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Tales from The Cockpit

Posted: Mon Sep 03, 2018 1:05 am
by Renegadenemo
I can certainly vouch that they drive very nicely :mrgreen:
So, Mr. Edward Lucien Grenville Walsh, the most experienced of only two living men ever to pilot Bluebird K7 (not to take anything whatsoever from our Stew who did a magnificent job too) I, for one, would like to hear what it was like to finally pilot our ten years of hard work? She looked as recalcitrant on the water as in the workshop yet as the days went on you began to tame her. What did we learn and what do we need to work on next time out so we can deliver our ongoing, interactive history lesson to the next generation of enthusiasts, romantics and wannabe engineers?

Re: Tales from The Cockpit.

Posted: Mon Sep 03, 2018 8:30 am
by Chris Williams
G, ..... G, ..... Grenville? :lol:

Re: Tales from The Cockpit.

Posted: Mon Sep 03, 2018 9:29 am
by Delsexcel
Thanks for asking the question Bill: I hope too that Ted will post an account of his unique experiences of driving this iconic machine, or is he planning a book perhaps? Presumably this was the fastest he has travelled in a boat? And how did it compare with his record breaking hydroplane - I'm sure I'm not alone in wanting to share his experiences.

Re: Tales from The Cockpit.

Posted: Mon Sep 03, 2018 9:38 am
by Richie
I can confirm he talks to himself a bit in the cockpit, as evidenced by the onboard mic.

Re: Tales from The Cockpit

Posted: Mon Sep 03, 2018 11:30 pm
by Stuart Baker
Richie wrote: Mon Sep 03, 2018 9:38 am I can confirm he talks to himself a bit in the cockpit, as evidenced by the onboard mic.
Do you have a transcript of the end that final run? Can you share any of it with a family audience?

Joking apart - you can talk to yourself all you like Ted... it takes some proper planning, preparation and “right stuff” to do what you and Stew did, and I expect a fair amount of wear to the seat of your pants. Hats off to you both!

Re: Tales from The Cockpit

Posted: Tue Sep 04, 2018 12:21 am
by JohnTheBikeMan
I watched the Sky News presentation and was most impressed by what appeared to be the hydroplane equivalent of a handbrake turn!

Not wishing to court any controversy, was it the result of an over enthusiastic application of the loud pedal or a trait of the engine that the throttle response wasn't as expected? Have read elsewhere (in Vulcan 607) that 1st generation jet engines were slow to respond to throttle input in both directions...

Re: Tales from The Cockpit

Posted: Tue Sep 04, 2018 12:50 am
by Renegadenemo
Joking apart - you can talk to yourself all you like Ted... it takes some proper planning, preparation and “right stuff” to do what you and Stew did, and I expect a fair amount of wear to the seat of your pants. Hats off to you both!
Hi Stuart, Was great to have you along for a day and to see the big boss on the tools and covered in grease. Sad that your inestimable contribution never officially took place but at least not a single drop of water made it past the grease-packed rudder post after you and the crew took it in hand that afternoon. Thanks for everything - you know what I mean.

Re: Tales from The Cockpit

Posted: Tue Sep 04, 2018 12:57 am
by Renegadenemo
Not wishing to court any controversy, was it the result of an over enthusiastic application of the loud pedal or a trait of the engine that the throttle response wasn't as expected?
It was nothing to do with the throttle response - it was a disturbance on the water through the narrows, most probably an effect of the wind funnelling through there, (our footage from the side of the loch caught it perfectly) that caused the boat to nod at the crucial moment when Ted should have got out of the throttle. Getting out that that moment would have caused the boat to plant her nose with an unknown effect so Ted floored it for an extra second until it settled then had to deal with extricating himself and the machine before the accident happened, which it didn't because he's damned good in there.
For many years people have asked me if I planned to have a go in the cockpit and I've always stated point-blank that I'm not qualified or experienced for the job. I'd have crashed that - no question.

