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Patent model of Higginson's mode of shipbuilding

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Patent model of Higginson's mode of shipbuilding
Photo by Hugh Talman, Negative #: 2006-23062

IN CONTEXT

This object appears in the following sections:


Technology
Marine Patent Models — Complete Catalog: before 1850

Technology
Marine Patent Models — Building Ships

OTHER VIEWS
Patent drawing for Higginson's mode of shipbuilding
Patent drawing for Higginson's mode of shipbuilding


Patent model of Higginson's mode of shipbuilding
Patent model of Higginson's mode of shipbuilding


Patent model of Higginson's mode of shipbuilding
Patent model of Higginson's mode of shipbuilding


Patent model of Higginson's mode of shipbuilding
Patent model of Higginson's mode of shipbuilding


Patent model for a mode of shipbuilding
Catalog #: 308,541, Accession #: 89,797
In collection
From the Smithsonian Collection
Boston resident Henry Higginson demonstrated the many ideas covered by his 1838 patent for "Improvements in the Mode of Building Ships" in this detailed wood model.
Physical Description

Model is 25 1/2" L x 7 1/2" W x 5 1/2" D.

Details
Date Made:
1838
Locations:
Massachusetts
Note:
Boston
Credit:
Transfer from the U.S. Patent Office
History

Henry Higginson thought wooden ships could be made stronger if more principles from "ordinary carpentry" were applied to "the perfecting of naval architecture." Foremost in his thinking was the extensive use of diagonal bracing. The rib-like frames that constitute the skeleton of typical wooden hulls extend in Higginson's design only from the keel to the approximate level of the load waterline. Above this point, he specified diagonally crossing timber braces, either placed between short upright ties (as seen on one side of the model), or running between long timber bands reinforced by occasional iron straps (as on the other side). Outside the diagonal braces, Higginson placed multiple horizontal courses of long-grained planking, rigidly fastened together with treenails or bolts and insulated by waterproof paper or cloth. Along the bottom the hull is double planked. Other details less easy to pick out on the model are the double-rabbeted keel, longitudinal ties connecting the floor timbers, and the extensive use of wedges to brace the entire construction together.

The inventor's goal, he wrote, was "to arrange, combine, and unite the materials of which [ships] are built [so] as to give to them a much greater degree of strength and stability than they usually possess without any material increase in their cost or loss of room for stowage." "I do not pretend," he continued, "that there is anything absolutely new in the application of diagonal braces or of ties, these having been applied in nearly all possible ways in ordinary carpentry, as in the framing of bridges and other structure of timber." But he did think these bracing techniques had been insufficiently adopted by shipbuilders, perhaps forgetting that the workers who constructed America's merchant vessels at that time were themselves specialized-and highly skilled-carpenters.

Ref:

Henry Higginson, Mode of Building Ships and Other Vessels, U.S. patent no. 673, Apr. 4, 1838.

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