So started the beginning of making the boat I know knew what I wanted it to be when finished, a sort of 1950ís ish based small cargo boat. While it still doesnít resemble any boat of around then due to my hull design, the finished overall appearance is what I am going for.
The first job was to sort out the hull to give more depth, and better stability when in the water. With my cunning hull design it didnít leave me many options of how to increase either the volume of depth, so in the end I decided to cut off the central section which was quite shallow and add a much deeper V to allow for ballast to be placed lower to counter the above water height.
Next was to change the appearance of the smooth hull into a riveted steel plate version. This required small rivets, (in this case small panel pin heads,) placed in a plated pattern on the entire hull, even those bits that would never be seen. Then on the thicker bits, larger rivets to match what I had found in old photos of steel riveted hulls.
This is not a job for the impatient person, as before any rivets are placed, the hull needs marking out so everything lines up. Then a small pilot hull is drilled to aid the insertion of the rivet, or as mentioned panel pin head. Using even the shortest panel pins, they still need cutting down. It took me around a week to mark out, drill, cut and insert each of the nearly 6000 it has taken so far to get the effect I wanted. Yes some people may say I am mad, and why do it, but I now know what I want my boat to look like, and now have the skills and machinery to do it. So why compromise.
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Now jumping back a stage, I also wanted the hull to look up close like old rusted steel that had been painted over. Obviously when finished it will be fully weathered and rust marks added, but the basics need doing first to obtain that finished look.
This is where I discovered earlier when repainting it for the first time. If you cover the hull in fibreglass tissue, then roughly scrap filler over it, not being to careful to cover every gap, it gives a roughen surface, that very similar to old rusted steel plate.
While is doesnít really show up in the pictures to well at this stage, when finished it will enhance the old weather look, much better than a nice smooth hull could.
Part of the adding rivets is to take into account where they would be placed and why. You canít just add rivets for the sake of it, they have to go in a pattern that is identical each side, as the frame would be identical, and any additional bits like the water scoop have to have rivets added as if it would be done in real life.
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These three pictures are the ones that sort of spurred the whole change, as to add the higher wheelhouse, it needed the depth increasing to aid stability, so its really this wheel house that made me realise what I wanted the boat to look like in the end.
To keep up high weight down, its made from a balsa wood frame, and clad in thins strips of wood, which will be painted and weathered later. I also made some window to go in the holes which were originally cast in metal, but due to the weight of these, I redone them in resin. One metal window weighed more than all of the resin ones put together, and when weight is at a premium every little saved helps.
Next another moment of madness, as some might say. With the hull all riveted and a coat of paint on it, when I put the lower and upper cabin onto the hull, it looked odd, in a, it was to short and dumpy way.
So in bed one night I thought to solve the problem just make it longer, so as soon as I was up the next day, to avoid changing my mind, out came a hack saw and it was in two halves. I would also take this opportunity to remove some of the numerous wooden bracing ribs from inside and to counter there loss with fibreglass matting, saving over 400 grams in weight as well.
By the end of the day the two halves were back together, and it was well on its way to looking hull like again. With the aid of fibreglass which I didnít have at the time it was first built, the hull is now stronger more rigid and much lighter than the original all wooden frame, and longer to. Now just to add more of the darn rivets to finish it off.
You can judge for yourself if you think it looks better or not, but everyone so far has thought when seeing the two picture side by side, it was to short for its height before, and defiantly looks better longer.
Being longer also allows me to redo the rear decked section yet again, which I did redo, but now wanted it to look like a tarpaulin covered cargo access covering than a deck area, so that was another bonus to.
Another thing I needed to add now it was longer was a place for the steps to come down from the wheelhouse level, so I made a sort of cabin top, with a door at one end to look like an access way to below deck. This doorway will also have the on and off switches behind it for easy access.
Now for the roof of the wheel house, I didnít just want to make it out of wood and paint it, so found in one old picture a copper roof, so thought, Hey! That would look good, and set about making it.
First I had to source some thin copper sheet. I did buy some copper foil locally, but found it was actually thin alloy with copper anodising on it, which looked ok, but would never weather up naturally. So with the aid of the internet, I found a craft shop up North that sold proper copper sheet in varying thicknesses. When it arrived it was perfect, so started work.
I made up a roof jig, which was several bits of hardboard glued together, to allow the placement of a strip of copper on the base, then the top bit of wood, pushed down to give the channel effect. I then tidied it up with a mallet and forming dollies, to get a narrow strip with one edge just folded up, and the other folded up and over to slot onto the next one, just like they do for proper roofing.
With enough made they were placed onto the wheelhouse roof and cut to shape, then glued on. Once in place and the glue dry, the edges were carefully crimped together to hold it all firm.
I wanted to naturally weather it oppose to paint it, but greening of copper takes ages, so another quick look on the internet found a quick way of doing it. Basically clean with lemon juice with salt in it, wash in warm soapy water without touching the surface with your fingers, then spray a mixture or vinegar and salt onto the surface and leave to one side. Literally overnight it goes green, and continues to green up over the next few days, and the copper dulls right down. To look at it you would think it had been outside for years.
This back section I wanted to look like a tarpaulin covered access way, while at the same time serving as access for me to the radio gear and batteries.
I started off by making an outer frame of thin ply wood, and then made up a sheet of thin fibreglass matting to stick on top. I then stuck wooden meat skewers cut in half length ways to simulate the cross ribs. The green tarpaulin is actually a section of an old sheet, which was painted with green fence paint then left to dry. Once dry it was cut to size, and the edge turned over and elastic stuck round the edge to hold it in place.
It was then a case of just dirtying it up with some cola dust and dirt and fitting it.
One of the next jobs to do was the crane, which would have been used to load and unload the boat. Trying to keep to the 1950 ish timeline, I went with the simple but effective boom crane.
The base mount was just styrene sheet cut to shape and glued together. with panel pin heads used to simulate rivets. The actual crane mast is electrical trunking, and the jib is brass pipe as thatís all I had that was thin enough to use. Being brass however meant I could solder hooks and loops onto it to attach the pulleys to.
In the making it looks a real mish mash of bits, but once a bit of paint and weathering is added no one can tell what itís made from, and it looks nice and old, and in keeping with the rest of the boat.
This is the nearly finished top cabin, or control cabin as I named it as its where the boat would be controlled from. As boats of this era had lines tethering things like the funnel and crane, I wanted somewhere up high the lines could be fixed to. I came up with adding a styrene H beam frame round the top cabin to give me somewhere to fix the lines to. The beams are actually inline with those inside the cabin to give the appearance itís a steel girder framed structure clad in wood.
When I was happy the overall build, I then set about painting it. Itís painted in a matt light tan sort of colour, and then I brushed coal dust into the surface to give it that dirty used look. This was then airbrushed with matt varnish to seal the dirt in place.
Then I set about rusting the metal bits. The wood would not rust of course, but the metal frame and window would be susceptible to rusting as they would be exposed to the harsh saltwater environment.
After several carefully placed coats of rustall I was happy with the rusted look, so again airbrushed a coat of matt varnish to seal it all in. Itís very easy to over rust something, so a careful balance between what looks natural and is too much, is needed. I find looking at old pictures and bits of metal in the garden a huge help. My trusty old wheel barrow is perhaps the best guide as its paint is peeling, and its out in all weather, so it give me a good idea of what natural rust would be like. I also cycle down to the local seafront and look at stuff there as thatís exposed to the salt air.
Now all that is left to do now to it, is fit it out inside and add those finishing touches.
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