After I got done reading TF144ís winter edition (It didnít take long) I thought Iíd do a year in Port Polar Bear report. This should be long enough to give Larry some page filler in the winter of 2004. Since we tend to do things a little differently up here maybe this will also help all the southern boys understand us northern folk.

Weíll start with the winter building sessions, the early battles, the big trip to NATS and back to winter building. This will mostly be about Larry, Andy, Grant, Ron and myself since we make up the core of our little club.

Building meeting #1 for the year was at Ronís shop (As unusual) on January 11th. Ron, Andy, Grant, Larry and Murray were all there for the work session. Ron worked mostly on the plug for the SoDak he is making for Charley. It is in a very rough shape right now. He also is trying to make his Lion turn better by moving the rudders. Iím not sure if it will ever turn very well but he is going to move the rudders back from the stern and farther apart. He took off the old sheeting with some thinner. He used weld wood to put it on and taking it off was easy. Larry is planning on battling the Tiger again this year (He said that last year too). The Tiger is an old scratch built ship (mid 90ís I think) and needs updating before she comes out of retirement. He did manage to rip off the old skin and take the old water channeling out of it today. Andy and Grant spent most of there time sweeping Ronís shop (Their very part time job). Grant did have his LST there and did a little layout on a K-class cruiser he has some strange plans for. What they are I canít remember. Murray milled around and talked about his Lutzow and how close to done it is. He is talking about getting a big battleship next (Nagoto, NC, SoDakÖ) his building list is endless. I canít wait to get some shots at the Lutzow this summer, the prettier the ship the more I want to shoot it.

Let me back up here and give you the list of things I need to do for the Warspite this winter. After NATS last year several captains gave me a long list of things that needed to be better. Water channeling was the big one. I had used styrofoam insulation with no covering on it. This was braking off and causing some pump clogging problems. I also am rewiring the entire ship. I built my radio box nice and big so I had lots of room in it but it barely came out of the ship. I have already added Deanís Ultra connectors to everything. My props and rudders are also getting moved to the same locations as Chris Auís Malaya. I am hoping that this will get my ship to turn and move more like his. Up to this meeting I had half of the water channeling done and the rudders & props glued back in. I spend the day before the meeting cutting and sanding new water channeling for the Warspite. I had to stay up late to get it all done. My garage is not heated during the winter and the resin smells too bad to use in the house so I can only do that at Ronís shop. As soon as I got to Ronís I put all of my parts (They are in a bucket) and the ship on his scale to check my weight. Right now I am 2+ pounds under weight, odd. At this meeting I put lots of resin in the ship. I also did a little prep work for my wiring when I was waiting for things to dry. I left my ship at Ronís to dry and picked it up latter that week.

In between meetings I got all of my wiring done with only one mistake. I mixed up two black wires on a throttle switch and got a direct short. A new switch and the correct layout fixed that. I also took some light weight bondo and filled in all the gaps in my water channeling. Unfortunatly I did not think the bondo smelled too bad so I did it in the basement when my wife had some of her friends over. They did not like the bondo smell as much as I did, opps.

 

Building meeting #2 was at Ronís on February 8th. Ron, Murray, Curly (And his two boys), a new guy (I can never remember new guys name) and myself were there. We called Larry to find out what he was up to and found out he was sick. Ron was disappointed to hear his cleaning crew was not going to show up. Curly was taping his Konig hull up for cutting. It was the only thing he thought he could do with the boys running around. They had a great time sliding around in the saw dust all over the shop. Curly is not too optimistic about battling this year. Thatís too bad as I think he is a barrel of laughs and I would like to try and sink the ďUnsinkable PosenĒ. When I first started battling with my cruiser it was me and Curly vs everyone else. We were always the only ones left on the water, as Curly sank everyone else; I just had to cut them off. Ron was much farther on the SoDak plug. Just the stern and bow to finish and it gets sent to Charley. The new guy is building a Lutzow so Murray went home and brought his so they could look it over. He bought two coil mag guns and was trying to find a way he could get them both in the stern turret. I finished covering the water channeling with resin and also put some on the deck. Once again I checked the weight (Still under!) and left it at the shop to dry. Ron and I swept up the shop and talked about the upcoming NATS, last NATS and maybe upsizing his pond. I have been looking all over for a NATS pond up here and have had no luck so far. All of our ponds are too deep or have too many weeds in them. It has been snowing like mad up here (21 out of 25 days) Ron says his yard is waist to chest deep. Looks like the pond will be nice and deep again this year.

