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Blast from the Past by H. Ashley, The Rudder, v.15, 1904, p. 675.

We love our old magazines so here is a little treasure from the dusty old pages.

A Land Yacht

At the time of the great French war a British frigate that was on blockade duty off the coast near Quieberon, stood too far in to reconnoitre, and being caught by a calm and heavy swell went on a reef and was totally wrecked. The officers and crew escaped to the shore and were made prisoners by the enemy's coast guard. The French custom was to send all seamen taken as far inland as possible so they might not be retaken or escape to their fleets, and the officers and crew of this frigate were shipped far into the interior of the country.

Away from the sea, a captive in an inland town the captain of the frigate cast about for some form of amusement, and struck upon the happy idea of building a landboat, upon which to sail the French highways. The boat was built, and though a heavy and clumsy contrivance proved a success. Since then in many countries land yachts have been built, but they have been all make shift craft, of misfit materials and cannot have been either very fast or good handlers. There was one built to sail on a railroad track, which, if the owner didn't lie, made forty miles an hour.

The one whose plan is here given was designed by Mr. Ashley and as will be readily seen is an adaptation of his iceboat to land locomotion. Whether it will sail or not neither the designer nor the Editor can say, as they have had no opportunity to build and try one. I was anxious to build and sail the boat before printing the plans, but had no chance to do so, so we do not guarantee that the thing will be a success. Failure be upon your own head if you build it and it don't go or goes too much. The plans were made about two years ago and since then I have had dozens of letters asking me to print them; this I do to stop the outcry.

The construction of the wheels and steering gear you will have to work out yourself, as we have not done so, and couldn't very well without building a boat. I would advise putting a bogie under the extreme end of the bow sprit, so should she try to trip, it would probably save a smash up. This same craft with sleds under her would make a good snowboat. If anyone builds be sure and send us a photo and story.

Construction of Land Yacht

Side bars and hull - Are made of two seasoned basswood sticks 17-3/4 feet long, 1-7/8 inches wide, and with a depth of 6-1/2 inches at wheel plank, tapering to 2-7/8 inches at bow and 4 inches at stern. The mast plank is made of spruce, 9 inches wide, 6 feet 3 inches long and 1 inch thick at ends, and 1-7/8 at center, the crown being on upper side. A spreading bar is placed 11-1/2 feet aft of the bow, and measures 5 feet long, 2 inches wide, depth at ends 4-1/2 inches, center 6 inches, with crown on lower side. On each end where in contact with side rail on upper side is screwed a wrought iron plate pierced for screws. Dimension of plates are 2 by 5 inches, and 3-16 thick. Fasten spreader bar with lag screws, piercing side bars with them. At the bow on upper and lower side is a triangular piece of oak, 7/8 of an inch in thickness. Between these two pieces of oak, and where the side bars meet at bow, is filled in with a solid block of pine. The stern is treated the same as the bow.

Wheel plank -The wheel plank is of basswood and is 10 feet long, width at center 11 inches and at ends 4 inches. Depth at center 4-1/2 inches, at ends 2-3/4 inches. Two oak braces measuring 1 foot 2 inches long, 5 inches high (being triangular shape), and 2 inches wide. They are of white oak and fastened to wheel plank with lag screws. The full spread of side bars when they come in contact with the braces is 6 feet 2 inches. The side bars are fastened to the wheel plank by U irons, ending in a thread with nut. The diameter of these irons is 5/8 of an inch and they are flattened where they come in contact with the side bars. The axle of the wheels are bolted to under side at the ends of wheel plank.

Rigging -The shrouds and jib stay are 1/4 inch plough steel standing rigging with a breaking strain of 3 tons. Turnbuckles for shrouds, of manganese bronze with forged ends of Tobin bronze, breaking strain of 3 tons, and are a fork and eye style, size of an inch thread. The bobstay is spread with two wrought iron struts fastening at under side of mast plank and at lower side of spreader bar. The bobstay is 3/8 galvanized standing yacht rigging with a breaking strain of 4 tons. It is tightened with a Manganese turnbuckle, each with an eye, size 1/2 inch thread. The blocks required are of bronze, size No. 1- 1 block, style G; 1 block, style F; 1 block, style E with becket; 1 block, style C; 1 block, style E- these are for halyards. For the sheet there should be 2 No. 1 blocks, style F, and 1 block, style D. The running rigging is 3/8 manilla bolt-rope. If a spreader is required at masthead use 1/4 inch steel wire rope for the spreader stay.

Spars and sails -The length of spars are as follows: Mast 16 feet 3 inches; boom 16 feet 3 inches; gaff 10 feet; jib boom 5 feet 3 inches.

Cleats, etc. -Two hollow brass cleats for sheets, measuring 4-1/2 inches. Three brass belaying pins for halyards, 7-1/2 inches long. The measurement of the sails: Mainsail hoist 10 feet 9 inches; leach 21 feet 9 inches; gaff 9 feet 6 inches; boom 15 feet 9 inches; jib on stay 11 feet 6 inches; hoist 10 feet 3 inches; foot 5 feet. The sails should be made of very light but strong material and densely woven.

Cockpit -Is formed of netting either of wire or rope, but if boarding is preferred, 5/8 tongue and grooved pine can be used.

Wheels - Diameter of the wheels 28 inches.


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