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Fictitious Waterboat by SGraham - SMALL - Scale 1:30, based on 1871 Gloucester waterboat Aqua Pura, First scratch build.


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I found an old copy of Howard Chapelle's The National Watercraft Collection on the $2.00 rack at the local used bookstore. In it I saw the following photo of a catboat in Gloucester harbor.

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Needless to say, the sail caught my attention. This photo is most likely of Aqua Pura, a waterboat that supplied the Gloucester fishing fleet with fresh water. These boats were commonly catboat-rigged and could carry about 150 barrels of water in a wooden tank located under the deck amidships. The water was discharged into fishing schooners' water barrels via a hand-operated pump and a long hose, both of which are visible in the photo. In 1850, one waterboat operator in Gloucester sold $7,700 worth of water to the fleet at ten cents a barrel. Aqua Pura measured 36' in length and 11.4' in beam. She was crewed by a single owner/operator who painted advertisements for local merchants on his sail. Some of the waterboats carried a limited number of 50 - 100 lb cakes of ice covered in sawdust as well. Chapelle gives the hull lines and deck arrangement here:

 

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I just finished building Corel's kit of the Shenandoah, and this will be my first scratch build. The reason I want to build this craft is a bit nostalgic. My dad was a watchmaker who had a family-run jewelers in Southern California. I grew up in the shop. My dad and grandpa and brother all repaired watches, while I repaired clocks and did engraving and simple jewelry repairs. If you look at the sail in the photograph, you'll see an advertisement for a jewelers. I lost my dad last January and miss him pretty badly. I'd like to build this boat and put him and his shop up there on the sail. I may make some other changes to the text as well. That's why I'm calling this build a fictitious waterboat. I'd also just plain like to try my hand at scratch building. I've been watching other people's work and it looks like fun. I guess we'll see. I have very little idea of how to go about this, other than that I'll be attempting a plank-on-bulkhead version of the hull. I'm sure I'll be asking lots of questions.

 

Thanks for reading!

 

Steve

 

 

 

Edited by SGraham
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So, I'm planning on building this hull plank-on-bulkhead style with balsa or basswood blocks in between the bulkheads. I've never done this before, but I'm going to feel my way along. I'll be using scraps and cutoffs from my musical instrument building. I decided to enlarge the scale to 1:30, giving me a hull of about 14.75". To form the false keel, I cut out the profile drawing of the hull up to the bottom of the planksheer on the top, and minus the keel, stem, and sternpost. This I glued to some 5/32" plywood.

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After cutting it out on the scroll saw, I noticed that the bottom edge that will mate with the keel wasn't quite straight. A little touchup with a low-angle block plane got it nice and straight.

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I used a sharpening block wrapped in sand paper to sand lightly around the perimeter to make sure the edges were square.

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And here's what I've got so far. It's not much, but it's a start. 

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I think the next step will be to cut out my bulkheads and notch them to fit the false keel. I'm thinking of notching them with a router to get clean cuts. Thanks for looking!

 

Steve

 

 

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So, here's  what I've done so far on the stem. I'm using maple. I spent some time looking at the stem assemblies on the plans of a few classic New England catboats and tried to simulate what would be seen outside of the planking. I penciled inside of the joints before gluing using Titebond red label. 

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I used an oscillating spindle sander to get a nice smooth curve on the inside of the stem.

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First piece all ready to go.

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Here are the next two pieces with the pencilled-in seams visible.

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And here's half of the scarph joint cut to take the next piece of the keel.

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And the other side. And that's all I've got so far. I'm thinking I'll bevel the front of the stem after it's attached to the false keel.

 

Thanks for looking!

 

Steve

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Here comes a very little bit more on the waterboat. I added a piece of the keel and decided for the sake of strength that I'd pin the stem and keel to the false keel. I think I overdid it with the size of the wooden plugs I used. They're toothpicks about 1/16" in diameter. This would work out at 1:30 scale to a bit under 2" in diameter. They look pretty big, but I haven't bevelled the stem yet, so maybe they'll recede from view when there's some more detail added. I hope so, at any rate. I hope to get some time in at the bench this weekend and perhaps get the rabbet cut and some frames sawn out.

 

Thanks for looking!

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Well, here is some progress. An infinitesimal amount, but I guess it still counts. I've finished the keel and added the stern post. None of it is bevelled yet. I'll leave that until I get the hull planked. When I was building Shenandoah, I called my shop the Glacial Progress Shipyard, and I think I'll stick with that name. 

 

Next step is cutting the rabbet.

 

Thanks for looking!

 

Steve

 

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I got just a very little bit more done. I put together a temporary building stand.

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I also found a basswood board that was just about twice the thickness of what I wanted to make the frames. So I resawed it and ran it through the drum sander.

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And here is my bookmatched framing stock. 

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I've got the cutout frame stations glued to the board and will hopefully cut them out and clean them up this evening.

 

Thanks for looking.

 

Steve

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  • 1 month later...

Here's a tiny bit more progress on the waterboat. I've got the bulheads cut out, shaped, and ready to mount onto the false keel. That will hopefully happen later today. I decided to make the bulkheads pretty thick to give the planking a nice gluing surface, and to give me a generous margin for error.

 

Thanks for looking!

 

Steve

 

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A tiny bit more progress today. I put in some pieces to roughly simulate the shape of the stern, which is rounded at the corners, almost like a fantail. I also cut out a couple of pieces of 1/32" basswood to serve as a layer of sub-decking. I'll glue those on after I fair the tops of the bulkheads. In the photo they're just resting lightly on top of the bulkheads. One thing I forgot to do was to create a space for the small, rectangular cockpit. I think I'd better do that now since it'll only be harder to do if I put it off until later.

 

Thanks again for looking!

 

Steve

 

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I was trying to figure out how to cut out a nice even space for the small cockpit when I remembered the Dremel router I use to cut the ledges for edge binding on ukuleles. It worked pretty well. Now I have to frame up the cockpit. Later though; we're in the middle of a heat wave and it's way too hot out in the garage right now.

 

Steve

 

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Here's the space I routed for the cockpit.

 

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Here's the router attachment.

 

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It cuts pretty cleanly, and it enabled me to maintain the camber of the bulwark tops on the cockpit floor.

 

Thanks for looking.

Edited by SGraham
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