My Steamboat

The steamboat NORMAN D. underway on the Charles River. Captain is Roland Gaucher, passenger is Bob Hicks, publisher of MESSING ABOUT IN BOATS.

This is one of those projects that can take forever, and has a long story associated with it. Someday Ill write the long story, but for now here is a short version.

The name of my boat is in honor of a man that was a great influence to me, Norman Dan Fay. Most people knew him as Day Fay, and some even called him Grandfather Steam. Dan was one of the most helpfull men I ever met, always willing to stop and explain any detail to anyone willing to listen. Sadly Dan died before our launch was finished, but he did OK the use of the name NORMAN D. for our boat.

My steamboat is a 16ft fiberglass hull (yes, I know, frozen snoot, and my traditioanl boat friends are all apalled at my degeneration) built by Jim Thayer. He calls it his VICTORIA hull. Its a nice job of molding, a very fine and fair hull.

Jim supplies just a molded hull, no interior, no deck, nada. Just a hull , right out of the mold. I did the deck and coamings in very traditioanl style. The deck is spanish cedar, choosen because it is very light but looks like mahagony. Its set in WEST epoxy and coated in WEST with the 207 special coating hardner. Here is the a shot of the deck framing and steering gear and the hull, just about ready to start engine and boiler work.

Mechanical Details

I teamed up with a friend, Roland Gaucher, to finish the boat. I had started an engine and a boiler, but Rollies was further along, and we decided we both didnt 'need' a steamoat. The boiler is a Roberts type, water tube, all fabricated from copper pipe on a welded steel frame. The case is aluminum, linned with an insulating board made for furnaces. This is a wood fired boiler. Here is the boiler and its housing.


The engine is a 2 cylinder, double acting column type marine engine. It is built from a set of plans sold by Ray HasBrouck. The engine is built entirely without casings, and uses ball bearings on all shafts. The crankshaft is a very clever built-up construction to allow the replacement of the rod big end bearings.

Plans for this engine are avaiable at