1/32 Scale W.T. Preston Sternwheeler Build
1/32 Scale W.T. Preston Sternwheeler Build
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Builder's Drawing of the US Army Corps of Engineers snagboat W.T. Preston
My two heart-throbs.
Preston is built on a steel barge. This is the photo I took that was used to Photoshop Preston on a river.
I was given full access to Preston, here I'm sitting in the engine room selecting blueprint sheets to have photocopied.
Bulkheads being built from Alaska cedar planks cut from 1 X 6 fencing
Port main engine cylinder, bore 14", stroke 72"
I began building on Feb 18, 2011 using birch 1/4" ply for the bottom and Alaska cedar for the bulkheads and other lumber
I added a small keel to improve seakeeping. It will not be visible in the water. Preston was flat-bottomed and a handful in wind. Here the paddelwheel deck struts are being positioned
1/2" fir quarter-round was used for the bilge keels. I selected fir for strength and dent resistance
Hull framing complete and ready for decking. The springer towboat in back is same scale as Preston
Bow workdeck being planked
Paddlewheel deck nearing completion
Last of deck planking being added. It's light birch 1/8" aircraft ply
The paddlewheel will be a major build. 6.5" in diameter and 7.5" wide, it will have 48 paddle blades held in place by 386 00-90 brass hex nuts on U bolts. Hub plates will be laser cut
Deck complete and painted. Scuttles are in place. Paddle facsimile used for fit-up
Three decks are built on cedar frame and Plastruct plastic sheet. There are over 84 individually framed doors and windows on the model and took many hours to cut, fit and glue in place
Main deck siding cut. Each window and door is individually framed using cedar strips
Aft splash bulkhead being built. Made from 1/8" ply and cedar scale 2x4s
Paddle crank was made from 1/4" hex brass rod. I turned the ends down to accept 1/4" sealed bearings. Crank arms came from broken Traxxis 2.5cc dirt buggy engine connecting rods. Perfect Length
All decks are built with scale overhead joists steamed to the proper camber. Here, main deck joists being bent to fit plan
Once joists were clamped in place I soaked the whole thing for an hour and then steamed them for 15 minutes with a steam cleaner, worked great
Main and cabin decks being fitted together
Pilothouse and Captain's Office sides being cut and windows/doors framed in. I used steel straight edge and Dremel to cut all window/door openings
Here I'm gluing on edge trim cedar pieces on all three deck edges. A frame legs and boom have been cut
The heart of the operation is the steam donkey on the bow. It's a 3-drum winch and will operate exactly as the full-sized winch with brakes and clutches for all three drums
4 skylight houses built from cedar and glazed with frosted plastic sheet. Skylights also have cambered roof tops.
At this point all decks are just sitting on cabins so I can get in to do detail work and install lights. White post is called a Hog Rod support. It braces the crane
A frame top is very complicated affair containing no less than 14 brass sheaves. Drilled brass sheaves came from England. Beautiful stuff
Ships bell added. A frame deck mounts made from brass and glued in place
I also carved cleats since I couldn't find right shape for this model. New deck paint added. It's great stuff with sandpaper-like texture.
Looking into the donkey area. 3 things going on here: winch for crane, turning engine to rotate round plate the boom is resting on and 3d winch to raise and lower spuds. Lowerable spuds used to anchor boat to bottom
Hand winch on main mast used to hoist day shapes
Pilothouse chart table and chart drawers ready for staining. Leather seats finished. Next- turning brass engine telegraphs and ship's wheel pedestal
Fabricated hook and mounting plate on boom. Drilled and added pin for boom attachment to turning table
I had to redo truss. First attempt came out wrong. Truss is part of support for hog rods used to brace A frame. Don't ask where they got that name...
Starboard side view as of August 30, 2011
Drilled brass sheave on boom. Great brass hardware from England
I used drill press as lathe to cut wood hoop for turntable. This is being built out of wood, brass and plastic. It allows boom to swivel left and right. A cable wraps around the turntable and is attached to a winch drum
Ready made lifeboats this size (7") were expensive, so this started out as a big block of Alaska cedar. Groove sawed in bottom and ends for keel piece. A canvas tent will cover the finished lifeboat.
