SS Badger (already in progress) - RC Groups
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Mar 07, 2010, 08:53 PM
Old wreck in Milwaukee
Prins Willem's Avatar
Build Log

SS Badger (already in progress)

I'm getting back to a project that has been sitting idle for far too long. One of the things I decided to do was keep a time sheet on this build. I just checked it to see when I started and it said 2/13/04 and I stopped in Sept 04, so like I said Too Long.

to get you caught up I'll give a quick history. Carferries have plied Lake Michigan for over a century. The service began from having to offload cargo to package steamers from rail cars on one side of the lake and reload them on the other side. At the time Chicago was not the rail nexus it grew into. The ferries were strongly built to handle severe weather and ice on the lakes. They were often called on to provide icebreaking services in harbors and to stranded ships out on the lake. Cross lake service began in 1892 with the Toledo, Ann Arbor, & Northern Michigan's two boats the Ann Arbor #1 & Ann Arbor#2. The ships ran service between Frankfort MI and Kewaunee WI. With the success of the Ann Arbor boats the Flint & Pere Marquette RR built it's own ferry the Pere Marquette in 1897 which ran from Ludington MI to Manitowoc WI (the Badger's current route). Many ferries were built and operated by the two railroads over the years culminating in the FPMRR's City of Midland 41 in 1941, and after C&O bought FPMRR in 1947 the Badger and Spartan in 1952. The Badger is named for the University of Wisconsin mascot and the Spartan for the Michigan State University mascot. The three boats Badger, Spartan, and Midland 41 served C&O until it abandoned the service in the 1980's A new company was formed to continue the service but declining shipments resulted in the termination of rail ferry service on the lake. The sisters were mothballed in Ludington until a local businessman bought the ferries and had the Badger refitted to haul autos, buses, and semis. She has proven to be a popular summer attraction and takes the need for the tortuous trip through Chicago out of a east west itinerary. The Badger is the last coal fired steamship in the US and the last operating Skinner Uniflow power plant on Earth. She is a historic landmark in both states and her plant has a engineering historical designation.

How the model came to be is another story. Bill Hansen was a member of the Wisconsin Scale Boating Association and an employee of the C&O Railroad's carferry operation here. He scratch built a model of the Badger which he ran for some years. When the Badger started is summer auto service Bill was contacted about loaning his model to the on board museum. He did and to the best of my knowledge it is still there. This left Bill without a carferry model. He negotiated with Chuck Steffen to produce a mold of the carferry components, hull, all the cabin structures, and the stack. The idea being that model railroaders could purchase them too to make waterline models for layouts. Bill did the plugs for the molds and Chuck put them into glass. The problem was that in 2004 the price for the set would be well in excess of $400.00. That was Chuck's usual break even pricing. Any spike in material costs would have priced this model out of any realm of practicality. Two sets were sold. One was purchased by the author of the book SS Badger The Lake Michigan Carferry, and the other by me. The other set was subsequently sold off as the author didn't have the time or experience in model building to construct it. In the mean time Bill Hansen began constructing five of the FG ferries for his grandchildren. He didn't live long enough to complete them and we have lost contact with the family long ago so there is no information on their disposition.

I managed to get the galleries cut out with my Dremel tool and several trips to buy bits. I began layout of the anchor pockets and was trying out the idea of only partially drilling the port holes. I thought I could drill through the gel coat into the hull leaving the hole blind. After painting I would go back and create the glass ports using either super glue or epoxy. it is nearly impossible to do this without chipping the gel coat around the port so I'm drilling through and back filling the ports Like I should have in the first place. I made a pattern for the anchor pockets and Chuck resin cast the pieces for me. That is as far as I got in 04. A strange phenomenon afflicts some members of our club who assume the presidency. You lose interest in model building for some reason. I noticed it with a few of my predecessors but didn't expect it to happen to me. It did and now after three years out of office I am working up to getting back to this boat. I did partially build a Carol Moran up to making railings. It stalled there so a few weeks ago I gave it to my brother who was contemplating RCing a Lindberg Tug. The CM will work much better for him and now it is off my plate. The Akron tug rebuild is still on hold so now is the time to jump back on the Badger. This post is long enough so I'll do another one with photos and links to info on the Badger, Lake Michigan Carferry Company, and the museum at Frankfort MI.
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Mar 07, 2010, 09:15 PM
Mmm, tugs...
patmat2350's Avatar
picture, pictures!
Mar 07, 2010, 09:18 PM
Old wreck in Milwaukee
Prins Willem's Avatar
Here are some photos of my Badger thus far. I have copies of some of the Badger's original drawings. My concern will be with building the seagate which I don't see on the drawings. Chuck tells me that our club member Terry Bruce might be able to helm me with that. His 1/48 carferry City of Midland 41 is in the Wisconsin Maritime Museum's Model Gallery. She is a big brute.

Also a photo of Bill Hansen with his Badger at the Strictly Sail Show in the mid 90's.

Pat I would have beat your post but I was answering a fish tug e-mail from CA.
Mar 08, 2010, 01:07 PM
Its only a model.
Tregurtha1013's Avatar
Very cool. Looks like a great build, one that i'll be watching.
Mar 08, 2010, 11:29 PM
Old wreck in Milwaukee
Prins Willem's Avatar
More info on the one foot scale Badger;

S.S. Badger returns to Ludington (2 min 24 sec)

S.S. Badger Departing Ludington (2 min 9 sec)

Lots of footage on youtube.

