James Pickard

In existographies, James Pickard (c.1735-1800) was an English engineer, noted for []

In Dec 1799, James Watt was exploring the use of a crank, which was already widely used to drive grinding stones, potter’s wheels, and foot lathes, for use in steam engines to convert converting reciprocating motion into rotary motion. Supposedly, as the story goes, Dick Cartwright, a Soho pattern maker, was asked to build a model, but before he could do so, was drinking beer at a public house, and said the following:

“The idea of to put a ‘crank’ in the steam engine, is one of the best things Watt has ever brought out.”
— Dick Cartwright (c.1799), comment at beer house

Cartwright, supposedly, even chalked a plan of Watt’s crank-based steam engine on a table. [1]

In 1780, Pickard, having, as some have conjectured, heard of Watt’s crank-based steam engine, obtained a 14-year patent for a crank method of converting reciprocating motion into the “turning of wheels”, so to make steam engines applicable to work done in factories, not just that for pumping water out of mines. [1]

Watt, accordingly, finding his crank idea blocked, by the patent, turned instead to the use of the sun and planet system of intermeshed gears to convert reciprocating motion into rotary motion.

1. Russell, Ben. (2014). James Watt: Making the World Anew (pg. 150). Reaktion.
2. Kirby, Richard; Withington, Sidney; Darling, Arthur; and Kilgour, Frederick. (1956). Engineering in History (pgs. 169-70). Courier, 1990.

Further reading
● Hills, Richard L. (1989). Power From Steam: a History of the Stationary Steam Engine (Pickard, pgs. 60-63). Cambridge University Press.

External links
James Pickard – Wikipedia.

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