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Cathead

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About Cathead

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    Eric
  • Birthday 09/08/1979

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    Male
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    Missouri, USA
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    Ecology, history, science, cooking, baseball, soccer, travel

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  1. Mark, I can certainly empathize to a certain extent as I'm going through a rough patch at the moment that's making it hard to focus. I've learned so much from following this log and appreciate all that you've put into sharing your skills and knowledge with us.
  2. The unanimous vote for a stepped stern means you'll all be pleased; even Mrs. Cathead voted for that option. I was initially leaning toward the other version, in part to maintain the appearance of the painting and in part because I'd seen more photographic examples of that design. But the more I thought about it, the more I liked the visual appeal of the more complex stern. Also, the Arabia was an upper-river boat where it would be exposed to high winds and shallow water, so even a little bit of lower-profile superstructure would have been beneficial. So here's the latest progress now that that hurdle has been cleared. The final layout of the boiler deck. As I might have mentioned earlier, I decided to build this off-model as one integrated part for greater structural integrity and quality. I wasn't sure I could build a flat deck with complex curves in place on spindly vertical supports. This guarantees I've got a smooth and solid base for laying the next deck, and that the aft walls will be square between both decks. Technically this should have been built in two layers, thicker longitudinal beams below and lots of thinner lateral deck beams on top. But it'll be barely noticeable on the finished model and I'm a lot happier with the structure this way from a practical point of view. I built a few walls off-model, too, again to ensure they were straight and square. The upper one is the aft-most wall (facing the last bit of the exposed stern) while the lower one is its counterpart in the other direction, right at the aft edge of the paddlewheel boxes. The idea is to separate all the lower superstructure aft of the wheels into an isolated cargo area, leaving the area between the wheels as engineering space. I have no idea if this is how they did it, but neither does anyone else. I need to put hinges and handles on these doors but I like how they came out. Changing subject slightly, here's the updated boiler assembly, with the smaller chimneys attached. Looking closely, you'll also see that I solved the safety valve problem by adding a valve on each boiler and running a single line over to vent into the right-hand chimney. This matches a drawing by Alan Bates and I like how it looks. In other news, we had a rare warm & sunny day on Valentine's Day, so Mrs. Cathead and I fired up her present (a new electric chainsaw) along with my regular gas saw and did some much-needed tree work. It's the first time I've been able to do such work since hurting my shoulder two months ago, and it felt really good. The joint was a bit sore that night, but it's recovered since. Sigh of relief. Thanks for reading. Next up, I need to do anything else necessary before permanently attaching the engines, boilers, and other deck fittings and starting to build upward.
  3. Chris, how's this build coming? I hope you're still at it.
  4. Your attention to detail and dedication to documentation is amazing.
  5. Canadians are so trusting. You Aussies really ought not lead your family fellow colonials astray like that.
  6. Anna, If you like steamboats, I'd strongly recommend Model Shipway's Chaperon kit. It's far more historically accurate than most steamboat kits and has a number of good build logs to follow. A long series on building it was also published in (now-defunct) Ships in Scale magazine; the writer is a frequent MSW contributor, Kurt Van Dahm. You could message him to find out more, I think he's planning to release that series on CD.
  7. Kurt, you're correct. I did some Google Image searching and found the text of the mule sign and skull on TripAdvisor: These photos of the Arabia Steamboat Museum are courtesy of TripAdvisor.
  8. That's the idea I came up with, too. It took me a while to un-see what initially seemed like a tubular ring around the bow, but I'm now convinced it's just a grasshopper spar stowed sideways as you say. The perspective is perfect for the initial optical illusion. Also, great eye for the cross-trees on the jackstaff that appear to be for supporting the spars. I hadn't noticed that, and such a thing isn't present on some other boats I've seen. It's a great detail and I may add it to the Arabia.
  9. I don't think either is any kind of bumper, specifically because they don't extend around the wheel housing. The only things steamboats interacted with at that height were other steamboats, when tied up together, and they usually had vertical bumpers meant to separate the two where that was a concern. In addition, superstructures almost always inclined inward slightly, making it even less likely they'd need a bumper to fend anything off. The dark tube doesn't appear to have any supports except at the front of the boiler deck and at the jackstaff, which isn't enough to protect against any kind of impact. As for scuppers, I can't think of any reason they'd run scuppers parallel to the boiler deck and out over the bow rather than just draining laterally as most decks did. One hint as to my explanation for #2 (the dark object); I think the photo's perspective is playing a serious optical illusion on the viewer.
  10. Here's an identification question. In looking up images to illustrate a design question for my Arabia, I ran across this image of the Ben Campbell. There are two unusual tubular structures that I can't figure out. First, the edge of the boiler (2nd) deck seems to consist of a fat, possibly tubular feature that runs all the way around. Is that just an odd decorative edging to the deck, or something else? There are also some extra-large deck supports that seem unusual, too, especially the foremost one. Second, and even odder, is the dark tubular structure projecting forward from the boiler deck to roughly parallel the curve of the bow, appearing to extend around the front of the jackstaff. I cannot figure out what it is. Actually, you know what, I think I just figured out point 2. Curious if it's more obvious to others or if there are other ideas before I spring my answer.
