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Building the Brigantine Leon at 1:48.  Built 1880, Norway.

I've seen some references to windmill bilge pumps being used on Scandinavian ships after about 1850 and into the 20th century but I am not able to follow up on these leads.  The practice was supposedly very common.  Given that I cannot even find a picture or diagram of one of these I am very interested in whether I should fit Leon with one and if so what does it look like?  Any help would be greatly appreciated.



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These windmill-pumps have been recently the subject of a short article (in German, sorry) by the well-known maritime historian Herbert Karting:


Karting, H. (2017): Die Windmühlenpumpe und die „Onker-Barken“.- Das Logbuch, 53(3): 124-127.


According to this article the origin of these pumps is obscure, but seems to be related to the ice-trade from Canada and northern USA to the southernly states and Caribbean etc., where large quantities of melt-water had to be constantly removed from the bilges. When ice-machines and refrigeration were invented they fell out of use. However, when at the end of the 19th century and up to the end of the first quarter of the 20th century Finnish owner began to buy up old square-riggers to ship timber all over Europe, these pumps began to be used again to keep the leaking old ships dry in cheap way - margins were low in the timber-trade. It seems that these barques could be recognised from far by the klonk-klonk of their pumps.


It is indeed unlikely that LEON would have been fitted with such a pump.

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  • 4 months later...

Surprises never cease.  Jeppe in Norway has just found a newspaper article about Leon's last days when she took on too much water and sank with her load of coal in 1915.  The article says that "she took on too much water even though she had a windmill pump"  Apparently these windmill pumps were added to these ships as they aged and started leaking more.  Another surprise (having nothing to do with windmill pumps) is that she had at least one lumber hatch in her bows for taking on very long timbers that would fit in the deck hatches easily.  This shows up on the original sheer plan that Jeppe has located.  This in turn establishes that she carried lumber which we suspected but didn't know for sure.

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