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About Cathead

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  • Birthday 09/08/1979

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

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  1. Brian, I owe you (and any other readers) an apology. I was sloppy and rushed when looking up my initial answer and relied too much on personal instinct and a not-thorough-enough review of my books. I'd found the Bates drawing on p. 38 which shows a Bertrand-style (skeg) rudder, stating that it was favored for many years; the next page shows a Chaperon-style (balanced) rudder in relation to towboats. As I was flipping backward through the book, I stopped there. If I'd gone further back, I'd have found the drawings Kurt shows above, as well as one on p. 37, and text clarifying the evolution of these designs. My apologies for getting ahead of myself and providing incorrect information. I hadn't thought about sternwheeler rudders in a few years and got ahead of myself. Also, looking up the rudder section in Louis C. Hunter's tome gives this passage on balance rudders: The official book on Bertrand makes a big deal out of her skeg rudders being state-of-the-art for her time, and I mistakenly projected that forward in time to a period about which I know less (the late 1800s). But it's now clear that this design gave way to balance rudders by Chaperon's time. Again, my apologies for getting ahead of myself. I should know to wait for Kurt to chime in before adding my own thoughts, especially on this kit/craft.
  2. Brian, for what it's worth, Arabia was built in 1853 and Chaperon in 1884, which spans a pretty significant proportion of the entire steamboat era of US western rivers. I reviewed my various reference books last night and none specifically discuss rudder construction (as opposed to overall design). Also, looking more closely at your post and the kit instructions, it's interesting to me that the kit seems to have two rudders, both of which are entirely one piece pivoting on a single axis. I.e., the part that curves forward under the hull pivots along with the part that extends aft. Am I seeing that correctly? If so, that's really different than how it was done on earlier vessels that I'm more familiar with, like Bertrand, and makes me suspicious that the kit is cheating there although I can't be sure. As far as I know, most sternwheeler rudders were hinged from permanent wings attached to the hull running forward, not from pivoting rods extending up into the hull as the kit seems to have. Here's two images from my Bertrand build, first from the archeological reconstruction and second from my model: The major reason for this was protection; if those forward projections actually rotated on a vertical axis, the rudders would be torn off by debris and/or water pressure in no time. Fixed to the hull, they actually help protect the rudders and provide a much more solid mounting platform. Also, many later boats had two sets of paired rudders (four total), in which the two inboard ones were actually attached to tillers and the two outboard ones were slaved (connected) to them. I have no idea if the real Chaperon used this design, but Bertrand was an early adopter of this design when it was built in 1864 (9 years after Arabia). If you want more detail on this, I can send or post some more images from my collection and resources.
  3. Brian's post made me do a search: I thought I'd told this joke here already, but a search says I didn't, so here goes. When Canada was first founded, no one could agree on what to call it, but everyone was too polite to argue for their own idea or tell anyone else theirs was wrong. So eventually, to break the deadlock, everyone agreed to write letters on lots of slips of paper, throw them in a fur hat, and draw them out one by one. The first combination that made linguistic sense would be the place's name. So the drawing went something like this: "C, eh? N, eh? D, eh?"
  4. Just now ran across your build, so glad to see another Chaperon underway. Your work looks great so far. The deck extension is highly true to the spirit of a real riverboat; they were hard-working vessels that were always getting dinged up, repaired, adjusted, and altered as circumstances warranted. As for the rudder question, you can find more photos of Arabia's rudder in the design thread I wrote up for my current project scratchbuilding her. Her rudder was all-wood, held together by several iron rods threaded through the assembly and the wood sheathing nailed on. I believe Bertrand's were done the same way, one of the few other steamboats to have been excavated. These were both decades prior to Chaperon, and I can't say for sure that's how it was done on the latter. Western river boats tended to have thick, strong rudders that could withstand being knocked about by snags and other debris, and the reason for all-timber construction was easy repair. On a remote river where repair facilities are few and far between and damage fairly common, a rudder made primarily of wood with a minimum of metal was much easier to repair/replace than one with lots of special iron banding and other metalwork. Arabia's could be rebuilt with a tree, an ax, and a few iron rods. You're certainly right about dirty hands and white paints, I've had the same problem on all my riverboats. Although, if you manage it right, some natural dirt and grime adds to the realism, especially for a coal-powered vessel like yours. Keep up the great work!
  5. So Earth without art is Canada? Who knew, eh?
  6. The next mini-project involves the two main pumps next to the boilers. These have to be finished and installed before I attach the next deck. The big on is the "doctor" pump, which draws river water to feed the boilers and for any other major water needs. The odd name comes, supposedly, from the fact that its invention cured a variety of problems in riverboat boiler/engine development. Here's a reminder of what Arabia's doctor pump looked like: As with the other machinery, I knew that (a) I wouldn't be able to craft a perfect replica and (b) it wouldn't be fully visible anyway, so my goal was to craft a reasonable representation of the general idea. There's a lot of stuff going on with this pump, but after some rummaging and head-scratching, my scrap box and other sources around the house turned up some good-enough material. I started by making the main flywheel, for which I used a ring cut from a length of PVC pipe left over in our barn. It's not quite to scale but it was the closest ring-like item I could come up with. I then carefully made the central axle and spokes, not trying to mimic the beautiful swirled shape of the original because I felt it would be beyond me. I used a hollow section of styrene tubing for the central part so I could string this on a piece of wire, making it easier to assemble the whole thing later on. The supporting stanchions are more of the same styrene, drilled to accept the wire "axle". The parallel pump "handles" (not sure just what those are actually called) I shaped from two pieces of wood, then filed and drilled a dowel to hold another piece of wire that would, again, make these easier to mount. So here they are loosely test-fit on a base. I think with some sanding, painting, and finishing detail, they'll blend into a fairly decent representation. This will only ever be seen from the side through parts of the superstructure, in partial shadow. Not sure if I'll get any farther this weekend, got a variety of commitments coming up, but I'd like to get back to more regular updates so figured I'd show this much.
