In 1984, Matt Fairbrass,
a teenager at the time, found her in scrap dealer Fred Brough’s yard on
Brimley Road. Young Fairbrass purchased her and began the restoration with
his father’s help. Fortunately, the scrap dealer had saved all the hardware
with the exception of the maker’s plate, which had been missing when the
boat passed to his hands. The restoration proved to be more monumental
than the young man was prepared for and when his father passed away, the
boat was gain offered for sale.
Every aspect of the engine installation and mechanical set up was kept as original or period as possible. It has the original drag link steering system with a lanced rudder. In the water the boat handles beautifully and you can really execute a very tight turns at high speed with little effort. You can also take your hands off the wheel at full speed without any drifting. She has dual tapered shaft struts as the original boat had. There are front and aft fuel tanks that are controlled from the cockpit which were also used to adjust the weight distribution in different racing conditions. The quadrant controlled spark advance is original and active and the throttle control is a vernier aircraft type which allows fine adjustment for the low max RPM Liberty. The boat has a 15 gallon remote oil tank (aircraft engine set up) because the Liberty is a dry sump engine. The tank has an exterior sight gauge for easy monitoring of consumption under any conditions.
The dash has reproduced original
gauges and an original ignition switch that was overhauled. There
are two port and starboard original sight ports for fire detection and
even the old LUX fire suppression system was buffed up and reinstalled
but not activated.
There was a colourful decal on the side of the boat which we think is a harbour license and this was reproduced with the help of computers and has been installed on the boat. It is really impossible to find differences in the boat when you compare it with the historical photos.
Peter then undertook the next part of the restoration which is getting the boat to perform as it did in its prime. The process actually began very early in the shop with careful consideration of things like fuel tank location and rudder construction. Prop size and pitch, transmission adjustments are the final refinements that are currently being made.
The boat has been run several times and is performing very well. She handles like a dream (at any speed) with no helm in spite of the engine torque. She sound terrific with a nice low rumble. In gear at 350 RPM she moves along at about 8 MPH. The top speed so far is around 40 mph but we expect this will improve another 4-6 MPH with a prop change.
As a final chapter to the
saga, it turns out that Helen Miller does not recall ever riding in Heldena
II when she was a little girl. She was certainly too young to be around
the races. This will be remedied soon, as she has been invited by Rick
McGraw to join in the festivities surrounding Heldena II.
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