Happy New Year to one and all.


Despite overdosing on turkey and beer we’ve been hard at work at this end during the holidays.
The process is closer to chemotherapy than conservation at the moment as we cut and curette under the corrosion in search of good metal but it’s coming good.
One of the more worrying prospects was getting the vertical tailfin off. Why must it come off in the first place, you might ask.
The answer is that the fin is made of a different material to the rear cowling onto which it’s solidly attached and to make matters worse it’s fixed in place with a typically over-engineered, steel saddle that bolts into the underside of the tail fairing with the usual zillion bolts and rivets.
Now, for those not of an engineering persuasion, if you bolt a buffet of different materials together then soak them for, let’s say, thirty-four years – what you get is a galvanic feast going on between the different metals resulting in all kinds of strange effects.
It’s not uncommon to find bolts in perfect condition but missing their nuts due to corrosion. Or thick coatings of completely the wrong oxide as was the case with the aluminium engine mounts that were red with rust.
The only real way to deal with this mess is to take it all apart and treat everything individually so the fin had to come off.
Worrying, why? Because we didn’t get the instruction book with this thing and it’s not always simple to see how it all went together. Even when it is seemingly apparent what goes where, you can never be too sure whether to get a bar under it and give it a good shove in case you’ve missed something breakable.
This is why it took three solid days of freeing rusted fasteners and drilling rivets before the damn thing began to show any signs of moving at all.

Alain and Mark spent ages under there carefully drilling rivets.
When taking rivets out it’s vital to drill them on the centres and to exactly the same diameter otherwise you can’t put the same size rivet back in the resulting hole – it takes forever, especially on rotted rivets.
But it gave in eventually, just like everything else.

 

 

So now we can get underneath to chemically etch out the corrosion. The metal turned out to be in great condition despite everything – on the top at least.
We still have to defeat an inordinate number of bolts to get the steelwork off the underside but once all the exposed metal is stripped, cleaned and given a fresh coat of protective paint it’ll last forever.
Don’t forget to sign the guestbook and let us know what you think of the site and we’ll add more stuff as the week goes on. Did I mention that the engine is out?


11th January 2006 - 16:30

Having shifted the tailfin, and being on a roll, we decided to go for the next major hurdle. Getting the engine out.
We tried to organise a couple of days when those kind people who’d offered their time could come up and get dirty but the weather conspired against us resulting in sub-zero temperatures and blizzards of snow. Some people did brave the elements, however, and after a bit of preparation and much reorganising of the workshop we decided to have a pull on the engine.
Our workshop, very conveniently, has a pair of steel beams across the ceiling placed there by the previous owners specifically for lifting purposes. With little effort we jacked K7’s cradle onto a set of 10mm thick steel bars enabling us to easily push the boat backwards and forwards. With what we judged to be the centre of gravity of the engine directly beneath a beam, we wrapped a strap around it and lifted it a few millimetres with a chain-block.
Finding the true C of G took a little experimenting as the front of the engine has dissolved completely and although our spare engine was available for comparison it could tell us little in this case.
Having found the correct point we then made up a short lifting bar with an eye-bolt welded to the top face and ratchet-strapped it around the nimonic-stainless combustion chamber.

Most of the disconnects had been made already – the low-fuel-pressure and engine RPM senders were freed years ago by the engine-ancillary gearbox dissolving and the front engine mount snapped so we were left with only one connector on the fuel control unit, (don’t know what it’s for but we’ll find out), the static-jetpipe-pressure tapping and the JPT (jetpipe temperature) thermocouple to disconnect. All went well until we had the engine suspended half in – half out, then it caught us out.
The main fuel line turned out to be routed through one of the hull frames and not directly to the filter as I’d thought. Safety had to come first as the engine was dangling dangerously so I took the decision to cut the line.
Heartbreaking stuff but it’ll join back together.
Then, with the last disconnect made, we lifted Orpheus, engine number 711 clear of the hull.

 

Note the engine cradle waiting to receive it to the right.
So with a push on the wheeled trolley along the overhead beam…

 

The old lump glided gracefully across the workshop…

 

…and onto the cradle.
Now we can get into the last of those awkward corners of the hull and find out exactly what we’re working with.

Whilst you're on the website, you may notice we now have a FAQ page. It's in its infancy, but why not check it out and let us know your comments.


19th January 2006 - 10:30

So, with the fin off and the engine out and a day spent coughing up dust whilst removing another couple of buckets of dried mud from what used to be the space beneath the engine, we turned to an issue that’s been prickling at us since day one.
Literally hundreds of people contact us on an ongoing basis wanting to look at the wreck but as this has always been discouraged by Gina there are very few who actually make it across the door. Most of those who do are there on business, inspecting the hull with regard to the rebuild project and a few model-makers have been allowed in but it doesn’t amount to much.
We therefore decided to clean up the fin and make that bit accessible at least by putting it in the Ruskin Museum. It was actually Alain’s little project and appeared to be something we could wrap up in a day or two – that was until we actually made a start.
First off, we carefully followed our conservator’s training and washed the whole affair with baby shampoo, a substance with which I’ve become fairly expert of late.
That brought it up quite nicely…

 

…but as you can see, there were a few flaky bits here and there. Worse still were the sinister-looking blisters where crystalline corrosion had taken hold beneath the blue surface and begun munching at the metal.
Sorting this meant another foray into the world of conservation as we lifted each blister with a scalpel blade or plastic scraper then brushed out the white powder.
Finally, the surface was chemically cleaned using a chemical called Deoxydine, which seems to be a sort of acid-cocktail. Whatever it is, it leaves the surface spotless so after a quick rinse with de-ionised water, (the stuff for topping up car batteries that contains no chlorides), and drying in front of the space heater, we touched in the freshly prepared bits and gave the surface a good polish.

Next on the list was to find a way to bolt such an awkward item securely to a wall without the danger of it being nicked, falling on some innocent person’s head or being damaged in any way by the process itself.
We didn’t care too much about wrecking Vicky’s museum though so with a few bits of stainless-steel box section borrowed from the stores and a welding set…

 

Don’t panic – I was only welding the hanging bracket, it was a tiny spot-weld and we’d wrapped the endangered area of tailfin in a fireproof overall. Building the bracket on the fin was the best way to be sure that it fit perfectly and therefore didn’t pull any stress into the fin when bolted to the wall.

 

The fin on its bracket… or is that the bracket on its fin?

