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Make a Thames lighter to tow

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Noel18/07/2018 22:46:44
250 forum posts
70 photos

As i started talking about this on Today’s boating but thought it better to start a thread here.

I need a roughly 1:20 scale Thames lighter for my river tug to tow. It must be no more than 1m long or it will be a pain to fit in the car.

I have sketched the below general layout and a scale sketch of the bulkhead cross section. The 4mm ply offcuts I have are a bit floppy, but I found some 20x32mm batten in the garage that will make nice longitudinal stiffeners and some other hefty bits of pine for the bulkheads each end of the central box.

Is the cross section feasible or is it too shallow? All the numbers are millimetres.

As Ashley suggested, the size of the barge as above is such that the tug can be stored inside it.

Noel18/07/2018 22:49:36
250 forum posts
70 photos

And not forgetting the general inspiration!


Ray Wood 219/07/2018 07:58:00
2838 forum posts
988 photos

Hi Noel,

I couldn't open your sketch, but this is the drawing I based my barge on, they are normally 80ft long approx.

Regards Rayswim barge.jpg

Noel19/07/2018 10:55:31
250 forum posts
70 photos




That's better.  Not sure what happened to the link there.

Thank you Ray that picture of yours looks generally the same proportions.  My only concern with mine was that it was not deep enough for its given beam, but I think your proves I'm probably OK there.

Only other question is should it be narrower at the bilges than the deck?  Would be a bit easier to make if the cross section is rectangular.



Edited By Noel on 19/07/2018 10:58:29

Tony Hadley19/07/2018 12:37:33
914 forum posts
559 photos


I've just posted an article from Model Maker magazine, July 1956 in the Vic Smeed thread. It provides information on M.V. Frank Rayner and it's barge which may be of some help with your build project.

The plan for this design is no longer commercially available, but I have a hi-res digital image if it would help.


Edited By Tony Hadley on 19/07/2018 12:43:30

Ray Wood 219/07/2018 13:02:49
2838 forum posts
988 photos

Hi Noel,

Yes I think they are slightly wider at deck level, looking at this one, I didn't bother and made mine slab sided

Regards Ray150317 002.jpg

Noel19/07/2018 13:44:56
250 forum posts
70 photos


That Frank Rayner is very much narrower in proportions than the lighter, but it is straight sided.

So based on that and Rays one I'm going to make it based around a straight sided box!

There's so many different types of lighter anyway so guess I have quite free artistic license, but I wanted to start off with something that is at least the right proportions!


Chris Fellows19/07/2018 14:29:46
1196 forum posts
752 photos

Hi Noel - I guess that weight isn't a problem as you probably need some ballast anyway and there is no motor etc. so for extra strength you could always glue 2 layers of ply together. Most of the centre is cut out anyway.

One of my current builds uses 3mm ply for the frames and they were somewhat warped and flimsy. Not a problem though as once all the stringers are in place the structure will be strong and rigid. Just needed some additional squaring up and clamping whilst the glue set.


ashley needham19/07/2018 19:42:34
7639 forum posts
159 photos

Noel. Do not let "mission creep" happen to this barge,. It is simply something to add interest to the tug.....


Chris Fellows19/07/2018 21:11:43
1196 forum posts
752 photos

Then again, if a thing's worth doing...…..!

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