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Work Bench  

Work Bench welcomes pictures with any relevant information concerning projects and restorations of tethered hydroplanes, cars or engines.   Email admin@onthewire.co.uk 


Back in September, by way of a slight diversion, Mark Mansell included several photos of one of the late Keith Swift's tethered hydros, 'Voodoo'. Seeing a vintage hull laying on the bench minus its motor must have struck a similar chord with Mark as has happened to us on regularly occasions. Being the custodian of the boat, Mark decided that it should have a motor fitted and be back on the water, a sentiment that we heartily agree with. Even better, he has recorded the progress for another, very welcome, 'Work Bench'.

Spent most of the day working on the ‘Swift Outrigger Hydro’. Keith told me that this thing was under-powered with a 5cc engine so an OPS 60 seems an appropriate replacement. Major works first though, had to cut the existing engine mounts out for the new OPS ones to fit. Weather has been really up and down. Really cold morning followed by 32C with a thunderstorm to follow. Little wonder the glue dried so fast.

Original engine mounts.  I had to cut out the old ones because Keith had riveted the screws over the ends of the nuts before gluing the hull together, making them totally captive.

New engine bearers glued in place with the drive coupling waiting expectantly. Well the engine is in and alignment looks good thus far. Still a long way to go but its a start.

The flywheel and venturi are still to be made. Then off to the pond for propeller selection. Started turning the flywheel. No brass in the metal store so its good old mild steel. To be Electro-Zinc plated after it all fits.

Rough sketch of crankshaft detail. Checking the fit of the taper collet with the new bore. I think it takes its derivation from the Irish. ‘It’s better to be sure to be sure’. These digital cameras really do show up every little detail. Flywheel about to be parted off.

I got home this afternoon determined to rectify the vandalism imposed by cutting out the old engine mounts. The engine alignment is good. The new flywheel is good. Just waiting on the venturi from an old friend and all is well. OK, fixed the hull, how are we going to ‘hide’ the patchwork??? Stain before varnishing maybe?? Try to keep it looking old? There is no way we can hide the modifications effectively. But isn’t that what progress and history are all about. Just like tethered cars, these things are mobile laboratories or live research and development projects, works in progress. Leave the scars to tell their story. But this was Keith’s boat. He was still developing it. Every piece of wood and metal I touch, he has also touched. Maybe I should just get over it and move on.

Besides, there is still a lot of work to do on the sponsons. Keith told me that as well as under-powered, the sponsons had to be made a lot longer. Let’s see if a 10cc engine and lengthened sponsons can achieve what he was after. If I can take up where he left off then development is being made. I must confess, if you haven’t already sensed it in my words that I feel somewhat in a strange position working on this boat. I know that Keith would have wanted me to continue the development of it, but there is the remaining thought in the back of my mind that maybe I should have let sleeping dogs lie.

It is a VERY tight fit. I once worked with a German receptionist called ‘Schniesentite’. Looks Nice and Tight me. Flywheel finished and in trial assembly in Voodoo. Dip in deck for original needle valve

Shaft alignment looks good and feels good. No tight spots except for the crank-case compression. Now to finish the hull repairs.

Still a lot of work to do before it hits the water. Please note the hose is only to keep foreign matter out of the tank during refurbishment.

‘Panel beating’ has never been one of my strong points. But the repairs seem to be coming along in an acceptable manner. Let’s face it, if it does an honest 95kmph we will all be happy.

The dip in the deck was to clear the fuel needle when the 5cc engine was installed. I think it should stay there, just to remind us of the history of this hull. (See references above for better clarity on the quandary consuming my thoughts). As a parallel, when I drive past the memorial to Captain James Cook, being the cast iron cannon on display on the foreshores of Botany Bay, I feel a sense of pride and sadness. He jettisoned those cannon to prevent his boat from sinking after running aground on a deadly coral reef, but we remember him as a truly great navigator by showing the cannon which he had to dispense with to rectify his only transgression. Waiting for the glue to dry. Which shouldn’t take long in this heat (32C with a thunderstorm coming). Then the varnish. Still the sponson modifications to be done. But that’s going to be the subject of an entirely new e-mail isn’t it. Another step in the bench article. To be continued..........................................................................s.

As I have already expressed the opinion that Keith was well ahead of his time in designing and building this hull, albeit underpowered in its original form, let us see the true potential with the design modifications recommended by him, but interpreted by me, the student. His hitherto instructions have usually born fruit. Now let us see.

Sponsons basically the same but extended and with sharp exit points from the ends.  Looks a bit more in proportion now.

A set of bridles and a silencer, and the late Keith Swift's 'Voodoo' is set to run again.