African Queen

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Gordon

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Does anyone know of plans available for the engine and boiler from the African Queen? I have looked and have not been able to find anything. Lacking plans a good scaleable drawing would be good. The folks who have build scale models seem to have done so from watching the movie 75 times.
 

Gordon

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I want plans for the engine and boiler at perhaps 1/8 scale. Not interested in the boat itself.
 

fpravenscroft

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try googling cyril it, an african queen made by Malcolm beak he also does the engine for it i have a copy of the drawings but at this moment i can not find them i think the engine is m22 but will stand to be corrected i'll let you know what else i can find out
regarfs
peter
 

Gordon

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Thanks. That gives me a start and some things to pursue. In the past when I looked I kept finding a lot of engines which folks had used in model boats but were not actually the same engine or even close to the original. I did find a reference that the engine used in the movie was just a prop and the boat was actually driven by a diesel engine hidden away. Not sure if that is actually true.
 

aonemarine

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Huston we have a problem!!

Isnt the mb22 a 2cylinder??
here is the rivier queens engine from the movie. clearly a single cylinder of large bore.
 

aonemarine

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In the movie, directed by John Huston and released in 1951, the boat was powered by a diesel engine that was made to look like a steam engine
.

Im not so sure, looks pretty authentic, but the exhaust loos kind small. Whats on top of the steam chest? lubricator??
 

aonemarine

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stuart #1 doesnt look like this at all. this engine has 2 support columss and a square backed crosshead guide.
Im pretty convinced that it is a real steam engine in the movie and not some doctered up diesel. Looking at the movie and the size of the cylinder and large vertical boiler I would have to think this engine operates on low pressure but consumes a large volume of steam to produce the required power. The boiler fits the engine. All this "documation" on the net seems nothing more than a ruse to cover things up to make up for the questions regaurding the authenticity of the boat displayed in key largo. Everyone loves a good love story, but i suspect the real african queen is still resting on the bottom overseas....
 

Hopper

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You would think that if they used a diesel engine, which they most probably did for convenience, it would be hidden below deck or inside the boiler etc out of view. Hard to imagine them restoring a steam launch to working condition then faffing about raising steam etc while trying to film a movie.
 

Hopper

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PS, bit more info on it on the dreaded Wikipedia. Seems the original boat from the movie is restored and on display in Florida.
Filming was actually done in Uganda and Congo, and the boiler was a copper fake, according to Wiki.


"Most of the action takes place aboard a boat – the African Queen of the title – and scenes on board the boat were filmed using a large raft with a mockup of the boat on top. Sections of the boat set could be removed to make room for the large Technicolor camera. This proved hazardous on one occasion when the boat's boiler – a heavy copper replica – almost fell on Hepburn. It was not bolted down because it also had to be moved to accommodate the camera. The small steam-boat used in the film to depict the African Queen was built in 1912, in England, for service in Africa. At one time it was owned by actor Fess Parker.[14] In December 2011, plans were announced to restore the boat.[15] Restoration was completed by the following April and the African Queen is now on display as a tourist attraction at Key Largo, Florida.[16]
Because of the dangers involved with shooting the rapid scenes, a model was created at the studio tank in London."

Nice video of the boat in action today, showing some good close up shots of the engine in action
[ame]https://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=fiHPaNktEGM[/ame]
 

Hopper

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And a good run down on the engine here
http://www.webcomsknkwrks.com/africqun.htm
Looks like maybe the steam engine in movie was a little different? Something faked up for the filming?
As far as the prop sahft goes, looks like there is a chain drive from the engine shaft to the prop shaft below.

