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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 Steve Compton on January 8, 2011 at 7:51am

UPDATE - Jan 6, 2011 by Phil Lampman

Here's a few photos for the Blue Blaster archives. Once again, mostly for Don's records and to share with the construction crew.I've noticed my photos seem to be losing some resolution when compared to earlier photos. Nevertheless, here's what I took over the past couple of days.

Nearly everything we've done this week has been focused on the non-trips. The right side NT, pretty much all-new, never did quite fit the way Don expected. I could never understand why, but he's almost always right and so he and Gail and a few others set about yesterday realigning the right side. You'll see in photos 6 and 7 the clamps and aluminum extrusions they used to better align and straighten the non-trip.

The left side non-trip is an original piece as fitted to the hull when we received it. Overall, it appeared to be in very good shape, but like so many other areas we've tried to save from the original hull structure, we often find that the accident in Acapulco stressed the hull and caused some "monuments" to move themselves ever-so-slightly away from their original Lucero-assigned locations. The forward portion of the left side non-trip appeared to have acquired a slight outward "bow" at the juncture with the sponson transom. I've been watching Don keep looking at it over during the last couple of months so it came as no real surprise to have him put the team to work correcting that issue this morning. When I left, Gail and Randy were making a new panel to splice into the non-trip and Rich set to work with Don getting the section ready for the new piece.

Other photos show things like me and Bob Burd talking over coffee. Bob has so many stories it's easy for me to get sidetracked in conversation with him. I also included a shot of the inserts I made yesterday. I was just experimenting with my camera settings to see if I could create a photo that made them look much more precise than they looked to me after a lot of cutting and grinding.

So, we continue to move ahead. Sometimes, like this week, it seems like one step forward, two steps back, but I've come to expect that of Don and the results always seem to bear him out. Don't tell him I said that. It may go to his head and I have a feeling he'd be lost down the occasional rabbit trail without Gail's practical approach and guidance anyway. Just joking, but I'm thankful to be a part of a diverse team who all have the patience and experience to teach me something new every time I show up.


Comment by Gary Laws on January 8, 2011 at 7:42am
Don posted awhile back about asking us fans what configuration the Blaster should be restored to? As far as I can tell, I was the only one who commented (through the link anyway). Has a decision been made yet?
Comment by Don Mock on December 27, 2010 at 7:29pm
The plan for this week to work on the Blaster is Weds from about 10:30am to 4pm and Thursday from 11am to 6pm. Lots of new projects to start on to get the boat ready to turn over in the next month or two. -Don Mock
Comment by Marc Connelly on December 27, 2010 at 9:08am

Don would be the best person to ask about the weekly schedule, especially over the holidays. But there is plenty to see, so you should plan to stop by for  look, especially if you are coming from out of town.


As Steve noted below the crew attached the right non-trip last week, completing the replacement of all major parts that were seriously damaged in the blowover. So there is a complete framework sitting there, waiting for the fabrication of new sponson shears.


No question, the Blue Blaster is re-emerging. And witnissing that first hand is always worth a visit to the Museum.  

Comment by Randall E. Roe on December 27, 2010 at 8:56am
 Hope to take a look at the progress on the Blaster this week, I'm flying in for a few days. Are you guys working on the boat this week ?
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

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