The Winans Cigar Ships 1866

Sunday, June 30, 2013 0 comments

A   possible source for Jules Verne's Nautilus.

Found this article at the fantastic Vernian Era website. I have previously discussed another set of pages from this site in my School of Nautili post.   Michael Crisafulli has collected some wondeful information on various technologies that existed at the time Jules Verne was writing. Many of these were experimental and considered unworkable but they could easily have been used as inspiration by Verne.

A good example of such a technology was the Cigar Ships that the Winans Family of Baltimore, Maryland, built between 1858 and 1866.

 From the introduction:
The cigar ships were designed and built by the Winans family, successful railway engineers from Baltimore, Maryland who moved into marine engineering with enthusiasm and great expenditures of their family wealth, but less success.  Their radical marine design concept included an ultra-streamlined spindle-shaped hull with minimum superstructure.

The Winans constructed at least four ships between 1858 and 1866.  Two of these attracted considerable public attention as well as skepticism and outright criticism from the technical establishment.  Ross Winans and his sons were, first and foremost, engineers experimenting with innovative concepts.  The innovative technology would certainly have attracted Jules Verne's attention.  He may well have seen one of the boats sailing or berthed in England.  Some of their innovations were adopted for surface ships in the twentieth century, and many of the pioneer submarines built in the late nineteenth and early twentieth century resembled them.  Later in the twentieth century, aerodynamicists rediscovered the benefits of the spindle.

The site discusses the history of these odd vessels and many of the design problems that the Winans had to overcome.

The final ship built using this design was the yacht Ross Winans built in 1866.
From the website:
Ross Winans reconstruction - click for a 3-D viewThe Winans launched their final effort in 1866 in London.  The Ross Winans was 256 feet long with the same 16-foot diameter as their first boat and displaced about 400 tons.  It did have a nearly conventional superstructure atop the hull amidships, 130 feet long and ten feet wide, tapering to a point at each end.  Inverting the first design, it was driven by a 22-foot diameter propeller at each end.  These nine-bladed props were powered by an engine room amidships.   The Ross Winans underwent trials in the Solent channel but made no more than one or two coastal voyages, never going to sea in earnest. 
The woodcut at right, from The Illustrated London News, 3 Mar 1866, shows the stern-first launching of the Ross Winans.  The propeller mounts are visible, but the propellers have not yet been installed.
The launching of the Ross Winans at Millwall

Highly recommended reading this!

Check out the full article at: The Winans Cigar Ships

Keep your sightglass full, your firebox trimmed and your water iced.

More from "The Gentlemen's Book of Etiquette" 1860

Wednesday, June 19, 2013 0 comments

A Guide for Gentlemen
This section covers the thorny issue of how to behave at plays and musical venues taken from:


When you wish to invite a lady to accompany you to the theatre, opera, a concert, or any other public place of amusement, send the invitation the day previous to the one selected for taking her, and write it in the third person. If it is the first time you have invited her, include her mother, sister, or some other lady in the invitation.
If she accepts your invitation, let it be your next care to secure good seats, for it is but a poor compliment to invite a lady to go to the opera, and put her in an uncomfortable seat, where she can neither hear, see, nor be seen.

Although, when alone, you will act a courteous part in giving your seat to a strange lady, who is standing, in a crowded concert room, you should not do so when you are with a lady. By giving up your place beside her, you may place a lady next her, whom she will find an unpleasant companion, and you are yourself separated from her, when the conversation between the acts makes one of the greatest pleasures of an evening spent in this way. In case of accident, too, he deprives her of his protection, and gives her the appearance of having come alone. Your first duty, when you are escorting a lady, is to that lady before all others.

When you are with a lady at a place of amusement, you must not leave your seat until you rise to escort her home. If at the opera, you may invite her to promenade between the acts, but if she declines, do you too remain in your seat.

Let all your conversation be in a low tone, not whispered, nor with any air of mystery, but in a tone that will not disturb those seated near you.

Any lover-like airs or attitudes, although you may have the right to assume them, are in excessively bad taste in public.

If the evening you have appointed be a stormy one, you must call for your companion with a carriage, and this is the more elegant way of taking her even if the weather does not make it absolutely necessary.