In between meetings I finished my wiring and put all of the guts back into my ship. I did have to grind out some channeling to get the gear boxes back in. Everything fit before the resin went in!?! Last year I had a big polar bear head on my ship. It got me shot at (Not up) at night battle by my teammates. This year I want to make it spin with my pump so I know if it is on, I also think this will look funny and get a few laughs. My first try was a flop. The motor spun the head too fast and caused a very bad vibration. Now I need to find a smaller motor. I was going to try and use a servo motor (Pot burned out) but I after I took it off of the board I though about the other servo that had a bad motor. I took off that motor and put on the good one, presto a spare servo. I am hoping to get the sheeting done before the next meeting. Maybe I can even get her on the water. The pond behind Cub (Grocery store) is partially open as I write this (3/1/04). I told everyone in January that we should schedule our first battle for March 14; maybe we can really have one. I hope everyone else is close to done with their winter building.

Well the weather got cold again and more snow too. So I still have not been on the water. But, I did get the ship sheeted and got the spinning polar bear head to work. I took the broken servo and glued it into the deck and put a servo horn under the head. Now it spins at a nice speed.

 

Building meeting #3 was at Ronís on March 14th. Ron, Murray, Curly (And his two boys), Larry, Grant, Andy, Kevin Bray and myself were there. Kevin, Susan and his two boys came up to stay with us for 5 days. Iím not going to go into the details of having four small kids, 7, 5, 3, 1, running around the house (Those of you with kids know what I mean and if you donít have any itís best you donít find out) but it was a crazy weekend. The big hit was going to The Mall of America and the indoor amusement park Camp Snoopy. At the meeting Ron finished the SoDak plug and put it in a box for shipment to Charlie. He may even have worked on the Lion for two minuets. Larry, Grant and Andy tested the systems on the I-Boats for problems and made the ďFix itĒ list. Did not look like there was a lot of items on there, but I did not look that close. I put some more fiberglass on the stuffing tube struts and painted the freshly skinned hull. Kevin brought all of the parts and tools to make a gun and gave us all a lesson in gun building. It took a lot longer then I thought it would to finish it. He was missing one piece and was not able to test fire it. Murray took notes on the whole event. I took my guns apart and found the pistons in bad shape. These were starting to get sticky at the end of last year and need to be replaced. Larry showed us the old way he built guns, he is still using them! After the meeting we drove up to Ronís place to show Kevin our frozen battling pond. Then we sat around and talked for about an hour. We also picked a date for our first battle April 18th. I still have to finish my guns and put in a gasket on my lower deck. I really should fix up the Mpls. for a ďDemoĒ ship like it was last year. I let guests or battlers with unfinished ships run her around. I need to fix the pump (Iím not sure whatís wrong), put in new guns and put in new motors. The deck needs some work too but that could wait.

 

Well March finished up and April started. I somehow found quite a bit of time to do ship work between the last building meeting and our first battle. I got the Warspite out for sea trials as soon as the ice was off one of the local ponds (April 3). I was surprised at two things; she now turns in reverse and was really slow. But then I put the stern under and the motors got wet and she picked up speed?!? I was able to get the gasket in the sub-deck and it seams to work very well. Unfortunately the new BC guns I was waiting for did not show up before the first battle so I went with the old super-geeks. The Mpls. even got worked on this last month. I took out the old motors and replaced them, made new guns, put the pump outlet straight out the stern, moved the rudder servo and added some sub-deck.

