Speed Record Trophy

First person to fly 400 MPH plus

On September 29, 1931, Flight Lieutenant George Stainforth flew a Supermarine S6.b to a new absolute world speed record of 407.5 mph (655.79 kph). Stainforth was award a trophy in the form of a miniature S6.b for his accomplishment.

In 1989 in Lake Havasu City, Arizona, USA, the American home of the London Bridge, the Desert Hawks RC Club presented a reenactment of the famous Schneider Cup races of the early part of the 20th Century. Radio Control enthusiasts from far and wide designed and built ΒΌ and 1/3 scale replicas of those famous racing seaplanes to compete in this unique event.

One of those competitors was Doug MacMillan of Canada. Doug designed, built and brought his own version of the Supermarine S6.b. At the conclusion of the event, at the trophy presentation, Doug unveiled a metal replica of a Supermarine S6.b and announced that this was the trophy awarded to Stainforth in 1931. Apparently, this was the custom as we can see a picture of Flight Lieutenant D’Arcy Greig holding a trophy of the Supermarine S5 after setting a world speed record in 1928. Click here to see the photo

Twenty years have passed and this year, 2009, is the twentieth anniversary of the first Schneider Cup Reenactment, we wanted to contact and invite all of the competitors from the original series. When I contacted Doug, he asked if I would be interested in restoring the trophy. Of course, I enthusiastically said YES and arrangements were made.

The Trophy arrived on August 20, 2009. Doug had packed it well in foam and it arrived as scheduled. As you can see, it needs a lot of TLC. Click on any picture to enlarge.

Because of its’ historic importance, I will very carefully restore this trophy. After all, this wasn’t a trophy for any old commercial plane or series of cheap flights, this was an iconic moment in aviation history. Any information about this trophy and the history behind it, like who made the trophy, what metal and any pictures of Stainforth with it etc. would be greatly appreciated. I would like to post any info or photos on this site and give credit to anyone for it. I will take pictures as we go along.
Schneider Cup Home

Let us begin…August 23, 2009

SIZE OF THE TROPHY w/o Base

Wing Span. . . . . . . . 23 in. / 584.2mm
Float length. . . . . . . .18.5 in. / 469.9mm
Fuselage length. . . . .18.5 in. / 469.9mm
Weight. . . . . . . . . . . 9 lb. 9 oz. / 4.340 kg

The mystery of what the trophy is made of has been solved. The entire trophy is made of copper and brass and plated in silver. The craftsmanship and the attention to scale and detail are incredible.

The prop is solid cast brass and is designed to rotate as a scale propeller would.

Fuselage/wing with propeller removed. We are not sure yet about the roundels. In that some people attempted to restore this trophy, we are trying to research the original as presented to Stainforth. Anyone out there that may have info or be able to point us in the right direction to gain the knowledge we need will be greatly appreciated.

This shows the detail in the nacelle area. All the panel lines and exhaust ports are authentically represented.

To the left a float has the rear bottom removed. You can see the bulkhead at the step and the bulges on both sides where the float was bent.

Float top and distortions where the float struts attached.

To the left, you can see the bottom of the left wing with the wrinkles in the skin. Both the left and right wings have serious damage to the wing skins, top and bottom. Some of the damage was from the fall and much was from the unskilled attempts to fix the trophy. We believe our only choice is to separate the top and bottom wing skins in order to reshape them properly. This may be very difficult because it appears that the wing was created by bonding the top and bottom skin into one piece and slid through a slot in the fuselage and then soldered in place.

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I took some Brasso and Silver Polish and removed the tarnish from the propeller. It polished up beautifully and is evident that the quality of the Silver Plate was superb as you can see above on this 78-year-old piece.

The number and depth of the dings and dents in the left float required removing the bottom rear of the step. It was about 70%separated already. The right float has fewer dings, although the location where the front float strut attaches is damaged pretty badly. We are hoping we will be able to repair this float without disassembling it. When all of the dents and as many of the dings as possible are repaired we will need to replate the floats with silver.

The amount of time and patience necessary to perform the delicate work of hammering out the dings and dents requires a person of great skill and dedication even more so than a bird watcher lying in wait with a pair of binoculars attempting to catch a glimpse of a rare bird. John Hanks has that skill and dedication and we all are lucky to have him on this project. As with the artists that designed and made this trophy originally, it is a lost art and John has 70 plus years of experience to call upon.

Restoration of Speed Record Trophy 79-year-old trophy presented to Stainforth in 1931

Alignment Jig

The floats are sitting in a cradle to hold them parallel, with stops to assure they are aligned fore and aft.

We then built a jig to hold the fuselage/wing assembly at the proper height and angle above the floats.

We removed the propeller, turned a wood dowel to fit the propeller shaft hole. We measured several drawings to determine the proper height and angle with respect to the floats and built an upright in the rear to cradle the fuselage correctly. In the front we built an upright with a spacer that holds the fuselage fore and aft with aproperly fore and aft with a hole that the dowel will slide into the propeller shaft hole at the proper height and angle to the floats.

In that we only have one float strut as a sample, I was concerned about what we were going to do to replace them. One of our fellow modelers here in Lake Havasu, Brent Daily, has a business making and selling high-performance model boat propellers. These are cast from bronze and Brent has the equipment to cast our float strut legs. This solved a big problem we were facing. The process is where a special wax is carved, finished and polished for each strut. It is then encapsulated in a special material, similar to plaster of Paris, then that is put into a kiln to cook all of the wax and moisture out and then the cavity that is left from the wax is filled with the bronze. When cooled, the mold is put into water and the cast part is removed, trimmed and polished. After the final assembly and fitting is completed, the struts will be plated with silver.

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As mentioned before, first you start with a chunk of investment wax, draw an outline on it, cut the basic shape, carve and finish to the final shape as shown in Photo # 1. Next, the wax strut is attached to a sprue and mounted on the mold base, Photo # 2. A stainless tube forms the outer shell of the mold in Photo # 3.

In Photo # 5 the mold has been put into a Kiln to melt out the wax, leaving a hollow cavity in the shape of the strut and sprue. This also removes all moisture. Note the red glow of the stainless mold cylinder.

After the mold has the wax and moisture removed in the kiln, bronze is melted and shot into the void in the mold by means of centrifugal injection. In Photo # 6 you can see the molten bronze glowing bright orange.

After the bronze cools, the stainless sleeve is removed and the white mold material is dissolved leaving the raw casting with sprue and button as seen in Photo # 7

In Photo # 8 after cutting off the sprue and button, the strut is sanded and final fitting to the trophy takes place. When all four struts are fitted these struts will be polished and silver plated.

As soon as the struts are properly fitted, we will tap and add the threaded studs and they will be ready for silver plating.

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As we had suspected early on, this is going to take a lot of time. It is a wonderful piece of English craftsmanship and it takes an enormous amount of time to properly restore it. We are still working on the two floats but they are nearly ready to be silver plated.

As soon as the struts are properly fitted, we will tap and add the threaded studs and they will be ready for silver plating.

There has been a delay in working on this project. I apologize but the main person that is restoring it has had a number of health issues and has not been able to work on this project. This trophy is to valuable and historic to let just anyone work on it so I beg your indulgence and allow us to proceed when health returns.

Thank you all for your patience.
Bob