Welcome to our Christmas update for the Project of building our jet hydroplane Longbow on the Fylde Coast, Lancashire here in the U.K. As the year draws to a close we were forced to vacate the workshop when it was taken over by a small group of people who were down on their luck and had nowhere else to sleep for the night.

We say a small group of people so you can puzzle over the relationship between small and big in the above photo compared to near and far away. 

I don’t know who these people are but one says he is a skilled carpenter that wants to help out on the boat, whilst three of the other wise jokers all have different opinions upon how to make it the fastest in the world. The smallest one has spat his dummy out and says he won’t help at all until he gets a set of Longbow team overalls but at least his mum knows how to make a great mug of tea using milk from the livestock her friend has brought along. I have told them we don’t have a permit for the animals so they have promised to be gone by twelfth night.  

In the meantime we hope you are enjoying the seasonal holidays and that you were on the ‘nice’ list of Santa to get all that you had wished for. In our case we received a wonderful present from Hamish Cook and David Johnson of Wessex Resins in respect of WEST SYSTEM Epoxy products that allowed us to continue with the build and cannot thank them enough for their ongoing support of the venture through to completion.

Putting this product to immediate use we set about the next task of fixing the marine grade plywood sheets, supplied by our sponsor Robbins Timber, to the underside of the hull of Longbow. Sarah Goldstone of Robbins along with her colleagues have been such a help with sourcing timber material sometimes at very short notice and they have always done their very best to come to our rescue in making the venture happen. 

You may recall that last month Steve and I had formed the scarf joints to the plywood sheeting for the underside of the hull and with the help of Keith we temporarily put the boards into place in order to see how everything sat. 

At the beginning of December with the help of my eldest son Tom we lifted Longbow up off the work table using chain blocks and spreader bars, then held her there on axle stands and props to allow us more room to inspect beneath as the plywood sheets were fixed permanently into place. 

Starting at the transom with the hull of Longbow upside down you can see the marine grade plywood and timber frames being primed with West System Epoxy which in this case is a mixture of 105 Epoxy Resin mixed with an appropriate quantity of 205 Hardener; where it was then left until the Epoxy becomes tacky. Once this state was achieved then a further coat of West System Epoxy with the addition of West System 403 microfibres filler could be mixed and applied on top of the priming pure resin coat and combed out to an even layer. 

Carefully picking the marine grade plywood sheeting up and placing it onto the timber frames of the hull, it was then held in place with the addition of stainless steel screws supplied by another of our sponsors, Avon Stainless Fasteners to provide a mechanical fix whilst the West System Epoxy was allowed to cure. Adding to that was polymer composite nails supplied by our sponsor Raptor and temporary use of clamps / weights to maintain an even pressure throughout the bond of marine grade plywood to timbers of the hull during the curing of the Epoxy. 

We could not set all the sheets of marine grade plywood into place in one operation due to the limits of people available compared to mixing and setting time of the West System Epoxy. Even setting two such sheets at one time we found a bit of a challenge for Steve and myself so we settled to doing the rest one sheet at a time. We then let the Epoxy fully cure before cleaning the surrounding areas off in order to allow us to move on to fixing the next sheet of plywood into place. Over a series of nights that routine worked pretty well and allowed us to get the entire underside of the hull bonded into place. 

The next task will be to trim excess material from the perimeter of ply that is currently overhanging and then we can move on to forming the air trap in the New Year. 

In the meantime our electrical engineer and lifelong friend John Fielding has been getting to grips with the wiring for the engine start and systems. These being supplied by our sponsor RS Components for the twin Rolls Royce Viper 535 jet engines that are to power the craft. In the following photo you can see not only John wearing his Longbow team polo shirt but also on the opposite chair is a gift from our good friend Dave Warby of one of their team shirts for their jet hydroplane project Spirit of Australia II.

The previous month we mentioned that the Viper jet engines for Longbow came from the BAC Strikemaster aircraft built in Warton, Lancashire and this prompted some enquires to us as to whether we could put up any photos of the aircraft within this month’s update. This being the case our friends from the Warton Aerodrome and Lancashire and Cheshire Aviation Group have kindly supplied the following pictures of the Strikemaster which uses a single Rolls Royce Viper Mk535 turbojet engine propelling it to a top speed of just over 480mph. In Longbow however we will be using two of these engines mated side by side within her hull, so will have twice the thrust available to us compared to that of the BAC Strikemaster. 

Credit Colin Norris

Credit Carl Griffies

Credit Carl Griffies

That is all for this month folks as like most people we are having a break for Christmas and the New Year. As we sit around the fire at home with family, friends, enjoying good company eating too much we raise a glass with best wishes to everyone who has come on board with our little project and for those who have kindly taken to following our progress of the building the jet hydroplane Longbow at our cottage workshop. 

Stir the eggnog, lift the toddy and Happy New Year to everybody! 

We hope you drop by next month in 2020 for the next instalment of the venture and in the meantime if you have not done so already, please take a moment to like our Facebook page.

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