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Operational Models

These are my personal models. They are examples of my work and illustrate my skills and interests. These boats are available for sale to interested persons or can be used as inspiration for custom work and fellow modelers.

Live Steam Model Tugboats



48" long, 11" wide, 36 lbs.

This coastal tugboat is a freelance model in the style of tugboats which were used during the first half of the century to tow barges of coal and oil up and down the East Coast of the US. The prototype of this model would have had a 1000 horsepower double or triple expansion steam engine.

The model has a 4 foot long wooden hull built more less as a real ship would have been built. It has an oak keel and sawn oak ribs with hard pine planking. It has an oak planked deck, mahogany trim and cabin sides.

It uses a Stuart Turner D-10 Steam engine with a home made propane fired steam boiler. I designed and built the boiler, propane burner, feed water pump, propeller and more. It is powerful enough to pull a canoe in style.

I have written an article about the building of Nameaug for "Ships In Scale" magazine to be published starting in January 2000. I discuss the planing, and construction of the model including building the wooden hull, installing the machinery, adding details such as the towing bits, smokestacks and ventilators and making a whitehall tender.


  Plans are available



32"long, 10 1/2" wide.

This is one of my oldest models. I started it when I was 18 years old. I have worked on this boat off and on for 20 years and have learned a lot about building operational steam boats. The hull is plank on frame. The boat originally had steam bent ash-wood ribs, sawn pine ribs have been added in the bow and stern areas over the years.

I have built several generations of engine and boiler for this boat, each a little more sophisticated and powerful than the last. I currently have a Saito T2DR engine and a home made boiler. This is by far the most successful of the lot. The little Saito engine drives the boat with enthusiasm. The engine is two cylinder, double acting machine which is necessary for radio control because it is self starting. I have designed and built two feed water pumps for the boat, one hand operated, one gear driven by the engine. These pumps keep the boiler full of water so that the boat can run indefinitely. The boiler is made from a piece of 5" copper drain pipe with 1/2" diameter flues. Operating pressure is from 5 to about 40 psi. The alcohol burners consist of 2 pans filled with fiberglass wicking under the boiler fed by a tube from the fuel tank under the foredeck.

The boat is radio controlled using a 2 channel radio. One channel controls the rudder, one the forward/reverse linkage on the engine. The control of the speed and direction of the boat is tricky. With both this and the next model, I have had trouble shifting from forward to reverse. The servo must be strong enough and have a long enough throw to move the linkage through its full motion while operating under full steam pressure.

Electric Model Tugboats

Stave Island

27" long, 7"wide

This is a freelance model of a small Diesel harbor tug. She was designed as a fun little boat that I could take with me in the kayak. She has been great fun for children to operate while I run my steamers.

This tugboat is a radio controlled electric model. She uses radio equipment cannibalized from toy race cars. They use standard 6 cell sub-C size hobby batteries. The motors in these boats is much smaller than those used by model car racers, so that the running time is about 2 hours. Longer than most running sessions. The motor is geared to the propeller shaft with a reduction of about 10:1. These boats are great fun to operate, they are responsive and powerful.

This is a 24" model tugboat, based on a design by Ted Stinson, and built stitch and glue style for my son. I installed an electric motor and radio control in it. It is shown on the Dead River in Leeds, Maine summer 2004.

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  • Updated on January, 23 2014

    by Shearwater Boats
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