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About Cathead

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  • Birthday 09/08/1979

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

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  1. I took a break from planking to work on the boiler deck structures (i.e, the main cabin). This is complicated as it contains multiple curved deck levels above and a raised central skylight running along most of its length. I started by drawing out the shapes of the fore- and aft-most walls, since they define the curve of the hurricane deck (the third one up, after main and boiler). I decided to use pre-scribed wood for the cabin walls at this level for three reasons. First, they need to be especially structurally solid given their complexity and I can get their shapes more similar using solid pieces. Second, they won't be as visible as the main superstructure walls because they'll be more hidden under overhanging decks. Third, I've been underestimating my strip wood use and this gets expensive to keep reordering, whereas I have plenty of scribed stock sitting around. So that's how it is. Fore (left) and aft (right) main cabin walls with handmade doors. The ribs along the top provide extra support for the next deck up. I put the worse of the two doors on the fore cabin wall as this will be especially well-hidden under a deep and long overhang, where as the aft one will be a lot more visible. I made the doors by tracing the oval windows (using a dowel for the curve), drilling out their outlines, then cutting and sanding the hole. I then attached thin strips of wood to make the framing, as seen in the first photo. Here they are painted and installed in the walls. The third piece (upper right) sits a bit forward of the aft wall because the skylight doesn't run all the way back. This will be clearer when I get further along in the build. Next step on these is glassing the windows and adding some curtains to block the view, as I don't want to show any interior. These are the doors that access the main dining/social cabin that runs the length of this structure; the lower portions to either side house the individual cabins, kitchen, and other areas that are accessed from doors on the outer and inner walls. Here's a cross-section of a typical sidewheeler from Wikimedia Commons in case it helps clarify what I'm working on here (the area above the boilers): As a preview, here's the aft-most wall propped up in its intended location. I like how these came out; they were a good test for the even more complicated task of building the long side walls full of cabin doors and other details, which is next. Thanks for reading!
  2. Does anyone have a sense of how accurate the kit is? I've read that some other kits are just modified version of other ships rather than actually designed to be the Beagle.
  3. Brian, I'm using wood glue because (a) I've heard mixed reviews about the longevity of CA and (b) it's more benign to be around, which is important to me. CA gives me a headache pretty quickly, while I can use wood glue all night long. Unlike Chaperon, I'm not gluing planks to a smooth surface but just to the very thin cross beams above the main deck, so spreading glue along the bottom of the plank would (a) waste a lot of glue and (b) create a really ugly under-surface as the boiler deck can be seen from below. So what I'm doing is placing small dots of glue on each beam and then settling the plank over it. What's happening isn't seepage directly up through the plank, it's bits of glue squeezing upward in the seams between planks, then soaking in from the side or top. It creates the little darker patches you can see if you look closely at the planking photos. The best approach is just to be really careful in how much glue is used, but sometimes I get it wrong or it gets up there anyway. Also, early on I made the mistake of trying to wipe it up right away, which just spread wet glue further over the absorbent surface and made the spot bigger. I think it's better to let any beads dry and then scrape/sand them away. The core problem is that the planks aren't sealed in any way, and soft basswood is really absorbent. But that's the price of doing the individual planking the way I like it done in this case (i.e., without paint). Given that most of this will be under another anyway and only seen in partial shadow from the side, I don't think most people will notice. It would cost me points in any model competition for sure, but as that's not my goal it's ok. Thanks for the feedback, it's nice to have other steamboat modellers on board. My brain is already working ahead to thinking about trying Chaperon and customizing it various ways to backdate it to a mid-century Missouri River sternwheeler, and the more build logs there are the more I learn about the kit.
