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Steamboats and other rivercraft - general discussion

Steamboats riverboats rivers sternwheelers paddlewheelers

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147 replies to this topic

#41
daves

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i have seen some nice pictures of early steam boats my question is where do you find drawings of the vessels and their the steam engines? The steamship Phoenix built by John Stevens really looked like it would make a nice model but not a single scrap of building information.


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#42
Gerhardvienna

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Hi Dave

 

This is maybe the same problem worldwide i guess. Original plans or facts about the ships or used engines are really hard to find, some of the museums may have something. But thats just an expectation, in Austria is nothing to find about the workships that were active on the Danube river. Not even for the Bollinger Bagger i did mention before, the museum has nothing than the model, no plans or drawings, and no infos about the engine used.

 

Regards

Gerhard


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Problems just mean: solutions not yet found

 

Models in progress

SMS DANZIG

http://modelshipworl...adio-150-scale/

USS CAIRO

http://modelshipworl...ve-steam-radio/

Baby Bootlegger 1/10

http://modelshipworl...-gerhardvienna/

 

Swiss paddlesteamer RIGI 1848 1:50, after plans from the Verkehrshaus Zürich, rescaled to original length

Anchor tugboat BISON, 1:50, plans from VTH, scratch

Finished models

See-Ewer ELBE, Constructo kit 1:48

German fastboat after plans from german Reichskriegsmarine measure unknown (too ugly to show up!)

German traffic boat for battleships WW2, 1:50, after plans from Jürgen Eichardt, scratch

German Schnellboot TIGER P6141 VTH plans, scratch

 


#43
grsjax

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There are some steamboats in the HAMMS collection but I believe they are all late 19th, early 20th century.  The National Archives probably have some drawings of snag boats and push boats used by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers on the western rivers.


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My advice and comments are always worth what you paid for them.


#44
Cathead

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Daves,

 

http://www.steamboat...lewheelers.html

 

has a lot of plans offered. I bought the plans for my Far West scratchbuild there and was pleased. The site also has a long list of other resources for research.

 

For Bertrand, I mostly relied on archeological drawings from the National Park Service excavation of the wreck (see my log). I'd purchased a set of private plans, too, but found that they conflicted with the NPS drawings so mostly used the latter.


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Current build: US Revenue Cutter "Ranger", Corel, 1:64

 

Previous builds:

Naval: 18th century longboat, Model Shipways, 1:48; Naval gun kits from Model Shipways; Bounty launch, Model Shipways, 1:16

Missouri River craft: Missouri River steamboat Bertrand, scratchbuilt in 1:87;  Lewis & Clark barge, scratchbuilt in 1:48;
Missouri River keelboat, scratchbuilt in 1:87; Missouri River steamboat Far West, scratchbuilt in 1:87


#45
daves

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most of the plans you find are the "show boats" but what makes interesting models are the work boats. The deeper i look into it the less i find.

boats like these are of interest because of the machinery. Could it be these types of vessels were built by small shipyards that built a few boats then closed up shop? Maybe these types of boats were built by Joe Smith who lived down river and learned how to build from his dad or grand pappy and they didn't need plans. 

 

These modeling projects also lend themselves to 3D printing of parts.

 

This reminds me of back when the Cuyahoga National Park was researching canal boats i i worked with them on building a museum display. There were no real boatyards or building records, seemed a plot of land was cleared and someone built a few canal boats, the methods were passed down from one builder to the next, no drawings, no specs no nothing but yet hundreds of canal boats were built all over Ohio.

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Edited by daves, 08 June 2016 - 03:23 PM.

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#46
Gerhardvienna

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This reminds me of back when the Cuyahogs National Park was researching canal boats i i worked with them on building a museum display. There were no real boatyards or building records, seemed a plot of land was cleared and someone built a few canal boats, the methods were passed down from one builder to the next, no drawings, no specs no nothing but yet hundreds of canal boats were built all over Ohio.

