Windermere Launch Built by Brian Caesar

Boat of the month April 2023

Windermere Launch by Brian Caesar

My model is a representation of a 1920's Windermere Steam Launch powered by a vertical boiler and a Virgo twin oscillating engine.

This was my first attempt at model boat building and as such I wasn't aware of modellingsuppliers and availability of specialist materials. I therefore decided to use a length of 4 x 2 mahogany which was essentially scrap from another job and rip it down into planks. Ribs were fashioned out of plywood, again waste from other projects. The build time was circa 2000hrs.

I obtained a schematic plan of a similar launch and used this for the basis of my build. However, many of the details on the line drawing didn't translate into buildable aspects of the finished model. Therefore, I had to make many adaptations during the build process.

The hull was constructed by firstly laying the hog. This was fixed down temporarily to provide a firm staring point and then a jig was made to define the position of the ribs and again provided a fixed point in space to start the planking process. Many elements of the build were first made in cardboard to refine shape and fit before finally committing to timber. Several elements of the finished model are still supported by cereal box cardboard, the "waxed" finish providing good moisture resistance.

The steam plant was bought from Clevedon Steam in kit form. Whilst in theory this should be a straightforward build, there was much to learn and overcome to finally achieve a smooth running, consistently reliable plant. Piston stroke lengths, gas/air mixture, correct steam oil, running in process to seal flush faces, end floatadjustments, correct fuelandgas jet cleaning all played a part in attaining this goal. Also, the inclusion of a whistle meant learning how to silver solder using specialist materials that are required to withstand the extreme heat generated by pressurised steam. This all stood me in good stead when I came to build my second model Chimaera and now as I build my third model, this time with twin steam engines to increase the challenge.