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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 Steve Compton on December 16, 2010 at 9:12pm

UPDATE - Dec 16, 2010 by Phil Lampman

Here's some photos I took, a few from yesterday and the rest from today. As you will see, we've finally mounted and affixed the new right side non-trip. It probably goes without saying that it was, truly, a milestone day, but in the event you can't tell, there are two easy clues: Don pacing and a lot of white coveralls.

Let me offer my view of several of the other photos.

The first 4 or 5 photos are from yesterday as we made the final dry fit of the non-trip (Don paces, as you can see, even when we're not doing using Hysol).

The photo with all the clamps shows the aluminum angle to support the final fitting of the air trap. We were fortunate to find these clamps a couple of weeks ago in a box under the work table when Don took a hand saw and, ah, modified the work table in order to give us more space to work on the hull. I think I sent the photos of that bizarre activity a couple of weeks ago. Interestingly, we discovered one of the clamps we had rescued from under the table seemed to be missing. Apparently we still had enough to get the job done this afternoon.

Oh, speaking of Don and hand saws, one of the later photos shows Don with a can of Hysol at the bench. If you look closely you might notice what looks to be — and is — the blade of a large handsaw. I was on the other side of the shop when I noticed Don trying to remove the thick plastic band sealing the new unopened can, with the saw (among other things). I grabbed my camera and started over there, but he saw me coming and tried to hide the saw. Too bad, the photo would have been a classic and the sort of thing I could hold over him and avoid having to sign my name to just about every part I make that doesn't meet his standards. Heck, I might have been able to trade the photo for a pair of white coveralls (but I don't need them, size L tall)

The photo of the band saw table simply tells me that it may be time for David and the board to consider adding a few new tools to the shop. Surely a real pencil sharpener can't be that expensive. It does't even need to be electric.

The photo of Randy and Gail is just one I took with the idea of a caption, "Two Nuts, trying to remove a bolt". But then I decided not to. They were successful I should add.

The next photo, I am embarrassed to admit, is Don pointing out where I may have made a slight miscalculation in hole placement on the spacer plate he had me make for one of the wing supports. To his credit, he no longer — at least some of the time — makes me sign my name to the parts I make that don't conform precisely to his standards of excellence. I think it might be because I was using up too much material and time to remake anything I didn't think would met with his approval and so now just made me take photos with his hand in the picture as a more subtle way of reminding me I'm not yet worthy of my own pair of white coveralls.

The rest of the photos "simply" show the installation of the air trap. I'd like to call attention to the seemingly immediate appearance of white coveralls. Marc was the first to arrive and quickly donned his coveralls — no doubt to provide a focal point for the frequent "Observing and Conferring" that is likely to occur as soon as the other team members with white coveralls come on scene. It's interesting to note however, that Gail, who had been wearing his plaid "Milestone  Day" shirt, quickly found his white coveralls shortly after Marc arrived. So did Don.

Notice, too, how Bob Burd has been quick to recognize the hierarchy in this team. He and Randy seemed to be having a nice conversation before Marc arrived and Gail started putting on his white coveralls. I suspect Bob is lobbying for his own membership in this not-so-secret society. Then Don put his white coveralls on and Rich arrived a little later, with similar uniform. You'll perhaps notice that the rest of the photos seem to reflect a lot more "Observing and Conferring" than in the earlier shots. A Hallmark activity of those so adorned. Take note that those without white coveralls appear, at that point, to have been relegated to simple tasks like cleaning up the oozing Hysol.

Oh, in the last few photos you'll see Don and Marc, ostensibly assisting Bob with installation of some transom bolts. C'mon Bob has been working on hydroplanes before some of us were even born. Do you really think he needs help. My guess is that they are conferring with Bob to make sure he understands the protocol and responsibilities before being allowed to wear white coveralls. In fact, i'm sure of it. Bob was a big help to me this morning while trying to locate those holes in the wing support. Later, after he'd been conferring with Don and Marc, I showed him how I had resolved the issue. Bob just looked at me and shook his head. I'l bet he already has white coveralls. Damn!

Oh, as you can see in the last photo, I found the missing clamp.

Ciao for now,


P.S. Steve, this narrative, if it isn't obvious, is really meant more for the amusement of my fellow team members, especially the ones in the white coveralls.
Perhaps not the most informative activity report. The photos are pretty good though, don't you think? Hey, it got me out of a lot of Hysol clean up duties.





Comment by scott carson on December 15, 2010 at 5:01pm

Nice to have you back at work my friend.  Hope to be able to join you this next year for some of the fun and for a chance to learn from the master!

