Jump to content

Chaperon Sternwheeler Steamer 1894 by Mike Dowling


Recommended Posts

Greetings fellow modellers,

 

I have returned having had a break and built a couple of carriages to the world of boats. I am going to build another paddle steamer, the Chaperon. 1:48 scale - a big boat !!

 

Thinking I was being clever I bought several kits on ebay in the model expo sale. I completely forgot that you have to pay import duty and vat on arrival in the UK. To add insult to injury the Post Office (bless them) than charge an additional £8 to deliver them. So, they were not the bargains I thought !! Beware UK buyers.

 

Anyway, the Chaperon was on of the kits. The first thing I have to say is that the wood quality of these kits is abysmal, Brittania metal castings are so fragile and bendy that they are hardly worth having and the quality and quantity of the instructions is minimal at best. The plans provided however are extremely good and they need to be because you have to work from them mostly. Not good for some of the modellers out there who don't like plans. It is also unfortunate these days that all their measurements are in imperial measures unless like me you are old enough to remember them. Also no measurements for pieces are given and not all the plans are 1/1 so you have to measure against parts of the kit already built.

 

Still, enough wingeing , I have put the false keel together and cut out the bulkheads (all 29 of them) soon to be attached !!

 

 

 

 

post-10647-0-35725200-1467900490_thumb.jpg

post-10647-0-56471700-1467900518_thumb.jpg

post-10647-0-70704900-1467900548_thumb.jpg

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Hey, Mike, welcome back. I'm so glad to see a new log for this kit, as an American riverboat aficionado. I'll be very interested in following along and learning more about what the kit is like, as from afar it seems to be one of the few reasonably accurate steamboat kits out there.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Mike:

This is just my opinion of the kit - offered as another viewpoint not argument.

 

I built the Chaperon when it was first released.  I thought it was one of the best engineered kits produced and except for rigging materials I didn't find that the materials provided were not of good quality - with the exception of the very small square strip wood meant to represent the battens on the board and batten cabin siding.  I replaced this with cherry strips I cut.  I know that woods can vary from time to time so your might not be as good as mine were.

 

As to the plans, I thought they were exceptionally well done - the isometric views can help the builder see the model in 3D unlike the standard 2D 3 views of most plans.  The plans provided adequate full size drawings for the parts that needed to be sized to the plans.  There are inaccuracies - the hog posts do not extend down into the hull.  The pilothouse windows need to be reworked - small panes of glass were not used in the front windows of riverboats. 

 

But, the faults do not take away from this kit being by far one of the best riverboat kits on the market.  I had a lot of research materials for this boat as well as a prototype of the original kit that Model Shipway's never actually produced - 1/8" scale, solid hull.  I knew the inaccuracies of the original plans and shared details with the kit designer - not all were corrected as the kit was pretty far along in development but it turned out to be a great kit in my opinion.

 

The photos attached are of my model - the bow on view - and the other is of the model built by Sam Parent that was entered in the 2016 contest at the WI Maritime Museum.  Sam's model corrected the hog posts and added the monkey rudders behind the stern wheel - this was a feature found on many riverboats but not on the original Chaperon - he named the model Barbara Ann after his wife.  Sam added a lot more details than I had included - it is a great model - and earned a gold medal.

 

Anyway, I know you will enjoy building the Chaperon.  I will be happy to share details of the pilot house windows and the hog chains and their turnbuckles.  I could not believe that the kit included photo etched turnbuckles!  Flat brass at this scale just doesn't cut it.

 

Take care,

Kurt

post-177-0-33118700-1467907260_thumb.jpg

post-177-0-05077700-1467907295.jpg

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Thank you so much Kurt for your thoughtful reply. I hope you will keep watching and advise me as go along. I have to say despite my original comments that I have now dry fitted the bulkheads and I impressed not only with how well they fit but also how square they are without any trimming (pictures to follow). I plan to fair the bow section before gluing as far as I can and, to an extent the stern. More to follow soon.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Mike:

I will be following.  Don't hesitate to ask anything about this build.  I did a 6 issue build of it in Ships in Scale magazine and if I don't remember any specific detail I have all my text and photos to fall back on.  I probably have a photo of just about anything you might run into building the Chaperon and will be glad to post to help.

