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Who’s who in tethered hydroplanes.

 

Arthur Wall

Secretary of the Model Hydroplane Club of GB  for 35 years. Kingsbury Club, Hydro Secretary. 
First person in Britain to officially record a 100mph run at Woburn, October 1972

How did you start in Hydro’s?

Used to pop into the corner shop opposite where I was living for some cigarettes. Got talking to the person running the shop, Mr Scarnell, about model making and he introduced me to his son Dave. We became friendly and he persuaded me to build my first boat. Dave then ran it at the Fleetwood Club's, Easter Regatta. That trip to the Club and seeing people like Tom Dalziel and Doc English running their boats got me completely hooked. I will always remember Dave doing castings in the back kitchen, they had one of those coke burners, ideal for melting the alloy, but there used to be hell to pay if he was caught doing it. 

What made you choose the class you are competing in?

I chose the C Class, now A3 because one evening Dave Scarnell asked me if I would like to go with him to see Tom Dalziel. I accepted and during the evening Tom had a doctor friend call to see him and during the conversation I said I would have to save until I could afford an engine. Upon that Tom’s friend said he would give us a 8cc McCoy if we promised to use it, which we did. That is how I decided on the 10cc C Class, and also for the last 15 years I have been running a 6.5cc OPS in A2.

What engines do you run?

In the early days it was McCoys, then the Rossi, which did the first 100mph run, then several years using OPS and currently Picco EXR.

Apart from the hull do you make any other parts of the boat?

I have made the last two pipes for the 10cc and 6.5cc hydro’s from sections turned from solid mild steel bar and then brazed together. Also props for the 6.5cc from cut down props and for the 10cc they are made from machining out of solid bar. The engine bearers and skeg are made from aluminium bar, the skeg shaft and drive couplings are made from steel bar and case hardened.

Do you have an engineering background?

I was a toolmaker. When I went into the army I was asked where I came from and I said I lived in Birmingham, the sergeant then said ‘you must be in engineering then’. Anybody that came from the Midlands was assumed to be in engineering. I served with R.E.M.E for two years and served time in Egypt. When I was demobbed I returned to the pump makers Tangye Ltd of Birmingham. Finally settling with lock makers C. W. Cheney & Sons Ltd, doing optical profile grinding in the tool room until I retired.  

What Clubs have you been a member of?

I joined Coventry M.E.S along with Dave Scarnell and after running at Naul's Mill Park, Coventry for two or three years, we decided to move to North Birmingham. By then I was using a 10cc Rossi (a present from my wife) I then moved to Bournville M.Y.P.B.C eventually I was voted in as Commodore and alternating years as Vice Commodore. Eventually I moved to the Kingsbury Club (my present club) in which I now hold the post of Tethered Hydro Secretary.

You’ve competed abroad as well as here in England?

I’ve been to Czechoslovakia, Ostend and of course Amiens and Poitiers. My wife Brenda always accompanies me and we have made so many friends over the years on these trips. The American, Bob Palmer used to stay with us when he was over here on a visit. He was a wonderful guy and I have some really happy memories of his trips over here.

What do you consider to be the most crucial element in getting a boat to run quickly?

There is not just one element; you have to have a good engine. The boat has to be as light as it practically can be, bearing in mind the stress that is put on the hull if it does get to a high speed. A more important thing is to get help from someone with more experience than you. (And a bit of luck)

Is there any boat or person from the past you would have liked to have seen running?

I was very lucky and met that person, the Italian, Carlo Fontanesi. I met him and his wife Dora when they came to Payre in France. I had heard so much about the round aluminium hull he had made in three sections that he screwed together. It was powered with the original vintage 10cc McCoy, I am glad I was there to see it. 

Thanks to Arthur for being a complete gentleman in answering my questions, even though he was in the middle of running his boat. 

Arthur in non racing guise with
straight running steam yacht

Arthur and the British team
 in Amiens in 1968

Arthur launching A3 boat
at Rowden regatta 09

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