The small steam ferry boats represented in the accompanying cut are doing service in the port of Marseilles, and the following description of them has been given by Mr. Flecher in the Bulletin de la Société des Anciens Elèves d'Arts et Metiers:

All those who are acquainted with the Old Port of Marseilles know the inconvenience of communication between one shore and the other, and the high price of ferriage by row boats. To obviate this, Captain Advient has been struck with the happy idea of creating a cheap steam service (fare one cent), thus supplying a genuine want in the modes of locomotion of the city.

The building of these ferry boats, on a system providing for the use of separate hulls, was confided to Messrs. Stapfer, De Duclos & Co., of Marseilles, whose well-known reputation was a sufficient guarantee that the problem would be successfully solved.

There existed difficulties of two natures: The first of these related to the stability of boats such as this, having their engine, boiler, supply of coal, forty passengers who might all occupy one side of the vessel, a central superstructure, with roof; and, finally, all the weight centered on five feet of the deck, with nothing below to counterbalance it except the hollow hulls and two three-foot compartments, each placed toward the central portion of the hulls and designed as fresh-water reservoirs for the steam generator. The second difficulty was to obtain the best utilization possible of a screw placed in the current between the hulls and upon a shaft inclined toward the stern, that is, "stern" by analogy, for there is no distinction of fore and aft in ferry boats.



The conditions of the problem were finally fulfilled to the satisfaction of all concerned, and especially to that of the public.

The hulls, navicular in form and having a flat bottom, are constructed of one-tenth inch iron plate and 40x40 angle iron. Their dimensions are: Length, 33 feet; breadth, 3¼ feet; and depth, 5 feet. The internal distance between the two shells is 7¼ feet. These hulls, having absolutely water-tight decks, are connected below by tie bars of flat iron, and above by vertical stays 1 foot in length, which serve to support the floor-planks of the deck and boilerplate flooring of the engine-room. The engine-room, which is 19½ feet long by 5 feet wide, is constructed of varnished pitch-pine, with movable side-shutters of teak. The roof, of thin iron plate, is provided with a ventilator to allow of the escape of hot air.

The passengers, to the number of forty or fifty, can move about freely from larboard to starboard, or from stem to stern, or seat themselves on the benches running along the inside of the guard railing on the two sides of the vessel. They are protected from rain by a roof, and from the rays of the sun by a curtain extending along the sides.

Although the usual method of landing is fore and aft, gangways have been provided at the sides for side-landing should it become necessary.

The general appearance of one of these boats may be likened to that of a floating street-car. Finally, a small apartment, provided with benches, is provided for the use of those passengers who might be taken sick, or for office purposes, if need be.

The total weight of one of the boats is divided up as follows:

 Forty passengers................ 6,200 pounds,

Engine and boiler............... 6,600 "

Ballast, water, and equipment... 9,900 "

Deck and superstructure......... 6,600 "

Hull and accessories............12,500 "

Total...........................41,800 "

or a displacement of about 700 cubic feet, corresponding to a maximum draught of 3.7 feet. The mean speed is 4 knots, or 4½ miles per hour, a great velocity being unnecessary, owing to the small distance to cross in a port often obstructed by the general movement of vessels taking place therein.

The engine is from 16 to 18 horse-power. Its frame is inclined perpendicularly to the direction of the screw-shaft, the extremity of which is supported near the screw by a strengthened cross-stay serving as a pillow-block. The cylinder is 8 inches in diameter, and the piston has a stroke of 6 inches, causing the screw (which is 3¼ feet diameter) to make 200 revolutions per minute. The screw, although it has a wide surface of thrust, gives, nevertheless, a recoil of about 30 per cent., because of its location between the hulls and its oblique action on the shaft.

The steam is furnished by a tubular boiler having an internal fireplace and a heating surface of sixteen square meters, the draught being effected by the exhaust of the engine. This boiler, which is tested up to 14 pounds, is fed by a steam pump, or by a pump actuated by the engine. The feed pumps take water successively from one or the other of the reservoirs in the hulls. The reservoirs are filled in the morning, and their level is ascertained by two small and ingenious Decondun indicators, the dials of which are placed against the walls of the engine-room.

Taken altogether, these little boats are well arranged and quite handsome; and, since they were put into service in June, 1880, they have proved a great convenience to the hard-working and active population for which they were built.