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Rowing Equipment Patents (U.S.)

Bill Miller

We often think that major improvements in rowing equipment occurred fairly recently, but many, if not most improvements, were patented many, many decades ago with most well over 100 years old. A good example is the sliding rigger that was raced at the World Championships in the early 1980s and then banned at FISA championships. It was patented at the U.S. Patent Department in 1876 (#184,031 - William N. Blakeman Jr.).

We can get a great perspective on how our sport developed by reviewing these patents. Listed here are some of the U.S. Patents issued. I've tried to include inventions that have some relationship to racing and training. I've ignored patents that relate to non-competitive rowing such as most gunwale mounted oarlocks.

Ebay has a great service where you can search for patents. Go to Ebay Patent Search and browse around.

Rowing Related U.S. Patents:
        #            Year    Owner                       Title/description

     39,188     1863  W H Willard                 Oar Lock   
                                                                    folding thole pins

      79,421    1868  E & G A Waters           Improvement in Construction of Boats
                                                                    paper boats  (3435 revised)

     83,804     1868  P Shelton Tyler             Improvement in Paper Boats

   107,439     1870  Walter Brown               Sliding Seat
                                                                    "Water's" sliding seat?

   116,417     1871  William B Curtis            Rowing Machine   
                                                                    flywheel & ratchet rowing machine

   137,394     1873  Leonard D Tice             Improvement In Exercising Machines
                                                                    flywheel type rowing machine

   138,388     1873  Thomas Fearon             Row-Locks  
                                                                    trunnion tilting & pivoting oarlocks

   148,434     1874  Charles B Elliot             Improvement In Steering Devices  
                                                                    foot stretcher steering

   149,913     1874  John Blakey                   Sliding-Seats for Row-Boats  
                                                                    oiled / glass rods

   156,392     1874  Leonard D Tice             Rowing Exercise Apparatus    
                                                                    piston-valve rowing machine

   161,629     1875  George W Moore         Machine for Rowing Exercise
                                                                    variable resistance rowing machine

   165,072     1875  Michael F Davis            Improvement In Rowlocks
                                                                    swivel oarlock

   169,277     1875  William Lyman              Improvement In Oars
                                                                    reverse rowing gear

   173,220     1876  Frederic A Gower         Row-Lock   
                                                                    oarlock w/ stops to prevent "wabbling and crabs"

   183,265     1876  George W Isaacs          Swinging-Out Riggers For Row-Boats

   184,031     1876  William N Blakeman Jr  Sliding Row-Locks
                                                                    sliding rigger/footboard

   185,032     1876  George W Isaacs Jr       Sliding Row-Lock 
                                                                    sliding oarlock moveable by sliding seat

   188,131     1877  David Harrington           Sliding Outriggers For Boats 
                                                                    arcing oarlock/pin facilitated by sliding seat

   190,793     1877  William Spelman            Improvement In Rowlocks
                                                                    square shaped swivel oarlock

   191,923     1877  Mason Britton               Protection-Tips For Oar-Blades
                                                                    sheet metal attachment

   192,271     1877  John McLaughlin           Exercising-Machine     
                                                                    elastic resistance home rowing machine

   199,011     1878  John A Baines               Improvement In Rowlocks
                                                                    swivel oarlock w/pivoting/locking gate

   199,432     1878  George Goldie               Rowing-Machine   
                                                                    friction resistance rowing machine

   203,973     1878  William H Wilcox          Exercising Machine     
                                                                    mechanical resistance rowing machine

   206,214     1878  Samuel M Barnet          Improvement In Exercising-Machines
                                                                    elastic, rocking seat Parlor Gymnasium

   207,070     1878  R Roberts &                 Outrigger and Rowlock for Boats
                                        J L Knight            locking gate swivel oarlock

   207,465     1878  John Weyman                Improvement In Rowlocks
                                                                    racing sculls oarlock with free horizontal, vertical and partial rotary movements

   208,954     1878  William J O Bryon Jr     Exercising Machine     
                                                                    elastic resistance rowing machine

   209,377     1878  Will J Britt                     Improvement In Exercising-Machines 
                                                                    elastic straps attached to oars outboard

   209,960     1878  Michael F Davis            Outrigger-Boat   
                                                                    sliding rigger, oarlock, rigger fittings

   210,502     1878  Nathan B Cook             Improvement In Oars And Oar-Locks
                                                                    forward facing oar gear

