After the two last days’ posts about rowing machines, rowing barges, rowing tanks, and ‘dry’ tank rowing, I would like to wrap up the subject for this time with some images of old rowing machines. The two machines above are from the same 1887 Swedish sport book as featured in the Thursday post. The very simple machine on the very top has no ‘oars’ just rubber straps to pull on. According to the text in the book that machine was constructed ‘a couple of decades ago by an American oarsman’ [my translation]. The other image is showing an improved version of the older one by attaching the rubber straps to two sculls, much like the ones shown in Tim Koch’s Thursday post. A funny note regrading rowing on rowing machines, in the Swedish book, this is called ‘Kammarrodd’, that is, ‘Chamber Rowing’.
At the NRF’s National Rowing Hall of Fame in Mystic there are some old rowing machines, all but one stored away. The picture above shows a machine that earlier was on display in the lobby of the ‘Hall’ but as visitors tended to try it out, it constantly broke. It is now in storage, where I took these photographs. As you can see, it lacks the rubber or elastic straps, instead the resistance is in the ‘rowlocks’ – see also the picture just below. (Yes, if you are wondering, the sliding seat in the picture above is the wrong way…)
In the close-up picture above, one can clearly see that the patent for this machine by Philip S Medart is 22 September 1914. Rowing historian Bill Miller has information about this patent in his article “Rowing Equipment Patents (U.S.)” mentioned in yesterday’s post. If you like more details about this particular patent, please click here (it will give you a pdf file).
The apparatus in the picture above is now on display in the ‘Hall’ in Mystic. It would be bolted in the floor of a gym, and beside it would be a sliding seat on tracks that would almost go as far as the length of the gym, having almost an endless row of oarsmen rowing back and forth while the coach could easily give each and everyone instruction. The picture below shows a close-up of the ‘rowlock’.