Miss Bardahl is a Rolls Royce merlin engined hydroplane that runs on the famous fuels and lubricants of the same name





Miss Bardahl is a 30’ long, 7000 lb unlimited hydroplane race boat. Powered by a 3,000 HP Roll-Royce Merlin aircraft engine. This beautifully styled craft is capable of speeds in excess of 180 MPH while literally flying across the surface of the water on a cushion of air. With only three points – 1 propeller blade and the two sponsons – touching the water at any time, Miss Bardahl leaves a “roostertail” of spray over 40 feet high when speeding by. Racing between 1962 and 1965, the team won an unprecedented 3 APBA Gold Cups, 3 National Championships, 1 World Championship, set lap, race and heat records (some which stood almost a decade), and introduced new technology that revolutionized the sport while running a record 57 consecutive heats without an engine failure.




Rolls Royce merlin engine in Miss Bardahl, racing hydroplane




Miss Bardahl was the brainchild of Ole Bardahl, owner of Bardahl Oil Co. in Ballard. Bardahl, with the help of designer and builder Ted Jones, created a seemingly indestructible speedster that would leave its mark on hydro-history forever.

Miss Bardahl was the third of five boats that Mr. Bardahl built. She raced from 1962 through 1965, making her the first boat in 30 years to win three consecutive Gold Cups. Whoever wins the Gold Cup hosts the next year’s race in their hometown. Osterberg said that Seattle went ‘hydro-crazy’ and had a keen sense of civic pride in the sport.

Though Miss Bardahl was not the fastest boat on the water at the time - she could reach up to 165 mph while others could go 170 or even 180 mph - she took the corners better and accelerated faster than the other boats, almost guaranteeing her a win every time. She averaged 117+ mph for a full lap, while others could only do about 90 mph.




If only Donald Campbell's K7 Bluebird had been designed with this perfect balance, then there would have been less chance of the flip that proved fatal. To be even more certain of airborne stability, we'd suggest fitting additional air control devices to craft that are expected to exceed 300mph. See Ken Warby's Spirit of Australia.




Where the K3 and K4 Blue Birds had a weight bias to the rear, with the RR Merlin engine as close as practical to the middle of the boat, when it takes to the air, it maintains level flight. The disadvantage is that the prop-shaft is not as horizontal as it could be to give thrust in the opposite direction to the travel of the boat. The angle is though acceptable. A possible cure would be to move the engine slightly forward into the trough of the hull, and use a transfer gearbox below the crankshaft to gain another few degrees closer to the horizontal. This would improve straight line speed. Some adjustment would be needed to fuel tanks to keep the balance that this boat obviously enjoyed. Easy for us to say in hindsight. Or, just fit a jet engine, like the present powerboat racers.





Miss Bardahl, U-40, was built to order in 1958 for additive oil manufacturer Ole Bardahl by Ted Jones at Bardahl's boat and engine shop. Miss Bardahl is a three-pointer, 30 feet long, 12 feet wide, with a racing trim weight of 6,170 pounds.

Jones not only designed the boat but supervised details of construction, while his son, Ron, served on hull operations as foreman and master shipwright. The boat was built in a mere eight weeks, something of a record in boat construction. The craft was plumbed, wired and fitted by the Bardahl crew and lead engine man Rudy Boppel. Originally powered by an Allison engine, she was reworked early in 1959 by Anchor Jensen and crew chief George McKernan and now sports a Rolls Royce engine and a bow spoiler.

In her first year of competition, 1958, Miss Bardahl was National High Point Champion for being the season's most consistent finisher. She won the Apple Cup, the Buffalo Launch Club Trophy and was named the American Speedboat Champion for winning the Rogers Memorial Trophy.








This is the build sequence of Miss Bardahl in 1958. It is the same sequence for just about any boat being hand built from wood. Even composite boats need to go through a similar stage to be  able to make the moulds, except where foam sheeting is used for one offs.



Michael Hanson restoring Miss Bardahl


Miss Bardahl being restored by Michael Hanson. Note that there are many more longerons in the rebuilt hull, as compared to the original build - as seen from the 1958 pictures - roughly three times as many. Better to be safe than sorry. Rebuilds take much more time than working fresh.






After undergoing a series of unfortunate events that would damage her hull, Miss Bardahl nearly ended her racing career.

The, the boat was accidentally sold for $1,500 while in storage in Norwood, Boston, after which Miss Bardahl seemingly vanished.

Jon Osterberg, author of "Dragon Days" is quoted as saying: “By nature, I am sentimental, more nostalgic than most people maybe. I couldn’t bear to think that this boat had vanished. So, in 1979, I decided that I was going to find that boat or at least find out what happened to it.”




