Thank you for dropping by this month for what is the briefest of updates on the Project which I suppose in some ways is good news for those of our followers with a short attention span. The reason for the short update this month is I have had to spend time away from the project in order to get my own business back on track when it went into shutdown as a result of the pandemic. Initially people just did not want me in their homes undertaking work but that has thankfully now changed to an acceptance of social distancing, face masks and sanitisers as a way forward and hence the need to clear a backlog of jobs that had accumulated. At least I am one of the lucky ones who still has work to go back to unlike some of my family and friends who now find themselves redundant as fallout from the virus begins to bite. 

Another sad consequence of the virus has been our good friend Dave Warby in Australia having to postpone the September tests with his jet hydroplane Spirit of Austalia II at Blowering Dam with the new T tail addition to the craft yet to be tried, due to restrictions imposed by his Government in relation to COVID. Dave himself unfortunately came into contact with somebody who tested positive for the virus and so had to self isolate for a fortnight, until thankfully he got the all clear. The team are hopeful that they will be allowed to resume tests in October if restrictions are lifted to allow the event to safely take place. 

Back with Longbow Steve Buckle of Sealey tools who are sponsoring the venture very kindly sent us one of their heavy duty platform trolleys to transport the jet engine starter batteries supplied by our sponsor Yuasa for the craft; which is a great help given the considerable weight of these monster power-packs.

Steve also generously sent us one Sealeys’ Rivnut tools and a selection of rivnuts to help form the fixings for the jet engine throttle cables.

Back with the wiring for the jet engines and Tracey Taylor of our sponsor RS Components sent us a set of heavy duty Anderson connectors for the static engine test control box in addition to a fantastic tool for cutting the heavy duty electrical starter cables prior to forming their crimped connections. We were very impressed with how easy they make the job of cutting these cables and definitely something you need to keep your fingers well away from if you want to carry on counting to 10. 

Back with the build of the hull for Longbow and our huge beam of Douglas Fir that our sponsor Roger Arveschoug of Capricorn Eco Timber had so very kindly supplied last month as a sponsor of the venture unfortunately developed a small but significant shake (crack) in it whilst awaiting to be shaped into the rear planing wedge. 

In all honesty I was not too surprised at the issue since the beam had been cut down from an even larger section just prior to shipping to us and in doing so had likely released some degree of inherent stress within the wood that may well have been compounded by a different ambient temperature and relative humidity the wood was being exposed to in my workshop to that which it may have experienced where previously stored. The larger the section the more such difference begin to matter and unfortunately in this case it was just a minor setback to be overcome. Whilst we could machine the shake out there was concern that it may repeat itself in another areas over time once the large section was fitted into place on the hull.

Although I am a qualified and experienced timber surveyor myself acting as an expert witness in the subject, I am always keen to take advice from others who are equally if not more competent to point me in the right direction. Accordingly I discussed the issue with Roger, Dave Warby, the advisors at the UK Timber Research and Development Association (TRADA) and David Williams, Executive Director of the Hydroplane & Raceboat Museum in the USA. The consensus was to avoid a risk of the situation arising again by vertically cutting and laminating four sections of Douglas Fir (Oregon Pine) and then facing the planing shoe running face with marine grade plywood. It would be more drawn out to build the shoe this way but in our case it would give us the confidence required for this critical item that the craft is so dependent to run upon at high speed. 

The first step therefore in the process of forming the shoe was to cut four smaller sections of Douglas Fir and then run these sections through the planer thicknesser to ensure they were true to each other, which my two sons, Tom and Robert kindly offered (were roped in) to help their old man with.

After that task I could mark out the heights and angle of the wedges for the planing shoe on each of the four sections and cut them out. I know many folk would cut them by machine but it was more satisfying and an opportunity to work off the additional weight acquired during lockdown to do it by hand. 

Once all four sections were cut and sanded then my good lady wife Gill could start to apply the WEST SYSTEM Epoxy from our terrific sponsor Wessex Resins in a two part lay up priming the wood first in pure epoxy then once tacky applying another layer including the WEST SYSTEM fillers. 

All that remained then for this stage of the build was to clamp the individual sections of wood together using the brilliant Sealey F clamps.

Well that concludes this brief update, apologies that I had to divert my attention to get my business back up and running this month but trust you will appreciate the reason. Next month there will hopefully be more to show by way of progress now some degree of normality has been resumed.

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