Merritt Propelling Apparatus, Patent Model

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This brass, steel, and wood patent model accompanied the patent application for Daniel S. Merritt's crank paddle, which claimed advancement over the common steamboat paddle wheel. The application received patent number 89,231 on April 20, 1869. Merritt, a resident of Mount Morris, Michigan, also held a patent for increasing the motion of an engine (no. 81,393; August 25, 1868).
The principle of this invention is similar to that of other steamboat paddles 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.
Currently not on view
Date made
patent date
Merritt, Daniel S.
Associated Place
United States: Michigan, Mount Morris
Physical Description
brass (part material)
steel (part material)
wood (part material)
overall: 6 1/2 in x 5 1/2 in x 11 1/2 in; 16.51 cm x 13.97 cm x 29.21 cm
ID Number
catalog number
accession number
patent number
Patent Models
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Work and Industry: Maritime
America on the Move
Engineering, Building, and Architecture
Data Source
National Museum of American History


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