Skip-Find Boat

Well to be precise it's a HIPPOBAG find. We were in Teddington on Sunday and I was parking our car in the street where our daughter's family live. I suddenly noticed that in the garden of a neighbouring house there was large model ship sitting on top of a pile of rubbish waiting for collection. The model just stunned me with its size and its detail. I immediately decided that this was an item that just couldn't be wasted. I took the boat out of the bag and we put a note through the letterbox of the house, just in case we were wrong about the owner's intentions. The owners contacted us yesterday evening and assured us that it was for disposal and gave us some details of how they came to own it.

Model Boat

The boat is wooden and is just under 1 metre long. It is basically tug-styled with suitable fittings towards the stern but not like the tugs that are seen around ports and with a stern derrick.

It was some time before I discovered that the model was actually powered. Below decks is a very neat electric motor installation and two 6-volt lead acid batteries. There is also a brass ammeter that reads up to 8 amps and a gearbox and motor driving the steering gear. 

Top off - note the broken masts

There are also some very neatly installed switches to control, I presume, direction i.e. forward/aft and port/starboard.  They appear similar to old telephone exchange switches. Speed control appears to be by variable resistor (rheostat). 

The funnel is cleverly constructed from a tin can because you can see the corrugations. 

View of the steering gear (foreground), switch-gear for direction, ammeter, rheostat and (background) batteries 

Detail of main drive motor, rheostat, ammeter and stern gland (right) 

So what of its provenance, as the antiques dealers call it. It appears that an elderly gentleman in the family made it some years ago (no details of exactly when) and gave it to the son of the family. He considered making it radio controlled, but didn't, and tried unsuccessfully to sell it on eBay. The family were therefore please to see it go to a good home. 

I plan to rebuild the electrics and get it radio controlled. It needs some small refurbishment because some of the rigging was damaged in storage. My ultimate goal is to use it when boating with Albert. It could work well on the Grand Union.