  7. Thanks, all. John, Mrs. Cathead and I are very much on the bird-watcher end of the spectrum. We have only basic camera equipment that we rarely use to try to photograph birds (more often wildflowers and things that don't move). We could easily get sucked deeper into photography, Mrs. Cathead in particular, but we've never really dedicated the budget to it and are generally happy to appreciate others' efforts in that regard. In a parallel way, though, Mrs. Cathead really enjoys recording and analyzing bird vocalizations and has been building up a nice library of "audio photographs" if you think about it that way. We are not twitchers in that we don't care all that much about obsessively building up a life species list, and we're far more interested in observing, studying, and appreciate birds and other flora fauna than we are about listing them. We're reasonably skilled birders and are quite active in our local Audubon Society, editing and producing its newsletter, leading field trips, giving programs, etc. In fact, we're giving an "Introduction to bird vocalization" talk in a few weeks over in Kansas City (a few hours from our rural location). We consider ourselves serious amateur naturalists who are interested in ecology as a whole over any given aspect of it (i.e., we pay attention to wildflowers, mushrooms, insects, native plants, mosses, etc.). We keep a loose life list as it's interesting to know what we've seen, but we consider birding just one aspect of our overall interest in ecology rather than an end unto itself.
  8. I've quietly been working on developing the main deck superstructure in relation to the boiler deck. The downside to pre-building the latter is making sure everything fits just right when it's finally attached to the main deck. I've been doing a lot of measuring and test-fitting. Below are a few images of the current state. This is all test-fitted, not attached permanently (except the wheels and engines), but it gives a nice hint of where the model is going. In the last image, you can see proof that this is a test fit, because the internal stanchions down the center-line are clamped to the boiler deck but don't reach the main deck (and are at a cock-eyed angle)! This is because the former was built flat but will flex with the slight sheer of the main deck once it's installed for good. Before I attach all this permanently, I need to be sure I've got any details I want installed on the main deck. For example, I haven't built the various ancillary pumps that go with the boilers. I will also need to install some of the piping connecting the boilers with the engines. The current plan is to deal with that stuff, take a deep breath and attach the boiler deck, then fill in the rest of the superstructure between the two decks. Progress has been and will continue to be slow. With spring here (compare the outdoors conditions in my last post, three weeks ago, with these) and there's a lot of competition for my non-work time between needs (orchard pruning, final firewood cutting and splitting, fence repair, etc.) and pleasure (spring birding, seasons underway for American soccer & baseball). Thanks for reading, and for patience with my slow progress and intermittent updates.
  9. Looks real nice so far. I love this style of ship and BlueJacket makes a far better kit than the Corel version I built.
  10. Got this from the leader of a bluegrass jam I play with on Sundays: EDIT: I like this phrasing better: What do you call an Irish deck-chair salesman? Paddy O'Furniture
  11. Once again, thanks for all the kind thoughts. We'll always miss our friend, but life does move forward overall. This build got put off even longer by a last-minute trip down to Arkansas to help out my in-laws for almost a week, but I finally made some progress on an important step: permanently installing the wheels and machinery: I took some photos outside since the weather is finally sunny and pleasant. Our region has not gone above 65 °F (~18 °C) for 138 straight days, which is a record going back to the start of data in the late 1800s. Most of that has been cloud, too, our solar panels have been performing well below last year's production. We may finally stop this streak next weekend, but it's not certain. Everything you see is now there to stay. Hopefully I didn't (or don't) screw anything up. Sharp eyes may notice that I didn't include the metal u-bolts that hold each paddle bucket (the horizontal planks) to the frame. I experimented off-model with various ways to do these and couldn't get anything to look right. I finally decided they'd look better without them rather than with crappy, out-of-scale ones. Plus, it'd be a ton of detailed work since there are two u-bolts for every spoke, i.e. 6 per plank, 12 per spoke x 18 spokes just for one wheel. You get the idea. I decided that only experts would notice their absence. Now that this is done, it's time to go back to working on the boiler deck and getting ready to install it. That'll change the look of things dramatically. Thanks for reading, and apologies for the slow progress and intermittent updates. EDIT: Forgot to mention, if you haven't seen this yet, Kurt Van Dahm now has his full series on building the sternwheeler Chaperon available on CD. I ordered a copy and it looks really neat, lots of good info and photos. Even if you're not planning on that specific kit, it's a good resource for learning about building steamboat models in general. I strongly recommend getting a copy.
  12. I use regular clothes pins (pegs) or small metal clamps for the same purpose, works great.
  13. Mark, I know what you mean on the "like" button. I tend to think of it as a "support" button instead, in that it's ok to hit it when someone posts a mistake or a frustrating part of a build. I feel like it lets me say "I'm reading, I'm interested, and I support you in this project". Though I'm obviously not offended when someone doesn't "like" a post like the one above. Carl, thanks for sharing that, what a particularly awful memory to have. It's so easy to be angry about stupid things like this. Sounds like this guy had been involved in hit-and-run aggressive driving incidents before and was still driving! Not only that, he was released from police custody and is now missing with an arrest warrant out. WTF? druxey, as I said for Carl, thanks for sharing. Life is stupid and awful sometimes and it's the rare person who hasn't been through something like this sooner or later.

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