The Caloric Ship Ericsson

Source : From the New York Herald
Title: The Caloric Ship Ericsson - Successful trial trip - General description of the Ship - Another great commercial enterprise.
Date: Probably January 12, 1853.

In the great commercial and shipping circles of the world nothing has excited more interest of late than the novel discovery and enterprise of Captain Ericsson, by which steam, as a motive power, is to be supplanted by caloric, or heated air; and nothing but the successful application of the actual test could remove the skepticism with which, generally, the project has been viewed.

This test has, however, at length been furnished, and now all doubts of the practicability and importance of the invention are dispelled. The ship Ericsson, constructed on the new principle, made her trial trip, on Tuesday morning, down the bay of New York, and from the complete triumph with which the experiment was attended, there need now be no hesitation in acknowledging caloric as a great natural element adapted to locomotion, destined to work a complete revolution in navigation, and to confer an inestimable benefit on mankind.

The Ericsson was put under caloric early on Tuesday morning, and started from Williamsburg between 9 and 10 O’clock. At 9 h. 55 m. she passed the flagstaff on Governor’s island, and at 10 h. 36 m. and 30 seconds she was abreast Fort Diamond, thus making a distance of seven and three- eighths miles in thirty-four minutes and thirty seconds. From thence she proceeded down the bay, rounded to below Spithead buoy at 11 h. 21 m., and there anchored in consequence of a snow squall.

She returned on Wednesday, and anchored off the Battery at 2 o’clock in the afternoon. The distance between the stated points on Governor’s Island and Fort Diamond being accurately known by triangulation to be seven miles six hundred and sixty yards, the speed attained was as stated about fourteen miles an hour. The consumption of fuel is ascertained to be only six English tons per twenty- four hours, a saving, as compared with steamships, of more than eighty per cent. As the ship draws 16 feet 10 inches on an even keel, this performance at a first trial has astonished all concerned in the enterprise.

The great idea which had for more than twenty years been ripening in the brain of the inventor, but which, from the incredulity and opposition he encountered among men of capital in his own native country, in England, and in America, he had been unable to realize, has thus been substantiated as a real entity. It was fortunate for Captain Ericsson, and for the world, that one of our own enterprising merchants, John B. Kitching, esq., who appreciated and relied on his talent and genius, determined at all risks to enable him to make the experiment on a scale worthy of the magnitude of the issue. For this purpose the latter furnished half of the capital necessary for the enterprise, and disposed among his acquaintances of the remainder of the stock.

By this means, and regardless of expense, the clipper ship, whose first performance we have recorded, was built at the yard of Penine, Patterson & Stack, and fitted up with enginery on the caloric principle, under the immediate direction and supervision of Captain Ericsson. The vessel measures 260 feet in length of deck, and 40 feet in breadth of beam; her depth of hold is 27 feet, and her burden 2,200 tons. Like the Arabia, of the Cunard line, she has but two masts, and like our swiftest clippers, she is extremely sharp in the prow. She has no figurehead. Her stern presents the device of two figures, allegorical representations of the United States and Great Britain placing a wreath around the brow of the inventor.

She had been originally named the Caloric, but in compliment to the genius who planned her, her name was changed to the Ericsson. This was considered by Captain Ericsson a high tribute to himself, but the flattering device which was placed upon the stern without his knowledge overwhelmed him with emotion, and we are told that when he first saw it he wept like a child. The Ericsson presents a very handsome and unique appearance, from the four white funnels which rise some ten or twelve feet over the promenade deck, and which somewhat resemble Ionic pillars without the capital. They are thirty inches in diameter, and are supported by octagon pedestals, also white. Two of these columns, or pipes, carry off the air from the engines, and the other two serve as chimneys. Around their tops they are ornamented with gilt rings and mouldings. These gilt ornaments are now, after ten days’ firing, perfectly bright. Entering the spar-deck, the absence of any crank hatches, and a clear deck for two hundred feet on each side of the deck-house, attract the eye. The berth-deck likewise presents an unbroken line, with staterooms along the entire ship, and passages between the fore and aft saloons on both sides.

As a model of naval architecture, there is not a vessel in our splendid merchant marine that can compete with the Ericsson for graceful proportions and symmetry of build. All who have seen her concur in the expression of admiration of this beautiful ship; and in their opinion of her superior sailing qualities, independent of any aid from her machinery.

For obvious reasons, those interested in the undertaking have observed great caution and jealousy to prevent any knowledge of the construction of her machinery, &c., from getting abroad. To guard against this, portions of it were made at various places - New York, Philadelphia, West Point, &c. - from plans and specifications furnished by the inventor. So perfect and true were his calculations, that every piece of the machinery thus made fitted in with the utmost exactitude, so that, to give the language of one of the persons engaged in it, a sheet of tissue paper could not be put in between the joints.

