BLUEBIRD K3 and MALCOLM CAMPBELL
The K3 on display in London
RECENT OUTINGS 24 SEPTEMBER 2013
With near perfect weather conditions Andy Taylor, Richard Millar, Dan Foulkes Halbard, Mick Waller, Dick Heyden and Jonnie with the CMBA team, Steve Carpenter, Geoff Allchorn, David Knight, Mike Tarry, Clive Boggis and Phil Bywater, all helped to get the K3 back into the briny at Bewl Water - actually not briny at all, it's fresh water.
Afterwards, Karl Faulkes-Halbard thanked Howard Mackenzie, Mike Wilcock, young Hugh for piloting the Bewl rib, and all those at Southern Water, Bewl Valley Sailing Club.
OUTINGS 2012 & APRIL 2013
The original Bluebird K3 water speed record hydroplane powerboat made its Goodwood debut in September 2012 at the Revival. It was on display by the entrance to the Freddie March Spirit of Aviation Concours, where the hydroplane's flame-spitting V12 (tank) engine thundered into life several times a day.
Then on the 28th of April of 2013 the K3 paid made a surprise appearance at this year’s Beaulieu Boatjumble.
Bluebird K3 was a flat bottomed single step hydroplane with diagonal
side planking to triangulate the frames. She was quite unstable at speed,
as Malcolm Campbell soon realised. She really needed to be a shallow V.
She was though at the cutting edge of technology in her time and nobody
knew any better. The Blue Bird K3 was commissioned in 1937 by Sir Malcolm Campbell, to rival
American efforts in the fight for the world water speed record. She set three world water speed records, first on Lake Maggiore in September 1937, then later twice raising her own record.
The traditional timber framed construction method was used by the builders. The tail has evolved as the boat was developed, but the origins are clear.
2012: Malcolm Campbell's world water speed record breaking Bluebird K3 roared across the water for the first time since being retired 74 years ago. The 23ft single step hydroplane carried out successful trials last on Bewl Water as the culmination of a 22-year restoration project.
One of our boat design crew was part of the restoration that began in 1989. The story goes that our engineer was working on a car of his that was stored at Filching Manor. Steve Holter had been the curator at the museum. The crew working on the boat (Ken Pope and Andy Taylor) had fitted a tank Meteor engine (24 litre) onto reinforced timber stringers, but they could not get the engine to start. Those tank engines were much smaller in capacity than the supercharged R V12. They used a magneto ignition system running at 12 volts. But they were started at 24 volts, which our friendly engineer demonstrated as he started the engine using two 12 volt truck batteries in series, much to the delight of Paul Foulkes-Halbard, the then owner.
The K3 - advancement is made by building and testing ideas.
15 OCTOBER 2012
Back with a blast after 75 years - Bluebird K3 wasn't out to set records today but needed to check its restoration was on track. A far cry from when it was rescued two decades ago, as its current owner, Karl Foulkes Halbard, explains:
The R series Rolls Royce Merlin engine that took the triple crown: Air, land and water speed records all in the same year.
Sir Malcolm and K3 in Italy
Andy Taylor and Karl Faulkes Halbard in K3 on Bewl Water November 2012 (top left). Sir Malcolm claimed his first Land Speed Record in 1924, but in 1937 (and again the following year) he topped 130 mph on Italy’s Lake Maggiore to claim the World Water Speed Record back from the Americans. As technology moved on, the original K3 became obsolete and fell into disrepair as the K4 and then K7 boats captured the headlines. But what makes the K3 so iconic is not just the fact that it was the first chapter in the epic Campbell powerboat story, but that after more than two decades of hard work from Paul and now Karl Foulkes-Halbard (above left), she is once again seaworthy. Almost the entire craft has been restored to the same glorious form that saw her put Britain back on top way back in 1937 – this pristine embodiment of the Campbell legacy is a credit to Foulkes-Halbard and all the helpers at Filching Manor Motor Museum in East Sussex. The Sunbeam Blue Bird is also fully restored and out and about.
