Building Model Steamboats Can Be a Fun Hobby

The way you spend your free time reflects a great deal about your personality. Also, the pursuit of hobbies helps you become a more well-rounded individual, and they frequently develop into valuable life skills, long-term passions, or even careers.  Although some hobbies can actually generate income, some of them are mostly done out of passion and patience. 

So, if you are to find a hobby, there are several you can try and consider. One of those is building model ships. One of the many hobbies that several people quite enjoy is the exciting and challenging hobby of model shipbuilding. Model shipbuilding combines elements of history, technology, and craftsmanship to produce a one-of-a-kind finished product that the builder can be proud of. 

What is a model ship? 

For those who are not familiar, Model Ship is a miniature replica of a historically significant ship. Among hobbyists’ favorite ships are the USS Constitution and the Titanic, as well as historical warships, whalers, steamboats, yachts, and sailboats. The size and detail of model ships vary. Model kits for famous ships may be available and are good options for those interested in trying their hand at model shipbuilding. 

Also, simple kits are widely available at major retailers across the country. Experienced hobbyists, on the other hand, may prefer more intricate kits or more complex ships. Model shipbuilding can be a rewarding hobby for anyone with a love of the sea, regardless of skill level.

The Origins of Ship Modeling

Model ships have been discovered in various parts of the world and at different times in history. In fact, ancient boats and model ships have been found in Phoenicia, Greece, and Egypt, providing historians with insight into the socioeconomics of sailing and technological advancements at the time. 

Unfortunately, model ships discovered during archeological digs and exploration are frequently damaged due to their fragile and intricate nature. However, the fact remains that ancient artifacts like world model ships reflected the value placed on the ships they represented. Moreover, the technology featured on ancient ships was revolutionary, and the ships themselves were marvelously complex.

What Are the Things You Will need in this hobby?

It is possible to set the tone for the entire project by selecting which model ship to recreate from a photograph. Material, hardware, and adhesive selection are also critical considerations. In order to construct nearly all model ships, the following materials are typically required:

  • Compass
  • Ruler
  • Sanding materials
  • Needle files
  • Calculator
  • Fretsaw with table and clamp
  • Hand-drill
  • Small hammer
  • Scissors
  • Tweezers
  • Wood rasps
  • Exacto knives
  • Clamps and vices
  • Glue
  • Magnifying glass 
  • Paint, lacquer, stain, and finishes

Given the specialized nature of the materials, it is necessary to have an appropriate working environment. In the absence of a dedicated workspace, a well-organized materials storage cart can provide easy access and cleanup as needed for hobbyists. Many hobbyists prefer to work in a spare room, if at all possible, as this allows them to leave and pick up their projects whenever they want without disturbing those who live in the same house as them.

Steamboat Model Kits

Boats have been used to transport people across waterways for thousands of years, long before the invention of trains, automobiles, and airplanes. However, due to the current propulsion of the riverboats that were then in use, traveling downstream was a breeze. It became their problem to swim upstream and fight the current.

Consequently, the invention of the steamboat marked a sea change in human history. James Rumsey, John Steven, and John Fitch were some of the early names associated with the vessel’s development. In fact, they were the first to design and operate steamboats on the American rivers.

When building an authentic boat model based on historical facts, it is highly recommended that you start from scratch, using one of the great model plans by Alan Bates or John Bryant, both of which are unfortunately hard to come by these days.

Below is the list of available steamboat models you can try:

1. Delta Queen

There are four different and high-quality sets of plans for the steamboat Delta Queen that are available for purchase. One of them is the plan set from the shipyard in Scotland, where the Delta Queen and her sister ship, the Delta Kind, were built in 1924. The other is a replica of the Delta Queen’s original plan set. Another is a model-building plan that was created by Greene Line Steamers, Inc. specifically for model-building. The Delta Queen in 1/50 scale is the subject of the third plan set, which comes with an excellent scale model kit of the ship. The Delta Queen’s fourth plan set is available from Hartman Model Boats, which also sells the Delta Queen’s fiberglass hull and deck as well as the plans.

2. Chaperon 1884 Steamer

The Chaperon is a fascinating boat that makes an excellent model for any model boat enthusiast. The model is well suited for those who are just starting out in ship modeling. It has precise detail and is simple since it has a 1/4″ = one ft. scale. The plank-on-bulk head hull construction method, combined with laser-cut parts, is a straightforward construction method. It ensures that the hull form is accurate because it is constructed from interlocking, self-aligning parts. The use of Britannia, brass, and wooden fittings eliminates the need to create numerous parts from scratch.

Model kits of steamboats are extremely rare and expensive. The Delta Queen model kit by SAITO, for example, is the most accurate but also the most expensive. However, aside from the Delta Queen and Chaperon, there was another steamboat model you could purchase, such as the Creole Queen, Myrtle Corey, Glasgow, and Mount Washington sidewheeler.  


In order to construct an authentic steamboat model, one should invest a significant amount of time in research before even considering beginning the construction process itself. Look for pictures of the boat you are considering buying. Inspect blueprints and books for information on specific features of the ship, as well as the colors that were most likely used to construct the vessel. 

As well as that, take into consideration that the appearance of the boats changed over time, and you will need to make a decision about the time period from which you will be building your model. For references, you to obtain a copy of Alan Bates’ Western River Steamboat Cyclopoedium, which is the most comprehensive source of information about every piece and part of a steamboat, and which was written specifically for model builders.