   214,911     1879  John P Herrick              Improvement In Construction Of Boats     
                                                                    racing shell laminate made of cloth instead of paper

   218,736     1878  John W Heenan             Improvement In Rowing-Exercise Machines  
                                                                    outboard adjustable friction bearing

   222,024     1879  James H Dennis            Improvement In Sleds
                                                                    outrigger sled with oar type implements

   224,415     1880  Charles L French           Rowing-Wagon     
                                                                    oar-handle driven, 4-wheel sliding seat road vehicle

   228,040     1880  J T Coughlin &              Construction of Boats  
                                      A G Sneider           cork laminate shell

   228,277     1880  Frank Saunders             Exercising Machine     
                                                                    air pump resistance rowing machine

   228,800     1880  A Barker &                   Exercising Machine     
                                       E Anderson           flywheel w/ air governor rowing machine

   230,314     1880  Richard McManus         Oar
                                                                    oar blade with holes and slots to reduce jarring

   230,690     1880  Eugene A Bennett          Rowing Gear for Racing Boats 
                                                                    sliding outrigger

   230,838     1880  C E Triple &                 Rowing Vehicle   
                                       W H Roff              oar handle driven 3-wheel sliding seat road vehicle

       9,269     1880  Michael F Davis            Row Lock   
                                                                    (reissued pat) improved swivel oarlock

   231,016     1880  Michael F Davis            Oar and Scull    
                                                                    oar loom shape, offset handle, loom stiffener

   231,017     1880  Michael F Davis            Foot Boat and Steering Apparatus
                                                                    pivoting steering shoe

    11,825      1880  Egerton A Bliss             Design For Watch-Chain
                                                                    jewelry chain with sculls and shell

   239,872     1881  Charles T Soniat            Seat for Row-Boats     
                                                                    seat wheels/keeper

   242,073     1881  Charles A Terry            Exercising-Machine
                                                                    variable spring resistance rowing machine

   243,309     1881  Frank Saunders             Exercising Or Rowing Machines
                                                                    center piston rowing machine

   245,378     1881  Herman Hirsch              Oar  
                                                                    undulating blade shape

   249,644     1881  John R Lomas               Apparatus For Practice Rowing
                                                                    device to measure power

   255,265     1882  Thomas Fearon             Sliding Seat For Row-Boats   
                                                                    reduced friction wheels

   258,773     1882  John M Laflin                Exercising Apparatus   
                                                                    rowing machine w/coil springs

   259,826     1882  Michael F Davis            Molded Boat From Celluloid
                                                                    Boat mold and injection ports

   260,341     1882  Richard D Williams        Oar Lock   
                                                                    one piece swivel oarlock w/ top bar angled to allow oar insertion

   263,025     1882  Charles A Corwin         Rowing Gear For Boats
                                                                    one handle operates two oars facing forward

   269,924     1883  Charles B Elliott            Outrigger Oarlock
                                                                    arcing oarlock/pin facilitated by sliding seat

   271,441     1883  Thomas Fearon             Outrigger Boat   
                                                                    rigger fittings/oar lock

   276,294     1883  F D Smith &                  Rowing Apparatus 
                                        W L Casaday       forward facing rowing mechanism

   282,589     1883  John H Trowbridge       Machine For Exercising...    
                                                                    straight-line chain drive rowing machine

   282,853     1883  Michael F Davis            Row Boat   
                                                                    rigger support, seating divisions, wind balance, veneer stringers

   282,854     1883  Michael F Davis            Rowlock    
                                                                    bearing oarlock w/stop and matching roller bearing oar sleeve

   282,855     1883  Michael F Davis            Row Boat Seat    
                                                                    anti-friction roller bearing tripod seat

   282,856     1883  Michael F Davis            Oar  
                                                                    girder loom, rubber grip

   288,219     1883  Leonard W Elliott          Velocipede 
                                                                    drum clutch, 3-wheel land rowing rowing machine

   291,533     1884  C P Pitman &                Manufacture Of Boats From Celluloid
                                          H Allaire             celluloid laminate shell

   294,029     1884  John C Garrood             Sliding Seat For Boats 
                                                                    roller bearing sliding seat

   298,392     1884  John M Laflin                 Exercising Apparatus
                                                                    friction resistance rowing machine

   300,915     1884  George B Stanton          Oar
                                                                    a way to attach a metal blade

   304,142     1884  William Spelman            Rowing Apparatus Or Exercising Machine   
                                                                    rowing box on tracks with outboard pegs