Lifeboat davits and working blocks are ready to mount. I'll wait on this till I build and install railing.
She's beginning to look like a snagboat.
Sept. 2 progress. Building aft spud hull penetration box. I should have done this long ago. Cutting holes in the bottom of the boat at this stage of the build is a little unnerving. The spuds were lowered into the river bottom to quickly anchor the boat
Box is finished except for sealing and painting. A small electric winch will raise the spuds. Gravity lowers them. Each spud will have lead weight in it to pull it down. Limit switches on the spuds will limit travel
This is the boom turntable. It's made out of brass and wood. The boom will be attached to the turntable allowing the boom to swing left and right through 180-degrees of arc. The forward spud moves up and down through the hole in the turntable.
As shown in the Preston photo, the aft spud is hoisted using this A frame affair. A cable runs to the spud winch up forward to lift the aft spud
Rough shape of lifeboat cradles
Sanding the cradles to the hull contours
Looks like a good fit on the aft deck
I'll add the davits when the railing is being soldered together
Not happy with the styrene plastic angle iron modeling on the boom turntable. So, off it comes tomorrow. I'll do the replacement in 1/16" plywood.
The boom turntable will turn at about 10 rpm. I'll use a gearmotor controlled by one of the proportional channels and ESC so I can smoothly swing the boom
Applying primer to the lifeboat and cradles
Don't know what they call this, but its function is to lock the aft spud in the fully raised position so it couldn't drop while underway. Imagine the captain's surprise if the aft spud fell into the river bottom while steaming along...
The spud locking gear at the base of the spud. For scale, the spud is 1/2" x 1/2" square
The lifeboat will have a canvas cover so you won't see my rough cut hollowing. I'm not going to get so carried away that I finish off places you'll never see
Running the spuds up and down will be a neat operational feature of the model. This will be controlled by an ON/OFF non-proportional channel on the RC system. I'll use microswitches to limit spud travel
The Hog truss is nearly complete. the brass hog rail attachment points are finished. Swedged scale cables with brass turnbuckles will brace the crane. I finally found the perfect brass turnbuckles, but at a price, $14 apiece and I need 10 of them.
The new boom turntable is nearly complete. It looks a lot better than the old plastic version.
I made my own 'L' angle iron out of fir for strength.
The boom now attaches quite well to the turntable and operates smoothly
The lifeboat is ready for white paint and making a canvas cover. The small working blocks I found are the exact size needed and will look good on the brass davits when installed
Just a few more things to add to the turntable and then engineer the gearmotor connection.
Preston floats again through the magic of Photoshop. I'm having a great time on the trip!
Here's the actual article. The siding behind the light is 3" wide for scale. The bulb looks to be a standard 100W light bulb
Cage lines blackened...
These are the gypsy drums on Preston I modeled today out of brass. The gypsies are attached to the 3-drum steam donkey that is under construction.
This is the bull wheel that the crane boom swings on. I've done a fair job of modeling this. The round vertical pipe encloses the forward spud that can be dropped into the river bottom to anchor Preston. This function is duplicated on my model.
Preston's grab-rail, shown here at the top of the gray painted area has been installed on the model. Each grab rail stanchion is 3mm tall with a 0.8mm stainless wire rope threaded through the 50 stanchions.
Dave: Here's a quick sketch of what the paddlewheel/spoke/ring fit looks like. The spokes are brass 1/4" wide and about 1/8" thick.
Great stuff from England: tiny 1.6mm grab rail stanchions. The hole is only 0.8mm dia. The blocks are 12mm dia. double gin blocks with cargo hook.
Show and Tell at our monthly club meeting
Next big project on the build will be the rudder system. It is becoming clear that I'll need to invest in a bigger vehicle to move this around.
Staircase details and drain pipe placement shown here.
Crane boom rigging details. All this is being recreated at 1/32nd scale on my model.
Measuring the life rings on Preston.