 

Gordon

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Interesting discussion. It looks like there are a lot of opinions on what the engine actually was in the film. From the screen shot, it looks like most of the engines used in the replicas are not too close to the original. It is possible that the original engine was not even operational. Cobbling together a bunch of parts to look like a steam engine is a possibility. As other have noted, using actual steam on a movie set would be very difficult and actually using an auxiliary power source would make sense. I can see why I have been having a problem finding plans since there is not even a consensus on what the engine actually looked like.
 

aonemarine

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Im pretty sure the engine in the movie is real. one point in the movie when the (rubber hose) steam line was shot off they show the engine starting back up. There was no steam involved but if you look at the position of the stepheson link it is set dead center so there is no motion of the slide valve. My question would be, was it set to neutral to make the engine easier to spin by hand or something?
There are a couple things I do question about the engine. One is the size of the exhaust plumbing, the cylinder head, and I dont see any way to tighten the packing on the valve rod. But cobbing together the bottom end IE crank, rod, eccentrics, feed water pumps, Looks just too real down there not to be an actual steamer. However they could have easily fit a diesel in the boiler and drove the steam engine and prop from it.
You never see a "real" fire in the boiler so maybe?
 

Tin Falcon

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Hopper

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Interestinger and interestinger. The engine in Tin's post is different again. Africa being Africa, the boat could have been fitted with any number of different engines over the years. It was always hard/impossible to get spare parts for anything there. I was in Congo and Uganda in the 1980s. Around Lake Victoria and Lake Tanganyika there were the hulks of many old steamers lying in the mud at various old harbours, and the remains of old steam engines scattered about. They ranged from African Queen size to large ferries that could take hundreds of passenngers. In fact, I journeyed down lake Tanganyika from Rwanda/Burundi to Tanzania on a modern diesel powered motor ship that was towing two old steamers then in use as barges.

Maybe one way to figure out the original engine wuold be to look up the maker in the UK, they are named in one of the articles I linked to, and see what was their standard launch engine. Of course, by 1951 it could have had severeal new engines by then.

Or if you want to make it exactly like in the movie, you are going to have to watch the movie 75 times and look for a similar engine plan you can adapt to appear the same.

While you are at it, be sure to read Joseph Conrad's Heart of Darkness -- the original story about steaming up the Congo River that inspired both the African Queen and Apocalypse Now. The book will give you a clearer picture of how machinery was kept going in remote Africa back in the day.
 

Hopper

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You have got me hooked now. I found the below on the IMDB.com site, saying they did not do all the filming on the boat itself but made up several dummy sets on a large that was bigger in order to fit the cameras on board. That may explain why the two movie stills posted near the beginning of this thread appear to have slightly different engines. One appears black, the other green. One appears to have a totally square boxy cylinder/valve gear cover, the other is rounded on one end. They used the raft for close ups of Bogey and Hepburn, so that would most likely include anything close up enough to see detail on the engine.

So the engine you see in the movie is most likely not actually the engine that was in the boat at the time.

"Because the boat used in the film was too small to carry cameras and equipment, portions of the boat were reproduced on a large raft, in order to shoot close-ups of Humphrey Bogart and Katharine Hepburn. Interior and water-tank scenes were filmed in London, as were most of the scenes containing secondary characters. Robert Morley shot all of his scenes in London, including footage of him preaching, which was edited together with shots of the natives praying, which was filmed in Africa. "
http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0043265/trivia
 

Hopper

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Found some pics online of "Filming the African Queen". IT sure looks like the actual boat had the single cylinder engine like shown in the movie stills at the beginning of the thread. These were cropped from full pictures showing the actual boat, no raft.







And I found a pic of either a raft or studio mock up also used. No engine at all! But shows how you can't rely on what you see in the movie to be the actual boat.
 

aonemarine

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ok, time to sit down and watch the movie 75 times!! I bet I could get enough still shots from it to design a very good likeness, If I only had the time...
 

Tin Falcon

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There are many model versions of the African queen.
some are live steam rc some are static sme look authentic some not as much. varios versions of the boiler and engine.
wilesco has a decent model of it.


Like others have said this boat has have to had a good many different engines and boilers over its life. The question is what look do want it to have . Do you want it to look original ? or like it did in the movie or just look right to you. You may just want to look for a boiler and vertical engine of the right size that look good together and fit your boat.
Here is a plan set that could work or at least use as a starting point
http://www.john-tom.com/MyPlans/SteamPlans3/GermanSingleVertical/BP-Dampf.pdf

Tin
 

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