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Paper Boat

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So I was curious and as usual bored and decided upon studying a topic that has caught my interest: full size paper boats. Apparently before the advent of the 1900’s, paper was considered the carbon fiber material of its’ day. Clothes, railroad car wheels, boats, furniture, houses and many many other things (colleges even had those astrological telescope domes made from it to cut weight) were made from the material for about fifty years. You see, paper was a very hard commodity to create until the advent of a continuous rolling stock paper maker (you know those big spools of paper that you see being used to print newspapers). Before then, paper had to be made by the sheet and then squeezed dry. Quality was different from sheet to sheet and the supplies were limited and hence, expensive. Once paper became a quickly produced commodity, people rushed to its’ use in many different objects and the Paper Mache industry sprang up to make lots of useful items from it.

One of which, was the paper boat. Originally an experiment by Elisha and George Waters in Troy New York, it became a fast success beating many other competitors on regatta races (it was lighter and faster). Pretty soon boats were being made with sails and larger capacities and sailed the Mississippi river network as well as the Atlantic seaboard. After a major fire bankrupted the Water’s company (who made many of the high quality processes and kept it secret), the paper composites industry fell apart, ending its’ use and relegating paper to the now humble writing medium.

I became intrigued by the idea of building a boat out of cardboard, paper mache, newspapers and the like and attempting to see if a small amount of history can be reclaimed and enjoyed (after all, cardboard, old newspapers, and many of the materials can be had for free and flour costs a few dollars to make the starchy glue). The limiting factors would be strength, good design, and the final layers being made water proofed via urethane or wax or oils.

I shall begin studying this subject in greater detail and then decide if it is work the effort as an enjoyable and sufficiently eccentric hobby!


The Paper Boat Page <- Lots of historical info, a must read!!!


Written by Josecito

June 1, 2011 at 7:37 pm

Posted in Uncategorized

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