Steam Noir

The Creations of William Wardrop

The Cigar Ship

 This is the yacht Ross Winans, named after its designer and owner Mr. Ross Winans.  Built in 1866 at Hepworths yard on the Isle of Dogs this was the last and largest of the cigar ships.  She was 236ft long but only 16ft amidships, to say it was unstable was an understatement. The front and rear propellers were 22 ft in diameter and made the spray almost impossible to deal with on the upper deck.   It was WET!  It also had the tendency to roll like a drunken streetwalker on a Saturday night with the fleet in port.  Mr. Winans original occupation was designing very successful locomotive engines.  Perhaps he should have stuck to trains because not one of his ship designs worked properly.

Cigar Warship U.S.S Revenge

Q: So what do you do with an unsuccessful ship design? A: Repackage it with side stabilizers, cannons and torpedos; then sell it to an unsuspecting millitary. (Be sure not to leave a forwarding address after leaving the country with your payment.)  

HMS Thunderchild

The HMS Thunderchild was featured in H.G.Wells 1898 novel "War of the Worlds". During the conflict with the martians, it managed to successfully destroy two martian tripods in Tillingham Bay. It was however at great cost; the vessel, under the fire of Heat-Rays, rammed the tripods resulting in the catastophic explosion of its boilers. All crewmembers were lost.

This model was constructed as an radio controled boat. Although 95% of this model is cardboard, it's water tight and has a fair turn of speed. Everything but the R/C gear motor and batteries is cardboard.

C.S.S. Midge

During the American Civil War President Lincoln instituted a naval blockade of southern ports in 1861, severly limited the South's capacity getting raw materials from foriegn suppliers to maintain their war efforts. They also lacked the resources for building a fleet of ships that was capable of  defeating the Union Navy.

The Confederacy responded by constructing David class torpedo boats to break the blockade. The metaphor of "David and Goliath" is not lost in what these small fast boats were expected to do to the much larger Union war ships. This new class of semi-submersible vessle was designed to ride just inches above the water line leaving just a small portion of the deck and the smokestack visable. While running at night, using a smokeless anthracite coal, these boats were nearly invisable. It attacked using a spar torpedo which it would ram into an enemy ship.

The Sea Haggis

What's in a name? When it comes to the christening of a ship, its name becomes its essence and fundamental identity. This once proud vessle was built for a race across the great pond at the GM Tech Center in Warren, Michigan. For this competition each contestant was allowed a set amount of time to complete their sailboat but until the day of the race none of the boats were to be tested in the water. In addition none of the model makers were allowed to name their own creations; that honor was given to the other contestants.

Upon the day of the race Bill's ship was dubbed "The Sea Haggis", which is not even a proper name for a garbage scow. Abiding by the rules he let the name stick, even though it made the very timbers of his now humiliated creation scream and whither under the weight of such an outrageous misnomer. Moments later the newly christened and forever cursed "Sea Haggis" was placed in the pond. It immediately fell over as if in a dead faint and floundered. The race was over for the virgin ship before it had even begun.

To this day Bill claims that he didn't have enough weight on the keel, which he added soon after. When placed in the pond once again it sailed across as if it were a wild animal trying to escape its captor. It could have easily won the race but given a name like "Sea Haggis" the ship became topheavy with its unforseen burden.




The Narval was an early steam /electric sub made in France to experiment with steam as the surface power instead of the slower (at the time) gas or diesel engines it was to slow to dive (1/2 hr from order to actual dive) and had that failing of all steam subs that when they went under water the temperature in the engine room soared to hundreds of degrees and almost cooked the crew.


This model is the very first one I did in card board. It is out of clay covered board Like the kind you find in new shirts’ it is not the best for modeling as I soon found out the glue would not soak in and it would not dry fast but it did give me clues on how to form card board and was a fun learning experience .


Chesapeeake Bay Catboat

This Catboat design is standard to those seen from the shores of Chesapeake Bay.

The model itself was built by Bill in a friendly competition with other cardboard modelers at General Motors to see who could construct the most accurate model in the shortest amount of time. Bill took first place and was awarded a victory cup that he would have to construct as well.

The Haunted Steam Launch

The "Lady Lynne" is steam-powered vessle that was built for navigating Lake Ishpeming in the late 1800's. It was piloted by a crusty old sea captain who was said to be one of sailors on the USS Monitor during the American Civil War. The launch was to be his way of retiring from the complications of the fast-paced industrial world by ferrying tourists and running deliveries on the lake. The captain, who never gave his real name and was nicknamed Cappy, had a lisp and had a terrible time trying to pronounce "Ishpeming". Much to his chagrin, the guests of his boat would try to trick him into saying the name of the lake. This infuriated Cappy to the point to where he actually pushed his passengers overboard when they mocked his speech impediment. The captain was also known for his love of rum and spent many an evening drunk out of his mind on the lake, whooping and singing sea cantys. Then one morning in the spring of 1902 the Lady Lynne came to shore with Cappy nowhere to be seen. No sign of him was ever found, but from that day forward many people have claimed to be pushed out of the boat by invisible hands whenever they say the name of the lake. And when running, the steam engine itself seems to whisper "Ethpemink".