For history of Lake Michigan Carferries see
Mar 13, 2010, 12:03 PM
Old wreck in Milwaukee
Prins Willem's Avatar

Stand construction

before I get into drilling and cutting on the hull I want the stand ready so I don't damage it once things start going on. I'm building a stand similar to the one for my 36" tug. It consists of cross boards cut to the contour of the hull with 1" dowel runners on the sides. This design is really easy to pick up and carry especially with a bulky model. The Badger's stand will have three cross boards since it is over 50" long.

I ran to Woodcraft this morning and bought a new plastic 10" profile copy gauge. I had one of the shorter wire pin jobs but never liked it (besides it being too short). This will make getting the hull profile onto the boards relatively easy. Well, I still have to run to Menards and buy a replacement shop light for one that isn't working then I can get started.
Mar 13, 2010, 11:18 PM
Old wreck in Milwaukee
Prins Willem's Avatar
Got the stand cut out and dry fitted. The profile gauge didn't work as well as I hoped as it wasn't really deep enough. It looks like the boat should set well in the stand which is important during transport.
Mar 21, 2010, 04:56 PM
Old wreck in Milwaukee
Prins Willem's Avatar
Today I laid out the plans on the dining room table. Dealing with large plans can be a pain sometimes. Tomorrow I am going to start drilling and cutting on the hull. I wanted to map out where the anchor pockets are fit in and make sure of the dimensions of the port holes. The plans are copies of the builders plans with notations by Bill Hansen from his models construction. My brother collects coffee mugs from places we travel to. The three Badger mugs came in handy for holding the plans. I had to use a SS Valley Camp mug for the fourth corner.

The plans had to be moved for Sunday dinner. We cook good meals on Sundays so today its Beef & Pork roasts with new potatoes, baby carrot, whole mushrooms, and mini onions in the NESCO roaster. After that no way I'll make it down the basement stairs to work on the boat.
Mar 22, 2010, 08:11 AM
Registered User
tghsmith's Avatar
nice official paperweights, what circa are you doing(rail cars or not) I've ridden each version(bigger boat more fun) I've been know to make a kinkos set of copies of the plans, spray adhesive the copies to poster board(or free card board) and archieve the good set...
Mar 22, 2010, 09:27 AM
Old wreck in Milwaukee
Prins Willem's Avatar
I'm building to 1955-56. I like the C&O logo better than the Chessie cat. My brother retired for A O Smith/ Tower Automotive so I have drafted him to build a flat car full of frames.

I won't have to refer to the plans too often. When the mold was made the plug was remove and all openings cut in. It was reinstalled in the mold and all the openings were scribed in so they show up in the gelcoat. This was done to aid model RR builders to make a waterline ship.
Mar 22, 2010, 12:09 PM
Old wreck in Milwaukee
Prins Willem's Avatar

Anchor pockets

I cut the holes for the anchor pockets. I need to make a run to the HW store for some particle masks and also pick up some more straight Dremel bits.
Mar 22, 2010, 08:42 PM
Registered User
tim slocum's Avatar
Very cool subject! I'll be watching.
Mar 23, 2010, 12:31 PM
r/c ships and workboats
neet prodject as it is some thing a littledifferent. Keep up the good work and updates!
Mar 23, 2010, 06:29 PM
Old wreck in Milwaukee
Prins Willem's Avatar

Sanding, sanding, & more sanding

Before I make any more holes I've decided to get the areas inside the hull that need to be smooth, smooth. The bow section will exposed as part of the gunwale so it needed attention. In the places the deck bracing will be glued to the hull sanding flat and clean is a must. In the rear the car deck will be visible one railcar deep and there is allot of exposed framing in that area to be replicated. I had to get an idea of how far in the false wall in the car deck will be and the height of the car deck so I did a quick mock up. The Badger has had her first load of rail cars.
Mar 27, 2010, 06:36 PM
Old wreck in Milwaukee
Prins Willem's Avatar
I spent some time this morning drilling port holes. They are only drilled half way through the hull. Once the hull is painted I'll glaze them with either super glue or epoxy. A little experimentation is in order to find which will look better. After all the careful measuring of the position of the anchor pockets I managed to mess it up. In the earlier photos you will notice the flange is to the top, WRONG! I goofed and after watching some video I caught my mistake. It is easy enough to fix and one side is done already. I made a filler piece from the cutout and glued it into place. My intention all along was to lay a fiberglass patch over the inside of the hull to permanently affix the anchor pockets in place. Anybody who's been in RC boating any length of time can attest to how much punishment the bows take on the models. I don't want those pockets ever coming loose.

In another thread somebody brought up the cost of building models. I don't want to think about that. I still need to order up two 12 volt Dumas Pittman motors, two dog bone assemblies, and two drive dogs just to get the propulsion system up. I have a Ace Nautical Commander that isn't working right now, I think the receiver conked out. jshander converted his NC to 2.4ghz with a kit he bought online. I may try this so I can use this radio with the Badger.

One of the questions you can rely on being asked is "how long did it take you to build it?". I'm keeping a running count on the time for this build. I have a time sheet where I note each session with the work bench.

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