Archive for The Unofficial Mamod and Other Steam Forum The Original Toy Steam Forum
Established 2006
The biggest, most popular global steam forum around! Accept NO imitations!
We have a growing community of regular posting members who chat about all aspects of toy and model steam.

       The Unofficial Mamod and Other Steam Forum Forum Index -> Restorations

Snipe Disection & Restoration

She is officially Boat #4 but at least she has a factory name. So The Snipe arrived with the Bowman box all intact !!! I had just gotten in from a long flight back from the wilds of Alaska when my postman handed me the box!!! Yippee- Christmas in April.

So I quickly opened it - looked at it- ran across the street and bewildered my neighbors with this quaint little toy, peppered them with too many small details about "Bowman" etc..

NOTE: they all love me for my youthful exhuberation for things they know I love like... espresso machines, my home distillation of single malt scotch, and now Steam........ boats ......... - OK - onward!

So after the showing of the daughter and wife- I quickly hid in the shop and assessed condition and did the autopsy.

Here is what the parts look like- It really doesn't look like it got a ton of use and sat for some time.

Boiler and firebox- B condition

Hull over all- B ( bottom -C-)

Front screen- 95 original looking paint

Rudder still has almost new lacquered shine -A

Engine and flywheel still had red painted body with black painted tubing. Flywheel also still had a lacquered shininess!!--B+

Prop shaft and tube and prop- had so--- B+

Burner- used but still had white wicking in it and all green paint except for the tube. Tube still flexibly twistable... -B

Burner clip - Ok- C+

Boiler frame - some rust through at one end- D+ or C-

So here is the group of parts..

Now as discussed in another thread the screws employed by Bowman to attach the boiler frame, engine bracket and skeg stud all are counter sunk through the bottom of the hull and nutted on top a a thin flat washer. This is all done prior to painting. The hull bottom is thin so the possibility for leakage ands deterioration of the wood at this seal is likely over time addressed later with a repair method still yet to be chosen

Well that was a lot for the first post on this project, but I am very proud to be a Bowman Snipe Skipper!! I can't wait to get this one up and going and I will try to outline here , not so much every little detail of the process but ones that seem to be common repairs or things that all future Bowman or other boat owners might encounter when restoring.

Cheers and already thanks to Moose, Pete, Mamod123 and John for todays suggestions on the Snipe oiler thread here


Mo, that's about as good as they come - far better than average condition, and wonderfully complete. Hope you're a happy skipper!.

Aye Admiral Moose-

I am happy about the small list of tasks at hand.. a smile a bit smaller than yours is firmly on my face

Shiver me timbers ... she's a real beaut she is ... ha haarrrr Jim lad, pieces of eight.

A nice boat Mo, good luck with the restoration.


MooseMan wrote:
Mo, that's about as good as they come - far better than average condition, and wonderfully complete. Hope you're a happy skipper!.

Oi! I forgot she also had her bowman funnel too!!!  

What a great boat! I'm very jealous... must get a boat.

That looks lovely, in not too bad a condition at all. You must be well chuffed.

Ahh my shop seems like Santas Christmas shop working on toys..

I even sanded, stained ( light) and sealed the Bowman crate she came in.. that is goofy I suppose.

Oh yes - busy hands are happy ones.. so mine are ecstatic!!

The bottom of the hull holes look to be the biggest project . then repaint the bottom. Some touch up a little paint on the engine, VHT the firebox, and take care of a few recommended mod's suggested by Moose and others.

I am going to re-build the wick tube on the burner- There were a few small tears at each end of the slot for the wick.  I am going to solder some small brass bands in place- one at each end to strengthen it for the long haul. New ceramic fiber wick - and should be done with that.

So nothing earth shaking!!

A start on the Bowman burner..which I am showing here because the deterioration of these has to be a common issue.. I think

It was not in bad shape- of course I have never actually seen one in person. But considering the thin bras used in the "snout" the small tears at the ends of the wicking slot almost seemed expected.

