Hydroplane and Raceboat Museum

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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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Latest Activity: Nov 14, 2020

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Comment by Don Mock on November 21, 2012 at 8:07pm

Blue Blaster Update - Nov 21, 2012

A few photos from yesterday and today...........We had a bit of a milestone week. Got the wings and cowl mounted and were able for the first time to step back and see a nearly finished Atlas. Well, at least it's overall shape. Still many hard months to go but a nice resting place for this Thanksgiving week. Special thanks and congratulations to all the team.

Comment by Marc Connelly on November 21, 2012 at 2:49pm

Amen on Randy, Phil. He is very skilled and flexible. You forgot the all important ‘flexible’ word in there, so I felt the need to add it. He can squat down for extended periods of time without the slightest regard as to how he is going to get up again. He just stands up, without even groaning. That blows my mind. I feel like applauding.

That, and I have grown quite fond of his dog, Mr. Gustafsen. He’s a good ol boy.... Never meanin’ no harm...Beats all you never saw...been in trouble with the law...since the day he was born.

Dang, sorry. I got off on a Waylon tangent there for a second.

Just sayin’

Happy Thanksgiving, Atlas Crew!


Comment by Phil Lampman on November 21, 2012 at 2:30pm

Randy, just watching you work on the Blue Blaster from the beginning has been a great learning opportunity for me. I suspect many reading your modest comments will never realize how truly skilled you are. I appreciate your help and humor as we continue to try and bring the 'blaster back to life.

That said, I hope that anyone thinking of becoming a volunteer at the museum doesn't get the idea that experience on the order of your artistry is required. You and the other members of the team have turned me from a long-time desk jockey into a very proud restoration kinda' guy. Still lots to learn, but that's part of the excitement and fun of these projects.

What a terrific team we have and with work yet to be done, we could probably use a few more volunteers to help, don't you think? Working in the Restoration Shop is one of the great opportunities available at the Museum.

Cleco Boy

Comment by Randy Mueller on November 21, 2012 at 10:16am

For me, working on the historic Blue Blaster since the project began has been an incredible learning experience.  After spending a few years on the Hurricane restoration I was 'hooked', but when the opportunity arose to work with these 'new fangled' materials (honeycomb aluminum) my interest peaked.  It has been an amazing transition from my 'wood' comfort zone, imagining what the original process would have been in developing the new techniques needed to utilize these 'space-age' materials.

What a satisfying adventure it has been to arrive at what she looks like today, knowing that we have a fully sound structural hull that will actually be running in 2013!

Comment by Don Mock on October 21, 2012 at 9:17pm

Blue Blaster Atlas Update Oct 21, 2012         Part 1


(site will only allow 4000 words, so this report is broken into three parts with three sections of photos - Don Mock)

The month of October has been very productive for the Blue Blaster restoration. Not only has the regular crew put in a lot of hard hours, we also had help from some out-of-town guest-star volunteers. During the first week of the month we got the fire system, that Patrick Gleason had acquired for us, installed. Then Jim “Flash” Johnson ran the wiring for the pumps and is rounding up all things electrical for the boat. Pete Klein has become our hose-making guru and continued making and mounted several more hoses. Museum engine expert Peter Orton was called on to rebuild the pumps for the fuel and ADI systems. Peter delivered them last week and they look brand new.

Following a successful test of the water cooling system and a final check of the steering cables, we decided the time had come to start adding the deck. Like all of the wood used in the Blaster project, the high-quality 1/4” marine plywood was supplied by Compton Lumber.  A lot of credit goes to Randy Mueller and Gail Richardson for cutting and fitting all thirteen of the deck panels. Phil Lampman, John Leidle and Marc Connelly spent hours sanding and multi-coated the undersides with epoxy. Laying out the screw pattern and drilling followed. Then with a final check of the battens, and every compartment, we mixed the first batch of West System epoxy and got to work screwing down the deck over the sponsons.
The honor of adding the first screw went to Phil who has been on the project from the beginning. He was also selected because we knew he would find a way to make the event entertaining........and he did. The first screw to hold the new deck on the Blue Blaster went in perfectly crooked. So after the fun of embarrassing Phil, we got down to business gluing and adding the 1000+ additional screws.

One person, that I hoped would be a part of the Blaster project is Roland DeSteese from Tri-Cities. Roland is a top-notch scale hydro designer, builder, engineer and painter. I raced in R/C Unlimiteds with him since the mid ‘80’s and every boat that I won races and championships with, was either designed by, modified or painted by Roland. The first 1/8th scale boat I built was from his plans and was a mini Blue Blaster........which he painted for me. Roland has always been my go-to guy when it comes to masking and painting any of the three Atlas hulls and he has agreed to help with the masking of the “real” Blaster.
Roland came over to Seattle last weekend to spend some time working on the boat. We worked late last Saturday night establishing the shape of the windshield fit to the front cowl. We were able to use the broken off left-side piece of the original cowl which is normally kept safe in the Muncey display case in the museum. The piece, salvaged from the crash in Mexico, has part of the windshield and Bill’s name on the side. Roland also made the distinctive deck-trim strips which were added to create a wood surface for fiber-glassing the sponson to the center section decks.

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.


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