Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 22.djvu/225

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working cylinder, which has to be cooled artificially in order to keep its temperature down to a point at which lubrication is possible; this, together with frictional loss, can not be taken at less than one half, and reduces the factor of efficiency of the engine to one fourth.

It follows from these considerations that the gas or caloric engine combines the conditions most favorable to the attainment of maximum results, and it may reasonably be supposed that the difficulties still in the way of their application on a large scale will gradually be removed. Before many years have elapsed we shall find in our factories and on board our ships engines with a fuel-consumption not exceeding one pound of coal per effective horse-power per hour, in which the gas producer takes the place of the somewhat complex and dangerous steam boiler. The advent of such an engine and of the dynamo-machine must mark a new era of material progress at least equal to that produced by the introduction of steam-power in the early part of our century. Let us consider what would be the probable effect of such an engine upon that most important interest of this country—the merchant navy.


According to returns kindly furnished me by the Board of Trade and "Lloyd's Register of Shipping," the total value of the merchant shipping of the United Kingdom may be estimated at £126,000,000, of which £90,000,000 represent steamers having a net tonnage of 3,003,988 tons; and £36,000,000 sailing-vessels, of 3,688,008 tons. The safety of this vast amount of shipping, carrying about five sevenths of our total imports and exports, or £500,000,000 of goods in the year, and of the more precious lives connected with it, is a question of paramount importance. It involves considerations of the most varied kind: comprising the construction of the vessel itself, and the material employed in building it; its furniture of engines, pumps, sails, tackle, compass, sextant, and sounding apparatus, the preparation of reliable charts for the guidance of the navigator, and the construction of harbors of refuge, light-houses, beacons, bells, and buoys, for channel navigation. Yet notwithstanding the combined efforts of science, inventive skill, and practical experience—the accumulation of centuries—we are startled with statements to the effect that during last year as many as 1,007 British-owned ships were lost, of which fully two thirds were wrecked upon our shores, representing a total value of nearly £10,000,000. Of these ships 870 were sailing-vessels and 137 steamers, the loss of the latter being in a fourth of the cases attributable to collision. The number of sailing-vessels included in these returns being 19,325, and of steamers 5,505, it appears that the steamer is the safer vessel, in the proportion of 4·43 to 3·46; but the steamer makes on an average three voyages for one of the sailing-ship taken over the year, which reduces the relative risk of the steamer as compared with the sailing-ship per voyage in the proportion of 13·29 to 3·46. Commercially speaking, this factor of safety in favor of steam-shipping is to a