The Technology to Save Sinking Ships ‘ Pumping the French Way!

Author(s): Thierry Boyer

Year: 2014


From the moment vessels started to be decked, solutions had to be found to get the water out of the bilge for them to stay afloat. These came through many ways: water management, pumps technology and ship’s structural conception. The technology differences between the French and the English ways of tackling this problem are revealed through the archaeology of shipwrecks and archival researches. This paper will explain some of these differences and put the emphasis on the technology of ship’s bilge pumps as it is revealed through the archaeological study of French shipwrecks from la Dauphine (1704), Louisbourg harbor (1758), the Machault (1760) as well as many others wrecks from multiple periods and origins, complemented with archival and historical researches. It will also demonstrate the theories behind bilge pump design, the different ways they are operated on ships, and explain the fabrication of the multiple pump parts. In addition, this paper aims at pointing out specific features of ship’s bilge pumps parts, for them to be identified and documented during the excavation process.

Cite this Record

The Technology to Save Sinking Ships ‘ Pumping the French Way!. Thierry Boyer. Presented at Society for Historical Archaeology, Quebec City, Quebec, Canada. 2014 ( tDAR id: 437002)

Record Identifiers

PaperId(s): SYM-45,11