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Concrete ships were a new item when Palo Alto and her sisters were built. There had been concrete lighters & barges for some 70 years prior, but concrete seagoing ships were a new innovation brought on by the steel shortage of WWI.
A special light weight concrete was developed for these ships. Construction was accomplished by first building a wooden form of the hull, bulkheads & deck, both inside and out, then fitting it with a complex lattice of iron rebar’s and steel inserts for every fitting. Then the hull was poured as a single piece of concrete.This made for a very durable hull; most of these ships are still in existence today. San Pasqual was a hotel of Cuba’s north coast and another sister is part of a floating breakwater at a Pacific North west lumber mill. Most of the rest either parts of breakwaters orderelict hulks rotting in backwaters around the U.S. An interesting account of this construction method can be found at:
SS Palo Alto, EFC Design 1100, was originally designed as a dry cargo ship but was then redesigned as a tanker, but the boilers & engines remained in their amidships positions. She was built by the San Francisco Shipbuilding Company in Oakland, California. She was launched on 29 May 1919, too late to see service in the war. Her sister ship was the SS Peralta.
She was mothballed in Oakland until 1929, when she was bought by the Seacliff Amusement Corporation and towed to Seacliff State Beach in Aptos, California. A pier was built leading to the ship, and she was sunk a few feet in the water so her keel rested on the bottom. There she was refitted as an amusement ship, with two large barn like structures erected on the fore & aft main decks. Amenities including a dance floor, a swimming pool, a café, and some say, a gambling hall.
Two years later after a storm the ship cracked at the midsection. She was stripped of her fittings and left as a fishing pier. Eventually she deteriorated to the point where she was unsafe for even this use and was closed to the public. Today she remains at Seacliff Beach and serves as an artificial reef for marine life.
A Google search will turn up a lot more info on these interesting ships.
We recommend the very excellent Colourcoats paints by White Ensign Models.
The colors given for Palo Alto are my best guess based on normal merchant ship painting practice. The one black & white photo of Palo Alto I am aware of shows the conventional black hull with white upper works and what is probably a varnished mahogany wheelhouse. The forecastle, main deck,& O-1 superstructure decks were concrete, so may have been gray instead of the primer red shown on the color sheet.(this sheet also shows the forecastle deck wood tan. That is my error, it should be the same color as the main deck. )
The top of the rear deck house, boat deck & upper bridge deck were wood.
LOA 434.3 ft
Beam 54 ft
Designed Speed 10 1/2 knots
Dead weight tonnage 7500 tons
WHAT’S IN THE BOX:
Cast resin waterline hull, approx. 7.4” long
Flat resin cast Superstructure parts
Small resin parts cast on sprues
2 resin cast masts with solid brass rod cores
Brass rod for cargo booms
Plastic strip for catwalk decks
Brass photo etch sheet of detail parts
Color painting guide
Detailed assembly instruction sheets