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Re: Hello from Massachusetts!

Posted: Tue Feb 26, 2019 6:09 pm
by Emilio
RGSP - I will certainly check out those designs. I know I’ve browsed the site before but haven’t seriously looked.

On another note, I found a steal of a deal on a Pearl Single Engine Casting Kit and will be picking it up in the next week or two. It’s one of the older Iron and Brinze kits before they switched over to all Bronze kits. Exciting times!

Re: Hello from Massachusetts!

Posted: Tue Feb 26, 2019 6:10 pm
by Emilio
RGSP - I will certainly check out those designs. I know I’ve browsed the site before but haven’t seriously looked.

On another note, I found a steal of a deal on a Pearl Single Engine Casting Kit and will be picking it up in the next week or two. It’s one of the older Iron and Brinze kits before they switched over to all Bronze kits. Exciting times!

Re: Hello from Massachusetts!

Posted: Tue Feb 26, 2019 7:29 pm
by Mike Rometer
Emilio wrote:
Tue Feb 26, 2019 2:33 pm
Mike - If you do make it back in the area and it’s not an official opening day for the museum you can always reach out and request a tour and one of the docents can likely accommodate. Just something to keep in mind!
Yeah, we came for the 'leaves' and were probably about a week too early, so the photos whilst Ok, weren't the very best. We've said we need to do it again before we get really past it! :lol: :lol:

Long post full of gratuitous advice.

Posted: Tue Feb 26, 2019 8:19 pm
by Lopez Mike
A thing that I don't believe has been emphasized enough in this discussion is to see and ride in as many boats as possible. I've heard it said by many a steamer that they were on their second or third boat before they got what they wanted. Since that is certainly a wasteful way to get the experience, learning from other people's work (and mistakes) is incredibly cheap.

You can occasionally pull off a coup as I did. I found a boat that was a mess. I mean such that the hull was irretrievably junk. Poorly built and of inferior materials. But the machinery was just fine and the asking price was a fraction of the replacement cost of the engine and boiler. I snapped the beast up, used it for a few years and am now well along with a new hull. At the cost of showing up for events with a bag over my head for a season or two, I got into steaming for a song.

Building this hull was an educational experience. I paid for the facilities and labor of a professional. Money well spent. Things that I would have agonized over for months were dealt with in a day. $5K worth of material and about the same for his labor.

As an example. The professionally drawn plans were at 1/12 scale. It is fantail plywood stitch and glue design. The builder puzzled me with his approach to lofting. First he spent an evening before the fire building a 1/12 scale hull out of 1/32" model airplane plywood. He said, "just to get a feel for the design." O.K. Then he made a 1/12 scale solid model of the hull out of ordinary scrap wood. Sort of like those wonderful half models you see in museums mostly of old sailing yachts.

The came the unexpected move. He measured the solid model with a digital micrometer and laid out the design on the full sized plywood at full scale. And he made generous use of long battens for the layout work. He had already scarfed the plywood to full hull length and glassed it with cloth and epoxy on both sides before the layout work (another idea I hadn't thought of!).

I suspect that a person could go from the paper to the full sized layout on plywood without disaster as long as you used battens to fair out the inevitable errors.

The result was a hull that went together so fast I could barely keep ahead of him with my camera.

He continued the technique of glassing all parts on both sides before cutting them out. The result was to completely avoid that horrid process of trying to get cloth to drape over a complex shape like the interior of a hull with all of the bulkheads and what not.

Now there was some taping of interior and exterior joints after fairing everything with a disk sander. The result has been a one off plywood hull that looks almost as if it has just been popped out of a mold. It's a design that meet my needs and desires. This Summer I'll be installing the cockpit coaming, the stringers to support the power plant, the stern tube, rudder and steering.

I named the old boat "Folly". The new one will be named "Spiffy".

If you should desire to know more about stitch and glue construction, it would be wise to buy the Sam Devlin book on the subject. My builder, Scott Hauser, was instrumental in developing many of the techniques explained there.

Re: Hello from Massachusetts!

Posted: Wed Feb 27, 2019 2:42 pm
by Emilio
Lopez Mike - That’s great advice. I plan on trying to attend as many steamboat meets as possible (Lake Winnipesaukee at the least) so that should give me an opportunity to ride in some different hulls. I have an idea of what I want (classic fantail style hull) but like anything else reality vs expectation don’t always line up. It’ll be great to speak with more steamboat owners to understand how livable the various hull styles are while underway and with passengers which is really all that matters at the end of the day.

As for engine and boiler I will have the Pearl Single kit within the next week or two but that doesn’t mean I won’t consider alternate power plants should I come across something else. The big thing with this kit was that the price was too good to pass on and I don’t see myself ever losing money on the deal should I decide to sell it off in the future.

Any sage advice in regards to boiler type and size or hull layout? I often see separate stations for the captain which seems logical as it keeps curious hands away from things but I dislike being segregated from passengers as the enjoyment of their company is ultimately a large part of the fun.

Re: Hello from Massachusetts!

Posted: Wed Feb 27, 2019 6:00 pm
by Lopez Mike
Sage advice? Little you know how unlikely you are to find that here. Each of us has some experiences and areas of deeper knowledge. We certainly don't agree on everything! The whole subject is a mass of tradeoffs.

Your boiler choice is pretty much between a fire tube and a water tube design. Monotubes and such are mostly for cranks who will never build the unit or quietly scrap it after a short time. Great for steam cleaners though.

