Donald Campbell's Bluebird K7

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With it's links to historic aviation- Gnat engine/fin/systems etc- may I just make one of my cheeky periodic plugs for The Bluebird Project, just in case there's anyone here who's not familiar with us, or who hasn't seen the progress made lately. Bluebird is coming on very well indeed, and is currently looking like this- http://i9.photobucket.com/albums/a51/mikebull/11.jpg -that's new skins over what is otherwise almost entirely original structure. Not looking bad, is she? Bill and the boys up there in Geordieland are doing some serious 'tin bashing' on her now, and she's coming on leaps and bounds. For myself, at some considerable distance away, I'm their faithful Ebay-hound and I'm also building the new seat for her cockpit, which is about to be upholstered in some lovely dark blue vinyl. So, if this is all news to you, perhaps you'd like to check the project out, via my link below? The 'Diary' section there is usually updated weekly or so, and has shown every last bit of Bluebird being taken apart, and now going back together again. Just a reminder too that we're still after the exact right kind of jet pipe temperature gauge for her- thanks to our own Mark G and Ebay we've got a couple of good options for a panel filler, but we'd obviously still really like the real deal, which would look exactly like this mocked-up image- http://i9.photobucket.com/albums/a51/mikebull/EXHgauge.jpg We assume that the original came from donor Gnat XM691, which I'm told would have varied somewhat internally from later standard Gnats due to it's prototype status. How much harder that makes finding the right kind, heaven knows! But if anyone can help, please drop me a PM. Donation would be lovely, but we're happy to pay too. I shall now return you to your normal programming, cheers! :)
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think you need to change your name to Blubirdman or something! Shes looking good!!

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Just visited the website and watched the video. A graphic reminder of just how fast she was. I feel guilty now. I was possibly the jinx that caused the crash as I'd said to my mum when it was announced that he was going to attempt the water speed record again that he'd keep on until he killed himself. I remember the newsreel footage of it so well it does not seem possble it was that long ago.
Profile picture for user Nashio966

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She looks fantastic, a tribute to the man who paid the ultimate sacrifice for his dream. what amazes me is that the current water speed record being 317.59 mph, that no one this day and age has gone faster (the current record having been set on the 8th October 1978), i mean there are road cars now progressing towards 300mph (the insane bugatti veyron GT) i had heard that campbell was nearing 330mph when she took off (328mph?) news from the quicksilver project has been a bit quiet recently. anyway what a fantastic job. keep it up :)

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Glad the video was appreciated- I made it! I too believe Campbell just would have kept going until something happened to him- for all his successes he was dogged with poor luck, and he'd already survived one horriffic crash in his land speed car. He only wanted to get the 300mph water record to drum up interest for his proposed Mach 1 rocket car, in a world that was rapidly moving on, about to go to the moon, and just not interested in speed records anymore. Yup, Ken Warby (whom I had the pleasure of meeting last October) has held the record at 317mph for a long time now- he's actually built another boat, but was waiting for some of the other challengers to give it a go first. Trouble is, they've all proven to be full of talk and not deeds, and he actually announced that he was retiring from the world water speed record last year. The Quicksilver thing is just a joke- they guy is just trading on it, hosting dinners with a few has-been rent-a-clebs a couple of times a year and getting absolutely nowhere with his proposed 'craft'. Bluebird will get wet again before Quicksinker ever does!

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i had heard that campbell was nearing 330mph when she took off (328mph?)
Yup- 297 on his first run- meaning he'd peaked at over 300- and 328 on the way back, before his luck ran out and it started to get away from him. Sadly, it was his own deceleration that killed him- the loss of the slight downthrust from the engine was the final thing that let her fly.
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Glad the video was appreciated- I made it! I too believe Campbell just would have kept going until something happened to him- for all his successes he was dogged with poor luck, and he'd already survived one horriffic crash in his land speed car. He only wanted to get the 300mph water record to drum up interest for his proposed Mach 1 rocket car, in a world that was rapidly moving on, about to go to the moon, and just not interested in speed records anymore. Yup, Ken Warby (whom I had the pleasure of meeting last October) has held the record at 317mph for a long time now- he's actually built another boat, but was waiting for some of the other challengers to give it a go first. Trouble is, they've all proven to be full of talk and not deeds, and he actually announced that he was retiring from the world water speed record last year. The Quicksilver thing is just a joke- they guy is just trading on it, hosting dinners with a few has-been rent-a-clebs a couple of times a year and getting absolutely nowhere with his proposed 'craft'. Bluebird will get wet again before Quicksinker ever does!
that quicksilver thing is a bit worrying because i believe the project owns a fairly unique Blackburn Buccaneer, that was used for the foxhunter radar trials and fitted with a Tornado nose, i believe which is at bournemouth airport or something, i hope if it does go all balls up this aircraft will be cared for in a proper manner, as she's a live one i believe

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Bluebird will get wet again...
Is this the intention? Tell me more.....engine running? Taxiing? :diablo: Nice photo of the Bluebird restoration...not really sure what I’m looking at (without checking)...is that the bow (right way up)?

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Yes, that's the tip of her nose, looking from the front along to the cockpit opening. The intention is to rebuild K7 to running condition, and to run her- at low demonstration speeds only of course- at least once, but hopefully as a yearly event. When not wet, she'll live in a new hall that's to be built at The Ruskin Museum in Coniston, which already holds all sorts of Campbell memorabilia, including (for now) her original Gnat tail fin and the original engine that came out of her when she was recovered. It's hoped that Rolls Royce will come on board to re-certify the replacement Orpheus for yay-many hours of ground running at low thrust, which will see K7 good for power for x amount of years. And all this is being done with no help whatsoever from the Lottery people!

