A Steam Boat


I built this steam boat in the early 1980s to learn how to silver-solder brass; it is fabricated from a variety of thin-walled brass tubes. It is not a model of any existing steam boat but had the simple design mission to cross a nearby urban lake, the Lietzensee, Berlin, at its narrowest point, perhaps 50 metres wide. I was a little pessimistic about its abilities so I fitted it with a rescue line which it paid out as it proceeded but it worked fine and made a single successful crossing.

There was one problem. Its outward-pointing exhaust pipes left a trail of two beautifully iridescent strips of oil in its wake, obvious environmental abuse. No one else noticed or complained but since then I have never got around to fixing it by re-directing the exhausts into a waste-water tank. The only ready-made commercial part is the safety valve. I thought I would get that right!

Is it an art work? I don't know, but the paddle wheel was a conscious copy of a similar wheel in Marcel Duchamp's 'Large Glass'.
to index start page