The Sponsons Thread

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quicksilver-wsr
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Re: Original Sponsons /C-8

Post by quicksilver-wsr »

StewDurham wrote:Also really tickled to hear that the CN8 mockup is in the same concrete, according to The Bluebird Years... Nothing like a bit of legend to keep the magic alive!!!
No doubt others will point you in the right direction reference the debate about the fate of the sponsons ...

Reference the "CN8" mock-up, I will mention again on the forum that caution might be beneficially applied to the use of the term "CN8" for Donald's rocket-car ...

I got to know Leo Villa in the 1973-75 timeframe, and Ken Norris in the 1974-2005 timeframe, and I never heard either Leo or Ken at any time refer to the car as "CN8".

As an 18-year-old, I approached Leo in late 1973 with the idea of seeing if we could revitalise Donald's project, and Leo introduced me to Ken. I was not asking them to "help" me, as some accounts state, but was asking them if we - the three of us: Ken, Leo and I - could join forces to work to try to make it happen.

As anybody will know who has attended any of the 130 (and counting) talks I have given the length and breadth of the country over the past ten years, I was - and I'll quote my own words, delivered to audiences - "A boy trying to do a man's job" there, and there was no way that, as a teenager, I could have played my proper part in making that project come to fruition, but I didn't know that at the time, of course, and so I tried, and the three of us made some worthwhile progress, and, in spite of the inevitable disappointment that came with failure, I learned a great deal about record-breaking in general, and the "CN8" in particular, from those two giants - Villa and Norris - of the record-breaking game.

Soon after I started out, Ken gave me copies of his entire archive for the "CN8" and its Bristol Siddeley BS.605 engine ... every document, bar none - some marked "Confidential" - and asked me to return some of them after use, as there was, in some cases, only one other copy of certain documents in Ken's own archive - and, in a few cases, there was only one copy ... period .. and I had it: the original document.

Nowhere among all those contemporary documents was the term "CN8" ever used. The rocket-car was always referred to either as "the supersonic car," or by its proper name: Bluebird Mach 1.1.

Back in 1968, a polytechnic student called Greville Dawson tried - before me - to resurrect the rocket-car project. With Ken's backing and guidance, Greville did some windtunnel testing of the Mach 1.1 car (in fact, the elegant wooden windtunnel model is about five feet away from me as I write this, on a bookcase in my study here at home). I never heard Greville use the term "CN8" either - and he came onto the scene right away, the year after Donald's death.

I am not saying "Never, never, never" to the use of the "CN8" term. I could be convinced by personal sight of appropriately authentic contemporary documents that the term was used. But in the meantime I would urge caution.

I think I know how the term "CN8" first came into use ... a long story ... boring. But the car already had a name from the outset - Bluebird Mach 1.1: the name Leo Villa uses in his 1969 book, The Record Breakers - so I'm not sure why so many people see the need to use another name for the rocket-car, completely disregarding the name that Donald Campbell, Leo Villa, Ken Norris and Greville Dawson used for it contemporaneously: 1965/66-1975.

(Stands back, awaiting flood of counter-arguments. No problem. I am more than happy to be convinced that the term "CN8" was used while Donald was still alive. I've no axe to grind. I just need to see the proof.)

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StewDurham
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Re: Original Sponsons /C-8

Post by StewDurham »

Wow, thanks - when's the next talk!!! - Just been looking at the quicksilver site, fabulous!!! How much of a mock up was "the vehicle formerly not known as CN8? - was it just a wooden buck for wind testing or something? - I've seen the photo of it in DC's driveway, but can't tell if that was a prop or a car.

Thanks for the reply, I'm here to stay and ask loads of awkward questions.... ;-)
Good luck to the BBP team, makes me proud to be British (and a North-easterner to boot!). Damn fine work, chaps!

quicksilver-wsr
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Re: Original Sponsons /C-8

Post by quicksilver-wsr »

StewDurham wrote:Wow, thanks - when's the next talk!!! - Just been looking at the quicksilver site, fabulous!!! How much of a mock up was "the vehicle formerly not known as CN8? - was it just a wooden buck for wind testing or something? - I've seen the photo of it in DC's driveway, but can't tell if that was a prop or a car.