Comment by Steve Compton on December 15, 2010 at 2:21pm

UPDATE - Dec 14, 2010 by Phil Lampman

It was good to get back to work on the Blue Blaster this morning after the week I spent heavily drugged in an eventually successful treatment of a painful neck muscle spasm. It appears the team made significant progress in my absence. Here's a few snapshots of our efforts this afternoon.

As you can see, the guys made and installed new frames for the right side interface between the air trap and the new non-trip panel. Since the plan is to instal the new N-T this week, Don and I spent most of the time re-installing the wing support mounts. I think that's what they're called. A couple of things caught my attention during the process. First, I was a bit surprised that such heavy, bulky and rather crude looking assemblies required such precise alignment and fitting. (Don's frequent use of a large hammer notwithstanding) Secondly, once again I find myself amazed at the
forces that incurred as a result of the blow-over in Mexico. I think you can actually see it better in the 5th photo than in the close-up that follows, but note the bend in the thick plate on the support that attaches to the
non-trip. This is one thick heavy-duty piece, yet was bent in the accident. Frightening...

The rest of the photos made my day. Our leader, Don, never ceases to amaze me at this creativity and ability to improvise. I hope the photos capture this latest device he's, ahem, "Invented" (patent pending) in an attempt to
locate and mark holes in the air trap to mount the wing supports. A pencil... no a small stub of a pencil, clamped in a small pair of vise-grips, at a 90-degree angle (plus or minus 4") allowing the user to use the original mounting holes in the supports to locate the locations in the all-new air trap. It worked pretty well too, until I broke off the point. Trying to sharpen what was left using a conventional pencil sharpener makes me think of dropping a quarter down a storm drain grate so I tried to capture Don's, ah, solution. A few seconds with an air grinder. Leave it to Don Mock to "find a way", but I was chuckling to myself on the way home as I imagined a scenario from my 4th grade class where we no longer had a pencil sharpener on the classroom wall, but, instead, having an air hose running to all 30 desks in the room and each student provided with a small grinder.

Okay, as I review this I can see the pain killers are beginning to take over so will stop here and try and get some pictures later this week, perhaps tomorrow, of the installation of the new right-side non-trip. That is, provided we have enough of the team show up to help. I'm sure they will. Gail (occasional white coveralls guy), Randy (closet white coveralls guy), John, Rich (White coveralls guy) and, hopefully, Bob Burd and Marc (White coveralls guy - with insignia and name on the front) never miss a big milestone event like this. I hope they do anyway; if not it worries me a little to see what Don comes up with for the solution to installing such a large component with just me and Parke helping. Oh, it'll work if necessary, but I'm hopeful the rest of the "A Team" (as Marc so colorfully terms us) will be there to bring the 'Blaster one big step closer to completion.

Quite a ways to go though.... Feel free to edit or omit any of these photos.

Thanks my friend,





Comment by Steve Compton on December 10, 2010 at 7:23am

UPDATE for Dec 9, 2010 - by Don Mock


We got lots more done on the boat this week. The focus was on the right rear non-trip and the bow block area. Gail finished up routing the top of the bow-block frame and added an ash insert and the mahogany spacer plate on the front. Our newly rebuilt bow block is seriously strong. This week we also made and attached all the rear non-trip frames and extrusions and got the huge 16ft long panel trimmed down and straightened and fitted. Looks great. In order to glue it on, however, we have a few jobs first including fitting and drilling the wing supports which will need several alum inserts for the screws both in the airtrap and non-trip. We should be able to finish that and final fit the non-trip panel on Weds next week leading up to the big “glue on the non-trip...we’ll have a barrel of fun” on Thursday. Need all the help we can get to hook the thing on. My guess is we’ll be ready to mix glue early afternoon on Thurs. With the non-trip in place, we’ll be able to take it easy until after Christmas. Then we’ll start in on the sponson sheer pieces. We’ll first have to carefully remove all the wood from the sponson frames. Then we can start to fit the replacement sheers. Still debating whether to duplicate the “old school” method they used which were essentially built in two parts; plywood for the first 1/2 then an oak 2x2 to the back of the sponson. Or use the “model boat” sheer method like we used on the ‘82 Atlas which is a single 1 1/2” plywood pre-made part the entire sponson length. Replacing the sheers it the way they were would be easier, but the single-piece method gives you a great straight and consistent sheer/deck line that’s probably a lot stronger too. We missed Phil this week....that’s why to no photo evidence of the work we did. Phil came down with a nasty neck-muscle spasm episode so had to lay low with the good drugs. He reports to be better today so will be back at it checking to see who’s wearing what color coveralls next week. And why is the shop kind of a mess? We didn’t see Randy this week either but we’re counting on him for the big glue party next week. There must have been 40 people at the museum tonight working on boats and setting up a new display called “The History of Hull Development” (or something like that). The Mercury and the Tempo VI were brought in and parked next to the Slo Mo’s and Miss Detroit. Really looks great to see those boats together. We just need to get the Slo Mo IV back to finish the set. There is a heck of all lot of boats there right now and some major work is planned for a few like the Bardahl and Oberto. They are probably going to take the U-40 off the trailer and park it next to the Atlas. We started prepping the area tonight by moving some things around. We’ll probably move the band saw and disk sander over by our table and the wood pile. Should be fine there and useful as we head into the next phase. Be kind of cool having another boat next to us. Going to be a busy winter there in the shop......the Czar would love it.