 

…and a detail of the clamp around the pitot.
Don’t worry about this bit either, there’s neoprene foam in there and it doesn’t carry any weight. It’s there to stop the fin putting a twisting load on the bottom mounts.
Finally, we hauled it over to the Ruskin and had a lock-in at the museum and a proper pantomime as we installed it on the wall.
Paul Allonby was there with his camera, still recording events after almost forty years and Michaela turned up from the Westmorland Gazette. Vicky ran for cover as soon as the electrical spotlight track was torn down by our electrician-in-residence, Rob Ford, and we started drilling holes in the wall.

 

But doesn’t it look fantastic up there?


30th January 2006 - 15:30

We had our monthly inspection from the Grand Poobah of museology this month. Chris came up to see how much destruction we’d wrought over the Christmas holidays and to make some ethics-based decisions that we were happy to pass upwards. We guessed he’d have the answers and wouldn’t dither about and weren’t disappointed on either score.
One of our questions concerned the lead weights in the stern.
For those not intimately acquainted with the story of Bluebird’s last days, what happened was that Donald couldn’t seem to get her up onto her planing position due to the altered centre of gravity resulting from the new and untested Orpheus installation.
At Leo’s suggestion they lashed sandbags to her tail to alter the trim and hey-presto… up she came.
Poor Robbie Robinson was then tasked with casting lead sheets in the lid of a biscuit tin and bolting them into the back of the boat below the jetpipe.
Thirty-nine years later we had to get them back out again to clean behind them and get the water-brake off.
Problem was, they’d been bolted either side of a flimsy aluminium bulkhead that didn’t have a hope of holding them when Bluebird came to a sudden stop and it fell over backwards trapping half the lead behind it.
Incidentally we found yet another chunk of wood wedged under the lead – more ‘advanced engineering… rocketry, what have you’.
Initially I thought Donald’s team must’ve deliberately bent the bulkhead in 66 / 67 so the lead ingots wouldn’t foul the underside of the jetpipe and jokingly accused Robbie of the crime, but he just blamed Donald. We finally decided that Donald wouldn’t have battered his pride and joy on purpose so Leo had to be the culprit.
But in the final analysis all were unfairly accused as after removing half the lead it became apparent that the damage was done in the accident. Notice how far the bolts tore through the metal sheet.

 

This left us with a museological conundrum. We could batter it straight in which case it would fit again and we could get it out but we’d have put a bit of a dent in its history too. Trouble was, it had to go, or we couldn’t clean behind it so we collectively passed the buck and let Chris decide.
Now then, we all have to learn to take rivets out properly but not on the real deal so we’ve sourced some old aircraft bits to practice on but they haven’t arrived yet.
It took some close supervision and a quick lesson in rivetology before we were allowed to wield tools on the dozen or so fasteners that had survived the crash.

Then with a bit of pulley-hauley, as they used to say on the old sailing ships, the bulkhead came out in its somewhat squashed condition…

…thus allowing us to get the rest of the lead out.

I think a competition to guess what weight of lead was in there might be fun. The pic shows slightly less than half of it. Anyone fancy a guess?
We also learned this weekend that we’re going to have to strip Bluebird rather deeper than we’d originally thought.
You would imagine that after almost five years in our workshop she’d have dried out properly but no. The further we go, the more water we find so she’s probably going to have to come completely apart before we can say with absolute conviction that we’ve eradicated all sources of rot and she’s stable once more. What fun!


3rd February 2006 - 16:30

Here’s an interesting interlude. Whilst removing the various bits and bobs from within the hull we came across a strange black cylinder connected to the outside by a pipe and to where the cockpit once was by a wire.
This curious item proved to be the bilge pump but connecting it to a battery proved it dead as dead can be. Nothing daunted, I took it to bits and cleaned everything.

The wiring and some other nameless bits went into the dishwasher at home, which I’ve discovered is equally adept at cleaning bits of Bluebird as it is with and pans.

The pump proved to be beautifully made as I discovered when recording its dimensions. It was circular to within four-hundredths of a millimetre but it was also designed in the days before decent shaft seals came along so the main shaft was packed with dozens of rubber and steel washers.

All the O-rings were left in the warmth for a few days to see if they’d expand a little – and they did – so with some oxygen friendly, silicone grease from the dive kit bag, they went back in the hole, along with the multitude of pump seals.
At some point along the way Donald must’ve lost the proper fitting where the wires went in though it’s possible to see where it went, so they’d stuffed the hole with putty, which hadn’t worked so well as a water-proofing agent when submerged for thirty-four years at forty-three metres.
The wiring had to be dried out therefore and its connections checked. The motor brushes felt better after a liberal application of release oil too and then when reconnected to the battery and dunked in the kitchen sink came the moment of truth.

It ran again. Not only did it run but it ran beautifully with a contented and uniform whirring noise. Water was soon spurting from the outlet pipe causing me to hop around the kitchen with glee.
Now it’ll be bagged and put away for the day we reinstall it and connect up the wires.


20th February 2006 - 16:00

It’s been a couple of weeks and this is mainly due to me being incapacitated with gout, which is possibly the most painful affliction known to man and certainly the worst agony I’ve ever experienced.
However, there is some progress to report, for example, we took the spar out.
What we hadn’t expected was to find so much water still trapped in the various nooks and crannies. What seems to have happened is that down at forty-three metres where the water pressure remains at a steady 5 Bar absolute (about 80psi) it’s been forced past sealants and through tight fitting joints. Now that there’s no similar pressure gradient in the opposite direction the water has no reason to get back out.
The upshot of this is that Bluebird is going to have to come apart completely in order to stabilise her. When I say properly I mean every panel and every rivet.
Shifting the spar was job-one as it seemed likely that it was full of water too.
First off we had to strip the cowlings off the spar. They looked knackered at first but all the bolts came out eventually and guess what… They’re OK, we can fix them and put them back!

That freed up the spar and we’ll not bore you with how many bolts were holding it into the spaceframe. The laborious task of shifting them fell to Dave who spent a few days getting the fixings out without breaking any as per the rules.

Then came the problem of how to get the spar itself out of the hole – needless to say it didn’t move when we gave it a shove.
To the rescue came Alain who happens to be an ex Land-Rover nut quite used to hauling his bogged down vehicle out of eight feet of mud, over a forest or up a cliff and who owns as a result the only car jack we’ve ever seen with four feet of lift!

With a bit of ingenuity and some wooden blocks to protect the underlying material…

It pushed out with surprising ease. And yes, it had a million gallons of water inside.

