Lord Stanhope's Improvement in Naval Architecture.

In page 278, of the present volume, we mentioned that Lord Stanhope had obtained a patent, for the invention of certain improvements in naval architecture. We find that he has constructed the model of a ship on a new principle, the object of which is to obviate the defects of the ordinary rudder, and to enable vessels to wear and stay with greater facility than by the present mode, as well as to avoid, with more certainty, the dangers of a lee shore. His new method of performing these and other important operations at sea is accomplished by the contrivance of very powerful steering machines, of a new construction, called gills, which are placed considerably under the water line, and fixed near each end, both at head and stern. With a boat furnished with this new apparatus, some very interesting and conclusive experiments have recently been made on the large piece of water in Kensington Gardens, and were attended with the most complete success. -- The boat being ballasted with a ton and a half of ballast, and being nearly upon a level keel, but a little down by the stern, she was tried both with the wind and against the wind, without the rudder, and with the rudder, and also against the rudder, in order to see which was the most powerful. The head gills on one side were equal to the rudder, when it as held at two points and a quarter upon an average. The stern gills on one side were equal to the rudder, when it was placed at two points and three eighths upon an average; but when the head and stern gills were all open on one side of the vessel, and acting in conjunction with each other, but in opposition to the rudder, they were found to be superior to the rudder, and to outbalance it when it was placed hard over no less than thirty-seven degrees and a half, which is considerably a greater angle than that at which the rudders of ships are placed, either on board ships of war or merchantmen, as in general the angle seldom exceeds thirty degrees. The immense utility of the gill apparatus was also proved by the following experiments: -- When the boat was rowed, the stern gills on one side made her perform a complete circle in six minutes; the head gills on one side produced the same effect in four minutes and fifty seconds; the rudder in four minutes and fifteen seconds, when it was put over quite hard; the head and stern gills acting in conjunction, in four minutes; and the head and stern gills, acting in conjunction with each other, and with the rudder, described a circle in two minutes and forty seconds; which is a clear proof how powerful the gills will tend to assist the steerage of a vessel, and to prevent her form getting into the trough of the sea in a gale of wind, which is always dangerous; and also to prevent a ship from missing stays, which frequently produces the most fatal effects in narrow channels, amongst rocks, and on a lee shore. His lordship, after trying several experiments in rounding, tacking, and keeping to a certain point, landed, and expressed his perfect satisfaction and confidence in having succeeded in his design. It is said, that by this invention, one-third of the expense may be saved in the construction of a 74; that the vessel being rather flatbottomed, will carry more tonnage; it will navigate in very shallow water, and over breakers or sunken rocks, without the risk that a ship with a keel runs; on approaching any rock or coast, it can immediately retire, without loss of time in putting about, as it sails with either head or stern foremost; does not require half the sails, all of which can be worked by men on the deck, without going aloft; the composition which covers it is infinitely cheaper than copper, and answers the same purpose; it can sail nearly against the wind, by working the gills, with many other advantages. Instead of the bottom being pitched outside, it is covered with a composition, and invention of the noble earl's, which, as soon as spread on quite hot, becomes so hard that a chissel cannot cut it, and it has the quality of resisting any force by its elasticity. His lordship's country seat is covered with the same composition, instead of lead.
Nautical Chronical, Vol. 18 (1807), pp 374-375.

Transcribed by Lars Bruzelius

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Copyright © 1996 Lars Bruzelius.