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Steamboat Arabia 1856 by Cathead - Scale 1:64 - sidewheel riverboat from the Missouri River, USA

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I don't think there's a clear answer on why the hurricane deck is called that, any more than the boiler deck. Just one of those terminologies that came into use and stuck. Goodness knows sailing vessels have any number of bizarre or illogical names for things.

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I agree. Just one of those head scratchers that pops into my thoughts while toiling away in the shipyard. 

 

I get the main deck name, since it is the main point of entry to the boat. The boiler deck sits above the boilers (in most cases) so I can see that one to. 

 

Just the hurricane one one struck me as funny.

 

...and don’t get me started on my thoughts of how they came up with the Texas deck. I don’t think there is a river big enough in this state to support a steamboat. At least one that was around during this era. 

 

Just random thoughts. 

 

-Brian

 

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Brian, steamboats certainly worked the Red River between Texas and Oklahoma. For example, consider the Heroine, which sank in 1838, for which there is an amazing (though incomplete) build log here on MSW based on the archeological excavations of the wreck. It's true that Texas rivers were less well-suited to steamboats than others in the Mississippi/Missouri basin, but there are a lot of early examples of their use in the decades leading up to the Civil War, on the Red and other Texas rivers.

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Mtaylor,

 

Truly interesting story. I would have never guessed that’s how it got it’s name. By those same facts, I guess if they run out of names for the larger cabin decks in the future, the Alaska deck is next in line.😀

 

 

Eric,

 

I’ve read stories on the Heroine and have wanted to visit the wreck site since it’s only about an hour drive from me. Just haven’t had the time lately, but it is on my to do list. In all actuality, I’m only two miles from the Red River although where I’m at it is currently a channel under Lake Texoma. The Dennison Dam about 25 miles east of me is pretty much the beginning of any real navigable part of the river these days (no navigation locks to get past it t) Most parts west of the lake are wide, shallow, muddy streams. Not much a shallow draft steamboat couldn’t handle back then though. 

 

-Brian

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On 9/18/2019 at 7:46 PM, Cathead said:

You know how to annoy a Texan? Tell him they're going to split Alaska in two and make Texas the third biggest state.

 

You owe me a keyboard and a monitor for that one, Eric.   I guess that will teach me not to read and drink coffee at the same time.

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I made a bit more progress by permanently combining the texas and the pilothouse, then building stairs down from the latter. I also added the clerestory windows that support the middle (raised) part of the hurricane deck; these provide natural light to the central cabin that runs down the middle of the boiler deck. In these photos, the texas/pilothouse assembly isn't permanently attached to the rest of the model.

 

Arabia_9zb.jpg.f95a7f04113952118b3249394064ec02.jpg

Arabia_9zc.JPG.8ee4bc5c2f8d6c52f9099dbbb3425c70.JPG

As I started to think through the paddleboxes, I came across a conundrum. Many photos of similar vessels show very wide paddleboxes. For example, see the Mary McDonald:

 

h1380-0c53f.jpg

Or the Alice:

h1380-8c0a8.jpg

Both images are from the University of Wisconsin-Lacrosse steamboat collection. These really wide boxes suggest either very wide guards and wheels, or that the boxes extend well past the width of the wheels/guards into the main hull. I can't determine from any images which is correct. Even the museum's Arabia painting (which I don't take as super-accurate) shows really wide paddleboxes:

 

Arabia_1a.jpg

The problem is, this doesn't fit the Arabia's design. She had really narrow wheels and guards, as can clearly be seen from the wreck photos:

 

Arabia_excavation_2.jpg

Arabia_excavation_1.jpg

So is it correct to give her narrow paddleboxes only as wide as the wheels (which makes logical sense to me even if it doesn't look like other boats) or should the boxes somehow extend inboard, over the boiler deck and onto the main superstructure?

 

Here's what I mean on the actual model:

 

Arabia_9zd.jpg.f9926d126662c22a00f6c857f52c917f.jpg

Logically, it seems like the paddleboxes should only cover the wheel itself (dotted line on left). But the super-wide boxes on other vessels imply that these should extend further inboard (such as dotted line on right), covering the passageway. I can't figure out why any builder would do that. The model follows the wreck dimensions pretty closely based on extrapolations from the known wheel dimensions and other information, so I know my wheels and guards are right. Any thoughts on which approach to use and why? Note that I framed this photo to show the painting in the background for comparison. I don't know what to do.

 

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Eric,

 

I always try to go with the solution that is supported by logic when all else fails. Of course, logic (as well as common sense) seems to be in very short supply in the world we live in today. I can see no reason for wide paddleboxes other than to maybe give more room for on the river repairs, maintenance, etc. to the paddles. But given these boats were built to provide their owners with a profit, they would not go the extra expense if they didn't have to.