   304,474     1884  James J Turpel              Seat And Foot-Board For Row-Boats  
                                                                    spring return sliding seat mechanism

   305,198     1884  Daniel E Kempster        Rowing Vehicle   
                                                                    3-wheel sliding seat road vehicle

   317,430     1885  Ellis F Ward                  Rowlock For Racing Boats     
                                                                    swivel oarlock with pinned gate

   323,292     1885  George Briggs               Rowing Appliance 
                                                                    captive boat in water pool

   330,841     1885  Jacob L Kwarel            Bow Facing Oar and Oar Lock  
                                                                    reverse gear

   337,942     1886  Bernard Farley              Exercising-Machine     
                                                                    pulley weight machine

   346,745     1886  Chauncey M Hall          Bow Facing Oar
                                                                    reverse gear oar

   348,619     1886  Charles E Courtney       Velocipede
                                                                    3-wheel land rower

   352,329     1886  Edward J Kerns            Rowlock    
                                                                    double-motion (swivel at base & lateral pivot) oarlock

   356,846     1887  Frank F Martin              Oarsman's Harness
                                                                    a harness connecting back, shoulders arms and oar handle

   358,034     1887  George W Green           Oar Or Scull Blade     
                                                                    sheet metal oar or scull blade

   359,130     1887  Evington W Case          Balanced Oar-Handle
                                                                    attachable metal oar handle

   368,111     1887  Robert Reach                Exercising Machine     
                                                                    piston/cylinder resistance rowing machine

   369,860     1887  Daniel E Kempster        Velocipede 
                                                                    handle driven, 3-wheel sliding seat road vehicle

   377,986     1888  Mitchell E Bosca           Outrigger For Boats    
                                                                    adjustable rigger

   381,187     1888  William &                      Rowing Machine   
                                        Jacob Tracy         fixed blade end, sliding rowing station w/ spring resistance

   385,465     1888  Robert  Masay              Rowing Apparatus 
                                                                    boat station w/ circular pedal apparatus attached to oars

   390,740     1888  John H Abeel Jr            Anti-Friction Runner For Sliding Seats   
                                                                    ball bearing captured in matching channels

   397,386     1889  Robert Reach                Exercise Apparatus     
                                                                    rowing machine oarlock resistance & tilting mechanism

   413,015     1889  Thomas J Bigger            Rowing Machine   
                                                                    oarlock friction resistance rowing Machine

   421,080     1890  Edward J Kerns            Rowing Apparatus 
                                                                    pivoting footboard

   427,110     1890  Narciso T Quevedo        Velocipede 
                                                                    3-wheel sliding seat road vehicle

   435,934     1890  Edward J Kerns             Exercising Machine     
                                                                    (complex) drum resistance rowing machine

   441,765     1890  Stephen H Kimball        Rowing Machine   
                                                                    oarlock mechanical resistance folding rowing machine

   500,826     1893  George H Thatcher        Oar Propelled Ice Boat 
                                                                    oar propelled out-rigged shell mounted on skates

   502,467     1893  William Roessler            Rowing Apparatus 
                                                                    rowing machine w/ clutch at oarlock

   521,536     1894    Michael F Davis          Row-Boat
                                                                    hull skin reinforcement

   540,579     1895  Michael F Davis            Oar  
                                                                    pivoting oar handle

   540,580     1885  Michael F Davis            Rowlock    
                                                                    adjustable oarlock

   540,581     1895  Michael F Davis            Oar  
                                                                    oar & oarlock stabilizer

   541,857     1895  E C Hinton &                Rowing Machine   
                                         W H Stansfield    ice-boat rowing machine

   550,642     1895  Walter B Peet               Sliding Seat Indicator 
                                                                    measuring slide distance

   581,214     1897  John V Lewellen            Ball-Bearing Oar-Lock  
                                                                    reduced friction racing oarlock

   588,220     1897  Michael F Davis            Oar  
                                                                    hollow/grooved loom, light button, metallic blade tip cap

   599,811     1898  Frank J Steinhauser       Guideway For Sliding-Seat Row-Boats
                                                                    track guards to prevent "track bites"

   609,956     1898  Thomas H Brosnihan     Row-Boat
                                                                    seat actuated titling tracks

   641,596     1900  Edward J Kerns            Rowing Machine   
                                                                    chain-drive drum w/ belt resistance rowing machine

