Crafts-Hobbies Vivian | 30 Jul 2010 09:52 am

Steam – Brass & Hardwood

For centuries man employed the power of steam to propel mighty steamboats along the big rivers of the world in an effort to transport & deliver goods & materials to the early Pioneer settlers spread along the great river valleys.

Steamboat travel was once as common as is boarding a high-speed train today. But the aura and romanticism of steamboat travel still captures the hearts of people as much today as it did back in the mid 1800s – & early 1900s.

Take a look around any river port today where these might steamers once plied their trade and you will now see a flourishing collection of paddle steamboat operators ferrying the many tourists who flock to the historic steam ports to soak up the atmosphere of these majestic old steamboats.

Have you ever stopped to think why there are now so many of these beautiful old vessels plying the major inland rivers and ports where these old boats were piloted daily along the rivers? The old derelict steam boats, have now been lovingly totally rebuilt & restored from the ground up by a band of totally dedicated steamboat enthusiasts.

Even as you read this, there are huge restoration projects underway to bring more of these old boats back to their former glory; such is the demand and interest in steam. But what about the old skills that are required to construct these old vessels, where are all of the skilled shipwrights?

You would have little luck finding them simply by placing an advert in the paper to find the Shipwrights, blacksmiths, old time ship chandlery makers, experts on building & restoring steam engines, or people who know how to use old time foundry skills to remake all kinds of brass & bronze items to refurbish the parts used for the restoration.

Many of the skills of yesteryear have, unfortunately, gone to the grave with those wonderful old master tradesman who knew the intimate shipwright secrets, and how best to use these valuable old skills.

So what now for the present day steam boat restorer? I guess in all fairness there are still people around who have been lucky enough to learn the trade secrets from the old masters and that is a real bonus, otherwise can you imagine the research and relearning that would need to take place if that wasn’t the case. Where would you find the skilled people to build the timber boat hulls – the intricate steel fabrication – the rebuilding of steam engines and boilers – the recasting of name plates – special bronze and aluminium boat parts…so much to do…so much to learn… But, did you ever stop to think that the keen restorer and steamboat rebuilder can in fact learn many of the trades of yesteryear.

For the steam enthusiast to remake replica cast metal parts, all they need to do is master the foundry skills used back in the late 1800s & early 1900s to reproduce obsolete parts, the skills are not that difficult to learn, the tools & equipment can be easily built if you know how to use a welder, and you enjoy working with metal.

Perhaps you are one of the many thousands of baby boomers looking for practical hobbies & interests to help provide new challenges, and an outlet where you can interact & socialise with other like-minded people, the retirement years can be one of the most frustrating times for people in their late fifties and early sixties, but if you make the effort to immerse yourself in rewarding practical hobbies, you just won’t believe the huge amount of enjoyment & rewards that are awaiting you. To learn more about how to get involved in practical metal craft hobbies visit our web site soon.

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