Here is the 3d drum, drive gear and gearmotor. The gearmotor slides into the hub of the drum. The gearmotor is attached to the winch frame and spins the black gear.
Here you can see the gearmotor sitting inside the 3d winch drum hub. the drum is free to slide along the brass case of the gearmotor.
All 3 black gears are powered full time. The 3 drums only turn when their servo pushes them to the right up against the black gear face.
The two brass gypsy drums will slide on shaft extensions on the 1st and 2nd drive gears.
Once the working parts of the donkey are finished, non-working steam engines will be added to the back (right side of photo) of the donkey.
Bench seats, chart table, and chart storage cabinet are now done. Work begins on turning the brass engine telegraphs, ship's wheel, speaking tubes, and deck gratings.
The chart on the table is photo-reduced, produced in PhotoShop. with a magnifying glass, the chart can be clearly read.
I selected a NOAA chart of Puget Sound where Preston operated for many decades
Left to do is install the LED lights on the mast, wire up the cabin lights in the pilot house and Captain's Office
I'm also turning and building 2 brass searchlights that will sit on the pilot house overhead. The Captain's Office will be detailed with furniture.
The A-frame is braced with what are called Hog Rods and cables. A 4-sheave block raises and lowers the crane boom.
When the boom pivots on the bull wheel below, the 4-sheave block must follow. That is accomplished by the large pivot mechanism shown in the center of the picture. I finished this part last night. I also turned the large sheave inside pivot block.
Here you see the forward spud and its lift system. This has been a challenge to get it to not only look right, but also function as the full-sized A-frame did.
From this file, I printed a glossy photo of the correct size. the three door panels and door latch (black rectangle) were cut from the first photo. Images were stacked and glued. The panels were trimmed, latch rectangle glued on top photo. Door knob added
This is the actual photo used to make the doors. The images were flipped horizontally for Left and right-hand opening doors
Six doors completed, 8 to go
Steam donkey is moving along. I've powered it up and all 3 drums turn smoothly
Boom now raises and lowers through the 4-sheave blocks
Not much new here, but that will change once the first deck overhead is glued down.
Paddlewheel stand-in is about to be retired. Water jet cutting company is making the 16 brass rings and 4 central hubs next week
Captains Office door looks good
Cabin deck doors finished and installed
Boom pivots smoothly on bull wheel
Exterior white LEDs being wired together on main deck house
Interior light wiring almost done
Once this section's lights are wired up, the deck goes on
Current state of affairs on the build. All three decks are loose, not yet glued or bolted together
Close up of my experimental photo-doors. Two photos made. On the top photo the 3 panels were cut out and trimmed giving the door the 3-D effect. A brass nail completed the door
Captain's Office Door
Hog post attachments. I made these from brass. The hog post us used to brace the crane. The post here is 10mm in diameter
The searchlights are attached. They will be controlled by the lighting remote controlled system
Bow-view of the Pilothouse.
Port side view of pilothouse
Close-up of starboard searchlight installation
Important milestone today: all work lights, interior lights and search lights installed and wired, ready to hook up to light controller
12 channel lighting control system
Receiver has 12 3amp relays
Transmitter has a range of 3000 feet and can program the receiver for various lighting combinations
Inside view of receiver
Receiver's location on cabin deck
Receiver's location viewed from astern
Receiver will be attached by velcro for easy removal
I'll experiment with range and antenna placement
12V gel-cell sitting in it's new battery compartment. It will power lighting receiver, all 51 lights and two gearmotors
A little design work on the engine telegraphs
Main mast was soldered together tonight. Wires pulled for 6 LED lights
My little scheme to keep wires sorted out. Green taped pairs with name and numbers works fine
Foot of main mast with 12, 32 gauge wires. Forward mast is next to wire up, but only two lights to do
Top of main mast showing exit holes for the mast lights. All these lights are 3mm LEDs, white and red
Pulling wire from supply spools. Each mast light is hooked to its own relay so all USCG Nav Rules lighting can be displayed. Not just a 'Christmas Tree display."
