Friday, November 4, 2022

Time to Boiler Up!


Lately I’ve been working on the construction of a new Nile River paddle wheel boat. I wanted it to look a little different from the first boat, so I decided to have the boiler exposed and visible. The two pictures below show the work in progress of the boat and you can see the location of the boiler midship. The boat isn’t as finished as it looks in the pictures; I have to add column supports for the upper deck and handrails around the perimeters of the first and second decks. I added some Britains mealie bag walls and figures to give me an idea of what the finished ship will look like.

I’ve had a lot of fun building this boat, especially the boiler and smoke stack parts of it. The boiler is made from a pharmaceutical meds bottle and a couple of small gears that I found at Hobby Lobby. I found a few other brass bits and dodads from the local hardware store. I don’t shop at the big box hardware stores unless my local family owned hardware store doesn’t have what I’m looking for.

The two metal bands around the boiler are made from strips of paper and the rivets are simple sewing pins that I pushed through the plastic bottle. A brass necklace magnet was placed on top of the door just because it was shiny and looked good. The smoke stack was made from a 3/4-inch dowel rod.

I like the steampunk look of the boiler and I had a lot of fun making it. The base was made from balsa wood because it is easy to cut and shape. Two brass grommets were pushed into the base to add some more shiny bling to the boiler base.

The final step was to prime the boiler black (save for the brass bits and gears which are attached after the boiler is painted. The boiler was then painted with a base shade color of dark grey and then a highlight color of a lighter shade of grey (but not a whiter shade of pale).

I wasn’t going to make a second paddle wheel boat, but on one of my shopping trips to Hobby Lobby I found a wooden blank sign that reminded me of a ship’s hull.

I hope to finish the boat over the weekend, but the handrails and paddle wheel are more complicated to make and so finishing the boat may take more time than expected. However, the finished product should look pretty damn good.


  1. Jim, this is a pretty cool-looking boiler!

  2. Excellent work Jim and you can't be a good old bit of scratch building:).

  3. Interesting design! Might struggle to get that certified ....must be a local build. Random event - boiler issues!🤣

  4. The basic model would represent the "pre-war" civilian transport style of the boat. During the war, I will add mealie bags and wood slats to the sides to protect the boiler.