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Elliott Bay Steam Launch

George & Mary Reitze's boat, above, embodies the graceful, coherent design of the Victorian steam launch.  Launched in 1984 as a coal-burner with a two-cylinder condensing compound marine engine, the powerful little ship has explored the Connecticut River, Muskoka Lakes, Narragansett Sound--and attend the annual gathering of steam launches at Lake Winnipesaukee, New Hampshire.  George & Mary enclosed the forward end of their "canopy launch" (shown here) into a stately "glass cabin launch," another launch style of 100 years ago. This boat is now owned by Dennis Feist, on Thornapple River, Wisconsin. 

At 23 feet in length, the Elliott Bay hull can be trailered behind a standard car, yet it can carry more than six passengers at seven knots, burning a lunch sack of charcoal every ten minutes (or an applebox of wood every half hour).  The hull is an historically and technically correct replica of Victorian era hulls developed specifically for the power density of steam power.  See Hull Characteristics, below. Elliott Bay fantail hulls are in six countries in addition to the US and Canada.

You can build a hull from our drawings, but we recommend a fiberglass hull if you plan to trailer.  Our hulls exceed American Bureau of Shipping yacht construction specifications, they are designed so modern materials are hidden when the cockpit and seats are installed.  Boats made from Elliott Bay fiberglass hulls, by builders without any prior boatbuilding experience, have won first prizes at classic wooden boat shows.

Symmetry is part of the beauty of a steam launch, so is oiled wood, polished steel, painted iron and brass patina.  Both these boats are made from the Elliott Bay 23-foot hull, one custom built by us, the other by a customer  from hull, boiler, engine, sterngear, propeller, and mahogany staving, all supplied by us.  Some builders finish their boats in two months; others savor the process, adding superb plank decks and  Victorian details.

Each hull is supplied with engine & boiler bearers, bow tank, sterntube, tillerport, and deck .  Bronze and steel are laminated into the hull for attachment of sterngear and machinery.  The Elliott Bay hull is  purpose-built for steam powering (not "bare hull"), so the builder goes directly to machinery and interior installations.  The builder is also provided with a half-model of the hull, same size as the lines & offsets, so the builder can "see" the project before and during construction.

See our BOILER PAGE for details on the Elliott Bay marine firetube boiler.  We supply spun brass boiler hoods & stackcaps (for owners of other manufacturer's boilers),  rolled brass funnels, reflex water gauges, pressure gauges (that match Chelsea Ship's Bell clocks, which we also supply), canopy hardware kits, deck hardware, brass kerosene fueled running lights, (and brass compass binnacles and helms when we have them).  See our order form for individual items.

We build hulls on order and can deliver in approximately three weeks time.  Most of our hulls have gone to the East Coast States; for cross-country transport we  recommend an antique auto mover who is very quick and inexpensive.  We pre-arrange foreign deliveries with customhouse brokers and ocean carriers.

Most hulls are ordered with the standard WHITE topsides, RED or GREEN bottomside, BOOTSTRIPE optional, and BUFF deck.  The VAPOROSA, a German boat, was delivered with BLACK topsides and BUFF deck, very handsome in combination with bronze guards.  We recommend that builders apply wood guards at sheer and wale, but we also supply bronze for those who want the extra toughness and weight of bronze.

For those who want to read about steam launches as they were 100 years ago, we suggest Steamboats & Modern Steam Launches by Bill Durham and The Steam Launch by Richard Mitchell.   For information about the naval architecture of these old boat types we recommend From My Old Boat Shop by Weston Farmer.  All three are available from this website.

HULL Specs:

  • Length Over All 23'4"
  • Length Water Line 20'2"
  • Breadth  waterline 5'4"
  • Breadth Over All 6'3"
  • Draft (dsw (density of salt water) mean) 1'6.25" @ 2960 lbs total weight
  • Draft, Molded to Stemhead 48"
  • Molded to Water Line 15"
  • Keel to Water Line 18"
  • Molded to Main Deck  Midships 32" (Water Line to Main Deck Midships 17")
  • TPI (lbs/inch immersion, first inch) 380
  • Cp(prismatic coefficient) .569
  • Cb (block coefficient) .2879
  • Cx (midship coefficient) .5056
  • Cwp  (waterplane area coefficient) .668
  • Weight of hull and deck as delivered without machinery: 600 lbs.
  • Measured speed 6 knots @ 3 shaft hp, 7 knots @ 4 shaft hp (measured on two hulls, electrically powered)
  • Max propeller dia. 24"

The hull design is based on lines of five Victorian Era (1870-1900) hulls (of approximate 23-foot length) for which performance data survived.  Class of hull form, "flared" (same class as ferryboats with high ultimate stability, i.e., increased resistance to greater angles of heel).

Propeller designed after the D. W. Taylor Series of Curves for Marine Propellers: 20" dia. x 30 pitch @ .3 disc area.  In trials using series wound DC motor propulsion at 48 volts, the three-bladed propeller of the above dimensions required 89 amperes to travel 3040 feet in five minutes eg., 6 knots speed, whereas the two-bladed propeller of identical dimension (cast from the same pattern and pitched at the same time as the three-blade propeller) required 64 amperes to travel the same speed.

Elliott Bay Steam Launch Co.has been supplying this hull since 1983 to builders of replica steam and electric (and sometimes antique  gasoline) launches.  Made of cored glass polyesther composite it exceeds the requirements set by the American Bureau of Ships for Yacht Construction, i.e., its laminations are approximately 30% thicker and 0-180-0 non-woven roving is used to increase modulus, therefore stiffness if the hull.  The hull is supplied in kit form with hull, deck,  sterntube, engine bearers, bow tank, and tiller port structures already  in place, thus no further fiberglass work is required of the builder.   Further, the deck is bonded to the hull and designed so the cockpit opening and seats can be  easily finished in wood staving, like in period boats, even by builders without shipwright skills or experience in authentic wood boatbuilding.  Also supplied as optional is the sterngear kit which includes, rudder, skeg, rudderport, stern bearing & housing, shaft, packing box, and steering system.  Hardware for canopy stanchions and instructions for canopy frame construction is also supplied as option.  A cuddy cabin is  also supplied for the builder who wishes to build the Hunter Cabin Launch style, which became popular at the turn-of-the-Century when  electric and gasoline made cabins possible because they made steam boilers unnecessary.

Elliott Bay Steam launch Co. also supplies high efficiency low  horsepower propellers in diameters from ten to thirty-three inches.   Special to steam or electric propellers they are very narrow bladed,  with .33 disc area, and they are relatively steep pitched, with diameter  to pitch ratios in neighborhood of 1:1.5. These high ratios are only for  installations requiring low shaft speed, but the ratios can be decreased  for faster turning installations. All are right-hand rotation and three-bladed and two-bladed. Castings  are in standard Manganese bronze, although aluminum, iron, and titanium  can be cast for special projects.

Elliott Bay Co. & Marine Castings Company

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