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Steamboats and other rivercraft - general discussion

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Unlike the steamboats used on the eastern rivers that used low pressure condensing engines, wetern river steamboats used high pressure engines that exhausted partially expanded steam to the atmosphere. By using high pressure steam, these engines could be quite powerful, but their efficiency was very low as they lost the use of the heat that still remained in the steam at atmospheric temperature.

 

Roger Pellett

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Dave:

What is the source of these plans? 

I know about the HAMMS set and John Fryant's set.  Bill Strachan used these for his model that was featured in the Nautical Research Journal issues 60.2 and 60.3. - a fabulous diorama!

Kurt

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Dave:

No problem with them being posted.  Just was curious.  I have a lot of the HAMMS plans - boarders might have been cropped a bit. 

Kurt

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What were the early European canal boats like?

 

Most of the austrian wheelers are gone, just the Schönbrunn is in use for public or for charter tours. http://www.oegeg.at/schifffahrt/

Switzerland has a lot more of this old ships still at the lakes, even the worldwide oldest existing ship, the RIGI is still alive but not floating. She is at restoration on front of the "Verkehrshaus" in Zürich, I build (beneath my others) a 1:50 scale model of her in her first appearance from  1848 https://www.verkehrshaus.ch/de/museum/schifffahrt/ds-rigi. She was a postship in her early days, used for goods and personal transport.

The photos show the RIGI in her first appearance.

post-24068-0-01325100-1465304238.jpg

 

post-24068-0-77988600-1465304245.jpg

 

I will try to find more about the european steamers but lots of infos were lost during WW2!

Regards

Gerhard

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Back again from a short search, here comes a bit more. The Oscar Huber, a big river tugboat, he is still alive, located in Duisburg as a museum ship https://www.google.at/search?q=raddampfer+oscar+huber&client=firefox-b&tbm=isch&tbo=u&source=univ&sa=X&ved=0ahUKEwj7gcmXlZbNAhWMIMAKHZ7-BY4QsAQIKA&biw=1272&bih=902#imgrc=_

 

And there was the "Le Rhone" an even large tugboat, she had a turbine instead of a usual steam engine, and side wheels, her general plan is on digipeer http://www.digipeer.de/index.php?id=648324079

I cant show the photos, I am not sure if they are copyrighted.

 

Regards

Gerhard

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Wow, Gerhard, that's a new one for me. Recently, reading a book on the Ottoman Empire, I found a maddeningly vague reference to the British army using steamboats to transport troops and supplies up and down the Tigris & Euphrates rivers during WWI. Would have loved to know more. I really only know anything about American vessels, and only so much about that. So much history, so little time.

I believe the boats used by the British on the Tigris and Euphrates were the Insect class gunboats as well as barges and other local craft that were available.  I can't remember where I saw it but there was a book on the the first world war in Mesopotamia that has several pictures of the British boats on the rivers.

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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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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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Daves,

 

http://www.steamboats.org/modelplans/paddlewheelers.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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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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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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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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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

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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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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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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

 

post-5-0-00033700-1465505065_thumb.jpg

 

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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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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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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

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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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post-227-0-19095000-1466609483.jpg

I bought this version and someday hope to build it.  A great read and excellent plans, of which there are several. drawn at a scale of 1/48.  

 

  • Hardcover: 208 pages
  • Publisher: Vanwell Publishing Ltd. (April 12, 2004)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1551250667
  • ISBN-13: 978-1551250663
  • Product Dimensions: 10.8 x 10.7 x 2.1 inches
  • It will make a great long term project.
  • David B
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That boat is beautiful. I would love to build it. Do you know af any plans

Nordic Class Boats has several lake boats in kits, and there are several build logs.

I just started the s/s Mariefred.

http://modelshipworld.com/index.php/topic/12589-ss-mariefred-by-francesca-nordic-class-boats/

http://modelshipworld.com/index.php/topic/4516-ss-bohusl%C3%A4n-by-puckotred-ncbt%C3%BCrkmodel-scale-145/

 

Clarence

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