While all this was going on, Alain had been working at the other end because we’re shortly going to mount the entire hull in a rollover jig so we can turn her over and remove the bottom skins. Off came the water brake, rudder and stabilising fin with Alain winning first prize for physical injury as he worked spanners in the lower confines of the hull.
The planing shoe was full of water and jetfuel too but the water brake is brands new, incredibly heavy and will soon be joining the bilge pump and fuel pumps on the list of things that still work.


27th February 2006 - 15:00

Here’s a treat for anyone, and there have been a few over the years, who ever wondered what K7’s underside looks like.
Due to the persistent dripping of lake water whenever we remove anything the decision was taken during Chris’ last visit that we’d have to put K7 up on a rollover jig and remove the skins to get at the frame.
Great… because it’s not as though the local tool dept. at B&Q has a Bluebird rollover jig so off I went off on the scrounge to see an old pal of mine, Phil Turner who runs a local company called Ivanhoe Forge.
Phil’s dad started it all many years ago knocking out garden gates and the like, now Phil makes beautiful architectural ironwork for clients all over the UK and probably the rest of the world too.
www.Ivanhoeforge.co.uk
Initially, all I wanted to do was sift through his scrap bin in search of some heavy enough material to build the jig myself but instead, Phil asked me to sketch what I was after and three days later two of these nifty little things arrived.

Thanks Phil…

Then they lay about for three weeks until I could walk again – sort of – but having the upstands solved only half the problem. Next we had to work out a way to hang the boat from them though as I was a steel fabricator in a former life we were already well on the way to cracking the problem.
Dave and Alain came over and together we cut some metal.

Picking up the back end wasn’t too difficult as there are bolt holes everywhere from the water-brake, rudder and fin. We utilised almost all of them and because Dave is a specialist surveyor it wasn’t long before the workshop had its first laser show as he surveyed in the steelwork and declared K7 an inch out of true as a result of the crash.
We’ll get that back when we re-attach the front end.
Taking hold of the front was a bit less complicated though the frame is somewhat crusty up for’ard and will need a few judicious metal-grafts before we can declare it 100%. We spanned the hole where the spar came out with a chunky length of box-section and picked up on the spar bolt-holes at both sides.

Next task, having secured both ends of the hull, was to haul the whole assemblage off the cradle on which she’s rested since 8th March 2001 so following a number of false starts and some interesting rigging ideas she finally went airborne.

Then with 17 inches of added lift the upstands were slid into position.

There followed a few hours of hard work to secure it all. Dave drilled holes in the floor, Alain bashed masonry fixings into the concrete and tightened them down until he couldn’t put another ounce of weight on the spanner whilst I welded in extra steelwork to create an over-engineered solution of which Leo would definitely have approved.

And then – with everything bolted up solidly and the floor cleared for action…

I’m going…

She turned upside down at exactly 12:35, so far as we know for only the third time in her life. Once whilst under construction, then again on 4th January 1967 and then today.
Notice how far the floor skin was bent backwards. That was done in the crash and I’d supposed that after being squashed flat under the weight of the boat for almost five years it might’ve flattened a bit, but no. Immediately the weight came off, it sprung right back to exactly where I remember it.
Incidentally, if anyone can remember the documentary, you may recall that BBC health and safety policy meant that they insisted on taking a commercial diver along to act as fall-guy between us and them in case we did anything dangerous and you may also remember me arguing on the barge with him over a proposed action.
Picture this. The boat is the correct way up on the lakebed in zero-visibility, four degree water with her tail in the mud whilst we’ve lifted the front clear by pulling on strops wrapped around the roots of the main spar. This has raised the forward end of the flat underside clear of the mud but the twisted panel you can see behind Alain’s head remained curved under and speared into the lakebed.
This effectively left a tunnel about half a metre high by roughly a metre wide beneath the boat through which it was proposed to pass a second strop in case the spar tore out of the rotten frame. After all, we had no idea at that time whether it was about to do just that.
This brilliant idea was to send a diver through the gap under the hanging boat to secure a strop though the job had to be done by one of us as the longest surface-supply umbilical brought by the commercial team to help with a salvage job in 42m of water was only 28m long. Or at least that’s as deep as it ever went, and I ought to know, I was attached to it at the time.
The scheme was absolute lunacy and this was why I kicked off and invited him to do the job himself, which he declined to do.
As usual, the task fell to our team so we ended up passing the strop with a boathook and unnecessarily risking two divers when the job could have been done in much greater safety once the boat was an extra metre out of the mud.
Never mind, she’s well out of the mud now though the lake seems reluctant to relinquish its claim on her. Guess what happened when we turned the hull over…

Yep, gallons of water poured out, but on a positive note, how about this for anyone out there who still has concerns about how much strength remains in the old girl. Not only is she strung up by either end, she didn’t fall in half when an 18 stone fat bloke sat in the middle either.

I went up there to retrieve the lifting equipment that we’d forgotten about in all the excitement and to rest my foot! That immaculate planing wedge is cold on the behind, by the way, and for all you model makers in search of perfection let me tell you that the underside is painted charcoal grey and the planing wedge has three different angles of attack machined over its length. More of that later as the next job is to strip off the bottom skin.
Dave’s surveying was so precise that the underside ended up absolutely level from front to back when we flipped her. Clever, eh?
And we’ve been informed this week that we’re soon to be visited by a distinguished delegation – from HLF no less – and they’re bringing some ‘experts’.
Don’t remember this happening before…
Now we’ll be able to get definitive answers on how to tackle the dissimilar metal corrosion between the skin and the steelwork and a material spec for carrying out frame repairs – I can’t wait.

