[MOC] Lake Champlain Horse Ferry (Working Replica)

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Historical Info

Horse-powered ferries (also called "team boats") are a unique form of transportation popular in the United States in first half of the 19th century. The most sophisticated version, invented in 1819 by Barnabas Langdon, mounts a treadwheel just below the deck, which is geared to a pair of paddle wheels. Slots in the deck along two teams of horses to be hitched, facing opposite directions, and maintain a steady forward gait powers the boat.  A wreck was discovered in Lake Champlain's Burlington Bay in 1983 and remains the only archaeologically studied example of a turntable horse ferry in the world. More information about this unique piece of transportation history, including how to safely visit the wreck, can be found through the Lake Champlain Maritime Museum. 

About the Model

The model is geared to allow a Technic motor to power the treadwheel + paddlewheels, and makes the horses trot inverse-kinematically, as demo'd here:

A look at the full ferry:


A cutaway showing the internal gearing:


Some more shots from minifig-POVs:



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This is a really cool build full of great details.  I've had the fortune of getting to dive in Burlington and see the real thing (although with less than 2 meters of visibility in the lake, it's a lot easier to get a sense of the thing with your model).  Clever technique to move the horses.  I'd love to see a video of the whole model in action.

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Thanks! And that's awesome - I'm always pleasantly surprised when people have heard of teamboats before! I'm not a diver so I've only seen the 1/2 scale replica at LCMM (although one of my co-workers took a dive this summer). The model prices out to about $1000 and the deal with my wife is I'm waiting to see if I advance in the current Lego House competition on Lego Ideas before I bite the bullet and hit order, but if I don't end up advancing, I'll try and set up a proper animation in Blender, although the physics sim for horses seems likely to be a pain in the rear.

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