Thanks for the reply, I'm here to stay and ask loads of awkward questions.... ;-)
Hello Stew,

Now remember what I actually said. I didn't say, "Never, never, never" was Donald's rocket-car known as "CN8" during Donald's lifetime. I said that I don't believe it was, and that the name "CN8" has sprung up in comparatively modern times.

Take a look at David Tremayne's reworked edition of the Cyril Postumous book on the history of the LSR, published in the mid-1980s. David was identifying Donald's supersonic car then - I believe rightly - as "Bluebird Mach 1.1". It is only more recently that the other name has slowly crept its way into use.

If and when I see authentic documentation proving otherwise, I'll be delighted to learn the truth about the "CN8" moniker - after all, my life doesn't exactly revolve around the importance of this, and neither have I written any books that use the term "CN8", so as I said, I have no axe to grind.

If I do have any axe to grind - anytime - it is always to get at, or to preserve, the truth: the facts. That is important to any author, and to the historians out there, and we have a duty to speak up if we think the past is being misrepresented, albeit in this case accidentally, through the perpetuation of possibly incorrect information.

The mock-up of Bluebird Mach 1.1 that Donald had made was purely that. A mock-up intended to stoke-up media and sponsor interest. It was not of a particularly high build-quality, nor massively sturdy, and could not have served as a plug/pattern/buck. The material envisaged for the construction of the real car was aluminium, including aluminium-honeycomb sandwich material, so there was no need to create bucks to make moulds from, as there were no tricky contours in the car to mould. It was a very simple, straightforward shape comprising almost totally of straight lines (Ken Norris's way of avoiding lift at the ultra-high speeds envisaged).

I'm not sure where the rumour came from that the mock-up was buried along with K7's sponsons. I've not been party to the rumour-mill down the years - thank God - and so that is a new one on me. I've not heard that particular story. I really can't see why anyone would bury the mock-up. From recollection, I believe the Bluebird Mach 1.1 mock-up was built primarily from wood, but with some aluminium used too - probably for the conical nose section (I never set eyes on the mock-up).

Leo Villa didn't know what happened to the mock-up. I asked him in 1973/74, because I was very keen to track it down and get it refurbished for our new project. Villa was mad-keen about getting the supersonic car project going again, so he had no reason to stonewall me when I asked him where the mock-up was. I believed, and still believe, him when he said he didn't know the fate of the mock-up.

Leo also told me he was concerned about going too far down the line of establishing the true ownership of the mock-up, because he felt that - even then: 1974 - it was a potential hot-potato. I think I know why that was the case, but it's a sensitive matter and not one that it would be correct to discuss here.

That's a few tid-bits of gen for you, Stew. Hope they are helpful.

quicksilver-wsr
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Re: Original Sponsons /C-8

Post by quicksilver-wsr »

StewDurham wrote:When's the next talk!!!

Thanks for the reply, I'm here to stay and ask loads of awkward questions.... ;-)
Sorry for the delay in getting back to you.

If you stay and ask loads of awkward questions, I promise you loads of awkward answers :)

Reference, "When's the next talk?"; if you PM me or e-mail me via the contact button on the Quicksilver website, letting me know the area you live in, I'll let you know when I'm next speaking in that particular neck of the woods.

I haven't ever publicised my talks. I just turn up and do it - leaving it to the event organisers to pre-promote as they so wish, as some only permit access to their membership and their members' guests. I don't tread on their toes.

But I'll gladly "get you in" if you wish to attend a talk next time there's a chance.

There's always a Q&A session at the end, so remember to save some of your questions!

