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BB is Dead, Long Live BBP.

Just a few paragraphs because, sadly, life is now extinct in the big tin machine. Off went the battery charger for the final time and out came the spanners.

We've dismantled K7's powerplant many times over the past few years but it was always in pursuit of more excellence with the full intention of putting it back again and to check everything worked a little better than the last time. It's had a fair few trips to the test rig to set up engine parameters, stop leaks or tune the starting to match the performance figures from 1966 at Hayward's Heath but never has it come out, firstly when it didn't have to and, secondly, with no intention to ever put it back.

I was talking with Richard Noble earlier today and we discussed the difficulties of taking an engine designed and optimised for an aircraft and persuading it to give its best in a land vehicle, or in our case, a boat. It's a problem not many are familiar with but Richard understands it better than most.

Following all the development work carried out since Bute, every part of K7's engine installation was pretty much perfect from the linkages that open the HP fuel cock to within one degree of travel for starting, to the starting itself such that it was an exact modern day match to that fitted in 66 in terms of performance, and safe too, unlike the 66 version. Then there was the the calibrated and matched gauges and warning lights that illuminated at exactly the correct pressures. The leak-free and fully understood fuel delivery from the tank to the engine that certainly wasn't reliable in 66. The hydraulics for the water brake, ripped from the guts of the Gnat aircraft and only used briefly before being submerged for 34 years. None of that was properly set up for the boat either when we inherited it. Pressures all wrong, leaks everywhere that had clearly been leaks then too, but we sorted that out too. The list goes on and on.

What most don't know is that when we went to Bute most of it needed careful handling. The idle was too high, the linkages repeatedly shut down the engine uncommandedly, the igniters blew fuses, we had no way to achieve full throttle, the engine acceleration was way off for a heavy boat so keeping the engine temperature within limits was problematic. Ted did a superb job of managing the cockpit workload, as did Stew, but we had a lot of development still to do on our return.

Undaunted, we went at it, confident that it was all going to be worth it in the end and yet now it's all sitting on the engine test rig with little or no chance of ever being reintegrated into the hull.

Soon the drained hydraulic system will have its seals dry out for want of fluid and the boost pumps, solenoids and elastomers will begin to deteriorate for lack of use.

There's this talk of putting in another engine and even of running the boat again and seeing as we did it starting with a total wreck it can obviously be done but when you consider that a week ago it would start on the button, run like a Swiss watch and had a dedicated team, spares, ground support equipment and an ace pilot, and now it's an empty shell, any attempt to put it back together again would amount to no more than a belated attempt to follow in our footsteps when it's all been done to a very high standard once before and whoever tried it would quickly come to realise that there's a lot more to it than meets the eye.

The consensus amongst those who know is that K7 will never run again. It may have an untested engine dropped in for display but 3.0 second perfect starts with all the right sounds and smells and it all staying in limits and safe too? Good luck with that.

More likely, the excuses will start once the door closes behind it. The boat is no good, unsafe, etc. High risk strategy considering how many top companies worked with us to ensure no stone was left un-turned in pursuit of the best possible structure. NDT, sealants, materials, fasteners, etc. They'd be impugning a lot of people's work with that one. It'll more likely be it's too valuable, can't get it wet, too much bureaucracy, can't get it insured, etc etc. But don't be surprised if the door doesn't stay closed behind it for very long because certain people have had their greedy eyes on it for quite a while now and are probably salivating because the prize is almost within reach.

Yes, of course, the initial furore at the good old Ruskin will have to die down a little, but 2024 is steaming along at a rate and it's the 60th anniversary of DMC's double record, don't you know, so celebration is in order and where better than at Beaulieu alongside of CN7 so no time to waste.

It's going to be interesting times ahead and we'll be watching.

In the meantime there's always something interesting going on at BBP HQ with some new things to get on with and soon the sun will be out and the Kerosene Cafe will be open for business once more. Can't wait!

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Enough is Enough

As the news is out we'd best say something. When we returned from Bute in 2018 we had dates to run on Coniston Water for the following year. We had a boat that, though unfinished in many ways, certain

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Excellent interview with Ted. One for all the haters to watch and admit that what we’ve all been saying is relevant.

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