  4. Interesting question. I have a very linear mind and tend not to have several things running in parallel. I only work on one model at a time and then only one one step at a time. In theory it would be more efficient to jump around and build other parts ahead of time while working on an earlier step, but my mind just doesn't work like that. I like to think about the context of what I'm doing with each step and I can't do that if I'm way ahead (for example, building some bit of superstructure before the hull is finished). Part of this is that I've learned that I often like to change my plans as I go along, or adapt details to the way a project is going, so if I build ahead, I may end up with something I don't actually like or want when it's time to use that bit. Building every step to fit the model in front of me helps guarantee that I'll get what I want each step of the way. I couldn't handle more than one project at once, though I'm quite susceptible to "dreaming ahead" when I'm not even halfway through a given project. Plus, I like to finish what I start and doing more than one thing at once seems to guarantee endless projects.
  5. Boiler deck planking is mostly done: The blank spot in the center is where the cabins will go, I'm not showing the interior of these so there's no need to plank this carefully. As the underside of the deck is vaguely visible if you look from just the right angle, I used sheets of pre-scribed wood for this to mimic just enough planking in the shadows. For the visible planking, I stained the individual strips using the same vinegar/rust mixture I've used before on this model, then rubbed each plank with subtly different shades of pastels. This produced a nice variation effect and was a lot faster than painting. I'll sand the whole surface down when it's done, blending them together a bit more. If you were wondering why this deck isn't red, too, there are three reasons. First, this is the only other deck that will be visibly planked (everything above this will be covered with tar paper), and I thought it would look interesting in a more raw wood state, a bit of visual variability. Second, as this deck is mostly covered by the decks above and doesn't get as much use as the main deck (for things like cargo handling), I decided it didn't need the extra coat of red paint. Third, I'm out of red paint and don't want to buy another whole bottle when I might not use the rest for a year or more. Here's a closer look at the foremost part of the boiler deck, showing where the chimneys and main stairwell come through. You may notice that the former look a bit off-kilter. That's because they are. I didn't get the boilers lined up perfectly and these were not quite aligned the way I wanted them, so I built up the area around them to make them parallel again. This will be entirely invisible once the chimneys are sitting on top. You can also see some places where glue leaked through the planking. I was trying to be careful, but using unpainted thin wood makes it super-sensitive to glue spills. I don't think it'll be very noticeable once the next deck is covering this and all the railings are one. I was still annoyed by this, though, no matter how hard I tried the occasional bead came seeping up through and trying to wipe it off just made the area bigger. Along with this, I'm starting to lay out the main cabin superstructure. It's quite complicated and will take me a while to get right, along with probably some annoying mistakes and do-overs. I'll try to take more photos; I didn't take many of the planking process because it's so straightforward. Thanks for reading. We're heading for the first real heat wave of summer here, so maybe some extra focus on modelling for a bit.
  6. Last winter was hard on plants even down here in Missouri. Our apples, pears, and cherries barely flowered, though we didn't experience much outright kill. We, too, had absurd rainfall through spring that raised a hellish crop of weeds. Best blueberry and raspberry season ever, though.
  7. I like to use a pair of flush cutting nippers for trimming rigging like that. They're not expensive and are widely useful. They let you get really close to the knot without danger of cutting into it. Nice work!
  8. I like to decide early on which side of a model is the "display" side and always work on the other side first to ensure I figure out any bugs before doing the "good" side. Your work certainly looks nice to me.
  9. I love Duluth and would definitely attend a conference there. One branch of my family is Norwegians from the Iron Range. I second Roger in that it's the Midwest's turn again.
  10. Any chance the NRG wants to hold a convention in KC before 2026? The Arabia museum and the WWI museum are world-class attractions and the Bertrand museum near Omaha could be a long day trip. The KC convention center is even built to look like a steamboat (I realize it's bigger than the NRG would need)!
