Gottschalk's Continostat

(Updated 09/15/06, click here for latest update)

I bought this instrument at the weekly Oregon State University surplus sale. The tag said it was a drafting instrument, but a search of the web showed that this was false.

If you have any information about this instrument, please email me. I will update this page with any information that comes my way.

What I have Found So Far...

Continostat Pictures (new pages of pictures as well)

What I have found so far...

I found 9 pages that reference the instrument, or Otto Gottschalk:

  1. PROFESSOR W. A. MILLER His Life and Work
  2. This page contains the following information:

    As far as his own personal research work was concerned, it is unfortunate that, save for his thesis for the degree of Master of Engineering, little was published. His work seems to fall into two correlated spheres, the first being the analytical study of statically indeterminate structures; the second sphere was that known today by the high-sounding title, "Experimental Stress Analysis".

    The advantages of model analysis were early foreseen by Miller, who was working here at the same time that Beggs in Princeton and Gottschalk in Buenos Ayres were developing the small-displacement-celluloid and large-displacement-spline models respectively. This was in the early 1920's.

    Miller's main contribution would have been in the spline type of model very simply held by pins, but Gottschalk, with whom he was corresponding, suddenly produced the "Continostat", which consisted of splines held in elaborate, patented type of supports. Being forestalled was a disappointment to Miller, none-the-less because it is a not uncommon happening among research workers.

  3. The analysis of indeterminate structures by use of Gottschalk's continostat (references the location of a dissertation in the MIT library system)

    This page links to a description of the dissertation:

    Author Eeman, John.
    Title The analysis of indeterminate structures by use of Gottschalk’s continostat / by John Eeman.
    Availability All items
    Location Institute Archives - Noncirculating Collection 3 | THESIS Thesis C.E. 1928 M.S.
    Published [1928]
    Description 77, xxiii leaves : ill. ; 30 cm.
    Format Book BK Thesis
    Note Thesis (M.S.)--Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Dept. of Civil and Sanitary Engineering, 1928. Thesis Supervisor Supervised by Hale Sutherland.
    Bibliography Includes bibliographical references (leaves 76-77).

    Clearly this dissertation would go a long way towards figuring out what and how the instrument is used, but given that I am just a guy living in rural Oregon, I doubt that I will be able to lay hands upon it any time soon.

  4. Structural Modeling and Experimental Techniques, Second Edition Harry G. Harris Drexel University, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, USA Gajanan Sabnis Consultant, Silver Spring, Maryland, USA.
    The book references the continostat, as evidenced by the short quote here:

    The Gottschalk (1926) continostat is an improvement on this technique. However, large deformations must be imposed on the model, which causes other kinds of ...
    The continostat and Gottschalk are not found in the book's index. I have emailed Professor Harris, and hope he can shed some light on the instrument.

  5. The US patents:
    1622105, 1980332, 1579702

    You can see all of Gottschalk's patents here (only the patents that are around those linked above should be looked at, probably, this is what I found, if you feel like searching around for other patents, feel free!)
    I'll see what I can figure out from the descriptions and pictures, which have elements of the completed object but also differ. I need to download a TIFF viewer that allows me to save the images (thanks for nothing, Quicktime plugin...), download them, and then start with the learning. Update: TIFF viewer downloaded, I now need to print and read the patents...

  6. The British Patents!
    US1980332, US1622105, US1579702, GB239311
    Note the last one is a GB patent, and does not correspond to any of the three US patents but seems to be the best decription of the instrument!
    See all patents here.
    The great thing is these are all PDFs!
    Update: I also found the German patents at the same site , I am waiting for a translation of the patent titles from a German speaking friend.

  7. Otto Gottschalk is listed in "Anales de la Sociedad Científica Argentina" By Jean Valentin

  8. Otto Gottschalk wrote two books (spanish, english translation of spanish book search here)

    1. Autor: Gottschalk, Otto
      Título: Cálculo estático de estructuras rígidas sobre bases naturales
      Cota: 624.17 G687 1946
      Fecha de edición: 1946

      ( calculation of rigid structures on natural bases - Buenos Aires: Hachette, 1946. - 191 p)


    2. Autor: Gottschalk, Otto
      Título: Hormigón armado; teoría y práctica
      Cota: 620.137 G687 1943

      ( Reinforced concrete, theory and practice - Buenos Aires: The Athenian, 1943. - 360 p)

    I have "Cálculo estático de estructuras rígidas sobre bases naturales" on order from a used bookseller, at the price of $25.00. I will report more when i get it in.

  9. Otto Gottschalk is listed in Yearbook, Franklin Institute
    "Gottschalk, Otto, Civil Engineer, Casilla Correo 1723, Buenos Aires, Argentine."

  10. This search for "otto gottschalk" has an intersting result.
    Mechanical Methods for the Analysis of Statically Indeterminate Structures (Volume:12 Issue:4) Issue Date: 1 April 1934
    Synopsis: If in any statically indeterminate structure with r redundants, we introduce, Figure 1, an additional hinge (a), or make a cut and supply a frictionless guide which allows either (b) purely axial displacements, or (c) purely transverse displacements, then the redundancy will be reduced by one degree. H.A. Whitaker

    I assume Gottschalk is mentioned in the text, because of the result. Only members of the Institution of Structural Engineers can download the text for free, and I am a little too cheap to pay the 10 pounds that they want non members to pay, without knowing what is in the article. Perhaps it's time to solicit contributions for my research?

  11. The German patents:
    DE380528, DE426654

  12. I put 2 pages of new pictures up showing 1) better views of the parts, with details, and 2) the use of the continostat as shown in patents and "Calculo..."

  13. I received help from the UK (Thanks Mike!) in the form of an article from the Structural Engineer, April 1934, "Mechanical Methods For the Analysis of Statically Indeterminate Structures", by H.A. Whitaker. The artcle is mostly incomprehensible engineering maths, but does explain what the Continostat shows. When I have time I will elaborate.

  14. The article also points to the same Journal articles as are referenced in "Cálculo estático de estructuras rígidas sobre bases naturales", which I received a few days ago. "Calculo" does show a few examples of use, especially the roller thing. The best part is that it contains a bibliography of Gottschalk's works up to 1946, so I have more publications to chase down.

  15. What I need to do: Organize this page somewhat to reflect the fact that I largely know what the Continostat is now, find out more about Gottschalk, track down the works in his Bibliography as well as put up his bibliography with additions from other sources I have found. This will get done over time...I also hope to expound on what an interesting experience this has been for me.

Continostat Pictures

Here are pictures of the Continostat and some descriptions, click on the picture to launch a larger version in a new browser window

Also see pictures of parts here, and the uses here:

Gottschalk's Continostat Gottschalk's Continostat in the case.
continostat arms

Detail of three of the swivel arms that ride along the central dovetailed beam.

The dovetail beam is 33-3/8" long (850 mm) with a 60 degree dovetail. The holes are a 13mm counterbore with a 3mm through hole. 1.567" (39.8 almost 40mm) wide.

The bar is marked #504 on the back, so presumably more than one was made.

side view of continostat arm Side view of one of the arms.
continostat things?

A bunch of weights or clamps? Notice the engraving on the beam, "Continostat Gottschalk (Pat)"

Update: definitely clamps for the shims.

continostat stuff Shim clamps? shims, things, thumbtack objects that fit in holes at either end of the beam. Roll of thread?
continostat case and roller thing Rolling clamp arm thing, also case. Used for sideways deformation of the splines.
stacks of shims of different lengths Stacks of shims, all numbered and of different lengths.

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