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Merritt's crank paddle patent model

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Merritt's crank paddle patent model
Photo by Hugh Talman, Negative #: 2006-23068, Patent 89,231, Apr. 20, 1869


This object appears in the following sections:

Marine Patent Models — Complete Catalog: 1851-1869

Marine Patent Models — Moving Forward

Merritt's crank paddle patent model
Merritt's crank paddle patent model

Patent drawing for Merritt's crank paddle
Patent drawing for Merritt's crank paddle

Propelling apparatus patent model
Catalog #: 308,547, Accession #: 89,797
Currently on display
From the Smithsonian Collection

This is the patent model for Daniel S. Merritt's crank paddle, a suggested advancement over the common steamboat paddle wheel.

Physical Description

The model is made of brass, steel, and wood and measures 11 1/2" L x 5 1/2" W x 6 1/2" H.

Date Made:
Mount Morris
Transfer from the U.S. Patent Office

The principle of Merritt's invention is similar to that of other paddle apparatuses patented in the nineteenth century. Sets of paddles are fastened to a common frame or bar. Using cranks, the paddles are plunged into the water, swept backward, and then lifted clear for another pass, in a manner similar to the action of oars. There is little in Merritt's design to set it apart from the others, except that the depth of his paddles in the water is adjustable, to suit variations in draft of the vessel. Merritt claimed that "no swell is caused by these paddles, rendering them particularly applicable to the propulsion of vessels upon canals," where swells tended to erode the canal banks.

Merritt, a resident of Mount Morris, Michigan, also held a patent for increasing the motion of an engine (no. 81,393, August 25, 1868).


Daniel S. Merritt, Propelling Apparatus, U.S. patent no. 89,231, Apr. 20, 1869.

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