When you are entering a concert room, or the box of a theatre, walk before your companion up the aisle, until you reach the seats you have secured, then turn, offer your hand to her, and place her in the inner seat, taking the outside one yourself; in going out, if the aisle is too narrow to walk two abreast, you again precede your companion until you reach the lobby, where you turn and offer your arm to her.

Loud talking, laughter, or mistimed applause, are all in very bad taste, for if you do not wish to pay strict attention to the performance, those around you probably do, and you pay but a poor compliment to your companion in thus implying her want of interest in what she came to see.

"The British Battle Fleet" 1912

Monday, June 17, 2013 0 comments


This monumental, 400 page, work was originally published in 1912 (and republished in 2003 by Conway Classics in the UK.) Written by Fred T. Jane, the founder of the influential Jane's series of military books and annual digests, this book chronicles the history of the British Battle Fleet, and the Royal Navy itself. From it's earliest days in the early medieval period, through the tumultuous 18th century and the massive technological changes of the 19th centuries and up to the massive scale and power of the British Fleets before WWI.

For anybody interested in the history of ships and the men who commanded and sailed them this is an absolute treasure. 

My copy is the 1912 edition and is in very good condition, given it's over a hundred years old! 

The book has many illustrations, some in colour, taken from paintings in the early years and photos of the late 19th and early 20th centuries.

There are lots of technical diagrams of deck and gun layouts after steam propulsion is introduced as well.

The first half of the book is an interesting history, covering much of the politics as well as the military actions of the early days of the Royal Navy. Jane covers many of the social and political issues in some detail, quoting from period sources when available. He covers the Great Mutinies at Spithead and the Nore in 1797 and discusses many of the causes and results of them on the subsequent social changes in ships crews.

He covers the period of the almost continuous warfare with France with lots of detail. That section alone is a treasure for anyone interested in what ships and fleets did what.

The second half of the book covers the period from the first introduction of steam propulsion to the development of  the "All Big Gun" Dreadnaught and all her subsequent, handsome and very lethal, kin.

Fred Jane has a good eye for the historical anecdote, as well as the technical detail he displayed in his original monographs covering the state of the world's navies since his first "All the World's Fighting Ships" of 1898 .  Jane is also not shy about making some sage predictions as to how the future would look given all the technological changes that had occurred in his own lifetime. Some of them turned out to be spectacularly wrong (entertaining none the less) and others prescient indeed, as the great cataclysm of WWI subsequently showed.

I highly recommend this book for anyone interested in the developments of the Battle Fleet from both a technical and social/political standpoint.

Keep your sightglass full, your firebox trimmed and your water iced.

The British Battle-Fleet
Its inception & growth throughout the centuries.

Fred T. Jane


S.W. Partridge & Co,., LTD. (1912)
Conway Maritime Press (2003)


How to Write a Telegram Properly 1928

Wednesday, June 12, 2013 0 comments

The wonders of modern telegraphy stop

This interesting document is a style guide for composing telegrams.

It was written in 1928 by Nelson E Ross and covers the then common practices associated with making sure that telegrams were being used efficiently.


 There is a lot of good information here on how to write telegrams efficiently and concisely. This was important since transmission of a telegram was charged by the word. There is also some good information on ways encrypt the transmission to save costs and insure security.

Here are some interesting examples:

How to Save Words -- Naturally, there is a right way and a wrong way of wording telegrams. The right way is economical, the wrong way, wasteful. If the telegram is packed full of unnecessary words, words which might be omitted without impairing the sense of the message, the sender has been guilty of economic waste. Not only has he failed to add anything to his message, but he has slowed it up by increasing the time necessary to transmit it. He added to the volume of traffic from a personal and financial point of view, he has been wasteful because he has spent more for his telegram than was necessary. In the other extreme, he may have omitted words necessary to the sense, thus sacrificing clearness in his eagerness to save a few cents.

If you are telegraphing the home folks that you expect to arrive on the 20th for that long planned visit, spell it out "twentieth." Two words are saved. The telegraph companies have nothing to sell but service. They undertake to transmit your message from point to point, speedily, accurately and secretly. The cheapest way of handling that message is invariably the safest way, and your cooperation is welcomed by the companies. When groups of figures are spelled out, the chance of an error in transmission is reduced to a minimum.