These are the nearly completed engine telegraphs and steering pedestal. The top cylinders are brass and the pedestals are turned hardwood, painted to look like brass.
I slid a telescoping piece of brass inside another piece to give me a lip where the indicator faceplate will rest
I took a picture of Preston's telegraph indicator face, Photoshopped it and photo-reduced to 1/32nd scale. Made a brass punch the right dia. and punched out the faces
My makeshift wood lathe for turning the telegraphs.
Just about done with lifeboat and davits. Wood blocks are very nice with working brass sheaves. the lifeboat is 7 inches long for reference
I'll do a little detailing on the blocks and lines to make the whole thing look neater. Blocks and davits came from England. Great stuff from Model Dockyard.
Top 3 of 6 lights on the main mast. Each one can be turned on and off using the RC lighting control system. These are all 3mm LEDs attached to 32 gauge wrapping wire
After a mental lapse, and starting over, I got the 12 mast wires sorted and properly routed through a complicated path to get everything into the cabin deck
Wiring is like blood, a little of it looks like a major mess. Labeled tape kept things straight. And power-checking each light after rerouting to make sure it still works.
Once this gets installed and the cabin deck overhead glued down, it will be hard to get at it down the road
This is the top of the main mast butt where all the wires enter the cabin
So, mast wires go through this hole, into the tube shown in #11, then the mast slips into the top of #11 tube
Once wires enter the cabin deck the are routed forward through numbered wire guides. There, they drop down and get attached to their relays in the lighting control receiver
A little A Frame work tonight... Added a few eye-bolts and gave the whole thing two coats of gray primer
Top view of A Frame. This will receive a final coat of flat black paint
26-pin lighting connector to allow separating superstructure from hull. The brown part on left will be glued to main deck while the rust colored part mounts in the hull. This allows me to place the lighting control receiver/relays in the hull
Angle iron braces installed on splash bulkhead. Stern light added and wires routed forward to 26-pin connector. The hole is where the aft spud penetrates the cabin and down through a hole in the hull. Spud lowered into river bottom to anchor Preston
Starboard view of the boat as of Nov. 14th. The decks are named, bottom to top: Main deck, Cabin Deck and Pilothouse deck, sometimes called the Texas deck
All the working parts of the A Frame now installed. 4-sheave block is a pain in the #$%&& to rig. It took over an hour to get all the lines routed through the correct sheave, and keep them there while fiddling with the other lines
The model is 62 inches long, just for reference. Scale 1/32.
Cabin Deck with holes for skylights and smokestack
Inside view of Cabin Deck showing wiring. The routing for the 6 pairs of main mast lights came out better than I expected. All wires gather forward (right side of photo) and drop down into the main deck to the 26-pin connector
Boom lift blocks. The first donkey drum will raise and lower the boom through these blocks. A 4-sheave fall block will hang under the center of the boom allowing heavy loads to be lifted using the 3d donkey drum.
Lifeboat nearing completion. Here I simulated the drawstring line around the bottom of the canvas cover using model rigging line superglued in place. The smaller tiedown rope holding the canvas cover was simulated using heavy-duty sewing thread.
Lifeboat sitting in position on aft deck. Davits are now glued in position. Another davit system is next to be installed on port side for the workboat skiff
Time to bite the bullet and start building the paddlewheel. I'm switching to a wood paddlewheel instead of using brass for spokes. I've given up on having the components waterjet cut. I think I can make this just as well in wood.
Looking down on bow work deck. There are a total of 14 brass sheaves in the top of the A Frame. Another 4 brass sheaves sit in the boom and 8 additional brass sheaves in the fall block
The first part of the afternoon was dedicated to assigning pins to lights. At this point I had all the wire leads soldered to the pins
Port-side view. At this point, all decks are just sitting loosely on top one-another. Once the lights have been hooked up and tested, all three decks get permanently glued together
Side view, starboard side. The finished model should displace 37 pounds.
