The Maritime History of the Great Lakes
Cathcart (Canal boat), 15 Aug 1871


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The steam propeller CATHCART, which is to compete for the one hundred thousand dollar prize for the best canal steamer, started for Buffalo last evening.
      Buffalo Commercial Advertiser
      July 22, 1871


      STEAM ON THE CANALS.
      Another Effort to Solve the Problem. Trial Trip of the CATHCART.
      ----------------------
      From the N. Y. World, July 22nd.
      The question of employing steam on the canal is one which has attracted the attention of the mercantile community for a long series of years, and many experiments have been made and different plans tried, none of which have as yet succeeded. Among the latest plan is one by Mr. J.S. Cathcart, which has been tried on the propeller CATHCART, and which is claimed to be an entire success. The improvement is a moveable joint on the shaft of the propeller, outside of the stern-post of the boat, by which the propeller can be moved laterally by a standard coming up like the rudder-head to the deck of the boat. On this is fitted a semi-circular yoke about five feet long, to each end of which is a chain fastened, the bugles passing round a wheel about a foot in diameter, which chain. Thus each motion of the rudder alters the direction of the propeller with the helm amidships; the pressure of the propeller is in the line of the keel of the boat, or directly aft as in ordinary boats, but as the rudder is moved the pressure is shifted to the quarter, thus making the propeller an aid to the rudder in steering the boat, and requiring so slight a deflection of the rudder that little or no swell is caused thereby. And this is the advantage claimed, that the boat will run without any wash to injure the banks of the canal, and will steer easily even when there is little more water in the canal than the boat draws.
      The CATHCART was built in Washington, D.C, in 1869. She is 98 feet over all, 17 feet 6 inches wide, and 8 1/2 feet deep, registers 93 63-100 tons, and will carry 175 tons of cargo, exclusive of her coal and water. She has a high-pressure boiler 16 feet long and 4 7-12 feet in diameter, on the locomotive pattern, made of the best charcoal iron, 5-16ths of an inch in thickness, and is allowed to carry a pressure of 100 lbs. to the square inch. Her engine is high pressure, with 12 inch cylinders and 12 inch stroke. The CATHCART has been running on the Schuykill Canal, where she has been said to have been very successful, and she now takes a cargo from this city to Buffalo via the Erie Canal, and will run on that water for a time to demonstrate the success of the new application of power. Previous to leaving yesterday afternoon, she went on a trial trip, having on board a small party of gentlemen who wished to observe her working. She had 160 tons of cargo on board at the time, and steamed about six knots per hour without making the least perceptible swell or wave in her wake, and her steering was admirable, being able to turn in little over her length. Immediately after landing her guests, the CATHCART started up the river for Buffalo.
      Buffalo Commercial Advertiser
      July 24, 1871
      . . . . .


      THE PRIZE CANAL-BOAT
      The first appearance of the steam canal boat CATHCART, in Buffalo Creek, yesterday morning, was witnessed with a lively degree of interest by the business men on Central Wharf. In passing up the Creek she looked like a diminutive lake propeller. Her bows rose high above the water, and her stern was low. On the deck forward is a pilot-house, and amidships is a small cabin. The boiler and machinery are in the after part of the hold. This boat was on a trial trip, and brought from New York 160 tons of coal.
      The CATHCART was built in Washington, D.C., in 1869, and has been running for a length of time on the Schuykill Canal, where she is said to have been quite successful. She is 98 feet over all, 17 1/2 feet wide, 8 1/2 feet hold and registers 93 63-100 tons. Her carrying capacity, exclusive of fuel and water, is 175 tons. She is provided with a high-pressure boiler, 16 feet long by 4 1/2 feet in diameter, of the locomotive pattern. The engines are 12 x 12 inches, and also high-pressure. The propelling power is a common screw wheel in her stern.
      The most interesting feature of the CATHCART's machinery is the steering apparatus, which worked admirably. The improvement consists of a moveable join on the shaft of the propeller, outside of the sternpost of the boat, by which the propeller can be moved laterally by a standard coming up like the rudder head to the deck of the boat. On this is fitted a semi-circular yoke about five feet long, to each end of which is a chain fastened, the bugles passing round a wheel about a foot in diameter, which is fastened to the rudder head, and fitted with cogs to catch the links of the chain. Thus the direction of the rudder and propeller are changed simultaneously, at the will of the helmsman. When going straight ahead, the direction of the rudder and wheel are on a line with the keel. But as the rudder is moved, the pressure of the wheel is shifted to the quarter, making the propeller power an aid to the rudder in steering the boat. With this arrangement a very slight deflection of the rudder produces a considerable change in the direction of the boat. It is claimed that the CATHCART steers easily in water only a few inches deeper than her draught. On leaving one of our elevators, loaded, she turned around in a space a little more than her own length, which is sufficient evidence of her good steering qualities.
      As a freight and tow-boat combined, the CATHCART may work on the Erie Canal successfully; but as a freight boat alone she cannot, to our mind, be run with profit. The great and fatal objection to her success is the amount of storage capacity occupied by her machinery. When fully loaded it was found that she has on only 4,150 bushels of corn, or about one half the quantity carried by horse boats now in use. Very neary one half the space of the boat's hold is taken up by her boiler and machinery. It is true, the CATHCART is not as large as a full sized Erie Canal boat; but, notwithstanding this, if the machinery cannot be arranged more compactly, the invention can never be used economically on the New York canals. However, sentence should not be passed until the CATHCART returns to the seaboard, and an opportunity has been given to the inventor to make the improvements which this trial cannot have failed to suggest.
      Buffalo Commercial Advertiser
      Wednesday, August 16, 1871



Media Type:
Text
Newspaper
Item Type:
Clippings
Notes:
trial trip
Date of Original:
1871
Subject(s):
Local identifier:
McN.E.1203
Language of Item:
English
Donor:
William R. McNeil
Copyright Statement:
Copyright status unknown. Responsibility for determining the copyright status and any use rests exclusively with the user.
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Cathcart (Canal boat), 15 Aug 1871