Welcome to Dick Wightman's Home Page

Home of

The Rainbear Skydive Corps

The Ballard Southern Railroad

The "Keep Clam" Pond Boat Project

(parafauna, parachuting teddy bears, On30 model railroading, longbows, vintage sewing machines/quilting,pond yachts)

Featuring information about the Rainbear Skydive Teddy Bear Parachute Corps, the Ballard Southern Railroad (On30), traditional archery, quilting on antiqu sewing machines and other interests that may catch my fancy from time to time.

Welcome to my home page. I am a retired performer and am still commonly called Captain Dick, a name I and my ventriloquist figure friends performed under for many years. I don't do shows or make figures any more, but spend most of my time now involved with needle point, reading, kites and parachuting teddy bears, quilting, model railroading and traditional archery. I was the founder of Treadle On, the antique sewing machine collector and users site and email list, was its administrator for 15 years. The group still exists though I am no longer active on it. I don't collect sewing machines any more but am still active in quilting with the QuiltAlong group.

I am in the process of updating this site and removing a lot of older material from it.

Dick Wightman


Now that I am in my 80's I have become less able to enjoy some of the more active things that have made up my life in recent years. As a boy I discovered chess and especially enjoyed its history and the artisstry of chess sets, which I collected. However, there was a gap of 40 odd years and since I was never very good I am even less so now. However, I still love the dance of the piees on the board and also collecting nice chess sets. My playing is now almost exclusively with the computer... I can lobotomize him if he gets too rough on me. At this link you'll find a few of my chess sets.:^) played. Now I'm going to try to take it up again as something that won't be so hard on my body. I think it will be an interesting journey. For what it ay be worth, I'll document it here...

Quilts and Vintage Sewing Machines

I got interested in old sewing machines because someone persuaded me to try quilting as a traditional activity. I quickly learned that there are no sewing machines made today that even approach the quality of the old ones, pre-1959. I have restored and used many old machines in my quilting. My current favorite is an 1895 Singer Model 28 treadle. All of the quilts shown here were made on various treadle and hand crank sewing machines I've owned over the years.


As mentioned above, I do needlepoint. I started many years ago when we lived on a boat and hobbies had to be compact. I've now gone back to it but it will take me awhile to catch up by making a new page for posting former work and current projects

Kites and the Rainbear Skydive Corps

The New Rainbear Skydive Corps: The Rainbear Skydive Corps has been re-equipped and renewed for 2016. We are using a new lifting platform design called the Ultrafoil. The reasons are explained in this section but basically boil down to the fact that the kites were over 20 years old and I am approaching 80 and simply cannot handle things physically as I once did. This sectiion will reveiw the new kites and cover how I adjust to using them and whatever new adventures I have with them.

Traditional Rainbear Skydive Corps: I have had a deep interest in kites for many years. I was active in building kites in the 1990's, but allowed that activity to go dormant when I became interested in archery and bow building. Since 2012 I have been picking up the kites again. My specialty has been power lifting kites and parachuting teddy bears. Back in the 90's I founded the Rainbear Skydive Corps and wrote the "Rainbear Skydive Corps Training Manual", a guide to making fluted sled kites, parachutes and all related paraphernalia. The Corps is active once again and the training manual is currently available in PDF format.

The primary liftting kite for the Rainbear Skydive Corps was an incredibly effective but not very well known design called the fluted sled. The Rainbear "traditional" page has a good bit of info, as of course does the book, which is available by contacting me direct: rwightman@mindspring.com

Teddy Bears

The Rainbear Skydive Corps got me interested in teddy bears as well as kites and parachutes and for some years I enjoyed learning to design bears and making them for collectors. I dropped that when I got involved in archery, but am now back to making traditional jointed type bears.

Ballard Southern Railroad

Model railroading has been an inteterest of mine off and on since 1964. I have modeled in HOn3, HO, N, O, G and currently in an odd mixed combination of On30 and Sn42, since converting S guage engines ended up being the only way I could get the diesels I wanted for On30. For the last 30 years I have been interested in a system of once abandoned, now active, trackage in the community of Ballard, WA, an area of Seattle. My railroads have reflected this interest. This link takes you to the current Ballard Southern pages, which include the construction of the current railroad, historical archives on the backstory of the Ballard Southern and a tour of the actual trackage of the Ballard Terminal Railroad, a busy three mile line that is an excellent "railroad you can model". Included are photo collections of a switching run and a walking tour of the entire line, with pictures of buildings and principal features that would be of interest to those modeling it.

Pond Yachts

Sailing and racing model yachts on city ponds was once a tremendously popular activity, with most cities having a yacht pond. This activity is making a comeback with the advent of radio controlled, or RC models. I was involved as a boy, long before RC, and undertook to try it again, only with a real hand made wooden model yacht rather than the plastic RC racers that can be bought ready to sail or close to it. The project came out well and I documented the build. I'm now working on a second wood model. The title link will take you to a record of my model yachiting activities.

Traditional Archery

A number of years ago, I became very active in traditional archery, even learning to build traditional D longbows, which I did for about 8 years, eventually providing extensive web instructions on doing so. Age and health problems dictate that I can no longer handle the work of bow building. My shooting is limited to very light draw weight bows and I no longer tackle the more physically challenging 3D courses, but I remain active, shooting a few rounds almost every day.


I have enjoyed woodworking for a very long time and tried my hand at quite a few aspects of it. Here are pictures and comments on many different things that I made at different times.

Bulletin Board

A convenient spot to post announcements and pictures that I want to share with interested parties. Subject to frequent change.

Here are a few pictures. There are, of course, many more under the specific topic headings above...


Dick With Barney and Fred

(both made by me)

Performing circa 1990-1995

This was our borchure promo photo.

At the time I retired from this activity, I was one of only five people still commercially making hand carved wood professional ventriloquist figures.


... sailing on "Isle of Wight" circa 1980. We lived on and cruised this boat for ten years.




I used to be involved in the design of large power lifting kites. Here I'm flying a large fluted sled kite. In optimum conditions, this kite can lift you off the ground. I still make and use these kites to power the Rainbear Skydive Corps, a disorganized group of parachuting teddy bears.



... with Hill style longbow I built and a very good 50 yard plus shot on this moose target.


Dick Wightman

10527 12th Ave. NW

Seattle, WA 98117

Email to: rwightman@mindspring.com