 

Seems it could have been just that! The folks then knew what they needed for their work, and made the ships for exact that reason. But a pity for us, not to know how they made it, and not to have any measure or plans. The pics are really good examples of boats I`ve never seen before, and would make great models, if we had any info about them!

 

Regards

Gerhard


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Problems just mean: solutions not yet found

 

Models in progress

SMS DANZIG

http://modelshipworl...adio-150-scale/

USS CAIRO

http://modelshipworl...ve-steam-radio/

Baby Bootlegger 1/10

http://modelshipworl...-gerhardvienna/

 

Swiss paddlesteamer RIGI 1848 1:50, after plans from the Verkehrshaus Zürich, rescaled to original length

Anchor tugboat BISON, 1:50, plans from VTH, scratch

Finished models

See-Ewer ELBE, Constructo kit 1:48

German fastboat after plans from german Reichskriegsmarine measure unknown (too ugly to show up!)

German traffic boat for battleships WW2, 1:50, after plans from Jürgen Eichardt, scratch

German Schnellboot TIGER P6141 VTH plans, scratch

 


#47
Cathead

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If you want a specific prototype of a working steamboat, look into Bertrand or Cairo. Cairo's frame is on display in Vicksburg, Bertrand has a nice museum and very thorough archeological documentation of its structure and construction. Both are great examples of non-showboat working boats that have a good story to them.

 

You are also correct that many (most?) American riverboats weren't built with plans. There were dedicated boatyards along the upper Ohio churning out boats, but they generally didn't go by blueprint. They weren't backwoods-built, exactly, more like individual custom-builds on an assembly line. So in some ways the best topics are the boats that have been excavated and studied after the fact, like Bertrand or Arabia or Cairo.


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Current build: US Revenue Cutter "Ranger", Corel, 1:64

 

Previous builds:

Naval: 18th century longboat, Model Shipways, 1:48; Naval gun kits from Model Shipways; Bounty launch, Model Shipways, 1:16

Missouri River craft: Missouri River steamboat Bertrand, scratchbuilt in 1:87;  Lewis & Clark barge, scratchbuilt in 1:48;
Missouri River keelboat, scratchbuilt in 1:87; Missouri River steamboat Far West, scratchbuilt in 1:87


#48
Altduck

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These work boats look like they could be ancestors of the Corps of Engineers debris cleanup vessels on SF Bay:

 

http://www.spn.usace...movalSFBay.aspx

 

These are (or used to be) berthed by the SF Bay Model in Sausalito.

 

Richard


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     Richard

 

 


#49
daves

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when i worked on the canal boat project with the national park here in Cuyahoga valley the canal and river boats lasted from about 1835 to 1861 then the railroad killed the canal and river boat business. Boat building was a family operated business and boat building was taught from father to son or family member to family member, there was no need for any boat plans. Before the next generation was able to pass on the boat building business there was no longer a need for it, within one generation river and canal boat building became an obsolete trade and lost in history. Sad to say very few if any records or drawings survived and what might of been around ma might of used the paper plans to start a fire in the wood burning stove or some other practical use. Even the early steam boat builders built from practical knowledge, what we see in old sketches and photographs would make interesting models but without that hand-me-down experience and knowledge it is all shadowy guesses as to the size and construction methods. .
This i think, is the reason early river boats are passed over as modeling subjects, the historical period was very short and not documented unless you want to build another model of the riverboat Queen of the Mississippi.

 

From what information that was collected the original inland boats builders came over from England and building knowledge spread to builders here. The first boat carpenters were barn builders and a quote from those days " building a river boat hull is like building a roof on a barn just up side down".


Edited by daves, 08 June 2016 - 06:56 PM.

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#50
mtaylor

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Another part of the canal boat problem is that there were no "standard" sizes.  Even the canals varied in width and depth.   I'm originally from Ohio and there's canal remnants all over where I was (Dayton).  And while there's bits of the canals still visible, no boats. 

 

In the Civil War (or not-so-civil-War), many times the Army took an existing riverboat and converted it to an ironclad with no plans, just local labor and materials.  


