A REVOLUTION IN STEAM NAVIGATION.
Q, (A 7 ew York Herald .) Professor Edison, the celebrated electrician, has just made a discovery of such vast importance that it is believed it will cause a complete revolution in navigation, and in a few years place the magnificent steamers of the present day as much behind the times as the Chinese junk is now. Professor Edison, as our scientific readers know, has devoted his wonderful talents almost entirely to “ exploration ” in that mysterious power, or fluid as it is sometimes called, electricity, and its twin sister galvanism. Many of his discoveries are already before the world, but the latest is the most startling. _ The groat aim Professor Edison has had in view" for many years is to discover the manner in which to make the most use of electricity as a motive power, and his laborious and patient researches have at last been crowned with success. Last year he made and completed a morking model which thoroughly appeared to meet the most sanguine expectations of its constructor ; by repeated trials the Professor was so thoroughly convinced he had at last been permitted by the Almighty to penetrate one of the most mysterious secrets of nature for the purpose of adding to the welfare of his fellow creatures, that he determined at his own expense to make a practical experiment in such a way as to convince the most sceptical that he was in possession of an invention such as tne world had never even dreamt of. The Professor drew designs himself of a beautiful launch of about one hundred feet in length, and handed his plans in to a Boston Arm of shipwrights for completion. The little vessel was built of wood, and sheathed beneath the water-line with very heavy sheets of copper. At the same time that the vessel was in course of construction the machinery for the mechanism was also being built. In order to jealously preserve his secret Professor Edison did not give all his designs to one firm. Ho drew the particulars of the whole of the machinery in separate parts, and gave the Orange Plough Company the work of preparing a portion, the Boston Cutlery Company another portion, whilst Laird,' of Birkenhead, .prepared the balance. Tbe hull when completed was sent to the Professor’s residence on the banks of tbe Hudson river, and shortly after he was also in receipt of the machinery. Professor Edison, with the help of his assistant, Mr. O. Wendell, fitted the vessel up and found the various contractors had completed their work most excellently, and that with the exception of a few alterations everything fitted perfectly, and the vessel generally came up to his expectations and desires. Professor Edison being now practically convinced of the value of his invention, determine to a certain extent to make his discovery public, and to this end invited a number of distinguished and scientmc gentlemen to witness the trial trip of his now launch, which was appropriately named the (< Lightning.” -Amongst those invited was a member of our staff, on the condition that ho published nothing except such particulars as the Professor desired. On arriving hy special train at the Professor's mansion, the company prococdec on board the launch. Amongst those present wo noticed Mr. Richard A Proctor Professor Tyndall, the Hon. Mr. Seward ■ Senator Chase, Professor S. Ofthed, Hon Chas. Magniac, and many other distin . guished passengers. In appearance, tin i ‘ ‘ Lightning” did not differ materially fron • the general run of launches, except in th [ extreme beauty of her lines, and that sh ; had no funnel and no masts or rigging i The signal for starting was given by th i Professor, who touched a small ivory knob , and instantly two large electric bells fille - the air with harmony. All being ready 3 the Professor pressed a small lever and th 3 boat moved slowly ahead—until clear c t the rocks about the shore, when anothc f touch caused the little vessel to rus - ahead like a racehorse. Newbourg, a dii tance of. 45 miles, was reached in thre
hours. On the return journey the Professor showed us how easily the vessel was handled, for with one small lever, ihoviik e it more or less one way or the other, the 0 launch went ahead or astern, slowly or nl “ full speed, almost instantly. Professor Edison courteously showed 11 our reporter over the boat, and explained ;> to him the various arrangements. In the - 1 centre of the ve'scl was a tank Idled with r a solution of sulphuric acid and a large 3 number of zinc plates connected with *■ wires ; the opposite metal for completing 1 the battery was made by connecting witii f the copper sheathing of the vessel outside. 1 The manner in which this was done to pre--1 vent the fluid passing off was one of the I secrets of the invention. 3 On proceeding into the engine room 3 the sight was very novel—instead of 1 being met by a hot oily smell, nothing of 1 the sort was experienced. There was no ‘ heat, no smell, no dirt, no oily engineers, I merely a beautiful clean little compart- • ment, and in the centre a number of ; npysterions bright steel cranks and wheels > whizzing to and fro or round and round at ! an incredible speed. The professor cx- ; plained that a further motive power was : used, namely functional electricity, gene- > rated partly by applying the force from the engine and partly hy the vessel her--1 self as she rushed through the water. ! “ How is that done V innocently asked our reporter. “That is another secret,” said the professor. The vessel’s screw was a double one, working in opposite , directions, the angle of the fans being reversed. They were worked on one shaft, which was hollow, with another shaft passing through the centre, the exterior shaft working one screw, the interior one the other. Professor Edison informs us that his invention can lie applied to the largest vessels afloat, and at only about half the cost of ordinary engines and boilers, and ho would guarantee a speed of twenty knots at least. The working expenses arc trifling, as a thousand ton vessel might be worked for five hundred dollars a year, leaving ant the wages of two engineers and the chance of any accidents. The chief expenses would be for oil for the working parts and renewing the zincs in the battery. We hear some steam companies have been so impressed with the importance of the discovery that the Gunard Company, that had just ordered a magnificent steamer of 7QOO tons, called the “ Sahara,” have told the 'builders to suspend operations, and the Inman Company, who had ordered (to rival the Canard) to be built by the Barrow Shipping Company a steamer to be the fastest and most superior in the world, have also stopped the contract in the meanwhile.
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