*

And while I think of it, here comes another of those public apologies – well, sort of – as I’ve been told off for my unfair treatment of museologists.
I’ve been slagging them off and giving them an undeserved hard time apparently though in my defence, my history with museologists is not unlike my history with girls in that I tried all the bad ones first.
From being a diver to suddenly finding myself in charge of an iconic museum object took about a week and being a great believer in seeking good advice I immediately asked for help from the museum world.
Chris Knapp helped out from day one and thankfully proved to be a notable exception but the majority of museologists, I’m sad to say, tended to view me more as though I were something adhering to their shoe than someone coming to them for guidance.
“How come you are in charge of something so important?” they’d ask with an unsubtle blend of envy, disbelief and disgust.
“It ought to be in the hands of a proper museum – not a rank amateur. What do you know about museums, conservation, preservation, ethics…”
“Nothing,” I’d reply, “That’s why I’m here, asking for advice. I just happen to be the guy who found it, raised it and now has to look after it for a while.”
And they were only the ones who would lower themselves to answer the phone or reply to e-mails. Most ignored me completely.
One eminent member of the cult openly admitted to ignoring me at the outset when he later apologized for having done so and his apology meant a lot as I seemed to be gaining some acceptance by that point, but most of the breed remained impossible to talk to, especially when the decision was taken about what to do with the boat.
“We’re going to rebuild it to as near original condition as…” But I’d get no further.
“Oooh!” I may as well have said we were going to concrete the hull into the floor and use it as a latrine.
“Museums are for the public, you know. Not your personal indulgence,” they’d patiently point this out while I’d think back to all those hundreds of guestbook entries and encouraging e-mails and tell them…
“But this happens to be what the public wants to see. Haven’t you been reading the papers, listening to the radio…”
“Tut, tut, tut.”
The museologists would shake their heads sadly as though dealing with a deluded child and start explaining slowly, presumably in the hope that I’d grasp it this time, about conservation and ethics.
I just wanted to yell at them.
“Don’t tell me museums are for the public then sneer at me as though you know something I don’t!”
“I AM the bloody public and there are millions more like me who can’t suffer your snotnosed conceit or the unending discharge of pathetic bureaucrats terrified that their fragile, personal empires might suffer a dent or two at the hands of such a ballsy project.
The public actually want to see a real boat and not a pile of scrap. They want to hear it roar again because a whole generation wasn’t born when it last ran and if you don’t believe me just take a look back through our completely un-censored guestbook.
The sad fact is this – in many cases, though fortunately not always – museums are not for the public at all. They’re for the museologists who’ve gone weird because they have only each other for company and who seem to view the public as a grubby, ignorant race who dare to trample through their lovingly conserved collections.
It’s not all bad though, as with every walk of life there are good and bad it’s just that it took a while to sort it all out, and so…
If you’re a museologist, and you’re reading this, and you happen to be forward-looking, adventurous and appreciate that your average Joe-public prefers noise and violence to dust and ruin, then please accept my heartfelt apology for maligning your profession as beneath that staid exterior it can actually be very exciting.
And if you’re the other type, stop hiding under your desks and crying about risk assessments and funding issues. Roll up your tweed sleeves and give us a hand here!”


2nd March 2006 - 13:30

A quick diary entry for the model makers, anoraks, engineers working on a water-speed-record boat – and all other interested parties. A bit more detail of K7’s underside as requested.
It’s flat as a billiard table apart from the torn area at the front and the planing wedge.

Here’s the wedge. It has three angles, a small area at the front where a sacrificial skin has been fixed over it then it changes again about a third of the way back. It’s bare aluminium machined from a solid billet.

This is looking at the back end where the water-brake used to be. As you can see, the wedge is hollow and stuffed with bits of wood for some reason. We might be able to answer that if it comes off.

This is the short forward step that I mentioned earlier. It’s tucked under the bottom skin but over the leading edge of the planing wedge. Presumably to stop the water from tearing the wedge off. Good thinking, Ken.

And here’s where the paint turns from blue to grey. See what I mean?

So, ‘loss of original fabric’… not in the planing wedge dept. Not in the battery bays either. Take a look at these.

Here are the completely original batteries in the original battery boxes. The boxes have been cleaned and given a fresh coat of paint – stabilised in other words – whereas the batteries have been rinsed out with de-ionised water and given a thorough cleaning. They’re ready to go back in the hole as soon as we get the hull back together.
And finally, an interesting discovery from beneath the mud.
It seems that Donald was using Ken’s batteries on his final trip…


14th March 2006 - 14:00

Well, what a spectacular load of bo**ocks that was! Does anyone know the collective noun for a gathering of bureaucrats? How about a ‘dither’… That seems to fit, and what do you call several museologists in the same place?
Whatever – we just got more of what we’re used to when a group of either species sit around a table.
“What’s your timetable?” The dither wanted to know.
“Well,” we said boldly, “wouldn’t it be great if we had something to unveil by the fourth of January 2007.”
We’d agreed as a team that this is a perfectly achievable aim if we get stuck in but it only induced a state of shock in those who’d have to get their finger out to make the funds available. They couldn’t possibly consider something so radical and to make doubly sure they came back with a plan to ensure that we miss the June decision for which we all worked so hard before Christmas – no, I’m not joking.
‘We need to align our timetables’, they informed us, though this only seemed to involve them extending theirs by best part of a year and aligning ours accordingly.
More treats were in store from the museology contingent.
Knowledge of various grades of aluminium proved non-existent but I was told that the mud-line, still visible on Bluebird’s hull, ‘has a story to tell’ and whereas I agree to a point, I fear none of us would like to spend an evening with the sort of people who could get thrilled about it.
The buckets of mud so recently removed from the lower hull caused even more excitement as it seems we’ve created an archaeological dig in miniature. You just never know, there might be a washer or something at the bottom – familiar territory, I assume.

On the other hand, it has to be admitted that we blew it, as we ended up discussing such a range of options that we appeared unable to agree on what to do – a near fatal condition for a project team.
In our defence, the only reason we offered up alternatives is because having explained what we’re doing – again – justifying it and producing hard evidence that it’s all feasible; we still only evinced the usual raised eyebrows and shaking of heads.
The project team are in complete agreement that the public want to see ‘Bluebird in her prime’ but I have an awful feeling that once again, the public – for whom museums exist, don’t forget – are about to get everything they don’t want because the museologists and bureaucrats, in their usual smug way, know what’s best.
Strenuous efforts were made to convince me that my having met all the wrong museum types is entirely down to fate but it seems I’m suffering an extraordinary run of bad luck if that’s the case.
Then a selection of old favourites did the rounds…
“What about volunteer involvement after Bluebird returns to Coniston?” the dither enquired. “We need lots of volunteers.”
“Depends on whether you finish up with a dead boat on a plinth that will only be visited by damp tourists driven indoors by the rain and which only provides work for six people with a duster each,” I said shrugging.
“On the other hand, if you make it float, it’ll take a hundred people to get it down to the lake...”
Heads went down and notes were scribbled. But strangely, no one wanted to get into discussion except to suggest that if Bluebird were only to be visited by bedraggled tourists, they’d best have somewhere to hang their coats before entering the main hall because their wet gear will upset the carefully controlled humidity and presumably destroy something that thirty-four years of total immersion couldn’t kill off.

I honestly don’t make this stuff up!

