Manuscript/Mixed Material John Fitch's sketch and description of piston for steamboat propulsion, ca. 1795.

About this Item

Title
John Fitch's sketch and description of piston for steamboat propulsion, ca. 1795.
Created / Published
ca. 1795
Subject Headings
-  Inventors
-  Boats and boating
-  Engineering
-  Fitch, John (1743-1798)
-  Force, Peter (1790-1868)
-  Fulton, Robert (1765-1815)
-  Inventions
-  Navigation
-  Pistons
-  Steamboats
-  Manuscripts
Genre
Manuscripts
Notes
-  Reproduction number: A35 (color slide); LC-MSS-20990-14 (B&W negative)
-  A pioneer in the application of steam for boat propulsion, John Fitch (1743-1798) constructed four different steamboats between 1785 and 1796 that successfully plied rivers and lakes and demonstrated, in part, the feasibility of using steam for water locomotion. His models utilized various combinations of propulsive force, including ranked paddles (patterned after Indian war canoes), paddle wheels, and screw propellers. While his boats were mechanically successful, Fitch failed to pay sufficient attention to construction and operating costs and was unable to justify the economic benefits of steam navigation. Robert Fulton (1765-1815) built his first boat after Fitch's death, and it was Fulton who became known as the "father of steam navigation."
-  Printer and historian Peter Force (1790-1868) assembled a collection of surviving Fitch manuscripts, including letters, account books, and mechanical sketches, which were later sold to the Library of Congress in 1867 along with the rest of Force's holdings. The diagram and description shown here provides a schematic of a piston designed to force air or water through the boat's keel, propelling it without allowing water to swamp the engine. It is not known whether Fitch's revolutionary design was ever fabricated.
Source Collection
John Fitch Papers in the Peter Force Papers
Repository
Manuscript Division
Online Format
image
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Chicago citation style:

John Fitch's sketch and description of piston for steamboat propulsion. 1795. Manuscript/Mixed Material. http://www.surfoboards.com/item/mcc.072/.

APA citation style:

(1795) John Fitch's sketch and description of piston for steamboat propulsion. [Manuscript/Mixed Material] Retrieved from the Library of Congress, http://www.surfoboards.com/item/mcc.072/.

MLA citation style:

John Fitch's sketch and description of piston for steamboat propulsion. 1795. Manuscript/Mixed Material. Retrieved from the Library of Congress, <www.surfoboards.com/item/mcc.072/>.

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