Herreshoff Company Steam Engines and Steam Boats 1864-1881
Also See [[http://www.machine-history.com/Herreshoff%20Ship%20List%201800s|Herreshoff Ship List, Launched in the 1800's]]
The remarkable little steam vessels turned out by the Herreshoff Manufacturing Company, of Bristol, R. I., have attracted world-wide attention, and in a very few years have earned a reputation which is truly enviable. These boats have not only been indorsed by the Bureau of Steam Engineering of the United States Navy, but their merits have been acknowledged by European engineers, and the English government has given its opinion in an emphatic way, by ordering a number of the boats to be used in the English navy.
The works of the Herreshoff Manufacturing Company were established in 1864, and consist of several machines and constructing shops, in which are employed about one hundred men. The works are on the shore of the Narragansett Bay, whose waters present a ready field for experiments in naval engineering, and afford facilities for developing, by actual trial, the best models for steam and sailing craft.
The Herreshoff Brothers possess, by inheritance, great talent for mechanical construction, especially as applied to marine engineering, and this talent has been developed by practical experiment supervised by these indefatigable inventors. From first to last success has followed their efforts, and, judging from the present showing, a prosperous future is before them.
During the first years of the operations of this company, the business was chiefly confined to the construction of sailing craft of various descriptions, principally yachts and smaller pleasure boats, which were known all over the Atlantic coast for the fineness of their models, and their yachts became famous for their fast sailing, the beauty of their lines, and excellence of workmanship and material.
Among the best known of the yachts built by the Herreshoff Company are the Clytie, Kelpie, Quivive, Sadie, Orion, Shadow, Triton, Faustine. These, together with a number of smaller yachts, are all noted for their speed, and have taken many prizes in our club and open regattas. About five years since the demand for steam launches and steam yachts sprang up, and this company, ever on the alert to meet the wants of the people, turned its attention to perecting and constructing this class of vessel. In this their success has been remarkable, and to-day they turn out the fastest, safest, and handsomest vessels that ply either in our own waters or those of any other country.
The distinguishing feature of the Herreshoff system of marine steam machinery, is the safety coil boiler, which has been brought to great perfection and patented by the Herreshoff Brothers, and which is shown in two forms in our first page illustration. The boiler consists of a spiral coil made of iron tube arranged with proper spaces between the coils for the escape of the products of combustion. The coil is made of conical form and surrounds the combustion chamber, pre¬senting an effective heating surface to the fire. The heated gases proceeding from this chamber are made to pass through the spaces of a flat coil at the top, which heats the feed water before its entrance to the boiler proper. The feed water is forced in at the cooler end of the flat coil, through which it passes to the top of the main coil, and descending, is finally discharged into a vertical cylinder, which is called the separator, and in which the steam and water discharged from the coil are divided, the water falling to the bottom, the steam being taken from the top and passed through a super-heating coil located above the main coil, which completely dries and superheats the steam. Generally a single coil is used as the steam generator; but when the greatest economy is the main consideration, a double coil, in which one is placed within the other, is employed. Both forms of boiler are shown in the engraving.
The advantages possessed by the coil over the shell boiler in any of its forms are marked and are apparent almost at first sight. The coil is absolutely safe from destructive explosion, and weighs less than one-half as much as other boilers of the same capacity, and in point of economy its superiority is undoubted. It is capable of raising steam from cold water in from five to seven minutes. This is an important feature, especially in steam launches and torpedo boats, where time is an all-important matter.
The engines used in the Herreshoff system for marine purposes are of the compound condensing type, having feed and air pumps attached. The machinery of this system is especially noteworthy for its extreme lightness and for the judicious distribution of material, all of the parts having ample strength, and no portion being loaded with useless metal, which would rather detract than add to the efficiency of the machine. These engines use the steam with the highest economy, actual and prolonged tests having proved the efficiency to be at least 40 per cent greater than that of the non-expanding type. As to mechanical details of construction, finish, proportion, and general design these engines leave nothing to be desired.
Of the several steamers shown in our engraving, the one hundred foot size, of which a number have been built, is considered by yacht men as the most advantageous size for coastwise cruising. It can be handled by a few men, consumes a minimum of fuel, and, what is more important than anything else, the interest on first cost is small in comparison with that of the large iron steamers recently added to our fleet of pleasure vessels. The plan view in the front page engraving shows the arrangement of the interior of one of these yachts so accurately that no further description is required.
The maximum speed of the 100-foot yacht is 18 miles per hour, and in that time it burns only 200 pound s of coal. Three men manage the vessel easily. The 60-foot yachts are planned with a view to river, bay, or lake navigation, and are ar¬ranged to accommodate a number of persons for short excursions. Yachts of this size will steam 15 miles an hour, and in that time will consume about 90 pounds of coal.
