Welcome to Steve's Shipyard


The Bray Fray Latte

by Steve Reichenbach

The cool wisp of early October air greeted battlers from Texas, Oklahoma, Arkansas and Minnesota. Kevin Bray’s place was the destination for battlers at a fun fall event. Admiral Bob was first to arrive, with Warspite and Minneapolis in tow. Next up was me and Brian Lamb with Maryland, Houston, and the Frog. We pulled up with an RV in tow, which Kevin helped us park a few feet from the traditional pit area – his garage. By the time Barnett’s famous ice cream came up, Jeff Bryan Finster arrived. Dinner at the local A&W included root beer floats, fish, and burgers – and a perfect ship’s bell to ring on the way out.

For those of you who are new to the hobby, or have not had the opportunity to attend “a Fray”, you are missing a huge treat. For many years now, Kevin has hosted the best events west of the Mississippi. In fact, with so many Texans showing up, it’s more like far north-east Texas than north-west Arkansas. Kevin has always been a super host, from the first Fray in Owasso, to events in Tulsa and now Arkansas. Imagine always having a garage to pit in, a place to sleep, CO2, and even a custom-built battle pond! Kevin does a lot to make the hobby special, and we all owe him a huge THANKS!

After dinner, I was busy hacking up my stern guns to replace the copper magazines with flex mags. A scale was produced, and we found that flex mags are 0.03 pounds lighter than unprotected copper. Pat arrived the next morning, and mentioned that in addition, it’s less weight up high, which means improved stability. Of course, I like the free access to the tee, to remove any obstructions with a drill bit. Soon, flex mags appeared on the Frog, and later on one of the Moltke guns.

As my teenage daughter would say…. Flex mags ROCK!

Later that night, Jeff Lide arrived with a Jap cruiser. Just like my ship’s battery, Jeff is a little off-center. Shortly after he arrived, we were passing around a 1/144 scale Elvis, completely detailed with leather jacket and chest hair. The next morning, Jeff was wired, with his “battle juices flowing”, pontificating on the benefits of keeping your CO2 bottle warm (don’t try this at home, kids!)

With the cool morning air, Bob shared his cold climate tweaking skills learned from Port Polar Bear. The Houston was ready to go, so while others were getting ships ready, Jeff and Bob and I got started with Battle 1. Sorties 1 and 3 were a three-for-all, with the 2nd sortie being a one-on-one for Jeff and Bob. In the end, the US cruiser proved it’s crusty and well experienced.


Minneapolis 46-0-0 = 460

Sakawa 61-3-2 = 785

Houston (Steve) 30-13-3 = 775

The next Saturday morning battle saw the heavy hitters on the water. The water was thick and brown, just like coffee. Pump streams turned white NATS shirts into beige. Pat called “30 second moss” about 3 times each sortie, and we all learned some new vocabulary.


Leafenbow (adjective) – A condition where the forward speed of the ship is slowed by a large group of leaves gathered on the bow of the ship. Sounds like a medical condition that causes irritation.

Mecca (verb) – This is what a Japanese captain does. For example, “I will mecca zee enemy bow before zee rising sun!”

Screwazeedown (verb) – What a German captain does when the deck seal needs to be fastened securely.

Rippedoutait (adjective) – Describes a component that the captain didn’t like at all, for example a regulator that misbehaved was “rippedoutait”.

Frog (noun) – A ship that shoots at any other boat when it might seem fun to do so. Also a captain who can’t decide what fleet to be on, even during the battle. A pirate.

Massaft (adjective) – Condition where a boat changes direction from reverse to forward, and the muddy water inside suddenly shifts towards the stern.

Captain Nippy (noun) – Not sure where this really came from, but Jeff really enjoyed this name in the cool morning air.

Captain Cosmoline (noun) – Bryan Finster, or any other captain who collects guns that are heavily coated with a preservative.

Big Bobber (noun) – A device used to measure the depth of a pond. Attach a heavy sinker to a fishing line, then a “big bobber” every foot for 6 feet from the sinker. Cast into the water, and measure the depth.

The unusual low rainfall in the area resulted in record low water levels for this fall’s Fray. The pond was an unusual red red RED color, from the clay in the bottom of the pond. What is usually a rewarding sink, with the added pleasure of watching the other guy get his shorts wet, was reduced to muddy shirts and wet socks. As pump streams lit up, the white NATS shirts began to turn beige with the muddy water spraying out of pump outlets. Bob was the first in the water, to retrieve the Warspite off the bottom; a victim of a three-way. Battle 2 ended after 2 sorties, with Jeff coming in pretty late.


Warspite 16-5-11

Nagato 45-18-20

Houston (Pat) 14-2-8

Sakawa 1-0-0

With 5 sorties under our belts, Pat got out some of the best meat a German can make. Beef patties, Brats, Sausage and Spicy Sausage were cooked on the grill, and served with buns, fixins, chips, drinks, and brownies. The group sat in the most excellent weather, and really enjoyed one of the best picnics ever. After lunch, conversation drifted to NATS video, football, guns, campaign, and other topics.

The 3rd battle was the first real team action. Bob, Jeff and me took on Kevin’s resurrected Moltke and Pat’s powerful Houston. Bob and Kevin ended up trading sidemounts most of the time. They enjoyed it so much, they followed up the battle with a one-on-one.

Battle 4 started with me and Jeff vs. Bob and Pat. In the first sortie, Bob and Pat had their way with us, and my Houston got off the water with a lot of holes. Sortie 2 saw a 3-way, with lots of carnage. In the 3rd sortie, Brian Lamb got his refinished Dupliex back on the water.

Brian’s Frog had experienced a nasty fall from a shelf to the garage concrete floor. Last I saw her, the Frog was nearly split in two by the fall, and was really a mess. After some repair work, Brian had her back together again, and in fine shape with a new hull skin. I suppose the new light grey skin looked quite appetizing, but being French, nobody could figure out what team Brian should be on. In the end, it was Allies vs Axis vs the Frog. Pat’s Houston has “nasty guns” that nicely perforated the Frog’s new hull skin.

In sortie 4, the Houston went back in for more despite missing a prop blade. As darkness approached, the Frog and Houston went stern-to-stern. Kevin’s ducks looked on, patiently waiting to reclaim the pond for the night.


Houston (Pat) 72-9-2

Warspite 60-1-0

Sakawa 50-1-1

Houston (Steve) 40-9-2

Moltke 26-9-21

To round off the day, Bob treated Bryan to a one-on-one. The Warspite nicely perforated the Nagato several times. The Nagato’s stern guns found their mark, as Bob sank with a clogged pump inlet.

Nagato 95-18-20

Warspite 21-3-8

That night, the group went to Calahans for steak and good conversation. Another few hours in the garage, and it was the end of a perfect day.

To celebrate Bryan Finster’s birthday, Sunday morning was a flurry of battle activity, as captains worked to get in as much battling as possible before noon departures. Bryan returned with the Agano, a small Jap cruiser with excellent stern guns. In the largest battle of the weekend, six ships hit the water.

The weekend was a huge encouragement for me, and a great time for all. Kevin is a great guy for letting us all invade like we did. It was revitalizing for me to get a boat on the water again after several months. We had a great time, with great folks. As soon as we find a place, I’m looking forward to hosting an event in Texas!

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