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To keep the tenuous aviation link going, here's her original engine from the crash on show- http://i9.photobucket.com/albums/a51/mikebull/16.jpg

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While I'm on a roll here! The Lottery people twice turned down any funding for Bluebird, for all sorts of daft reasons. Nobody believed that K7 could be rebuilt without a 'substantial loss of original fabric'. Well, here's project leader Bill Smith- an absolutely top bloke that I am inordinately proud to call a friend- pictured just before Christmas, holding the project's 'lost original fabric' box, representing all the bits of K7 to date that can't be used... http://i9.photobucket.com/albums/a51/mikebull/BillwithLOOFbox.jpg Huge, isn't it? See, what they couldn't grasp is that pieces of her that came out of the lake like this- http://i9.photobucket.com/albums/a51/mikebull/15040701.jpg Same bit- http://i9.photobucket.com/albums/a51/mikebull/15040702.jpg -could after some careful work be turned back into this- http://i9.photobucket.com/albums/a51/mikebull/15040703.jpg -beyond which they'd end up as fully restored original panels, back in their rightful places in the totally original frame of the boat. Even some of her outer skins will be original where possible, too. Plus the Lottery folk said that no one under the age of forty would be interested in Bluebird...well, see all those schoolkid's drawings on the workshop wall in my first picture?! The upshot is, the same 'experts' that 'advised' the Lottery people have since crept back to the project, tails between their legs, asking for reports and lectures etc about the methods being used to save every last original piece of K7, so at least future projects that need help might fare better when the 'experts' actually understand just what's possible. In the meantime, The Bluebird Project is going it alone, relying on the goodwill of companies donating services and supplies, the odd bit of merchandise sale, and with a workforce of volunteers. Great, eh?

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The intention is to rebuild K7 to running condition...
Blimey! I had no idea that she was being restored to ‘ground running’ (?) condition! The attitude of the HLF ‘experts’ seems extremely odd.....isn’t history for those under forty? Interesting turn-of-phrase...“at low demonstration speeds”...there must be some ‘leeway’ in that for something capable of over 300mph! Seriously, this is an astonishing project and I wish it every success.
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The upshot is, the same 'experts' that 'advised' the Lottery people have since crept back to the project, tails between their legs, asking for reports and lectures etc about the methods being used to save every last original piece of K7, so at least future projects that need help might fare better when the 'experts' actually understand just what's possible.
Let's just hope that the occasional outbursts of bile against them on the project website don't alienate the people who could be learning most from this! One or two have been just a little hair-raising - IMHO, of course. Adrian
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I can just imagine the crowd on lake Connistone when she is launched for the first tme after the re-build, there will not be an inch of shoreline uncovered. This is EXACTLY how a project should be run, regular updates and some real progress being made, I am goiing to the lakes this year for for my holidays and will make a trip to the Ruskin museum, hopefully there will be a donation box can drop somethng in. Best of luck gents, I look forward to sitting on the waters edge watching her go by. John.

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Interesting turn-of-phrase...“at low demonstration speeds”...there must be some ‘leeway’ in that for something capable of over 300mph!
:D She's going to have two sets of sponsons built- (the originals are totally missing, recovered in '67 but then 'lost' in the years since!) -one set built exactly to the original plans, with the original kind of materials, for museum display and then a set for running, which will look the same but have different angles on the planing shoes to enable her to safely get up on her tippy-toes at lower speeds, while kicking out the same spray patterns to make her look like she's going much faster.
This is EXACTLY how a project should be run, regular updates and some real progress being made, I am goiing to the lakes this year for for my holidays and will make a trip to the Ruskin museum, hopefully there will be a donation box can drop somethng in.
The Ruskin are collecting towards their extension to house the boat, or you can donate/buy something directly on the BBP site towards the boat itself. However, current state of play is that it's the museum that really needs the help right now.
Let's just hope that the occasional outbursts of bile against them on the project website don't alienate the people who could be learning most from this! One or two have been just a little hair-raising - IMHO, of course.
No problem- though I wouldn't call it bile, more a constant proving them utterly wrong at every single step of the way! You can't blame Bill really- he had to deal with them for a couple of very frustrating years. Thing is too, if they'd helped from day 1, Bluebird would be long finished by now- and several people involved with her in the old days would have lived to have seen her again, not least Ken Norris, the man who actually designed her- he was desperate to see her run again, but has sadly died now. :(
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the sponson idea, thats probably the best thought out thing i have heard ever, really what a great plan :D
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Hi Lancman, Did Bill and the team finally manage to find a replacement Orpheus of the correct Mk. in the end. As I tried along with others to point Bill in the direction of the few appropriately engined early Gnats that were still in existence. And thanks for a great update. Note to self. Must finally get round to building that resin kit I have of K7 in the loft. Septic.

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DeHavilland Aviation recently donated their display Orpheus to the project, in a straight swap for the other one that the team had acquired way back- as the one DH had came with a known history, which should make all the difference re. Rolls agreeing to support it.
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I had no idea this was going on!!- what a great project- perhaps you could get Mr Campbells old car running too!!- best of luck to eveyone concerned

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Yes, it really is good to know that such efforts are being made to preserve (sorry, should have said rebuild) a piece of our history. Good luck to the team and looking forward to a successful completion. Is there any sort of idea when she will be completed? Hard not to sound impatient when asking questions in writing, but I was just wondering if I might be lucky enough for it to be in my lifetime.
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[QUOTE=Lancman;1223883]Glad the video was appreciated- I made it QUOTE] Excellent video, by the way whats the music? watching Top Gear the other day they used it as well. Not as well used I may add. :D Fantastic project. Im not old enough to remember Blue Bird but I do remember hearing the story and watching the film clip on tv and it was as it still is awe inspiring even now.