So I decided to strengthen the tube by taking some brass bands I had, cut them as to make them "clamp on the slightly larger diameter tube. ( after cleaning and buffing and alcohol prep and then fluxing of course"!!)

So a before shot..

after the clean up - but before the bands in place

bands in place

and all the gear ready to solder

So here it is after a quick re-paint...

So a lot better I think..IMHO

I did not do a perfect job- but the tube is as strong as I was aiming for. So function a little over form.

A bit of caution as the tubing is very thin and the torch could easily melt the stuff if not careful

Also- I did not have VHT paint in this almost Bowman color... doesn't baking / curing  this stuff still help it be more durable??

question about the burner,,,

Before I feed the new wicking back in.. Does the tube stop as it enters the body of the burner or does it turn downward to feed the wick into the bottom of the alcohol reservoir?

I assume I need to feed the new wicking sufficiently to not be left above the alcohol level when it lowers!!?

That is a nifty repair , and as for the tube, it stops just after going into the body and all you do is feed plenty of wick back in to soak up the meths.

Thanks Les!!

Hull Holes!!

Ok, Great Snipe /but not floatable Snipe _ I Wanted a Snipe to steam, not to look at...So the holes that are in the hull from the boiler mounting bolts and the engine mounting bolts had all pulled through.

It is a rather a poor design and I have wrestled with how to address it. I had a improved design where I glued in vertical sleepers to the gunwales - drill a hole in each- epoxy in a thread insert and I could fit the boiler in place and no holes through the boat!!

But after arguing with "improve and repair" vs Restore faithfully .. I chose the middle ground. Moose had some good advice , Rocdoc  did also as did Atticman and a few others..So here is what I did

After filing out the holes to get rid of any dry rot, I cut wood plugs, used resin for fiber glass application, mixed fine sawdust in to the brew and resined the plugs in place.  WA LA- sandable, paintable..and drillable!!

I am going to re-drill them and insert some very nice and very flush, very corrosion proof and water proof  bolts and washers.

But that is another chapter Lets just say 4- 40 stainless steel flat taper head for counter-sunk holes -stainless steel, hex drive bolts! with matching counter sunk stainless steel bonded neoprene insert washers!!! ( Of course that is for the water side of things) A matching neoprene washer will clamp down from the top side with a bit of silicone sealant in between. They can come off and will not corrode!! WOW that is a mouthful of adjectives.....

Back to hole filling...

The stuff Used- a 22 magnum, shell casing to punch holes out of some bass wood, a tack hammer, a file and some 2 part resin..

EDIT: Before I filled the holes - I also used a good wood sealer on the holes. This is an important step that Bogstandard and others helped me understand as the very first step to insure the wood stays ddry!!

Ok... now bang out some hole plugs
- about halfway through - I finished off the plug with the use of my handy el-cheapo-Harbor Freight bench grinder and fiber wheel!!

Now resin those puppies in place!! I didn't fit them exact, but they were very close.

The resin with the sawdust is a great idea that moose has thrown out there many times- some one taught him and I am claiming the goodness of it right again!! MORE FIBER makes the world better right?

Ok- Inside the hull

See that wasn't so bad!! Was  it?

So all in all a pretty good day-
Oil trap- Check
Bolts and washers found - Check!!
Holes filled -CHECK!!!!

And .............................................................

The firebox was re-painted VHT and baked in the oven for an

Good nite SHOP

Looking good so far. Thumbs up!

Fantastic Mo! I may have mentioned mixing sawdust with glue a couple of times, but I NEVER thought of mixing it with resin - you can claim that one as your own without any pangs

I'll definitely try that one out next time I need a hole filling.

Looking really good Mo.  I did think about doing the same sort of thing on my Seahawk but wasn't very confident about drilling holes in the new plugs. I had visions of the plugs coming out of the hull again.  Hence I went down the plastic pipe route.  


MooseMan wrote:
Fantastic Mo! I may have mentioned mixing sawdust with glue a couple of times, but I NEVER thought of mixing it with resin - you can claim that one as your own without any pangs

I'll definitely try that one out next time I need a hole filling.

