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19th European Championships A/B Classes
Pazardzhik, Bulgaria

Day One
Arrived at airport and Ryan Air was helpful, Pete lost his hat in the coffee shop however the flight was smooth and food was good on plane. Plovdiv airport was good and we were met by Ivo and dad, dad driving like Stirling Moss, fast and furious. We met some old friends for a beer in Scorpios and on way back to hotel we had a drink or two with Andrei Smolnikov and Alexander Barbin as well.

Day Two
Woke up and Pete was not well and as team leader I did my best to support him - we went for breakfast, then to the lake for registration. The competition started at 2.30 with A3s, my A3 was going good but broke a pin on the shaft and the engine blew up. The new A2 was fast for 4 laps and stopped, all is ok. Opening ceremony was nice then we crawled back to hotel to fix my motor and have dinner.

Day Three
A good day. Started boating at 9am with A1s. Pete’s A1 boat went well, 160 kph first run so well pleased. The B1 did not start as it was blowing plugs. After lunch it was A3. We had a problem with the head sealing so it did not start.

Next was A2, the new boat went well 160 kph good for the first run, back to hotel now for repairs and evening meal, pizza, spicy chips and beer. We were joined by Tony Dellazoppa for the evening so more wine - a nice time.

Day Four
Breakfast at 7.30 ham, egg, and cheese. At lake by 8.30 starting with B1s. Peter’s B1 went well but stopped, so we modified the tank. A1 cord came out and could not get back in, lunch was nice. After lunch A3 engine piston went and A2 still going good, now going back to rebuild Picco again then out to cafe for tea.

Day Five

Breakfast at 7.30, ham omelette and tomato. At the lake at 8.30 to get race prepared. A1 first. Pete’s engine seized up and could not be freed so that was the end of it. Then next was B1. A good launch but went rich and stopped so needed working on. After lunch it was A2. Another good launch but propeller was too big some work later, the A3 was a bad launch.

After the competition closed we had a couple of drinks with Barbin and a chat with the Russians about life and the EU, back to hotel to do work on all boats and then out for a meal and more beer.

 

Day Six
Breakfast at 7.30, crumpets, olives and white cheese. After breakfast got a lift from Vadim to the lake. B1s were first. Pete’s went lean so have to move the tank again. Lunch was good as the lake cafe opened today at 2.30. Started again with A3s, mine went off like a train and winding up nicely at 200kph the pin broke again. So no run, next A2 same as A3 winding up nicely to 120kph and then stopped.

Back to hotel to sort out Pete’s A1 and have an ice cream and start packing. Out for lunch. Dinner tonight at Scorpio’s, lots of beer and wine a very nice evening.

Day Seven
Last day of competition, breakfast was eggy toast and jam. Peter’s A1 was first and had a run at 104kph, not bad. B1 went nice again but still some work to be done, and then back to hotel to change for closing ceremony at 4.30.


London Model Engineering Exhibition

Regular readers will remember the sagas we have related of traffic problems travelling to and from Alexandra Palace over the years, so we took the decision not to bother this year. Not quite sure how it happened but there we were at some unearthly hour trucking down the A11 with one important difference, it was Saturday, not Friday, and what a difference. A lovely sunny if somewhat frosty day as we parked up, so early that we were able to get in via the basement for the first time, never realising that there was almost as much underground at AP as can be seen from above. How interesting would it be to have a tour of those two hidden levels? Also good to see that the refurbishment of the studios and theatre are now underway, a definite must for a visit next year if it is all completed by then.

The early arrival gave us a chance to photograph the stands without interference and have access to exhibits that would normally be out of bounds once the public were admitted. The Model Hydroplane Club stand has the advantage that it can be viewed from three sides and what a superb job Tony Collins, Norman Lara and all the other helpers had done in gathering together boats, and engines and putting the display together. Norman Lara had been very busy cleaning the three of Harold Heath's boats recently donated by his son Rob. These are all most unusual designs, both the hulls and engines and the full story of these can be seen in an article prepared by Angela Gullick and Norman. Even more surprising was that a visitor to the stand knew Rob and even more surprised that now in his mid 80s Rob was due to attend on the Sunday. It is good to see these vintage boats being saved and on show as they do attract a great deal of interest.

Harold Heath's three unusual hydroplanes

The two other vintage boats were strategically placed alongside modern versions from the same class. Jim Hampton’s ‘Tiny’ is the only E or A1 Class boat to win a medal at a World or European Championship. The second of his boats was ‘Noodle’, the first 5cc boat to reach 70mph in this country, both landmark achievements recognised by having the boats on the stand. Something that we have seen before and always attracts attention is the A3 boat and OPS engine sectioned by Steve Poyser. Steve has now taken this one stage further, which caused all sorts of discussions and explanations. Instead of a static model, it is now motorised and running continuously, but with the addition of cams machined into the flywheel that activate micro switches and LEDs to illustrate the inlet, power and exhaust features with the LEDs lighting at the appropriate time. What caused the most comment was a minute LED in the glowplug that appeared too much for some to assimilate. Thanks to Steve for this lovely addition.