  11. Jan & Carl, I agree the angle isn't definitive, but what I see is that the supports connecting the main (1st) and boiler (2nd)decks are nearly vertical; there's only a tiny bit of set-back there even as the deck curves well around toward the stern. If you look at the top of the boiler deck, there's only a foot or two setback before the railing starts, and again it's nearly vertical up to the hurricane (3rd) deck. So I see that as implying a nearly vertical stern, because if the boiler deck was set back, say, 10 feet or more from the main deck, you'd see the boiler deck curving inward a lot more quickly and any vertical support connecting the two would either have to be at a far sharper angle, or have its base set well inboard from the edge of the main deck. I see it as looking a lot like this (Library of Congress photo from a public-broadcasting site): Or this: http://w3.marietta.edu/~burdissa/display_wall/images/riverboats/rvb002.JPG Compare the above image to the Mary McDonald, where there's clearly ~10 feet of open main deck before the aft-most portion of the boiler deck, which seems to end right where the main deck superstructure ends instead of extending out over the last bit of the main deck. Notice how the boiler deck on the Mary McDonald curves inward sharply from the wheel housing, whereas on the painting and the Campbell above it pretty much parallels the main deck as far as the eye can see, again both levels starting from the outer edge of the wheel housing. That's the difference I'm pointing to. My drawing above may be a little too literal in showing a completely sheer stern; I could add a foot or two of step-back. But there's still a big difference between a slightly stepped stern (A) and open aft-most main deck (B). The overhead photos of the wreck give little to no indication of the superstructure's design, especially as much of the main deck is torn off. There certainly isn't any evidence for the boiler deck's layout, which is what's really in question here. Technically, it's possible that the entire aft area of the main deck was enclosed (no railings or open-air area), you can find images of that style too, but I don't think that's as likely and I don't like the look of that for sure, so I'm sticking with the two options already noted. Great questions and thoughts so far.
  12. John, To my knowledge the painting is an artist's impression, the museum could give me no information regarding what references the artist used. There are a few things I don't quite like about it but it is the dominant visual of Arabia that's out there and so forms most people's idea of her appearance. We have no actual knowledge of what she looked like above the main deck other than general designs of the period, of which my two options are both representative. Kurt, There was a mule (the only casualty), indeed the museum makes much of it and as I recall has the skull on display. However, I don't recall that it was on the aft deck and the museum's site says only that "All aboard were saved except for a solitary, forgotten mule that remained behind, tied to a piece of sawmill equipment on the deck." Jan, The stepped-back design is based on the Mary McDonald; the flat-backed design is based on the painting. Steven, Thank you!
  13. I have a design question to think through, and am interested in input. There are two ways I could arrange the stern superstructure. The museum painting (which is not necessarily accurate) shows each deck extending all the way to the stern, for a fairly sheer aft: However, I could also arrange the stern so to leave a more open space on the main deck, with the superstructure stepping back (toward the bow) at each level. This idea is based on the overall similar Mary McDonald, whose images I've been using as an alternate reference: To simplify, I adapted my initial plans' side views as shown below, in which (A) represents the painting's style and (B) represents the Mary McDonald's style: This is essentially an artist's choice situation, since there's no actual information about Arabia above the main deck. So I'm curious if anyone else has thoughts or opinions about which looks or seems better. I can find plenty of photographic evidence for sternwheelers with both kinds of sterns and various approaches in between. I have a personal leaning, but am curious about others' before I show my cards.
  14. Bit of progress this week. I rebuild the breechings as I said I would, following a smaller and narrower layout. To be honest, I think this looks much better. The old ones overwhelmed the boilers; these feel more in scale. I haven't attached them yet, because I realized it would be easier to lay out their exact location going through the boiler deck if they weren't yet attached to the more delicate boiler assembly. But here's a shot of the old and new ones next to each other: I've also begun laying out the basic framing for the boiler deck. You may recall that I embedded thicker strips of wood in the main deck to act as a guide for the superstructure walls. Now, I laid the main beams supporting the boiler deck right over those and bent/shaped them to match. I filed notches to guide each main crossbeam, both to make the assembly stronger and to ensure that I got everything right where I wanted it. The result is pretty strong and I like how it holds together. Below is an overview; nothing's glued yet: And here's a closer view at the stern: My idea here is to build the boiler deck separately, get it properly square and flat, then start tying it to the main deck with vertical supports. This seems more reliable than building the deck in place, beam by beam. So it's important that I get the dimensions right, since I won't be able to adjust them later. For example, I need to frame in the locations where the chimneys and the main staircase go through. Any thoughts or suggestions on this so far?
  15. Nao Victoria replica: Man, these 16th century ships are tall and narrow. I knew this intellectually, but looking at one longitudinally really emphasizes how top-heavy they were compared to, say, the 18th century. It was fantastic to have this side-by-side with the Beagle to compare designs and building styles. At the helm, and a primitive cannon. Below decks at a carpenter's work station. Even for shorter 16th century folks, this was a cramped space for circumnavigation. A fun stove. No idea how authentic this is, but I liked the display. Leftover parrell beads near the mainmast. Captain's cabin, with various swords and armor lying around to play with. It was clear we were in a more sensible country than the US, as there were no paranoid warnings about hurting yourself. They just trusted you to be sensible. Not much to say, overall, I just found it so much fun to walk about this replica and contrast it with others. There's something about the physical experience that adds so much to the knowledge gained by reading.

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