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

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Eric,

 

Maybe a little on the pucker-factor side, but not worth teeth gnashing.

 

Besides, the protective heat shield on the smokestacks will protect those beams from any fire danger. She's really looking good. 

 

-Brian

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So I made another big mistake. Afterward, I realized that it's become a pattern lately, I think because life has gotten really stressful and I was using modelling as an outlet but this also meant I wasn't focused on what I was doing.

 

So I started laying out the forward part of the hurricane deck. Below, the starboard side is being glued down. Notice any problem?

 

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That's right, I forgot to measure and cut the hole for the chimney or even install the chimney. I also didn't fully color the underside with pastel, used too much glue (causing an ugly color smear underneath) and didn't hold the part over the heads (by the wheel) down long enough, so the glue expanded and peeled it back up. I was so upset when I discovered all this, but it's what happens when I'm not focused. I had to step away for a week and not look at the model.

 

Gradually I was able to think through ways to deal with this. I carefully measured, drilled, cut, and sanded the chimney hole, which was nerve-wracking as the strucure is delicate and any breakage would be very difficult to repair. I sliced out and fixed the glue-warped part. I can't do anything about the color smear underneath, but at least it's hard to see from most angles. Here's the fixed deck, with clamps still holding down the repaired back part.

 

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Here I'm attaching more of the deck:

 

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Here's how I meant to do the starboard side, until I sat down for stress relief and got ahead of myself. Here, I've pre-measured and cut the hole so that the deck piece can just drop down on top of the already installed chimney, and made sure to fully color the underside.

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So now the whole hurricane deck is installed. Here are two views of the current status.

 

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It will be another few weeks before any updates as we'll be taking several short trips to Arkansas to help my in-laws with various things. I hope when that's over I can focus again and keep going. Next, I'll be applying the "tar paper" covering of this deck and painting it all black. Then it's railing time.

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Hi Eric, I know the feeling, I too am guilty of such processes - moving ahead without being fully focussed.   I wish you well in your travels and I am sure you will be able to fix the 'boo boos'.

 

cheers

 

Pat

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Eric,  

 

Nice job job on the “adjustments”. I don’t want to even get into the number of times I have sat down to a build to get my mind off of life, only to realize that I got my mind off of everything. Including my build.

 

I just look at it this way. More time spent working on a hobby we love. Not to mention it’s good practice. Lord knows I can use all the practice I can get. 

 

Watching your build gets me through the withdrawals I am having while my Chaperon sits in a box. 

 

-Brian

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25 minutes ago, mbp521 said:

I don’t want to even get into the number of times I have sat down to a build to get my mind off of life, only to realize that I got my mind off of everything. Including my build.

Nicely put! It's impressive how much a few supportive comments can change one's perspective.

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16 hours ago, Cathead said:

I was so upset when I discovered all this, but it's what happens when I'm not focused. I had to step away for a week and not look at the model.

At least you didn't burn it in disgust. It is always better to step away, I wish I could be as disciplined. Great recovery.

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Nah, if I'd been that upset I'd have jammed a broken branch through the bow, installed some broken stacks and tangled rigging, buried it at an angle in brown-tinted epoxy, and called it a wreck model.

 

Or given it the fate of the Saluda, which blew up near Lexington, MO with such force that the boat's safe landed on the river bluffs.

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John, your comment reminded me of a Mark Twain quote about being in a steamboat pilot house, which I looked up to ensure I got it right. This refers to one of the big, fancy, Mississippi riverboats, but the concept applies to the Arabia as well.

 

Quote

When I stood in her pilot-house I was so far above the water that I seemed perched on a mountain; and her decks stretched so far away, fore and aft, below me . . . the pilot house was a sumptuous glass temple

 

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The last three weeks have been very stressful and time-consuming for a bunch of reasons I don't need to go into here. This morning was the first time I've felt focused and sane enough to return to the model. The next step involves laying out the tarpaper covering of the hurricane deck. Kurt's digital book on building the Chaperon has some very good advice for simulating this material (see p. 55 and onward), but I adapted this to use a method I like that worked well on my Bertrand. While Kurt used silkspan and matte medium (two things I don't otherwise have on hand), I used masking tape and wood glue (which I have in abundance).