I did about 25 talks in 2010, as far afield as York, Cardiff, Gloucester (twice), Peterborough and Preston - usually for engineering groups, motor clubs, business people and enthusiasts' groups of various sorts. Right now it's the winter lull.
Last edited by quicksilver-wsr on Tue Jan 11, 2011 3:11 pm, edited 2 times in total.

f1steveuk
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Re: Lakeland Motor Museum/'Across The Lake' Mock Up/Sponsons

Post by f1steveuk »

I recall Leo saying "the rocket car, I'd leave that alone if I were you", but he didn't elaborate!

For years there was talk that it was on the roof of a petrol station in Storrington (West Sussex) and painted red, but of course no proof ever emerged. I still see the pictures of the mock up and think, "is it full size" it looked very very small, but interesting that Craig's Sonic Arrow and the still born McLaren Maverick (and I DO know where the mock up for that is!) looked so similar!
Steve Holter, UK and France, and sometimes reality....................

quicksilver-wsr
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Re: Lakeland Motor Museum/'Across The Lake' Mock Up/Sponsons

Post by quicksilver-wsr »

f1steveuk wrote:I recall Leo saying "the rocket car, I'd leave that alone if I were you", but he didn't elaborate!

For years there was talk that it was on the roof of a petrol station in Storrington (West Sussex) and painted red, but of course no proof ever emerged. I still see the pictures of the mock up and think, "is it full size" it looked very very small, but interesting that Craig's Sonic Arrow and the still born McLaren Maverick (and I DO know where the mock up for that is!) looked so similar!
Hi Steve,

I won't go into it too much on the forum - we can chat it over any time - but basically the problem seemed to be that the mock-up was built somewhat "on the hoof" - and so when Donald suddenly died it left a bit of a question-mark over who actually owned it. It wasn't a valuable asset like, say, the CN7, so it was just sort of "there" ... unaccounted for ... and it was better not to press the case too hard.

Leo was, as you know, very diplomatic. He tended to be deferential - and I mean that in a nice way - to the likes of Ken. So he didn't want to make waves.

You mention the small size of the Mach 1.1. That, for me, was the beauty of that car. It wasn't a whole lot bigger than a large roadgoing car, so you could imagine it being built - or certainly I could, as a mad-keen enthusiast. It wasn't as if you'd have been setting out to build a Thunderbolt-sized or ThrustSSC-sized car. It was tiny (and little more than knee-high).

I don't have the files handy. They are in the garage, so I can't lay my hands on the precise dimensions of the rocket-car, but I'm trying to sort out all the old stuff as time allows and will let you know when they surface.

The three-view illustration of Bluebird Mach 1.1 that appears on the rear dust-cover of David Tremayne's rework of the Posthumous LSR book is mine. By this time I'd drifted well away from ideas of record-breaking and was engrossed in my writing and publishing career, but David had tracked me down - presumably via Ken Norris - so I commissioned my best friend, Terry Godfrey - a graphic designer - to paint that three-view picture specially for David's book. Tragically, Terry died suddenly in 1992, aged only 50, but I believe the original artwork is still knocking about here somewhere. It was based on the technical drawings for the Mach 1.1 windtunnel model, which is here in my office.

Terry later went on to design the Quicksilver logo (just a few months before we lost him).

When we started our wholesale redesign of the Quicksilver craft in 2005, some of my advisers wanted me to change the name of the boat. The logic was: New design. New name. New beginning. But I fiercely resisted, and I well remember one of them saying they, "Didn't realise there was so much baggage associated with keeping the Quicksilver name."

People like that didn't recognise that it wasn't "baggage" that made me stick to the name Quicksilver when I had the chance of a fresh start. It was, of course, loyalty - to Terry's memory, etc.

But I didn't know where to start to explain to people like that - marketing people, basically - what loyalty actually is. :roll:

f1steveuk
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Re: Lakeland Motor Museum/'Across The Lake' Mock Up/Sponsons

Post by f1steveuk »

Yes Nigel, I know exactly what you mean about Leo!

The supersonic Bluebird did change a little, at least as drawings. I think the first GAs showed a more rounded side view, and possibly a single engine outlet, whereas the later versions showed it a little slab sided, twin rocket bells, and those close set twin front wheels.

