Dutch Barge “Jan Willem”



the real-life “Jan Willem”

As a child, back in 1959, I once stayed with friends that lived near a rural canal in South-West Holland. Every morning my brother and I awoke to the chugging of the old barges and tugs that came by and within a week we could name them without even looking out the bedroom window - each one produced a unique sound – for example, a single-cylinder Deutz petroleum engine.

Below a picture of the model of the dutch barge "Jan Willem" scale 1:20 afloat on the Zegerplas lake, Alphen aan den Rijn, Netherlands:

I came across my namesake during an Internet surfing-session and managed to contact the friendly owner who showed me around on board and gave me loads of documentation.

The Netherlands Modelbuilders' Society offers a plan that corresponds closely to the "Jan Willem" and that saved me a lot of headaches - drawing up the bulkheads is not my forté !

The model is built from simple material that offers a realistic finish at the least effort - cardboard laminated with white (wood) glue.

Started around Christmas 2004, construction took 2 years to complete.

Highly inflammable load is well-ventilated and easily extinguished (overboard)...

The anchor winch is of a ratchet type, the wooden extention lever removed. The small red lever operates a brake:

The stern's pleasing shape - eat your heart out ladies because your's won't look this good beyond 90!

Modern bronze screw - originally a cast iron affair of mediocre dimensions and -efficiency. On a model such as this, the size and shape of the screw are of surprizing importance for both static looks and performance in the water.

Scale models come alive when populated with figures such as this skipper on his clogs - a representation of the ship's second owner who sold flowers in the city of Amsterdam between 1946 and 1983.

In real life the bridge's 2-piece roof is detachable and the wooden window frames fold down in order to pass under a sequence of low bridges - a common situation in cities like Amsterdam.

In it's original configuration the barge was designed to independently load and offload it's cargo in rural locations with no special facilities or perhaps only a draught horse to help with hoisting.

The winch behind the mast is multi-functional and used for erecting the mast and hoisting heavy loads. Several gear ratio's and power take-offs are available.

Once the boom has been hoisted to the desired level it is secured by a safety cable which has a dedicated hand winch and a vice clamp.

Large pulleys in the mast facilitate hoisting and lowering. Note the safety-bolt. In the background the tarpaulin keeps the hold dry.

Deck space is at a premium. Every detail in this picture has a historical name that will bewilder even the most fluent dutch-speaking individual and no attempt to translate will be made!

At the top of the mast is a small, separately-hoisted boom used mainly for flying (company) colours – perhaps only to taunt the skippers of old-fashioned sailing vessels struggling against the wind. The rigging and hoisting details are seldom seen today because barges of this size no longer play a large transportation role in the Netherlands - fortunately a conservation society was able to provide documentation!