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    Pilot House Nameboards

    Recently, while contemplating the concept of how good life can be when sitting on a steamboat's lazy bench, the question arose whom carved the nameboards on the BELLE OF LOUISVILLE's pilothouse. The thought was that it might have been Alan Bates, but no one was sure. Alan, do you want to take credit where credit is due?

    #2
    Yes, I carved them. As every good superintendent knows, when he starts a crew or gang he has to go away so they can get something done. I would start the men to tearing down the ratty old ballroom ceiling, for example, then go up to the roof and carve the boards. That way I could be useful and hide, too.

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      #3
      The Nameboard thread is interesting.

      A while back I came across a nameboard for the Steamer MARY POWELL.

      - Name Board off Hudson River Steamboat MARY POWELL - Starboard Side Rub Rail From The Famous Side Wheeler - Vallejo Maritime Gallery, 18th century marine art, 19th century marine antiques, 19th century marine art, 20th century marine art, Marine art

      Its description didn't seem quite right so I contacted the Hudson River Maritime Museum in Kingston, NY. They reviewed the ad with the conclusion that they question its authenticity.

      prb

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        #4
        The nameboards on the Belle are authentic. I can still see the results of making curved letters with a flat chisel.

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          #5
          Alan,

          I apologize if I implied that your nameboard might not be authentic. It was not my intent. I am strictly talking about the QUEEN of the Hudson, The MARY POWELL>

          Pete

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            #6
            No offense taken and no apology necessary. I was kidding my workmanship. I had no curved chisels, like gouges, and so the chisel marks remain to this day, despite beaucoup coats of paint.

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              #7
              Gold leaf

              Did you ever gold leaf them? Now there's a fun job.

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                #8
                I used gold paint. I don't know what they used lately, but they look much better.

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                  #9
                  Pictures of said nameboards

                  Originally posted by Frank X. Prudent View Post
                  Recently, while contemplating the concept of how good life can be when sitting on a steamboat's lazy bench, the question arose whom carved the nameboards on the BELLE OF LOUISVILLE's pilothouse. The thought was that it might have been Alan Bates, but no one was sure. Alan, do you want to take credit where credit is due?
                  The first picture, taken at the hastily rescheduled Moonlight book signing in 1994 at the Howard Museum, shows the painted AVALON and BELLE boards, both done by Doc Hawley. The second and third show the BELLE's carved boards to which Frank refers, and to which Alan admits creating.
                  Attached Files

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                    #10
                    The nameboards I carved are on the sides of the pilothouse, the ones with the rounded ends. I do not know who made the one on the pilothouse front. Mike Fitzgerald may have made it.

                    When the Belle of Louisville made its trial run we had a temporary sign at the stern hanging on the railing. The engines were being warmed up when a Coast Guard guy up and announced that we could not leave unless the sign was permanently attached, i.e. nailed to the stern bulkhead. He made a threat that the boat would be fined if that was not done. We had to rig a scaffold over that turning paddlewheel, get a couple of us on it, hand the sign down, nail it on and remove the scaffold. All of this for an institution devoted to safety!
                    That night I found the regulation about the sign and, sure enough, the boat could have been fined $10. I should have thrown the bum (as in British slang) into the river!

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                      #11
                      The late Crazy Clifford, Prince of Rabbit Hash, was a celebrated carver of wooden signs. His work can be seen on the main square in the Hash. Clifford employeed a bent screwdriver and hammer to create his art. Prehaps Cap'n Walnut can get a picture of Cliff's carvings for all to see. My desire was to have him carve signboards for the SUN*FISH, but that never happened.

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                        #12
                        Yeah, Sam, Clifford was pretty good with signs. Randal C once had a white German Shepherd dog that Clifford was fond of. When he died, Clifford rendered a carving of him in wood which he gave to Randal...in his living room now. There is also a sign there on his place somewhere and I'll try to remember to get a picture of them next time I'm there. About three years ago I took a fellow shooter, Reeves Goehring, from the shoot at F'ship to Big Bone. We ran into Clifford and nothing would have it but that we come see his museum. He had a BIG collection of Indian rocks etc in an old shed. Wonder what became of them? Clifford's boat dock featured a catamaran made from two mis-matched canoes. Seems to be gone now too. Cap'n Walnut.

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                          #13
                          When I worked full time for the Meanleys at Memphis Queen Line in the late 1980's, I talked them into doing some nice mahogany nameboards for the MEMPHIS QUEEN III and the ISLAND QUEEN. We bought mahogany from a fine woods dealer in Memphis, and I laid out the lettering and used a router to do most of the work. I then went back and used chisels to make the corners of the letters sharp. Being parsimonious, Jake wouldn't let me buy and use gold leaf in the letters, so we used gold paint. That only looked good for about a week, but my, they did look good! There was a picture in an S&D REFLECTOR of me doing the chisel work.

                          Last time I drove by there, it looked to me like they had painted that beautiful, expensive mahogany black instead of keeping it oiled up like it should be. What a shame.

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                            #14
                            The way to make gold paint look better is to use brass paint.

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                              #15
                              Worth It...

                              Has anyone tried sign painter's gold paint? It looks great and holds its gold luster for years. About 50 clams a quart--- and as Smitty-the-Carpenter told Ma Greene when she reminded him that butter was "thirty cents a pound" while he generously slathered his biscuit with the golden grease.... "... it's worth every cent", he replied, as he hit the butter bowl another lick.

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