The hydroplane community isn’t all that much different than any other sport out there, let's take professional baseball for example.
You always have those hardcore fans that can tell you how many races a specific hydroplane won in its career, and there are that can tell you how many strikeouts a certain pitcher got in a specific game………..little details most of us don’t pay much attention to in the bigger picture.
My point is, there are those out there that gather as much knowledge as possible about their sport as they can, while most simply look to the “future” instead of appreciating the “past”.
It’s those small details that often get overlooked and/or lost to history, and in regards to our restoration project…………it’s no different.
Sure, most fans can find out how many victories a specific driver earned over their career.............but how many people would know who the crew members were of any specific hull and year?
When it comes to the 1979 restoration, those are the type of details we are after…………the little things.
For example, nobody seems to know what ever happened to the original trailer that the 1979 "The Squire Shop" hull used. There are pictures of it, but we only hear “rumors”…………..but no proof as of yet. It’s possible that trailer is still in use today by a current team, but our only chance to compare them all is on race day. So far, none of them have matched up to the pictures. The latest rumor is that Mike and Lori Jones have it (and the 1979 Circus Circus one as well ironically enough). But all attempts to contact them and validate that rumor have come up short to date.
1979 "The Squire Shop" original trailer
That is our intent, to find out the final fate of not only the trailer…………….but other key “parts” as well.
Here’s what we know to date...
We have the original 1979 “The Squire Shop” engine cowling (the one we rescued from Lake Washington), the original 1979 “Circus Circus” drivers cowling, vertical stabilizers (skins only, not the mounting hardware underneath), and horizontal “cathedral” wing*.
*rumor has it that the “cathedral” wing was different on both boats. The “Circus Circus” one was built as one single piece, while “The Squire Shop” one was built in two pieces and bolted together in the middle. The one we have is the one single piece version.
Here is what we are still “looking” for out there……………..or at least we would like to know what eventually happened to each of them.
"cathedral" stabilizer wing set #1
In the picture below, you will see the “cathedral” wings that were used on the 1984 “Island Security Systems” hull (driven by Mitch Evans). These are the 2nd set of skins that were used on the 1980 version of the "Circus Circus". The museum has the 1979 versions, still painted in "Circus Circus" livery.
Note: Notice how there are no bolts going through the "spine" of the horizontal wing? Only "The Squire Shop" set added in bolts for reinforcement.
When the team sold the wings to Wil Muncey, he used them on his “Z” class hydroplane, The Z-9 Miss Canada II. You can see the "cathedral" wing in the photo below before it was repainted.
The wings were then used on the hull, and he campaigned the boat in the now defunct "Z" boat class. We are 100% sure that this is the correct wing, because we can find traces of exposed yellow paint in its current condition.
At some point down the road, Dave Bartush came into possession of at least the "cathedral wing" (but is is unknown at this time if he received the vertical stabilizers as well). This "cathedral" wing was then sold to Bob Steil, who in turn donated it and the 1979 "Circus Circus" hull to the Hydroplane & Raceboat Museum. Mr. Bartush also sold the before mentioned 1979 "Circus Circus" vertical stabilizer skins (used in in 1979 only) as well as part of the deal.
The vertical stabilizers have been found, and are currently in the hands of a private collector. The restoration team will make every effort to obtain them and bring them home to be reused back on the Circus Circus hull.
"cathedral" stabilizer wing set #2
Another "cathedral" wing set we don't know the fate of is (ironically enough) the ones that were off the 1979 "The Squire Shop" hull, which were last used in the 1986 version called the U-7 "Horizon Air"..................driven by Jerry Hopp. The team went with the traditional "flat" wing from 1987 and beyond.
Note: You can see the bolt pattern on the "spine" of the horizontal wing, which was exclusive to "The Squire Shop" set only. this set also had an extra "U" bracket installed to add strength the the wing adjustment (turnbuckles).
The vertical stabilizers have been found, and are currently in the hands of a private collector. The restoration team will make every effort to obtain them and bring them home to be reused back on The Squire Shop hull.
possible "cathedral" stabilizer wing set #3
This is the set that was used on the former U-55 "Lincoln Thrift" hull that Bob Steil used as the teams "The Squire Shop" display hull from 1984-1986. This hull was sold to Jim McBride, and then to Greg O'Farrell who continued using it as a display boat for his company "Lakeridge Paving".
The "cathedral" wings were never seen again in use other than as shown on the picture below, as the hull had modern looking stabilizers and turbine cowlings/canopy cockpit installed soon after.
Note: It's possible that the display boat "cathedral" wing set and the ones on the U-7 "Miss Horizon Air" (1986) were the same ones, but were unable to prove this at this time. Both have the extra "U" shaped support bracket and "spine" bolts installed on them.
What happened to all these "cathedral" wings, well.................we are currently in the process of finding out.
But wait, there's more.......
1980 "The Squire Shop"engine cowling
After "The Squire Shop" blew its engine cowling off the boat at Seafair in 1979 and it was lost in Lake Washington, the team decided to replace it the following season with another one................but with a couple minor changes. This cowling would find its way onto the teams display boat from 1984-1986, and then it returned one final time on the Miss Tubs in 1993.
At the Columbia Cup in 1993, Jack Barrie was driving the U-4 "Miss tubs" and lost the engine cowling when it blew off and sank into the Columbia river............never to be seen again.
If anyone has the experience and is capable of searching for it (even after all this time), we wish you luck and be safe out there in your quest.
1979 "Circus Circus" original engine cowling
Ever wondered what happened to the original 1979 "Circus Circus" engine cowling?
Here's a story from our own restoration team member Brad Haskin, who has first hand experience on its ultimate fate. Here it is in its full "unedited" version as told by Brad himself.
"The Circus cowling sighting was made at what is now known as the Mojave Air & Space Port at Mojave, CA.
Al Letcher was a pilot and vintage aircraft restorer based at the Mojave airport, and he operated several aircraft over the years, including a P-51 Mustang and a rare British Gloster Meteor jet. Al purchased the 3-point Circus Circus during the 1980-81 off season and intended to campaign the boat as the U-77 Spirit of the Air Force, running the team out of his hangar at Mojave.
It appeared at one race (1981 Evansville) and Did Not Start. In 1990, I was driving through Southern California on my way to Florida and decided to take a day to ‘airport slum’ at Mojave (which had been a site used for the California National Air Races as well as a desert storage facility for obsolete airliners). Mojave had been built as a Marine Corps base in WWII, and as such still had all the old hangars, buildings, and infrastructure in place.
Out back of an old pump house, about two blocks back from the flight line the 1979 ‘spine’ cowling from the Miss Circus Circus was sitting gathering dust. It had been nearly 10 years since Letcher had sold all of his equipment to Bob Steil, so it was obvious the cowling was just put out to pasture.
I wish I could have strapped it on top of my van, but I would have had nowhere to put it when I got to my destination. By the time I made it back to the Mojave airport again it was nearly twenty years later. I tried to figure out where the pump house had been, but in the time since the face of the airport had changed dramatically and I couldn’t find its location.
Unfortunately the cowling’s fate was most likely hauled off in the back of a garbage truck to a landfill."
You can see the final pictures of the cowling below, these are stills taken from Brad's 8MM film. We apologize for the quality of the footage, but hey.............better than nothing.