Construction of Day Boats

Wooden day boats

DSC01121Wooden day boats were built of pine, deal or larch, side planks of 2″ thickness, and bottoms of 3″. Planks were either 9″ wide or 12″ , giving 4 or 5 planks to the boat side, and a depth of around 4ft. Side planks were spiked to large knees, at 3ft spacings and these in turn were spiked to the bottom planks. A keelson joined up all the bottom planks to prevent vertical movement, and the width of the boat at gunwale level was held by beams dovetailed into the gunwale. Side planks were scarf jointed, and always spaced apart to prevent weakness. At each end of the boat, 3 extra guard boards were added; one at waterline in oak, one mid way in elm, and another oak board on the second plank down. Iron guards at both ends protected the woodwork from the inevitable rough handling these boats received.


Cabins were constructed in deal boarding, were 5ft 6″ long, with a headroom of 5ft 3″. The sharp tumblehome was necessary to pass through the many small entrances to basins off the main canal. Inside the cabin, a bottle stove was on the left, and a bench on the right and across the cabin bulkhead. As the traffics on the BCN was short haul, the day boats were never intended to be slept in, hence the small size. [1.]


Iron day boats

By the 1860’s a significant number where made of iron. [2.]


Iron, in small plate sizes, would be riveted together to fabricate the hull sides and boat bottom. The sides were joined to the bottom with a chine angle, on the inside of the plates. Knees added strength between the sides and bottom consisting of OMEGA pattern rolled iron. An angle similar to the chine angle formed the gunwale, with an additional guard iron riveted on top. Beams made from plate and angle (3 of) kept the boat to width[3.], and guards of OMEGA pattern were riveted to the outside bends of the boat. If the boat was single ended, plates would overlap to trail in the forward direction.

A small deck was positioned at each end of the boat, and BCN gauging plates fixed under the gunwale on the Starboard side.


The many different shapes of iron day boats existed as a result of the numerous builders of these craft on the BCN canal system.


[1.] From webpage http://models.bipolar4all.co.uk/bcn.htm

[2.] An exception being Bantock boats; which were composite, with a wooden lower side plank as well.

[3.] With the exception of some Stewarts and Lloyds boats which were specially constructed without any cross bracing in the hold so that they could carry the full length of manufactured tubes.

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