 

Then there was the first battle. Well it was not much of a battle but there were bbs, balsa and boats. In early April Ronís shop picked up some work and he became to busy to battle the 18th. Larry also had tons of work to do so he was not able to get to the important boat work. There almost was not a battle but Larry managed to get one of the I-boats ready and came to Chaska for a one on one with me. It was a beautiful day for a MN April, 88 sunny but a little windy. The first sortie Larry discovered that one of his rudders was not moving, cutting down on his maneuverability. I of course took full advantage and pulled along side with my haymaker in his bow. Larry also had his stern sidemount in my bow but the range must have been off. For several seconds both of us blasted away, Larry pulled back and turned on his pump and immediately said ďOh Bob you hurt me pretty bad!Ē I also turned on my pump and had barely a trickle. So I swung my stern around and blasted Larryís stationary I-Boat several times. As the deck was settling too low for the sterns I lined up the bow sidemount and took a few more shots. Larry sank close to shore. I felt bad (Only a little) because the whole thing maybe lasted 4 minuets. Since I had on shorts and junky shoes I went in to get the stricken craft. Good thing I took off my shoes first because the bottom of the pond was very soft and I was soon up to my ankles. After Larry took his boat he needed to help pull me out of the pond. I had only shot about half of my bbs but had made some nice holes in the side of the I-boat. One of the bellows was big enough for my finger to fit in. I reloaded and help Larry patch then we went out for sortie #2. Larry kept his distance this time and did not try to hug-n-slug with me. I ended up chasing him around a lot. I noticed that I was having problems with my rudders as they would not respond and then would be fine. Larry called five and I was not able to chase him down because I kept turning at the wrong times. As we were walking back to the garage the ship carrier I have broke and the Warspite took a fall into the dirt. The ground was soft though, I only bent one rudder. I took apart the rudder servo and found a couple of broken teeth on one of the gears. I took the servo out of Mpls and replace it. While I was doing this Larry patched up some of his holes for sortie #3. The walk to the pond was getting longer in the hot sun (In MN 88 is hot) and the wind was picking up. I noticed that the Warspite was listing to port but was not sure if it was the wind (Turns out the batteries moved when I dropped it and I did not put them back). The wind was blowing so hard that Larry could hardly move going into it. Every time I turned to the listing side the whole stern deck would go under. This made for some difficult battling. I still managed to get some good passes at Larry and he sank on his five. Iím sure he would have made if the wind did not swamp him. We did not count the holes very close and Larry patched part of them but the scores were about 10-2-5 for me and 70-10-40 for Larry. I think he said he had 24 belows in sortie #1 and 16 after #3. It was a fun battle at a new pond, too bad more people could not make it. I hope my BC guns arrive soon Iíd like to get them in for one local battle before the Fray.

 

I did get my new BC guns and got them installed in the Warspite and Mpls in time for the second battle May 16th at Ronís. Jason and Murray were both there but did not bring their ships. Ron still had to put a skin on his ship and had a wiring problem that almost led to the death of an innocent soldering iron. I helped Ron get his wiring straightened out but we could do nothing about the skin today. I was ready to shoot at something so I gave Jason the Mpls and we had a 1on1 battle. Unfortunately for Jason (And me kind of) the rudder servo on the Mpls gave out (A new one) and he beached himself. I could not resist the dead target and emptied my guns into her even as the stern sat on the bottom. It was 74-6-24 I think. After I finished patching all the holes I made, Ron took the Mpls out. Again the rudder servo went out, Ron did not turn the pump on in time and she sank in the middle of the pond. Ron did bite the bullet and waded out to get her. I ran the Warspite around and dunked her in the water to test how she handles with a lot of extra weight. I did need to put a little lead on the port side to get her to sit straight when full of water. Next weekend I go to the Fray, Iím sure there will be more than two boats on the water at that battle and weíll see how the Warspite and her captain respond.

The Fray was a blast. The Warspite handled very well and did not have any breakdowns. She took a lot of damage and stayed afloat (I did sink once). After one battle Kevin B and I tried to run our ships under, I had the bow about a half inch under water but stayed afloat. This trip got me very pumped up for NATS. I came back with a short list of things that should get changed or improved. One of them was the location of my sidemounts. I managed to get this done before the next battle.