 

I had to determine a proper scale width for the tarpaper, which would have been applied from rolls. Kurt suggests 3 feet. My roll of masking tape meaures a scale 5 feet wide, so cutting this in half produces a reasonable 2.5 foot strip. I used the grid on my cutting mat as a guide for this. First, I laid a strip of tape on the mat, aligned with its grid, then carefully sliced it in half lengthwise using a knife and metal straightedge:

 

IMG_0281.jpg.26ceb97d7490dc7807cad256514ff895.jpg

I then made a test roof using scrap wood and multiple tape strips, then painted it with diluted black and rubbed dark grey pastel over it. The result looked as I wanted. It's hard to see in photos, but the tape has a really nice rough texture that I think looks really good in person.

 

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So I started on the model, working from the stern. I used a brush of roughly the same width as the tape strips to lay glue, then pressed each strip into place. I used pencil to make guiding marks as needed. I cut the strips to create a staggered pattern, just like planking.

 

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Here's how far I've gotten. As with planking, the staggering means that you have to work forward over the whole model, so that's what I'm doing. I'll let this batch dry before doing more.

 

Thanks for reading.

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Thanks for the tip Eric. I am getting close to "tar papering" my Chaperon and your results have convinced me to give this a try. I was getting a little anxious about using Kurt's silkspan method. Don't ask me why, it just looked to be something I could mess up big time.

 

Glad to see you back at the Arabia.

 

Bob

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Bob, I'd definitely recommend testing the method off-model first, to figure out the quirks. One thing to consider is that too much paint can loosen the glue, especially at the corners and edges, making annoying curls. That's one reason I like to finish with pastels, so I'm not tempted to overpaint. Of course, a few imperfections just help with the hard-used working boat effect. I bet the real tarpaper got scuffed and torn. I hope it works for you and will be interested to hear about your experience.

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Oh, not to worry, I learned the hard way a long time ago to always test first before doing anything on the model. I have never used pastels in any fashion before so this will be a new experience. Who knows, with my painting skills I may just mess the thing up using only the paint to get that hard-used work boat effect. I will let you know how it turns out.

 

Bob

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Eric - one thing I forgot to ask is in the pictures of your test roof, it appears you laid the tape down with no over lapping (both along the sides of each strip and the joints) unlike the method shown in Kurt's tutorial. Could that have had something to do with the curling issue you mentioned? Or is it just not apparent in the pictures. 

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Bob, good eye and good question. Just a personal preference. I think I used a very small overlap when I did the roofing of the Texas and pilothouse, but here decided to lay it flat. Kurt's way is probably more realistic given that there would need to be sealed seams. However, the longitudinal seams would need to be carefully placed so that they shed water downslope (like shingles on a roof). On my hurricane deck, I really wanted to work from the inside out to ensure a good fit (easier to trim at the outer edges of the deck than in a central strip), which meant that overlapping seams would be facing the wrong way. I don't think the effect will be very noticeable either way, though I supposed at the Chaperon's large scale (1:48 instead of my 1:64) it would be that much more noticeable.

Again, wouldn't hurt to test both ways on scrap and see which you like better.

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On 2/15/2020 at 5:07 PM, Cathead said:

Bob, I'd definitely recommend testing the method off-model first, to figure out the quirks. One thing to consider is that too much paint can loosen the glue, especially at the corners and edges, making annoying curls. That's one reason I like to finish with pastels, so I'm not tempted to overpaint. Of course, a few imperfections just help with the hard-used working boat effect. I bet the real tarpaper got scuffed and torn. I hope it works for you and will be interested to hear about your experience.

Eric,

 

Glad to see you back. Interesting method on the tarpaper roofing, I had gone with Kurt's method of silkspan and matte paint on my Chaperon, but I may play round with your pastel method as a comparison for future builds.

 

I definitely agree with testing off the model first though. It saves time and a lot of headaches. My only issue with prior testing is sometimes I get it right the first time (the test piece) and second time around (the actual model) fails to come out the way I wanted it to. On my Chaperon, my test pieces came out almost perfectly (not to toot my own horn), but after testing and applying to my build it didn't come out the same. I had issues with the sides curling up and too much overlap of the "tar seam" (where my glue mixture simulated the tar oozing out between the layers of tarpaper.

 

But as they always say, third times a charm and practice makes perfect. So I sanded it all down and tried again. Worked better that time.

 

-Brian

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Finished the hurricane deck!

 

Full masking-tape tarpaper prior to painting:

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After a coat of thinned black paint as a base layer

 

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After rubbing on dark pastel powder to soften the texture:

 

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I added some moulding along the skylights to hide the joints, and will likely to the same around the wheelboxes.

