Here's a gem I found on the brilliant website British Pathé... A 3 minutes long video about water-skiing in England, in July 1955!
Even more than by the vintage swimsuits dressed pinups, I'm interested by the boat used in that video : an Albatross Sport, just like mine!
Extract from commentary : "The comparatively modern sport of water skiing [...] started in the luxury resorts of the French Riviera, taken out on the wide open water spaces of Australia and America, this exhilarating sport has reach Britain.".
As a matter of fact, water-skiing started around 1920, in Juan-les-Pins. Which is, basically, down the street where I live!
Extract from commentary : "The boats used are especially made for the sport and cost 500£ each. They are powered by only 10 horses power motor engines, yet they are the fastest crafts of their type of float.".
Finally, the so glamour touch : noticed the blond water-skier at the beginning of the video? Her look doesn't ring a bell?
It probably isn't a coincidence, since Marylin Monroe was then at the top of her career, her movie "The Seven Year Itch" (with the famous scene of the white dress over a subway grate) being released in June '55, just the month before this video was shot!
In order to put some updates on the website, I've decided to put online a few pictures of the latest status of the Albatross, more or less like a Log Book. I put all of this jumbled up together, I'll probably update/turn that into a proper article sometime later.
Last post was about the retrieval of the boat in late 2006 (!).
Without getting to much specific about the ins and outs, let's just say that the individual who hosted Pacha (the name of my Albatross!) for that period wasn't such a good friend, and I ended up not being able to visit my boat for 3 years. Anyway. (note for self : always keep an eye on your friends..)
So, three long years later, I finally find a proper trailer, a plot of land to host it, a few pairs of arms, et after a couple of epic conversations, I managed to get the beast back.
But in such a condition!! When I arrived on site, I felt like slapped in the face. I left the boat well protected under a tarpaulin ; I find it back with no protection at all, the engine half-immersed in 30cm of rain water! Not even mentioning the engine, I hope the weight of all that water didn't damage the hull...
The Pacha is towed to a more welcoming location, where I can give her some attention (thank you buddy for the hosting, even temporary).
The future is unsure, I'll have to move again the boat by the end of May, and to this day I haven't found a proper solution... It's not impossible that I'll have to sell it at some point.
So, here is the condition in which I found Pacha : the paint is chipping off, burn by the sun ; it even comes off by large bits on the inside - probably due to a bad preparation of the base before painting, aluminium is a bitch to paint properly. The extended stay under water obviously didn't help...
The engine was immersed in 30cm of water, but fortunately it didn't get inside. The engine turns freely, and its oil looks clean. The outside has suffered, but the whole block probably can be saved. Fred, whom I originally bought the boat from, still has a spare complete engine block, so I'm not too concerned by that aspect ; lots of work, but nothing impossible.
I start on the hull, scrapping the paint off, by any means. I'll need a couple of spare hands, it's a looooooong job...
On the engine side : I remove as many external part as I can. Lots of cleaning has already been done, everything was covered with paint chips... Plus, the engine compartment was obviously colonized by several generations of snails!
So, that's the situation... It's progressing, but not as fast as I would like to. To be continued soon... I hope!
Quite a big update about the Albatross today : it's going forward, finally!
To begin with, in early June I moved her to my workshop (which I recently refurbished) : I had to install a tow ball on Blue Toad, my VW Rabbit, with which I really have moved everything.
Anyway, the Pacha is finally in a place where I can take care of her, with light, room... Me likey!
I've started working on the engine; not that many surprises for now : cylinders look clean, valves aren't seized.
In the other hand, the water inlet tube tube at the bottom of the block crumbled in pieces in my hand, rusted out. Same thing for the brass water tube that diverts part of the water water flow from main gallery towards valve chambers, totally destroyed by oxidization. Well, I'm not too concerned, these parts are available at Small Ford Spares...
But it looks like bits of metal went through the cooling circuit, which the water pump did not appreciate : its impeller lost several teeth in the battle. I'll have to take care of it, but again it shouldn't be an issue, all parts are available : impeller only, repair kit, or full pump exchange, everything's possible. I will also need a new flywheel, this one suffered from the extended stay in water.
I also got my hands on the spare engine Fred kept for me (thanks for your patience buddy!), I'm pretty sure I can make one good engine out of these two.
Getting the engine out of the hull was easier than I thought. The small 100E block isn't that heavy... With the help of a friend (thanks David), it came out pretty easily.
The tricky part was to take the prop shaft out of the engine. A wedged assembly, corrosion, concretions on the shaft, et a big brass nut (which you must handle with care because fragile!), and you've got the perfect recipe for a headache.
Finally, by following BN's advices (from the OldSpeedBoats forum), a couple of clamps, a heavy hammer and some patience were enough to free the engine from the shaft.
The next challenge will be to take the rudder out, since its nut is not only rusted but as well pretty much inaccessible... And it must go, unless the prop shaft won't leave either.
I think I'll take the hull to sandblasting, but to prevent the blaster from using excessive air pressure (which would buckle the aluminium panels), I want to bring the boat already scraped from most of the bondo+paint layers currently covering it. It's a slow process ; the heat gun is a great tool for that.
In order to sandblast the hull, it also needs to be totally bare from any accessories. Everything must go! So I keep unscrewing stuff... Which is far from easy, since the 100 stainless steel screws had a galvanic reaction with the aluminium hull!
Each one of them is like "welded", and it's a renewed challenge every time to take them out. Any method is good : WD40, impact screwdriver, heat gun, hammer, pneumatic grinder... But at the end of the day, the one that gave the best results is using vise-grips, very tightly tighten on the inside part of the screw (once the nut is removed). Then, with a small back-and-fort movement, the screw gives in... But it take a solid 10mn per screw, and I count 60 of'em just from the aluminium rail around the hull!
And you'd better not be claustrophobic : to get access to the front compartment, you need to crawl under the dashboard (being 6ft tall doesn't help, believe me), then slide head first into a 35cm (13.7") hole all the way to the waist ; my shoulders don't even fit in that hole, I need to pass one after the other, with razor-sharp edges all around, no room for my arms, no breathable air... Even though I'm not claustrophobic, I must admit that one night, alone at 1AM, stuck into that compartment, I wasn't feeling that comfortable.
By the way, I made a funny discovery : a series of numbers, handwritten with a lead pencil right below the rivets of the front compartment. I guess these are the riveting order, as written there by an Albatross Marine employee in 1957. And when I see how "easy" it is to get there, I wouldn't be surprised if I was the very first to see that since the boat was built. Touching, no?
So, that's where I've arrived! I often spend my evenings there ("I'm doing my Jethro", kudos to the one who gets the reference), therefore there's actual progress. I hope I'll get it bare by the end of the month, to get it sandblasted. To be continued soon!