Propeller Indiana’s Capstan

Description
The capstan, most commonly found on the decks of early steamboats, was used as a vertical winch for raising or lowering anchors, hoisting sails and cargo, hauling heavy lines, or other jobs where individual manpower was not enough.
It was operated manually, by putting timbers into the holes and using the resulting leverage to wind a line wrapped around the center of the device more easily. Sea chanties, or rhythmic songs, were often employed by ship crews to ensure that everyone hauled at the same time. Later in the 19th century, steam capstans and donkey engines replaced human muscle on the larger vessels.
Object Name
capstan
date made
mid-1800s
Measurements
overall: 34 in x 28 in; 86.36 cm x 71.12 cm
ID Number
1984.0359.02
accession number
1984.0359
catalog number
1984.0359.02
related event
Expansion and Reform
See more items in
Work and Industry: Maritime
Work
Industry & Manufacturing
On the Water exhibit
Transportation
Energy & Power
Exhibition
On the Water
Exhibition Location
National Museum of American History
Data Source
National Museum of American History, Kenneth E. Behring Center

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