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Author Topic: Davis Star - 19th century dual-line rescue kite  (Read 1085 times)
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Flying Fish
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« on: July 23, 2011, 09:25 AM »

For those interested in the historical aspects of kiting, over the last few months I've been building a reconstruction of a dual-line rescue kite, dating from 1893. The only thing I had to go on was the original patent, filed by J Woodbridge Davis, so maybe better to call it an interpretation than a reconstruction. The kite was meant to carry a rope from a stricken ship to the shore or another ship; I have no idea whether it was ever used, or whether it never got beyond the patent stage.

Anyway, I flew it today for the first time in ~6-8mph winds, and it flew way better than I dared to hope! Steerable even to the point of being able to perform a loop! Didn't try anything more fancy ...

Video here:
Davis Rescue Star - 19th century kite


And some pictures of the build process here: https://picasaweb.google.com/lexkraai/DavisStarProject
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mikenchico
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« Reply #1 on: July 23, 2011, 10:21 AM »

Nicely done, thanks for sharing it.

I can't help but wonder if it might be a bit more stable if it was turned 60* so it had a vetical spine, but then it isn't historically correct is it?
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Flying Fish
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« Reply #2 on: July 23, 2011, 10:26 AM »

Turning it 60 degrees would create just a bit more of a traditional dihedral, due to the (then) vertical spine, so that might stabilise it a bit more, but as you say it wouldn't be historically correct.

The steering takes some getting used to; it's easy to oversteer, and that's what you see happening in the vid. As I got used to flying it, it gradually became a bit more stable, and I managed to loop it a few times in the end.
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indigo_wolf
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« Reply #3 on: July 23, 2011, 11:26 AM »

In 1893 the New York underwriters took to flying immense star kites covered with oilcloth. These kites had two bellybands and two strings to guide or steer the kites by, and tails of jute, with a life buoys attached.

The two-stringed star kite is an invention of Professor J Woodbridge Davis of New York (See Fig. 29).

Steering Kites.
Seven years ago the professor began to experiment in flying kites, and being displeased with the stationary position ordinarily assumed by them, and not satisfied with the wig-waggle of the short-tailed or the darting of the light-tailed variety, which imparts so much excitement to the young novice, he added two bellybands and two stings, by means of which after a little practice he was able to steer his kite around the sky and make it perform all manner of absurd antics, to the great delight of the small boys.

It is said that the professor became so proficient with his kite that he could make it cut out letters in the sky, dance and dive, and do other marvelous things. He also found that he could make it go off the wind many degrees. In speaking of what he could now make the kite do, he said it would not sail upon the wind as the Vigilant and Valkyrie did, but it could make some very remarkable tacks.



Source: Outdoor Handy Book

ATB,
Sam
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Flying Fish
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« Reply #4 on: July 23, 2011, 11:35 AM »

That source is new to me; thanks Sam!
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indigo_wolf
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« Reply #5 on: July 23, 2011, 11:53 AM »

That source is new to me; thanks Sam!

No problem.... Google-Fu  Cheesy

What's the final size?  A bit hard to tell from the pics.

Out of curiousity, did you should the color layout so that it would be able to better determine the orientation of the kite?

ATB,
Sam
« Last Edit: July 23, 2011, 12:28 PM by indigo_wolf » Logged
chilese
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« Reply #6 on: July 23, 2011, 12:27 PM »

Thanks for the share.

And nicely done.  Smiley
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John Chilese: Las Vegas, NV
http://picasaweb.google.com/chilesej
Flying Fish
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« Reply #7 on: July 23, 2011, 12:36 PM »

Kite is just over 2m wide. Colours were based on what I had available in terms of ripstop, and the pattern was pleasing to my eyes. Ease of orientation didn't play a role in designing the pattern, though it does help, now that I found out that the kite is much more manoeuvrable than I thought it would be.
« Last Edit: July 23, 2011, 12:38 PM by Dromel » Logged

fidelio
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« Reply #8 on: July 23, 2011, 03:55 PM »

it's pretty great of you to recreate history in this way. very well done. i'm looking forward to seeing what you decide to build next time around.

in the picture sam posted, would this be the first depiction of kite buggying, and was it ever used that way?
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Fdeli
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« Reply #9 on: July 24, 2011, 01:15 AM »

Kite buggying goes much further back, at least to the 1820s: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/George_Pocock_(inventor)

As to what to build next, a replica of a Garber target kite, using ripstop and carbon spars, is on my to-do list. Making the kite itself is relatively easy, but I need to figure out how to make the rudder from modern materials ....
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indigo_wolf
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« Reply #10 on: July 24, 2011, 02:29 AM »

As to what to build next, a replica of a Garber target kite, using ripstop and carbon spars, is on my to-do list. Making the kite itself is relatively easy, but I need to figure out how to make the rudder from modern materials ....

The two materials that come to mind are carbon fiber sheet (spendy) or monokote skinned balsa wood similar to model R/C planes (more reasonable cost-wise), but potentions more time consuming.

ATB,
Sam
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