Ray Hammar shows off his “steampunk tank zombie killer” during the Brass Screw Confederacy steampunk festival in Port Townsend on Saturday. (Jesse Major/Peninsula Daily News)

Ray Hammar shows off his “steampunk tank zombie killer” during the Brass Screw Confederacy steampunk festival in Port Townsend on Saturday. (Jesse Major/Peninsula Daily News)

Steam propels Port Townsend festival back to the Victorian era

PORT TOWNSEND — Victorian-era fashion and art inspired by industry took over the downtown streets of Port Townsend this weekend during the fifth annual Brass Screw Confederacy.

The three-day event, which began Friday, celebrates steampunk, a growing trend that evokes the late 19th century with elements of fashion, eccentric behavior and science fiction.

Last year’s festival inspired Port Orchard artist Ray Hammar to create what he called a “steampunk tank zombie killer.”

The tank was on display on Water Street in Port Townsend on Saturday.

Hammar allowed people to climb inside to get a closer look.

“I came to this steampunk festival last year and didn’t know what steampunk was,” the industrial artist said.

“Then, the very next day, I started to build it [the tank].”

Hammar has an open studio called Blue Collar Artwork in Bremerton where anyone can watch him work.

Hammar said he didn’t draw inspiration from anything specifically but that he enjoyed the industrial influence of steampunk.

“After the steampunk festival, I went to my shop wanting to make something and I saw the propane tank sitting there,” he said.

“Then I thought, ‘Oh my gosh — car.’ ”

The vehicle, fashioned out of a large, rusty propane tank, features a working flamethrower, air cannon, light gun and water cannon.

Every part of the tank is recycled — except for the hose on the flamethrower.

It runs on a Harley-Davidson installed by students at Alchemy Industrial Arts on Bainbridge Island.

The tank is drivable, but stopping would be difficult. Hammar didn’t install the brakes in time to display it at the festival.

He’s worked on the vehicle over the past year. He put in many hours of work during the first 20 days after last year’s festival. Then he tinkered with it throughout the year until the days before the festival.

Bike with flamethrower

Hammar wasn’t the only artist with a flamethrower.

Allen Kuppler, who repairs medical equipment in Kitsap County, brought two old bikes he has been working on: a 1937 Elgin and a 1946 Schwinn BF Goodrich edition with a flamethrower.

He’s added so much to the Schwinn that it now weighs about 75 pounds.

“I just kept adding stuff to it,” he said. “Lunchbox, it shoots fire, it’s got a steam whistle, headlights and taillight.”

With all that extra weight, the Schwinn is difficult to ride uphill, but it can gain speed going downhill.

As he continues to work on the Elgin, Kuppler plans to add a pulsejet engine that would allow it to go up to 50 mph.

Useful art

Creating art out of bikes gives Kuppler a unique opportunity to actually use his art, he said.

“Instead of just having a piece of art hanging on the wall, I get to ride them and have a blast with them,” he said.

What he loves about steampunk is that there are no rules, which gives him artistic freedom to do what he wants.

He combines that with his love for mechanics, industry and anything antique in his art, he said.

Activities today

Brass Crew Confederacy continues in Port Townsend today.

The Bazaar of the Bizarre will be from 10:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. at the American Legion Hall at 209 Monroe St. and the Northwest Maritime Center, 431 Water St.

The Brass Screw Chautauqua will offer presentations and entertainment from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. at the Key City Playhouse, 419 Washington St.

Tactical Croquet is planned at Memorial Field, 550 Washington St., from noon to 3 p.m.

High tea will be served at Fort Worden Commons, 200 Battery Way, at 1 p.m. Tickets are $40 and are available at www.brass-screw.org, which also offers a complete schedule.


Reporter Jesse Major can be reached at 360-452-2345, ext. 56250, or at [email protected]

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