Hello from Massachusetts!

Read this first then introduce yourself here.
Emilio
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Hello from Massachusetts!

Post by Emilio » Sun Feb 24, 2019 3:40 pm

Hey Everyone,

Been lurking the board for quite some time now as I’ve been absolutely bitten by the steam bug ever since taking a ride (and many subsequent rides) on the Sabino over at Mystic Seaport in Rhode Island. Add in some visits to the New England Wireless and Steam Museum and I’m dead set on beginning my (likely very long) journey to build a steam launch. I welcome any advice, heads up on potential projects I can take over, engines for sale, and general guidance as I go along.

I consider myself a tinkerer and maker but unfortunately lack machining skills. That said, I’m doing what I can to link up with local machinists and steam hobbyists in the area to perhaps find someone who will take me under their wing and provide the knowledge I lack in that area. I’m a sucker for the original stuff but also love technology and as some would call it, “restomodding” (but with a sympathetic restoration in mind). By that I mean I love the look of antique steam engines but I would love to build something that takes advantage of all the current technologies we have as much as possible. High tech insulation like aerogels and the like come to mind in regards to pipe lagging and boiler efficiency upgrades.

My dream launch is something trailerable (under 20ft?), graceful in appearance and large enough that my wife and two children can come along for the journey. I would be using the launch in protected waters so most designs I’ve come across should fit the bill.

Look forward to hearing from the members here!
Mike Rometer
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Re: Hello from Massachusetts!

Post by Mike Rometer » Sun Feb 24, 2019 5:51 pm

Piped aboard Emilio, and welcome!

You mentioned two places there I missed when I toured Mass. a few years ago. I better come back for another look! :D
Retirement is about doing what floats your boat!

A BODGE : - A Bit Of Damn Good Engineering.
Emilio
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Re: Hello from Massachusetts!

Post by Emilio » Sun Feb 24, 2019 6:33 pm

Mike, you absolutely need to take a visit to both. The steam Up events at the Wireless and Steam Museum (https://newsm.org) and the Wooden Boat and Antique Marine Engine shows at Mystic Seaport are must attend events if they fit into your schedule (https://www.mysticseaport.org).

Both museums have extensive marine steam engine collections and the staff are extremely knowledgeable and happy to share what they know.
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Lopez Mike
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Re: Hello from Massachusetts!

Post by Lopez Mike » Mon Feb 25, 2019 12:15 am

Welcome to the insane asylum. Full of happy lunatics.

It's easy to get fired up about building your own boat. Do keep in the back of your mind that there are used boats on the market from time to time for a good deal less than you would spend on an engine, boiler and hull not to mention peon wages for your own time.

And you get on the water years sooner.

We just had a member of the N.W. Steam Society pass away and his 20' boat and trailer will certainly be on the market soon.
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Emilio
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Re: Hello from Massachusetts!

Post by Emilio » Mon Feb 25, 2019 2:47 am

Lopez Mike - Thanks for the warm welcome. A used launch is certainly on my radar. The ones I have seen for sale have been either too far or too much for my budget. That said, please let me know when that boat is out up for sale as It may be worth investigating.

I’ll be honest though, with most of my hobbies the build is almost as much if not more fun than the actual use of whatever the item may be. As I said, I’m a tinkerer!
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Re: Hello from Massachusetts!

Post by RGSP » Mon Feb 25, 2019 11:51 am

If you want to trailer your boat around in the future, I would suggest you think more about handling it on slipways than towing it on public roads. I'm close to the East coast of the UK, and many of the suitable bits of water for steamboats are tidal, with not very many slipways, and those that do exist are often not very good: very steep, very shallow, covered in seaweed, and sometimes just gravel. Now a couple of hefty men can push a trailer around by hand easily if it weighs half a ton, less easily at 3/4 ton, and with some difficulty at a full ton. My steamboat weighs in at nearly two tons on its trailer, and is an absolute pain to move around except with a heavy towing vehicle, which limits the slipways I can use severely.

Of course, if you intend to leave the boat in the water for a whole season at a time, weight matters very little. I can also say I've had no trouble at all towing my 2-ton boat on public roads behind a medium sized station wagon, and I've never needed its (good) 4WD capability except when moving around boatyards, grass fields, and slipways. Indeed, there's almost always some kind person with a heavy 4WD vehicle who will help with launching or recovery.

Around 20' is not a bad target for steamboat length, but displacement weights can vary a great deal for that (and any) length, from around half a ton at the very lightest, to over two tons for a heavy one, and for handling purposes on land, I would suggest the lighter the better as long as it gives you "enough boat". I wouldn't rule out going down to maybe about 16': there are some very attractive steamboats of about that length in the UK, which will still take 4 crew comfortably - 6 less comfortably - and the steam plant is still big enough to use "standard" engines and boilers, and not specially designed toy ones. Displacement speeds being what they are, shorter boats won't be very fast, but for most of us speed isn't what steamboating is about.
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Re: Hello from Massachusetts!

Post by Mike Rometer » Mon Feb 25, 2019 3:50 pm

Emilio wrote:
Sun Feb 24, 2019 6:33 pm
Mike, you absolutely need to take a visit to both. The steam Up events at the Wireless and Steam Museum (https://newsm.org) and the Wooden Boat and Antique Marine Engine shows at Mystic Seaport are must attend events if they fit into your schedule (https://www.mysticseaport.org).

Both museums have extensive marine steam engine collections and the staff are extremely knowledgeable and happy to share what they know.
I'm not sure we were that close to Mystic, probably passed to the north, but as we did go to Newport R.I. and on to Martha's Vineyard, we must have passed real close to NEWSM.

(but I did get to see the SRRL) ;)

Note to self, must try harder next time!
Retirement is about doing what floats your boat!

A BODGE : - A Bit Of Damn Good Engineering.
Emilio
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Re: Hello from Massachusetts!

Post by Emilio » Mon Feb 25, 2019 4:34 pm

RGSP - 16ft is the sweet spot I was considering as well. I am considering a Pearl single and that should power a launch of that size nicely. Any specific Hull designsplans you recommend considering?
Emilio
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Re: Hello from Massachusetts!

Post by Emilio » 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!
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Re: Hello from Massachusetts!

Post by RGSP » Tue Feb 26, 2019 5:53 pm

Emilio wrote:
Mon Feb 25, 2019 4:34 pm
RGSP - 16ft is the sweet spot I was considering as well. I am considering a Pearl single and that should power a launch of that size nicely. Any specific Hull designsplans you recommend considering?
http://www.selway-fisher.com/
Have a look at Paul Fisher's steam launch designs: I can vouch for most of them being both practical when built and tolerably easy to build. The strip planked hulls are trivial to lengthen or shorten by up to (say) 10% just by altering the mould spacings, keeping their shapes identical. Sheet plywood hulls are often just as easy to modify, but I'd be inclined to ask Paul what he'd charge for a modified design, expecting something of the order of $200: large plywood sheets have to be joined for a full hull, and a join in the wrong place can be a real pain, which can be overcome by the original CAD design package.
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