CHAPTER V. THE AMERICAN PAPER BOAT AND ENGLISH CANOES.
"The paper is now subjected to the water-proof process, and the skin, with its keelson, inwales, and dead-woods attached, is then placed in the carpenter's hands, where the frame is completed in the usual manner, as described for wooden boats. The paper decks being put on, it is then ready for the brass, iron, and varnish work. As the skins of these boats (racing-shells) vary from one-sixteenth of an inch in the singles, to one-twelfth of an inch in the six-oared outriggers, the wooden frame becomes necessary to support and keep them in shape. In applying this invention to gigs, dingys, canoes, and skiffs, a somewhat different method is adopted. Since these boats are subjected to much hard service, and must be so constructed as to permit the occupant to move about in them as is usual in such craft, a light and strong frame of wood is prepared, composed of a suitable number of pairs of ribs, with stem and stern pieces cut from the natural crooks of hackmatack roots. These are firmly framed to two gunwales and a keelson, extending the length of the boat; the whole forming the skeleton shape of the desired model. The forms for these boats having been prepared, as already described for the racing-shells, and the frame being let into this form, so that the outer surface of the ribs, stem and stern pieces will conform with its outer surface, the paper skin is next laid upon it. The skin, manufactured from new, unbleached linen stock, is carefully stretched in place, and when perfectly dry is from one-tenth to three-sixteenths of an inch thick. Removed from the model, it is water-proofed, the frame and fittings completed, and the boat varnished. In short, in this class of boats, the shape, style, and finish are precisely that of wooden ones, of corresponding dimensions and class, except that for the usual wooden sheathing is substituted the paper skin as described.
"The advantages possessed by these boats over those of wood are:
"By the use of this material for the skins of racing-shells, where experience has demonstrated the smooth bottom to be the best, under-water lines of any degree of fineness can be developed, which cannot successfully be produced in those of wood, even where the streaks are so reduced in thickness that strength, stiffness, and durability are either wholly sacrificed or greatly impaired. In the finer varieties of 'dug-outs' equally fine lines can be obtained; but so delicate are such boats, if the sides are reduced to three-sixteenths of an inch or less in thickness, that it is found practically impossible to preserve their original forms for any length of time. Hence, so far as this point is concerned, it only remains for the builder to select those models which science, guided by experience, points out as the best.
The paper skin, after being water-proofed, is finished with hard varnishes, and then presents a solid, perfectly smooth, and horny surface to the action of the water, unbroken by joint, lap, or seam. This surface admits of being polished as smooth as a coach-panel or a mirror. Unlike wood, it has no grain to be cracked or split, it never shrinks, and, paper being one of the best of non-conductors, no ordinary degree of heat or cold affects its shape or hardness, and hence these boats are admirably adapted for use in all climates. As the skin absorbs no moisture, these boats gain no weight by use, and, having no moisture to give off when out of the water, they do not, like wooden boats, show the effect of exposure to the air by leaking. They are, therefore, in this respect always prepared for service.
The strength and stiffness of the paper shells are most remarkable. To demonstrate it, a single shell of twelve inch beam and twenty-eight feet long, fitted complete with its outriggers, the hull weighing twenty-two pounds, was placed on two trestles eight feet apart, in such a manner that the trestles were each the same distance from the centre of the cockpit, which was thus entirely unsupported. A man weighing one hundred and forty pounds then seated himself in it, and remained in this position three minutes. The deflection caused by this strain, being accurately measured, was found to be one-sixteenth of an inch at a point midway between the supports. If this load, applied under such abnormal conditions, produced so little effect, we can safely assume that, when thus loaded and resting on the water, supported throughout her whole length, and the load far more equally distributed over the whole frame, there would be no deflection whatever.