I. THE VERTICAL TYPE
'The first boiler which I made was constructed something on the Herreshof principle, but instead of having one simple pipe in one very long coil, I used a series of very small and light pipes, connected in such a manner that there was a rapid circulation through the whole - the tubes increasing in size and number as the steam was generated. I intended that there should be a pressure of about 100 lbs. more on the feed water end of the series than on the steam end, and I believed that this difference in pressure would be sufficient to ensure direct and positive circulation through every tube in the series. The first boiler was exceedingly light, but the workmanship, as far as putting the tubes together was concerned, was very bad, and it was found impossible to so adjust the supply of water as to make dry steam without overheating and destroying the tubes.
'Before making another boiler I obtained a quantity of copper tubes, about 8 feet long, 3/8 inch external diameter, and 1/50 of an inch thick. I subjected about 100 of these tubes to an internal pressure of 1 ton per square inch of cold kerosene oil, and as none of them leaked I did not test any more, but commenced my experiments by placing some of them in a white-hot petroleum fire. I found that I could evaporate as much as 26 1/2 lbs. of water per square foot of heating surface per hour, and that with a forced circulation, although the quantity of water passing was very small but positive, there was no danger of overheating. I conducted many experiments with a pressure of over 400 lbs. per square inch, but none of the tubes failed. I then mounted a single tube in a white-hot furnace, also with a water circulation, and found that it only burst under steam at a pressure of 1,650 lbs. per square inch. A large boiler, having about 800 square feet of heating surface, including the feed-water heater, was then constructed. This boiler is about 4 1/2 feet wide at the bottom, 8 feet long and 6 feet high. It weighs, with the casing, the dome, and the smoke stack and connections, a little less than 1,000 lbs. The water first passes through a system of small tubes - 1/4 inch in diameter and 1/60 inch thick - which were placed at the top of the boiler and immediately over the large tubes.... This feed-water heater is found to be very effective. It utilises the heat of the products of combustion after they have passed through the boiler proper and greatly reduces their temperature, while the feed-water enters the boiler at a temperature of about 250 F. A forced circulation is maintained in the boiler, the feed-water entering through a spring valve, the spring valve being adjusted in such a manner that the pressure on the water is always 30 lbs. per square inch in excess of the boiler pressure. This fall of 30 lbs. in pressure acts upon the surrounding hot water which has already passed through the tubes, and drives it down through a vertical outside tube, thus ensuring a positive and rapid circulation through all the tubes. This apparatus is found to act extremely well.'
Thus Maxim, who with this engine as power for his large aeroplane achieved free flight once, as a matter of experiment, though for what distance or time the machine was actually off the ground is matter for debate, since it only got free by tearing up the rails which were to have held it down in the experiment. Here, however, was a steam engine which was practicable for use in the air, obviously, and only the rapid success of the internal combustion engine prevented the steam-producing type from being developed toward perfection.
The first designers of internal combustion engines, knowing nothing of the petrol of these days, constructed their examples with a view to using gas as fuel. As far back as 1872 Herr Paul Haenlein obtained a speed of about 10 miles an hour with a balloon propelled by an internal combustion engine, of which the fuel was gas obtained from the balloon itself. The engine in this case was of the Lenoir type, developing some 6 horse-power, and, obviously, Haenlein's flights were purely experimental and of short duration, since he used the gas that sustained him and decreased the lifting power of his balloon with every stroke of the piston of his engine. No further progress appears to have been made with the gas-consuming type of internal combustion engine for work with aircraft; this type has the disadvantage of requiring either a gas-producer or a large storage capacity for the gas, either of which makes the total weight of the power plant much greater than that of a petrol engine. The latter type also requires less attention when working, and the fuel is more convenient both for carrying and in the matter of carburation.
The first airship propelled by the present-day type of internal combustion engine was constructed by Baumgarten and Wolfert in 1879 at Leipzig, the engine being made by Daimler with a view to working on benzine - petrol as a fuel had not then come to its own. The construction of this engine is interesting since it was one of the first of Daimler's make, and it was the development brought about by the experimental series of which this engine was one that led to the success of the motor-car in very few years, incidentally leading to that fining down of the internal combustion engine which has facilitated the development of the aeroplane with such remarkable rapidity. Owing to the faulty construction of the airship no useful information was obtained from Daimler's pioneer installation, as the vessel got out of control immediately after it was first launched for flight, and was wrecked. Subsequent attempts at mechanically-propelled flight by Wolfert ended, in 1897, in the balloon being set on fire by an explosion of benzine vapour, resulting in the death of both the aeronauts.