Hello My Friends,
Well here it goes. I have decided to try my hand at my first scratch build. It will the Batteau 1812.
But it has a bit longer history then just from the War of 1812. Batteau is French for “Boat”. Ha Ha! That's not to complicated is it now. As I looked up some history on this little boat, turns out that there is quite a bit of information on the WWW. Such little bits like us Americans spell Batteau with two “t” instead of one.
The scale will be 1/2”= 1' 1:24. The plans are furnished from Model Ship Builder. A great little site with some of our members here as myself are members. http://www.modelshipbuilder.com
Plans drawn up byJeff Staudt.....(VERY NICE PLANS INDEED)
The plans are pdf which I simply download and drove to the nearest print shop and I had my 17x 11 sheets in my hot little hand and a big smile on my face...
I considered ever so briefly to use exotic woods. First scratch build hmmm! So I'm going to use Basswood scraps and some material bought. Plus minwax stains. If I'm going to make mistakes, I am going to make them cheaply. My mama didn't raise no fool.
I hope to learn a lot from this little adventure. Because my plans are to scratch build another boat. I am a native Californian. On top of everything else a native Southern Californian. I have been researching a boat for awhile now, that is a great part of So. California's history. I have an appointment next week on April 27 to meet the Captain of the boat. He has graciously allowed me an exclusive look at the boat. Plus allowing me to take as many pictures that I want. So I must also learn how to draw plans. Boy do I have my work ahead of me. I will not give the identity of the boat just yet...
So here is a little history on the Batteau to get started with(I hope you like reading), and the plans I will be modeling from. 10 sheets total with 1 cover sheet
"Batteau", a French word for "boat", came to mean in the late 18th century any flat-bottomed craft that was pointed at both ends - the type of boat commonly used in the inland waterways of northeastern North America. Here, frequent shallows required a boat that drew little water, even when fully loaded, could be deftly maneuvered through rapids and around rocks, and was light enough to be lifted out of the channel and carried over the several portages1 that blocked navigation into the interior.
The batteau was the mainstay of inland shipping, particularly for the military, until the end of the 18th century. During the French and Indian War, and later the Revolution, fleets of these craft were constructed at the boatyards in Schenectady.
Batteaux (the plural) came in different sizes, known generally as 3-handed, 4-handed or 5-handed, according to the men needed to propel them. There were undoubtedly many variations in design, but all were characterized by a flat bottom of pine boards laid lengthwise, with battens [cleats] nailed across to hold them together. Oak frames (ribs), usually made from natural crooks2, fastened the bottom to the pine planks which formed the sides of the vessel.
Being so commonplace a vehicle, built by eye, not from plans, very little detailed information has been preserved regarding batteaux. Although they occasionally appear in contemporary paintings, batteau images are sufficiently vague to preclude drawing very specific conclusions about design and construction.
Archeological remains of military batteaux sunk in Lake George in 1758, consisting primarily of bottoms, fragmentary frames and a few planks, suggest a boat about 31 feet long and 4 1/2 feet wide on the bottom with a fairly blunt stem3 and only a moderately raking4 stern. 5
During the Revolutionary War, reference is made to batteaux as generally being "thirty six feet long and about five or six broad in the center, tapering to both ends almost to a point" with sides "about three feet deep" and attached by "slight knees of timber." These craft were carvel built, with the boards abutting each other, caulked with oakum6 and pitch.7 However, a significant qualifier was then quickly added: "There is no other batteaux used in America except on the Mohawk River from Schenectady to Oswego, which is a bad and shallow navigation. A smaller boat is used, which carries seven barrels, navigated by two and sometimes three men." 8
The "new threehanded batteau" purchased by Philip Schuyler on August 21st, 1792, would appear to be the direct descendant of these "smaller" boats which sixteen years earlier had already been established as a unique sub-species of batteau.
An examination of the navigation between Schenectady and Oswego as it existed at the close of the 18th century reveals the limiting characteristics of the waterway that directly influenced batteau design. There were over 90 separate and occasionally extensive rifts or rapids on the Mohawk alone, often as shallow as a foot and frequently under 18 inches. The rivers west of the Mohawk contained still more. The falls at Little Falls and near Oswego, and the Great Carrying Place at Rome, required lifting the boat out of the river and carting it overland for distances of up to three miles. The twisting, narrow, and extremely shallow channel of Wood Creek, between Rome and Oneida Lake, could stop a long or deep drafted vessel in its tracks.
Thus a boat in the range of 20 to 30 feet and 4 to 5 feet wide on the bottom would seem to be representative of a Mohawk River batteau. The interior depth was probably fairly shallow, if for no other purpose than to lighten the craft for portaging. A high-sided boat would not only be unnecessarily heavy, it would impede the work of the boatmen in the bow, poling the boat upstream. There was little function to a 36 inch deep vessel when it rarely was able to draw 9 over 15 inches because of the shallow river.
References made by 18th century Mohawk travelers to the batteaux they traveled in are rare. Where they do exist, however, they suggest a boat less than 30 feet long and barely 24 inches deep. Two construction scows ordered by Schuyler in 1796 to haul lime to his canal works on the upper Mohawk were to be only "22 or 24 inches high."
Commercial Mohawk River batteaux probably had more graceful lines than suggested by the sunken remains of military batteaux in Lake George. The few 18th century illustrations available, of which almost none are from New York, suggest at least a moderately raking stem and stern. An illustration of a large Durham-type freighter and what appears to be a double-manned 4-handed batteau, observed and recorded on the Mohawk in 1807, reveals craft that are shallow and have an observable pitch to the stem and stern posts. Certainly the working batteaux of the later 19th century, represented primarily by the logging batteaux of the St. Lawrence region and interior New England, had dramatically raking stems and sterns. These boats were particularly well suited to river running and easy handling.
Whether we see the Mohawk River commercial batteau of the 1790s as part of a continuum from the blunt-nosed military craft of the 1750s to the sleek working boats of the 1890s, or as a design that early on developed in response to the most restrictive heavy traffic navigation in the Northeast, we may assume a craft of modest but pronounced rake, stem and stern, and moderately low sides. It may also have been of lapstrake construction, with overlapping side planks - a lighter but still strong construction.