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July 10, 2018
A is for Awesome.

While I was sitting there at the Leschi Cafe, in full Atlas uniform and bathed in the glow of our shared day of triumph, I took a look around at my Atlas crew brothers to survey their emotional states to see if they were feeling anything like I did. Everyone was there- all of the heavy contributors to the restoration effort- save for Lee Robertson, who had to work, Ron Brown, who was in Chicago attending to family matters, and our driver, Richie Simmons (his health blog ActiveAuthorities is linked), who was overseeing a concrete pour up in Port Townsend. Every face sitting there at the cafe- with the exception of our newest member, Dave Coleman, who had not experienced the setbacks of the previous year- had the same expression. It is that expression we all recognize, but it is also one that defies easy explanation.  It's the expression of great victory that comes at a great price. It's the expression of finally winning the Superbowl the year after losing it badly.

This report really begins over a week ago, when Don, Jay, Dave, Rich and I remounted the Rolls Merlin engine into the Atlas hull. It had been in large pieces a week before, undergoing an arduous and extensive rebuild. after failing repeatedly last year. Rich Matkin spent many Saturdays helping, prodding Jim Harvey to put the motor back together so that we could take another shot at getting the boat up onto a plane this year. After last years heartbreaking failures, nobody was really confident that this boat was going to blast away from the dock easily. I, myself, had talked a great game, bragging openly that I believed that it would exceed our expectations. But if it didn't turn out that way, I had no idea as to what I might do about it. Confidence within the remaining Atlas crew was equally paper thin.

But, the Merlin looked good going into the boat. And we surprised ourselves by bolting it up again like we had just done it yesterday. So far, so good. Last Thursday, July 8, the moment of truth came- trailer firing the beast. To everyone's great relief and amazement, it turned over and caught within a few cranks of the starter. Much to everyone's elation, it ran like a 2,100 horsepower Swiss watch! The balkiness and stammering that was so apparent a year ago was gone. Jim Harvey lit that sucker up and, within a few seconds of trimming the mixture setting, he climbed right out of the cockpit as it idled away- the clear sign that he believed it was a strong motor. The idle settled in to a loping trot, exuding the sounds of confident power. Brows that had been furrowed for over a year relaxed into Cheshire Cat grins. The crowd of Museum volunteers and interested spectators gave the crew thumbs up signs, all around. Finally, there was that light, shining at the end of the tunnel.

After letting it idle for a few minutes on the trailer, Jim ran the engine up slightly and shut her down, turned to the deck crew and said the words we all wanted to hear: "That's a race motor."

This last Tuesday, the preparations were made to test the Atlas on Lake Washington, along with the Slo Mo V, which was headed to Detroit, and the Oberto, which had undergone a minor engine rebuild herself. The Atlas was up first. the moment of truth had finally arrived. One year after it failed to run strong, here she was back n the Stan Sayers pits to take another shot at rebirth. Even though the crew all believed that the engine problems were solved, everyone secretly wondered- were they really?  David Williams would be our driver this day and that was a good omen. As our fearless leader of the Museum, it should be David who proves us all right, who stamps the seaworthiness of the Atlas with an exclamation point.

As we were all keenly aware, the challenge with this type of vintage hydroplane- a "vented" pickle forked, Merlin powered variant, is getting it up onto a plane. The moment when the prop stops cavitating and grabs onto the water is the same moment when the boat rotates up and out of the water. It is the moment when drag loads are greatest and the engine load is supreme. It takes a lot of power to pull that boat up onto a plane, releasing it from a mountain of hydraulic drag. To say that the Atlas punched through this critical load point would be an understatement. She positively crushed through it and powered up onto a plane as if there was never any doubt about it. I freely admit it- I had a lump in my throat the size of an apple. David took the Atlas through three circuits of the imaginary Lake Washington course with relative ease. She rode a little bow high as she passed by dancing over the water effortlessly, her Merlin barely breaking into a sweat. This time, unlike the others, she cruised back to the dock under her own power, gliding up to the dock as a hydroplane is supposed to. The hearty cheer from her crew was both heartfelt and hard earned. As far as I was concerned, at that moment, the ledger of all of the hard work and disappointment was wiped clean- balanced by the sight of this 6,000 pound ballerina in her moment of true rebirth.

Now, on to Seafair, where the '82 Atlas and her nemesis- the 1980 Miss Budweiser- will take center stage in an exhibition that will, no doubt, be a real show stopper. you don't want to just see this on the tube- this is going to be a moment that requires your presence on the beach....just like the days of old.

Marc Connelly
'82 Atlas Deck Crew

May 30, 2018
Photos From Atlas 1st Test Run

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May 23, 2018

Atlas - Bud Hit the Water!

