The idea of creating a self-propelled ship that could sail against the wind and currents, come to people for a long time. Particularly acute need for such courts felt when climbing up the river. Go Sailing, following the tortuous channel with complex fairway, it was often impossible to move the oars against the current - hard. For lifting the boatmen had to hire, but they performed this work very slowly. Already in the Middle Ages, some have suggested the use of mechanics for the movement of the ship the water wheel, which would result in the action of humans or animals (description of the mover is given in an ancient manuscript in about the year 527). However, the real opportunity to build a fleet self-propelled vessel with a large carrying capacity appeared only after the invention of the steam engine. The first in the history of the ship was built by American Fitch. He built in 1787 the second ship "Perseverans". Interestingly, in both cases, Fitch refused to use the paddle wheel. At the first steamer machine resulted in the movement of the paddle, so that it moves in the manner of the galleys.
Fitch himself in 1786 described the movement of the vessel, "the piston stroke length is about 3 feet, and his every movement along the cylinder 40 causes the output shaft speed. Each roll should turn drive the 12 spade oars with the labor movement is 5 feet 6 inches. These paddles are moved vertically, mimicking the motion of the oars in the hands of the rower on the boat. When 6 oars (after a stroke - stroke) rise out of the water, the other 6 are immersed for the next stroke. Two oars move (forward and back along the course of the vessel) make up about 11 feet and can be obtained in a single revolution of the shaft. " As the drawing attached to the description of Fitch, paddles were mounted on frames; on each side of the vessel had three pairs of interconnected oars. Movement is hilarious as the inventor says, were similar to the movement of the hand paddle without oarlocks. The second boat Fitch oars were replaced propeller, the use of which the inventor is much ahead of his time. In 1788, "Perseverans" has made regular flights between Philadelphia and Burlington, carrying 30 passengers. In all, he took about 1,000 kilometers. Despite the apparent success of the experiments Fitch, his invention was not obtained at the time of development, and died with the inventor. But we can not say that it was not its consequences. The United States was the country where the need was felt particularly acutely in the self-propelled vehicle. Good roads or tracks here were very few. The only means of communication remained the river. Previously, others appreciated the possibility steamer Judge Livingston. He did not understand the technical details, but it was a very sophisticated businessman, and quickly realized that the proper scope and a good business organization steamship can give a very good profit. In 1798, Livingston won the right to establish regular steamship service on the Hudson River. The case remained for small - it did not have a steamer. A few years Livingston tried to build a steam ship, involving different mechanics. several steam ships were made, but they developed the speed of no more than 5 km / h. To think such steamers of regular shipping was premature. Lost faith in local mechanics, Livingston in 1801 went to France. Here he met his compatriot Robert Fulton, who many thought the project ship, but this time he worked on the creation of a submarine. However, the implementation of the two projects he had no money. The meeting was decisive. Livingston finally found the right mechanics and Fulton - businessman ready to fund his work. In the autumn of 1802 an agreement was concluded between them. Fulton promised to build a steam ship, capable of carrying 60 passengers at a speed of 13 km / h, and Livingston - pay all operating expenses. Profits derived from the operation of the ship, was divided in half.
Fulton's first experiments with self-propelled vessels dating back to 1793, when he was researching the different types of paddle wheel, came to the conclusion that the best would be a wheel with three or six blades. In 1794, having been in Manchester, he was convinced that the best engine for the self-propelled ship may only be Watt steam engine double acting. In subsequent years, Fulton lot of thought over form, projections and outlines vessel. Before the construction, he went to the water in Plombieres here experimented with meter model, driven by a spring.
In the spring of 1803 in Paris, Fulton began construction of its first ship. He was a flat-bottomed, with no protruding keel, carvel-built. Watt's steam engine was rented from a friend, but the transmission mechanism scheme Fulton invented himself. Built ship was not strong enough - the case could not stand the gravity of the machine. Once during a heavy sea at the bottom of the Seine break and to borrow the car, along with all the equipment went to the bottom. With great difficulty, managed to get it all on the surface, the Fulton brutally cold during the rescue operations. It was soon built a new, much more rugged vessel, which had 23 m in length and 2 to 5 m in width. In August of 1803 it was carried out a trial test. Within a half hour the ship was moving at a speed of 5 km / h, and showed good maneuverability.