I anchored the bottom of the lifeboat davits in brass ferrules (just visible at the bottom of the davits) the ferrules are glued into the hull deck. It was a little tricky to make sure the bottom ends of the davits line up with the ferrules
If you look under the bow you can see the bottom of the forward spud. Both spuds can be lowered and raised by radio control. One little problem - trying to find shallow enough water to demonstrate this unique anchoring feature. Spuds are weighted
I made three of these tonight. One to go and then I add the paddlewheel blades and hoops.
Soldering jig set up and 64 brass spokes cut to length
Each spoke at the hub-end had to be tapered so they all fit together in the hub
One final check of spoke lengths before soldering
16 bits of solder cut and placed at apexes of spokes, ready to apply torch
Soldering spokes to hub
The jig did its job well. All four spoke wheels came out great
Flip side of spoke wheel
How to cut a hex hole in the hubs? I placed the hex shaft down on photo paper and cut around the shaft with an X-acto knife
Once cut I slid the paper over the brass hub
I then placed the hex template over the 1/4" hole drilled in each hub and used a small file to dress the round hole to the proper hex shape
I did one last check to make sure each spoke was the proper length. I made this simple jig where each wheel could be rotated against a black index mark (just above Dremel) and used a cut-off wheel to trim to proper length
Initial fit-up to see how things look with all four wheels on the paddle shaft
A first look at how this will rest in the paddlewheel deck
Next, I'll add the 48 paddle blades
Each blade will be glued to the spokes and U-bolts and hex nuts installed. Note the aft spud visible in the 'down' position on bottom of the hull. This will be raised and lowered by a small electric motor with limit switches to control travel
I hate to have to paint this whole thing black
Looking inside the paddlewheel bracing, you can see the added short spokes that allow center paddle blades to be off-set. I must do this to maintain scale look
Main cabin sitting upside down to facilitate install and wiring of lighting system receiver. Note: Lighting receiver and bus bars are held down by velcro. Just in case I need to pull it for maintenance or repair
I made two bus bars, the gray things, to apply 12VDC power to all the lights and provide a convenient soldering point
Closer look at one of the bus bars. This is where all 18 work lights and 9 interior cabin lights will terminate and be switched by the far right relay on CH#12 of the transmitter.
Failed attempt to make a ship's wheel. This went in the garbage can!
Another look at the top of the A Frame. This will be a busy place once everything is attached. There will be 4 turnbuckles and bracing lines, 5 working lines from the steam donkey below, an access ladder and brass railing
This is the other end of the topping lift block. I made this from sheet brass, 00-90 hex bolts and nuts and 4 10mm drilled brass sheaves.
Just to see what the boat looks like at this stage of the game, I stacked everything together. Instead of looking cool, it reminds me of all the work yet to do. The list is still long.
This project reminds me of the old addage, how do you eat an elephant? One bite at a time. I'd estimate that I'm about halfway through the meal...
Paddlewheel looks a whole lot better than the plywood facsimile that now sits in the scrap wood bin. Once completed, a large part of the project will be done
Here's the photoshopped compass rose ready to cut out.
Other than a punch of the right diameter, a pair of nail clippers works well to cut out the compass card
Next project, assemble the two gratings for the pilothouse floor. Tip: don't glue as you go. Dry fit first, then use thin cyano glue to glue it together. I spread the glue in an "X" shape instead of trying to cover the entire grating. The X lock
My poor man's lathe... I chucked up the proper diameter brass rod to turn the compass light fixture. It works great for small parts
Working in the crowded space in the pilothouse presents challenges. The chart table is not glued in place in the photo, so it's in the way for installing all the little pipes, conduit, signal bell system and voice tubes.
Building up the grating. I experimented with various stains and paints to make it look like the full-sized Preston. I settled on brown Kiwi shoe polish applied by hand and rubbed in
Looking into the nearly complete pilothouse. Notice the engine telegraphs are not sitting at "Finished with Engines" I want to present Preston as "Underway, Making Way." Engines set to "FULL ASTERN"
Only thing left in here is the fire extinguisher and lighting wires for the engine telegraphs. Oh, and the coffee cup on the chart table.
