History

In the beginning of recorded time, primitive man began building boats for fishing and to explore his world. The rudder appeared in some of the original designs of boats. The rudder was a specialized type of oar. It was composed of a handle on the upper end, and a shaft mostly mounted in a vertical fashion. The shaft passed through a hole in the bottom of the boat. Often the hole was below the water line. The lower end of the rudder shaft was submerged into the water. The lower end of the shaft was designed with a flat palette or paddle. This flat paddle was callcd the 'tiller'. The sailor up in the boat could rotate the rudder and thus steer or navigate the boat with the tiller in the water below.

The hole in the bottom of the boat, where the rudder shaft passed through, was a point of leakage where water would enter into the boat. So the early boat builders had to design a method of preventing the entrance of water. They designed a box-type housing around the hole with a circular gland type press. The sailors would stuff or pack their old clothes, hair, rotten ropes, old sails and leather scraps into the box-type housing. The word 'stuffing box' was born. The purpose of the circular gland type press was to squeeze and compress the stuffing, called 'stopa' (pronounced STOH-pah), into the box, creating a seal between the rudder shaft and the hole in the bottom of the boat. This prevented the entrance of water into the boat. The term 'stuffing box' is still used today referring to pump design. (In Spanish the word for stuffing box is 'prensaestopa' or literally 'stopa press'.)

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