 

I mentioned that these riverboats didn't use the small panes of glass for windows in the pilothouse.  The drawings below are of the original Chaperon plans and then the drawing (Fig. 99) from Alan Bates'  Steamboat Cyclopedium showing the typical arrangement of windows.  They agree very closely but the kit provides small window panes for the front "window" area that never actually had any sort of window glass.  The front frame pieces were cut down and used to make sliding windows on the sides as shown on the Fig. 99 drawing from the Bates book.

 

Kurt

post-177-0-05060500-1467923138.jpg

post-177-0-60062800-1467923149_thumb.jpg

Link to comment
Share on other sites

As long as we are critiquing this model kit, a discrepancy appears to be the use of generic round bottom ships boats.

 

Western Rivers steamships were outfitted with specialized flat bottom yawl boats. These boats had wide sterns and flaring topsides to allow heavy loads, particularly heavy mooring lines to be carried over the stern without capsizing. This is a distinctive feature of these vessels that the kit producers probably ignored in favor of stock fittings.

 

The Ohio River Museum in Marietta, Ohio has one of these boats on display, but that won't do you much good in Scotland. Drawings of these boats are included in American Small Sailing Craft, pages 98 and 99 by Howard Chapelle if you can find a copy and plans have been published in the Nautical Research Journal at least once. The Ohio River Museum has a website. They are also related to the Campus Martius museum also in Marietta and it might be easier to talk or email a live person there.

 

Roger Pellett

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Roger:

W/o taking over Mike's build - I read your comments about the flat bottomed boats with interest - makes perfect sense.  And I don't dispute that this might have been the most common type of boat carried.  Like I said it makes sense. 

 

But I thought that this was something I should have caught doing my research.  So I went to my file on the Chaperon to see what the photos I have might tell me about the boats on the Chaperon.  I have a whole bunch more of the Chaperon than what I have posted here. And some show only a direct side view of the boats on the Chaperon and from a profile I can't tell if they are flat bottomed or not though some show a low rake angle at the bow which makes me think you are partly correct as related to the Chaperon.

 

However, the photos I have attached of the Chaperon do show that the boats in the photos are not flat bottomed boats with large flares.  They do have flat transoms unlike the kit boats though one photo (bottom photo) does show a boat almost identical to the kit boats.  These are the photos from my collection with the best views of the boats - most don't even show the boats due to angles and some are too fuzzy to tell.

 

So, at least in the case of the Chaperon the kits boats can be used with some authenticity.  But, I am going to look into this further.  You don't per chance have any idea of what issues of the Journal might have had the plan(s) you referred to?  Maybe we should take this to the other forum on general discussion  STEAMBOATS & OTHER RIVERCRAFT - GENERAL DISCUSSION  so Mike's build log isn't taken over by this?  Although if we keep it to the Chaperon it's a fit here.

 

Take care,

Kurt

 

post-177-0-14745500-1467935321_thumb.jpg

post-177-0-13534200-1467935340_thumb.jpg

post-177-0-16708500-1467935368_thumb.jpg

post-177-0-80177100-1467935401_thumb.jpg

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Kurt & Roger,

 

Any insights into the whaleboat-like craft shown in the final photo, which as Kurt noted is more similar to the kit boats? I didn't know anything like that was used on the rivers, I assumed everything had a flat transom like a regular rowboat. The photo boat seems shallower draft than the kit boats, too, unless I'm seeing it wrong.

 

Mike, thanks, but I'm an amateur compared to Kurt and others. I can't wait to learn more about this from you and the rest.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Hi Kurt,

 

The boat in the first photo is not an Ohio River Yawl boat. It does look like some sort of round bottomed boat. The boats in the next two photos are typical Ohio River yawls- fairly wide and their top sides show considerable flair all the way back to the transom. I have no idea what the boat in the fourth photo is. It almost looks like a lumberman's bateau.

 

Alan Bates includes a brief description of these yawl boats in his Western Rivers Steamboat Cyclopedium.

 

I'll have to do some searching to find the information that I am looking for in the NRJ.

 

So it appears that Chaperon had a variety of boats during her life. That's not hard to believe.

 

Roger

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Thanks Kurt, I am still not there yet !!! But the pictures are much appreciated. Whilst I have no wish to make this harder than it is already, a couple of your photos look like the pilot house (see I'm learning already !) has a sort of conservatory/glass house roof ! The two other paddle steamers I have done, the OcCre  Spirit of Mississippi (which I know was not a real boat ) and the Robert E Lee, just had a flat roof with decoration round the sides. I would be interested to know which is right although I don't think my skills are up to fashioning a fancy one. Also I notice the last picture you sent doesn't have whistle !!!

