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Thread: Donald Campbell's Bluebird K7

  1. #1
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    Donald Campbell's Bluebird K7

    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-



    -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-



    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!
    Last edited by Bluebird Mike; 4th March 2008 at 18:23.

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    think you need to change your name to Blubirdman or something! Shes looking good!!
    Cheers,Peter
    "Merlins always drip oil, when they don't....worry!"

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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.
    The mind once expanded by a new idea never returns to its original size.

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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.

  7. #7
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    Quote Originally Posted by Lancman View Post
    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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    Quote Originally Posted by Lancman View Post
    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)?
    WA$.

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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!
    Last edited by Bluebird Mike; 4th March 2008 at 17:50.

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    To keep the tenuous aviation link going, here's her original engine from the crash on show-

    Last edited by Bluebird Mike; 4th March 2008 at 17:50.

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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...



    Huge, isn't it?

    See, what they couldn't grasp is that pieces of her that came out of the lake like this-



    Same bit-



    -could after some careful work be turned back into this-



    -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?
    Last edited by Bluebird Mike; 4th March 2008 at 18:20.

  12. #12
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    Quote Originally Posted by Lancman View Post
    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.
    WA$.

  13. #13
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    Quote Originally Posted by Lancman View Post
    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
    "Snow clearing equipment has been found under snowdrift" - message sent from RNAS Hatston, Orkney, 1944.

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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.
    ON SUN TIPPED WINGS THEY LOVED TO FLY INTO THE WIDE UNMEASURED SKY

    http://www.lightnings.org.uk/

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  15. #15
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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!
    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

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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.

  19. #19
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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
    Give a man a fish and eat for a day. Give a man a fishing rod and he'll eat for a lifetime. Give a man religion and he'll die praying for a fish!

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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.
    The mind once expanded by a new idea never returns to its original size.

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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.

    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.

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    The image of Bluebird crashing on the (B & W) TV news is one of those (like the Kennedy motorcade during the assasination) that stays with me.
    When I was a boy Donald Campbell was a hero on a par with Duke, Lithgow, Twiss, etc.
    Thanks Lancman for this update - I think your initial doubts about whether to post on an aviation forum should have gone with the responses it has provoked. My good wishes to a gret project - another good reason for going to the Lake District

    Roger Smith.
    A Blenheim, Beaufighter and Beaufort - together in one Museum. Who'd have thought that possible in 1967?

  23. #23
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    go for it lads

    do it without the lottery help....it will make you feel better in the long run.

    using other peoples money whilst achieves the same result faster, the red tape and accountability would be the downfall of the project.

    keep up the good work

    philip
    www.beechrestorations.com

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    Who needs a reason? The lake district is worthy of a visit in its own right, just a pity I can't persuade my other half that this is the case.
    The mind once expanded by a new idea never returns to its original size.

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    Thanks everyone for some really nice comments- I shall pass them on to those who are doing the real hard work.

    To answer the couple of questions there-

    There's no hard date set for her completion- obviously, in time for the 40th anniversary of the crash in 2007 would have been nice, but the Lottery delays put pay to that as well- but the plan as Bill states it to the media is a year to strip her down, a year to rebuild her, a year toget the systems in and get her wet. So, towards the back end of 2009, maybe?

    The video music I used- which yeah, is often used in Top Gear and many other things- is the instrumenetal version of a track called (rather appropriately) 'Speed Me Towards Death' by a bloke named Rob Dougan. The vocal version isn't bad, but the instrumental is great on it's own. You should be able to find it online at any good download store...and probably at a few really bad ones, too!

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    My local aviation society had a talk last month by a guy called Phil Holt. Very interesting. Apparently Donald went out on Christmas day and, although not timed, appeared to be very fast to those from the team who were watching.

    The crucial fact was that on the fateful day he used the brake after the first run (a steel pole stuck into the water) and this upset the surface enough to cause his later problems, added to which he didn't refuel after the first run which made the front lighter than was originally planned and finally he closed the throttles too fast which removed the slight downward thrust of the engine. Combine all 3 and there you have it. Like most accidents it's never just one thing but a combination.

    You can book Phil for youy club etc. here:-
    http://www.highflyingtalks.co.uk/Donald_Campbell.html
    Toodlepipski

  27. #27
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    As someone once put it when referring to aviation accidents. The events which lead to an accident are like the holes in a Swiss cheese. When all the holes line up an accident happens, if they don't it doesn't.
    Last edited by mike currill; 5th March 2008 at 12:08.
    The mind once expanded by a new idea never returns to its original size.

  28. #28
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    Yeah, it really was an unfortunate combination of events that caused K7 to lift off; any one of those things alone would have been survivable, but together...

    Mercifully, if DC wasn't already at least partly blacked-out by the G-force of the backflip, the end was at least VERY quick indeed.

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    Thanks for the update lancman, great project, all the very best with it

    I know all about the lack of lottery interest in 'projects'



    Thanks
    Last edited by 320psi; 5th March 2008 at 13:51.

  30. #30
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    I said this back in 05, just change the date to 09.

    Hi.
    Bluebird lifting off the water on 4th Jan 67 is something I'll never forget.
    I think it should be restored and taken to coniston water on the above
    date in 2007 to complete its ill fated second run, and lay a wreath where
    Donald Campbell lost his life. Then put it in a museum with the biggest
    union flag as a backdrop to honour a truly great british hero.
    Phil.

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