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 January 27, 2011 at 7:28pm

Guys, the photo gallery workings here on the site are a little difficult but I think I figured out a few ways to quickly view the latest Blue Blaster photos. First off, here is a link to the newest shots this week from Phil Lampman.


Another way to find them is to go to the “Galleries” bar on the home page and find the “1977 Atlas Van Lines Restoration” gallery (on about page 3). When the page comes up, click on any of the thumbnail images. When the larger photo appears, click on the “View Photos” above the photo. You should then see thumbnails of the latest photos. Be sure to have the “Sort by” button set to “latest.”  Then you should be able to view all the photos in reverse order as they were added.

As far as our progress on the boat goes, next weeks photos should show the dramatic “turn over” event we have planned for next Thursday. We spent this week getting the boat ready to flip over including a new stand to hold the boat solid and level while it’s up-side-down. Credit goes to Gail and Randy for engineering the stand system which should work great. We now just need to mount the turnover fixture to the front of the boat and we will be ready to go.

I also wanted to see if I could add photos to these posts, so here are two shots of the Blaster taken about one year apart. They show the boat last January when we first got started removing the deck, and last week. Although they look similar, what went on over the months in-between has been a huge project. All the light green colored parts are the new honeycomb, so you can imagine that the boat had to be disassembled to replace those parts. 


Comment by Marc Connelly on January 27, 2011 at 8:46am

See you all this morning!




Comment by Michael J. Mackey on January 27, 2011 at 8:46am
I guess I'm missing something too. Is there a link on this page to the updated photos?
Comment by Steve Compton on January 27, 2011 at 8:22am

UPDATE - Jan 25, 2011  by Phil Lampman


Hi Steve,

A few snapshots from this morning. Highlight of the day was the surprise arrival of Kent Snowden who, despite the long drive from Ellensburg, has been a great help on the project over the last year. Note the non-white coveralls. Don tried to boost my spirits by telling me that my lack of proper uniform notwithstanding, he still considered me a full member of the "Observing and Conferring" team and then sent me off to saw some stuff.

We spent most of the morning finishing up some detail items on the frames, some clean-up on the sponson sheers and pulling a few more old fasteners from the bottom in preparation for turning the boat over. (Guess which second-tier member of the no-white-coveralls caste got that assignment?)

Don and I had arrived earlier to find that the shop was rearranged in readiness for moving the '58 Miss Bardahl alongside the 'Blaster. We added to the clean-up effort by relocating some of the power equipment to a new location. A big thanks to Steve Anderson and "Cowboy" Bob Jensen for installing 110v and 220v electrical power in the new location (photo 6). It should make things easier for us while Glenn and the Bardahl crew share space with us for a few months.

Oh, we put the cowling atop the hull only because we couldn't figure out a better place for it while the relocation activities continue.


Gold Panner in Training


Comment by Randall E. Roe on January 24, 2011 at 4:06pm
OK, where are you hiding the update photos at ?
Comment by Steve Compton on January 24, 2011 at 2:37pm

You guys are more than welcome. 

Nothing is too good for Bill Muncey's last ride!

Comment by Gail Richardson on January 24, 2011 at 2:29pm


 Phil sends all of the photos of the reconstrucion activities so you probably have notice we actually started adding some wood to the hull. Thank you for the fantastic mahogany plywood. It is really too bad that it will be covered by the decking.

                                                      Gail Richardson

Comment by Marc Connelly on January 17, 2011 at 9:06am

I am so glad to get these updates- whether I am coming in tomorrow to work on the boat, or I am out on the road, a thousand miles away, wishing that I was coming in tomorrow to work on the boat.


Don, Phil, Randy, Gail, - these guys are crushing it!





Comment by Steve Compton on January 17, 2011 at 8:50am

UPDATE - Jan 17, 2011 by Don Mock

It was a whole different kind of week working on the boat. Instead of aluminum grinding and Hysol mixing we had sawdust everywhere.
We received four sheets of way-too-nice mahogany 3/4” plywood from Steve Compton on Tuesday and went to work laminating the four sheets into one huge 4’x16’ x 1 1/2” sheet. The plan was to make the two full-length sponson sheers which are 12.5 feet long. Thursday morning it took 5 of us to lift the super-stiff and heavy sheet off the floor where we assembled it. After wrestling the sheet to the table, we laid out the sheers from the drawing and the original wood parts off the boat. After about a few hours or jig-sawing and sanding, we had the two parts. They came out great and are super straight and strong.

Gail and Randy met me at the museum Saturday morning to get a jump on fitting the sheers to the sponson frames. We came up with a great attachment method which required Mr. Router to cut notches in the sheers where each frame attaches. Both sides are now clamped in place, look great and are waiting to be glued on this Weds. Gail took several photos on Saturday but had a mostly confused look when we asked him about getting them posted. Maybe they are coming soon, but I’m sure Phil will snap some shots Tues.
This week we’ll glue the sheers in place, then add small aluminum angles riveted to the side of each frame and bolted to the wood sheer. Then with everything attached, we’ll cut the sheers down a bit on the inside where we don’t need so much material and weight.

After this week, we are really on track to move to the next phase of the Blaster project which is to turn the boat upside-down. We’ll start engineering a stand mounted to the inside of the boat for it to rest solidly and level on the floor. We have the turnover attachment bolt holes and doubler plates in the sponson sides finished. And just need to get the fixture so we can bolt it to the bottom as well as the sponson sides. Everyone on the team needs to be there for the “Blaster Flip” party. It is a very un-nerving undertaking lifting one of these huge boats ten feet in the air and rotating it. We’ll also have one real nice jig to disassemble. Anyone building a deck onto their house?