 

Whilst here, thank you so much all of you who have contributed already, I really didn't expect so much attention. It is a bit daunting. Also I am thinking of buying the Artesania Latina 'King of the Mississippi'. Do any of you paddlesteam enthusuasts know is it worth getting ?

Link to comment
Share on other sites

While I've never handled the AL kit, to my eye it looks toylike; out of scale and inaccurate. An attractive model can be made from it, just not a realistic one. So it depends on what you want.

 

If you're really into realistic steamboats, there are a number of craft with good plans available that you could scratchbuild. From what I've seen, your skills are more than enough for that undertaking.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Cathead I am blushing !! The only thing I scratchbuilt and I have to admit not all of it was the Lady Smith. I have seen some of you scratchbuilds which I envy hugely. I just don't know how you manage it - amateur indeed !!! Looks pretty expert from where I sit. Anyway, thanks for the advice - much appreciated.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Mike:

The photo shows a flat roof - covered with simulated tar paper - and it matches the  photos of the real Chaperon I posted earlier.  I am confused by your description of the roof.  The decorations surrounding the roof are kit supplied.  The photo is of the pilot house prior to it being installed onto the model.  I tend to keep the installation of small pieces until later in the build when possible, to avoid knocking bits off during construction.

 

Mike, it's only my opinion, but I do not like the King of the Mississippi kit as I think it's unrealistic .  However, that's my opinion and if you like it by all means go ahead with it.  There is only one person you need to please with the model you build - YOU.  You are the Captain of your boat and you can paint it the color you like, add anything you like and make it YOUR model.  I am curious as to what the others think about the KotM kit.

 

Take a look at the Train Troll web site for some realistic small towboat / tug kits.  I just built the Smokey Duck kit and saw all of their kits (assembled) at the last NRG Conference.  I have the Smokey Duck in it's case displayed atop the Chaperon's case.  Same scale and it makes a great contrast.  But the kit is among the best engineered kits I have built and I will build more.  www.traintroll.com 

 

Kurt

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Mike, I'm not sure what it means to be a "friend" in this system but it sounds benign enough!

 

For reference, this site is where I ordered plans for the Far West. I'm sure Kurt, Roger, and others will be quite helpful if and when you want to start looking at ideas. In the meantime, sorry for contributing to the takeover of your log, and look forward to the resumption of the topic at hand.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Cathead, all done with the best intentions and thanks for your advice re Kurt and Roger.

Kurt, sorry if I confused you about the roof. I made the comments from a couple of your photos not the drawings.

 

Anyway, I have been pushing on and now have all the bulkheads on the false keel lovely and square. Not that I can take much credit for that, I had to do very little adjustment as the pieces were so well laser cut. Putting the stringers on was therefore really easy. Also the lovely people who designed this kit had the excellent foresight to mark the fairing with laser lines. If you look at frames 4 and 5 which I have not faired yet you will see what I mean. I know heaps of folk have trouble with fairing - what a shame other kit manufacturers don't help like this.

 

So I just have to fair those last bulkheads and it will be on to the job I always dread the most, hull planking.

 

Some pictures on the progress thus far.

 

 

 

post-10647-0-43751400-1468076410_thumb.jpg

post-10647-0-85602700-1468076439_thumb.jpg

post-10647-0-20718900-1468076467_thumb.jpg

post-10647-0-34580800-1468076518_thumb.jpg

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Mike:

Do not dread planking this hull.  It's pretty straightforward.  I wet the planks that needed fitting for about 2 minutes, clamped them in place till dry and then glues them in place - no stress on the glue joints.  Just be careful with clamping force as the basswood can crush easily when wet.

Kurt

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Hey Mike,

Now that I have connected you to this build I will follow along with interest. Both our boats are at a similar stage so it will be fun as we continue along. I agree with Kurt. Given the number of bulkheads on your model and the apparent care you took to fair them, I think the planking will go very smoothly.

Marv

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Join the conversation

You can post now and register later. If you have an account, sign in now to post with your account.

Guest
Reply to this topic...

×   Pasted as rich text.   Paste as plain text instead

  Only 75 emoji are allowed.

×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.

 Share

  • Recently Browsing   0 members

    • No registered users viewing this page.
×
×
  • Create New...