After it’s extensive restoration, the long awaited 1982 Atlas Van Lines finally returned to Lake Washington. On Thursday May 22nd the Atlas, and her arch rival, the 1980 Griffon powered Miss Budweiser made their preliminary test runs under the overcast Seattle skies. Chip Hanauer climbed back into the Atlas' cockpit where he won his first Gold Cup and blasted away from the dock in a cloud of spray and thunderous roar. Although the test session was unannounced, a fair sized crowd applauded as the boat left the dock. Chip did not waste any time getting the boat up to speed and ripping through a turn. He then made a close pass near the pits and by his enthusiastic wave, it was evident Chip was enjoying the ride. Although the boat looked light on her feet and fast, Chip cautiously shut the boat down after two laps. He felt the engine was bogging down with either a too large of prop or some other problem. Even at the end of the tow rope, Chip had a huge smile as he approached the dock. His first words were “This thing is perfect!” He reported that the boat tracked dead straight and cornered great. 
After a quick meeting with the crew which also included Jim Harvey, Dixon Smith and Ron Brown, it was decided to try a smaller prop to solve the problem. Unfortunately, the second prop was not much smaller and the boat had the same result during it’s 2nd run. This led Jim Harvey and Dixon to the conclusion that a gearing change might be nessesary in the Merlin’s blower section or maybe even a gearbox change. 
 The engine will be pulled in the next few days and sent over to Harvey’s shop for the mods. Then it will go right back in the boat for the big “media” test day on June 10th. On that day the boat will be re-christened by her original owner Fran Muncey. Chip and the crew are confident that Harvey will sort out any problem with the engine and the boat will perform as well as it did in 1982. 
 All of the crew of the ‘82 Atlas would also like to congratulate the crew of the Griffon Bud on their successful day. The big red, white and gold boat, driven by David Williams ran very well and looked and sounded just like it did back in the early eighties. This was also a very challenging restoration project and owner Eric Mann and Gale Whitestine and his great crew deserve a huge “way to go guys!”
 The Bud and the Atlas are back ! And what a great show race fans are in for this summer seeing these two legends run side by side again. Plans call for the two boats to run exhibitions at Tri-Cities, Seattle and San Diego. Hope to see you there. 

May 5, 2017

Atlas Moves to New Home - Ready to Run

The 1982 Atlas Van Lines made her first journey from the Hydroplane and Raceboat Museum on May 3rd. Tilted on it's shiny rebuilt trailer, the newly restored boat was towed to owner John Goodman's shop near Fisherman's Terminal in Ballard. Goodman's vintage car racing facility is a beautiful complex with a large display area and car racing machine shop. John's extensive collection of race cars, including the vintage Corvettes he currently races, are all kept in pristine condition and on display. The Atlas was maneuvered onto the checkerboard painted floor amongst the rare race cars and shined up in preparation for a special party at the complex the following day. 
The big move followed an busy afternoon at the museum where the Atlas was rolled outside for a final test firing of the Rolls Merlin engine. Jim Harvey fired the engine first then invited John Goodman to hop in the cockpit . After a quick briefing by Harvey, Goodman hit the starter which quickly brought the big engine to life. John's big smile said it all as he jumped off the boat. This particular Merlin starts right up every time which is a testament to Harvey's skill having built the engine. 
But the exciting moment the Atlas crew had been waiting for was when Chip Hanauer climbed aboard his old friend and sat in the drivers seat where he won his first two Gold Cups. For the first time in almost twenty years Chip fired up a Rolls piston engine. He looked right at home and eager to get the boat on to Lake Washington. And Chip will do just that sometime in the next few weeks. Stay tuned for details and dates on when the Atlas will take a test run on Lake Washington.



April 8, 2016

Successful Test of Atlas Engine!

 Tuesday evening April, 8th, Jim Harvey hit the starter for the first time on the beautiful Rolls Royce Merlin he built for the restored 1982 Atlas Van Lines. The engine roared to life with no problem except for the need of a slight carburetor adjustment. After a quick turn of a few screws by Rolls expert Dixon Smith, the engine ran very smooth. A fairly large crowd of Museum volunteers and crews applauded after the loud deep roar shook the South Seattle neighborhood.
 The Atlas Team had been waiting for the completion of the painting of the trailer to roll the boat outside the Hydroplane and Raceboat Museum for the initial test firing. But with the boat still resting on it's shop dolly, it was decided to go ahead and run the engine. This required some fancy maneuvering of the boats in the Museum to back the Atlas out one of the doors. The 13’4” wide boat can't fit through the door sitting flat so the crew just backed her out up to the sponsons placing most of the fire-breathing engine out the door. 
 Jim Harvey, sporting his original Atlas Van Lines crew jacket, sat in the cockpit running up the Merlin several times. And as darkness fell, it created quite a light show as blue-white flames blasted from the exhaust stacks. Glen Davis, original '82 Atlas crew man, was also on hand. Glen assembled the blower section of the engine during the restoration at Jim Harvey's shop.
Everyone on the crew congratulated each other on the milestone especially Jim Harvey. Jim admitted to some butterflies firing up the engine. With parts for Rolls Merlins very difficult to find, Jim spent many tedious hours assembling the engine and re-fitting the aging parts. But it is evident now, that Harvey has not lost his touch and skill as one of the best Merlin builders in the country. Jim cautions that the real test of the engine will be on the water. And that could be as soon as early to mid-May. 
Stay tuned for more updates.

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February 17, 2016

The newly restored 1982 Atlas Van Lines was moved to the Hydroplane and Raceboat Museum the first of December 2002. The boat spent nearly a year across the parking lot at Jim Harvey's shop for the extensive reconstruction. Harvey recently finishing the boats Rolls Royce Merlin engine which was installed in the boat on February 8th. The trailer for the boat was towed to the welding shop for its makeover. It will be completely overhauled including a new Atlas Van Lines paint scheme. A few items remain to be completed on the boat including final mounting of the Nitrous System and the custom upholstery. By mid-March, the completed Atlas will head to her new home at owner John Goodman's shop in Ballard. Tentatively, the Atlas and the newly restored 1980 Miss Budweiser are scheduled for their first test runs late March or early April. Museum director David Williams will most likely test drive the Atlas initially, then hand the reins over to Chip Hanauer for further testing.