Sunday, August 12, 2001

Prize possessions

Retired plumber fashions fleet of model boats

By Marsie Hall Newbold
Enquirer contributor

        Who: Bob Teagle, 76, a retired plumber, avid golfer, proud granddad (of eight grandchildren and two great-grandchildren) and award-winning builder of model boats.

        On display: Twenty handcrafted boats, ranging from sleek wooden powerboats to elaborate paddle-wheelers.

        Where: Throughout the Reading home he shares with Mary, a k a “Dolly,” his wife of 54 years.

[photo] Bob Teagle has more than 20 handmade model boats.
(Yuli Wu photo)
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        Anchors away! Mr. Teagle's interest in model boats began 30 years ago when he built a speedboat made from balsa wood. He's not even sure why he did it. “It just seemed like an interesting thing to do,” he says.

        So interesting that he moved on to more complex projects. His latest is a recently completed model of the Island Queen, which served in Cincinnati for decades. It is 42 inches long and has 50 fibre optic lights.

        “It took me 13-14 months to complete,” he says. “Most take longer.”

        Museum quality: The bulk of Mr. Teagle's collection is kept in glass cases in the family room. Besides the Island Queen, there are representations of President Kennedy's PT-109, the Robert E. Lee, the River Queen, the Wild Goose and a Chinese junk.

        Other boats bear the names: King of Mississippi, Champlain Ferry Co., the Far West, Ohio Valley, Wild Goose and the Cape Girardeau.

        Detailed work: “There are 420 pieces on the Cape Girardeau's paddle wheel alone,” Mr. Teagle says. He estimates that most of his boats have 2,000 or more pieces.

        “I prefer the paddleboats,” he says. “I'll build other boats, but I keep coming back to them.”

        Everybody loves a winner: The family room is filled with ribbons and plaques that Mr. Teagle's work has won.

        “It's just my hobby,” he says modestly. “The real reward is seeing people's reactions to what I do.”

        Grandpa's workshop: Mr. Teagle creates his models in a basement workshop filled with tiny bottles of paint, a swivel-armed magnifying glass with a light, dozens of tools and an array of glues.

        Oops! Building model boats does have its hazards. Mr. Teagle admits to having glued his fingers together more than once. “Now, that is a miserable experience,” he chuckles.

        Now that the Island Queen is complete, what will his next project be? “I'm not sure,” he says. “But I'm always looking for something different.”

        Beginners: Those who want to learn more about model shipbuilding are welcome to join Maritime Modelers Inc., which meets at 7 p.m. the second Thursday of the month in the basement of Star One Realtors, 2712 Observatory Ave., Cincinnati. 563-9547.

       Share your prize possessions with Marsie Hall Newbold by mail: c/o The Cincinnati Enquirer; e-mail:



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