Steamer Jouffroy Abbans

Model built by Jouffroy to be presented at the Academy of Sciences, it is exposed in Paris

Steamboat or pyramid of Jouffroy d'Abbans © Musée national de la Marine / P. Dantec

Model and machine model
Oak, ash, teak, boxwood, brass
62 182 x x 60
inventory MnM 23 MG 1
Paris, Palais de Chaillot

In 1783, a century after the experiments of Denis Papin, the French Claude Jouffroy d'Abbans ascends the Saône to Lyon aboard the Pyroscaphe. This prototype is driven by a system of paddlewheels with rack-and-pinion transmission.
The model preserved in the Marine Museum is not the reproduction of the building itself, but a later model built by Jouffroy (on a different hull) to be presented to the Academy of Sciences, for obtaining 'a patent. Its production is particularly careful: hull in ash and oak bordered with clinkers, figurehead representing a head of greyhound boxwood.
Unfortunately, the Academy of Sciences forbade him to exploit his invention in Paris, choosing as commissioner to examine the project his opponent, Perier, whose tests on the Seine had failed miserably.


Jouffroy d'Abbans, Claude
Roche-sur-Rognon (Haute-Marne) 1751 - Paris 1832.

From his youth Jouffroy d'Abbans was interested in mechanics and steam engines. A young officer, he was imprisoned in 1772 at the Lérins Islands (Fort Sainte Marguerite) after a quarrel with a superior. He uses his confinement to study science. Released in 1774, he went up to Paris and collaborated with the Périer brothers on a ship propulsion project.
He returns to Abbans in 1778 where he develops a new machine; articulated oars, driven by a steam engine, propel a boat. He continues his experiments and in 1783 launches on the Saône the Pyroscaphe, long 46m, whose paddlewheels are powered by a machine with two cylinders. Unaccustomed to these contemporaries, he emigrated during the Terror. Returning to 1795, he refused to work for Napoleon.
At the fall of the Empire, he finally obtained a patent for his "boat-diligence", but the cost of the tests entails its ruin. Jouffroy ended his days at the Invalides, where he succumbed to a cholera epidemic.

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