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Home >> Barge Building >> Build Reports & Building Tips >> Thames Barge Champion class model building report

PostHeaderIcon Thames Barge Champion class model building report

Thames barge Champion class model building report

For more than two years I build model Thames barge "Champion class" according to the adapted Chapelle´s drawing (in the book by F.G.Carr) .

At the very beginning I would like to state once more, that this was a working title. In the final consequence will be the model name Capricorn (scratch building, of course) as will be explained later .

I began to think about building a model TSB some day a few years ago, when I met Thanes sailing barges for the second time /really!) and did found the sailing barges really exists and Lady Daphne is not only picture in Harold Underhill book (Sailing ship rigs and rigging) but in fact quite nice boat .So decided to buy from England plans just for the sailing barge Lady Daphne by Harold Underhill … and bought I bought it from Brown, Son and Ferguson .

When I prepared model Lady Daphne ( "LD") at a scale of 1:28 ,I am on the Internet stumbled on plans for further barges, and it was TSB Nautilus , TSB Champion. In the books of England there was described TSB Kathleen and construction of its model . Along with plans Kathleen was little plan TSB Giralda - "champion of champions". Giralda had done a lot of winning races barges around 1900. I was struck that the ship had virtually the same dimensions   and profiles as those listed for TSB Champion . Plans for the Champion, as I later discovered, are from one book by the American author H.I.Chapelle , and plan itself is marked as "Champion class sailing barge".

Given that a plan for the Champion were not detailed drawings or sail plan, I was forced to redraw it in 1:24 scale(also the ribs for LD to scale 1:28)), so to get an idea of the dimensions of the construction details, sails and structural elements. Even so, during construction showed imperfections in the structure of ribs, due to enlarged artwork for my use at least 20 times. As a jobbing basis, I used especially plans for LD and pictures from books and photos from the Internet. A great help for me to were web pages dedicated to tsb > < in which were published methods of building models of tsb by authors Kim Holland and Bob Smith. Also pages about the theory and construction of TSB, which was published on the Internet by Mr. Ivor Bittle ( are directly textbook models not only for Thames barges builders.

I cut out keels for both barges from the 8 mm plywood , for LD in scale 1:28 with a length of model 98 cm, and Champion 1:24 with a length of model 110 cm. Followed by cutting of the ribs from 3 mm poplar plywood for both models. Fins for both models I've cut out from 8 mm plywood. Picture 1   in my gallery here.

I now had a choice .. and so appeared crucial question .. what to do next? Build both models, or just one?

Champion resemblance to the Giralda, which was designed and built especially for wins in the barge races , and cargo for her was in second place, decided. I chose Champion .. and so prepared for me a series of unexpected difficulties, of which slightly asymmetrical hull was just the beginning.

To do this, I want to point out ... I do not know how will behave my model on water. It seems to me that just Champion for my model is too optimistic name , and so I decided then to name the model of one zodiac sign "Capricorn"

So .. I had ribs and keel for Lady Daphne and Champion as I stated before.

Since I was curious to see what will be the Champion hull shape as the real model, so I chose Champion. I did not start building the model too happily, because only after coating the hull I found that keel was glued little asymmetrically . Nevertheless I decided go on building of this model.

Somewhere in the books I read , that similar accidents occurred also among reputable barge builders ( no comment ). In my gallery photos you can monitoring the progress of construction of model.

But I have to admit that the process and materials used during construction were amended several times.

After considering all the pros and cons I decided to glue the keel of 4 parts of plywood, 8 mm thick, with an integrated shaft for fin. Shaft thus formed central portion of the keel. (here mentioned inaccuracy occurred). Pict 2

Shaft I created such such way - the keel model was divided into two parts, leaving between them a gap in width of the keel (2 ) , front and rear part are joined with side walls , which form the own shaft .The plywood fin is tucked into centreboard casing only provisionally , for accurate keel sticking.

On the keel I'm stuck ribs of poplar plywood 3 mm (not very good) .Pict 3

To reinforce the keel was higher with notches for individual ribs. As an adhesive for the keel and ribs a I used epoxy, for most other connections I used a polyurethane adhesive.( picture 4 and the following).                                                                                                            

After sticking the ribs followed by longitudinal beams gluing , forming the cargo hatch and deck edges , and lower chines of the hull (pict 6 and following). I originally wanted to coat the sides of the fuselage panels from polyurethane foam, But at last I glued as a base polystyrene foam cubes between the individual ribs, then I am used rasps to shape material along ribs. ) We called similar procedure as a "rasp interpolation" .This particular method used aeromodellers in shaping the ribs in the wings of models). It is simple and quick method …   pict 7                                                                                  

Inaccuracies before all arisen using high magnification (20x) of small information sketches of barge "Champion class" from the book by Carr.                                                            

The result was a rough shape of the hull, which must be puttied and sanded (pict 17 and folowing).                                                                                                          

The rough hull saw my familiar ship modeler, who advised me, whether first stick several layers of paper at fuselage ( pict 8 ) , and then applying putty and sanding. He telling me that this practice is commonly used by known ship modelers.

