In the struggle to advance the records for transat lantic steaming which is now attracting so much pub lic interest, the final decision of the question"1 as to what figure that record shall reach depen'ds upon the man before the furnace. It is a matter for the fire man to determine. This fact has long been under stood by the big steamship companies; and when a new flier is about to make her one supreme attempt to accomplish a record passage, picked men in the fire-room and special bonuses contribute not a little to the record-breaking effort. The importance of the fireman is clearly evident in the case of the two quad ruple-turbine steamers, which are now being placed in service. On her trial trip of 1,200 miles the "Lusitania" made 26.45 knots for 300 miles, and 25.40 knots for 1,200 miles. On that occasion, it goes with out saying that good coal and selected firemen in sured that in every one of the twenty-five boilers steam was maintained steadily at the standard pres sure of 200 pounds to the square inch. Given an ample supply of steam at that pressure, and fairly good weather, and the "Lusitania" stands good to make at any time her 25 to 25% knots over the whole transatlantic course. But let any such conditions as poor coal and inefficient firemen be introduced, and the steam pressure and speed will drop accordingly. So far the "Lusitania" has made 24.25 knots for the whole passage, and her average is advancing with each voyage; but if a comparison were made between the log of the navigating officer and the log of the engine room, it would be found that there was a re markably close correspondence between the curve of speed and the curve of steam pressure. Within another week the "Mauretania" will start on her maiden voyage. Because of the fact that on her trial trip she has proved to be from two-thirds of a knot to a knot faster than her predecessor, even greater interest will attach to the performance of this ship. In a single run over the 300-mile course through the Irish Sea she averaged 27.36 knots, which is equal to about 31% land miles an hour. On the whole 1,200-niile course her average was 26.03 knots. If the ship has maintained 26 knots for 1,200 miles, there is no reason why, under equally favorable weather conditions, she should not maintain that speed from Queenstown to Sandy Hook. In her case, as in the case of the other ship, it will be a question of the ability of the firemen to maintain the steam pressure at the standard set by the designers.
This article was originally published with the title "The Man before the Furnace"