The Herreshoff torpedo boats have features peculiar to themselves, which distinguish them from everything else of the same class, and have earned for them a well deserved reputation. They are at least three tons lighter than those of foreign make; they will go astern as fast as ahead, and can stop in half their length from full speed. They are capable of turning in a circle whose diameter is three times the length of the boat. All these desirable qualities are due to the lightness of the entire structure, including the boiler and machinery, and to the position of the screw, it being located under the hull at about one-third of the distance from the stern to the bow. The quickness with which steam can be raised is of inestimable strategic importance in naval warfare, as it admits of repelling sudden attacks of an enemy, the boat being always ready and capable of being put under full steam by the time its keel touches the water. These boats are fitted for the use of either spar or Whitehead torpedoes, and are supplied with four spars, two at each end, when the spar torpedoes are employed. By this means the efficiency of the boat is immensely increased, their remarkable quality of backing as readily as going ahead rendering the use of stern spars perfectly practicable.
The length of the torpedo boat is 60 feet; width, 7 feet; depth, 5 feet 6 inches. Their weight when ready for service is 6 tons, and they are capable of steaming 23 miles an hour, developing 150 horse power. In the whole range of the !manufactures of this company, perhaps the most successful craft is the navy or government launch, shown in the engraving. It is 33 feet in length, 8 feet 6 inches in width, and is furnished with a folding tent or awning over the standing room, either or both sides of which may be raised to protect passengers from rain, spray, or wind. When not in use, the tent folds down snugly on either side of the boat outside the rising.
Either or both sides of the tent may be elevated, thus making an awning proper.
The general advantages of the Herreshoff launch are summed up in the preliminary report of Chief-Engineers Isherwood, Zeller, and Carpenter, from which we make the following extracts:
"The following general opinions, arrived at by close observation during long and exhaustive experiments, can be depended on.
" 1. As regards the hulls of the launches. The models of the Herreshoff launches and the distribution of their weights have been so perfected by long and intelligent experience and experimenting, as to scarcely leave room for improvement, the Herreshoff Manufacturing Company having formally years made a specialty of designing, constructing and testing steam launches, steam yachts, steam torpedo boats, and similar vessels. The material is of the best quality, well seasoned, and carefully selected. It is so distributed in the construction of the hulls that the required strength is obtained, with the least weight; the thoroughness and perfection of the fastenings being depended on, instead of masses of material poorly secured. The workmanship cannot be excelled in neatness, finish, and skill. These hulls combine the maximum of strength with the minimum of weight, which is the end to be attained in this class of vessels where lightness is of the first consequence for stowage on board ship, car¬rying capability, small draught of water, and speed. In all these particulars of model, construction, combination, strength, finish, lightness, quality of materials and workmanship, the Herreshoff steam launches are incomparably superior to the navy launches, a Superiority resulting from the fact that the latter are only occasionally designed and built at the navy yards, and then by persons whose skill and experience lies in the designing and constructing of large vessels, and who devote little or no attention to what is considered as comparatively a small matter, but which, if the highest excellence is to be attained, requires much special training and experience.
2. As regards the machinery. The system of machinery employed in the Herreshoff launches is quite original in most of its details. It is diametrically opposite to that which is used in the navy launches and is in every particular greatly superior to the latter. In the navy launches a single cylinder is employed, and the starting and stopping are consequently uncertain and slow, with the risk of damage and accident from running into wharves and vessels, and also loss of time.
In the navy launches, steam of high pressure (80 to 100 lb. per square inch above the atmosphere) is used almost without expansion, and it is generated in a type of boiler whose strength is only moderately in excess of the pressure. This steam is not condensed, but is exhausted direct into the chimney of the boiler to cause sufficient draught for generating the disproportionately large quantity of steam required with this system.
