Monday, October 17, 2022

Eight Hours of Life That I'll Never Recover


Following up on my previous post about progress on the Nile River paddle wheel boat, I decided that I will make removable protective plates for the bow and a removable canopy on the top deck. Thus on Saturday evening I went down into the Man Cave, turned on some Joe Walsh music (best guitarist, eval!), looked for some of those little used tools from high school geometry class (compass, protractor and right angle square) and set to work making the frame for the front plates of the boat.

I spent about four hours on Saturday and another four hours on Sunday to build just the frame for the bow plates. It is a lot more complicated than it looks, more like the roof trusses on Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris. Some of the angles killed off a few of my brain cells, particularly when working with the four upper struts.

Here are some pictures of the basic frame for the protective mantel for the bow of the boat.

The basic "V" shape of the base was easy enough to do as all that was required was to measure and follow the dimensions of the bow of the boat. The base was made out of basswood.

The two forward struts that attach to the base were made of balsa wood, knowing that it is easier to drill holes into balsa rather than bass wood. These were set at a 60-degree angle to the base and had the support of the cross piece on the base. I clipped off some sewing pins to make pins to help hold the parts together. The parts were glued together primarily with super glue, but I also used some white Tacky Glue in certain areas.

The two struts in the back were the brain killers because I could not use a conventional 45-degree or 60-degree angle to join the two pieces of wood.  I used a 60-degree angle to attach the strut to the V part of the base, but the strut did not butt up flat against the forward struts. I had to cut a notch out of the forward struts and drill holes through the two pieces so that I could insert a pin to strengthen the join.

Anytime I had to drill into the balsa wood I was afraid that the drill might split the wood and then I'd have to start all over again. Fortunately there was no breakage, but it took another four hours on sunday to work out all of the angles and positions of the pins.

Then I started attaching the front plates (no pictures today) to the front of the frame and the sides, but for some reason it took forever to work out a snug fit for the plates. I hope to finish up this part of the job and get it painted by tomorrow.

I also began work on the paddle wheel, but it will be a few more days before I can finish it. I went to Hobby Lobby and found some decorative gears in the bead/necklace department, from which I made the basic shape of the wheel.  Pieces of bass wood where glued to the gear to extend the spokes of the wheel. I used a 3/4 inch dowel rod as the axel. The picture below provides a mock up of how the paddle wheel might look when the project is finished.

Mock up of the paddle wheel shown in the picture above.

It looks like the canopy will be the last item that I make on this model. The canopy shown in the picture is borrowed from another boat model and it is "for show" on my model.

All of these seemingly simple tasks take lots and lots of time.


  1. Complex compound angles like that are a nightmare Jim, as I know from my time as a modelmaker. It makes you admire the work of carpenters on staircases etc in old houses.

    1. I agree. Think about how difficult it must be to rebuild the Notre Dome roof.

  2. God will provide a fresh 24 hours tomorrow. And you at least have something to show for those eight. More than I can sometimes say.

  3. Your efforts are worth it Jim as the end result looks great and the developing paddle wheel boat is superb!
    Regards, James