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A History of the Growth of the Steam-Engine

And made an excursion with Ericsson on the Ogden


The

screw was finally brought into general use through the exertions of John Ericsson, a skillful Swedish engineer, who was residing in England in the year 1836, and of Mr. F. P. Smith, an English farmer. Ericsson patented a peculiar form of screw-propeller, and designed a steamer 40 feet in length, of 8 feet beam, and drawing 3 feet of water. The screw was double, two shafts being placed the one within the other, revolving in opposite directions, and carrying the one a right-hand and the other a left-hand screw. These screws were 5-1/4 feet in diameter. On her trial-trip this little steamer attained a speed of 10 miles an hour. Its power as a "tug" was found to be very satisfactory; it towed a schooner of 140 tons burden at the rate of 7 miles, and the large American packet-ship Toronto was towed on the Thames at a speed of 5 miles an hour.

Ericsson endeavored to interest the British Admiralty in his improvements, and succeeded only so far as to induce the Lords of the Admiralty to make an excursion with him on the river. No interest was awakened in the new system, and nothing was done by the naval authorities. A note to the inventor from Captain Beaufort--one of the party--was received shortly afterward, in which it was stated that the excursionists had not found the performance of the little vessel to equal their hopes and expectations. All the interests of the then existing engine-building establishments were opposed to the innovation, and the

proverbial conservatism of naval men and naval administrations aided in procuring the rejection of Ericsson's plans.

Fortunately for the United States, it happened, at that time, that we had in Great Britain both civil and naval representatives of greater intelligence, or of greater boldness and enterprise. The consul at Liverpool was Mr. Francis B. Ogden, of New Jersey, a gentleman who was somewhat familiar with the steam-engine and with steam-navigation. He had seen Ericsson's plans at an earlier period, and had at once seen their probable value. He was sufficiently confident of success to place capital at the disposal of the inventor. The little screw-boat just described was built with funds of which he furnished a part, and was named, in his honor, the Francis B. Ogden.

Captain Robert F. Stockton, an officer of the United States Navy, and also a resident of New Jersey, was in London at the time, and made an excursion with Ericsson on the Ogden. He was also at once convinced of the value of the new method of application of steam-power to ship-propulsion, and gave the engineer an order to build two iron screw-steamboats for use in the United States. Ericsson was induced, by Messrs. Ogden and Stockton, to take up his residence in the United States.[84] The Stockton was sent over to the United States in April, 1839, under sail, and was sold to the Delaware & Raritan Canal Company. Her name was changed, and, as the New Jersey, she remained in service many years.

[84] This distinguished inventor is still a resident of New York (1878).

The success of the boat built by Ericsson was so evident that, although the naval authorities remained inactive, a private company was formed, in 1839, to work the patents of F. P. Smith, and this "Ship-Propeller Company" built an experimental craft called the Archimedes, and its trial-trip was made October 14th of the same year. The speed attained was 9.64 miles an hour. The result was in every respect satisfactory, and the vessel, subsequently, made many voyages from port to port, and finally circumnavigated the island of Great Britain. The proprietors of the ship were not pecuniarily successful in their venture, however, and the sale of the vessel left the company a heavy loser. The Archimedes was 125 feet long, of 21 feet 10 inches beam, and 10 feet draught, registering 232 tons. The engines were rated at 80 horse-power. Smith's earlier experiments (1837) were made with a little craft of 6 tons burden, driven by an engine having a steam-cylinder 6 inches in diameter and 15 inches stroke of piston. The funds needed were furnished by a London banker--Mr. Wright.


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