"In the Herreshoff launches the engines are by preference of the compound type and of the simplest design; the two cylinders are connected at right angles, and the control of the vessel is thus made complete, there being no time lost and no uncertainty in the starting, stopping, and backing. There are no independent cut-off valves, the difference in the areas of the pistons of the two cylinders giving, without that complication, an expansion of from four to five times, so that all the economy possible from this source is attained. The boiler is practically inexplodible, being composed of a coil of iron pipe from two to three inches in outside diameter according to size of boiler. The steam pressure carried, how-ever, is comparatively low, ranging for ordinary use from 40 to 60 lb. per square inch above the atmosphere; the engines being made strong enough to run under a pressure of 150 lb., or as much as the boiler can be made to furnish. This boiler has a forced circulation, is absolutely safe both on account of its strength and of the very small quantities of steam and water which it contains; it is operated by natural draught, which, how-ever, can be increased by a small steam jet thrown into the chimney whenever there may be a demand for the maximum quantity of steam. The economic vaporization is as good as that of any other marine boiler. This boiler, owing to its forced circulation, with the feed water entering at the top of the coil while the steam is drawn off at the bottom, can be successfully employed with the highest rate of combustion given by a powerful fan blast delivering the air into a closed ashpit; that is to say, with a combustion of 50 lb. of coal and over per square foot of grate surface per hour; being in this respect the only boiler composed exclusively of tubes that can be worked at exceptionally high rates of combustion. In all other boilers of this kind the rate of combustion is limited by the fact that as soon as the quantity of beat thrown in a given time on the tubes reaches a very moderate amount, the water is driven from the iron, •which, deprived of that protection, speedily burns out.
" The coil boiler is the lightest ever constructed for its power, and the weight of water contained in it is the least. This boiler is the peculiar feature of the Herreshoff system and the only part patented.
"The engine is condensing, the steam from the cylinder being exhausted into a surface condenser of the simplest design and lightest execution, formed by a copper pipe secured to the outside of the hull just above the keel. By this means the boiler is supplied with fresh water, and the slight quantity lost by leakage is restored from a small tank situated beneath the boiler.
"The continuous service of the launch is thus limited by only the weight of coal it can carry, and not by the weight of water it can carry. The bunkers can easily and quickly be refilled from other vessels at any locality, but the filling of tanks with fresh water can only be done where fresh water can be obtained.
"Tile use of condensing engines with surface condensers renders the Herreshoff steam launch of real military value, from the length of time it can continuously steam, and from its freedom from noise. When the engines are stopped temporarily, the steam is then blown from the boiler directly into the condenser and there condensed, the condenser, under the circumstances, cannot be overheated, as the outboard pipe is in continual contact with continuously changing outside water even when the vessel is at rest.
"The navy launch carries 960 pounds of coal in the bunkers, and 2,500 pounds of water in the tanks, and in smooth water can maintain a speed of 7 statute miles for four consecutive hours, after which the tanks must be refueled.
"The Herreshoff launch carries 1,120 pounds of coal in the bunkers, and can maintain a speed of 7 statute miles for twenty-eight consecutive hours, after which the bunkers must be refilled. But if there be added to the fuel weight the 2,500 pounds in water in the navy launch, then the consecutive steaming of the Herreshoff launch can be extended to ninety-eight hours.
"The maximum speed of the navy launch was 8'5 statute miles per hour, and of the Herreshoff launch 11 statute miles per hour.
"When the two launches were tried together in very rough water, against a strong head wind and sea, the superiority of the Herreshoff launch was much more marked than in smooth water. While the navy launch took in so much water over the bows as to endanger her safety, and to require constant bailing with buckets, the Herreshoff launch was dry. She was much better trimmed, lighter, more buoyant, and every way superior in nautical qualities to the navy launch, at the same time making double the speed.
"As regards economy of fuel, the Herreshoff launch develops the indicated horse power with less than half the coal required in the navy launch. In every particular the superiority of the Herreshoff launches to the navy launch was so marked as to be apparent to the most cursory observation. Their weight was one-half and their economy of fuel was double; their nautical qualities were much finer, their carrying capacity was greater, their finish and general arrangement were better, they were noiseless, and their capability of continuous service was enormously greater. The superior adaptability of the Herreshoff system to that of any other known to us for steam launches, steam yachts, steam pinnaces, torpedo boats, small gun boats. etc., is so unquestionable, that after the most extensive experiments and thorough examination of the subject, we are constrained to recommend it, though comparatively new to the serious attention of the department for such classes of vessels. The management of the boiler differs from the management of boilers of other types, but is soon acquired by the humblest intelligence, and we believe the engineering of the Navy should be familiarized with it as speedily as possible, as its use is certain to extend as its merit becomes understood."
In addition to marine work the Herreshoff company are at present giving particular attention to engines for electric light. The quickness with which steam may be raised, the freedom from danger of explosion, the lightness of both boiler and engine, and the perfection of the mechanical details, render this system valuable for this purpose, and admits of placing powerful machines in the midst of crowded cities without danger to life or property.
This system has also been successfully employed in working bridge draws, dummy engines, portable and stationary pumping engines. For saw mills it has peculiar advantages. Its safety, portability, and its quick and powerful steaming qualities, give it the precedence over other steam motors.
The entire range of the manufactures of the Herreshoff company exhibit careful and intelligent supervision, and workmanship that is in every way superior.