Saturday, 9 November 2013

Heather Bell, in wood, for Lantern Yard

I started this a while back for the centre piece of Lantern Yard, my small canal based set-piece in 7mm scale.
This is Heather Bell, after we gave her a 2 week clean-up at Charity Dock, a filthy, rat-infested, but Grade 2 listed boatyard of immense character about 2 miles ahead of this picture, taken at Sutton Stop.

This is her during the War,

when her crew of Daphne March and her Mum trained many women to run boats in the absence of the menfolk, before being a boatman became a reserved occupation.  Here she is seen in Tardebigge Top lock on her way down the tortuous lock flight towards Worcester.  Shortly after this picture was taken she tied up and the ladies took tea with  Tom and Angela Rolt on their boat, Cressy.  Tom wrote NarrowBoat, the book that saved the canals.  He also started the Inland Waterways Association (and the VSCC and the Railway preservation movement!)
Some of those women went on to write about their experiences on and after Heather Bell.  It was reading those books that moved my wife to make a plea for us buying and living on her.

The model of a wooden boat should, in my view, be made of wood.  HB is no exception.  Having worked with my wife to end up putting three oak trees into her restoration, I know every inch of the full sized craft and so it will all be in the model.

I always use steamed pear to represent any wooden object in any scale. It is hard, stable and has little or no figure. It looks like mahogany in scale if you're doing varnished speedboats or miniature furniture and it works equally well at the much smaller scales used for scenic models.

The bottom boards of a narrow boat go across the craft and are tied together with the kelson, which goes from stem to sternpost.
The bottoms are slightly wedged in plan, so that they can be hammered up tight before fixing. They are left over-long and sawn off when the hull is finished.  They are 3"-4" elm.
At the stern, or starnend as boaters call it the huge engine beds are added and the stern post, rabetted to take the ends of the planks of the canoe shaped part called the swim. On the shape and length of this and the shape of the bows rests the handling of the boat.  Above the three plank depth of the swim is the counter of two planks which end in an elegant elliptical block of oak, weighing as much as 500 lb.  This I have propped up on spare blocks and made in 2 laminations of my thickest pear.

This will be only sporadic as I really must start earning a living!

1 comment:

  1. Looking forward very much to further progress, as and when work permits. I read one of the books about life on the boat many years ago, although it took me a while to thread the various elements of the boat's story together. It's marvellous that you had the boat in your keeping for a while.