K3 became part of the Foulkes Halbard collection in 1988. A long restoration of the craft started in 1989.
Extensive work to the hull has been carried out, along with the engine, clutch, gearbox and drive system being reinstated.
We are nearing the end of this project and the idea of this website is to keep fellow enthusiasts up to date with our progress and final stages of the project.
I’m sure Bluebird will be seen at various venues post restoration and a diary will be posted on this site as and when the boat is on show.
The K3 Bluebird Project is much indebted to:
It was in 1935 when the seeds were sown for Sir Malcolm Campbell to attempt to break the world water speed record.
Sir Malcolm had achieved his goal on land when he broke the 300 M.P.H. barrier for the first time driving his Bluebird car powered by the mighty Rolls Royce R type engine R37. Very soon after this he announced his intention to attack the world water speed record.
He commissioned Saunders Roe on the Isle of Wight to build the craft. F. W Cooper was given the job of designing the boat and Reid Railton was to be the mechanical engineer. After 18 months the boat was ready for her first trials. She was christened Bluebird by Lady Campbell and given her international race number KZ30 later shortened to K3.
Sir Malcolm used the R37 Rolls engine from his car to power the boat, driving a dog type clutch up to a V drive gearbox mounted at the front of the boat with a step up ratio of 1 engine revolution to 3 prop revolutions.
The first trials were at Lock Lommond in Scotland. Problems with the engine overheating and poor water surface conditions hampered the trials but a speed of 90 M.P.H. was achieved. This convinced Sir Malcolm that the record was there for the taking if they could find a suitable span of water.
The Campbell mechanic, Leo Villa was of Italian decent and remembered the lakes in the north of the country were particularly calm and were not affected by cross winds because of the steep slopes that surrounded them. Leo was swiftly dispatched to lake Maggiore on the Swiss Italian boarder for reconnaissance. He reported to Sir Malcolm that it was ideal for a record attempt. K3 and the team were soon on their way to the Swiss side of Maggiore. The locals showed great enthusiasm for the project and assisted in any way they could.
After some initial trials Sir Malcolm decided to try for the record but the R37 badly overheated . The engine had to be sent back to Rolls Royce for a rebuild. Sir Malcolm had a lower powered spare R type engine with him numbered R39. Leo fitted the spare engine and the water cooling scoop was re-positioned and after two weeks the boat was ready for another crack at the record. The changes to the cooling system meant that Bluebird now had to run without her tail on.
On the 1st September 1937 Sir Malcolm took K3 to a new world water speed record of 126.33 M.P.H. Bluebird performed very well although Sir Malcolm said she was a real handful and difficult to handle. Not put off, Sir Malcolm was sure K3 could go faster and the next day raised the record to 129.5 M.P.H.
Happy with this the team returned triumphant to England.
In 1938 the team went to Switzerland again to try and raise the record. Sir Malcolm felt that there was not enough margin between Garfield Woods old record of 124 M.P.H. and his new figure.
A smaller quieter lake was found close to the German boarder called Hallwill. A different shaped tail had been fitted to K3 along with further modifications to the cooling system. Sir Malcolm raised the record again to 130.93 M.P.H.
It was decided that K3 could go no faster and she had reached her limits and the boat was retired.