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dan evans

Portland Side Wheeler by Dan Evans - Bluejacket

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I started building the Blue jacket model of the Portland 6 months ago.   During that time i

kept photographic records but was too busy to post.  right now I am about 90 % complete.

My past build are the Sultana,  the Philadelphia, the Niagara, the Mary Rose.


i belong to a ship building group in Portland Oregon.    I have been building for about 5 years.  Our group has a blog called Ship Class where we post the progress of our group .  If any one is interested its http://woodenshipclass.blogspot.com/

In this first entry I will post the progress of the hull.

The Portland is a solid hull.    The shape is pretty good with a little sanding and priming it can be made ready.   the instructions are a bit vague.  It suggests using planking for the sponsoons.  I decided to use wider bass wood.  It was faster and easier to fill.

The hull was primed several times until a smooth finish was obatained .  I used rustoleum on the hull but quickly switched to Tamyia paint .. The rustoleum took to long to cure.  and ended up crazing if I didnt wait a week or more between coats.   Crazy.



dark primered hull.JPG


stern filled.JPG

wood and pins.JPG

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Hello Dan Welcome to MSW


You had problems with Rustoleum? Did you follow the instructions on the can? Did you listen to your fellow builders in Portland? LOL Hi Dan,just kidding my friend. For those reading I am in the build group with Dan. You have lots of great photos coming up later from Dan's build of this kit.

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This should be in the Kit Build Log area.  I'll move it there where there's a couple more builds going on for this ship..   


BTW, Welcome to MSW. 

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Welcome aboard Dan. I'm really looking forward to your build especially when you get to the hurricane deck.


John Elwood

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Building the Walking beam engine.


The blue jacket kit only gives a detailed walking beam made out of brass.   They provide wood and and brass rod but little else.  The plans show a decent engine structure but this is the jewel of the kit.   I found this book on the internet.  Paddle wheel steamers and their Giant Engines.  It gives details about the history of these amazing engines.  The Portland kit has a small opening , so I decided to expand it and recreate the engine room.

Evergreen plastic was used to create the rods and cranks.   i even used some erector set wheels to make fly wheels.


The structure frame is wood with nail and plastic nuts added.   The  piston is made from a chap stick tube ,while the condenser is a cork from a Tequilla bottle.   Other parts on the engine were created from some extra brass parts left over from other kits.


The plastic was fun to manipulate with heat from a candle.  



beam and fly wheels.JPG

BEam and rods.JPG

beam and stand.JPG

beam and supports.JPG

candle melting.JPG

close up of walking beam.JPG

engine picture.jpg

making rods.JPG

melting rod plastic.JPG

peces of rod.JPG

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Building the engine room.


Using the book Paddle Wheel Steamers and their Giant Engines as a reference I decided to recreate the engine room.  The walking beam engine had control with levers.  It also had large gauges for steam and water pressure.  Those were added to the engine along with an engineer.  This ship is 1/87 scale so HO train fiqures work well.   

close up engineer.JPG

control mechanism.JPG


controller and brass rods.JPG

dials in engine room.JPG


main piston.JPG

smoke stack plates.JPG

walking beam and painted rods.JPG

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Windows and paddle wheels.


This entry is about the construction of the paddle wheels and windows.  the wheel are very nice in the kit.  The brass is accurate and the paddles fit well.  One has to be careful with the wood on the paddles.  It is very thin and the slots crack easily.


Now the windows are pretty simple.  The instructions call for wood trim around the outside and then painting red curtain on acetate on the insdie.  The wood seemed out of scale.  i found a source for HO scale windows.  They come from Tichy products and are ina Victorian pattern .1605002341_tichypk.jpg.a85688517759c577397f07d1c0d98a2d.jpgThis is the company that produces the windows.1527292371_plasticwindows.jpg.ecefa8bace164a69fd089d518dc1dfd9.jpgHere are some of the windows.1403958693_windowsanddoors.jpg.2250ba53d07f541a8018069748f72301.jpgHere are a couple of windows in place .  I think they look better than a wood frame906379123_woodtrimvswindows.jpg.ea6ae6efe8ccfc81a0baf8196a9f82f3.jpgThis shows the frieght windows (wood frames)  compared to the plastic windows.250697165_curvingthepilothouse.jpg.e37bd75504380df9f7b6a03f781b8548.jpgThis pictures shows the wood detailing.  i chose to use less wood and keep it simple.1246212418_paddlewheelinplacewithfirstdeck.JPG.740665d06a2c2c489252c9639323ec91.JPGThis show the wheels in place.859590863_paintedpaddlewheels.JPG.96a0e636a1b86ff4e112c1e25253e9ab.JPGAfter painting the wheels look pretty good.




