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Back in the hobby


LJP
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Not quite a year ago I returned to modeling after a long hiatus. Work, life and an incredibly long post-retirement “honey -do” list had kept me from this hobby.

 

In the past, everything was about clipper ships.  I had kit bashed models of Cutty Sark (one still uncompleted and may never get done), Thermopylae, Flying Cloud and hull sections. The prospect of returning to spars, masts and rigging no longer intrigues me as it once did.

 

Over that sabbatical I was able to visit museums and museum ships as part of business trips or vacations.  On a trip in 1995 what really caught my eye was the Klondike Gold Rush steamboats.  I was able to visit the Klondike, Keno and Nenana, along with the remains of the Tutshi and the Dawson City steamboat graveyard. The Institute of Nautical Archeology, John Pollard et al., has had a wonderful series of surveys done on these and other Klondike steamboats.

 

I loved the steamboats but really wanted to research and scratch build a sternwheeler with local interest.  I chose the Thistle (1894) of Oshkosh, Wisconsin partially because of its unusual octagonal pilothouse. As a sternwheeler with a 21-year life, although no hull plans exist (no surprise there) there are numerous photos, similar sternwheelers and newspaper articles to draw from. And lots of general publications as Bates, Hunter, Kane and others.  And of course, the MSW feeds on Bertrand, Arabia, Herione and Eric’s excellent forum on steamboats. What amazes me is the quality of the models, but also the willingness of all to answer questions non-judgmentally.  While I may never rise to that level of mastership and it will take much longer than most, I really appreciate the wonderful interaction with like minded people, regardless of their skill levels or where they live. Thanks, LJP

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EJ_L, Jim and Geoff thanks for the warm "On Board"! 

 

EJ_L, I expect it will take me another year before I complete the research and actually begin building.  I keep finding new info which makes me modify the draft plans which I have created.  This has really been an interesting process doing the research and I love it. Stay tuned but research and then build is a new process for me and it is taking a long time.  

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Hi Patrick, and a warm welcome to all of Belgium.  The steamboat that I will build, Thistle, appears to have been owned for many years by a family with Belgian ancestry.  The Lefevre family name is prevalent in the Belgian settlement community northeast of Green Bay in Door County, although the Thistle family was located in Tustin.

 

Hi Kurt, I could not agree with you more on research rut. But I would really like to have the type and dimensions of the final Thistle boiler so I can determine if I can set the boiler on the main deck (8’ height) or if it needs to be set within the hull like its sister ship Paul L. (a 9’ Scotch Marine boiler). The initial 6 x 12 firebox boiler lasted until 1899 when the then J. H. Crawford was lengthened 14’, renamed Thistle and “two new boilers were put in her lower deck”. New boilers were again added quickly in 1901 and boilers were overhauled in 1914.  Ironically, at least one of the 1914 boilers ended up heating an Oshkosh school until the mid-1960’s.  I have a very  poor-quality newspaper photo of that boiler.  I would hope that archival boiler inspection records from the Eighth District will provide an answer. If not, then it is “reconstruction” time.  Sadly, possible research literally “went up in smoke” when a fire at the Oshkosh Public Museum in 1994 destroyed their model steamboats and materials.

Thanks! LJP

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Larry:

My current project has some dead ends and I had to just say - it would be nice to know but it's not worth any more of my time.  One dead end is what happened to the steam engine from the City of Pekin - an I&M Canal boat?  The records tell me the manufacturer, model, sizes, HP, etc of the engine.  It also names the boat where it was originally used.  However, all sorts of records show that the aft 40' of the City of Peking were cut off - presumably so the engine, boiler and machinery could be used for another boat but neither the exact year the stern was removed or where the engine went has been documented.  I finally said that I just can't spend any more time on this question because I don't need the info for my project.  If it happens to drop into my lap someday, I will be sure to get it published so future researchers will have the answer.

 

An interesting thing I found out and a good lesson why one has to question "facts" that are published relates again to the I&M Canal.  Dr. John Lamb wrote that the locks on the I&M Canal (paraphrased) "were all identical in size so that a canal boat 18' wide by 99' long could fit into the locks".  He never provided the actual measurements of the locks.  Common sense said they had to be longer than 99' and wider than 18' - but how much?  This quote was picked up word for word by every subsequent author that wrote anything about the I&M Canal locks.  Not a problem until the I&M Canal Heritage Foundation group hired me to build a diorama of Lock 14 and the two canal boats they were proposing to build for tourists to take rides on the stretch of the Canal between Lock 14 and Lock 13.  They provided the plans for the boats direct from the designer but when I asked about the actual size of the locks their historian wassn't able to give me anything except Lamb's description and many subsequent copies of his description printed in other sources.  Plagiarism?  Not when one is researching I guess!  Well, luckily I live within 15 miles of Lock 1 and as it is completely dry I could measure the lock and made drawings for the model and provided them to the canal group so they now have actual dimensions rather than Lamb's description that everybody just copied.

 

Is there anything in the newspaper photo that you can use as a comparison to the size of the boiler?  A doorway, person or a coal shovel? 

 

Kurt

 

 

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Hi Larry and welcome, Your interest in the riverboats is something that i have also had for a long time and was recently in the Yukon and also saw the Klondike, and Tutsi while there. Good luck with completing the research so that you can start the build, Then we can all follow along.

 

Michael

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Hi Michael, I loved the Yukon and want to make it up there again.  Wonderful country & people. Murray Lundberg & ExploreNorth have recent photos of the graveyard.  As expected, nature has truly taken its toll and now it appears graffiti has found its way onto the wrecks. How sad.  

 

Hi Kurt, I have FINALLY found the Thistle build articles in newspaper accounts.  Those provided lots of info and confirmed some of the measurements that I had made.  But some of that information directly contradicts engine and boiler information that I had obtained from another source.  I still want to do the archive research during the long cold Wisconsin winters and go from there regardless of what I do or do not find.  The boiler photo has nothing I can compare to measure against.  Again, the photo is really poor quality so unless I can find a better quality photo, its use is more of info and less of building assistance.  

 

Thanks, LJP

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