Sunday, April 14, 2013

Now you can see it running

Video of it running

Research data, as it were

But first,
If you haven't watched the video yet, you may not get my sense of humor.   Then again, I am serious, but don't take it seriously, unless you want to, that would be great.
I could use a little support for my next project, its going to cost me a ton, so I am humbly requesting a $1.00 donation to my paypal account at for the references.  You can send more if you want, or even less, but its more trouble than its worth to even log into your account for less.   I will send them without the donation, but my next design puts this one to shame.
A donation of $199,999.00 to that account, and I will deliver the ship to you and teach you how to run and maintain it.  Seriously, its going into a major gallery soon, and will have to cost even more, so time is of the essence. 

Notes on Barnum’s Dream  aka  The Terrible

The war machine now known as Barnum’s Dream has an eventful history, even though it only saw one battle.   It was originally called The Terrible.   It was commissioned jointly in 1854 as a ship by Queen Victoria and the emperor of France, Napoleon III to be used against the Russians in defense of the Ottoman empire in the Crimean war.  It was to be the largest paddle wheel steam warship to ever be built.  Over 300 feet long with over 30 massive cannons, with the main cannon capable of firing a two foot diameter shell.  Over 4000 workers conscripted from many of the colonies labored seven days a week for two years, but as it neared completion, the Crimean conflict ended.  The ship was mothballed in dry dock and remained so until the Franco-Prussian war. 
During the Franco Prussian wars, Napolean III purchased Queen Victoria’s interest to convert the ship to a war train to defend the border of the territory of Alsace which was being heavily bombarded by a massive cannon  tanktrain of the Prussians.  As time was of the essence, it was simpler to just build a massive train carriage under the existing ship rather than totally dismantling it and going through a total rebuild.    The paddle wheel was changed to a twin rail drive wheel.  At the same time, It happened that Napoleon was on good acquaintance with Mathew Maury, an oceanographer who was associated with the science team that was then building Captain Nemo’s Nautilus.  He told Napoleon that one group in the team had invented a large “light weapon” that could turn distant objects to ash in minutes, but the weapon was too large for the Nautilus and not appropriate for underwater use.  The weapon had been completed and Napoleon purchased it and had it transported and installed on the rear section of the ship.  While it was on the first mile of its rail being laid, the tanktrain attacked, and was destroyed by  The Terrible in a short battle.  But again, defeat in the war was already in sight and rather than let it fall into Prussian hands, it was again secreted away and mothballed.  Almost all records were destroyed of its making and it was so successfully hidden that it became lost from history.
But like most things of that nature, there were some who told tales of its existence.   In 1878, P.T. Barnum was in Europe looking for more of the strange and bizarre to add to his highly successful shows.  He heard the rumors and set several detectives on a search.  They did finally locate its hiding place, and through many backdoor negotiations, Barnum achieved the fulfillment of a dream, to own one of the most outrageous and forbidding contraptions that existed at that time, thus the name, Barnum’s Dream.  With great expense, he had it taken apart, sealing the ship for use,brought it to Bridgeport Ct under its own power, towing a barge behind with the train carriage.   There in a large warehouse he had it reassembled to the state you see it now.  It is being fully retrofitted and prepared and tested for its maiden showing, which you are now invited to see.

Site references available on request.  See above.

Friday, February 24, 2012

There have been many new additions, moving parts, and details made and hopefully soon I will have the pictures and posts up.  I have also decided that the machine will be for sale when completely finished, which should be in early summer.  Just one picture for now, the rear drive wheel carrier now looks like this.

Sunday, June 12, 2011


Been very busy but have been making some real progress.  Decided I wont add any more posts until the top front section is done, or nearly done.  And it will be done soon.  Some neat mechanical and moving things, all still powered by the steam engine.

Hey, if anyone has any suggestions to make this better, feel free to leave them in the comments.  Always looking for ideas.

Saturday, January 15, 2011

Testing the steam engine

Finally decided it was time to test the steam engine, see if it had the power to run all the devices on the ship.  I set it up temporarily on a piece of plywood, but with the same configuration it will have on the ship.   I was pleased, it was only running at half power and with that could have run several more things.  Running the generator later will be no problem as well as a complex set of machinery that will be in the front section, if I ever get to it.  The engine turns a main drive shaft with an extra flywheel that then goes to the back driveshaft and to the rear drive of the ship.  That shaft then reconnects to a gearbox that turns the chain to the Gatling gun.  This little gearbox with a screwdrive was essential because I had to change the direction of the drive pulleys as the gun faces the rear.  This piece came out of an old betamax video machine.  Sony built good stuff back then.