Down to the shop to cut out front and back door images. Front and back will sandwich glass glazing (microscope coverslips) Small brass nail heads will be added as doorknobs. Small brass hinges will allow operation
Added electrical connectors to the back of engine telegraph heads. Floor molding installed around the pilothouse made from 1/16" fir.
Last work in here will be green paint trim around the 18 pilothouse windows.
Two downspout drainpipes added at corners of pilothouse
The RC lighting receiver is mounted in boiler deck house. I made the electrical plug (sitting by red side cutters) that will allow superstructure to be removed. The gel-cell to power lights and receiver sits just below the receiver
A walk around the pilothouse as of Dec. 12
After green trim painting on the interior and glazing the windows, the roof goes on for good and all 8 wires can be routed down through the pilothouse floor.
Pilothouse nearly complete
Left to do: hang pilothouse doors that were finished tonight, glaze the Captain's Office windows and stuff all the lighting wires down into the cabin deck
The new mate/de-mate power plug that replaces the old one that fried itself
Made from a 9-pin D-sub connector
All but 4 pins removed. + and - wires paired up. This should make pulling them apart easier
Working on underside of pilothouse
Clamps are holding searchlight wires taunt while glue dries
Main Mast wires collecting at base of mast. New mast wiring necessitated adding slack to prevent kinking and breaking wires. Solder joints are insulated with liquid tape and will be tidied up before sealing this area up. You are looking at the aft end of
Forward end of cabin deck showing main mast light wiring (12 wires), exterior and interior lighting wiring and red/green running light wiring. All this will be routed below to the lighting control receiver
Overall view of cabin deck underside
General view of underside of pilothouse and Captain's Office
My poor-man's wood lathe. Here turning the base for the smokestack. Using a combination of drill press and Dremel with sanding drum I'm able to quickly turn this to the proper shape
Celebration time! The pilothouse and cabin deck are joined with all lighting routed down to the lighting controller. The two skylights are now completed and glued in place. The main mast is finally done
Beginning to look pretty good
Paddlewheel hoops should be arriving soon so work can move ahead on that part of the build
I'll soon be able to try the first displacement and trim float. Too big for the bathtub however.
Workboat davits now in place.
Pilothouse came out as planned. Lots of detail work inside.
Target weight is 37 pounds for proper displacement
First spoke wheel out of the soldering jig
This is the first of 4 wheels, all brass construction except for the 48 wood paddle blades
This is made up of 16 spokes, two hubs and 6 hoops
To paint or not to paint. I gave the wheel a quick initial buff on the Dremel.
Half circles make second 4" hoop needed to support offset paddlewheel spokes. Had to cut as half circles due to limited supply of brass. This allow me to get everything cut from a 7 X 7 inch brass sheet
The intricate hub, shown on right was already soldered in place yesterday. At this point each wheel has 24 brass parts.
Soldering begins on the wheels. I'm using a resistance soldering system which makes quick work of this
One of the wheels in my simple soldering fixture. I used dividers to check for centering of each hoop during soldering
I started with the 3/4" dia hoop in the center and worked outwards
All done and slid on the paddelwheel shaft to see what they will look like
Here they are again loosely placed on the shaft. They are not aligned or soldered at this point
I think this is going to look good once all the blades are attached
Couldn't resist sitting them on the paddle deck to see what they look like
On went the crank arms (just pressed on for looks) The crank arms will be the last part silver soldered before installation
A closer look at the hub details.
Adding the short spokes to one of the center wheels
Tedious work without a jig. Each piece had to be set in place, checked for alignment, one end soldered in place, stop, recheck to see if it is still centered, resolder if not, solder the other end if OK. Go to the next one.
I also took a stab at the pillow blocks, carving them out of Alaska cedar
The wheels are not soldered to the paddle shaft yet, Back to the hobby shop for more brass to finish the second wheel
32 short spokes make up the center paddle wheels. On to attaching the 4 wheels to the shaft. I think I'll make the pillow blocks out of brass
Final lighting controller wiring completed tonight 2/9/2012
All lights illuminated, which would never be set this way, but shows off everything being operational
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