Patent Model, Method of Building Wood Boats

Description
The inventor Joseph Francis (1801-93) was best known for developing corrugated-iron lifesaving boats. This 1841 patent model reveals his ideas about a new method for constructing boats made of wood.
Trade and communication in 1840s America relied heavily on waterborne transportation, and boat building was an important related industry. With this invention, Joseph Francis sought to reduce the cost of constructing boats by simplifying the process. He proposed setting up a reusable frame over which very narrow planks would be bent to form the hull. The planks would be fastened together by bolts or nails driven through their edges, and no complicated joinery was to be done where the curves of the hull converged at bow and stern. “Ordinary workmen and machinery” could build this simple boat, he wrote. It would save on material, as none of the planks would overlap, and it would not require caulking, “as the narrow planking is drawn so closely together by the . . . nails . . . .” Finally, Francis claimed that the boat’s metal fasteners, buried between the planks, would not be likely to corrode and loosen the structure. Francis may have used this technique in his own boat works, but it was otherwise ignored by the nation’s many skilled boat builders.
Object Name
life boat, model
patent model, lifeboat
date made
1841
patent date
1841-10-11
patentee
Francis, Joseph
inventor
Francis, Joseph
Physical Description
wood (overall material)
metal (fittings material)
paper (card material)
Measurements
overall: 5 3/4 in x 39 1/2 in x 6 in; 14.605 cm x 100.33 cm x 15.24 cm
associated place
United States: New York, New York
ID Number
TR*308538
accession number
89797
catalog number
308538
patent number
2,293
subject
Transportation
On the Water exhibit
event
Expansion and Reform
See more items in
Work and Industry: Maritime
On the Water exhibit
Exhibition
On the Water
Data Source
National Museum of American History, Kenneth E. Behring Center
Publication title
On the Water online exhibition
Publication URL
http://americanhistory.si.edu/onthewater

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