 

Our next PPB battle was on June 6th at Ronís. Ron had the Lion sheeted and ready to go, Larry came with the Tiger and Bell. and Jason brought the hull of his PE. He did not bring the supper structure and did not have his guns installed. I took a few minuets and helped him get his guns in and firing. I had to use spare parts from Ron and my tool boxes to get them going. I often think that we could build another ship just with our spare parts. When we finally hit the water Jason and I did a quick cruiser battle to get his ship tested. I took a few shots at him and let him take some shots at me. A few minuets into it Jason got stuck on shore and Ron walked over to push him off. As Jason backed up I shot him in the bow and Ron said that the bb went through the ship and hit him in the foot. Jason did not have any interior armor in his ship, so I stopped shooting at him. After Jason shot up the Mpls he pulled his ship off and I put the Warspite in. Ron had said that he did not want to get to shot up be cause he did not want to resheet again before NATS. After a few minuets Larryís Bell went to the bottom, he had the pump wired backwards. Ron and I ran around the pond until he ran out of bbs. Then I discovered a fun new game. Ron has a lot of tadpoles in his pond so I would coast into shore and try to shoot them with my haymaker. I think I killed two of them but it was hard to tell. I also took the Mpls back out and shot at the weeds coming out of the pond for campaign target practice. Ron was driving his Lion around trying to find away to make it turn better. He changed the rudders around this winter and it did not help. After this one sortie we talked in the shed about getting the Tiger ready and how Jason could improve his PE. Ron is now going to move his sidemounts a little closer to 90 degrees. That was our big battle, more of a building/testing meeting than a battle, but thatís how preNATS goes up here. June 26 is our next one at Ronís. More testing and practice before NATS. I still have a few things I want to change before NATS, need to get to that before itís too late.

 

The 26th was at the new Chaska pond. I was the only one there and just did speed testing. A new guy, Mark, came to check things out and I not been able to get a hold of him since.

 

NATS, youíll have to seen the Lars Chronicles for this.

 

Sunday August 29. Ron, Moe, Ben (Moe's nephew) and I were there. Moe had his Lutzow reedy to go for its first trip on the water and its first battle. When I got to Ron's he was patching and Moe was back home getting his transmitter. I also had to patch the Warspite and Mpls from NATS. A little after 1pm we were all ready to go. The first sortie lasted only fifteen minuets but it was action packed. Since there were only four ships we went with everyone for themselves. Ben was using the Mpls and trying to hit Moe. Both of the cruisers also plinked at the two battleships. The main action was Lion vs Warspite. Ron's stern gun was jammed (by a bb dent we found out) so I chased him and hit him hard with sidemounts and stern guns. We sat next to each other for a while trading bow sidemount shots. Ron got the worst of it and sank on his five. I also had a chance to shoot at the Mpls and she sank too. Moe made it without any holes. Then he decided to test his pump and Ben dunked the ship under water. This killed the rudder servo. It was starting to rain and we all went back to the shed. Ron counted and patched 93-12-30 or so. I showed Murray how I water proof my servos (Though I canít get it to work very well) and patched the Mpls 12-1-6 or so. Ron got his stern gun fixed and just as we were all getting done the rain stopped and the sun came out. At the start of the 2nd sortie Ron discovered that one of his props was not spinning but stayed in to battle. He sank a few minuets into the sortie; I don't think we counted him. I chased Moe and Ben around and let them practice with the stern guns. I also let them know not to get next to a haymaker. Moe got a piece of wire stuck in his pump outlet and pulled his ship before it sank. Ben and I reloaded and chased around some more. The Mpls bit the dust again after Ben was out of bbs. I did not count the Mpls again but it had several large holes in it. I managed to line up at the step deck as the ship went under and got off several good shots with the bow up in the air. We found an exit hole on the Lion back at the shop and found several gaps in Ronís interior armor that was causing his dents in the gun mags. We also found out that Moe did not have a screen on his pump, a good thing to have. Moe had 20-2-5 or so the Warspite had 42-8-12 or so. Sounds like Ben will be picking up a ship this year and will hopefully have it done next spring.

