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The Development of the Steamship ( 1887)


By Commander F. E. Chadwick, U. S. Navy.

It is a wonderful fact in the swift expansion of mechanical knowledge and appliances of the last hundred years that while for unknown ages the wind was the only propelling force used for purposes of navigation, apart from the rude application of power through oars worked by men, the whole scheme of steam transport has grown, practically, to its present wonderful perfection within the lifetime of men yet living.

The Great Western - Steamer from 1837
The Great Western was launched on July 19, 1837, and was towed from Bristol to the Thames to receive her, machinery, where she was the wonder of London. She left for Bristol on March 31, 1838 ; and arrived, after having had a serious fire on board, on April 2d.

The Development of the Steamship
Three years before (in 1836), a Swede, whose name was destined to become much more famous in our own land, had successfully shown the practicability of screw propulsion, in the Francis B. Ogden, on the Thames. " She was 45 feet long and 8 feet wide, drawing 2 feet 3 inches of water. In this vessel he fitted his engine and two propellers, each of 5 feet 3 inches diameter " (Lindsay).

Great Eastern, Britannic, Etruria, Champagne
The acceptance by the English Government of the Cunard company's bid for the contract for carrying the mails to America resulted in putting afloat, in 1840, the Acadia, Britannia, Columbia, and Caledonia. The first vessels of the Cunard line were all wooden paddlewheel steamers, with engines by Napier, of Glasgow, of the usual side-lever class ; the return-flue boilers and jet-condensers were used, the latter holding their place for many years to come, though surface condensation had already appeared as an experiment.

The Triple Expansion Engine
The establishment of the Collins line was one of the great events of steamship history. We had been so successful upon our coasts, rivers, and lakes, that it was but natural we should make some effort to do our part with steam upon the greater field of international trade. The Collins steamers were a new departure in model and arrangement ; they were designed by Steers, famous also as the designer of the America and Niagara.

Coal Used in Steamships
The year 1855 marks the high-water mark of the paddle-steamer era. In that year were built the Adriatic, by the Collins line, and the Persia, as a competitor (and the twenty-eighth ship of the company), by the Cunard. But the former was of wood, the latter of iron.

Summary of The Development of the Steamship
As the ship's speed is increased the spaces between the crests of these lengthen in unison with the speed, and it has been shown that when the speed is such that a wave-crest would be at the middle point of the after body (or quarter) the wave-making resistance is least, and that it is greatest when the hollow appears at this point.

End Notes
Various Notes and Sources from the Article on the Development of the Steamship

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