 

In  separate project, we rearranged our living room, allowing the model desk to rotate 90°. It used to face the wall with my back to the room, which I never liked. Now it faces into the rest of the room with a nice view out the window, which is much more pleasant. So this is where the magic happens...

 

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I'm starting to think about railings for the boiler deck. Handmaking all those railings won't be fun and I want to come up with a way that won't drive me crazy but still look ok.

 

Thanks for reading

 

 

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Eric,

 

I love the way the roof came out with your technique. The tape better defines the tar paper lines. The silkspan that I used on my build was a little thin and really can't be seen with the exception of where the Modge Podge "oozes" out between strips and the paint is a little shinier that the rest of the roof. I may have try this method on my next steamboat build. 

 

Also, a nice view is always a plus to have when spending hours at the work bench. I wish my bench was that clean (I'll definitely have to work on that).

 

_Brian

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Eric,

 

This month’s WoodenBoat Magazine has a nice article about Arabia, her salvage and the museum. Like most magazine articles it is short on detailed information, most if not all you probably know but nice recognition nonetheless.  I’ll send you my copy when I’m done with it if you like.

 

Roger

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Roger, sure, I'd love to see it. That's very kind of you.

 

Lots of progress over a quiet weekend, so much so that I'll break this update into two posts. First, more superstructure work. I built the chimneys from two wooden dowels covered in rings of masking tape using the same method as the upper decks. I rotated the seam 90° for each strip. I made wider rings by cutting hoops from scrap PVC fittings that had the right inner diameter to slide over the dowels:

 

IMG_0342.jpg.5244d9c6135ed6e5ca51bd06cf075901.jpg

Next I framed in the roof of the hurricane deck skylight, covered it, tarpapered it, and  painted it. In the last photo below, you can see how much darker the painted surface is pre-pastel (compare to the rest of the hurrican deck). I really like how the pastels soften the color and texture.

 

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Then I shaped and painted strips to run around the edges of the boiler and hurricane decks to hide the planking edges. These involved making some very tight curves, especially around the heads.

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Before:

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After/during:

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Once these were in place I changed focus and starting making some cargo details for the main deck.

 

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I decided I needed to start fillling in details before the final railing and other things get installed. Also, this felt like a really nice shift from the endless superstructure work. First up, firewood piles. Nothing innovative here. I laid strips of double-sided tape, cut & split lots of branches collected from the outdoors, and stacked them with liberal applications of glue.

 

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Final product will be shown soon. Next, I made stacks of lumber by milling scrap wood on my Byrnes table saw. I stacked these and glued them together with spacers, then wrapped thread to simulate tie-downs.

 

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I also made some crates from scrap wood. Here's a view of the cargo along the port side:

 

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I left one stack of wood unsplit to simulate recently cut wood. Next, I dealt with the large stack of barrels I ordered from Model Expo. These are turned from wood, and I used a black marker to carefully darken their hoops. I set these up in two ways for visual interest, both of which I've seen used in contemporary photos (either horizontal or vertical):

 

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They don't show up well, but I made tie-downs for the horizontal barrel stacks. I should have for the vertical stacks but didn't think of it until they were already installed. Didn't take photos of the process, but I think these are pretty self-evident. Also note that you can see the final wood strips covering the edges of the boiler and hurricane decks, as well as the staircases up to the hurricane deck that are now installed (I think I described making these in an earlier installation before setting them aside).

 

So here are some overall views of the model as it now stands. The chimneys are painted and I think look really nice. The darker black contrasts will with the softer decks and helps make them look more metal. They're not permanently installed and won't be for a while yet. Note that I put almost no cargo on the starboard side; that's because I want the interior view to be fully open. I made a small firewood pile near the bow, parallel with that on the port side, so it looks more symmetrical when viewed from the front.

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Adding the cargo really changed my sense of this project. It suddenly feels near completion, though that's an illusion given how much there is left to do. But it really looks like a steamboat now.

 

Just going to add that I'm thinking about all my fellow modellers out there in the world under the current pandemic situation. Our hobby trends toward the higher-risk population and I hope we can suppress and manage this thing to the best of our abilities. I'm very fortunate to have a life/work situation that keeps me pretty isolated and independent, but have aging parents and parents-in-law that are at higher risk but I can do little to help. Thanks for reading, hope this log adds a smile to your day.

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