The Pink Lady
The Hawaii Kai III was owned by Edgar Kaiser, a successful industrialist and the son of Henry Kaiser who was successful building the Liberty ships during World War II, turning out a ship every 45 days as well as having one of his crews build a Liberty ship in a little over four days, a record that will probably never be beat. He was successful in a number of enterprises, including building his own cars which were known for their safety features. The Hawaii Kai III was one of the finest race boats of the 1950s.
The Hawaii Kai III used the relatively new revolutionary design by Ted Jones which made the boats faster, easier to drive, and safer than their predecessors. These boats still remained dangerous to drive until the early 80s when the drivers were encapsulated, using canopies for F-16s that were rejected by the Air Force. Even though these boats were 30 feet long and 12 feet wide, they theoretically only touched the water on the rear part of each sponson about the size of a man's handkerchief and the propeller, they were able to get their great speed of roughly 185 mph on the straightaways from the boat resting on a cushion of air between the sponsons. Here are some stats from two of its more successful years:
Owner - Edgar Kaiser (Oakland)
Designer - Ted Jones
Builder - Les Staudacher
Length - 30ft
Beam - 12ft 3in
Hull - 3 pointer
Colours - coral pink & cream [also described as "tropical rose and coral mist"], no trim on tail fin
Detail - metal clad plywood
Weight - 6,600
Power - V12 Allison
Drivers - Howard Gidovlenko & Jack Regas
Winner of Sahara Cup & Rogers Memorial Trophy
Detail - Mobil horse on tail; plus Hula Girl, trim on tail fin
Power - V12 Rolls-Royce Merlin
Driver - Jack Regas
Winner of Silver Cup; Roger's Memorial; Sahara Cup; & Madison Cup
Won the Nat'l Championship
Set the World's (kilometer) Record - 195.32 mph.
Between 1956 and 1960, the Hawaii Kai III won 10 races and set numerous speed and endurance records that stood for years. She is fondly remembered for her sentimental victory in the APBA (American Power Boat Association) Gold Cup race in 1958. For boat racing, winning the Gold Cup is similar to a racer winning the Indy 500 or the Monaco Grand Prix.
Why pink? Edgar had the boat painted in that color in honor of his father as it was his father's favorite color.
I have always loved these boats, unfortunately, models of them are very rare, I have seen one styrene model in 1/25 and there are some 1/48 boats made by CraftMasters from resin and white metal. The only option left for some static models is to scratch build them. I found some very nice free radio control plans here (http://www.astecmodels.co.uk/plans.htm) which I reduced down to 1/24 scale.
I have a small forest of balsa wood, but most of it is fairly hard. I bought some contest grade wood from SIG (http://www.sigmfg.com/). I have bought supplies from them since the early 80s and I still think they have some of the best balsa wood. The contest grade wood is a little more expensive per sheet, but I found it's well worth it for the ease of cutting the parts out and bending the wood over the top of the boat. I bought some 1/16 and 1/32 thick sheets 3 inches wide which was just slightly too narrow for the bottom, four inch-wide sheets would have been better.
I cut out the bottom of the boat and ended up having to glue on roughly a 1/8 inch strip of wood so it was wide enough. I pinned the bottom of the boat down so it would stay flat while the four rear bulkheads were drying. When gluing the front four bulkheads in position on the sides, I kept measuring over and over again on all four corners and crosswise like an X to make sure it stayed completely square, if you don't, your boat will be twisted.
I mostly use Elmer's glue (white glue), it is really cheap and easy to clean up with water, the only downside is it does add a lot of building time since it takes a while to completely dry. With superglue, you could probably build up the entire boat in one or two sessions, I have some bad reactions to that glue unfortunately.
The plans show 1/8 inch wide stringers for the top, I used 1/16 inch square stringers, it worked, but next time I think I will use two side-by-side. I cut the middle former for the nose like the plans, next time I will make the part between the second and third bulkhead larger, I didn't need to cut it that way since I am not putting any radio gear in this. I ended up breaking it and then glued in a large rectangular piece of wood.
I glued on the rear lower sides of the body and also the bottom of the sponsons. Some of these parts work better if you cut them slightly oversized and then sand down to the correct size, that's a lot easier than cutting them slightly small and starting over. The front corner of the sponsons seemed pretty delicate, I ended up gluing in a few layers of scrap balsa and then trimming and sanding them to shape. That will give more area for the front sides and tops of the sponsons to glue on to.
I ended up gluing a couple layers all the way across the front and sanding them down to give more area for the top decking to glue on to, it will also make that area solid for the final sanding to shape.
I glued the back half of the top decking into place and pinned everything. I should have stopped there, but everything was going along so nicely, I tried to glue the front half down. Big mistake. It took a lot of work to get the front down while keeping the back down, ended up using some clamps in the front.
Here I have the top decking on both sides and the middle front glued in place.
There's a lot more information on the net on these early boats than just a few years ago, but it's still very hard finding detail photos. I have only found a couple photos of a instrument panel and the top part of the seat of some restored boats, so with some of the details, I will just have to apply some artistic license.
I built two three sided boxes using the cockpit opening to determine the size, I then glued them in place on each side of the bulkhead. After the glue dried, I cut away the bulkhead between the boxes and then scraped with a dull #10 blade to smooth it out. I then applied one layer of black pantyhose with Elmer's glue thinned around 50/50 with water. I put a couple coats on a few minutes apart on the wood first so it would soak in, then I laid a piece on the front and back of the box, in the middle I tried using one large piece but it would've been better using three pieces.
The pantyhose and glue can be used like fiberglass cloth and epoxy, not as strong, but a whole lot easier to use without the smell of epoxy and without the tiny little glass fibers from the fiberglass cloth getting into everything. That's what I will use to cover the entire boat, probably with two layers to give it a nice smooth finish and a hard shell to protect the soft balsa wood.
Elmer's glue dries clear and since I didn't put more coats of glue on to fill the fabric, the texture ends up reflecting just enough light to be interesting. I should have put at least another layer of glue around the top edges which would have made it easier to cut off, the fabric kept getting caught on the knife.
I found out it was a lot easier to use masking tape to hold the parts down while they dried instead of all of the pins.
Here you can see the opening for the cockpit and engine. This boat will have a cowling over the engine which wasn't used very often in the 60s, and also over the cockpit which they all had.
I glued the rear sides of both sponsons on, the wood didn't want to bend around the front very well, I ended up breaking the front of one side and both fronts didn't stay tight while the glue was drying. An easy problem to fix. It would've been a lot easier if I would have wet the wood down first and taped it into position while it dried which would've helped form it around the front and taken some of the stresses out of the sheeting.