Footage Of Our Running Steam Engine

This past Thursday, the gang went over to the New England Wireless & Steam Museum in East Greenwich, Rhode Island to show off the steam engine’s working capabilities.

Everything started off a bit slow; they couldn’t quite get things moving for a bit, and a burst steam line left everyone shaky…

But nevertheless, Don made it happen! It ran for 40 minutes, both in forward and in reverse. It could have kept running for much longer, too!

Here it is:

Marsh Feed Pump and More

We recently acquired a “marsh feed pump” for our steam launch from Chris McMullen, a friend out of New Zealand; he first got the piece from Portsmouth, N.H., so it’s done quite a bit of traveling! Chris is also working on creating an H.M. Co. steam replica. Don has been working on the pump since it came in.


Meanwhile, Bill has been cutting out the steam launch’s oak stern post, and Bern has been working on the keelson.


Progress is Slowly Made

Over the past few weeks, the crew has been working tediously to construct the steam ship as precisely as we can. Now that the ribs are curved and attached to the larger vessel, the team had begun shaping the large keel plank.


After these poor souls’ seemingly endless toil, we were left with a keel plank that, when laid out on the boat, fits on very well! A few imperfections here and there, but that’s for another time.





Full Steam Ahead!

With the forms laid out and shaped after many hours of trimming to build a smooth hull, it is finally time to actually start building hull #199!

First step is to get the raw oak lumber needed to build the ribs and keel:


The shorter boards are designated for the ribs. The longer board will be used primarily for the keel and false keel.

The raw wood was first cut to the proper size:


And then run through a planer to achieve proper dimensions:


Meanwhile Eric is working on a full scale template for the false keel:


With the ribs properly sized, it’s time to actually steam the ribs and shape onto the forms!

Here’s the steamer we used:


We used wall paper removal steamers to provide the heat and the ribs were put in for about one hour.

Here’s the first rib being attached:



Steve and Keith are certainly enjoying the first part of the real hull! Either that or someone cracked another stupid joke!

Note the blocks along the edge of the form that are used to keep the rib flush as it cools.

On the second day of forming ribs, we had many hands expediting the process:


I wonder how the piece of wood tastes?

This is certainly a “moment in time” now that we are building hull #199!

Steamboat Building

Work has begun building a section of launch #199. We are building the launch true to HMCo techniques as best we can. The section will be about 2/3 of the length of the 30 foot  launch (frames 7 to 26) – enough to include the engine cooling line underwater.

The first step was to build a lofting table on which the forms for the ribs will be built:


Notice the supreme concentration……

The lofting table was built to allow full size creation of the rib forms.

Using a table of offsets, each rib mold was laid out on the table:


All the forms were then combined upside down to form the basis for actually building the boat:


While the boat hull is being built, the layout of the engine and boiler is under study. The drawing we are working from shows a little detail on the installation:



Unfortunately, some detail is missing on piping and peripherals. So we are reaching out for help from others. One interesting museum near us is the New England Wireless and Steam Museum ( that actually has a much bigger version of an HMCo steam engine on display that actually runs! See our visit earlier in this blog.


We have also enlisted Chris McMullen from New Zealand as a technical advisor. He is building FROM SCRATCH a copy of our engine and the associated Marsh Pump and is also building a replica of the vessel “Vapor” to put it all in! Amazing!


Here is more information on Chris’s boat:

Next up will be more information on our progress!




Checking Out a Running Triple Expansion

The Building 28 gang recently made their way into East Greenwich, R.I. to explore the New England Wireless and Steam Museum, where the Herreshoff triple expansion steam engine is now being shown off.

Their museum visit was given the ultimate treat: the folks at NEWSM ran the engine for the crew!


Advanced Display

So the display of the triple engine and boiler is complete as standalone pieces but wouldn’t it be great if we could show how they would have been installed in a real boat!


Here is a picture of “Vapor” which actually had a similar configuration to ours installed:

Launch “Vapor”

It just so happens that we have plans for a different hull #199 which was a 30 foot launch that fits the bill and was similar to “Vapor”! Also, Herreshoff has on display in T. F. Green airport in Providence, Rhode Island the vessel “Two Forty” that resembles “Vapor”. The primary difference is that the “Two Forty” displayed is set up for a gasoline engine built around 1937:


(Note the industrious workers inspecting “Two Forty”)!

It’s amazing how narrow these boats are:


Here’s another shot showing the bow:


The “Crew” made the trip to view “Two Forty” to get a feeling on how these boats were built. In particular, we wanted to study the way the ribs and planking were done:


Our new task is to build an actual hull section to display the engine and boiler. We plan to build a full sized section of the hull with part of one side cut out to show the installation.


One interesting note about our field trip was that even though this bunch of guys was crawling all over this boat in the baggage arrival section, the only time anyone seemed to care was when a policeman with a dog (assumed to be a bomb sniffer) walked by! If only actually flying was this easy!

Next up we begin to build the hull!