 

Bob

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Eric:

Unless I am seeing something wrong, the painting shows a wide box but it only comes to the side of the boiler deck cabin.  I think it might be a matter of the visual perspective as to how wide the box appears in the painting.  You have made the paddle wheels and buckets per the wreck and the box should be sized accordingly.  There is nothing gained by making them wider than is needed for clearance of the wheels/buckets. With the photos of the other boats, I think they had wider wheels - thus the wider box.

Kurt

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I think that the clue is/are the small deckhouses attached to the inboard portions of the wheel boxes fore and aft. These are, I believe, the heads that discharge directly down inboard of the wheels.

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 Kurt, if the boxes do extend to the edge of the boiler deck cabin, that means there's a tunnel of sorts under the rounded part of the box. Why would that be? Why wouldn't the box just end at the edge of the wheel, rather than extending the rounded part further inboard as useless space? That's what I can't figure out, why there would even be an implication that box was wider than the wheel.

 

Bob, access is a good idea that I considered too, but there are easier places to access the wheel so I can't see why they would need to do that in this location.

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druxey,  I'm planning to add those, but on their own they don't answer the question because they also seem to end before the boiler deck walkway. Assuming Arabia had narrower wheels than the other boats shown above, there would still be room for small heads there but the question is whether the boxes extend past that, out over the walkway.

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1 hour ago, Cathead said:

 Kurt, if the boxes do extend to the edge of the boiler deck cabin, that means there's a tunnel of sorts under the rounded part of the box. Why would that be? Why wouldn't the box just end at the edge of the wheel, rather than extending the rounded part further inboard as useless space?

Eric:

That's what I meant.  No need for the box to be any wider than adequate clearance for the wheels/buckets.   I think the artist might have used photos of other boats as reference for the painting and the referenced boats had wider wheels.

Kurt

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Eric,

When in doubt, go with the plans, photos, and wreck itself.   Since these were designed and build by many yards, all sorts of variations are possible.

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Michael, indeed, that's particularly true for the Missouri; there's a reason it's known as the Big Muddy.

 

One broader question here relates to the layout of the heads, which I'm realizing I don't understand as well as I thought I did. Most photos of other steams show a set of doors running parallel to the longitudinal axis of the hull. I would have thought that they'd line up with their backs to the paddlebox to facilitate depositing their contents straight down, but the way they look in the photos they'd be depositing onto the deck below, well forward or aft of the paddle area. So were there slanting shafts or something (which sounds unecessarily complex and dirty)? Am I missing something?

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Eric,

 

She's really becoming a beautiful model.

 

I am by no means an expert on steamboats. Most of what I know I have learned from you, Kurt and many others in the discussions on this forum. However, during my reading of some of these builds, just about all of which you have contributed to in some sort of fashion, there have been many a discussion on the paddle wheel box size. All of which bring up great arguments for the differences in the sizes of the paddle boxes.

 

In Greg's build of the Heroine around post #544 there is an in depth discussion of the size of her paddle boxes in relation to the size of her paddle wheel. One of your comments in this build was the possibility the extra room was to allow for any debris picked up by the paddle wheel to pass through without causing too much destruction to the housings or as Bob said earlier (post # 342), the extra room could have been built in for ease of river maintenance. All good reasons for the over sizing of the paddle box.

 

On the other hand, as Bob also stated, would the owners have gone though the added expense to make them over sized and would they have built them so wide as to block passage from fore to aft as you stated. I know these were not luxury liners, but accommodations could have been made for the ease of paying customers to walk the length of the boat without having to go between decks to get there.

 

Even after studying the excavation pictures above there is truly no definitive answer other than the superstructure supporting the paddle wheels could have been used for the upper decks support as well as the support for the top of the paddle boxes. For what it's worth, my two cents is that I tend to believe that the paddle boxes on Arabia would have not been too much wider than the paddle wheels. Their inboard walls would have fell in line with the superstructure supports of the paddle wheels and that room would have been provided for passengers and crew to pass between the walls of the paddle box and the boiler deck walls.

 

I know this isn't much help with your conundrum, but either way you decide to build her I'm sure she will come out looking outstanding. 

 

-Brian

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I believe that the compartments for the heads continued inside the boxes or sponsons, bringing them closer over the shafts.

 

Another consideration I seem to recall from reading years ago was the issue of trapped air inside the sponsons if they were too tight to the wheels.