My observation has been that the water tube designs are a bit lighter but, due to having less water in them, tend to react more quickly to changes in firing. If your regulation systems work well, it can be a great advantage to be able to crank the steam production up and down quickly. The flip side is that you must, either by automatic systems or personal attention, keep on top of a water tube boiler. Compared to a fire tube unit, they are fairly volatile.

All of this interacts with what fuel you use. Liquid fuels can be turned up and down almost instantly. Solid fuels, not so quickly.

I believe that a water tube boiler can have a lower center of gravity. The flip side is that most of our craft have a relatively low C.G. resulting in a rather quick motion. Few of us do much steaming in conditions where capsizing is an issue. Quite honestly I have not heard of a steam launch swamping in a very long time if ever.

I don't think engine choices make as much difference as do boiler choices. All engines in our size range have miserable efficiencies. It's almost all due their small size. They just radiate away the heat. As I've preached elsewhere, mice have to eat a lot more than elephants even after the weight differences have been allowed for. I'm not saying that you should ignore the benefits of compounding and a decent respect for insulation, feed water heaters and such. But you are not going to compete with I.C. engines in a fuel efficiency contest. Ever. Forget about it. That battle was lost over a hundred years ago. Just as we steamers have won over and over again the battle for peace and quiet and freedom from vibration.

The vast majority of our launches have a few things in common. They have to move easily through the water. Our boats are wildly underpowered. Whether you have any sort of canopy depends on so many things. Weather, trailerablity, etc. You can always add it later. Cabin boat? Adds a lot of weight and windage and on a small hull can really make for a claustrophobic experience. On the other hand, in cold and wet weather there are few things as nice as warmth and protection. Generally I would go for long an thin and shallow draft. And keep an eye on weight. Full consumption pretty much goes up with weight. And the heavier the boat, the bigger the tow vehicle. The length of the boat hasn't been a problem for me when towing or launching.

In the spirit of disclosure, for reasons of cheap (free!) fuel and because the boat I found was already that way, I steam a 25' open fantail launch with a single cylinder engine and a vertical fire tube boiler. Most of my steaming is in relatively protected salt water. I tend to load the boat up with passengers to the point of ridiculousness whenever possible. I trailer a lot and never leave the boat in the water for more than a day or two. I am happy with glass covered plywood designs. Carvel and clinker built hulls are fine if you take care of them and have a clue how to build one. It has always seemed hard on them to bounce down the road. Glass is beautiful and strong but pricey.

Things that are a problem for me but not enough to change:
I do a lot of short trips hauling passengers. It seems like I'm always out of sync with the engine and boiler. That is, I arrive at the dock with too much wood in the firebox and depart with not enough. Either the safety valve is threatening to pop or I'm frantically throwing small stuff in there to recover pressure. This is made worse when I'm using better fuel like hardwoods. They hold a fire all too well.

Things that I love about my boat:
It's simple and the power plant needs almost no attention beyond tossing wood in the boiler. I wouldn't think of giving up my keel condenser and hot well float. The float works so well that it can be a danger. The level in my sight gauge is so constant that I get careless!

Things that I plan on changing:
Adding a check list. Several times I have left the dock with my feed water shutoff valve at the boiler left closed. The boiler water level drops rapidly and the hot well overflows and my face gets red. I intend to add a feed water heater. Maybe a canopy for either hot or rainy days. Big pain for trailering but doable.

Things I have no plans to change:
I have no vacuum pump. If I had a compound engine I might feel differently.

I wish I could get across to you how important it is get your boat together and go steaming. Do it right but get it going. You can always refine it over time. The combined satisfaction of building it and steaming it it is rare in our hustle and bustle world. There is no justification for a small steam launch beyond the obvious one that it a wonderful experience. Rewarding beyond easy understanding by the 'unwashed mutiltudes'.

Re: Hello from Massachusetts!

Posted: Wed Feb 27, 2019 7:15 pm
by DetroiTug
Quote: "Maybe a canopy for either hot or rainy days. Big pain for trailering but doable"

I met a steamboater (Tim) over in Wisconsin he had a slick set up. If I remember correctly, the canopy was a light tubular frame in the conventional shape of steam launch canopies. It hod a cut out for the boiler in the canvas cover and the whole thing would let down over the cockpit for trailering. It was simply lifted up and the poles were put in sockets and secured to hold it in the up position.


Re: Hello from Massachusetts!

Posted: Wed Feb 27, 2019 10:24 pm
by Lopez Mike
Bart has something very like that on Otter. Seems to work. I'm considering it for my new hull.

Re: Hello from Massachusetts!

Posted: Thu Feb 28, 2019 1:30 am
by steamdon-jr

I am a volunteer for the North American Steamboat Association, shoot me an email or a text and I will talk to you about our magazine and more about what you want in a boat.

Don Fenstermacher, Jr

Re: Hello from Massachusetts!

Posted: Fri Mar 01, 2019 1:14 am
by Emilio
Lopez Mike - Thanks for all of that information. I really agree about getting out there and enjoying the hobby. One thing that really stuck out to me (as someone who has his private pilots license) was the checklist. Even after tons of reading the actual steam circuit is a bit hazy to me beyond the basic (boiler/engine/condenser/boiler) schematics I see floating around.

Steamdon - Thanks for the info, I sent my check out today for a subscription.