This apparently insignificant fact often is disregarded by users of the telegraph. Considered from the point of view of economy alone, the question of figures in telegrams is interesting. Any group of figures can be written out so that from two to three words are saved each time the group is used. Take for example the expression "one million." Written "one million" It counts two words. Written 1,000,000, the total count is seven words, and if the commas are to be sent also, the count is nine.
The suffixes "th," "rd," or "nd" appended to figures are counted as additional words. When the figures are spelled out, as in "fourth," "third," or "second," the count is automatically reduced.

How to Write Figures -- The following table illustrates the principles just set forth:
1st (two words) -- first (one word)
2nd (two words) -- second (one word)
3rd (two words) -- third (one word)
100 (three words) -- one hundred (two words)
1000 (four words) -- one thousand (two words)
1,0000 (five words) -- ten thousand (two words) etc

How Unnecessary Words Creep In -- To paraphrase, "Brevity is the soul of telegraphy." Except perhaps in the case of a long Night Letter, the practice of adding such words as "Dear Madam." or "Dear Sir," at the beginning of the message, is obsolete. This likewise applies to such phrases as "Yours very truly," "Yours sincerely," etc., commonly used in closing a letter. These words are charged for, and so accustomed is the public to telegraphic brevity, that their use often produces amusement rather than the expression of formality which the sender desired.
When telegrams are received without the well known title of "Mr." do not censure the sender as lacking in respect. To insure accuracy in transmission the title is omitted lest through inadvertence it should be confused with "Mrs." or "Miss." "Esquire" also is dropped in transmission.

An entertaining and useful little pamphlet that can help you add some telegraphic style to your next email.


Steampunk Train Battleship

Friday, June 7, 2013 0 comments

Battleship on rails!

This video shows the first live steam powered trial of  the Steampunk Rail Battleship Barnum's Dream.

From YouTube:

Published on Apr 14, 2013
Battleship train ship model with cannons and lasers that fire. It has many handmade moving parts that are driven by a live steam engine. The video is a depiction of it's first trial run, with some animation and effects thrown in. It was made from over 50 found parts and took over 2500 hours to construct. Except for the steam engine, which was modified, it is totally hand built using ordinary home tools.
It is almost four feet tall and 51 inches long. Hope you enjoy.
 You can get lots of information on the model and how it was built at the blog here:
Steampunk Machine "Barnum's Dream"

Now that is my kind of model!

keep your sightglass full, your firebox trimmed and your water iced.

Uniform Bits and Pieces

Wednesday, June 5, 2013 0 comments


This site has an amazing amount of British Victorian era uniforms available.
Definitely worth checking out.
I have not purchased anything from them so I would be interested in haring from anybody who has.
Keep your sightglass full, your firebox trimmed and your water iced.

 The Victorian   Strollers
Uniforms and Accoutrements of The British Army
throughout the Empire of Queen Victoria.
Britain and the Colonies

"Steam Powered USB drive"

Saturday, June 1, 2013 0 comments

Sort of.
This is a noisy, but very cool device for carrying all those pdfs of old books and manuals around.

Keep your sightglass full, your firebox trimmed and your water iced.

About Gears, Goggles, and Steam oh My!

Here I collect interesting bits of information related to the world of Steampunk.

Category List

Absinthium (12) accessories (15) Airships (65) Art (1) Beakerhead (3) Books (65) comics (5) computation (11) costumes (16) etiquette (18) events (29) fiction (77) Flight Engineer (30) Fun (57) games (36) history (106) howto (21) Inventions (57) manners (6) Meetup Repost (90) movies (3) music (4) Musings (44) mystery (23) news (8) Parasol Duelling (44) Photos (66) Pie In the Sky (3) poetry (1) resources (50) Role Playing (49) Serial Story (18) Ships (39) Steam (34) Steampunk Sports (24) Tesla (13) video (77) website (57) What Ifs (16)

Recent Comments

Theme images by sndr. Powered by Blogger.