I do not know if I would do just sawdust and resin for a hole repair alone, but  added to the resin encasing a plugged hole seemed like a good idea. I had also used the same method with epoxy to glue the brass threaded inserts in place for various mounting locations
( boiler drip pan and engine hold-down brackets).

My plan is still to use the stainless steel rubber washers ( they are larger than the repaired holes) on either side of the repair to clamp down and seal off the repair......

That is the plan in theory!! Fingers crossed

Great stuff, mo. It's gonna look and run great.
I see MooseMan(Mr. Snipe)is nearby and at the ready!

RocDoc wrote:
Looking really good Mo.  I did think about doing the same sort of thing on my Seahawk but wasn't very confident about drilling holes in the new plugs. I had visions of the plugs coming out of the hull again.  Hence I went down the plastic pipe route.  


I am really hoping the resin( with sawdust for  more fiber content) reinforcing the wood plugs will be as strong if not stronger than before. Then with the slightly larger diameter rubberized stainless steel washers "splinting"  the repaired area.

It will raise the base of the  boiler bracket 3mm higher than it was before but hopefully not throw off the geometry of the boiler and engine and steam pipe too much.

Color matching will be done on the blue water line color to touch up the area just around the repairs but it should be nothing extensive. Perhaps as little as 5% of the bottom will bet touched up.

I also used the resin to coat the inside corners of the rear transom area as well as the front most inside bow.  So coating any weak seams that might fail in the future.

After the touch up paint, I will use a clear coat over the full hull , much like you did Rocdoc.

What did you use for your "clear coat"?

mogogear wrote:

After the touch up paint, I will use a clear coat over the full hull , much like you did Rocdoc.

What did you use for your "clear coat"?

Mooseman suggested I use Japlac clear varnish:

And use one of those brushes with guaranteed no bristle loss.  Dead easy to apply (even for me) and drys pretty quick.  

One word of caution ... the varnish don't like direct heat.  After running the Seahawk at the STiA, I noticed that some varnish had blistered on the bottom of the hull in the region of the burner.  Minor damage ... easy to repair.  

It was my fault ... I was having ... unprotected steaming ... I wasn't using a burner cradle or silver foil as protection.  We live and learn.

Looking forward to more photos.



So many Varnishes and other clear finished do not like heat or water, it would be well worth the trouble to do ones homework first and find the right product.

Yes after my fast jump on to the primer on boat #1 - and needing to remove that, I am much more prudent before I coat something.

Ok the next steps were to drill out the holes in the hull repairs and then seal the insides of the holes- Being careful to thwart water at every turn!! I also then applied resin to the inside of the holes. What will go into the holes to secure hardware will be shown later.

We  are finally at the exterior finishing stages- YEA

With heavy consulting with pro-boat-folk, I decided to use a 600grit WD sand paper to insure good adhesion wiped with a damp paper towel and then used a tack  cloth.

I chose a water base polyurethane finish  by Varethane- the exterior rated one -and semi gloss was my preference -bout $14 hUSD / Qrt.( I did want a product by United Gilsonite Labs(UGL)- called ZAR - a exterior marine grade- but it was not to be found except online..

I applied with a simple foam brush as per product instructions.

NO shaking!!! No bubbles wanted- it does ask to stir thoroughly, so I did!!  

So these are some shots of the first coat 2 hours after application.

You can see where I had paint damage - mainly along the edges if the hull. I used Testors brand enamel paint and hand mixed my best color match. Unlike Moose- the color match people I visited said they would need a square inch of paint!!!! to use in the machine.. GULP-

So  I applied three coats of color that I adjusted my recipe on after drying and then  24 hours later tried to improve. The complete loss of paint left some deep craters- so the 3 coats help level the surface to some degree.  I only had to touch up about 3 square inches total on the whole boat.. but it was small ribbons along most edges.. the paint was very intact over all, but  elsewhere the paint was very loose - so I removed the loose flakes. I didn't paint the hole repairs in the hull- I wanted them to not be camouflaged and I can assess if they are staying compromised.

In all fairness - the paint actually matches much, much better to the eye than it does in the photos- I am actually very happy on how close I got-- so There!!

