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Paddlewheels - A Question Of Balance ??

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Old 12-17-2007, 08:54 PM
Join Date: Aug 2007
Location: I presenbtly live in Covington , LA.
Posts: 673
Default Paddlewheels - A Question Of Balance ??

Greetings From New Orleans ,
From the first time I stood and looked in awe at the sheer size of the Str. Sprague's paddlewheel , as I stood on the Sun Deck ( the top deck ) of the Delta Queen and looked UP at the Sprague's wheel , I have often wondered just what factors dictated the deminsions and style of a steamboat's paddlewheel . Also , from my early days on the Str. Delta Queen when I was a deckhand and a actual working Mate on the boat , I spent countless hours in the Queen's wheel either replacing bucket boards or wheel arms and even then I wondered why the wheel was designed as it was and to meet what needs ? I believe its safe to say that on some boats the wheel just doesn't fit or look right such as the MQ's and I often wondered what engineer dreamed up this disaster ?? Also , I recall on the Str. Mississippi Queen , we had real issues with her wheel at first because on many occasions we experienced broken windows and terrified passengers from the drift wood that the wheel threw through those Paddlewheel Bar windows . From my early days on the Delta Queen , I would listen intently as those old and crusty pilots would often discuss what they considered what a perfect and all purpose paddlewheel should be and the general consenus was that a " Square " wheel was the ideal design for a boat's propulsion system . These same old Pilots also discussed both the merits and shortfalls of Split Wheels , Herring Bone Wheels and even the type of wood and materisls that should go into the makeup of an efficient and proper paddlewheel . Also , was the wheel's weight a contributing factor when it was first laid out on the boat's blueprints and did those early engineers also take into account the inevitable sinking of the stern over the lifetime of the boat ? My question for this board , was the paddlewheel designed for a specific need such as speed or backing ability or simply just any size and design that would " fit " on the fantail of the boat ?? Food for thought ?
Smoothe Sailing !
Ted Davisson
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Last edited by Franz Neumeier; 12-18-2007 at 01:36 AM.
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