Vintage and modern A2/D Class Sectioned and animated A3 50 years between the A2/E Class

Another attempt to keep the stand fresh and interesting was a display case of commercial motors that Tony was still working on the morning of set up day. Arranging the motors on single rods at different levels made for a very attractive layout that again attracted a lot of attention. Not surprisingly it is still the flash steam hydros that are a centre of attention. The concept is difficult, even for confirmed steam enthusiasts and the performance levels beyond the comprehension of most. A video that introduced the classes in turn and showed runs from each was projected on to the stand back wall and had a constant phalanx of viewers, some who watched it through more than once. The common question, how do you stop them?

The hydro element was not restricted to the MHC either as Keith Reynolds had the Innocent Brothers’ 30cc Betty, Keith Norfor’s A Class flash steam hydro and an electric B1E by Dean Reynolds on the Victoria Club stand. Phil Abbot as usual had a fascinating selection of straight runners and plants as well as a Taplin marine twin that became the object of much reminiscing. What was so sad was Phil relating how the addition of another ‘duck island’ had rendered the Prince of Wales boating pond on Blackheath no longer useable for ‘model boating’. Another venue lost, first the hydros and now straight running on the pond are just memories.

Flash steamer and B1E Taplin twin and accessories Record holding four stroke motor

On a more positive note we were able to talk at some length to members of the BMFA responsible for the new centre at Buckminster Lodge near Grantham. Based on an ex equestrian centre the site has a house, barns, a crew yard and stables. A video presentation showed their vision and while it is primarily for model aircraft they were quite amenable to approaches from other disciplines to use the site. There is already discussion afoot as to the possibility of the circle they are laying being used for running retro and vintage tether cars. The remoteness of the centre would make it eminently suitable and conveniently placed for the Midland and more Northerly enthusiasts. The plans of the BMFA are most impressive and bring to an end a very long search for a site.

On our wanderings round the hall our mind was drawn to the days when the ME Exhibition took in both halls and how the focus has changed over the years. What was reassuring was the activities for children and youngsters as they will be the future if modelling in all its infinite variety is to survive. Whether there will still be builders remains to be seen, but there was again no shortage of RTR and kit based models for sale. A stark reminder of how traditional model engineering is fighting a rearguard action against technology is the rise of 3D printing as an affordable and useable workshop tool from the mega money rapid prototyping machines used in industry a few years ago.

Sonia and Tony Collins Tony, Norman Lara, Pete Dirs Jim and Sue Free

More of a surprise was the very reasonable price for teas and coffees this year and the fact that the coffee was of very good quality. Warmed more to AP, especially as the trip home was almost as quick as the drive down.


FEMA Registration and Scrutineering Day

Oliver and Debbie Monk kindly hosted the first ever day for registration and technical inspection of cars for the coming season of FEMA tethered car events. As FEMA Technical Delegate, it fell to Oliver to ensure that all cars met the current regulations and were considered to be in a safe condition to race. It was a pleasure to welcome the three founder members of the modern incarnation of the British Tethered Car Association seen on the right of the photo, David Giles GB001 extreme right, with Stuart Robinson GB002 and Roger James GB003 next in line. Only two current members were unable to make the trip and the newest recruit was behind the camera. 

Each car has to have bridle dimensions and attachments checked against a proforma as well as the height and position of the tail skid and the height of the fuel knock off. To assist in this Oliver had constructed a series of jigs seen in the photos below to allow dimensions to be checked quickly and accurately. At present, twelve British cars have been processed for the 2017 season, representing all six classes.

As well as the business of the day, we were all treated to a superb lunch thanks to Debbie and Oliver, and opportunity for a great deal of technical and wide ranging discussion on cars, boats, planes, engines and more besides. It is always a pleasure to be in the company of such a depth of knowledge.

Checking the bridle length Checking bridle thickness Checking height of knock off arm

Victoria Park May hydro regatta.

One of the biggest entries for a very long while enjoyed the sunny, if not a trifle windy day. The Sport 40 class had seven different boats running with Norman Lara giving Jim Free's record a fright at a smidgeon under 100mph. Smooth water may well have seen the record change hands. Tony Collins had rebuilt his A1 after Althorne, and what a difference new sponson bars seem to have made with his fastest run for a long time (ever?) with the little Soloviev motor. Good to see Alan Greenfield very unconventional and asymmetric hydro finally getting a clean run.

On hand was Andy Coburn who produced some incredibly sharp and bright images of boats in action, possibly the best we have ever seen. A selection below, but for the entire album at full size use either the link https://goo.gl/photos/MDaHsE3mLDc3uw4U6 or go to Andy's facebook page or the MPBA facebook page.

Norman Lara Sport 40 Rick Neal Sport 40
Pete Dirs & Rick Neal Alan Greenfield's unconventional boat Norman Lara & John Underwood

Sport 40 Class Norman Lara 99.85mph Rick Neal 88.76mph John Underwood 81.61mph Doug Ettridge 77.46mph Alan Greenfield 67.99mph
A1 Class Tony Collins 102.48mph Pete Dirs 95.55mph John Underwood 70.40mph
B1Sport Class Tony Collins 85.11mph Pete Dirs 88.59mph

Thanks to Norman Lara for forwarding Andy Coburn's photos and link, and Sonia Collins for results

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