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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 9:11pm

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.

Comment by Don Mock on April 11, 2012 at 7:11pm

April 11, 2012 Update

A quick update on our recent progress. First off, welcome to you new members of the “Blue Blaster” group. And a special thanks to the members of the Blue Blaster Booster Club.

Two great things showed up at the museum today. One, was our new rear cowl which was fabricated by Scott Raney and his U-11 crew. They did an incredible job including adding a core material to the fiberglass which add lots of strength and will help the cowl float if it ever ends up in the water. One of our first jobs with the cowl is to add the iconic air scoops that were on the sides from 1977-79.

The other great thing that showed up at the museum today was Phil Lampman. Phil’s been stuck in a care facility following his bout with the mrsa virus which landed him in the hospital for a week. He still has a few days left to serve at the facility but he snuck out today to come to the museum for an hour of so. Great to see him.

As far as progress goes on the Blaster, today we sprayed primer in the cockpit so it can get painted before the deck and cowl get added. We now have all the interior compartments painted and most of the systems and mounts finished off. Over the next few weeks we’ll begin making and hooking up the maze of hoses for the fuel, ADI and water systems. Then it will be time to start fitting the deck battens. Our wood angel Compton Lumber, delivered beautiful milled 1”x 1” and 1”x 3/4” 16ft spruce last week. Gail, our wood expert, is chomping at the bit to start laminating the battens into full length pieces.

If you haven’t visited the museum yet to see the Blue Blaster project and the other great things going on, come on down. In fact, if you come in the next day or so you will see an amazing sight..........the 1973 “Wing Wonder” Pay’n Pak is returning to Seattle tonight and will be at the museum for few days. The boat was purchased by Ken Muscatel from Dave Bartush and will be restored back to it’s famous white and orange Pak colors. The boat will be parked right in front of the Blaster which will mark the first time these two legendary hydroplanes have been together in over 30 years.

Bill Muncey purchased the Pak team in 1976 which included the “Wing Wonder” and the new Jim Lucero cabover hull just being completed. When Muncey made the decision to make the Blaster his primary race boat in 1977, he sold the “Wing Wonder” to the Miss Madison team. The boat had a long career in the 1980’s as the U-6. Ironically, the Miss Madison, with Milner Irvin driving, was involved in the accident in Mexico in 1981. Muncey was killed after the Atlas blew over while leading the final heat.

Photos taken today (4-11-12) by Gail Richardson of the Atlas with is new rear cowl. Phil Lampman with uncle Bob Burd and Randy Meuller.

-Don Mock


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