569. Q.—But how is such a result possible?
A.—It appears to be mainly owing to the centrifugal action of the screw, which interposes a film or wedge of water between the screw itself and the water on which the screw reacts. This negative slip, as it is called, chiefly occurs when the pitch of the screw is less than its diameter, and when, consequently, the velocity of rotation is greater than if a coarser pitch had been employed. There is, moreover, in all vessels passing through the water with any considerable velocity, a current of water following the vessel, in which current, in the case of a screw vessel, the screw will revolve; and in certain cases the phenomenon of negative slip may be imputable in part to the existence of this current.
570. Q.—Is the screw propeller as effectual an instrument of propulsion as the radial or feathering paddle?
A.—In all cases of deep immersion it appears to be quite as effectual as the radial paddle, indeed, more so; but it is scarcely as effectual as the feathering paddle, with any amount of immersion, and scarcely as effectual as the common paddle in the case of light immersions.
571. Q.—Whether do you consider paddle or screw vessels to be on the whole the most advantageous?
A.—That is a large question, and can only receive a qualified answer. In some cases the use of paddles is indispensable, as, for example, in the case of river vessels of a limited draught of water, where it would not be possible to get sufficient depth below the water surface to enable a screw of a proper diameter to be got in.
572. Q.—But how does the matter stand in the case of ocean vessels?
A.—In the case of ocean vessels, it is found that paddle vessels fitted with the ordinary radial wheels, and screw vessels fitted with the ordinary screw, are about equally efficient in calms and in fair or beam winds with light and medium immersions. If the vessels are loaded deeply, however, as vessels starting on a long voyage and carrying much coal must almost necessarily be, then the screw has an advantage, since the screw acts in its best manner when deeply immersed, and the paddles in their worst. When a screw and paddle vessel, however, of the same model and power are set to encounter head winds, the paddle vessel it is found has in all cases an advantage, not in speed, but in economy of fuel. For whereas in a paddle vessel, when her progress is resisted, the speed of the engine diminishes nearly in the proportion of the diminished speed of ship, it happens that in a screw vessel this is not so,—at least to an equal extent,—but the engines work with nearly the same rate of speed as if no increase of resistance had been encountered by the ship. It follows from this circumstance, that whereas in paddle vessels the consumption of steam, and therefore of fuel, per hour is materially diminished when head winds occur, in screw vessels a similar diminution in the consumption of steam and fuel does not take place.