Re: Tales from The Cockpit

Posted: Tue Sep 04, 2018 1:45 am
by ted.walsh
Questions Questions...
Like Bill says once I got into the narrows I drove over a wrinkle in the water that had the capability of tripping the front of the boat in and it all going wrong. Experience tells me that ' be brave and keep your foot in' is the best course of action but this left me with lot of work to do to knock her down off the plane as she will scootch on at well over 100mph at idle. As with any racing sportsboat attempting to turn significantly while high speed planing is going to result in a very bad day so it was about keeping it together and dumping the speed. Making the loch as wide as possible was for room to manoeuvre should I of needed it. The waterbrake helped quite a lot as we had tested previously and once I felt her start to come down I could apply some more steering input in safety. This wasnt my first rodeo though as when the canopy blew off previously I was left with a lot less water than I would of liked so had worked a similar technique but that was at the other and of the Loch and noone was watching ;)

Damm thing sure does go well though as ably demostrated by DC in getting it up to speed with such a short run up before the measured section on Coniston. there really isnt a lot of room but bluebird managed to accelerate to 300mph in a very short distance indeed. Love it :mrgreen:

Re: Tales from The Cockpit

Posted: Tue Sep 04, 2018 1:46 am
by ted.walsh
Well, seeing how I've been prompted in such a lovely way by the Chief its now obvious I'm allow to talk about such things so where do we start? there is such a lot to go at , have a go at with much armchair conjecture speak and generally to report on while holding up the very best in Bluebird and DC traditions.
lets go with the Air start and general procedure...
Im not a complete stranger to high pressure air so I know that its bad when it gets out of hand but filling up the original HP spheres to 320 bar must of required a matching pair from the operator along with some confidence in the clobber. knowing that all that energy is held back by a tiny little valve the size of a matchbox doesn't half focus the mind on whats going to happen when you press the button and what all that air mixed with 56 gallons of premium kero is going to do to your head if it all goes wrong, at least in the Vulcan the kit was someway from the operators and even in XM691 something greater than the flimsy panel and the kero twixt so its with some trepidation that once you have the various valves and switches turned on you press starter and unleash what sounds like 10,000 very pi55ed off hissing vipers down the pipework to get things spinning. there is a good bang and off she goes, I know there are plenty of super experienced aero/engineering pundits on here but this is for a broad audience so bear with me. On Bute we were using a hybrid air start system comprising or two large 50 litre cylinders and an off board trigger
so from the top - and I know Stew does it differently so he can chime in -
following on from a few 'duds' in Bute, before I close the canopy I flip the hidden rocker Master switch behind the dash panel to 'on' and have a good listen for the igniters, I should be able to hear them crackling or fizzing away,they are different to the cracker-box style used on later engines, I do this now as once the canopy is shut you cant really hear them, I call "igniters" to the start crew just for the extra confidence they can hear them also, if we are good then leave them on and on with the show but if things are not working then its a one hour wait to recover, remove the engine cover and its gazillion screws but at least save the precious air rather than loosing 1200 psi of it with a no-light and subsequent potential hot start with all that un-burned kero swilling around in the engine
Check the yellow engine blanks are removed and close the canopy making sure the so n so of a thing is well engaged or tied down with the extra bungees we added after the first one failed to stay in place
Turn on the fuel ( Low Pressure LP Fuel), this is the black 'T' handle above the Blocktube control , by pushing it in towards the bulkhead, it operates a simple tap in the bottom of the L shaped final secondary fuel tank and is the last line of defence if things were ever to go wrong with the throttle quadrant return though is still a procedure we have to really test.
Next up is the Bloctube control. This works though a complicated set of push pull rod linkages back to the turbine fuel control system. Some folks like to call it HP or High Pressure fuel I can't be bothered with such nonsense, to me its 'Engine to Idle,Engine off ' as that what it does by setting the quadrant on the bottom of the Fuel Control System to 30 degrees of opening or 0 degrees accordingly.
Then its on with the boost pumps, strictly speaking they are submerged electric fuel pumps to get fuel to the turbines 'real' fuel pump a multi piston pump with sooo much clever stuff going on inside it really is a triumph of 50's analog engineering, but the electric ones ultimately help keep the Piston pump supplied with a good flow of kero...or do they?

so at this point we are hot and ready to go, reach over the dash to the start switches on the left hand side and with the right hand give three 'Wikid' fingers, Agincourt and Bird to the control boat in view of the cockpit, listen for the count and at the appropriate time which is any time after "One" hold down the push button and depress the toggle switch with a spare finger to unleash better than 1100 psi into the Rotax start turbine...
Now on modern turbine that would be it, electrickery would sort out all the what if's whens and wherefores and hand it back to you running or in need of maintenance but there is still a fair bit of work to do on ours, namely THE JPT.