 

Monday 9-6-04 A Labor Day battle, keeps me away from the Labor of my new house. Ron was busy this weekend but Larry and I were free so we thought a 1on1 at the Roseville pond would be fun. I called Paul and found out he was free also and almost had his ship together. Paul came over to my new ship yard at 9am and we started patching the damage on my ships and putting his back together. By noon we were in the car and on the way to the pond. I spent the trip telling Paul about NATS and trying to get him the commit to going next year. We got to the pond and cleared some weeds off the shore so we could walk around and started getting the ships ready. Larry showed up a little latter and we were ready to hit the water. Until, Paul found a bad bb in one of his guns and found major leaks in his sheeting. So he loaded up the Mpls to use her in sortie 1. But, we found out that the rudder did not work. I did remember that this is the original rudder servo in this ship. It is at the point now that I need to hit the motor to break off the rust inside of it so it will work. But I never have any problems when it gets wet, unlike all my other rudder servos. Problem fixed let the battle begin. As soon as I hit the water I lost the rudder on Warspite and spent the rest of the sortie going in circles trying to get my guns on people. Larry and Paul were nice enough to get to close to me a few times and get shot. Paul was soon out of bbs and I saw Larry drive up on to the rocks next to shore. The Bell was so high on one rock the stern went under and she sank. I told Larry that he finds a different way to sink every battle. He walked over to the Bell and was going to put her back in the water. In the mean time I was trying to back into the Mpls with my haymaker so I did not see the smoke coming from the stacks of the Bell. Turns out Larry had a little fire in his ship (Not the first time). Paul and I pulled the ships off the water and followed Larry up the hill. Paul started to fix the leaks in his ship while I worked the bbs out of his gun so he could use his ship in sortie 2. I replaced the servo on the Warspite and loaded the Mpls back up. While I was trying to see how Iím going to get a water tight box in for my rudder servos Larry showed me his melted wires on his radio box. Larry has all of his wires on screws going into his radio box. Turns out he had a lose nut (inside his radio box, not in his head) that fell on the +/- screws and shorted out the system. A one in a million shot I said. Just another reason to make all of your connections soldered. Paul had the Honolulu ready to go and Larry took out the Mpls for sortie 2. Because Paul still had leaks all over he stayed semi-beached on the rocks. I made him feel better by parking behind him and letting him shoot me a few times. I did manage to use my rudder this time and the Mpls sank. I took her out of the water and put her back down so I could shoot at her some more. To my surprise she did not sink right away. Larry had turned the pump off while shooting and forgot to turn it back on. He did this one other time in sortie 3; itís easy to do with the gun/pump set up. I did go over were Paul was and managed to slide in-between the rocks and get 20+ holes in him. He backed off the rocks to get away and almost sank before he beached himself again. The Honolulu did not go out in sortie 3 but Mpls and Warspite did. Paul ran the big ship and Larry ran Mpls again. The other rudder servo in the Warspite went out and Paul had to turn in a circle to shoot. The Mpls sank twice I believe, at one time it was just about under when Larry stopped and it pumped out, I was quite surprised. The second time it sank I dumped it out and put the stern under the water next to the Warspite and let Larry fill her full of holes. Scores were counted (Kind of) Honolulu 5-1-15, Bell 33-8-22, Mpls 52-8-18, Warspite 117-11-16.

 

Ron (Lion), Murray (Lutzow), Ben (Mpls) and I (Warspite) battled on Sunday. We spent the first part of the day helping Ron get the Lion back together. Ben brought a foam insulation target ship with a motor and rudder. We used it for target practice in between sorties. Ron and I started the first sortie trading bow sidemounts. My strens opened up a quarter size hole in his bow. I also opened up a dime size hole below the water line with my haymaker. After Ron sank I chased Ben and Murray around the pond. Ben took over the Lutzow and Ron took the Mpls for sortie #3 & 4. The Mpls sank in sortie 3. The Lutzow took alot of damage and managed to stay afloat. After the battle we talked with Ben about his own ship he is going to get this winter. Maybe we can make it out one more time this year. Warspite 34-3-7, Mpls 63-7-12, Lutzow 71-6-13, Lion 83-10-9.

10/24/04 Sunday in Chanhassen (By my new house!). Larry, Andy, Grant and I showed up. Larry had the Bell, all rewired from the fire last time, Andy had his I-boat and Grant ran my Mpls. It was a long walk to the pond. When we got there we found that someone was using the archery range, right where we wanted to battle. I have never seen anyone out there before. Well, deer season does start in a week or two so bad timing for us. We ended up using a different part of the shoreline, had to knock down a few weeds but it worked out ok.

