Thursday, 9 April 2015

Wooden BCN Day Boats
April 2015

Whilst on the theme of wooden day boats, I notice that Birchills has just returned to the Black Country Living Mesuem having undergone extensive renovation at Alvecote. Birchills is one of the few surviving examples of these craft which used to number in the thousands and were the Ford Transits of the heaving industry in the area.

 Birchills BCLM April 2015

They were entirely functional and would rarely have looked as resplendent as Birchills does today.

I cant claim credit for these photos - these images are available on CWDF.

For the more technically minded there is a good description of their construction on AM Models website which is well worth a look. The relevant paragraph is reproduced below so I don't forget the details....

Wooden day boats were built of pine, deal or larch, side planks of 2" thickness, and bottoms of 3". Planks were either 9" wide or 12" , giving 4 or 5 planks to the boat side, and a depth of around 4ft. Side planks were spiked to large knees, at 3ft spacings and these in turn were spiked to the bottom planks.

A keelson joined up all the bottom planks to prevent vertical movement, and the width of the boat at gunwale level was held by beams dovetailed into the gunwale. Side planks were scarf jointed, and always spaced apart to prevent weakness. At each end of the boat, 3 extra guard boards were added; one at waterline in oak, one mid way in elm, and another oak board on the second plank down. Iron guards at both ends protected the woodwork from the inevitable rough handling these boats received. Cabins were constructed in deal boarding, were 5ft 6" long, with a headroom of 5ft 3". 

The sharp tumblehome was necessary to pass through the many small entrances to basins off the main canal. Inside the cabin, a bottle stove was on the left, and a bench on the right and across the cabin bulkhead. As the traffics on the BCN was short haul, the day boats were never intended to be slept in, hence the small size.

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