The Jet Pipe Temperature indicator is the 'Oh my, Im going to get a serious talking to from the Chief' gauge. Too much fuel in the turbine from and aborted start? that'll be a hot start, not enough air in the start system? Hot Start sir... taking your finger off the starter too early? Hot start, start boat disconnecting your air too early? HOT START, your getting the idea here.. The dreaded condition can to lead to the excess heat changing the make up of the blades in the turbine and thus allowing them to disconnect their once previously cosy home and spear through the super light alloy casing maiming all the young children, nuns, assembled dignitaries and the wonder woman /xena warrior princess lookalike competition entrants following Bluebird pilots to become the proud owners albeit for a short time of red hot shards of metal from inside the once fully functional 'tube of blades'. From the pilots briefing perspective it was along the line of "there are only four of these feckers left in the world that still work, Dont blow one up!"

OK! no hot starts, got it, right on. now we know with our 100 litres of air and our low pressure starter we get three good starts and also that it takes an eternity well at least all morning to refill the spare pair of cylinders we decant from so we dont like wasting air really for any reason so personally, I dont want to be on the button for any longer than possible. this means getting out of the starter as early as possible without causing a jpt spike to ruin the day, I mean after all I like those Xena outfits, all that leather and fur, I digress.....but on Bute I learned I could predict the likely JPT max by knowing how much air I had available to start with. 2400 psi meant a cracker JPT topped out at 670 degrees 1800psi 700 degrees 1500psi 720 . Even though the pressure to the turbine was regulated it was good to know as watching the JPT with one hand on the starter and the other on the Blocktube is that needle climbs real fast towards the shut me down danger lever of 740 degrees.... but you dont wanna pull the fuel and waste the air unless you really have to, but once I understood it we were OK cos' those last 5 ticks on the gauge go past all to quickly before returning just as smartly to permitted levels where the Queen of the Amazons is safe at least on this coil but no so much my gaze....

So its all good, get your finger in, BANG, HISS, WHOOSH, WHINE, count one two three, I should hear the burners fire now, four five six seven, wait for 300 on the JPT, starter off, climbing temps now but had plenty of air so expect sub 700 JPT max and there the needle is back to 650, engine a rev'in so thanks and away? err no... we learned quickly that for whatever reason the trigger valve on the start cart can sick open and allow the start turbine to overspeed leading to Xena threatening situations. That along with damp from the lake freeing as all that rapidly expanding air removes the heat from the feed pipes and prevents the start team from breaking the coupling while I happily chug off oblivious with the inconvenience of two 50 litre air cylinders, a fishing boat, two extra unaccounted for passengers and the remainder of at least 1200 psi's worth of air still firmly attached to the side of our iconic craft because of an iced up coupling, so once things look promising it is hands off the switches to show control we are out of the starter, they indicate to the start boat to get on with it and once the boys are all disconnected give the dive sign 'OK' on the fingers to the Pilot meaning proceed (rather than the thumbs up which means 'go up')
needless to say with it all working you go to the next set of near death / boat wrecking tasks we had detailed ourselves with for that particular run...well the old girl is moving now lets try some driving stuff in the next instalment... and if you have any direct questions just fire away.....

now some conjecture for the armchair jocks...
the air start system works OK. its nice and light but flippin heck its a poor choice for a record outfit when a good old electric motor can do the same job albeit in 45 seconds rather than ten. Air also has a big problem with temperature. On Bute in 18 degrees ambient we got three mebbe four possible starts from our inefficient low pressure starter and 100 litres of high energy 18 degree gas not considering the massive temperature drop once you trigger the valve and it all starts expanding. now there will be plenty to correct me but DC had 30 litres and an HP starter that, at a decent ambient would of given him 4 starts, one cold and mebbe 3 hot, but on the 4th jan 67' it was minus 4 on the morning of the last run, the air in the spheres properly cold. the whole motor stone cold, thick oil, all that extra drag probably meant he wasn't in the starter for 10 to 12 seconds but more like 20 before the oil drag was overcome enough to allow the piston pump to start doing its thing at the appropriate rpm. But up came his temperatures and things looked good but he would of known that he'd had his finger in the starter for absolute ages getting the thing to spin up. He knew already things were marginal then to try and stop to refuel at the end of the lake, then he needs a relight coming out of the run (more of in another episode of TFTC) so more gas gone. so the gist is that it wasn't so much that he didn't want stop to refuel it was more that he COULDN'T stop to refuel and once he knew he was +47 (297 mph) he HAD to come back or risk being out of time as he couldn't shut the motor down as he didn't have enough gas for a restart. Although he had practised straight out and backs with a limited crew previously would those runs of been at record VMax? probably not but for sure he didnt previously need to wait for call sign 'Tango', the timekeepers to confirm his speed with the motor Idling and putting more distance between him and the gates burning even more fuel and getting the boat lighter still for the return run....

hope you enjoyed this, Ill write some more given a chance...