|Merlin Montgomery at the outboard and|
Cecil Padfield stood by with pike pole.
Carpenters aboard SLO-MO 10
Seattle Army Terminal.
Click to enlarge.
Original photo back stamped 15 July 1956,
from the archives of S.P.H.S.©
Thousands of hydroplane participants have heard of one SLO-MO but this particular one was only known by a few people in the Seattle Army Terminal.
It was a craft made up of four old hot-water tanks, about 60-gallon capacity each, planked over with lumber and powered by an outboard motor.
Horsepower of this SLO-MO: 10.
Purpose: To transport her crew safely around Elliott Bay, while the men aboard checked the condition of the pilings and the fender logs that took the brunt of the shock when huge transports slid in at the piers.
Skipper of this informal SLO-MO was Merlin F. Montgomery, carpenter in the engineering division, who had been with the Seattle Army Terminal since 1950.
"It's nice work," said Montgomery. "Oh, it gets kind of miserable in the winter, but it's all right."
It must be more than that, because Montgomery knew just how to employ his spare time out of hunting season––he went salt-water fishing.
Poling about among the pilings with Merlin was his first Mate, Cecil A. Padfield, who had worked as a carpenter at Fort Lawton and the Naval Ammunition Depot.
The SLO-MO wasn't always as fancy as she was at this time. Her predecessors were mere logs, lashed together and powered by a similar motor.
When pilings need replacement, Montgomery and Padfield advised their superiors, who called in a contractor.
When the horizontal fender logs needed replacement, the two men did the work themselves. Those were the logs that took the most punishment from the hulls of the big ships.
Cedar fender logs lasted about 10 years; fir, five or six.
Montgomery operated the motor of the SLO-MO as the men went about their daily chores. They towed new fender logs from a nearby pier when needed, drilled 2-inch holes, inserted a ferrule, ran through a 40-ft cable and attached a block of concrete.
Logs weren't drilled before being placed in the water, or they wouldn't be balanced. About 200 of them were in use at the Seattle Army Terminal.
The two men had electric drills, bars, wrenches and life jackets.
Looking for trouble wasn't half as bothersome as finding it. In emergencies, the men went out regardless of weather. Their toughest spots were at the end of piers, where there was the most wind and motion.
Men of humor, Montgomery and Padfield knew how to salute an exciting sport.
They called their craft the SLO-MO in affectionate fun, for obvious reasons.
Research from The Seattle Times, 15 July 1956.