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Mark

"The shipwright is slow, but the wood is patient." - me


Current Build:

Licorne - 1755 from Hahn Plans (Scratch) Version 2.0

Past Builds:
Triton Cross-Section
USS Constellaton (kit bashed to 1854 Sloop of War (Gallery) Build Log
Wasa (Gallery)


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#51
Everest

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Google the W.T. Preston, a stern wheel steam boat used as a snag boat on Puget Sound for many years. The boat is now a museum in Anacortes Washington. Interesting history. I used to see her lead the parade through the Montlake Cut on opening day of yachting season from Lake Union to Lake Washington.


Edited by Everest, 09 June 2016 - 10:32 AM.

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#52
Cap'n'Bob

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If you are ever near Louisville KY, you need to go to the Howard Shipyard Museum across the river in Jeffersonville IN.  The Howards built about 1700 boats from 1834 to 1940.  The yard is still in operation mostly building barges for the towboats.  The museum is in the three story mansion the Howards lived in and the riverboat models fill every room of the building. 

 

Bob


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Every build is a learning experience.

 

Current build:  Two Edwardian launches

 

Completed builds:  US Coast Guard Pequot   Friendship-sloop,  Schooner Lettie-G.-Howard,   Spray,   Grand-Banks-dory

                                                a gaff rigged yawl,  HOGA (YT-146),  Int'l Dragon Class II

 

In the Gallary:   Catboat,   International-Dragon-Class,   Spray


#53
Cathead

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Great point, Bob. That's been on my travel list ever since Kurt mentioned it to me. It's just far enough away from me to make it difficult.


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Current build: US Revenue Cutter "Ranger", Corel, 1:64

 

Previous builds:

Naval: 18th century longboat, Model Shipways, 1:48; Naval gun kits from Model Shipways; Bounty launch, Model Shipways, 1:16

Missouri River craft: Missouri River steamboat Bertrand, scratchbuilt in 1:87;  Lewis & Clark barge, scratchbuilt in 1:48;
Missouri River keelboat, scratchbuilt in 1:87; Missouri River steamboat Far West, scratchbuilt in 1:87


#54
Jim Lad

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As a comparison to the work boats depicted above, the photo below is of the preserved "snagger" 'Industry' on the Murray Rive in South Australia.  The photo was taken at Renmark some ten years ago.  'Industry' was built in 1910 and, like virtually all traditional Murray River boats, is a side wheeler.

 

John

 

5714 - PS Industry Large e-mail view.jpg

 


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#55
Cathead

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American riverboats weren't confined to the major rivers; there were many smaller, obscure craft that worked the tributaries. In my home state of Missouri, several rivers feeding the large Missouri River were themselves large enough to support steamboat traffic deep into the Ozark Hills, such as the Gasconade and Osage rivers.

 

This page from the Miller County Museum & Historical Society, in central-south Missouri, has a series of interesting photographs of small steamboats that worked the Osage River. One of these little boats seems like an interesting scratchbuild project to me someday, particularly the J.R. Wells which I find quite attractive. Adding to the interest, the Wells and several other boats were actually built in Miller County, not in the major steamboat yards along the faraway Upper Ohio, making them truly indigenous boats.

 

There's also a great story about the first steamboat to penetrate the remote Ozark region:


 

Also found in our Osage River file was a story from the “Appleton City, Mo. Journal” telling of the terror raised among St. Clair County, Mo. residents when the first steamboat with a “wildcat” whistle came up the Osage. This was the Flora Jones in 1844. She got all the way up to Harmony Mission in Bates County because of high water, and on the trip she blew that whistle every few miles; the local inhabitants thought it was a giant animal of some kind. They mobilized and started searching the riverbank, but of course, the Flora had gone on up the Osage. What really confounded the hunters was that their dogs couldn’t or wouldn’t pick up a scent, and there was even talk of sending somebody to St. Louis to buy new and more interested dogs.

 

To make a long story short, the Flora came back down, using her whistle frequently, and the intrepid hunters headed for a cave and safety. When the Flora shot into view, with her decks full of passengers enjoying the sunrise, the hunters heard another piercing scream from the whistle as the boat passed from view around the bend. As the writer for the newspaper put it, “the picture of that band of old pioneers, standing there, their rifles still on their shoulders, and their faces looking as if petrified, was a scene for a painter, and Barnum could have made a fortune.”