16 SEPTEMBER 2012 - Bluebird K3 at the Goodwood Revival
MO SHUN Early in the morning of 26 June 1950 a small red boat skipped across Lake Washington, near Seattle, and improved on Campbell's record by 29 km/h (18 mph). The boat was called Slo-Mo-Shun
IV. It was built by Seattle Chrysler dealer Stanley Sayres. The piston-engined boat was able to run at 160 mph (260 km/h) because its hull was designed to lift the top of the propellers out of water when running at high speed. This phenomenon, called ‘prop riding’, further reduced drag.
In 1952 Sayres drove Slo-Mo-Shun to 287.25 km/h (178.49 mph) - a further 29 km/h (18 mph) increase.
SLO MO SHUN
Early in the morning of 26 June 1950 a small red boat skipped across Lake Washington, near Seattle, and improved on Campbell's record by 29 km/h (18 mph). The boat was called Slo-Mo-Shun IV. It was built by Seattle Chrysler dealer Stanley Sayres. The piston-engined boat was able to run at 160 mph (260 km/h) because its hull was designed to lift the top of the propellers out of water when running at high speed. This phenomenon, called ‘prop riding’, further reduced drag. In 1952 Sayres drove Slo-Mo-Shun to 287.25 km/h (178.49 mph) - a further 29 km/h (18 mph) increase.
SLO MO SHUN - The Slo-mo-shun water speed record boat from 1950, is a surface piercing prop rider, engine moved ahead of the pilot for better weight distribution and a simplified transmission arrangement.
MISS BARDAHL - Very much following the lines of Slo Mo Shun, Miss Bardahl is seen here in 1958, wooden decks nicely varnished. This hydroplane regularly toped 160mph, sending up a distinctive rooster tail about 40 feet in the air. Since 1939, Bardahl has been a leading supplier in the oil and fuel additives industry. From the early years of 1950s & 1960s, Bardahl additives have been widely used in various races in the USA and have won multiple accolades. Through R&D over the years, we have developed a series of fuel, oil, transmission and other products to help your vehicles run better.
A very nice looking craft that follows the basic design principles of the K3 and K4, is Miss Bardahl, also a hydroplane with a Rolls-Royce aircraft engine.
The K3 found a good home at Filching Manor, near Polegate in East Sussex
The next generation hydroplane: K3 to K4. Not much difference in the basic concept, but lead in angle to wider front sponsons will improve stability coupled with a change in weight distribution.
TROPHY - A trophy does not have to be a cup. It can be anything representative of the event's objectives, such as the K3 water speed record boat for the Bluebird trophy presented to Malcolm Campbell when he broke the world water speed record, hitting the new world record speed of 126.33mph on Lake Maggiore in Switzerland on 1 September 1937.
BONHAMS AUCTION 2010 - The trophy, a model of the single-step hydroplane Bluebird K3, attracted a pre-sale price of £35,000 to £50,000 ahead of the Bonhams auction on 24 March 2010.
THOSE WERE THE DAYS - Oh yes, those were the days, the cars and trucks of the day show us just how quickly we have adapted technology. Imagine the K3 running flat out at Coniston Water. Perhaps not one of the venues that Sir Malcolm used, except in the K4, but nevertheless, what a sight that would be. Then imagine the K7 and K3 running on the Lake together. Two generations of Bluebirds, father and son. Bill Smith had better get a move on with the K7 restoration if this is ever going to become a reality.
TONY SOLEY - During the Sixties Tony Soley noticed the K3 at The Master Robert Hotel on The Great West Road, Hounslow. The once great boat had been "Dumped" in the corner at the back of the Hotel. You can see from this picture (slides a little the worse for wear) that the engine and a whole lot more have been removed leaving just the shell. Even the famous insignia has been removed, but the shape and construction details are more than enough to confirm the identity of the vessel. Tony remembers that on one visit he had his camera with him, when he took a shot on a slide film. His father told him "that's Bluebird." And that is more than likely the only reason that this picture is still in existence. A big thankyou to Tony for letting us have a copy of this picture. If any reader would like to know more, please email us and we'll pass on a message.
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