“Give it a decent coat of paint,” I said frustratedly. “It’s a boat for goodness sake!”

Value for money came up again – that old chestnut. What if Bluebird doesn’t make any money? What if the museum can’t pay its way and the whole venture folds after HLF have coughed up?
“As with the volunteers,” I pointed out, “you can have as much or as little as you want.
“A dull and dusty exhibit that has to wait for a rain shower to coax people through the door is hardly going to stuff the village to capacity and offer the museum a chance to fleece the public of its spare cash in the same way as a gala spectacle on the lake, is it?”
And yet, the preferred recipe still seems to be wrecked boat for hundreds of volunteers to clean with cotton buds (assuming they’d want to) and a hope that thousands of people will pay to see it.
That way, it appears, no one has to be remotely ambitious, venture into the museological unknown or spend any money.
But, in the meantime, it has to sit about in its dull and dusty workshop with fluctuating temperatures, no humidity control whatsoever and far from adequate surface protection on acres of bare metal until a centrally-heated, climate-controlled hall is ready to receive it… how long is that likely to take?
Of course, it would be far too sensible to crack on in the light of these concerns and get the boat finished ahead of the building, especially as we can do it almost free as far as HLF are concerned.
We were taken to task for not having a detailed conservation plan.
Excuse me! It’s difficult, in the face of several years’ worth of head shaking from across the table without offering any real clues, to know what we can add to our two separate applications.
Tim Parr wrote the first plan, veteran of John Cobb’s endeavours and the Waverley restoration that he is, and I wrote the second one. It ran to thirty-six pages, a hundred colour photographs and had an accompanying CD. And as Chris pointed out, he can build anything from a total wreck to a running boat without breaking the rules.
Apparently we don’t have a display plan either – except that I clearly remember sitting in the hallowed halls agreeing a concept that suited everyone then pacing the floor frustratedly a few days before Christmas as we waited for the artist’s impression to complete the application. Where did it go?
We offered to work our gonads off – for a change – to have everything on the table in time for the June decision even if it means running the job 24 / 7 but we got no answer on that.

What seems certain is that there won’t be a decision in June – this side of Christmas so far as I can tell. Nor will funds be forthcoming to build the boat in time to unveil her on the 40th anniversary of the accident.
We can take Bluebird apart to eradicate all sources of corrosion but we can’t, under any circumstances, put her back together as we’ll be accused of starting the project whereupon our would-be benefactors would undoubtedly cut us loose.
Where we had what amounted to oxygen-free distilled water offering some protection to the void spaces we now have air with twenty-one percent oxygen munching at the surface but slap a coat of paint on there… heaven forbid!
Are we allowed to treat the boat separately and have them simply construct a museum building for us? Have a guess… so the future seems to hold the following.

1.

Bluebird is now stripped into a thousand pieces and will be left that way until further notice as well as the many offers of help having to be politely declined and the volunteers told to go home.

2.

The Ruskin museum will have to muddle by indefinitely without the one attraction that would cement its future and that of the tourism on which much of Coniston’s economy depends.

3.

Having addressed all the issues that supposedly scuppered our last application – volunteers, appointing our own expert and having most of the work done FOC to demonstrate value for money… And after cracking the technical, ethical and logistical problems associated with rebuilding the boat as per our TWO previous conservation plans, it seems we’re still being thwarted for no valid reason.


Does anyone have any suggestions? Because at this moment I’m beginning to wonder whether I’m on the right planet.


17th May 2006 - 15:00

Sorry folks, it’s been a while and this is mainly because I took advantage of the confusion to pursue our Norway project.
As you might expect, our midget submarine is proving difficult to locate. This is generally the case when the whole world has looked and come up empty handed. Still, it has to be somewhere – as I keep saying, it didn’t get off the planet – so we’ll have to go back and search some more. In the meantime we are the world’s leading experts on where it’s not! There’s a certain sense of deja-vu with this wreck hunting thing.
In the meantime we’re once again wading through treacle with the blue boat story. What’s happened is this. Despite our Herculean and completely successful efforts to have everything in place for a June HLF decision, we’re not going to get it. That’s been moved to September thus robbing us of any chance to have the boat ready for the fourth of January 2007. More deja-vu…
Now a request has arrived for yet another conservation management plan. It rather reminds me of one time I was in price negotiations over a part we supplied to Ford Germany. The buyers faced me across the table and asked me what the price would be, I told them but they only shook their heads and muttered amongst themselves in German.
Then they asked me again so I told them again. After about six tries the boss-man called a halt, addressed the buyers and said…
“Listen, guys. He’s told you the price is ££££, now how many times do you want to hear it said?”
We supplied over sixty thousand of those parts and we got our price…
Chris is preparing the new CMP to explain in different words that we’re going to wheel a boat out of here with all four corners firmly attached. What will most likely happen in September is that the whole effort will collapse in a heap.
I’ve met a few people who’ve gone bankrupt, their business has fatally haemorrhaged into the overdraft account, they’ve run up the remortgages and the kids are in a school that they wouldn’t have been allowed near a year earlier.
But the poor, unfortunate victims all say the same thing – it’s a terrible weight off their shoulders – and that’s how we’ll feel in September when all this bureaucratic bullsh*t has run its course. There’s always a chance that we’ll find a visionary in a position of influence by then and something good will happen but don’t hold your breath.
So what happens then?
Simple, we’ll revert to ‘plan-A’ and build Bluebird privately. What a joy that’ll be, with no museologists or bureaucrats poking their frightened noses amongst the sparks and metal shavings.
All those craftsmen and engineers who’ve been waiting in the wings to practice their skills on such an amazing piece of history can have their day and the many eager people who are waiting to see the old girl in her prime will eventually be able to do so.
In the meantime, Chris is coming up next week because we are at least going to toe the HLF line one last time and give them a final chance to join us so there are many things to sort and there’s still much to do, conservation-wise, as all the bits we’ve taken off have to go back one way or another. Hopefully we’ll resume work in a fortnight or so.