I made one for Ken's desk, toothpaste tube lids as rocket bells, and real ali' wheels. Ken loved it, but told me the screen panels should have been flat, "like a sharpened pencil", loved to know where that went!

I wish I could get a publisher interested in a book on Norris Bros, the early kart, inflatable buildings and concrete pumps, years before they came into being, and then the proposed cars/boats/amphibians, I think it would widen a lot of peoples eyes!!
Steve Holter, UK and France, and sometimes reality....................

quicksilver-wsr
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Re: Lakeland Motor Museum/'Across The Lake' Mock Up/Sponsons

Post by quicksilver-wsr »

f1steveuk wrote:Yes Nigel, I know exactly what you mean about Leo!

The supersonic Bluebird did change a little, at least as drawings. I think the first GAs showed a more rounded side view, and possibly a single engine outlet, whereas the later versions showed it a little slab sided, twin rocket bells, and those close set twin front wheels.

I made one for Ken's desk, toothpaste tube lids as rocket bells, and real ali' wheels. Ken loved it, but told me the screen panels should have been flat, "like a sharpened pencil", loved to know where that went!

I wish I could get a publisher interested in a book on Norris Bros, the early kart, inflatable buildings and concrete pumps, years before they came into being, and then the proposed cars/boats/amphibians, I think it would widen a lot of peoples eyes!!
Yes, Steve - the Norrises had a lot of very diverse things on the go over the years. It would certainly make a good book.

I remember Ken working on a huge turntable for the big hangar at Anglo-American Airmotive, so they wouldn't have to keep hauling all the aircraft outside and rearranging them every time they wanted to move one aeroplane. He put in a lot of work on that - loads of calcs - but it never got made.

The Bluebird Mach 1.1 windtunnel model I've got here is the slab-sided, twin-rocket version, with three windscreens. The version originally shown by the Plimmers - Donald's publicists - as an artist's impression was the rounded, pencil-like shape.

I didn't ever see the model you made. Ken had the big windtunnel models of CN7 and K7 on top of the row of "Quicksilver filing cabinets" in the Project Room, of course, but they were the only models I saw there.

He also had a spare gearbox for CN7 down in "our" hangar - the Blister Hangar. What became of that, I wonder?

I feel like I'd like to put something definitive together about Bluebird Mach 1.1, as there is so much mystery surrounding it - quite unnecessarily, in many cases. It wouldn't be for a publisher. It would be a "paper", privately published and available to enthusiasts. When will I get the time? I don't know. But I'll give you a shout when I do.

Greville Dawson, the polytechnic student I mentioned, actually began his involvement with Ken and Bluebird Mach 1.1 in 1966, but Donald's sudden death delayed his input until 1968. That's how Ken and I started the Quicksilver project, too - as a student project - so we could tap into the technical resources of a windtunnel, etc., that otherwise would have been unaffordably expensive for us.

About five years ago Greville joined the Quicksilver team, initially on the windtunnel side - so now the whole thing has come full-circle!

quicksilver-wsr
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Re: Lakeland Motor Museum/'Across The Lake' Mock Up/Sponsons

Post by quicksilver-wsr »

quicksilver-wsr wrote:I didn't ever see the model you made
Correction, Steve - I did see that model!

It's jogged my memory. Was it made of wood and painted blue?

Ken had a model of the rocket-car on top of the filing cabinets, next to the CN7 and K7 windtunnel models. But it was a lot smaller than the other two, because it was built to a much smaller scale.

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Re: Lakeland Motor Museum/'Across The Lake' Mock Up/Sponsons

Post by f1steveuk »

It was indeed wood (a local wood turning hobbiest got it for me, started with a K!) and the flat panels were perspex, and it was a lot smaller than the other Bluebird models.

The gearbox and much or the archive went to Beaulieu after I, and then Mike Varndell started to record what was in there, everything from BRM wheels, Calibre lighters right up to the sloping wheel and amphibian record breakers.

Sadly, as it's in Beaulieu, I bet it's nigh on impossible to see!
Steve Holter, UK and France, and sometimes reality....................

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