 

First sortie Andy lost power just as he got in the water and pulled out. The Mpls has developed a lose switch since my trip back from the Fray, so Grant had to play with the trim tab to get it to go forward, hey it needs lots of work! So it was me vs everyone. Since I did not feel like working on Mpls anymore I shot at her very little to start with. This meant Larry got the most of my bbs. I shot all of my sidemounts and a few sterns into him and he sank right next to shore. I pulled out his boat (The water was cold). I let Grant take shoots at me since he was having a hard time driving Mpls around and did not get into the action too much. Right after I shot the last of my bbs at Grant Andy got back on the water. I played bang bang with him, he really shot at me, and then we all went back to reload. Larry patched his 41-14-20 (Sink) and the rest of us reloaded. Before we started I told Grant that we should sink his brother, he said ok. So I went after Andy and Grant decided to still shoot at me, brothersÖ Andyís bow sidemount is on his starboard side, my haymaker is on the port side. Andy tried to chase me with his bow sidemount. I emptied my haymaker and Andy sank about 20í from shore and 40í from us. I had my hip wadders on and walked out to get his ship, the water was only waist deep and the wadders did not have any holes in them. We found two very large holes blasted into Andyís side below the water line and one good hole right at the waterline. I put him back on shore as a shore battery and went after Larry. Both of us traded sidemounts and Grant got lined up really well on me blasting away part of my latest balsa patch (This was over the large hole Finster shot in me with his CA at the Fray). We all pulled out, I was pumping pretty good by now. Andy patched the big holes and we went out again. By this time our deer hunter had left so we moved to the nicer shoreline. Things did not go so well. Andy sank driving over to the new place. After a few minuets of battle Larry sank. I picked him out of the water and he sank again. This happened several times as Larry tried to use up his bbs. During this Andy was back out so I came over to shoot him up. He sank next to shore and I started to chase Grant. This is when my pump clogged and I sank. Grant & I still had bbs so I unclogged and went out again. More gung in the pump another sink, then another. I have a lot of balsa coming off in big chunks. Not a good thing for the pump. While I was chasing Grant, Larry was shooting me with his shore battery, I think Andy did too. When we were all out of bbs we counted, packed up and went home. Larry thought the pond would be good for a regional but NATS might be a stretch. Scores were Larry 22-3-33 (Sink) Andy 41-4-49 (Sink) Grant 68-0-1 Bob 94-9-15 (Sink, stupid pump) Just remember that Grant was the last one on the water and only one not to sink.

 

12/5/04 Building meeting at Ronís shop. Ben and Murray were both there when I arrived at noon. Ron had started to take the skin off of the Lion. He plans on getting new mags and barrels to replace the dented ones he has, but no other major work this winter. He says heíd like to get the Brooklyn he has up and running. Murray was just looking without a ship and Ben was thinking about what ship he should get. We all looked at the new plug Ron is making for Charlie. The Iron Duke is just missing the casement deck and sheíll be off to Florida. Ron even made the bilge keels in the hull this time. I was there to cut of some water channeling. I thought using Ronís air sander would be the easiest but it turns out a hammer and chisel worked the best. The air sander is just too big to fit in the ship. Curly and his two boys came in about 2pm, a small surprise. Curly was in the middle of sheeting the Posen. I did not look\ to close to see if his gun rework that started last winter was done yet. He did leave with a sheeted ship that just needed some paint. Lars, Andy and Grant made it about 2:30. Andy ripped off his hull skin and Larry and Grant made a to do list for their warships. They also had their two LSTs along. Looks like the hulls are cut and the have radios, motors, props, just need to get them all together. No Tiger was sited; I have heard it has headed southÖ After I got the water channeling out I had time to get the let over glue from my hull skin off. Before next meeting I hope to have the remaining water channeling sealed. I also plan on rewiring the Mpls this winter. Along with that I want to make a new deck for the CVL so she is not as tippy. Ron seams to think that he is getting a Liberty hull or two that will also need work.