Ride of the Week: A model PT-588 Boat | SierraSun.com

Ride of the Week: A model PT-588 Boat

Emma GarrardSierra Sun
Photos by Emma Garrard/Illustration by Amy Edgett
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The Ride: A model PT-588 BoatThe Owner: Alan Zulberti, San FranciscoWhat is the scale of the model boat?One sixteenth. The original boat is 80 feet, the model is 5 feet. What is the history of PT boats?The high speed boats were originally built in the 1930s. After Pearl Harbor they were heavily armed and sent to the South Pacific. They were extremely effective against the Japanese in World War II. Most of them were destroyed after World War II.What powers the boat?It was a lithium ion battery. It weighs about three pounds.What is the engine sound?The sound is a sound board made from the sound of the Thunderbird. Where do you get the sound of three big V12 engines when there are no PT boats in operation? I found out the Thunderbird has a P51 Mustang Engine that sounds virtually identical to (a PT engine.) Now its a product and you can actually buy this sound board. Tell me about the guns on the boat.The cannon on the stern is the only one I didnt build. The Bofors 40 mm has got to have over 400 brass parts. The torpedoes are launchable and they have two motors and 7000 rpm each. They will do the length of an Olympic size swimming pool in under 11 seconds. The radar tower has over 125 brass parts. It also has a smoke generator on it. When they knew they were under attack they would fire off a smoke generator to disguise their retreat. How do you control the boat?It has a 28 channel radio. Its a German radio made by a Japanese company in Taiwan and it has a video camera. Whats it like to drive?It handles very well. Its very responsive for the size. Its very predictable. How long did it take to build?Three-and-a-half years. You spend almost as much time doing research as you do building the model. It takes a tremendous amount of research. Ive never seen a real one.What does it take to build a model boat?It takes a combination of several talents: Model-making talents and electrical engineering, the torpedoes require a fair amount of engineering and creativity. What made you want to build this type of boat in particular?When I was about 10 or 12 years old I read a book about the famous PT boats of World War II and I think a 10 year old is pretty impressionable. Why do you like making model boats?Its complicated. Its a challenge. Challenge is the mother of motivation. It takes time and persistence but the results really reflect what you put into it.Has it received any recognition?It received best of show at the San Francisco Yacht Club in February. I am just overwhelmed. I get emails, calls asked to give presentations. Its more than just a toy. Do you have any other projects?I am in the process of building the SS Tahoe. I like boats that have a history and the Tahoe fits in that category.

Emma Garrard can be reached at egarrard@sierrasun.com