December 9, 2020

This Week in Herreshoff History: December 10

A successful launch trial, a lengthy report on HMCo. goings-on, subcontractors hired in for a planking job, and a shipment of Tobin bronze arrives from Ansonia

December 13, 1884

A successful trial for Jay Gould's new steam launch (HMCo. #119) has taken place, according to the Bristol Phoenix. This triple cockpit, 35' LOA launch was later named SURPRISE. She performed well in trials, making 14.4 mph. It might seem odd to consider a 35' launch to be a small tender, but SURPRISE would have been dwarfed by the vessel she tended, Gould's ATALANTA. SURPRISE was shipped to Gould and ATALANTA in New York aboard the steamer A.C. BARSTOW this week 136 years ago, according to the Phoenix report. the AMOS C. BARSTOW was built by the NY shipbuilders Lawrence and Foulks in 1873 and worked a regular route between New York and Providence.

Two views of the half model for the 35' steam launch HMCo. #119; model currently on display in the HMM Model Room
Half of ATALANTA, pictured at right; HMM archive

December 7, 1894

This week the Phoenix ran an unusually long column about activities in and around HMCo. so here it is in its entirety! Who and what are we talking about here? See if you recognize any boats from the descriptions, or scroll down for the "who's who" links...

Excerpted from the Bristol Phoenix, Friday December 7, 1894; click here to see the original page in its entirety.

In order of appearance (to the tune of "Twelve Days of Christmas"?), click to learn more about "The Hostetter steam yacht," "J.B. Herreshoff's new steam yacht," "two 20-raters" (here's one, and two) and the "one cup defender,"... etc. (there wasn't a second that year, as it happens). You can also read more about the new set of ways and the planned storage and maintenance facility at Walker's Cove in one of our previous "This Week in Herreshoff History" posts. Quite a busy December scene!

December 12, 1899

The Phoenix reports that things are so busy at HMCo., the Herreshoffs have engaged building contractors J.H. Wall & Co. to do the planking and decking for the NY70 class under construction. Perhaps subcontractors could have been a convenient excuse for the subsequent notoriously leaky performance of the NY70 class? Entertaining as it is to wonder, it is more likely the NY70s extreme size and overhangs combined with material choices and structural details were to blame for the class's poor reception and short lifespan. They were also designed at the end of the period leading up to the adoption of the Universal Rule, when emphasis on short waterlines was tempered to promote fewer scow-like designs with such extraordinary overhangs.

MINEOLA (HMCo. #529) was the first of the four NY70s built in the winter of 1899 - 1900; photo originally published in Rudder Magazine, June 1900, image courtesy the HCR

December 12, 1902

Only the best material for America's Cup Defenders! The Phoenix reports that HMCo. has received a shipment of Tobin bronze from Ansonia, CT. Tobin bronze, also known as naval brass, is an alloy of copper, zinc and tin. 44 "steel bulbed angles" were also reported to have arrived from Pennsylvania. The Cup Defender then under construction was, of course, RELIANCE (HMCo. #605). Tobin bronze was used for the hull plating, while nickel steel was used for the web frames, and aluminum plating for the deck.

RELIANCE (HMCo. #605) below deck, looking aft during construction. The web frames visible in this photo were steel; HMM photo archive