15 years ago almost to the day (yeah, I know, I'm running a bit late on this article) I fulfilled a child's dream... Ride a 911!
Obviously, that is not a reasonable purchase ; just finding an insurance that accepts you at 26 years old is quite an ordeal! Finally, I only managed to keep that car for a little over a year and a half.
Long story short, late June 2001, I went to Autobase (which became AMS78 since then), in the Paris area, a Porsche specialized garage where a friend of mine (Jérome V.) spotted a vehicle that might scratch that itch of mine... And as you can guess, beginning of July, I drove "Malicia", a 1986 911 3.2L , 1000km back to Southern France!
The end of the story?
March 2003, I lost my job, belt-tightening period : I had to sell, reluctantly. At least she went in the hand of an enthusiast, in a heated garage somewhere in Normandy, beside a very lovable Alpine A110 Berlinette...
I sold it back exactly the price I bought it (17.000€), I've not lost a penny at that time ; since then, the prices for these cars has skyrocketed, it would set me back more than double the amount to get one of these today! It is, and will remain, above my pay grade. That's a pity, I would have loved to slip back into one of those bucket seats... Well, it probably wouldn't be the same anyway, nowadays there are speed checking radars everywhere!
Just looking back at these pictures, sounds and smells come back to me... Ok, gotta leave you now, I'm gonne play the Lottery!
September 11th to 15th was the the "Monaco Classic Week", a biennial event in Monte-Carlo,
that gathers vintage sail,steam and speedboats.
It's a great opportunity to see a fantastic panel of shiny Rivas and Chris Crafts with their mirror-like varnish, but I was out there to meet John Fildes (from AlbatrossMarine.co.uk) who drove all the way down from UK towing 2 Albatross!
So I was in for a treat, a 45mn spin on-board one of these Albies, propelled at almost 70km/h (peak speed) by the rare Coventry Climax engine fed by two dual-barrel Weber carburetors ; the Albatross might very well have been the smallest boats of the whole event, but they sure were the fastest as well! My back vertebrae will remember this ride for quite a while!
Furthermore, John came with none other than the son of Archie Peace (the original creator of the Albatross)! Great encounter, lots of information, advice, tips and hints... Thanks again guys!
I managed to get a video from that ride at sea, but it doesn't do justice to the sheer speed of the boat and its engine roar : for that matter, the impacts on the waves and the water splashing actually killed my Lumix camera!
See you in two years guys? Hopefully I'll join with mine as well!
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!
Petit voyage dans le temps aujourd'hui, avec 9 cartes postales du même coin de Juan-les-Pins : ce qui aujourd'hui s'appelle le Boulevard Baudouin, ou "Promenade du Soleil" (enfin, son début).
Neuf photos, datées de 1903 à 1967, qui permettent de voir l'évolution du lieu...
Cliquez sur la première pour l'agrandir, puis utilisez le bouton next pour passer à la suivante, la date du cliché apparaissant en légende.
A l'occasion, j'irai vous prendre en photo ce qu'est devenu ce quartier aujourd'hui (vous pouvez voir l'endroit dans Google Streetview ici)... Et si je trouve d'autres cartes postales du même lieu, je mettrai à jour cet article, histoire de suivre l'évolution à travers les ages!
Edit 15/06/2011 : Ajout de la photo de 1930 (avec le bus) Edit 22/07/2011 : Ajout de la photo de 1935 Edit 26/08/2011 : Ajout de la photo de 1967 (en couleurs)
Villa El Djezaïr, construite en 1922, inscrite aux bâtiments historiques.
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!