Sidewheeler James M. Donahue - RC Groups
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Oct 16, 2012, 08:18 PM
Mmm, tugs...
patmat2350's Avatar

Sidewheeler James M. Donahue

So, is everyone tired of the Dumas Mt. Washington? Try a DIFFERENT sidewheeler... Here's a real gem from the HAMMS (Historic American Merchant Marine Survey): The James M. Donahue, an 1875 steamboat that worked the Sacramento River and San Francisco Bay for the Northwestern Pacific, connecting to that carrier at Sausalito.

The 13 sheets in the HAMMS set give all the lines, profiles, sections and details you'll need to build an accurate model... even gives the locations of the potties, and details of the walking beam engine and wheels!

I'm tempted... gotta love that walking beam...

And see some more photos of the NW Pacific RR at

This was a joint venture between the SP and ATSF to service the California north coast... so Donahue could likely be seen in the company of any of those carriers' rolling stock and ferries.

**of course I have hi-res scans...
Last edited by patmat2350; Oct 16, 2012 at 08:25 PM.
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Oct 16, 2012, 08:40 PM
Mmm, tugs...
patmat2350's Avatar
Oh yeah, if you'd like the "original" rolled drawing set as sold by Model Expo in 1995.

Last edited by patmat2350; Oct 16, 2012 at 09:20 PM.
Oct 20, 2012, 10:16 AM
Damp and Dizzy member
Brooks's Avatar
Beautiful drawings, thanks for posting. I could not tell from your photos, maybe you saw it on the originals: Could they run the paddles in opposite directions? Mississippi sidewheelers could, but they were not walking beam style, rather, they had separate steam motors for each paddle.
Oct 20, 2012, 03:29 PM
Mmm, tugs...
patmat2350's Avatar
Brooks- nope. One cylinder, one common crankshaft for the two wheels.

BTW, I just received a copy of "Paddle Wheel Steamers and their Giant Engines", a nice book from 1983 dedicated to walking beam engines. Nice!

It even has a better picture of Donahue, showing the name in script (as in the 2nd photo above).
Oct 21, 2012, 12:10 PM
Registered User
Predreadnut's Avatar
Oct 27, 2012, 09:53 AM
Mmm, tugs...
patmat2350's Avatar
So I picked up an old copy of "Of Walking Beams and Paddle Wheels: A Chronicle of San Francisco Ferryboats" (Harlan, 1951)... a number of good steamer photos, but also history about the most famous San Franciscan I'd never heard of, Peter Donahue.

An Irish immigrant, had apprenticed in factories in Scotland and the US... learned mechanics and foundry work... helped build an ironclad for delivery to Peru... helped sail her around the Horn (the FIRST American steamer to go around the Horn), and took a job with Peru showing them how to run a steamboat.

Heard about the California gold rush, rushed north. The steamship he was on broke down in the middle of the ocean... he fixed it and ran the engine room until they arrived in SF, was awarded $1000 by the owners.

Did some gold digging, didn't like it, built mill equipment instead. Didn't like the lack of gas lighting in SF, set up a gas light company... became PG&E. Set up a railroad, built the locomotives.

Anyway, the list goes on... including operating steamboats, like this one (named for his son).

A brief article- the book is better!

The image below is from the book.
Last edited by patmat2350; Oct 27, 2012 at 11:53 AM.
Oct 27, 2012, 01:40 PM
Registered User
Predreadnut's Avatar
I really love the look of many of the sidewheelers. This print is hanging in my livingroom. If I only had Pats talent, I'd make a nice, big model of her
Last edited by Predreadnut; Oct 27, 2012 at 08:34 PM.
Oct 27, 2012, 02:01 PM
Mmm, tugs...
patmat2350's Avatar
I've got one too, calls my name every time I walk by...

John Fryant, what's hanging on YOUR walls?

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