Saturday, October 15, 2022

Nile River Boat in 1/32 scale - Almost finished.


River boat without canopy

River boat with canopy

I have been very busy in the Olde Fritz Shipyard & Works this past week working on my Nile River paddle wheel boat for my Khartoum game. As of yesterday I have finished everything except the paddle wheels, which are a complicated piece of engineering, so I saved that part of the construction for last.

She's looking pretty good so far, but I have two minor considerations to make before actually "finishing" the boat. First of all, should I include a canvas canopy on the upper deck or go without the canopy? The two pictures above compare these two options. What do you think?

The second item is whether or not I should have some protective wood or boiler plate metal plates attached to the front of the boat to protect the artillery crew. Below are comparative pictures that indicate what the boat would look like with or without the plates. Which version looks better to you?

Wood plates (1" by 2") to simulate protective metal or wood plates.
The final versions would be painted, so these are just "stand ins".

The following picture shows some of the detail that I put on the smoke stack and also shows a close up of the safety railing on the second deck. The smoke stack is made from a piece of 3/4" diameter dowel. It is tricked out by the addition of four support poles leading from the base to the smoke stack. The vertical pipe on the side (is this a steam whistle?) is a small piece of dowel stick painted a metallic color. The two metallic bands on the stack are pieces of card board (cut from an index card). The black base at the bottom provides support for the dowel rod so that it doesn't move - this is made from a plastic water bottle cap. The white base is cut from some balsa wood.

I rather like the detail that I put on the smoke stack

The railing around the perimeter of the upper deck has poles made from pop rivets that I've turned upside down so that the flange at the base is on the upward side. The railing cords are made from white string, which is unraveled slightly so that it fits over the pop rivet. I then put a drop of super glue so that the join of the string to the pop rivet is solid.

The little rectangular white wall provides protection so that someone doesn't fall down the hatch hole. I fashioned a ladder (from balsa wood and sewing pin rungs) the leads from the first deck to the upper deck. After all, the crew need some way to climb from the main deck to the upper deck.

A final bit of bling was to put a dark stained handrail on top of the side walls of the hull, which was made from foam core board. This provides a nice finishing touch to the model. I used wood stain, Walnut color, on the decks and the hand rail.

At the last minute, I added some dark stained hand rails around the edges of the hull.

The new river boat in the foreground, compared to the old boat in the background.

The red Egyptian flag was "borrowed" from another boat model to use in this photo shoot. I will eventually make my own flag out of paper and return the metal version to its rightful owner. The boat needs an anchor and I may have to do an on line search for 1/32 scale boat fittings unless I can find one at either Hobby Lobby or Michael's Stores.

Now I have to do some complicated engineering to make the paddle wheel at the rear of my boat. I will probably inspect the wheel on the original boat and see if I can copy its construction. I also have Diane Sutherland's (the Wargame Widow) book on terrain, Volume 2, which describes the steps that she takes to make a paddle wheel.

Once this project is completed, General Gordon's Nile River fleet will have two stern paddle wheel boats, one side wheel steamer, and two smaller screw driven boats. Then it might be on to making some dhows for the Dervish. Limeys & Slimeys on the Nile, anyone?

Please feel free to leave any comments or suggestions in the comments section below. I'd particularly like to hear some opinions on canopy or no canopy, and protection panels or no panels on the finished boat.

One final thought about this project; I thought that building a river boat was beyond my modeling skills, but as often is the case, it's a simple matter of rolling up your sleeves and giving it a try. It's easier that it looks. 

By the way, all of the 54mm figures shown on the boat are Trophy of Wales miniatures.


  1. Canopy and protection is my vote !

    1. My suggestion on the paddle is make it from card - cut the 2 circles (flat for waterline part ) and join with card . You can then always bulk it up with balsa

  2. it 'looks' better without the plates but I'd still include them to give the crew a better save from enemy shooting!

    1. I’m thinking that I could make a strip of wood that has 2 or 3 plates attached to it. The piece of wood could be removed so that I could use the boat in both configurations. I will be placing mealie bags on the top deck to protect the Gatling Gun crew.

  3. Excellent Jim. I’m for canopy and protective sheets as well. This is going to look quite spectacular.

  4. Lovely work on this. I agree with Quantrilltoy...the model looks nicer without the protective plates, but for gaming purposes, it makes sense to add them for the protection they provide

  5. I don't think these type of boats look right without a canopy. Likewise, going on 'looks' rather than pure practicality/accuracy, I don't like the metal plate idea - but that's purely my own opinion regarding the look of the thing! Nice boat.

  6. A fine vessel; I would go with canopy and protection but make them removable. The boat could then do its duty in a battle scenario and be changed to civilian mode for use in a pulp game.

    1. I think that’s the direction that I’m leaning towards too. It shouldn’t be too hard to make removable pieces.

  7. A beautiful vessel Jim, fit for a king.
    If only if I was one😉, oh😃say on a forum


  8. I too vote for canopy & protective plates & mealie bags ~ all separately removable. Variety is the Spice of Gaming! Superb model and that is a lovely smokestack. You may want to look into fly tying bobbins & all of the various threads & tinsels for rigging your hand rails. A bobbin would help with easy tension control &, if you go there, a whip finishing tool makes quick work of tying off before you glue.
    ~ T