This circumstance, in itself, speaks well for the great engineering skill of its constructor. The same jealous caution was observed in permitting strangers on board. The exclusion of all outsiders has been very rigidly enforced, so that the hundreds whose curiosity brought them to visit her were forced to content themselves with a distant inspection. Thus, up to the present time, no correct description of her has appeared in type; and we therefore feel confident that that which we now present to our readers in relation to this remarkable vessel, will be read with an interest proportionate to the invention, of which the Ericsson is the first embodiment.

Let the reader, therefore, accompany us as we are chaperoned throughout the ship by her gallant and polite commander, Capt. A. B. Lowber, to whose ability and experience as a navigator she has been well confided.

Let me first show you, says our guide, the freight deck, and then we will ascend and examine her in detail. To the freight deck, therefore, we descended, and were pointed out its capacity, extending as it does some 260 feet. It is entirely free from obstruction of every kind, excepting only a space along the middle, which contains the cylinders, enclosed within strong bulkheads. None of its room is to be devoted, as in steamers, to the carrying of coal, which is stowed away in sufficient quantity each side of the engine.

It is calculated thus to carry 1,400 tons of teas, or other light merchandise; or, if engaged in the Australia or California trade, it is well adapted for accommodating some four or five hundred passengers. A ventilator on a new principle, and connected with the machinery, extends to this deck. About midships there is a sort of square enclosure, which, we learned, communicated only with the main deck, and which has been fitted up for the female servants of cabin passengers. This is a great improvement on the present plan, which makes little or no provision for this class of travellers. We found this room neatly and comfortably furnished, with twelve or fourteen berths, and conveniences for bandboxes and the various et ceteras of waiting women.

From the freight deck we ascend by a wide stairway to the main deck. This is occupied from stein to stern by sixty state rooms; those in the aft cabin fitted up with two berths each, and those in the forward cabin with three. We inspected the latter portion first, and were struck with the elegance and taste with which it was fitted up. We were immediately reminded of the motto, which we saw in a conspicuous position on the board, “everything in its place, and a place for everything,” and we felt the conviction that this maxim was not lost sight of in the construction and fitting up of the ship.

The state rooms communicate direct with the saloon by a gothic arched door, which opens on every two rooms. They are richly carpeted, and are lighted by day with deck and side lights, and by night with a three-sided lamp, so fitted in the panelling as to furnish a light at the same time to two rooms and the saloon. These lamps are provided with a lock, and are to be in charge of one of the employees. The berths are handsomely fitted up; the mattresses are composed of the best curled hair; and the bed clothes are also of the whitest and finest texture, and marked with the word Ericsson in red letters.

A marble slab wash basin and appurtenances belong to each room; and on the side opposite the berths is a sort of day sofa, which answers the very necessary use of a receptacle for soiled clothes and boots. A small bronzed framed mirror, with a pivot which permits it to be turned in every direction, completes the furniture of these apartments. We must not forget to mention that a fine room is also fitted up here for the accommodation of die waiters connected with the vessel, who are obliged on other ships to stow themselves away under the tables and elsewhere. Fourteen double berths are provided for them, and all the conveniences of water pipes, wash basins, mirrors, &c.

The forward cabin saloon is very handsomely furnished, and presents a chaste appearance, from the gothic style of the doors which open into the state rooms, and from its general decorations. The chairs and sofas are covered with crimson plush, and are of the neatest pattern. The carpets are of a very rich and beautiful material, the design representing the American flag interspersed with forest foliage, &c. The panels are painted white, shaded with a light tinge of purple, and decorated with gilding. The device round the cornices, on raised gilded work, represents Neptune in his chariot, drawn by sea monsters.

In fact, the only point of distinction between the aft and forward cabins is, that the rooms of the latter are fitted up with an extra berth; and if it were judged advisable to have a uniformity of price for passage, the plan could he easily carried into execution, it being only requisite to take away the third berth from each of the forward cabin state rooms. For the saloon, there is a steward’s pantry amidships, provided with neat delph, glass, cutlery, &c., and communicating by a dumb waiter with the kitchen.

The state rooms of the after cabin, which is merely separated from the other by passage doors, are in no respect different, except in the numbers of berths, from those we have just described. They range along each side of the deck, the central space being occupied with the machinery, to which several doors admit an entrance. These doors have a circular pane of glass, to allow passengers to witness the working of the machinery. A barber shop is fitted up in the state room through which the shaft runs, the corresponding room on the opposite side being used as a storeroom.

The saloon is larger, and furnished perhaps in a more expensive style, than the forward cabin, but the character of the furniture and fittings is precisely the same. This saloon is heated by a hot air apparatus, and ventilated by the same means as is the freight deck, except that here the ventilator is shut in by a stained glass frame. Hot and cold air can be supplied to any part of the vessel from the engine. The peculiar construction of the ship, and comparatively small room occupied by the machinery, afford an inner promenade round the whole course of the cabins, extending some five hundred feet. On the upper deck the space between the cabins and the side of the vessel is some twelve feet wide, extending also round the ship.

