Builds A Steam Boat

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Homemade steamboat's only deck is catwalk with helpful handrail above. 'Windows' except front are steel.
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Proud Hezzy West takes position at the wheel of the North wind to steer out into the Anacostia Channel.

Our boy, Mr. H. H. Wist, Washington, D. C, made it. Here is a
very interesting and informative article on how he built his own
steam boat. The article is taken from Popular Mechanics Magazine
about the year 1958. Sure looks good to me. -Elmer.

Like many another man, Hezzy West wanted a boat. But with him,
as time passed, the ‘want’ grew to be an acute ache. Worse,
Hezzy wanted a particular kind of craft a steamboat.

Such a boat, he knew, was expensive. The few hundred dollars he
had saved would hardly make the down payment on the kind of a boat
he wanted. Therefore he decided to build the boat himself. A welder
and machinist by trade, Hezzy had worked for years with steam
engines and boats in the vicinity of his home, a suburb of
Washington, D. C. He felt that he could build a satisfactory

‘I simply thought how I wanted her to look,’ he says,
‘then I laid the keel for a 30-footer, and I built her right up
from there.’

Not only did Hezzy build the steel hull, square cabin, smoke
funnel and bilge pump; he also built the two steam engines. The
larger of these a two-cylinder affair which develops 32 hp, propels
the boat. The smaller one drives the generator which supplies

The only part of the North wind, as he calls his boat, that he
did not build is the boiler. ‘There are two kinds of
boilers,’ he explains, ‘the fire-tube in which fire goes
through the tubes rather than around them, and the water-tube in
which water goes through the tubes.’

Of the North wind’s boiler, Hezzy says: ‘It’s a
vertical, fire-tube type. It holds about 125 gallons of water which
is much more than a water-tube boiler of the same size would
contain. That gives me far more even power than I would have with a
water-tube boiler of an equivalent size.’

For fuel, the North wind uses coal. ‘I can run her all
summer,’ Hezzy says, ‘on half a ton of coal which costs me

With a 24-26 propeller, Hezzy is able to get 15 knots from the
boat after he has built up steam, a process which takes about half
an hour. The boat draws three feet four inches of water and has a
nine-foot beam.

Although the North wind is made of one-eighth inch steel plate,
Hezzy says she is lighter than a wooden boat the same size and the
upkeep is ‘next to nothing’

‘I wouldn’t be afraid to take her across the
Atlantic,’ he says.

What did she cost?

‘Aside from my labor, she cost me just $350 for

And what is she worth?

‘Not long ago,’ Hezzy says, ‘I sold another boat not
as good for $4100, but she’s not for sale not even for a cool
five grand!’

Farm Collector Magazine
Farm Collector Magazine
Dedicated to the Preservation of Vintage Farm Equipment