John Fitch Steamboat Model, 1790

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fredrosse
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John Fitch Steamboat Model, 1790

Post by fredrosse » Fri Sep 23, 2011 3:38 am

This steamboat was the first to enter regular commercial service (passenger and freight) in the world, and traveled more than 2000 miles along the Delaware River between Philadelphia PA and Trenton NJ in the summer of 1790. Although it was operating 17 years before Fulton’s steamboat, it was not a commercial success, as there were relatively good wagon roads on both sides of the Delaware River at that time.

The boat was 60+ feet long, and made about 8 MPH. The stern paddle mechanism works very similar to a duck’s paddle motion, and works with reasonable efficiency. Fitch knew about paddle wheels, and had even made models of sidewheel boats, but it was thought that the wide paddles would be difficult in the canals of the day, so he invented the stern mounted “duck paddle” mechanism.

The John Fitch Steamboat Museum opened at Craven Hall in Warminster PA this spring. The model is radio controlled with a live steam & electric propulsion system. We are about to test the boat on the water (a swimming pool no less).
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FitchProfileMus-s.jpg
1/10 th scale model of the Fitch Commercial Steamboat
FitchProfileMus-s.jpg (86.98 KiB) Viewed 7284 times
FITCH STERN QUARTER-s.jpg
Four stern paddles, chain driven from a Watt Beam Engine
FITCH STERN QUARTER-s.jpg (220.84 KiB) Viewed 7284 times
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Re: John Fitch Steamboat Model, 1790

Post by DetroiTug » Fri Sep 23, 2011 11:33 pm

That would be an interesting boat to reproduce full scale :) . Must have been quite a site to watch in motion.

Small World, I was in Bardstown last week.
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Re: John Fitch Steamboat Model, 1790

Post by fredrosse » Sat Sep 24, 2011 5:07 am

The model will be used for demo purposes, and the museam would like to eventually make a people carying steamer, if they can secure funding. I told them that anything over 40 feet long will not be practical, as Coast Guard exemption only applies to steamboats 40 feet or less in length. But a 39 foot working Fitch replica would be a wonderful experiment. Something about the size of my plywood sidewheeler would probably be about the minimum for a people carrying approximation of the Fitch boat propulsion system.
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Re: John Fitch Steamboat Model, 1790

Post by DetroiTug » Thu Nov 03, 2011 3:58 am

Here is another version of a Fitch design.



-Ron
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Re: John Fitch Steamboat Model, 1790

Post by fredrosse » Mon Nov 21, 2011 4:54 am

The earlier Fitch Steamboat was used on the Delaware River, but not in commercial service. I am told that the hull was the same as the boats Washington used to cary his troops across the river to attack the Hessian troops on Christmas eve 1776.

The commercial steamboat of 1790 was much larger, and used stern paddles. A short video shows the mechanism in action:
This model will be underway with live steam soon.
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Re: John Fitch Steamboat Model, 1790

Post by merump » Mon Dec 12, 2011 8:27 am

I have to agree, this would really look marvelous in blown to full scale. I reckon though that that you should make it a point not to let any part go beyond 40 feet so that you could get exemption from the coast guard. It would be such a pity not to be able to create it for budget constraints.

I would really to get to see steamboat demos though I am not familiar with any in the Palmdale area.
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Re: John Fitch Steamboat Model, 1790

Post by 87gn@tahoe » Wed Dec 14, 2011 7:18 am

Palmdale, CA?

If so, there are several meets in Northern CA, and Southern OR beginning in June. Then there's the NorthWest Steam Society meets up in Washington, and BC.

The closest to you that I know of would be the Great Delta Steamboat meet at the B&W Resort Marina in Isleton, CA. It is held on the last full weekend in September, as it has been for nearly 40 years now.

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Re: John Fitch Steamboat Model, 1790

Post by artemis » Wed Dec 14, 2011 10:30 pm

87gn@tahoe wrote:Palmdale, CA?

If so, there are several meets in Northern CA, and Southern OR beginning in June. Then there's the NorthWest Steam Society meets up in Washington, and BC.

The closest to you that I know of would be the Great Delta Steamboat meet at the B&W Resort Marina in Isleton, CA. It is held on the last full weekend in September, as it has been for nearly 40 years now.

wes
Not quite sure how this got in with Fitch's boat but:
NWSS Annual Meet in 2011 was held in Cathlamet, WA, right across the border-Columbia River from OR. 2013 will be - again - in Wheeler, OR. There's a good "calendar" of steamboat events throughout the US (and some "overseas") on the International Steamboat Society website at http://www.steamboating.org
Ron Fossum
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http://www.steamboating.org
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