The ladies’ boudoir in the after cabin is a handsome semi-circular apartment, furnished with great elegance, and richly carpeted. It is entered from the main saloon by two doors, on opposite sides; round the bend of the room a sofa is arranged, with a marble slab table in front of it. There are besides in the room several ottomans and luxurious arm chairs, covered with rich crimson plush, and the walls are ornamented with mirrors. There is also a neat library fitted up in this room, with mirror doors, the lower part of it being reserved for a medicine chest. The apartment is one of the most chaste and elegant we have ever seen assigned to the purpose of a ship.

From the main cabin there are four stairways to the upper deck. Here is the dining hail for the aft cabin passengers. This is a fine well lighted room, painted in imitation of oak, having mirrors and windows in each alternate section of panels. There are several bookcases in the room, which is also supplied with comfortable sofas. Leading from it forward, we come upon a small circular apartment, containing a glass case for the ship’s plate, &c., and here, also, is the main pantry, a room for the storekeeper to issue wine, and a water-tank with filter, capable of holding one hundred and five gallons. The remainder of this deck, forward, is occupied in kitchen, steward’s rooms, officers’ mess, &c.; and aft is a smoking room for the first cabin passengers, with a fine comfortable wheel-house, in which is a place for stowing ammunition, &c.

One of the greatest peculiarities in the fitting up of this ship is the absence of all angularities, and one cannot but admire the skill with which every available spot is adapted to the best use, while all arrangements are of the most regular kind. Nor in the attention to the comfort of the passengers has the comfort and wellbeing of the sailors and firemen been overlooked; the forecastle is neatly fitted up with berths, water pipes, basins, mirrors, library, &c., and on the larboard side the like accommodations have been provided for the firemen.

Having arrived thus far in our gratifying inspection of the Ericsson, we were led to that portion assigned to the machinery. This Part is characterized by the same neatness, and exhibits the same proofs of superior skill and management, as are observable throughout every other part of it. Apart from the main principle, the distinguishing feature of the engines of the Ericsson consists in dispensing with the centre shaft, whilst at the same time two pairs of working cylinders are employed, imparting a continuous rotary movement, as in the double marine steam engine.

The arrangement by which Captain Ericsson attains this desirable uniform action presents one of the most elegant mechanical combinations ever produced. Each pair of working cylinders, with their appropriate supply cylinders, are placed parallel to the ship’s centre line; one pair forward of, and the other abaft, the paddle shaft. The supply cylinders being inverted and placed at some distance above the working cylinders, with their open ends presented to the open ends of the working cylinders, a space is formed between the two, which contains a triangular lever for transmitting the vertical energy of the working pistons to the crank of the paddle shaft by a diagonal movement.

The mean angle of their diagonal being about forty-five degrees abaft the vertical plane of the paddle shaft in the aft engine, and forty-five degrees forward of that place in the forward engine, it is obvious that the forces of the two engines will be exerted nearly at right angles to each other. Hence the double cranks, and the objectionable centre shaft of the marine steam engine, are obviated; a single crank placed in the middle of the caloric ship serving to transmit, in a perfect manner, the continuous rotary motion required in turning paddle wheels for ocean purposes.

In further comparing the machinery of the Ericsson with the double marine steam engine, it will be found that the four side levers have disappeared; the cross heads and cross tails likewise; nor are the four side rods to he found; and, above all, the absence of the parallel motion, with their nicely-adjusted joints and levers for converting the curved movements into straight ones, claim attention. In place of all these parts will be found simply a triangular lever for each engine, with a link and connecting rod for transmitting the power of the pistons to the crank of the paddle shaft.

Again, the four huge boilers of the ocean steamer give place to four small furnaces, erected under the working cylinders. Force-pumps, brine-pump, safety-valves, &c., and the network of connecting pipes, which fill the bottom of the ocean steamer, have all disappeared; and in place of gauge-cocks, brine-gauges, injection valves, &c., &c., calling for incessant vigilance on the part of many minds and hands at once, a single handle attached to the valve gear of the engines regulates at the will of a single mind the movements of a caloric ship. Starting, stopping, backing, and checking being effected by this single handle, without any regard to particular conditions, so essential in working the engines of the ocean steamer.

The arrangement of the caloric ship being such that the required air for the engines - from 50 to 70 tons weight per hour - has to pass through the fire rooms before entering the supply cylinders, it has been found in the Ericsson that the temperature is actually too low for the comfort of the firemen.

As an engineering achievement, the machinery of the Ericsson is very far ahead of anything afloat. The engineer, who beholds four open cylinders, each of 168 inches in diameter, with their pistons of upwards of twenty-two thousand superficial inches area, moving up and down in sight, through a space of six feet, can best appreciate the greatness of that achievement. To the ordinary observer, the movement of the whole machine is wonderful. And we cannot but feel extremely gratified that the caloric principle was introduced to the world on a scale so commensurate with its importance, and that our metropolis has the honor of initiating it.