And that's what I did in this way ( pict 9 )

Thames sail barge Champion model building 2

Paper layers I stuck with ordinary liquid white glue on paper, based on polyvinyl alcohol and used putty on the same basis. After several puttying and sanding the hull is ready to lamination. After sanding the hull looked pretty good. But alas .. I did not realize that this method has its hidden defects.

the next step was sticking spruce wood sheer strake and lamination of fuselage hull of model.( Pict 10 )

I laminated 2 layers glass fabric 100 g / m2 using the epoxy resin. After lamination, I used again several layers of putty followed by grinding and and finally filler spraying.

Before applying putty, I cut a laminate which overlaps the opening of the centreboard case in the bottom of the ship                                                                              

Eager to see the model on the water, I filled the tub with water and made the first "launching".

It just brought but the first big disappointment .. model had a greater-than-expected dive on the bow than the stern. After the first measurement appeared the first mess that I'm on the laminate ships did not expect .. to ship somehow got water. I quickly sifted through all the options that seemed to consideration. What happened ?.. What the hell could happen ??

I finally realized that the fault was in an unsuitable technological procedure step around centreboard opening   before laminating . When I cut laminate under the centreboard case I uncovered the paper intermediate layer, through which the water came into the boat. Repair was relatively simple. With hand-held circular saw I cut a narrow strip of the laminate around the hole in the bottom of the model, edges of the opening I covered with epoxy resin and overlaid by glass cloth tape.( Pict 11 )

Thames sail barge Champion model building 3

During the summer months (besides working in our garden) I used some free time and began preparing the casting of lead bulb.

On the internet I found a suitable program for designing the shape and size of the lead "bombs" so that as a result of the burden of approx 3 and 4 kg

=> see >   <

On the improvised lathe I made wooden models(I used dry lime-wood branch) . these models I impregnated with wax, and then made mould in plaster of Paris. Wooden models were immersed longitudinally till their half in plaster. The models were cautiously removed after hardening plaster , and the molds were then let dry completely. Drying moulds in the sun lasts at least 14 days. When you double-click at the dry mould, the plaster of Paris must "ring".;only then the mold is ready for casting lead.

The necessary amount of lead I gradually melted and cast into molds, After solidification of the lead I grabbed with pliers protruding wire and removed easily the half of the lead bulb quickly from the mould. The result of my work were four lead casts of the required weight. I cut off the protruding wire and castings was purified by sandpaper, and contact surfaces I have aligned with a file.( pict 12 )

Fuselage of the model had already been repaired, and then followed by another test in the bathtub. But I found another unexpected problem .. against my expectations empty hull has more dive on the bow than at the stern.

I used lead castings to balance the fuselage. This way I also found their location, on which they will be attached to the fin.

Against theoretical expectations the load must be moved further backwards .To model with a length of 110 cm, the centre of gravity provides the distance from the nose of about 42 cm(if I'm not mistaken), with my model, but it is 55 to 60 cm from bow.

Model building then continued. Deck I made of 3mm plywood, I stuck ít to place, I also stuck sheer strakes . All this I laminated again with glass fabric 100 g / m2 .

Then I glued coamings around the hatches made of 3 mm plywood. From the outside I laminated with glass tape again, and the inside of coamings I Impregnated with diluted epoxy.

Thames sail barge Champion model building 4

Then I gradually started to make details of the on-board equipment. As the first of the series but came the rudder.

The rudder of the two halves from 4 mm plywood is glued together to the beam ( cross-section of 10 x 10 mm) , so that a gap ( around 1 mm) remained between the side parts to allow the insertion of the extension part. To the beam come attached the hinges of the rudder and the fork for connecting rod from the servos. It is similar to the rudder construction as Kimosuby describes in his post here. The extension part will be made of fibreglass or Pertinax 0.8 mm. Pict 13

I gave to main fin ( cut from the 8 mm plywood )   a little " hydrodynamic" shape and then soaked acetone diluted epoxy. To the fin comes to attach a lead bulb from two half lead castings (about 3-:-4 kg together).

In early August 2015 I started to glue together parts of the back cabin and the cargo hatch covers again from 3 mm plywood. After sticking directly at their places on the model I have these parts again soaked with epoxy. Pict 14 and the following

I have cut a skylight from 0.8 mm air plywood . First I stuck the rim from skewers 3x3 mm around the hole for a skylight . I stuck to them side pieces and then a roof with windows up to them .

Like the skylight I glued companionway. First, I stuck the rim from skewers 4x4 mm and to it side panels of 4 mm mahogany veneer. Veneer was crudely cut, so I had first grind the veneer to a thickness of 3 mm. It was not until after that I could cut side panels and front part from veneer.

I stuck the same rim at the rear of the the cabin roof. To this rim will be stick the cover of the rudder head and rudder connecting rods

Large cargo hatch I covered with 1mm balsa sheets , from the bottom I have reinforced the cover   adding ribs from balsa (4x4 mm). On both covers (fore and main) I glued then a firstly green ,but at the end brown cloth , simulating heavy canvas (brezent fabric - as says my friend Zdenek (a former naval officer)) Pict15,

Last Updated (Friday, 24 June 2016 09:22)