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3-D Armenia by SalD – Hudson River Sidewheeler, 1847

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For those of you who have been directed here from my Armenia build in the ‘Build Logs for SCRATCH SHIP MODEL PROJECTS’, please bear with me.  For those of you not coming from that build link I will be developing a 3-D model of the Hudson River sidewheeler, Armenia.  Briefly, the Armenia (1847-1886) was built by Thomas Collyer, New York. She had a wood hull with an overall length of 187 feet, a molded beam of 28 feet with an extreme beam of 50 feet with a depth of 8 feet 6 inches. She displaced 391 tons. She was powered by a Henry Dunham vertical (walking) beam engine. The paddlewheels are 29 feet 4 inches in diameter by 8 feet 3 inch wide.  I will be following drawings, by F. Van Loon Ryder dated 1954, 1/8” (1:96) scale, resized to 3/16” scale.  The purpose of building this model is to help me better understand how to actually physically build this model from scratch and to learn 3-D cad.


I will be building this model with AutoCAD version 2013.  I’ve used AutoCAD for close to 30 years now but never its 3-D functions.  This will be my first attempt at a 3-D model so all you proficient users of 3-D cad, if you see me doing something really stupid please don’t hesitate to let me know.  That goes for all you steamboat experts also, as this is my first steam powered boat, if you notice that I am making some major faux pas on the ship please let me know.


Alright enough talk lets draw something.


I started by scanning the hard copy of the drawings and making .tiff files of them.  Those files were then inserted into AutoCAD and scaled to 3/16” (1:64) scale.  Using the Body Line drawing I laid the keel using a polyline and sweep command.





Next I used polylines to trace over the body line cross sections. From these tracings I extruded the bulkheads needed to form the hull.






A little a## backwards with this next step but using the bulkheads I formed the bulkhead former.  Slots were made in each bulkhead with matching ones in the bulkhead former.  These pieces will be used as templates to construct the actual model.




Once all the bulkheads and the bulkhead former (BF) were completed I used the ‘loff’ command between each bulkhead to create the hull.  OMG, if real planking could be this easy.




Hull complete.



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Nice job! You should be finished in no time!

Thanks Elijah, It'd be nice if I could build the real thing that quickly.


That hull form should not be too hard to plank, when you get to the real thing. Nice start, Sal!

Thanks druxey, you're right about the hull planking, there's not too much of it.

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Now, because the ships engine will be such a defining part of the actual model my thinking right now is to make room for it in the hull.  To do that a portion of some of the bulkheads, and of the BF will need to be cut away.  The plan is to do cut them out after all the hull planking is complete so the model is sturdier. 


This picture shows the area required for the boiler and engine.





Bulkheads and BF cut away.





Then I thought, to help stiffen the hull, walls should be added to form out the engine compartment, although not part of the actual ship.




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I don’t know if this next step is 100% correct but for easy of installing the main deck beams I thought I would run them across the top of the bulwarks and hull in one piece.  The main deck floor beams are 4”x 6” (1/16”x3/32”) and are equally spaced at 2’-4 ½”.  These were made from extruded shapes placed on top of the hull and bulkheads.








An 8”x10” (1/8”x5/32”) guard timber was placed around the perimeter of the deck beams and faced with a 2” x 10” (1/32”x5/32”) plank.  Wales were added at the top of the hull following the sheer and deck beam braces were added






The deck itself was constructed using a surface command and given a thickness of 2”.  For clarity the decking won’t be shown to often.




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Next I decided to work on the paddlewheels.  I started with the crank arm with dimensions taken from the drawing.  I also learnt that the length of the arm will be half of the stroke length.  So with a stroke of 14’ the arm is 7 feet long.




The flanges for the paddlewheel arms were next. Followed by the shaft.





The buckets (paddles) on the paddlewheel are 8’-3” long by 2’-4” wide.  There are 13 main buckets and 13 intermediate buckets per wheel.  The wheel was 29’-4” in diameter and rotated at a speed of 17rpm.


One question I had about the buckets is; are they made of one piece of wood 28” wide or of three planks 9 1/4” wide?





After making one set of the main and intermediate buckets it was very simple to array (copy) them 13 times around the center hub.  Iron bands were added as shown on the drawings.






