OK, here's the ultimate scale boat project. It would be a great team project, requiring the skills of a master machinest and a serious scale ship builder, or two. It would be built to 1/2" to the foot scale. The ship: the snag boat sternwheeler, W.T. Preston. Length: 163 feet, beam 34' 8", draft 3' 8" and of course, powered by two 150 HP steam reciprocating engines.
The model: 81.5" long and powered by two custom made steam engines and boilers. No gear or belt driven paddlewheel here, just long throw condensing steam engines. The original engines had a bore of 14 inches and a throw of 72 inches. All this would be scaled of course.
What would make this such an amazing model is to faithfully build all the snagboat features into the model. Snagboats were used to clear rivers and waterways in Puget Sound of stumps, logs and other floating debris. The snagboats had two spuds (long, square posts it could lower into the river bottom to steady the boat for log pickups) that the model would have. A steam-powered winch and crane on the bow would also be fully operational in the model. The actual boat is open to the public and would be a great resource for building the model. At 81.5 inches long, it would not fit in my SUV, so a custom trailer or truck would have to haul it around.
See the real boat at: http://www.anacorteshistorymuseum.org/preston.htm
It would be unique. It would be a show-stopper. It would be a huge challenge.