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The 1996 "Enterprise" HPB
During a cold Illinois winter, what better to do than BUILD AN HPB. I started with the drivetrain this time. I knew that I didn't want the chain dragging through the water anymore, and after Bill Murphy and I did some experimentation, I decided to go with bevel gears. Basically the drive train would be chain from the crank ring to a gear set, and then via driveshaft to a bevel gear, where the power would be transferred 90 degrees downward (under the water) to another bevel gear, which would point the drive shaft in the desired location (towards the rear of the boat). Again this was a front drive machine. I covered it in a aerodynamic foam and glass shell. The design for the new pontoons was blatantly plagiarized from the design Bob Buerger used in his two man HPB. The new hulls were 12' log, 8" high, and 12" wide. and were tapered for all but the middle 4'. Much better. I also decided to use plywood on the deck of the hulls in only the areas that would have attachments. This made for lighter hulls. As I was going for lighter weight I used aluminum anywhere I could, and foam and glass for all structural components like the cross brace. All was going well, until I actually put it in the water. After some preliminary cruising around I noticed that the bevel gears skipped whenever I applied some heavy torque. After applying even heavier torque, the bottom bracket, which had been epoxied into the foam and fiberglass drivetrain boom broke loose, taking some foam and fiberglass with it. This happened 2 days before the race. After surveying the damage, Bill and I decided to put last year's drivetrain on this year's floats.

Having registered the first week that registration was being accepted (February?) I obtained a better spot than last year. Having neglected joining Bob Buerger in driving to Rockford the morning registration begins to obtain one of the first positions, I lost out on getting in the top 10. It was "lucky 13" for me. Though the 1996 weather at the Rockford raft race was much nicer, there were not as many entrants this year, a disturbing trend that I hope is temporary. As the race began, everything faded from my mind except the thought of cranking out a few more rpms. Again, I saw Bob and Sean in the distance, though this time they did not slow down intermittently ( a Sachs chain does wonders to prevent derailments). I managed to come up with second place this year, got interviewed on TV, and of course the money helped offset the boat building costs.

 

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