Comment by Bob Senior on December 3, 2010 at 5:44pm
I'm looking forward to the day whn I can buy and proudly wear
a "Blue Blaster Booster" tee-shirt!
-Bob Senior
Comment by Steve Compton on December 3, 2010 at 5:40pm

Comment by Marc Connelly on December 3, 2010 at 10:02am
Cut me, and I bleed: DCC 14366, DCC 15506, DCC 91096 and DCC:PR183.
This is great!

Thanks, Steve- see you all on Saturday.
Comment by Steve Compton on December 3, 2010 at 9:33am
December 2, 2010 - by Phil Lampman

Hi Steve,

More photos for the archives from this morning's activities on the "Blue

The team spent much of the day making final installation of reinforcements for the skid fin. Our leader, Don - the fellow in the white coveralls - , has designed, modified, created and installed more reinforcements for the
skid fin than all the reinforcements Rommel had in mind for defending the Normandy Invasion on D-Day. I'm wondering if the 'blaster is going to have a distinct list to port once in the water. The number of fasteners alone
should get Don Mock inducted into the "Tacoma Screw Hall of Fame". (creative applications category). I'm wondering how heavy his guitars must be if he applies the same techniques to that craft.

The pictures should otherwise be pretty much self explanatory... Well, perhaps the shots of Gail using every limb at his disposal to ensure the non-trip was still true to its original position following installation of the reinforcement plates. It is interesting to consider we haven't even mounted the actual skid fin mounting bracket yet. Glenn and the '58 Bardahl crew seem to have commandeered the hoist for a time and I'm sure we're going to need it to place the bracket into place. The 'blaster may not sit level in the water once we launch her, but I'll bet she'll turn left with great agility once under way. Hell, we may not even need a steering wheel if the course is short enough. The weight of Hysol alone we've used thus far is enough to make me wonder if we ought to start making some sort of outrigger for the left sponson.

Sure wish I could explain Gail's ah... position, with respect to proper alignment of the non-trip. Those shots are not self-explanatory.

Bob Burd was on hand again this morning to help. It is wonderful to have Bob help us on the 'blaster. It's like recreating history with the help of someone who actually lived it. I am fascinated by Mr Burd. He's not there just to tell us "youngsters" how it was in the Good Ol' Days, he really has been a great help to the team and a terrific resource. For me he's one of those experiences that transcends the whole Hydroplane Museum "mystique". It's not just the boats that were such a large part of our formative years, it's people like Bob that truly make it so special. We can recreate a Miss Wahoo and even "resurrect" the Blue Blaster. Bob Burd is one of a very few left to us... As a long time hydroplane enthusiast, I'm honored to be working alongside him on such a significant project. Really...

Comment by Steve Compton on December 3, 2010 at 9:26am
December 2, 2010 by Don Mock

Guy's another great week of accomplishments on the boat. Maybe not as dramatic as two weeks ago when we attached the sponson assemblies, but getting the transoms, and doubler plates glued up was huge. As of tonight, we basically have the left side of the hull construction finished. Next week we'll move over to the right side and get the rear non-trip frames cut out and attached and work on the non-trip panel itself. No reason we can't have the non-trip hooked on by the end of the year.

I'm really proud of what we've been able to do in the past few months. Every single person on the team has really stepped up and contributed above and beyond the call of duty.

I'm forwarding two "Hi Steve" reports from Phil with his unique brand of commentary and great photos. ....Yep that extra 15 pounds we added to the left side skid-fin brace area is going to really upset the boat ride. Maybe we need a right-side suicide compartment to stuff our left over hysol, old shoes or even Phil into to compensate for the added weight.

Hope to see you at the Christmas party Saturday night.

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