The repair plugs will be covered up by the washer and small screws that will be installed later.

Now for the parting shots- an aside- you may or may not have know the Pope has come to the US this week... after I was finished coating the hull- and I was taking the pictures- I noticed that divine guidance had occurred- I had chosen a very special edition of our local newspaper... I know that now my hull will sail for many years with the final blessing it received today while I was coating it..just to make sure - I turned the hull over so all sides would receive the blessing equally

This is all said with tongue firmly in cheek

AMEN brother!


She is looking very nice, and it's good to see you are making progress and it shouldn't be too long before she is back in the water.

Looking great  

It looks like the Pope is blessing it too

Yep- the Pope touch was my inference in the last paragraph!

I laughed out loud while I was focusing the camera - I didn't even notice till then!!!  

Should be a good omen, mo.  

She is done- !!! float test in a few days while things set up- !!  Then adjustments...

I hope it floats!

And even better, I hope it runs well.

The fun stuff is just 'round the corner, Mo!

Ok -Hurray-

Today was bench run ( I have replaced the original asbestos mat under the firebox with ceramic cloth ( 1/2" thick) so my hull stayed nice and cool - if I had NOT- running in the tub would be the advisable way- as the hull gets too hot without the contact with the water!

The pictures will show most of the story - so not lots to say. But the screws that I used to replace the old originals that had pulled through the hull were Stainless steel - 2-56 size with countersunk hex -drive heads - Allen wrench size .050- The screws were fed though a stainless steel washer( about 1cm across) that has a countersunk side and a bonded neoprene washer on the hull side. Alls/s nuts, lock washers and flat..
This was the lowest profile solution to having screws fed through the hull like the factory designed. I wanted to stay as close to original design as I could. If this boat been in poorer condition I would have opted for a different way to solve the boiler hold down situation. It was not so this should withstand water well and not rust up over the years..

Also another detail that I did change after talking with Mooseman was the nail through the exhaust pipe. The original detail was a nail through the pipe i in at 12 o'clock and out at 6. With he oily residue being able to seep out of the lower hole and onto white / cream colored paint...

I opted to take a thin gauge brass band - drill one hole in the side and feed the original nail down through that hole. I hi-temp epoxied the holes in the exhaust sleeve closed and turned the pipe so the holes were now at the 3 o'clock and 9 position as the pipe fed through the new brass band retainer.  This is harder to explain than it was to do. But the pipe is held in place,  can be removed, and all that goes in one end - comes out the other and the transom is left clean!!

I also replaced the original wicking in the bowman burner with ceramic cloth ..!!

So here are the shots- hull first

The covers off.. and you will notice that I did not intentionally touch up inconsequential paint chips. I mostly wanted to make sure no further damage to the wood hull occurred due to paint loss. I did apply resin to all inside seams of the hull.  I also have a Bowman Speedboats decal coming for the rear panel!!

The bottom and the stainless screws and friends!! I had a little bleed on my paint touch up- darn it!!

The new exhaust pipe mod..

Adios on this Snipe- time to make a boat stand with the daughter and get her to the water!! Thanks for putting up with me .

List of Credits and props:

and others -sorry if I didn't list your name( some of you may be sorry I did!!)

And others for even the tiniest bit of thoughtful input that helped me solve problems--


that is brillient mate I command you to video her running and post it on here  

Wow, that is gorgeous  

I am soooo envious, you did a marvelous job on that one.

You have done a stirling restoration and I cannot wait to see a video of her back in the water. Thumbs up!

A tremendous job, she's a beauty... well done!

Fantastic job Mo.  I like your solution to the 'nail through the exhaust pipe' problem.  Looking forward to seeing her in action.


Top job Mo  

I forgot to post a final shot after installed the decal on my Snipe..


Perfect finishing touch  

That finishes it off nicely.

Stunning...that's the best looking Snipe I've seen by far.

Great work Mo. That has certainly been worth all the effort and is a real stunner.

That is the finishing touch, the extra step that makes it stand out even MOre.