After one paddlewheel was completed it was just a matter of copying it to the other side for the complete paddlewheel assemble




I like this view.




wheels set in the hull



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I couldn’t find too much information on what the boiler would look like so I took some artist liberties.  From the drawings I knew its diameter and length, stack location and the stack height and diameter.  I wasn’t sure about the number or location of the doors used to load the coal so I guessed at two.






I also took some liberties and added a pressure gauge and sight glass.  I always made fun of the designers at work when they added nuts and bolts to pieces of equipment that would never be seen when you printed out the drawing but now I know why they did it, it's fun.






Boiler fit on the plans




Boiler in the ship



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Very nice. Are you going to do a virtual tour of your model when done? If so then all those little details will be visible and really cool to see then. That is one advantage of 3D models, you can zoom in or remove layers to see those hidden gems much easier than physical models. 

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lovely 3D rendering Sal,



I wish I could do such skilled and awsome designing with aid of my PC....

I read in your introduction to this project that you are having at least 30 years of Auto Cad experience, and that shows...., 

Unfortunately during my active business time I never found someone who was able to describe the way of 3D design thinking in understandable way to me, versa the "old"  three views drawings during my time of career. I believe the 3D design is a complete different approach in thinking is`nt it ?



Edited by Mirabell61
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Very nice. Are you going to do a virtual tour of your model when done?


Thanks EJ,  I was thinking about doing that but at the moment I don't know how.  I'll need to do research on the subject.


I have little knowledge of this subject, but would the boiler also have two or three relief valves?




Thanks Wayne,  I think the boiler has one large relief valve that I'm working on now.



Unfortunately during my active business time I never found someone who was able to describe the way of 3D design thinking in understandable way to me, vesa the "old"  three views drawings during my time of career. I believe the 3D design is a complete different approach in thinking is`nt it ?




Thanks Nils and I agree with you in that although 3D design drawings are nice and you can show the client a pretty picture you can't really building anything from them.  You still need simple 2D drawings showing plan views and elevations.  Maybe I'm too old fashion and that's why it took me 30 years to learn 3D.

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The next part I worked on was what I think is some sort of pressure relief valve in the main steam line from the boiler to the engine.  From the drawings it appears to be a weighted lever with a plunger type valve that if too much pressure builds up would be forced up allowing the steam to be bypassed to a blow off stack.   I’m not too sure what the purpose the block and tackle at the end would serve other than setting how far the plunger would need to rise before the steam was bypassed.


Original  drawing layout





Modeled relief valve





Weighted lever.





Block & Tackle  The rope in the blocks are just two separate lines, I haven't tried making realist looking rope reeved through the blocks yet (well, actually I tried but the results weren't pretty).





Valve in place off of stack



Edited by _SalD_
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I like your observation that the block and tackle would support the arm when pressure was below the relief setting.


Could the block and tackle also raise and then secure the valve in an open position so as to blow off steam quickly?  Perhaps in an emergency situation or if the boiler was being shut down?  Is the outside ball smaller (lighter) than the inside ball?  Perhaps this is the manner of making a fine adjustment to the valve, especially if the arm were calibrated on the opposite side.  


Again, great work on the 3D modeling.  Rope can be something of a bear to make until you get the hang of it (no pun). 



Edited by wrkempson
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Wayne, thanks for looking and all good questions.  They probably did use the valve to blow off steam, bypassing the engine, for both reasons you mentioned.  I didn't notice until you asked but the outside ball does scale a bit smaller than the inside one.  I'm not sure if that was intended or if they were suppose to be equal.  It probably did work like an arm scale where the weights are movable to get the correct relief pressure they wanted. 


As for the rope, straight I can do, going around the sheave... a different story.

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I started working on the walking beam engine by first modeling the walking beam.  The dimensions were taken by scaling the drawing.




Building the model laying flat







Nice thing about 3D models is that you can build parts in any order and put them in place.





Next I modeled the support frame for the beam based on the drawing dimensions.


Bearings at the top of the frame that supports the beam.




The main vertical members are 12”x12” timber.  For the bracing tie rods I used 1 ½” diameter rods.






beam in frame, still need to add the main support shaft.





As a side note I made a little virtual walkthrough around the relief valve that I posted but you couldn't play it, so I deleted it.  I guess you can’t post videos here.

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