Jon Osterberg showing off his book about Miss Bardahl and the hydroplane racing scene in the 1960s.



After three years of searching and one year of bargaining with the owner whose offering price was $20,000, Osterberg convinced the owner to donate Miss Bardahl to Seattle’s Hydroplane Museum for one dollar. Here it was cosmetically rebuilt for show purposes.

Then ex crew member Dixon Smith heard of Bardahl’s whereabouts and decided to buy it from the museum as a private owner. Smith injected nitrous oxide into Bardhal’s World War II Rolls-Merlin engine, redefining the word ‘speed. Dixon rebuilt it to run the hydroplane.

Only 30 percent of the original material was salvaged due to years of corrosion and neglect. Yet after extensive work and the help of an innovative team, Smith and three of Bardahl’s original crew, who had taken the boat out of Mission Bay in 1965, re-launched the boat on Lake Washington on July 7, 2007.

Now Miss Bardahl performs in exhibition races every summer and has appeared in Seafair the past two years. Many boats will assume new names over the years, but the name Miss Bardahl never changed.





This is the U1, Miss Bardahl, radio control scale model boat




This is the U1, three times gold cup winner






Bardahl Asia Pacific Pte. Ltd. was set up in Singapore in 2006 as the regional head office to provide comprehensive and timely supports to the Bardahl customers in the region. Besides acting as the logistic hub for the distribution of Bardahl additives made in USA & Europe, Bardahl Asia Pacific produces a wide range of lubricants & additives in Singapore. These include automotive, light & heavy duty vehicles, motorcycles, mining & industrial machinery and marine lubricants & greases. Many of these are specially formulated for the Asia Pacific market requirements.

Today, Bardahl's presence is felt across the Asia Pacific region in countries such as Singapore, Korea, China, Japan, Philippines, Russia, Kyrgyz Republic, Mongolia, Taiwan, Malaysia, Indonesia, Brunei, Thailand, Australia, India, Myanmar, Cambodia, Fiji, Samoa and Angola, Africa. Bardahl, striving for a World Without Friction.





The block of the RR Merlin engine in situ for alignment purposes, and the cockpit that reveals a steering wheel very similar to that used on the K3 Blue Bird.







Compared to the K3 and K4 boats of Sir Malcolm Campbell, Miss Bardahl is a very nice development that shifts weight distribution to an ideal, while also taking care of some of the transmission complexities, and in so doing improving performance.



Bluebird K4 Coniston Water, Donald Campbell


Donald Campbell's Bluebird K4 at speed on Lake Coniston - autographed photograph inscribed: To PC Windle in 1949. Both the K3 and K4 had drives going forward to a transfer box, that then had a prop-shaft going aft. The objective of such transmission was to get the propeller shaft as horizontal as possible to give thrust in the opposite direction to the travel of the boat.





Early in the morning of 26 June 1950 a small red boat skipped across Lake Washington, near Seattle, and improved on Campbell's record by 29 km/h (18 mph). The boat was called Slo-Mo-Shun IV. It was built by Seattle Chrysler dealer Stanley Sayres. The piston-engined boat was able to run at 160 mph (260 km/h) because its hull was designed to lift the top of the propellers out of water when running at high speed. This phenomenon, called ‘prop riding’, further reduced drag. In 1952 Sayres drove Slo-Mo-Shun to 287.25 km/h (178.49 mph) - a further 29 km/h (18 mph) increase. 



The Slo-mo-shun water speed record boat - surface piercing prop rider


The Slo-mo-shun water speed record boat - surface piercing prop rider. This is the boat that inspired so many similar concept wooden hydroplanes.




Miss Budweiser



The renewed American success persuaded Malcolm Campbell's son Donald, who had already driven Bluebird K4 to within sight of his father's record, to make a further push for the record. However, the K4 was by now 12 years old, with a 20 year old engine and Campbell struggled to run at the speeds of the Seattle-built boat. In late 1951 K4 was written-off when it suffered a structural failure at 170 mph (270 km/h) on Coniston Water.





She's a babe - a really beautifully balanced design and not a bad paint job either




Another superb model of Miss Bardahl




BARDAHL lubricants and fuel additives




Bardahl Asia Pacific

Vintage Hydroplanes models Jim_Osborne RD_fleet


Ballard News Tribune green-dragon-roars-again

Miss Bardahl hull_restoration


Miss Bbardahl













Orgsites Montgomery Model Boat Club






Arthur Benjamins - http://www.bluebirdpublications.co.uk/







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