The Reliance Project 4 – floating batteries

William Fife's 1903 Amerca's Cup challenger showing her nickel steel plates in Erie Basin. Library of Congress

William Fife’s 1903 America’s Cup challenger Shamrock III showing her nickel steel plates in Erie Basin.
Library of Congress

The Herreshoff Marine Museum blog, supporting their project to build a one-sixth scale museum-quality fully rigged model of the 1903 America’s Cup defender, presently poses the question to metallurgists and engineers:

“… how susceptible to galvanic action was Reliance?”

The America’s Cup defending and challenging yachts of 1899 onwards were self-destructive from the moment of launch, such was the mix of metals employed in their – state of the art for the time – hull structures of aluminium, bronze, iron and steel.

As early as 1881, Scottish yacht designer G.L. Watson, lecturing at the Glasgow Naval and Marine Engineering Exhibition, had prophesied:

“… and when we do arrive at perfection in shape, we can set to then to look out for better material. The frames and beams, then, of my ideal ship shall be of aluminium, the plating below water of manganese bronze, and top-sides of aluminium, while I think it will be well to deck her too with that lightest of metals, as good yellow pine [‘white pine’ in USA – IM] will soon be seen only in a museum.”

Always one for a wry sense of humour, Watson concluded:

“For ballast, of course, we should have nothing but platinum, unless the owner grudged the expense, when we might put the top tier of gold.”

PBP_daisyMartin Black’s fabulous biography, G.L. Watson – The Art and Science of Yacht Design, shows how the Scottish yacht designer was the first to tank-test a sailing yacht of any kind – at the Denny Tank, Dumbarton – during his research for the design of Sir Thomas Lipton’s 1901 America’s Cup challenger, Shamrock II.

~ Iain McAllister ~

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About Peggy Bawn Press

496pg biography of Scottish yacht designer, George Lennox Watson (1851-1904). Significant book on the history of yacht design & the development of modern yachting. Beautifully illustrated. Many photographs previously unpublished.
This entry was posted in America's Cup, Big Class, boatbuilders, Clydebuilt, G.L. Watson, G.L. Watson clients, Irish yachting, Martin Black, naval architect, object of desire, other yacht designers, tank testing, yacht design and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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