A Live-steam launch



     go to.....
          NEW PROJECTS
          CONTACT ME
          FOR SALE ITEMS




 January 2013.....

This project will be a 50" (/6 scale) model of an old Victorian fantail steam powered river launch. These classic boats were in use as far back as the year 1880. They were basically a pleasure boat for the wealthy.....they cruised the rivers on sunny afternoons, the passengers dressed in their Sunday finery.
The 50" Fibreglass unfinished hull was purchased from Loyalhanna Dockyard which will be my starting place.....the rest will be scratch-built.....my own design but based on photos and specifications found on the internet. The Saito 3-cylinder steam plant will go in it.

follow along with me.....

Here's what I hope it will look like.....


                The magnificent example above was professionally built by Michael Kelly (Pond Boasts USA). I'll use this as a target of perfection and I hope I can at least do justice to his work.


To the left is the bare 50" Fibreglass hull just received..... a long way to go!!






This is the basic engine as it comes from the factory (I don't think they are made anymore). New cost is about $2,500.00 if you can find one. I have added a water accumulator which collects the exhaust water and oil so that it doesn't contaminate the pond. I have also added a tiny pressure gauge so that I can read the boiler pressure. At this point the engine has been run on the bench for some time allowing me to learn the complexities of live steam. The engine is exciting to watch running and it would be a shame to cover it all up with decking.....hence the reason for the open launch.








The Saito engine requires a water / oil separator to collect excess oil and condensation from the engine exhaust. I fabricated this from a 1 1/2" brass sink tailpiece from Canada Tire. It is to prevent oily exhaust from contaminating the pond water and messing up the inside of the boat. Three inlet pipes go into the tank and a single exhaust pipe goes to the smoke stack. I can suck excess water and oil out of the tank with a large syringe.




  The prop and shaft has been temporarily installed. it is from Loyalhanna Dockyard and very nice quality .....all brass with ball bearings and a lubricating fitting.

Thee rudder is spruce laminated with glasscloth. The strips of plastic has glue-drops placed on it to simulate a riveted metal bracing. It will be painted hull color.


A little 3/4" diameter steam pressure gauge has been installed to the boiler to keep track of pressure. A special metric fitting was required and supplied as a favor by a forum friend in the UK. (love them forums!!) The engine beds have been installed and the engine assembly mounted to align with the prop shaft. A copper pan will catch the drips and allow the whole engine assembly to be removed in one piece.

Here the planking is going onto the inside of the hull.....just to give the effect of an all-wooden hull. The planks are ripped strips of 1/64" ply.  and stuck on with contact cement. A little thinned stain was applied to some of the planks to make them stand out. Floorboards, seats and cabinets will cover the areas not planked. The cardboard flooring is just a pattern for the ply floor which i will cut later.



The front bulkhead is in place along with a pair of oak and mahogany doors mounted with brass hinges this allows access to the front compartment. Floorboard planking is complete.   The stern bulkhead, rudder servo and deck supports are installed here. Rear seat, access door and driveshaft cover is installed.

Here is the poor man's way of making planked surfaces. Use a steel rule and a three-corner file. Just scrape away until the grooves look deep enough.   Here the rear seats are finished and the lightply sub-deck is going on. The finish deck wood will go overtop of this......the most difficult part of the build.


       After running the engine with the oil serarator mentioned above attached I found that the separator tank was too small.....it was filling up with condensate on start-up. The tank needed to be larger. I fabricated a new one from 2 1/2 inch PVC water pipe and covered it with mahogany cladding. It is three times the size and takes up a lot of space but it should do the trick. I can suck out the dirty condensate with a large syringe.


Painting of the hull is done using gloss enamel sprayed on. The black pinstriping marks the waterline. The graphics are made on my computer and applied by waterslide decal material. The name gets me a lot of brownie points which will be useful when I want to buy something new?????


The paint-job was followed up with five coats of automotive clearcoat.....it was hand-rubbed and polished. This professional finish was done by my son and is as good as any custom car finish that I have seen. Check his work out here



 < home                                                     go to page 2 >