capstan 

A metal spool for winding up a rope. Placed upright on the deck, the capstan may be revolved manually or mechanically. Early in the steamboat era they were turned by hand, but in later years most boats utilized steam-powered capstans. A capstan bar is a wooden club, similar to a baseball bat, that can be inserted into a hole in the capstan to facilitate winding. Bitts at the bottom prevent the line from reversing itself. When steam operated, several gears were used to regulate the rate of revolution. A capstan could be used to pull a boat to shore, if necessary.



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