   642,544     1900  Louis S Burbank           Bicycle    
                                                                    4-wheel sliding seat road vehicle w/ oar handles

   683,540     1901  William C Wilson          Oar-Lock
                                                                    swivel oarlock w/upper & lower conical pivots and locking rod gate

   684,868     1901  James A Robinson        Oar
                                                                    tubular metal oar w/ hollow steel blade

   700,827     1902  Alden H Rollins             Swivel Rowlock   
                                                                    top bracing for swivel oarlock

   710,147     1902  William B Goodwin       Rowing Appliance 
                                                                    saddle seat / pivoting footboard / knee rest

   731,998     1903  Lawrence W Grayson   Rowing Machine   
                                                                    rowing machine w/ clutch friction inside flywheel (similar to Gamut)

   738,053     1903  Horace B Murdock       Oar Or Scull     
                                                                    sheet metal truss oar or scull blade

   749,153     1904  Sanford L Batchelor      Bicycle With Rowing Attachment     
                                                                    2-wheel sliding seat road vehicle

   805,033     1905  W H Smith &                 Oar  
                                     W B Goodwin          oar of hollow construction made of metallic mesh and paper pulp

   868,378     1907  Ellis F Ward                  Oar-Lock   
                                                                    improved swivel oarlock

   885,871     1908  Daniel Scanlan               Exercising Apparatus For Oarsmen   
                                                                    connected multi-station rowing setup

   927,833     1909  John H Cunningham      Oarsmen's Apparatus    
                                                                    rowing tank w/ mechanism

1,003,069   1911  Timothy H Shea              Oar  
                                                                    hollow oar construction

1,015,071   1912  Robert Reach                  Gymnasium Rowing Apparatus   
                                                                    hydraulic piston rowing machine

1,058,855   1913  Adrian Gerardin &          Sliding Boat-Seat
                                Charles Sauve              coil spring assisted sliding seat & footboard

1,061,363   1913  Lewis J Evans                 Airship    
                                                                    balloon airship propelled with oar like attachments

1,097,330   1914  George J Karle                Oar Lock   
                                                                    oarlock with screw gate

1,111,269   1914  Philip S Medart               Rowing Apparatus
                                                                    adjustable friction rowing machine

1,223,512   1917  John Neville                    Adjuster For Outriggers
                                                                    double threaded adjusters for rigger frame

1,245,098   1917  Joel E Goldthwait            Rowboat Seat     
                                                                    tilting sliding seat

1,389,988   1921  William A Rose               Oar  
                                                                    two piece rigid (aluminum) oar collar

1,401,038   1921  Thomas Britt                   Physical Developer Adapted For Rowing Exercise 
                                                                    ratchet type rowing machine

1,451,749   1923  Alton J Wiltrout               Oar
                                                                    bow facing oar gear

1,488,836   1924  Alden H Rollins               Adjustable Support     
                                                                    adjustable rigger bolt

1,548,483   1925  George Y Pocock           Oar  
                                                                    oar construction

1,594,063   1926  Guy E Long                    Oarlock    
                                                                    oarlock with roller bearing swivel base

1,621,423   1927  Guy E Long                    Foot Rest  
                                                                    pivoting footboard

1,625,447   1927  Theodore S Benice         Exerciser
                                                                    home type rowing machine "Venus?"

1,656,534   1928  Alden H Rollins               Rowlock    
                                                                    adjustable back-stand oarlock

1,679,631   1928  Hal E Seagraves              Recording Apparatus For Oarsmen    
                                                                    measures oar angles

1,742,260   1930  Thomas R Keenan           Oar  
                                                                    tubular/hollow oar w/internal i-beam made from two pieces

1,974,445   1934  Edgar A Calleson             Exercise Machine 
                                                                    drum with belt resistance rowing machine

1,979,783   1934  T Williams &                   Exercising Machine     
                                        H Casler              elastic resistance home rowing machine

2,067,218   1937  Charles S. Walsh             Attachment For A Racing Shell
                                                                    rigger splash guard

2,154,018   1937  Fred Wagele                   Feathering Device For Boat Oars   
                                                                    oarlock mechanism

2,259,678   1941  Walter G Bolton              Oar  
                                                                    tubular oar built with multiple longitudinal pieces

2,586,024   1952  Frank T Glascow             Rowing Machine   
                                                                    fixed dockside box rowing station

2,725,231   1955  Walter M Hoover            Rowing Machine   
                                                                    rowing machine w/rotary drum using hydraulic resistance



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