See you Weds, 10:30-4, Thurs 10:30-6.

No work Saturday because Chip and I have a sailboat race. The race is being held at a location where the club has never raced before......but Chip has.....Stan Sayers Pits. We’ve got to have some kind of an advantage there don’t we? So if you want some cheap slo-motion entertainment on Saturday, come on down. We start about 11am.


Comment by Steve Compton on January 8, 2011 at 7:56am

UPDATE - Jan 7, 2011 by Don Mock

To say the least, this has been an exciting day and great week. First, a bit more on today's goldmine find. If you check out the attached photo called AirDam, from 1977, you'll see the parts we got today thanks to Phil and Russ.

Last week after getting the right non-trip finished up, we began working on the plates and reinforcement angles for the support struts that run from the sides of the sponsons up to the bottom. At home I've been reverse engineering from photos and bolt patterns, off the old airtraps and mangled bottom, the plates and dimensions of the struts. I actually made the doubler aluminum teardrop shape plates that glue to the airtraps and also made my guess at the shape of the stainless plates that are welded to the streamline tubing....making up the two struts. Just when we were about to start gluing the parts in place, Phil mentions that he had just met the guy who had the struts and even had the original airdam off the boat. I'm sure I yelled something like.."get them at all costs!! etc" What an amazing coincidence.

Phil arranged to have Russ Haag come down with the parts today. Phil and I got there early and did a few jobs nervously waiting to see if this was the real deal. It was. In walks Russ carrying the two struts. As you can see in Phil's photos, as expected, they are not in great shape. The left side strut is in pretty good shape with a few dents but the right-side one has a huge dent/bend in it. It is possible to repair them but regardless if we restore/fix them or duplicate them it was so cool to have them walk through the door. Either way, it will be a huge help having them in our possession.

Seeing and holding the pieces also drove home the reality of the crash in Mexico. I now know exactly how the Atlas flipped, landed upside down, turned around and was then hit stern first by the Squire Shop. Studing the films and seeing the damage to the boat, we now know Chip's prop first tore down the right rear non-trip then his rudder struck the back of the Blaster's right sponson, and then hit the right-side support strut which tore through the airdam under the nose. This also dispels the 30 year old rumor that Muncey had the crew remove the airdam before the final heat. It was on when the boat crashed.

On to other news to do with the project;

I am very happy to report that our covert non-trip project was completed Thursday. In a veil of secrecy, we rebuilt the bend and crooked first three feet of the left rear non-trip behind the sponson transom and skid fin area. Here’s the details just released from the crew:

The original front part of the non-trip was bent and repaired, not from the accident in Mexico, but probably from some sponson banging incident Mr. Muncey had during the Blaster’s career. The bent-in non-trip, behind the skid fin, was repaired years ago with a doubler plate glued over the outside. When we re-attached the old bent non-trip to our new sponson transom and airtrap a few months ago, things just didn’t line up very straight. So we rigged up a clamping system to hold the panel straight while the glue cured. There is some mystery surrounding the fact that after the area was glued up and riveted, things moved overnight while the glue was curing......over 1/4 inch. We came back the next day to find the non-trip had returned to it’s bent location. Now, if you have ever been to the museum at night alone, weird things go on including odd noises. So my guess is some hydro poltergeist thought it would be fun to shove the non-trip out of line just to mess with us.
So over then next few months, we debated about whether or not to attempt to fix the issue, besides it still looked pretty good and you would only really see the slight miss alignment from the back of the boat. But it bugged the hell out of me so I pleaded with the rest of the guys to let me tear into it. The question then was, do we just loosen the original panel from the sponson transom and re-bend it into position, or replace the entire front 3 feet of the non-trip with new honeycomb. We decided on the big fix. So Thursday morning, we went at the project like it was a race-site repair and in less than four hours we had the entire thing finished. What would have taken our team several days six months ago, happened in a flurry of activity in only a few hours. We were like a NASCAR pit crew.......everyone knew exactly what to do and after some quick cuts with the saws-all and a few hammer whacks and torches, we had everything ready for the new honeycomb piece. An hour later Hysol was mixed and applied and rivets were fired and the new panel section was in place looking much much better. Maybe to some, this seemed like a step backwards having to correct a mistake.....or ghostly prank, but to me it was a huge success and leap forward in the project.

The other big accomplishment this week was getting the wood inlayed into the top of the new right-side non-trip. We also got the turnover-bar plates and inserts/holes drilled and glued in the airtraps.

So it truly is time to start on the sponsons next week. I’ve ordered 4 sheets of 3/4” plywood from Steve Compton so we can laminate up our 4x16ft x 1 1/2” sheet for the new sponson sheers. The vote is in and the consensuses is to use full-length “model boat” style sheers like we made for the ‘82 Atlas. We have the drawing for the sheer shape so a pretty easy project to cut them out. Then we’ll need to cut some slots in each sponson frame for the sheers to attach. Next week is also time to start removing the old wood from the sponson frames.

Also want to say a quick get-well soon to John Leidle who had a mild but scary heart attack. Here’s more from John:

“I played a very long Tennis match last Wednesday night with my son. After the match I hung around for 20 minutes then sat in my truck & felt dizzy so I walked into the Boeing Tennis Center & laid on a bench & asked someone to call 911, went up to Valley General; & stayed as their guest for 2 nights, they put a stint in my blocked arterie & turned me loose. I was unlucky enough to have picked up a head cold too so I feel weak. He said very minor damage but I easily could have croaked. So I'm on blood thinners & snake venom. Please say hi to the crew for me.”

Hurry back John.....That’s it for now........Next week: Weds 10:30-4, Thursday 11-6, Sat 11-4.


(Photos added by Steve Compton Sat - Jan 8)




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