Tom Swift and his Wireless Message by Victor Appleton
Chapter VII. Making Some Changes
"Well, what do you think of it?" asked Mr. Fenwick again, as Tom walked all about the electric airship, still without speaking.
"It's big, certainly," remarked the lad.
"Bless my shoe horn! I should say it was!" burst out Mr. Damon. "It's larger than your Red Cloud, Tom."
"But will it go? That's what I want to know," insisted the inventor. "Do you think it will fly, Tom? I haven't dared to try it yet, though a small model which I made floated in the air for some time. But it wouldn't move, except as the wind blew it."
"It would be hard to say, without a careful examination, whether this large one will fly or not," answered Tom.
"Then give it a careful examination," suggested Mr. Fenwick. "I'll pay you well for your time and trouble."
"Oh if I can help a fellow inventor, and assist in making a new model of airship fly, I'm only too glad to do it without pay," retorted Tom, quickly. "I didn't come here for that. Suppose we go in the cabin, and look at the motor. That's the most important point, if your airship is to navigate."
There was certainly plenty of machinery in the cabin of the Whizzer. Most of it was electrical, for on that power Mr. Fenwick intended to depend to sail through space. There was a new type of gasolene engine, small but very powerful, and this served to operate a dynamo. In turn, the dynamo operated an electrical motor, as Mr. Fenwick had an idea that better, and more uniform, power could be obtained in this way, than from a gasolene motor direct. One advantage which Tom noticed at once, was that the Whizzer had a large electric storage battery.
This was intended to operate the electric motor in case of a break to the main machinery, and it seemed a good idea. There were various other apparatuses, machines, and appliances, the nature of which Tom could not readily gather from a mere casual view.
"Well, what's your opinion, now that you have seen the motor?" asked Mr. Fenwick, anxiously.
"I'd have to see it in operation," said Tom.
"And you shall, right after dinner," declared the inventor. "I'd like to start it now, and hear what you have to say, but I'm not so selfish as that. I know you must be hungry after your trip from Shopton, as they say aeroplaning gives one an appetite."
"I don't know whether it's that or not," answered Tom with a laugh, "but I am certainly hungry."
"Then we'll postpone the trial until after dinner. It must be ready by this time, I think," said Mr. Fenwick, as he led the way back to the house. It was magnificently furnished, for the inventor was a man of wealth, and only took up aeroplaning as a "fad." An excellent dinner was served, and then the three returned once more to the shed where the Whizzer was kept.
"Shall I start the motor in here?" asked Mr. Fenwick, when he had summoned several of the machinists whom he employed, to aid himself and the young inventor.
"It would be better if we could take it outside," suggested Tom, "yet a crowd is sure to gather, and I don't like to work in a mob of people."
"Oh, we can easily get around that," said Mr. Fenwick. "I have two openings to my aeroplane shed. We can take the Whizzer out of the rear door, into a field enclosed by a high fence. That is where I made all my trials, and the crowd couldn't get in, though some boys did find knot-holes and use them. But I don't mind that. The only thing that bothers me is that I can't make the Whizzer go up, and if it won't go up, it certainly won't sail. That's my difficulty, and I hope you can remedy it, Tom Swift."
"I'll do the best I can. But let's get the airship outside."
This was soon accomplished, and in the open lot Tom made a thorough and careful examination of the mechanism. The motor was started, and the propellers, for there were two, whirled around at rapid speed.
Tom made some tests and calculations, at which he was an expert, and applied the brake test, to see how much horse power the motor would deliver.
"I think there is one trouble that we will have to get over," he finally said to Mr. Fenwick.
"What is that?"
"The motor is not quite powerful enough because of the way in which you have it geared up. I think by changing some of the cogs, and getting rid of the off-set shaft, also by increasing the number of revolutions, and perhaps by using a new style of carburetor, we can get more speed and power."
"Then we'll do it!" cried Mr. Fenwick, with enthusiasm. "I knew I hadn't got everything just right. Do you think it will work after that?"
"Well," remarked Tom, hesitatingly, "I think the arrangement of the planes will also have to be changed. It will take quite some work, but perhaps, after a bit, we can get the Whizzer up in the air."
"Can you begin work at once?" asked the inventor, eagerly.
Tom shook his head.
"I can't stay long enough on this trip," he said. "I promised father I would be back by to-morrow at the latest, but I will come over here again, and arrange to stay until I have done all I can. I need to get some of my special tools, and then, too, you will require some other supplies, of which I will give you a list. I hope you don't mind me speaking in this way, Mr. Fenwick, as though I knew more about it than you do," added Tom, modestly.
"Not a bit of it!" cried the inventor heartily. "I want the benefit of your advice and experience, and I'll do just as you say. I hope you can come back soon."
"I'll return the first of the week," promised Tom, "and then we'll see what can be done. Now I'll go over the whole ship once more, and see what I need. I also want to test the lifting capacity of your gas bag."
The rest of the day was a busy one for our hero. With the aid of Mr. Damon and the owner of the Whizzer, he went over every point carefully. Then, as it was too late to attempt the return flight to Shopton, he telegraphed his father, and he and Mr. Damon remained over night with Mr. Fenwick.
In the morning, having written out a list of the things that would be needed, Tom went out to Franklin Field, and repaired his own monoplane. It was found that one of the electric wires connected with the motor had broken, thus cutting off the spark. It was soon repaired, and, in the presence of a large crowd, Tom and Mr. Damon started on their return flight.
"Do you think you can make the Whizzer work, Tom?" asked Mr. Damon, as they were flying high over Philadelphia.
"I'm a little dubious about it," was the reply. "But after I make some changes I may have a different opinion. The whole affair is too big and clumsy, that's the trouble; though the electrical part of it is very good."
Shopton was reached without incident, in about three hours, and there was no necessity, this time, of vol-planing back to earth. After a short rest, Tom began getting together a number of special tools and appliances, which he proposed taking back to Philadelphia with him.
The young inventor made another trip to Mr. Fenwick's house the first of the following week. He went by train this time, as he had to ship his tools, and Mr. Damon did not accompany him. Then, with the assistance of the inventor of the Whizzer, and several of his mechanics, Tom began making the changes on the airship.
"Do you think you can make it fly?" asked Mr. Fenwick, anxiously, after several days of labor.
"I hope so," replied our hero, and there was more confidence in his tone than there had been before. As the work progressed, he began to be more hopeful. "I'll make a trial flight, anyhow, in a few days," he added.
"Then I must send word to Mr. Damon," decided Mr. Fenwick. "He wants to be on hand to see it, and, if possible, go up; so he told me."
"All right," assented Tom. "I only hope it does go up," he concluded, in a low tone.