6th June 2006 - 16:10

At the risk of speaking too soon it seems the goalposts haven’t given so much as a twitch for a week or two, though as we’ve seen, this can change in a heartbeat.
Third time lucky with the conservation management plan. Chris has crafted a beautiful document on our behalf to try and get across how we can put Bluebird back together without offending the tweed-types whilst all the other little bits and pieces seem to be slotting into position – for the moment.
One question that’s niggled in the background is whether any extra visitors will turn up at the museum once we install the boat.
Giving this some thought I remembered that a while back, Novie donated a chunk of money to help pay for a path to Donald’s grave because the influx of visitors had churned the cemetery into a mud bath.
Donald’s final resting place seems to be on the itinerary of every bus tour that passes anywhere near so I really can’t imagine all those visitors going to peer at a headstone then not bothering with the boat parked only a hundred yards away.
Another question answered…
Some infuriating nonsense was dished up by the tweed-types recently as our removal of the tail fin seems to have caused mild panic in their ranks. The suggestion seems to be that we’ve done irreparable damage.
You’d think we’d snapped the handle off a priceless Roman pot or something yet it must be said that duly appointed material scientists would foster far greater understanding between all concerned than the archaeologists provided. We’ll keep asking.
So, for any who missed it last time, we took the fin off to get at the corrosion underneath. Underneath the fin – corrosion – hidden away where we couldn’t see or treat it – get it?
We kept hearing about public access, conservation, preservation. Where were our volunteers? Was Bluebird slowly crumbling to dust? What about the flags on the tail? Isn’t the paint falling off?
From these questions a plan was hatched.
We had the volunteer team remove the fin to get at the underlying rot then conserve the original paint and flag motifs according to our museological training. That done we then installed it in the controlled environment of the Ruskin where the public have access. The perfect answer, we thought, but it seems not. We’ve broken it apparently!
Now, all you tweed-types, pay attention because this is important.
There was once a bloke called Archimedes who lived about 200BC and who is generally credited with inventing the screw. Not the Sunday-morning before the papers arrive variety, we’re talking here about the spiral job that allows two pieces of material to be firmly fastened together.
He was knocking about in Roman times – in fact if I remember my school history lessons it was a Roman who did for him in the end so he ought to be familiar.
Anyway, his legacy lives on in the form of six, five-eighths bolts with which Bluebird’s fin was once firmly attached to the rest of the boat.
You’ll find similar fasteners in many modern appliances. The motor car has thousands of them, for example, though in this application they tend to be more numerous at the opposite end to where the shopping goes. So trust us when we promise to solidly reattach said fin when the time comes using these bolts and in such a way that you’d never know it’d been off.
There now, that’s that sorted out.
The wild assumption that having Bluebird’s frame x-rayed was clear indication of our intention to run the boat was another bit of mild claptrap that bubbled to the surface last week.
Who are these idiots?
It was actually done to check on the extent of any internal corrosion – common sense, I thought.
How many priceless oil paintings have been x-rayed to see where and how the artist modified their work?
The Royal Armouries regularly x-ray guns before disassembly – not because they’re going to hold up a bank that afternoon, it’s just they don’t want an explosion of Tudor springs and levers all over the workshop when the cover comes off!
What about that poor bloke found frozen into a glacier a few years back? He’s been x-rayed enough times to give him cancer and even then, they missed an arrowhead in his shoulder until recently.
X-ray examination is a recognised and accepted technique in the museum world…
In the meantime, and changing the subject slightly, the main saloon of SS Great Britain has been slapped full of MDF architrave and B&Q chipboard by a squad of shopfitters in order to host lucrative wedding parties.
No doubt Isambard Kingdon Brunel would be intrigued by cordless drills, laser-levels and Philips screws but it’s an interesting departure from what I’ve learned about museuology!
We soldier on…


14th July 2006 - 13:00

A quick update, not that there’s much to tell and that’s disturbing in itself. Normally the phone delivers unending negativity, poisonous e-mails buzz about like angry wasps and moaning do-gooders deliver their offerings after daydreaming new ways to abolish common sense. But no – nothing at all at the moment. The goalposts are still doing their passable imitation of English oaks and there’s a healthy spot of retrospective-allegiance-building going on in certain quarters – all very worrying.
About the only upcoming event is a proposed visit late in August of some heavyweight bureaucrats – or dignitaries, perhaps.
I’ve been assured that we’re meeting practical, down to earth and most importantly, enthusiastic people this time so here’s hoping. I’ll report in due course.
The only other thing of note is that I managed to misrepresent myself in the last diary entry by making mention of the interior works to SS Great Britain.
Far from thinking that wedding parties and MDF are bad things, I think hauling such a beautiful and important ship half way around the world back to her home-port and breathing new soul into a rotted out hulk is wonderful.
She’d be utterly uninteresting as a corroding pile of girders much as K7 has little more than curiosity value as she currently stands – and if happy couples can have their day made special by such a historic venue then so much the better.
http://www.ssgreatbritain.org/venue/weddings/
So for the sake of some materials and manpower the old ship has not only regained some of her former grandeur but she also helps to pay for her upkeep. Makes perfect sense to me.
Yet there’s an ever present whiff of high hypocrisy in the air…
Fine, let the museum community fit out the main saloon with modern materials – I’m all for it – but don’t, in the same breath, tell us there’s something sacrilegious about reattaching K7’s original front end.
Use MDF, Phillips screws, fibreglass and silicone in appropriate ways but don’t whinge when we ask a professional team of aircraft rebuilders to recreate Bluebird’s sponsons from the original drawings using genuine materials.
Right – that’s enough ranting – I’m off to enjoy the sunshine.


