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1920's Hicks Marine Gas Engine

1920's Hicks Marine Gas Engine
Patrick Matthews
Album created by
Patrick Matthews
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Fans of San Francisco's "Monterey Clipper" fishing boats know that most were originally powered by Hicks single cylinder gas engines. Since the engine was visible in the semi-enclosed wheelhouse, it becomes a necessary but challenging feature in a model. 
No complete plans have been published for the Hicks, but I was able to photograph a complete engine's worth of original part blue prints at the library of the San Francisco Maritime Park. This 1:8 scale model was then built in CAD, and most parts were 3d-printed in plastic. Most of the brass and bronze parts were investment cast using 3d-printed waxes. Other parts were machined or photoetched from brass and stainless steel.
The model appeared on the cover of the Summer 2017 "Ships in Scale". Search Youtube for "Yuba Hicks" to see the engine's animated operation and authentic sound.


Fantastic model! Thanks for the memories. I've known a Hicks or three over the years, but, sadly, that was back when I was too young to really foresee the day when there wouldn't be any of the old timers left who knew these "one lung-ers" like the back of their hand. I remember in the early 'seventies I had a friend berthed next to me with a 34' Monterey (a large one) with a Hicks in her. (He'd been given the boat for free. Nobody else wanted it.) We'd lean back against the side of the hull to get some purchase and get the flywheel spinning with our foot to start her up! Another boat, a little 1923 Anderson and Christofani-built scow sloop, Squarehead, built for pleasure use, was restored by Ned Martin, the harbormaster at Pelican Harbor in Sausalito, CA, and had a brand new Hicks installed. That Hicks came from the legendary ship-breaker, Donny Arques in Sausalito. He had it in his warehouse for decades, still in its original crate, and gave it to Ned to put in the boat so it would "have a home." I don't know now whatever happened to those boats, though. Back then, nobody really appreciated them much. ("Too big. Too heavy. Too dangerous. Too old.") All the old working boats were repowered with diesels and their old "one lung-ers" went to the scrap yard.


There was nothing quite so evocative of the San Francisco Bay that once was, and never will be again, as the "ka-thunk, ka-thunk, ka-thunk, ka-thunk" of a Hicks pushing a Monterey towards the Gate as dawn was breaking over the Berkeley hills. Nostalgia ain't what it used to be! :D 

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An incredible example of outstanding craftsmanship......a pleasure to review the photos. Thanx for sharing...Moab

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On 12/21/2019 at 11:32 AM, Bob Cleek said:

Fantastic model! Thanks for the memories....

Thanks for YOUR comments, Bob. By any chance was that big 34 footer "St. Erina"? She's seen some hard times since then. 

News on that, and hundreds more photos, at my Monterey Clipper site: https://montereyclippers.wordpress.com/



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Don't recall her name, if she even had one at that point. We just called her "the Monterey." She'd had her fishing gear stripped off of her and was basically just a hull and pilothouse with the Hicks sitting in her. MY buddy got her for nothing, just something to play around with. He was always doing that with old boats. Back in the early seventies, if you were around the harbors regularly, there were boats to be had that nobody else wanted.

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  • Image Comments

    • Dear Dmitry, I am new to this forum and I am trying to find information relating to a model I have. But first, I would like to say how impressive your beautiful model is. If you could spare the time, would you be kind enough to suggest how I might identify my clockwork steam torpedo boat - I have no idea whether it is historically accurate or simply an old (and well used) plaything. Unfortunately the deckhouse roof and funnel are missing, but this may have been due to these being removeable to allow access to wind the clockwork mechanism. The torpedo fires, as does the deck gun, and the open bridge allows access to the clockwork motor start lever, and ship steering via the wheel. Turn the wheel clockwise and the boat steers to port. Any information or guidance would be greatly appreciated. Kind regards, Stephen

    • Nicely done, so different than my version, fun to see.
    • What a great build. Nice work!!
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