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Here's a drawing of what I'm trying to figure out:

 

Arabia_head_question.jpg.438347e059b7939c086f62b27dda9fbd.jpgSide

Side view and top view. On the left is what photographs of actual boats seem to show; heads arranged in parallel along the deck, such that their discharge  wouldn't go into the paddlebox unless there were some kind of sloping chute. How would these reach the water without hitting the solid deck below (which is only open within the paddlebox)? But this matches the arrangement of doors seen in photos of several similar vessels.

 

On the right is what I would do logically, arrange the heads along the edge of the paddlebox with a bit of internal overhang, so they discharge directly into the water. But that would have a series of doors running along the edge of the paddlebox, which doesn't look like any of the photos. For example, here are a couple zooms:

 

Arabia_head_question2.jpg.e0928b40dde4e1ae348c30307798dd37.jpg

Am I missing something? How do these interact with the paddle box in a practical and sanitary way?

 

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I think that the arrangement would be similar to your illustration, right hand side, across the box. The access would be from the inboard side, with only a single head per compartment.

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Only a little progress. I spent a bunch of time playing around with different mockups of the heads and their associated strucures, working out what seemed right to me in the physical model. Here's what I ended up building in wood:

 

Arabia_9ze.jpg.ee2a709f2d41a95b72cb3a63d2b0190a.jpg

Arabia_9zf.jpg.34f9bb8b6f797599801bbbfbabf254b7.jpg

These need some finishing work, but I think I'm happy with how they capture the essence of the structures seen on contemporary images.

 

There won't be any more updates for a while, as we're about to leave on vacation, taking a road trip to the lower Great Lakes to visit family and do lots of hiking and exploration. Among other things, we plan to visit the Erie Maritime Museum (home of the Niagara) and a variety of early star forts along Lake Ontario. Once we get back, work and life will be super-busy. Hopefully I can get back to this model by mid-November.

 

Take care and thanks for reading.

 

 

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Enjoy your trip/vacation. Will you visit the Niagara/Toronto area? Remember the Art Gallery of Ontario Thomson ship model collection if you are up this way!

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It's been a month, suppose I should update this log. Following a two-week trip to Western New York to visit family in my land of origin, I slowly got back to the model desk. I've pretty much completed the heads and related structures along with the framing of the wheel housings.

 

First, here's the "open" side of the model, the side of which won't be planked over (the top will). I designed the inner framing supporting the arch based on drawings by Alan Bates.

Arabia_9zg.jpg.27779b4ccc0dbb7273ac56a2aab5551d.jpg

Arabia_9zh.jpg.dbfc250fdefdc8bf9395d069e9e6f0ec.jpg

And here's the "closed" side. The entire housing and the area in front of the stacked crates will be planked over.

 

Arabia_9zi.jpg.fb08c73d90be5e9d75725d331cf7e41d.jpg

Arabia_9zj.jpg.b36ec7ce9f8fee42e73c9b7187ed24f3.jpg

Here's a top view. The upper roof surfaces will be covered by the hurricane deck so aren't painted or otherwise finished; I used scrap sheet wood for these, which is why their appearance varies.

 

Arabia_9zk.jpg.a52bb9040f05d15ec85773b7a77af55a.jpg

Fun note, these were taken with my new cell phone, the first one I've ever owned. I have decidedly mixed feelings about this, but the world moves on and it's becoming ever more difficult to operate without one, even for a rural recluse like me.

 

Finally, two photos of maritime interest from our trip. First, me at the Sodus Point lighthouse along Lake Ontario. Growing up, I learned to sail in the bay this lighthouse guards, my mother's second marriage took place here, and I took my high school senior photos here.

Sodus_Point_lighthouse.jpg.026f2f32707b364cdd07f7374d94714a.jpg

 

Second, a work boat and barge entering a lock on the Erie Canal, taken by Mrs. Cathead. She had fun watching a full lock cycle as this little fella went through. Looks like a fun someday model subject, and the canal lock would make a neat diorama. The Erie Canal played a large role in my upbringing as well, and I love returning to it.

 

Erie_Canal_workboat.jpg.7c0cf16e09b7bae294e5e7c658af0069.jpg

We also had a good time visiting the Erie Maritime Museum in Pennsylvania (home of the Niagara), Niagara Falls, and lots of very hikeable waterfalls and gorges in the Finger Lakes region. Fun fact, we missed an historic event at Niagara Falls by one day. There's a wrecked scow that's been stranded just above the falls for over 100 years without moving. It moved downriver during a strong storm the day after we were there; would have loved to see that change!

 

Thanks for reading, we'll see if I get back to more regular updates from now on.

 

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