# A Catechism of the Steam Engine eBook

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561. Q.—­Then is it beneficial to use small floats?

A.—­Quite the contrary.  If to permit a greater speed of the engine the floats be diminished in area instead of being raised out of the water, no appreciable accession to the speed of the vessel will be obtained; whereas there will be an increased speed of vessel if the accelerated speed of the engine be caused by diminishing the diameter of the wheels.  In vessels intended to be fast, therefore, it is expedient to make the wheels small, so as to enable the engine to work with a high velocity; and it is expedient to make such wheels of the feathering kind, to obviate loss of power from oblique action.  In no wheel must the rolling circle fall below the water line, else the entering and emerging floats will carry masses of water before them.  The slip is usually equal to about one-fourth of the velocity of the centre of pressure in well proportioned wheels; but it is desirable to have the slip as small as is possible consistently with the observance of other necessary conditions.  The speed of the engine and also the speed of the vessel being fixed, the diameter of the rolling circle becomes at once ascertainable, and adding to this the slip, we have the diameter of the wheel.

## CONFIGURATION AND ACTION OF THE SCREW.

562. Q.—­Will you describe more in detail than you have yet done, the configuration and mode of action of the screw propeller?

A.—­The ordinary form of screw propeller is represented in figs. 46 and 47; fig. 46 being a perspective view, and fig. 47 an end view, or view such as is seen when looking upon the end of the shaft.  The screw here represented is one with two arms or blades.  Some screws have three arms, some four and some six; but the screw with two arms is the most usual, and screws with more than three arms are not now much employed in this country.  The screw on being put into revolution by the engine, preserves a spiral path in the water, in which it draws itself forward in the same way as a screw nail does when turned round in a piece of wood, whereas the paddle wheel more resembles the action of a cog wheel working in a rack.

[Illustration:  Fig. 46.  Fig. 47.  ORDINARY FORM OF SCREW PROPELLER.]

563. Q.—­But the screw of a steam vessel has no resemblance to a screw nail?

A.—­It has in fact a very close resemblance if you suppose only a very short piece of the screw nail to be employed, and if you suppose, moreover, the thread of the screw to be cut nearly into the centre to prevent the wood from stripping.  The original screw propellers were made with several convolutions of screw, but it was found advantageous to shorten them, until they are now only made one-sixth of a convolution in length.

564. Q.—­And the pitch you have already explained to be the distance in the line of the shaft from one convolution to the next, supposing the screw to consist of two or more convolutions?

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