First Fulton offered his ship to Napoleon, but he was not interested in the invention. In the spring of 1804 Fulton went to England. Where he unsuccessfully tried to inspire the British Government of its submarine project and at the same time allowing for the manufacture of the steam engine by Boulton and Watt. In the same year he went to Scotland to get acquainted with the Symington built there by boat "Charlotte Dundas." (Symington was probably the first European machinery to cope successfully with the construction of self-propelled steam vessel. Even in 1788, commissioned by the large Scottish landowner Patrick Miller, he built a small ship with a steam engine. The steamer was tested on Delsuintonskom lake in Scotland and has a top speed up to . 8 km / h and a half decades later, Symington built a second ship -. the above-mentioned "Charlotte Dundas" for owners Force Klaydonskogo channel It was intended for the transportation of cargo barges) steamboat Symington was undoubtedly a successful model.. The average speed of it without a loaded barge was about 10 km / h. However, this experience is not interested in English. The ship was pulled ashore and doomed to be scrapped. Fulton was present at the "Charlotte" trials and had the opportunity to familiarize themselves with its device.
Meanwhile, Livingston persistently called Fulton in America. His brother in law and rival Stevens began in 1806 the construction of the steamship "Phoenix", hoping to get the privilege of the route New York - Albany, term which expired at Livingstone in 1807. We had to hurry with the construction of his ship. Fulton came to New York in December 1806. Since the beginning of the spring housing the ship was laid down. Soon arrived from England earlier ordered Watt's steam engine. Installing it on the boat was very difficult. All questions Fulton had to resolve itself, as in the whole of New York, he was unable to find any skilled mechanic. The ship, named later "Claremont" was a relatively small vessel. He had a tonnage of 150 tons, hull length of 43 m, engine power 20 hp On it two masts were installed, and as soon as possible to help the machines raised the sails.
Machine part consisted of the boiler in the form of a trunk length of 6 m and a height and width of more than 2 m and vertical steam cylinder. On both sides of the cylinder are two triangular iron rocker were suspended. Based on these triangles were about 2, 1 meter. Balancers have been strengthened at the general strong iron rod, so that worked together. At the upper end of the piston rod had a T-piece: a solid iron bar, to move in the guides on both sides of the cylinder. From each end of the part going down the strong bands of wrought iron (rods) which connect the pins with the ends of the beams. The other ends of the triangles with cast iron counterweights. From the top of each triangle rod was connected to the crank arranged on each of the propeller shafts of the wheels; close to each crank located cast iron wheels with a diameter of about 1, 5 m. Each of them are driven by a gear wheel diameter of about 0, 7 m. Both gears have been planted on a common shaft, centered on the flywheel with a diameter of 3 m.
Nothing special this ship did not differ from their earlier predecessors, but it was destined to open a new era in the history of navigation. In the same 1807 "Claremont" he went on its maiden voyage ended quite successfully. Delighted with the results of this trip, Fulton wrote to a friend: "I was ahead of all the boats and schooners, and it seemed that they are anchored. Now fully proved the suitability of steam power to propel ships. On this day, when I left New York, hardly 30 people would have believed that my boat will take at least one mile per hour. When we moved away from the pier, where there were many curious onlookers, I heard pretty sarcastic remarks. So always welcome irresponsible people whom they called "philosophers" and "schemer". " In all the way from New York to Albany, stretching 150 miles, perfect against the current and the winds, "Claremont" spent 32 hours covering the entire distance solely by steam engine. After some improvements in the design of their offspring Fulton established regular flights on this waterway. On the boat there were three large cabins. One - 36, other - 24, the third - to 18 passengers with 62 beds. In addition, it housed the kitchen, pantry and storage room. For all passengers establishes uniform rules. ( "Gentlemen" Among them were those who were forbidden under threat of penalty to lie in boots on the bed or sit on the table.) The trip from New York to Albany cost seven dollars, at prices that time there were many. However, from those who had no curfew.
During the first year of operation "Claremont" made revenues of 16 thousand dollars. In subsequent years, the company Fulton-Livingston built several steam ships. In 1816, it owned 16 steamers. One of them, "CT", had already 60-strong car and tonnage of about 500 m. The owners of sailing and rowing boats on the Hudson met the steamer very hostile from the beginning to see him as their formidable competitor. They now and then adjusts the collision of ships to barges and barges or arranged on their way congestion. In 1811 it was adopted a special law, which threatened severe punishment for deliberate damages caused by ships.
Although Fulton himself has repeatedly stressed that the idea of the ship does not belong to him, that he first successfully put it into practice, and with his light hand Company began to develop rapidly, first in America and then throughout the world. In 1840 in the United States only on one of the Mississippi and its tributaries cruised for over thousands of river steamers. At the same time, steam vessels began to develop sea routes. In 1819, the steamer "Savannah" for the first time crossed the Atlantic and arrived in America from England.