Bizarre Ships of the Nineteenth Century- Cigar Ships 1

It’s been a while since I posted anything from this book. I’m back with one of teh longer chapters.

The Cigar Ship was the brainchild of a pair of brothers, Ross and Thomas Winans, who had made their money on the American railways. They launched their first cigar ship in 1858 in Baltimore. The idea was to remove all the flat and square sections that water could pool on or crash against on a conventional cross section and have a boat that flowed through waves rather than fighting against them and pushing over them. With a huge rotating propeller, actually a modified paddle from a river steamer, mounted amidships and rudders at each end, this first ship was not a great success.

After another two prototypes, one intended as a showcase for Russia’s czar, the largest of the Winan’s ships was the steam yacht Ross Winans, launched from hepworth’s Yard on the Isle of Dogs in 1866. This time the vessel had propellers at either end and a slightly more orthodox superstructure. A swinging “ballast donkey” counteracted the ship’s instability, swinging left or right depending on the rotation of the prop shafts and by amounts based upon the steam pressure of the engine.

The Ross Winans wasn’t a success and never truly put to sea but for a few short coastal runs and trials on the Solent. The basis of its design was reused in the 1880 in HMS Polyphemus, a ram ship, and American whaleback steamers.

The Winans’ Cigar ships. Heavily researched and with a lot more images.
Winans’ family papers
3dCAD’s model of the Ross Winans (membership required to download).
HMS Polyphemus, wikipedia entry, the ship may have appeared in War of the Worlds as HMS Thunder Child, a larger wiki entry, the National Maritime Museum has a model
The whaleback Christopher Columbus, subject of an eponymous film, Lake Superior shipwrecks, model of the Columbus, two, three, more models here

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