15th September 2006 - 21:20

Incredible. It seems that the tectonic plates holding up Manchester gave a heave on Tuesday and our goalposts fell through a split in the earth.
After all those months of hard work, of being strung along; of meeting every criteria and re-writing our project in minute detail we were finally presented with the following absurdity.
'Good news and bad news', I was told but it wasn't so. There was only bad news.
Our bid was rejected for the second time and in its place we were offered a laughable 'compromise'.
Of all the astonishing things, we were asked if we'd like to build a replica, except that HLF doesn't build replicas and they've made this clear so the jargon boys quickly got around this detail by calling it an 'interpretational model' - which presumably is something completely different.
But we'd never wanted any such thing, in fact the whole idea had been firmly rejected five years ago by HLF themselves and yet here it was back on the table at their suggestion.
Had we wanted a replica we'd have finished building it a couple of years ago but at our own expense because had we applied to build one in the first instance we would have been summarily dismissed, so how on earth.
Remember last year when we had that argument over Bluebird's systems and how connecting the steering didn't represent value for money. Now it seems that building a complete hull from scratch and installing a new steering system is suddenly better value for money than refurbishing the one we already have - an incredible U-turn that demonstrates the extent of the unfairness dished up by these bureaucrats.
We could not possibly have second-guessed them or built any contingency into our application to deal with it.
But the replica thing appears merely to have been a buy-off.
They gambled everything on throwing a metal-bending project our way to give the engineering contingent something to get excited about thus allowing the museologists to have their wicked way with K7's remains. A masterstroke from the public-misdirection team if only they'd pulled it off.
But someone at HLF central seems to have missed the point by a couple of lengths of Coniston Water.
This is not about something that looks like Bluebird, or sounds like her or goes like her. It's about building new life into the old girl and not displaying a wrecked boat.
Having considered the interpretive model idea in a heartbeat I then enquired as to what would become of the real-deal.
'Find an appropriate way to display her as she is', or something similar was what came back. Show off a wreck, in other words. This wasn't shaping up as much of a compromise.
I asked how quickly they could put something on the table as they currently have a zero credibility rating with us (and most of the public too if the messages of support are anything to judge by) but next March was the best they could offer and that wasn't even a promise.
Another six months to find out whether the rug would be pulled a third time. I think not.
Many have proposed the replica and wreck idea and it's been given due consideration but it doesn't solve the family's absolute conviction that the wreck will not be displayed in a crashed condition, conserved or otherwise.
Now here's the real sinister part.
"Where," I asked, "are you going to store two Bluebirds assuming you end up with a replica and a wreck? Because we barely have enough space at the Ruskin for one."
I began to smell the stench of deep-rooted politics, because without ever getting a straight answer, it soon became apparent that were we to accept their proposal, Bluebird would likely never see Coniston again.
I worriedly mentioned this to several reporters who made their own enquiries - as they do - and they were very soon calling me back to say that I'd picked it up wrong.
According to a spokesperson, what HLF really intended to do was to display the 'model' surrounded by a few 'iconic' parts of the wreck - the tail fin, etc. This display option would presumably be small enough to fit it into the Ruskin after all and amounted to a frantic bit of back-pedalling to avoid having to admit that the boat wouldn't finish up in Coniston.
It merely posed the question of what they'd then do with a (presumably surplus) twenty-two foot hull section and was clearly thought through by the same visionary who came up with the 'interpretational model' scheme.
We've had no answer to that one and I don't think we'll get one either.
The bottom line seems to be this.
After another year of jumping through HLF hoops they offered us a replica that no one ever wanted, a wrecked boat on display (nice slap in the face for the family there) and the whole shooting match displayed goodness-knows where because it'll no longer fit in the space provided.
Of course, the project by this time would have been conveniently handed over to a tweed-type with the right connections (an 'overall champion' I think is how they put it) presumably the curator of a sumptuous museum somewhere that isn't Coniston.
Then some big-cheese from HLF had the gall to tell us on BBC Radio Cumbria this morning that they were offering a compromise. I quickly pointed out that he was offering nothing of the sort as compromise, as I understand it, involves everyone getting some of what they wanted.
So, unless they change their minds pretty quickly, and we know they're past-masters at it, we're cutting them loose and going it alone as we almost did the last time. Stranger than fiction, this is.

21st September 2006 - 15:50

Bit of a subdued morning in the world of jet-powered this and that as Richard Hammond lies badly wounded in hospital after a high-speed accident. I have a wife and small daughter so it doesn't take much imagination. Our thoughts are with him and his folks at this time.
In keeping with today's mood I must mention yesterday afternoon's chat with a few bureaucrats just in case the HLF flame wasn't quite extinguished.
Remember the thing about if we started the project before they'd made up their minds they'd not be able to help?
I had visions of us cracking on only to have them step forward a week from now to say they were on the brink of sorting something but seeing as we've started already.
No joy, I'm afraid, but they were invariably pleasant calls with each side confessing to having enjoyed the sparring, wishing the other all the best and promising to meet up for a beer whenever our paths should cross.
One bureaucrat in particular (who isn't actually bureaucratic in the least), Tony Jones, deserves a special mention for 'playing everything with a straight bat', as someone said this morning, being an all-round good bloke and having been put in a disgustingly shameful position by his employers.

He didn't say that - I did.


Such a pity we couldn't forge a way forward, especially as their offer went way beyond anything we asked for in financial terms. Think about it, a fire-breathing replica, multi-million, multi media display in a fantastically prestigious location. The best of the best conservators picking over every millimetre of cruddy, old paint.
What a deal - if we'd wanted an expensive toy, euthanasia practiced on the barely breathing body of Donald's K7 and a day trip to some salubrious mausoleum of dead machinery every time we wanted to see her. We just couldn't face such a prospect.
I'm not particularly miffed about not having their money for the rebuild as most of that was in hand anyway; it's the disgusting amount of time wasting that rankles with me but others have suffered far more serious sleights.
Take Jura for example.
Problems with the business plan, eh?
Strange then that Jura wrote the HLF guidelines for business planning. They train the HL-Effers on what such things ought to look like too then they actually sat down and wrote ours for us. And now there's suddenly a problem with it. B****cks!
Issues with the conservation - best have a second opinion on Duxford's new HLF funded eleventeen-million pound hangar when it's finished then.
It's not actually the North West HLF's fault either - did I honestly say that?
It's the museologists who really pull the strings. Raging hypocrites when it suits them, about as exciting as tap water most of the time and with some vital spark seemingly extinguished by a morbid dread of change and too many years spent padding amongst the dimly-lit corpses of once beautiful machinery.
The undertakers of the industrial world have flexed their atrophied muscles and landed a punch in the first round.

*

Not to fret and not being one to hang about, there were always irons in the fire and a while back we asked Kearsley Airways (http://www.kalair.co.uk) if they'd be so kind as to take a squint at Bluebird's electric fuel pumps for us.
Their quality control guy, Martin Bowman agreed to give our water-damaged components the once-over so I carefully packaged them up and popped 'em in the post.
Kearsley are a bit special when it comes to refurbishing aerospace components, they were recommended to us by a company who operate a flightworthy Gnat and ironically, have recently been working on some of the systems for the fabulous Vulcan project with HLF in charge of the chequebook.
Not to worry though, we asked politely and they gave us a nice little freebie.

