Opinion Poll- Rebuild or Conserve?

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Bluebird's original Bloctube HP Fuel control box; what to do?

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Piston Broke
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Re: Opinion Poll- Rebuild or Conserve?

Post by Piston Broke » Sun Nov 15, 2009 11:49 pm

Having seen the item in question could we not do both

conserve the whole outer casing and make new internals (or not) for the museum display and then use the original internals with a new outer casing for the boat
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Re: Opinion Poll- Rebuild or Conserve?

Post by bluebirdsback » Mon Nov 16, 2009 12:36 am

Seems to have attracted various opinions this one. During my time of chief de riveter i spent many many hours stripping mangled panels from the wreckage and passing them on to Bill. Most i never expected to see again. Now as lord of the rivets i find Bill giving me these same panels back in amazing condition and are all now firmly fixed to the boat.
It fell upon me to strip down the remains of the seat pan section which included removal of the blocktube lever. My thoughts then were it would be a shame if that was never used again. I passed it on to Bill. Every part of what i stripped out that day is now back on the boat. It has always been the object of the project to use every piece possible to make her original. if we dont put that piece back as best we can then where do you stop? I can understand respect for Donald but if we didn't change things he did that day we would not have a rebuild. So from the man who took it off my, vote is it goes back on.
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Re: Opinion Poll- Rebuild or Conserve?

Post by Renegadenemo » Mon Nov 16, 2009 1:52 am

Now that we have one or two opinions on the table I'll voice my own; and I find myself properly torn by this one. It's reasonable to say that everything we've rebuilt so far was found just as Donald left it but it's also fair to say that he didn't intend to leave it that way. The HPC, on the other hand, was only moved once the decision to go for it had formed in his mind and it being defiantly frozen in the 'on' position despite the ensuing violence has left us with a tiny time capsule of Donald's grit and determination that morning.

Part of me says it should never be moved, and thanks to our old friend Fred for voicing that side of the discussion, but I've always had a problem with mueum people killing off perfectly serviceable pieces of machinery in the name of museum 'ethics' when we, the public, would sometimes like to see just a little more balls from them. Anyone seen Mallard in the National Railway Museum or Turbinia here in Newcastle? Our team could have either of those machines up and running in the blink of an eye compared to the epic we're going through with this tin boat but both have become victims of museological euthanasia, never likely to feel the heat of combustion again in out lifetimes at least.

For that reason I would rebuild the HPC and put it back with all the other recovered components as a fully functioning piece of the system it was born into. The idea of leaving it dead in a display case, a surrogate doing its work, when there's fundamentally nothing wrong with it is somehow abhorrent and therefore tips the scale for me... but only just.

Having said that, let's not get carried away. We have to be careful here because the moment we move that lever there's no going back so let's be a bit cautious and canvass a few more opinions before the decision is taken. Ask your mate at work in the morning, call your granny, wife, mistres or whoever and let's have as many thoughts on the matter as we can get before work begins.
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Re: Opinion Poll- Rebuild or Conserve?

Post by alslad » Mon Nov 16, 2009 7:55 am

If it can be put back into service, then why not?

I can appreciate what Fred has to say, but could also argue that new information may even be found while restoring this control. At the end of the day, I am sure most of us would want to see as much of the original (1967) K7 doing what she does best.

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Re: Opinion Poll- Rebuild or Conserve?

Post by markgengine » Mon Nov 16, 2009 8:39 am

Judging from the photo's I would say that making a completely new assembly would be the preferred route, Just from a practical point of view.
I would guess the work involved in restoring or making a new one is about the same. From my own experience trying to repair a thing like the casing ( cast alloy ? ) by welding is a difficult process with dubious results, and the "chemical" metal route a definite no-no.
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Re: Opinion Poll- Rebuild or Conserve?

Post by Terminator » Mon Nov 16, 2009 9:26 am

I had already made my decision originally . However I am taking on board what has been said so far.
I will therefore retire to ponder my final Judgment regarding this delicate matter?


