I was shocked to see your letter decrying the “collection of spares spewing violent flame across the sky” in your newsletter posted last week. Why only the month before you were quite in favor of my double-action condensor. It seems the good opinion of the Learned Soceity is as easily lost as it is obtained, and a man may never know what it was he did to obtain either. Still, you seem one and all to be curious, and as such I will address your points of intrigue.
You have written me in question about the propulsion units on the small series of “Balloonatic” yachts I have been building, and I have so far beem remiss in responding to your points.
You have pointed out the essential wisdom of using voltaic piles or steam to turn the airscrews as an adequate means of motion, and I would normally agree. Indeed I have used such systems, but we must not fall into some mediocrity of thought. Both these systems are frought with a matter of mechanical complexity. And while a gentleman or lady may be fully prepared to have someone work on their land car as it stands helpless upon the roadside, or may have the expertise itself, indeed as one will certainly have a knowledgable engineer or spares upon the water, it is not always so in the air. Simplicity must be our driving taskmaster, my friends and colleages.
This was brought to me double so when making a varient of the yacht for militarized service within the militia. Ever item of luxury had to go, for those in uniform know that true convenience is returning alive at the end of one’s venture. Here again, I am pleased with the results of the form of propulsion I have taken use of.
To wit: as those of you with an understanding of modern currents in chemistry will no doubt be aware, Mr Richard Wolffenstein perfect recently a method of vaccum distillation which leaves a very high concentration of hydrogen peroxide from normally unreliable supplies. Now I have learned that at high concentrations, silver works as a catalyst which transforms (quite violently, I am afraid to say. I lost three assistants tragically in determining this.) the liquid into steam. I am no chemist, and therefore I cannot describe the reaction in better terms, but it is a curious one. The silver catalyst will eventually wear out.
So, in my system sirs and madams, the there are three tanks aboard the vehicle. The first two contain the hydrogen peroxide, and the third sphere contains hydrogen gas. The hydrogen gas is used for both pressurizing the pumps which supply fuel to the catalyst rockets, and in secondary usage, can be used to resupply the gasbags. There is a modicum of hydrogen allowed by safety valve into the engines, as well, as I have found in VERY low ammounts allows further use of the waste oxygen left behind from the catalizing, which would of course otherwise quickly corrode the steel of the nozzles. Sadly this leaves long flame trails due to various unimportant impurities, but provide no extra noticable thrust.
As for the layout of the balloons themselves, I did not have time nor the hangar space for one of these modern steamlined fish looking things that are the rage. Suffice to say, the craft will go where pointed.
I surely hope that this answers your questions, members of the Learned Society, and I hope that business does not keep me from also attending a meeting in two months time.