Update

As we begin our third summer with the Blue Blaster project, a lot has been accomplished on the boat the past several months. Most of our attention has been working on systems installation in preparation to add the deck. Along with fitting the deck battens, we’ve finished up the wing supports and the Blaster’s distinctive sponson-to-non-trip deck gussets. We’ve also installed the ADI, fuel and oil tanks and have almost all the pumps and filters mounted. Last week the crew began the big job of making and fitting the numerous hoses. All the compartments are now painted and work continues to finish the cockpit components.

Special thanks to Keith McGowan
for doing an outstanding job upholstering the drivers seat. Since we could not locate the original seat, we fabricated a new one out of plywood and fiberglass. Keith took the bare shell to his workshop and in about two weeks returned with the beautiful finished seat. It’s extra roomy to fit different drivers and includes removable seat cushions of various thicknesses. Another addition to the cockpit are the foot petals. As with most of the Blaster’s hardware, the original petals were re-used in the ‘82 Atlas so Rob Wheeler fabricated two new petals for us. Andrew welded up the mounts so both petals are ready to be fitted in the boat.

Now that we have the seat and it’s mount in place along with the steering and foot petals, all that’s left to do is have Chip, David Williams and any other potential driver sit in the boat so we can final fit the components. We made things fairly adjustable so anyone who drives the boat should be comfortable.
It’s interesting when people climb in the cockpit how low they are seated, almost like driving a go-cart. You don’t notice in photos how close to the bottom Bill Muncey sat and how high up his feet were. The Blaster has a very high-lift and shallow bottom under the cockpit.  One can speculate that being in this “seat-of-the-pants” position added to Muncey’s ability to fly the boat so precisely with his only control being the throttle and rudder.

By the end of the summer, we should have the deck on the boat and the front cowl glassed in position. I’m sure we’ll be spending a lot of time sanding and fairing the deck as we add several layers of fiberglass cloth over the 1/4” plywood. We’ll also be able to turn our attention towards the rear cowl and wings.

In my next report I’ll give the details about the engine, instrumentation and driveline progress.
I know the entire restoration crew joins me in a special thanks to everyone who has joined the Blue Blaster Booster Club. And a huge thank you to the amazing Compton Lumber who have supplied every board, sheet and stick of wood for the entire project. Without them we would still be stuck in line at Home Depot with them trying to convince us it could all be done with drywall and 2X4’s.

Above in additional posts are photos by Phil Lampman and Randy Mueller taken the past few weeks.

-Don Mock

Comment by Don Mock on April 14, 2012 at 7:12pm

Two photos from Thursday by Gail Richardson. Atlas cowl with air-scoop plug test fit. And the arrival of the Pak/Madison at the museum. 

Comment by Marc Connelly on April 11, 2012 at 9:47pm

Can’t wait to see the new cowling. I will be in Thursday AM, for sure.


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