engine an d wheels with first  deck distant veiw.JPG

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Problems with photo etch railings


I thought i would share this in case any one else is running up against this problem.    They suggest drilling holes to mount the railing into the deck.   Thats great except the space between the pins varies.   This drove me crazy.   I would first drill the holes the same distance and of course the pins didint fit.   Go back fill the hole and redrill them using a template.    Still had problems.  The solution I came up with was to mount the railing on some 5/32 " evergreen plastic.  I took the plastic and pushed it on to the pins.   The pins are sharp enough to peirce the plastci plus I have some to glue to the deck.   I  then removed the inner edge of the plastic.  Painted it green and thenput it back on the rail.   Using a small hammer I taped the pins into the rub rail and glued it to the deck using tight bond and clmps .   It gives a tight edge alnog the deck line.  Even with the curve I was able to fit the plastic by cutting small v 's in the curved edge.   I hope the pictures explain it better.  good luck.




finished railing.jpg

guaging pin space.jpg

plastic channel.jpg

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Have been following your posts from the beginning Dan. Especially taken by your

build of the walking beam. I'm still hesitant to jump into that one. My big hurdle right

now is the 18 doors in the officers quarters. I would like to be accurate to the plans but

it may be too much for my ongoing anxiety level. I am also scratch building each door

to my own design. 


Nic Damuck said his biggest challenge was the railings. You have taken a novel approach

that I would not have considered. I'm a long, long way from that part of the build. Did

you use a sharpie to color the rail cap and posts? Looks very exacting. 


Looking forward to more photos. 



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Lighting the Portland 

I wanted to put light s in the interiors of the Portland.  I found a great source for LED lights Evan Designs Of LaPorte Co.  This company produces a variety of sizes and colors for lights.  Some are as small a period in a sentence others are several mm 's  They have a beautiful industrial light with metal shade that is HO scale.  These lights were used to illuminate the engine room.  the dinning area and ladies salon were illuminated withchip style lights.   

Finally all these lights are powered by a 9 volt battery and turn on with a infra red remote switch.   Warning take the battery out of the switch when not using the lights.  Other wise the remote will drain your battery. 





evan light package.jpg

four people in illumination on saloon deck.jpg

gluing side s of ladies saloon.jpg

illuminated ladies in stern saloon.jpg

illuminated lights on saloon deck.jpg

interior people hurricane.jpg

ladies sallon floor and people over view.jpg

lamp shade.jpg

old couple in ladies saloon.jpg

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Clearing the sky light.


I decided that the wooden sky light provided by the kit was too boring , so I went and built a frame out of plastic I beams.  The frame is oval in shape with some bolts and nuts added for realism.

The next part was to create a clear plastic window.   I heard from some friends how pledge future wax make plastic canopies on aircraft appear crystal clear.   So i decided to dip the oval plastic into Pledge.  it worked wonders and made the plastic look like clear glass.   One other problem was securing the plastic windows to the frame.  Super glue on the edges works but you have to careful so  it doesn't craze the plastic .

drying plastics.jpg

gluing plastics.jpg

sky light before cut deck.jpg

wt on plastic.jpg

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I'm curious.  What made you decide to go with the red highlights in the walking beam?  My 1996 kit has the brass walking beam with red highlights, the 2019 kit is all brass.



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I 'm a little confused about postings.  So i will keep posting on Portland side wheeler log.  I just finsihed the pilot house .  I paneled the interior with mahogney planks.  It also has a fuique inside near the ships wheel.  It has a led light inside to illuminate the interior.

bow view pilot.jpg

pilkoty house with out lights.jpg

pilot house interior.jpg

side view pilot.jpg

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Just finished the last deck.  all the trim pieces are on and I am about to glue it in place.   the tricky part is fitting these deck pieces around the paddle wheel covers.  What I did was to create patchs that would fit tight against the housing.  Next step in the life boats and masts.  Then the rigging and last the final railings.  I am puuting that off to the end because I don't want to fight against the railings when I am fitting the boats and rigging.

