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Identification of boat builder

Last year a friend saw a narrow boat on the Shroppie, I think it was called Thursdays Child. The boat featured tiller steering and internal wheel steering. Does anyone know who built this boat please.

Asked by: Tom Brady  | 12.17pm, Saturday 20 February

WW says:

If it is the boat I think it is, I believe it was built by Arcrite Fabrications of Corby in Northamptonshire. At risk of sounding even more vague, I am not sure if they are still producing boats.
The boat belongs to one of the contributors to the website Narrowboatworld so an enquiry there might produce a more definite answer.

Graham Booth  | 5.33PM, Saturday 20 February

Hi Tom
If your interest is in the internal/tiller steering,Ive built one of these and may be able to assist you.
Mike Jordan

Mike Jordan  | 5.51PM, Saturday 20 February

Some of the older boats were Frobisher types, built by Dartline- they were GRP topped boats, with no forward cockpit, and a sliding roof over the internal helm position. Most were 40 or 47ft long and appeared in several hire fleets over the years- Shackleton class was the last in the Dartline fleet a few years ago.
Jannel Cruisers also ran a steel topped version, Chickasaw, with a slightly higher forward cabin- and although popular as a boat, the wheel steering was rarely used- it does take some getting used to! It is usually OK on Rivers, but on narrow canals, can be a bit hit and miss- with the hit being particularly common on narrow bridges with no towpath... the stern is very easy to clip!
I know Arcrite used to build the Sunchaser class, which was effectively a centre cockpit steel cruiser, of narrowboat dimensions- Arcrite are still in existance, but they stopped building boats quite a few years ago.
If you want to consider wheel steering, then there are various hydraulic steering systems available, with bypass valves, to allow "emergency" tiller steering available, commercially available off-the-shelf from Vetus and other companies. The issue is getting the boat to look right- and, as they are different to the conceived "norm", being prepared to accept the inevitable huge depreciation in value as soon as it hits the water

Mark Langley  | 6.06PM, Saturday 20 February

Hi Tom
The info from Mark is more relavant to specially designed boats using both types of steering, and as he says, a rather outdated design which would have a lower resale value.
My experience was different in that I fitted a wheel steer at the front of a 46 foot standard design narrow boat and had huge enjoyment from it!It's true that its not like steering a car but a practiced steerer will find it easy to use. My original intention was to use the wheel on river work where you cant stop or shelter from bad weather, but it proved just as useful on the canals.
I had intended to fit a hydraulic system,but on visiting the london boatshow found a number of companies selling cable steering for fishing boats. This was about a quarter of the cost of a hydraulic set and has many other advantages, not the least of which is the ability to leave both connected and have no need to open valves etc to change steering possition. Cost? in 1996 I fitted dual gearbox/throttle contols and steering (but initialy only a plastic steering wheel)for 400 pounds.
Boatyards only seem to know about hydraulic steering gear, probably because it pays better!The trad boaters may look down their noses a little but its a great way to boat in the winter.

Mike Jordan  | 8.15PM, Saturday 20 February

I agree with most of Mike's comments, though there are some other advantages of hydraulic steering systems- cable systems do tend to "stretch" a bit after a while- those on cruisers sometimes fail at the oddest moments (on the Caldon canal entering a lock for me once!). Pure cable steering does need adjusting, while sheathed cables can take a bit of setting up!
Hydraulic systems are certainly not cheap, and can lack the feel that cable systems provide. IF you do fit a system, remember that other contrals (including engine stop- as required by the BSS) must be fitted- and long cable runs can be quite problematic (not to say expensive)-- though certainly not insurmountable. We did find that after using it once, hirers tended to avoid it though!
One note of caution, make sure that no one tries to use both systems at once... (and remove the tiller from the aft deck... so it doesn't clobber people!)
In the end, if you fit forward steering, enjoy it- but understand why its not very popular as well! But, best of luck- if you can, try a boat with it, to see how you get on with it, before specifying it on a boat.

Mark Langley  | 10.47PM, Saturday 20 February

Readers say:

Me & my wife live on a 32 foot narrow beam steel arcrite sun cruiser with wheel steering in a fixed wheel house. I can thoroughly recommend this type of boat, it has an attractive river boat appearance and can go anywhere apart from the very low Froghall Tunnel on the Caldon.
The only boat builder I know who builds anything like it in steel is Pinder Boat Builders at Stoke Prior, Bromsgrove, they also have access to the original drawings for the arcrite so they or another builder could still build one for you. Viking Cruisers build a similar one in GRP with a diesel engine.
I can email you the basic drawings and photos of our boat if they are of interest or if they will help you to to get one built.
email duckrustler@tiscali.co.uk

robert aspey  | 9.18PM, Wednesday 7 April

Many thanks for all of the replies, I have forwarded this information to my friend who wants this type of boat. Thanks WW for the service

Tom Brady  | 5.08PM, Wednesday 16 June

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