 

 

I think some of you would enjoy reading this page and looking at the images of obscure but interesting steamboats from Missouri.


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Current build: US Revenue Cutter "Ranger", Corel, 1:64

 

Previous builds:

Naval: 18th century longboat, Model Shipways, 1:48; Naval gun kits from Model Shipways; Bounty launch, Model Shipways, 1:16

Missouri River craft: Missouri River steamboat Bertrand, scratchbuilt in 1:87;  Lewis & Clark barge, scratchbuilt in 1:48;
Missouri River keelboat, scratchbuilt in 1:87; Missouri River steamboat Far West, scratchbuilt in 1:87


#56
Cap'n'Bob

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Thanks for the article. As you said the J. R. Wells would make a fine model, do you have more information than the picture?

 

Bob


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Every build is a learning experience.

 

Current build:  Two Edwardian launches

 

Completed builds:  US Coast Guard Pequot   Friendship-sloop,  Schooner Lettie-G.-Howard,   Spray,   Grand-Banks-dory

                                                a gaff rigged yawl,  HOGA (YT-146),  Int'l Dragon Class II

 

In the Gallary:   Catboat,   International-Dragon-Class,   Spray


#57
Cathead

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Bob, I don't, but that historical society/museum is only a few hours from me, so if I ever decide to pursue the idea, it's within reach. I assume I won't ever find plans or such, it was probably built without them, but ideally I'd be able to find other photos or written accounts of its use, engine, etc.


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Current build: US Revenue Cutter "Ranger", Corel, 1:64

 

Previous builds:

Naval: 18th century longboat, Model Shipways, 1:48; Naval gun kits from Model Shipways; Bounty launch, Model Shipways, 1:16

Missouri River craft: Missouri River steamboat Bertrand, scratchbuilt in 1:87;  Lewis & Clark barge, scratchbuilt in 1:48;
Missouri River keelboat, scratchbuilt in 1:87; Missouri River steamboat Far West, scratchbuilt in 1:87


#58
robert miller

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Hi Capt Bob,

Steam boats is large topic to cover.  How ever the Mariners Museum  in Newport News Va. has a load of plan for sidewheel steamers as well as others,ie sail -war ships- and more listed on their web site.  There is a cost to purchase them.

I've been researching a way to build a side wheel steamer that plowed the Chesapeake Bay for some time, since I lived on the bay for 37 years, and would like donate a model to the Deltaville Va.  Mariners Museum.  That is if I live longer enough to complete one of this style, which use to call on D''ville weekly..

 

For plans contact elopater@marinersmuseum.org  prices range from $22.50 to 30.00.  Example  LANCASTER & -POCHUNTAS scale1/8 framing plan $22.50

plan number MP845.


Edited by robert miller, 13 June 2016 - 06:41 PM.

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#59
Cap'n'Bob

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Thanks, one of these days (years) I may have another have another paddlewheel boat on display.

 

Bob


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Every build is a learning experience.

 

Current build:  Two Edwardian launches

 

Completed builds:  US Coast Guard Pequot   Friendship-sloop,  Schooner Lettie-G.-Howard,   Spray,   Grand-Banks-dory

                                                a gaff rigged yawl,  HOGA (YT-146),  Int'l Dragon Class II

 

In the Gallary:   Catboat,   International-Dragon-Class,   Spray


#60
Roger Pellett

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A number of years ago the late model builder William F. Wiseman built a model of the very small river boat Myrtle Corey. He built the model entirely from photographs using geometric projection techniques. The NRG has downloadable copies describing his techniques that can be bought for a few dollars. Look up his name on their website. Mystic Seaport bought his model collection from his estate and those of us that attended last fall's NRG conference got to see them. The photo's in the Journal do not do them justice. I remember seeing his spectacular Far West model but not Myrtle Corey.

Roger Pellett
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