Let me know what you think.

engine arewa without top deck.jpg

front veiw without top deck.jpg

side veiw of pilot hpouse.jpg

trim around engine room.jpg

trim on pilot house.jpg

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Hi Dan,

love your performance on details for ship, engine and passengers, a very nice build



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I just started the life boats.   Boats in this era had rope attached to the sides.   So First i painted the boats with primer then tamiya white.  

Next i drilled holes for rings.  I cut some 1/16 square peices of wood and glued them into the boat.   Next I traced the outline on a stiif piece of paper.  

To create the tarps I used two sheet of silk span tissue paper.  They were glued together ,traced and cut out.  Then they were painted and allowed to dry.

After drying they were shaped to the hull, elmers glue was applied.  The final step is to put rings in and tie rope s on the sides.

cutting tarp.jpg

drawing outline.jpg

drawing tarp.jpg

drying tarp.jpg

fitting top.jpg

life boat.jpg

painting tarp.jpg

rilling holes.jpg

tracing boat.jpg

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I am just finishing the railing s on the top deck.  The instruction call for drilling holes into the deck and inserting the pins.   The trim peices are sothin and they often leave gaps between the deck plywood and the trim piece.  So I thought i would show the way I took plastic channel and created a base to mount the railings.  

First I took some 5/32 " plastic channel made by evergreen scale models.  Next i cut one edge of the channel off that way the outside edge will lap over the trim board and the inside will lie flush to the deck.  Then i determined the middle of the curve on the deck and mark one centimeter space on the inside of the plastic.  Next I cut nothces on each mark.  This will allow the plastic to conform to the curve of the deck.  Finally the plastic is soft enough to push the pins of the railing into its surface.   Then I remove it paint it and when dry glue to the deck.  It gives a very tight appearance.  which i am sure everyone wants after all the effort in this build.

closepins holding rail.jpeg

evergreen package.jpg

finished railing.jpg

matching curve.jpg

notched curve.jpg

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Having the figures on your ship is just too cool.  It looks great, and shows some serious artistry!  The ship looks great so far, and thanks for sharing!

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I started rigging and placing the life boats last night.   One thing i did not like was the metal single pulleys I replaced them with scale size wooden pulleys i had from some other build.  There is a line that support the davits and the pulleys also pass through that same hole in the davits.   To attach the pulleys i used a thin black wire.  the top pulley is attached to the davit and ring is at the bottom.  You can make these by twisting wire.  the bottom pulley on the boats has a hook attaching it to the boat.  I also made cleats for the davit to tie the rope coils to.  these were made from wire filled with glue and painted .  Hope you like the effect.

bending wire that goes through davit.jpg

cleat on davit from wire.jpg

putting wire on.jpg

replacing pulleys with wood.jpg

rigged boats on ship.jpg

rigging top pulley.jpg

shows full rigging.jpg

theing line to top pulley.jpg

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i started rigging the upper deck.  I use a technique for making seizing that might save time for other builders.


What i do is measure the thickness of the line i am going to use.  Then i find a drill bit that is 2x or more the size of the line.    I put this bit in a vice and then drill a hole in some scrap wood and slide it over the shaft.  This will be used to pull the siezing tube off the the shaft.  Next i wax the shaft so the glue doesn't stick to the shaft.   Then i wrap some thin thread around the shaft until its completely covered.  I also use small clamps for weight to keep the line from unraveling.  

Next i put some thinCA glue on the tthread .  This stifffens the tube.  In about a minute I pull it off.  You can the tube with its ends .  These are trimmed off . The tube is then cut into what lenght i want.   The line is coated at then ends to stiffen it and then is threaded into the tube making a loop.  this is put into an eye blot and adjusted as needed .  The finsihed tube is secured with a small amount of CA.

applying glue to shaft.jpg

finsihed tube on eye bolt.jpg

measuring width of shaft.jpg

tube on line.jpg

tube pushed off shaft.jpg

wire to deck.jpg

wire to stack.jpg

wrapping line.jpg

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Your Portland came out great!  You gave me a couple of ideas for mine.  Again, the figures/lighting/tables add a lot of realism to the build,  Nice job, and thanks for sharing.

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