Heres the firebox of the engine, uses a minature camp stove running on butane.

 The sony gearbox, will be painting and cleaning it up later, giving it some patina.

Picture of the whole setup

And a video of it running and at the end the laser firing

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Cowcatcher steam harpoon

Decided the cowcatcher on the main ship looked too plain.  Had wanted to mount a harpoon somewhere that could be used to snag an enemy you were chasing.  When it is mounted on the ship, there will be a cable that will be attached to the harpoon with a reel mechanism.  The rangefinder lense is from an 8 mm camera and is still operational, diaphragm will open and close.  Steam tubes to fire it will be added when it is mounted on the ship.

Added a control mechanism on the right.  Part from an 8 mm camera.   Built a canister in the rear as a steam pressure chamber.  Turning the cogged wheel on the right turns the wheel which allows more pressure to the cannon.  The gauge is set according to the distance found by the rangefinder which allocates the correct amount of steam to not overfire or underfire the cannon.  Pressing a button on the back of the mechanism sets it back to S or 0, it is fully functional

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Lasers, pulleys, metal shielding and redos

Just a short post to update what I have been up to.  Wasn't satisfied with the way the main drive wheel was looking and at the suggestion of my nephew Mendel, redid the whole thing.  Took the leather off and covered it in metal and antiqued the brass using a technique shared with me by Steamworkshop, dont know his name but you can see his work here.   Heres how it turned out.

Also built two axle supports that will hold the pulleys to drive the various mechanisms on the ship.  The were made from candle holders that were cut to size and soldered bearings for the axles.  Will be testing them soon to make sure the steam engine can power everything without adding a third flywheel.  Will post a video of that if it runs well.

Also made a picture of the laser in full firing mode, not the best pic, but it gives you an idea of what it looks like. 

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Steampunk ship construction

I think I will do this post a little backwards.  Start with what is completed on the ship to date, with the engine, the ray gun and the two bayonets (picked these up at a tag sale, they are from the Indian wars right after the civil war, thought they would look good here, will actually come out of the side a little lower than they are here) just sitting on top for some perspective.  Obviously a great deal is to be added to the top, as said, from the steam engine forward will look very much like the TP Baracuda and all the drive pulleys, belts, etc have to be added to the back as well as a great deal of trim out.  I figure I am about half way finished now.  Anyway, here are the pics, if you want info on the details, it will be below them.

The bottom is close to finished.  Several guns and details have to be added, and where the rear drive wheel joins has to completely reworked.

The hardest part was getting the paint right on the bottom.  Went through about six applications before settling on this one, and it may change again.  Anyway,  I had the frame built and the wheels attached and it was time to make the shell of the bottom.  I used the hoops I had picked up and put ribs all along the bottom.

At this point I was thinking I would cover them with this thick fiberboard.  I tried it and didnt like it.  I realized quickly it would never form correctly over the ribs.

I realized I would have to go back to basic boat building design to get the curve and shape I wanted.  Using basswood, I cut strips and covered the ribs.  I prepainted them with what I thought might look good.  The shape came out fine, but I wasnt happy with the look.  I added some details of things coming out of the side, fueling pipes, couple of cannons or whatever.  These get changed later again.

Ok, wasnt happy with the body, but let it simmer while I worked on the nose of the shell.  I had a what I think was an old planter, some kind of resin material, had some nice designs on it and I had thought for some time it would be the nose of the shell, and that possibly it would have a drop down door and a brass cannon I had would roll out.  I attached it as the nose and it looked good, but I realized it was not large enough for the brass cannon.  So back to the drawing board and the parts bins.

I had 20 heavy spacers I had gotten from ebay that I intend to use as the side top cannons, there would be 18 of them eventually, so I had two extras that I could use for the nose guns.  I cut and hinged a drop down section, mounted the gun barrels, and added some rangefinder lenses I took out of a Polaroid land camera.  I found when it closed that the support chains snagged, but adding a spring pulled them back fine.

So now I had the guns mounted and they would close fine, but now I needed a way for them to be opened and closed by the crew.  I ran a small rope to the back of them and down through the bottom of the nose and built a pulley with a spoke wheel attached to a spindle made from lamp parts, a chain running from the rope through a small block and tackle.  Turning the spoked wheel lifts and closes the entire gun setup nicely.

Next was the cowcatcher.  I bought some 1/16 by 1/2 inch raw steel strips and hammered and bent them into the shapes, ground down points and mounted them on a grooved board with large brass screws that once held my sons bunk beds together.  I cut a round section of wood, cut a groove to hold the tops of the metal strips and it was finished.

At the same time, I rebuilt the front wheels, lengthened their base and trimmed them out.