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Re: Opinion Poll- Rebuild or Conserve?

Post by Mike Bull » Mon Nov 16, 2009 10:19 am

I would guess the work involved in restoring or making a new one is about the same.
Not really Mark. Don't be misled by the cruddy condition of the top panel where it says 'Bloctube', as the internals and the end plates are all in tip-top condition. One good workshop session would see the whole thing disassembled, cleaned, and the end plates straightened again. Then there'd just be the new top to make and a sympathetic reassembly/refinishing.

Recreating the box from scratch on the other hand would involve creating formers to make the new end plates then sourcing all new identical nuts, bolts, spacers, washers, shaft, lever, and last but not least, the two all-important and very unique Bloctube linkages that are inside, which are a different type again to the other ones seen on the boat so far. So if replacements for those couldn't be found, you'd be into having new ones machined, and so on.

Also, the two linkages which protrude from the bottom of the box are already totally free-moving on their shaft; I think the only thing stopping the actual lever moving is that the box is slightly skewed sideways at the moment, and the lever is currently jammed against a piece of the top plate. So in a way it's not even 'frozen' there as if Donald just left it on and popped off for a cigar.

Here's something else, which I hope Bill won't mind me showing within the context of this debate-
This is the bracket that fits between F17 and F16, onto which the Bloctube box actually bolts. The bracket is made from 2mm aluminium, and one quick straighten and a couple of small patches later it's back in it's original place, awaiting a box to hold. You can see the three holes in the bracket that the Bloctube box bolts through, and you'll see that there are two sets of them- somebody must have mispositioned the box originally, or maybe it was moved slightly in later years for some reason. The box was bolted to the forward most set of holes in '67- you can see the witness marks of the washers. And talking of holes, six of the eight original little bolt holes that hold the bracket at either end survived the patching process, and all six of those holes lined up with their counterparts in both panels, which is remarkable. And you're telling me we should bolt a replica box to this?!
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Re: Opinion Poll- Rebuild or Conserve?

Post by malcolm uk » Mon Nov 16, 2009 11:51 am

If the BBP aim on behalf of Gina is to present the craft as it was on the morning of the 4th January and the intention is to re-use as much original material as possible then there is only one answer - bring as much of the original pieces into use and have them working properly.

The evidence that DMC had positioned the lever where it is precisely 'frozen' now, after the horrendous G forces involved in the crash, must be tenuous. Where it now is located will I assume remain recorded in photographic form (probably from every angle) and in written note form by the BBP reconstruction team.

To make the craft function after being towed away from the jetty will have meant DMC positioning a number of control switches, knobs and levers. Should these positions be retained for all time? The guages too will have been at certain points of their respective dials throughout the runs - should their positions be 'frozen' in the rebuild. DMC influenced their positions by piloting the boat, even if he did not set them ..............

(personal viewpoint, not that of Operations)
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Re: Opinion Poll- Rebuild or Conserve?

Post by tas » Mon Nov 16, 2009 12:16 pm

I can see the point of leaving the lever set as it is, it would certainly make an interesting and poignant exhibition piece aside from K7 herself - although I personally think it belongs back on the boat as a working part, doing what it was designed to do.

However, I reckon the silver lining with this dilemma is that there is no wrong answer, which is why it's a tough decision.
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Re: Opinion Poll- Rebuild or Conserve?

Post by klingon » Mon Nov 16, 2009 12:49 pm

After spending nearly 2 years trying to find an exact replacement for the control box I honestly think that other than waste an inordinate amount of time manufacturing a completely new assembly,the best route will be to restore the original to serviceable condition.Sorry Fred, but extending your "leave it as it is" view,which you are most welcome to have and we all respect your feelings on the subject,would on a bigger scale leave K7 as a frozen monument in time,cold and dead.By conserving and refurbishing,K7 can be a living testament to Donalds "bravery and balls".Therefore in my opinion at least,and going with the general consensus,fix the bloody thing! :)
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