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Aug 18, 2019, 03:01 AM
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carlfmiller's Avatar
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Build Log

Steam Launch Cecilia Post #1 -- sailboat hull makes a nice steam launch

In the next few posts of this build log, I will describe the origins and build of the 53" steam launch Cecilia. Work was begun this past April, and she is near completion now; we have had a successful trial pond run (video available), the Microcosm M29 steam plant works beautifully, and what fun we'll have getting her into a nice pond. Of course, it was great fun to do the build as well, and I hope it is interesting for others.

I had built a few of the Tippecanoe RC sailboats, and used their particular method of making the strip-planked hull over a precision "strongback" over which the planks are laid, then epoxied. The strongback and all its forms is reusable and this led me to the idea that maybe a sailboat hull might work as an open steam launch, and how easy it would be to make another hull off the strongback. Of course it would have a full length keel and no deep bulb keel. For this boat I chose Tippecanoe's T50 sloop, and made a few modifications that make Cecilia unique. I studied many launches on Google, and used ideas from them. As we go along the build log I will point these features out.

First a couple of notes on the hull construction. The planks are laid over the strongback dry, held in place with double sided tape and common pins. A few clamps pinch the planks together at the bow. When the planking is compete, the outside is saturated with epoxy and allowed to cure, Then the hull can be lifted up off the strongback runners, the forms can be removed , and more epoxy is then applied to the inside. When this epoxy is cured, the hull is monolithic. Frames are added to maintain the hull shape until the deck stiffens everything up..

One of Cecilia's unique features is the "draketail" transom. This is a departure from Tippecanoe's design but I think adds a lot to the launch's character. The original vertical planks were laid over a paper and styrofoam "plug" and after they were faired, they were overplanked with mahogany. Another design change from the T50 hull is the plumb bow (or nearly plumb) This is a feature inspired by most of the old-time open launches. The interior is readied for the deck with the addition of strip along the inside of the gunwale .

After fairing the planking and adding more epoxy, final action to complete the exterior of the hull is gluing on the keel. It has the stuffing tube embedded. The rudder tube and rudder were made to fit (although the rudder shape was subsequently changed)

This I hope lets you see the process of making the Cecilia hull. Next post will show the interior fittings and the decking, then we can get started on the cockpit and furnishings. I welcome comment and questions, realizing this is fast run-through.

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Aug 18, 2019, 01:18 PM
Tugs & Bugs
Aug 18, 2019, 03:46 PM
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Stephen Vick's Avatar
Truly unique and very beautiful!
Aug 21, 2019, 01:26 AM
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carlfmiller's Avatar
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Cecilia Build Post #2-- Getting the deck on

In Post#1, the hull is mostly complete and now we are thinking about getting the deck on. Some things have to be attended to first before the deck restricts access.

First, the stringers that hold the steam plant tray are added, these are 3/8 square pine and laid in sections between the frames. The fore and aft position of the steam plant is a "guess" about where is its CG; previous float tests showed "in the ballpark" for fore and aft trim. I admit this was pretty unscientific and rationalized that if it were wrong, I can add trim weight.

The rudder control servo is installed; the rudder tube is cut away in the center for access to the control arm. The top section provides lots of support for the rudder post. Note the "plate" that originally supported the planking for the drake tail is now all cut away. Also you can see the revised shape of the rudder.

Ready for the deck! It is all one piece, 1/16" okoume mahogany ply. There is a little shear as well as the crown, so the plywood is going to argue about the compound curve. This a LOT of blue tape, all around the gunwale. This seems simple but it was indeed an argument. But on it went, and the next day it was exciting to cut open the cockpit.

The laminated coaming is three 1/16" lams of the okoume ply, 1" wide , bent around a form and made up with epoxy. Lots of protective clear tape to keep from gluing the laminations to the form. The oval is completed, cleaned up , and epoxied into the deck opening after some careful fitting..

Finally, the coaming is shaped to follow the deck lines, and cleaned up. Looks like it might be a boat! Next post will describe the deck laminations and the coaming cap strip, and toerail.

Sep 01, 2019, 05:11 PM
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Cecilia Build Post #3 Deck and cockpit details

Quick post today, just a couple photos of the deck details and one of the finished cockpit. Will complete the build log in next post, with description of steam engine installation, RC controls, and the canopy. By then--100% complete!

Last edited by carlfmiller; Sep 01, 2019 at 05:16 PM. Reason: Add caption
Sep 21, 2019, 02:08 AM
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-kno3-'s Avatar
Beautiful work and details Carl! I like how you changed the bow and stern to make it look more like a steam launch. It should be quite a fast boat with that elongated shape.
I'd like to see the video too.

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