Wonderful job set off by the decal.


very nice mo!! Thumbs up!

I've been following this restoration with interest.  I cannot add anything technical but to say WOW, what a great job you have done.

Well done, Sir

Ok, no movies- Sorry guys, but I did get the Snipe out for it's first steam on water... I was having the usual difficulties getting my finicky Bowman burner to stay lit ... and luckily there were a few tugboats in the club to help me get her back ...but all in all fun..

Here I watch her on her first cruise in many a year

Steaming along

Opps -dead in the water.. HELP!!

And here is a shot of a club members Battleship Missouri -- big !! That is my daughter and a friend laying head to toe to give scale

9' 6"

A good day...

Glad to see it back on the water and great pictures. Thumbs up!

And here is a shot of a club members Battleship Missouri -- big !! That is my daughter and a friend laying head to toe to give scale

9' 6"

I hoped the ship didnt shoot them

I am really impressed with the snipe, that is such a nice looking boat.

Good to see the Snipe sailing again Mo.  How did you get her out after she had stopped?

9' 6" ... great chat-up line ...


Club members with tug boats live to rescue stranded members- especially with steam boats.. they are quite helpful to have near by...

That electric motor idea is becoming very useful to the steam boat man.  

Boat looks great, if only they made an amphibious steam machine  

Makes me want a boat.  That is all I need!!  I can't afford the stationaries....

Nice work!!  Very nice restoration.

What kind of wood is usually used in steam powered boats?

Kits with Plank on frame use Bass wood alot.. the Snipes and the like use something else.. Moose might know better- it is more firm and tough- Birch perhaps?

The war ship guys in my boat club are crazy - many boats in the 8' to 12' range- some from Bass wood My wooden tug is getting ready to be my daily steamer and then back to work this project....

She is 35" long and will be more substantial in the water.

The funny bit on my first outing with the Snipe was after a failed first attempt that I had to be gathered in by a tug boat- MY Snipe took off and headed across and as if by pin point accuracy it headed straight for the battleship pictures above!!

The brand new owner of the big ship is a friend, and I yelled to him to watch out!!  He looked up and waded in to the water to save his ship being broadside by the Snipe- I thought it a little funny that this little boat was threatening to a almost 10"boat

I didn't get kicked out of the club......   Whew! Non R/C steamboaters, you can't take us anywhere!!

How many boats do you have now Mo?

I must admit that I am developing a 'pang' for another boat as the Seahawk is getting a bit lonely.  Trouble is the prices are so very high these days.  On Ebay recently, a Snipe went for over 250 (ca $500) and the Eagle for over 550 (>$1000).  Way out of my league at the moment.  I also don't have any lakes nearby that are safe enough to sail the boats ... double whammy really.  


Mo, thanks for sharing those pics.  

They are great. What a lovely setting there.

I already regret selling my boat. If I had a setting like that, and if the weather didn't have a tendency to get windy here, I would have kept it.

Top job mate  

Wow, that looks wonderful - you're a braver man than me, sending your Snipe out into deep water like that!

I honestly don't know what the Bowman boats are made out of....the contemporary ads only say "patent lightweight design". I once stripped a Bowman-Luton bare, and that one looked like pine.

Basswood (Lime here in the UK) is very popular for model boats - my "Arrow" is bass and pine.

It is a man made lake only about 5' deep. I can't wait to get to the casting pond..


All this talk about boat restoration and no mention of your lead-in paragraph discussing single malt scotch distillation??!?  Of course it's not really scotch (unless Portland has a time and space dilation port to Inverness), but still (pun intended)!

So what do you use as your base?  Are you cooking it down with peat?  Are you using water out of the Willamette or Lake Oswego?  How long have you been doing this?

One word: Beautifull. How much did this one set you back then? Keep us all posted now wont you!!

Thanks DWR! She now lives in Central coast California..I think I won a ebay auction for about $200 British sterling...I then put in some hours making a 70 year old boat seaworthy again...
       The Unofficial Mamod and Other Steam Forum Forum Index -> Restorations
Page 1 of 1