We had a HUGE work party this past Saturday, and I will have a update on that in about a day or two. Anyhow, I got a bunch more vintage photos to upload soon......but here's couple rare gems to get started.
You are looking at the U-77 "Spirit of the Air Force" as it was picked up by the Squire Shop crew from Nevada in 1981. It is shown arriving at The Squire Shop team shop across from the Kingdome in Seattle. This hull was originally built as the 1979 "Circus Circus", and it was purchased by Bob Steil to replace the original 1979 "The Squire Shop" hull that Chip Hanauer crashed shortly before while testing on lake Washington.
Today’s update is to show the progress we’ve been making on the sponsons. Both have now been skinned and the secondary sponsons are now being built. The aluminum skins for the non-trips have been installed, and the first hull bottom decking is being cut out.
The cowling pieces from Evansville have arrived, and Brad is figuring out how he wants to incorporate them into the new part.
The pictures and videos will explain it better than words ever could, so check out the galleries in the update.
Until next time…
PS: We’re still pursuing the original drivers cowling, but were coming up short on any leads. It was last seen in the mid 90’s, so it could be anywhere by now. Of course if anyone has any information on its whereabouts………be sure to let us know!
Hey guys, this week’s post is what you might call “a unique twist of fate”. Just one short week ago, I posted about the recent acquisition of one of the Squire Shop drivers cowlings from 1981 (explosion from Evansville race). We also have the lone remaining piece from the crash in 1981 (which nearly ended the hulls career).
But as fate would have it, we have just been provided with new information on whatever became of the “original” drivers cowling…………the one that burned a year earlier in 1980.
If you look at the pictures shortly after the team returned home to Seattle, you can see that the rear of the cowling itself has melted away from the extreme heat from the fire…………………and what you see is all that was left of the cowling afterwards.
As far as any of us knew (including interviews with former crew members), it was believed that this particular cowling was scrapped by the team and gone forever.
We were wrong…………………
It survived, and we can trace its path up until at least the early/mid 90’s. I was forwarded an email from Bob Senior yesterday from a gentleman by the name of Larry Riksford. Larry tells the story something like this…
(Larry) “My friend Mike Miner and I acquired this particular cowling from a guy in Kenmore a long time ago. It was the cowling that burned in 1980. It was the whole front cowling & sides still intact, with several melted sections on it from the fire. The cowling piece was big & hard to haul around.
The guy Mike and I got it from had nothing to do with hydroplanes, but I think he did some work at Tad Dean’s shop. He then told us we could have it and to come pick it up. Mike and I then put in the back of a pickup truck and took it to Tacoma.
The melted cowling remains were stored in Mr. Miner’s backyard on top of a rowboat for quite a few years, and then it eventually found its way to Leslie “Bud” Green’s attic in his garage. What became of it after that I do not really know unfortunately?
Mr. Green had the cowling shortly before obtaining the hull (U-7 Thor Racing), and he had picked up a hauler from the Pacific Fish Company, which I believe was painted orange and white. Bud had hopes to haul the boat around with it at some point, but things didn't quite work out as planned for him. The cowling was stored in the back of this hauler. Eventually, the hauler truck was sold (to someone in either Burien or White Center)……with the cowling still in it.
That was the last the cowling was ever seen again….”
So there you have it folks, the cowling survived the fire and was NOT scrapped by the crew shortly afterwards. I suppose it’s still possible that it could still be out there, and even slimmer that we can actually find it if it does…………..but luck has a way of finding us on this project now doesn’t it?
A true "needle in the haystack".
So there you go, put your detective shoes on and see if YOU can help us in tracking this cowling down. It would look similar to the pictures below, so you will know if you see it somewhere.
This is the actual original cowling from the boat, so we would love to get it back if it still exists.
I have an update on the 1981 Squire Shop drivers cowling I mentioned last week.
Great news, it is currently on it's way to Seattle! Kurt Karch and Bryan Mans have both decided to donate these pieces to the project, where the team will splice them back into the new cowling we will soon be making from the Circus Circus plug.
As everyone has already seen the magic Brad has done with rebuilding that Circus Circus cowling, were all confident he can do it again on the Squire Shop one.
I asked Kurt about how he came into these parts, and here's the story he shared with me.
(Kurt) "After the explosion during the race in Evansville 1981, The Squire Shop crew quickly began drilling out the rivets securing the cowling to the deck to inspect the severity of the damage underneath. I recall that the back half of the cowling was destroyed, with the "THE SQ" part of the name missing on the right hand side section..........all that remained from the name itself was "UIRE SHOP".
The cowling was just laying their broken on the ground, and the crew offered it to me and my cousin Bryan (who was a crane operator at the time in the pits) as a souvenir. The cowling section was mostly still intact at that point, and Bryan and I broke it down into separate sections later on. All that remains from it are the two pieces we donated to the restoration project, as any others have been lost to time.
I do remember that someone else got the custom Squire Shop logo embedded vinyl from the cockpit though, but who knows where that is today. These have been on display in our homes for the past 37 years, and were glad to know they can still be of use in the restoration!"
I will post more updates on the progress of adding in these two pieces as the project progresses along.
Are these two guys awesome or what!
From all of us here on the restoration team, we can't possibly thank you both enough for your contribution to the project!
A recent post over at the "Hydroplane History" Facebook site has just revealed another couple key parts that we are definitely interested in for our restoration project.
Kurt Karch mentioned in one of the replies to that thread that he not only took a few famous photographs of the Squire Shop fire in Evanville (1981), but that he had two of the pieces from the drivers cowling as well. Kurt has agreed to donate them both toward the restoration, and we will splice these back into the new cowling upon arrival from Indiana out here to Seattle.
Thank you so very much Kurt, this will help us out tremendously! It is people like Kurt and many others out there that have contributed in so many ways in this effort that is the most amazing part in all of this.
Thank you all for your continued support!
Here are a couple pictures of the parts in question, Kurt's photo from the fire itself, and a YouTube video showing the fire coverage from local news broadcasts.
I'll have the latest restoration update posted by the end of the day too, so watch for it!
I have a unique post today about something that happened to my family and I a few days after Christmas last year. Due to legality and investigation issues with the Seattle Police Department, this "news story" was not authorized to be released publically until now.
I'm only posting this because it all began with a vintage Squire Shop crew shirt of all things. I had left a duffle bag of some items in my shed to be moved up into the attic for storage the night before, and I had planned to get them up there the following morning.
When I woke up to let my dogs out that morning to "do their business", I typically follow them out as well. It was then that I noticed one of my Squire Shop shirts laying on top of my garbage can. I knew I hadn't left it there, and was stumped on how it got there of all places. I asked my wife if she knew anything about it, and of course she didn't.
It was then that I knew something was wrong and I investigated further. After seeing numerous clues, we both immediately began reviewing our security camera footage to see what may have happened........the rest is history.
Since this incident, we have added additional safety and security measures to at least make it a lot harder for anyone who may try something like this again.
My wife is still pretty spooked over the whole ordeal, but we'll survive and get past it with time.
Anyhow, I thought it was worth posting regardless....................you just never know what can happen out there!