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Culé ou Barco de água Acima by Greg Harrington - Scale 1:40, Portuguese sailing barge, Tagus River (1st scratch build, 2nd wood build)

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Culé ou Barco de água Acima
post-5726-0-58346300-1425403830.jpgI got the plans for this boat at the Museu de Marinha in Lisbon when our cruise ship made an all-too-brief stop there. The museum is incredible.

Barco de água Acima roughly translates to "boat of the upper river".   It is designed to transport cargo from the shallow upper reaches of the Tagus River and via canals.


The cruise was in 2005.  I started work on the boat's tender in 2006.  As you have already surmised, there have been long periods of inactivity...


The boat's tender is called a chata, which directly translated means 'flat', but in this context it means a flat-bottomed boat.



I think the chata reached it's current nearly-complete state a couple of years later.  I did not start on the main vessel until December 2012.  The picture below shows it when it was cut away from the building jig just a couple of weeks ago. There are two more rows of planking above the wale that have not yet been added.


The big challenge with both the boat and its tender is that they are carvel planked but with no keel.  So I had to come up with my own building jig.  I've since seen some similar approaches, but not until after I had derived my own.
When time permits, I'll add some more posts showing the progress from the beginning.  Also, you can see my page on our club website:

Edited by Greg Harrington
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Construction of the chata

The ribs were created from 0.05" (1.25mm) blanks of cherry. I was not confident in the accuracy of the drawings nor the templates I created from them, so I planned to do final shaping after assembly on a building jig.  This required the ability to remove the blanks after shaping so that the inside could be cut away.


Since there is no keel, temporary spacers held the frames in position and provided support while shaping the delicate pieces.  The spacers could be removed, and pegs allowed each blank to be removed from its spacer, the inside cut to shape, and then returned to the same position.


Once all the frames and spacers were attached to the building board, the stem and stern pieces were added (being necessary to properly fair the frames).

post-5726-0-30034800-1425425643_thumb.jpg post-5726-0-76533700-1425425641_thumb.jpg 


The inside cut creates separate port and starboard side-frames.  These are connected by a floor lapped to the side of the frame closest to centerline.  Once the floors were added, the frame assemblies and spacers (now notched for the floors) were reattached to the building board.



Side and bottom planking underway, and complete.  The planks are 0.02" (.5mm) holly.



post-5726-0-26319800-1425425646_thumb.jpg post-5726-0-71849100-1425425647_thumb.jpg    


Interior details being added




More pictures and text can be found on my model club page for this build.

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Culé Hull Construction


As with the chata, I was not confident in my templates, and resolved to do final shaping on the building board, remove the side fames, cut away the inside shape, and then attach the floors.


There is too much rocker to easily build it right-side up, and too much sheer to build it upsidedown on a flat board.  So I created a wedding-cake (layered) board to add stability and minimize wasted material.


Given the larger scale, I did not need solid spacers and full-width blanks, as with the chata.  So I created an interior framework, wider toward midship.  The pieces at the ends needed to be removable so that they could be replaced with the stem and stern pieces.  To the outside of the framework were added vertical and horizontal spaces to keep the individual side-frame blanks in place.





The blanks were a friction fit between the spacers.  With humidity changes it was sometimes necessary to do a little sanding or add paper shims.  When I made a mistake I was able to toss a side frame and replace it.  This picture shows the side frames with the outer shaping mostly complete.




Once the outer shaping was done, I could cut the inside to shape and add the floors.  Each entire frame assembly was removable, and I had to replace a few poorly done ones.





Here is a frame toward the bow being assembled.




And here is the planking underway.




More pictures and text can be found on my model club page for this build.

Edited by Greg Harrington
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I have a weak spot for these sometimes rather odd-looking and colourful Portuguese craft … need to get around to post my pictures from the museum in Belém on my Web-site.


I'll be watching this log ...



panta rhei - Everything is in flux



M-et-M-72.jpg  Banner-AKHS-72.jpg  Banner-AAMM-72.jpg  ImagoOrbis-72.jpg
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  • 7 months later...

Not much has changed in 7 months.  I spent most of that time repairing and then sailing a small sailing dinghy (a Force 5).  Hopefully I will get more modeling done over the winter.  More @ http://www.hrsms.org/home/Cule+and+Chata



Edited by Greg Harrington
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  • 1 year later...

I have some questions about the rigging, if there is anyone willing and able to answer.

1) I cannot figure out the purpose of the line marked with the red and green arrows.


It is not labeled as, and does not appear to be, one of the brails (Carregadeiras da vela, #8). My only guess is that it is intended to bow the yard by pulling on the tip of it, in order to change the shape of the sail (put some "belly" into it). But once drawn tight, it will run right along the bottom of the yard, and a great deal of tension would be required to bend it. I'm not sure that makes sense, but it would play a part in my next theory...

I am also wondering about the purpose of the block indicated by the blue arrow. It seems to be pointless, since the line is attached to the top of the yard, and (according to the green arrow) runs toward the bottom of the yard, though it does not indicate where it terminates. The line does not change directions at the block, and it would therefore only serve to keep it along the yard on the bottom half, while the top half could hang loose, as shown in the image. Why?

My suspicion is that it actually terminates at the blocks indicated by the green arrow in the second image (link below). These blocks are not shown on the plans. It would mean the green arrow in the first image is wrong, and the line travels along the mast instead of the yard. The block (blue arrow, first image) would then serve the purpose of changing direction from along the mast to along the yard. The blocks (green arrow, second image) at the bottom of the mast might then provide the tension necessary to bend the top of the yard. It would be easier to bend if the line did not run along the yard (for instance, toward the stern), but then it would put more tension on the "Talhas do carro da verga" (#3).


2) In the second image, there is a line (indicated by a red arrow) attached to the bottom of the yard. It is not under tension, and appears to be attached to a frame on the port side. This appears to be a "preventer". It would prevent the top of the yard from swinging down toward the stern if the "Talhas do carro da verga" (#3) were to fail. Do you agree?

3) This appears to be where the brails ((Carregadeiras da vela, #8) are cleated (blue arrow, second image ). Do you agree? Could all of that sail be lifted without any mechanical advantage from blocks? I guess we've gotten weak in our modern age.

4) The large blocks indicated by the purple arrow appear to be the winding tackle (Estralheira para serviço de cargahere, #6), secured to a different position than is shown in the plans. Here it is at the base of the mast, and in the plans it is to the starboard side somewhat abaft the mast. Do you agree?

Thank you all very much for your time and assistance.

- Greg

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On 4/23/2017 at 5:43 PM, gkharrin said:

I have some questions about the rigging, if there is anyone willing and able to answer.

A friend on a Portuguese forum suggested that this is to control the tip of the yard when lowering it.  I was originally thinking the block was attached to the yard.  But if what he suggests is correct, it must be on the mast, and this makes more sense.


As the yard is dropped, the line is no longer running parallel to the yard, and it has more leverage.


There is only a line to one side, which implies the center of gravity is farther up the yard than where the halyard is attached.  Consequently, as the yard is lowered and the tackle at the foot of the yard is slackened, the top will drop down.  The line in question is used (presumably) to keep the yard level.  The tackle at the foot of the yard could do the same job initially, but (similar to my original concern at the top of the yard) it looses leverage the more the yard is lowered.



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  • 3 months later...

I stopped posting in-progress photos because I was frantically working to finish for our club's exhibit at the Mariners' Museum.

I've posted some poor-quality pictures taken in a rush, with inadequate light and cameras that were not up to the job. They're a little grainy if you zoom in, and the depth of field is poor. I hope you enjoy them anyway. I cannot take any more until next year when I get it back. 

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