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Hi folks, new to your forum.


Spankyleeroy
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Hi folks, my name is Don and I am really excited to find this forum. I recently bought a model on ebay and will need some research done on her. Interestingly, I bought this model before I found your site and read your moderators pinned post on just such matters. I realize it is indeed very rare to actually find a model that fits into the dream model category, and I will need some help from you learned folks to determine if I hit a home run or struck out. The model appears very much like a builders model of a sidewheel steamship by the name of Santa Clara. I found some pics of a wreck by the same name in near San Francisco around the late 1800s but they don't match. I also read of a sidewheel steamship named Santa Clara, that was old when bought, run aground in what is now Eureka California and turned into a saw mill in 1850. 

 Now I am sure a fair share of you are smiling at this thinking about how I was probably suckered, but let me explain. I went college for industrial and product design, so I have built many scale models, although not marine, (primarily architectural in nature) I have experienced the trials and tribulations of fine model work. My father was a marine engineer and eventually plant manager for Chris Craft engine division in the 1960s and early 70s. He traveled extensively around the world spending time in many marine oriented boardrooms. He marveled over the many builders ship models he saw, and he was not easily impressed. When he retired he endeavored into the scratch building world with a passion for purity and accuracy second to none. I am not a model builder, but I gained a huge appreciation watching him build for hundreds of hours on the smallest of details. He almost completed that model before he passed, however I have 7 siblings and my brother that retired from the U.S.N. ended up with it. My point in this paragraph is to show I have a more discerning eye than your average rookie model buyer.

  I have watched auctions and ebay for years for model ships and have not been impressed (would have to be up to my Dad's standards), or not been able to afford the really killer builders models that do impress me. So last week while perusing ebay, I came across this steamship. She is 55 inches long and the detail is just incredible. It also appears to be very old, like maybe around 150 years old. The fixtures on her are definately not manufactured, the woodwoorking detail is super realistic, but with an aged patina. The amount of hours that must have been put into it had to be massive. Judging by its non-fancy utilitarian type appearance I highly doubt an accomplished model maker would choose this ship to build recreationally, which is why I believe it to be a builders model. I still have not received it, but got a call from the antique store that had it on ebay after the auction. The gentleman said that he has been in antiques for over 50 years and this ship was among the top 3 favorite things he had ever seen. He tried in vain to get his wife to let him bring it home for himself. The story goes he acquired it from a person to whom money is not a large concern, but who in turn had acquired it from an estate, supposedly of a famous NY yacht club member for about 10 thousand dollars, who knows when. Could be a tall tale, but I tend to put some credence to the story from just looking at this model. The cost? ...$2150.00

 Just as soon as it comes in I will post pictures and look forward to your knowledgeable comments and thoughts. Thanks for adding me! Don

 

Edited by Spankyleeroy
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It's driving me nuts waiting. The guy wanted to ensure a proper shipping crate was built for it and needed a couple of extra days to ship. I didn't buy this to resell, I just think it is the coolest thing ever and next to my kid, will be my most prized possession.  I am not prone to knee jerk buys, at all. I am certainly not wealthy either, so 2k is a lot of money for me but... this was a no brainer. I am certain the antique store guy didn't realize what he had. Perhaps because I have such an admiration and appreciation for what you guys do, this type of "art" is much more meaningful to me than a beautiful painting that 100 hours was put into. 

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Interesting. I have never seen a model quite like that one, so I can't speak to either its authenticity or value. That'd be a subject for a maritime art appraiser. But I'm intrigued by the possible link to Humboldt Bay, since I grew up in that area. However, the vessel looks like it has a pretty low freeboard; if so, it would be ill-suited for the SF to Eureka route. It looks better tailored for lake work.

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From what little I've been able to gather, that Santa Clara was not used for a route there, but rather purchased "old" for the sole purpose of using her motors for a saw mill. I guess the bay there had been hidden from view by coastline or conditions and recently discovered was a perfect spot to run timber down to San Francisco. Evidently several of the early ships running logs there, sank or ran aground. The saw mill was quite successful but burned and was rebuilt several years later. You may be right though, she does seem rather shallow for that area. Any clues on age from the side placement or type of paddle mechanism? I was also curious about the deck plate and wondered if that may be to convert to sail? Total rookie question there. Anone else see anything like this?

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I'm not an expert on paddlewheelers by a long shot. I did Google a few photos -- didn't see anything similar to your model. In fact, didn't see anything with square paddlewheel boxes. But there are others around here who are more knowledgeable on this subject than I am. When your model arrives, try starting up a topic in the research area.

 

The mouth of Humboldt Bay is indeed narrow and kept the entrance out of sight for many years. To this day, passage across the bar is tricky, and the north and south spits are littered with ship wrecks, the most infamous being that of the USS Milwaukee (C-21), which grounded in 1917.

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  • 2 weeks later...

Well, she finally arrived today although not without issues. The shipping container was well made out of wood and packed nicely, but judging by the broken dowel and support wood on the stand. it took a heck of a shot during shipping. A few broken lines, paddle needs repair,  oar missing from life boat, cleat missing. All in all though she seems OK. She needs cleaned etc and a proper case built but we'll get there eventually. In the next couple days Ill take some real pics and post in the appropriate place.

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