SFMYC Year End Float, continued Return to Page 1
While the Montereys have been modeled by many individuals over the years, modelers Ken Valk and Leon Embry have instigated a resurgence of interest with their unique fittings and model engines, available in resin and brass castings. Ken is owner of Wet Goose Marine, a supplier of model deck fittings, and Leon turns out small numbers of exquisitely detailed Hicks single cylinder “hit and miss” engines. His Hicks models are primarily polymer castings, but feature metal shafts and gears which allow for full animation of the valve gear and flywheel. Leon can also provide a sound recording of the little engine working away; see contact information below.
Ken’s “Lupo di Mare” offers a great demonstration of how much detail and atmosphere can be loaded into one of these simple fishing boats. Ken starts with a base of heavily-weathered wood. A wire wheel etches the grain and a careful application of stains perfects the illusion of bare wood long exposed to the Bay environment. One of Leon’s Hicks engines is set into the semi-open cockpit, displaying a convincing coat of dirty oil. Fish knives, a rusty lantern, rolled charts, trolling tackle, and a host of other details completes the picture of a no-frills working boat. The Montereys were loosely organized into a parade, and then the appreciative crowd was treated to a wonderful photo-op when the boats clustered together for a group portrait.
Sometimes scale model boaters just need to cut loose. At the SFMYC, one outlet comes in the form of “Springer tug” competitions. I had the chance to meet John Springer, the accidental architect of this madness. Some years ago, John crafted a very simple model of a small tug found in his father’s boatyard. Multiple copies were then built, and these eventually developed into a standardized “class” at Seattle’s Northwest R/C Ship Modelers club. The class idea spread to the San Francisco club, where the competitions are keen and lively. The phenomenon is now drawing attention from clubs across the country, leaving John bemused with the “viral” spread of his namesake.
The Springers’ simple design and limited specifications allow for quick construction by both neophytes and experienced modelers. Some builders will opt for the simplest construction, while others deck them out in full detail and colorful paint jobs. What’s a Springer used for? Water Polo and Rubber Ducky Round Ups of course. Watching the crowd and operators hoot and holler through a spirited round of water polo, it’s easy to see the attraction of these robust little boats. With springy door-stops mounted on the push knees to trap the miniature soccer ball, the boats maneuvered madly while vying for possession. No free-for-all, teamwork is needed to block opponents and screen the ball carrier. In the rough and tumble play, rubber bumpers soften the collisions, and high deck coamings keep most of the water on the outside.
Another exhibition was put on by San Jose’s Western Warship Combat Club. No battling this day, but when in their home waters these models clash and sink one another, on purpose! Gas-powered guns fire BB’s and ball bearings, punching holes in opponents’ balsa-sheathed hulls. Water-proofing techniques allow the electronics to survive a sinking. After a round of action, the ships are retrieved, patched up, and sent back out for more.
Friendly folks, great models and a relaxed atmosphere made for a glorious day in Golden Gate Park. Organizer Ken Valk deserves a round of applause, and I hope to return to see more shows at Spreckels Lake.