The small-scale sailboats of Miniature Harken have been providing “yachtsmen” with the experience of navigating the high seas, albeit on a somewhat smaller scale, with the support and miniature aluminum extrusions of Minalex. Founder and third generation “ship builder” Dean Derusha, has operated this “miniature shipyard” for almost forty years and since 1996, has trusted Minalex to provide parts of the highest quality and most precise tolerances.
Licensed by international sailboat equipment solutions supplier, Harken to recreate sailboat components at a fraction of their real-world size, Michigan-based Miniature Harken currently offers thirty-eight different models, and will custom-build according to the customer’s specifications. Often, these requests come from former owners of full-sized vessels, often as large as 80 feet in length, who want to preserve their connection with their past experiences and memories. Sizes of the miniature remote controlled sailboats generally range from one to ten feet; some can be built in larger dimensions. To add an even further touch of realism, the company utilizes 3D scanning technology to create full-color printed “people” that can be placed on the decks of these model yachts, so a boat owner can still go for a sail with his family, so to speak.
Derusha states, “I don’t know of anyone who builds miniature sailing with the same level of precision and exacting detail that we do…or as cost efficiently. We can spend hours refining a single part to accurately replicate the full size original. Thanks to the miniature extrusions of Minalex, the time and cost required to build them can be significantly reduced.”
The various Miniature Harken models are lightweight, remote-control racing vessels, so weight is a critical factor, and aluminum is the ideal solution. Minalex currently supplies a variety of aluminum extrusions, many of which are very complex and cannot be made at such a reduced scale in any other way. Derusha adds, “The people at Minalex have been wonderfully supportive in making our ideas happen. They even provided CAD support, and developed the final technical drawings from rough sketches to perfect the production of the final extruded parts.”
The first parts Minalex produced were toe rails, which were applied where the hull and deck meet to cap and protect the raw fiberglass edge. Two sizes of toe rails were produced. The most recent extrusions have been mast-related, including an extrusion tube with a slot that is glued to a tapered mast. The two sizes currently produced are for control and adjustment of the sails. These extruded masts can be as short as one foot and up to twelve feet, with custom lengths and profiles also available. To withstand the harsh marine environment, the aluminum extrusions are anodized as part of the finishing process, which further strengthens the parts, while providing salt water protection.
“Working with Miniature Harken for more than twenty years has been extremely rewarding,” states Michael Casey, Vice President, Sales and Planning at Minalex. “Whenever we’re invited to participate early in the design process, we always achieve a better finished part as we can make recommendations to positively influence both quality and performance. Seeing our finished parts and how they perform on their amazingly detailed sailing reproductions is truly rewarding.”
Miniature Marine is currently experiencing a boat-building boom. To satisfy the demand, the company recently expanded its facility to accommodate a growing parts inventory and house additional construction and assembly functions. Derusha concludes, “We’re excited for the future and look forward to continuing to partner with Minalex. I’m sure that whatever challenges and opportunities we face, Minalex will be there to help us solve them.”