  11. Kurt, Yeah, I've actually known about this for a while (note the 2018 date on the linked story). It's such a big story that I've been wanting to write up something properly about, and keep not getting to it. Meanwhile, you finally scooped me! There are multiple inter-related storylines happening here: The Arabia museum is outgrowing its space in the current downtown KC location; they don't have enough room to display anywhere near their full collection, much less expand. The lease is up soon (2026) and there's no room to expand on-site. Hawley has known where the Malta is for quite some time, but doesn't want to excavate it until he has a clear home for it, including processing, storage, and display space. That can't happen at the current museum's location. There's a nascent movement to create a National Steamboat Museum in Jefferson City, MO (the state capitol, a lovely small city located on a blufftop over the Missouri River). See, for example, this passionate column from local journalist Bob Priddy and detailed followups on the current challenges here, here, and here (such as opposition from the casino industry for a proposed tax to pay for this idea). In theory, this could all come together to create an amazing new space for multiple excavated steamboats on a blufftop property (he claims the owners are willing to make it available) in downtown Jeff City (as we locals call it). For example, here's a rendering Priddy shared that he attributes to Dave Hawley: I find this idea super-exciting, but so overwhelming I haven't been able to get my head around how to write about it here or elsewhere. It's a really cool idea, but Missouri hasn't exactly been known for investing in the future lately (for example, our infrastructure is crumbling, but voters rejected a modest gas tax increase even though it's lower than most neighboring states and the legislature doesn't have the guts to pay for this anyway). EDIT: Meant to add a link to this set of now-dated posts by Dave Hawley about the early search for Malta and some background info.
  12. Brian, Yes, the wheels add a massive amount of weight that's entirely supported beyond the hull in either case You're right that the hulls themselves aren't much different, but where you mount the wheels makes a huge difference in the weight distribution both laterally and longitudinally. There are a lot of reasons to choose either design. Sidewheelers were more maneuverable but their wheels were more prone to damage from river debris, which is one reason most upper-river or shallow-water boats (especially on the Missouri) tended to be sternwheelers. The sternwheel also made it easier to push or pull the boat over or off sand bars, not an issue in the lower rivers where sidewheelers predominated. Also, the placement of the engines and wheels on sidewheelers helped counteract the long, thin hull's natural tendency to hog (sag at bow and stern, rise in the middle), which was a huge problem for sternwheelers, especially with the wheel levering itself off the back end of the hull. That's one reason most sternwheelers had much larger longitudinal chains (sticking up way beyond the decks), while sidewheelers needed more transverse chains instead. Finally, sternwheelers tended to have narrower guards (the main deck extensions beyond the hull), so they didn't need as much lateral support. On the crates, I "cheated" too, just didn't take photos of doing so. I didn't add rear handles to any crates that wouldn't show them and didn't scribe the front boards on any non-visible angle. I also used particularly crappy wood for the hidden parts (all of those were made from shop scrap); if you could see the other side of that stack, you'd see gouges and other damage in the wood. The way I wanted to display them meant that I had to have the full crate length because you'd be able to see around the edges of the stack, so I couldn't just use a false front as you did. Plus, there will likely be two small windows into that area (take a look at the original painting at the beginning of this log), so I needed solid crates there too. Overall, I decided it wasn't any extra work to make all the 3D crates from the same template rather than designing various different "false" styles. All I did was cut square stock to the length of each crate and glue flat pieces top and bottom, after scribing a fake front/back plank on the stock. The handles are just scrap stock glued on. Nothing fancy and didn't take long to make.
  13. Mark, it's a good general idea and in a more solid model you'd likely be right, but as I'm just leaving the whole starboard side open, I don't think I need any glass. The support posts add enough structural integrity and any glass would probably detract from the view inward due to reflection and distortion. It'll look almost realistic anyway as the lack of walls is somewhat subtle given that much of the infrastructure is open anyway. I think the presentation will become more clear over time. Adding the deck will cut down on the light getting into the detailed area, but I can always supply a flashlight to shine in there.
  14. I've never done coppering, so I have no advice, but your approach makes sense as it's basically the same idea as proper planking. If an item already has the shape it's supposed to, it'll be more likely to hold that shape when being glued. My other suggestion would be to read through build logs of similar kits using that style of plates and see what they did.

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