*

What it seems happened back in '67 is that someone thought about how they were going to fuel this new Orpheus after they'd stuffed it into K7 and concluded that they'd need to snaffle the LP (Low Pressure) boost system from the aircraft.
The Gnat has its fuel tanks pressurised from an engine bleed until the mechanically driven pump on the engine ancillary gearbox works it up to the necessary pressure for delivery to the burner plates.
But therein lies (Microsoft spell checker wanted to spell that 'lays') a chicken and egg conundrum because without the engine running there's no HP air to pressurise the tanks and as the mechanical pump is meant to blow rather than suck, some means is needed to mimic the pressurised tank situation until the fire is alight.
That's where the LP boost comes in. The pilot switches it on and a small caption illuminates on his (or her) panel. The engine is then fired and the LP boost switched off again once the compressor is up and running. Straightforward enough.
K7 was different. The fuel tank was an integral part of the boat and for reasons we'll likely never know - but I'd guess at safety in the event of a fuel line failure - the fuel was drawn from the tank by a siphon arrangement and not gravity fed as you might expect.
Now we have a seriously hungry engine compared to the old Beryl hairdryer but the old tank configuration wasn't modified. What they did was to install an additional, small tank right down in the bottom of the hull forward of the batteries against the bulkhead that supported the main tank. Into the base of this small tank they then fitted one of the Gnat's LP boost pumps, the idea being that the extra volume could be sucked partially dry when the Orpheus was at full-chat but fuel supply would remain uninterrupted and the whole setup would sort itself out when Donald came off the throttle. It also allowed Bluebird to carry about an extra five gallons of motion-lotion. One of those three gauges seen on the side of the boat is for LP boost pressure.
Good thinking and a practice that's used extensively on competition machines but in K7's case it seems to have not quite worked first time out.
If I had to guess at the reason I'd say those pumps sucked a little too hard down a siphon that was too long or narrow or both. Avtur is a fairly volatile liquid and if you lower its pressure far enough it'll vaporise in the pipes.
Intermittent fuel delivery - boat not going fast enough - blokes spannering 'til daft o'clock in crap conditions with no money.
Hmmm, Ken scratched his head and pondered. He knew they were on the right track but more was needed. So, what they did was to chuck the fuel filter off as it was probably half of the problem then clash in its place another quickly-cobbled-together tank about the size of a small bucket into which they fitted the other LP pump from the plane.
This time it went flippety-blinking fast and crashed - you just can't win sometimes..
Those pumps whirred to a standstill on the morning of January 4th then remained frozen in time for another thirty-four years.

 


The pump on the left is from the second tank, the one the size of a bucket, whilst the other still awaits its rebuild.
Martin explained that, incredibly, the pump is so good it's actually producing better flow figures than many pumps that have remained in service on flightworthy aircraft though the intervening years and joked that it's in such good condition they almost swapped it for one of theirs. It's actually flightworthy demonstrating what thirty-four years in hibernation does for you and is now another small fragment of K7 that's been brought back to life in a sensible and respectful way.
The few replaced components will be bagged, tagged and properly recorded in the conservation log and the tank it fits into is almost ready to go too - repaired in a museologically friendly, reversible manner it'll soon take a pressure test, be reunited with its pump and fit for purpose once more.


29th September 2006 - 14:45

The old team were back in action on Saturday night, at least some of us were. We're a bit like Pink Floyd in that the line-up may change over the years but the result is the same.
Sadly, all we could do this time was recover the bodies of three Sikh lads who drowned in Ullswater on Saturday afternoon.
The story goes that one of them went swimming but fell down that nasty slope where the lake abruptly goes from paddling depth to about 20ft deep. All the lakes are the same. The other two guys went in to help but same thing happened and they perished too.
I received the call about six o'clock from Graeme who's heavily involved with the coastguard over there and was half way across when the operation was scaled down from a rescue, which falls under the coastguard's jurisdiction, to a body recovery, which is a police matter. I simply carried on with a mountain of kit in the back to see if I could help.
It's my understanding that the Sikh community have to bury their dead pretty quickly so we were prepared to work through the night if that was going to speed things up for them.
We arrived about the same time as the Lancashire underwater cops, a great bunch of lads who we've worked with loads of times. They're always picking our brains, stealing our secrets and taking ALL the credit for our cutting-edge investigative talents but we like them anyway.
They've invested in some expensive kit to try to be like us and will without doubt be the most skilled and capable underwater search unit in the UK one day. But as Graeme knows that lake inside out and I have about a zillion hours on the scanning sonar we were invited aboard the police boat to assist.
An hour later the unfortunate victims were recovered. Two had been marked by local divers earlier and the third we located with the sonar. All that remained was for the divers to bring them home, which they did with their usual sensitivity and professionalism.
A very sad business but one of which perhaps the Sikh community ought to take note. I don't mean this in any way disrespectfully but an unravelled, soggy turban will not improve anyone's chances of getting out of the water.

*

On a happier note, it seems that Hamster is on the mend so hopefully we'll see Top Gear back on the box shortly and I'm also glad to see the air ambulance being looked after.
I've been helping where I can with the Great North Air Ambulance up here, http://www.greatnorthairambulance.co.uk/index.php and what a fab team they are.
How it works is this. A bunch of maverick pilots, crazy paramedics and adventure-hungry GP's who're fed up with feeding antibiotics to hypochondriacs sort themselves with a helicopter and charity status. They then wire themselves into the local ambulance service computer so they can see who's not well and where then snaffle all the jobs best suited to their talents.
They're not going to fly to the rescue of old Mrs Miggins who's taken a tumble outside the hospital gates but go prang yourself in the back of beyond or report an injured kid.
There's no bureaucracy, you see. They're not under the control of the ambulance service or anyone else. There's no suit upstairs demanding that they respond to so many nosebleeds and twisted ankles because the taxpayers will moan otherwise.
Most refreshing.

*

Anyway, our big blue boat.
We're slowly ramping the project up again and will be resuming work this weekend though only in a small way to begin with. The boat's hydraulics are next on the list so we're off to check our schematic of the system and pull out all the bits to see what it needs.
The pump is perfect - or at least it seems to be. It squirts oil if you turn it but I've optimistically demonstrated this to so many HL-Effers that there's almost no oil left in it so we're going to give it the once-over.
The plan is to concentrate on Bluebird's systems until Chris's next visit as he's going to specify the next stage of work on the hull. Now that the anally retentive archaeologists have been removed from the loop we can use some much more sensible and practical solutions to the engineering problems but we'll leave it to our grand fromage de conservaton to decide.
On the other front, Vicky is now re-jigging her plans to suit the demise of our HLF involvement and called to ask me whether our team could whip a few extremities off the boat to squeeze Bluebird through a smaller opening.
We need to be able to get her in and out of the building and the architect had designed a suitable door but we can save about 100K in building costs by going for a smaller one and taking the tail off for access. At the end of the day we can take both sponsons off and the spars out too and probably get what's left up the stairs!
More next week.