Tower's Steady Platform
Tower's Steady Platform was a hydraulic stabilising device invented by Mr. Beauchamp Tower and first described on 12th April, 1889 at the Thirtieth Session of the Institute of Naval Architects which helped reduce or eliminate wobble in guns or searchlight beams attributed to sea action. Its design and internal workings are detailed in the Annual Report of the Torpedo School, 1890.
It was originally developed with 3-pdr gunnery in mind, but Vernon quickly adapted it to searchlights so that patroling destroyers would be better able to conduct searches in harbours or to screen fleets at sea.
1889-90 Tests at Vernon
Interest was keen and progress to testing rapid. A prototype was tested in June 1889 at Spithead with a rifle lashed to a model of a 3-pdr gun on a yacht named Seal, it proved unsatisfactory due to a jerky motion of 0.5 to 1 degree. Mr. Tower was encouraged to alter his device so it might work with a searchlight, and tests of this new, refined device occurred in February and March, 1890. Results with the light and again with a model gun and sight showed tremendous improvement; a 15 to 30 degree jerky roll of Seal flattened to just a quarter degree on the gunsight.
Tests with a Maxim gun followed, but the weather was too good for proper testing. In June 1890, the device was using 3.77 H.P. pumps at 39.5 R.P.M. and 100 P.S.I.. With a 312 pound gun and a 573 pound platform, the weight of the mechanism and counterweights was 447 pounds.
On 28 September 1894, trial of the searchlight platform was closed by Admiralty Letter, but it was to resume.
In 1896, the "A" class destroyers Swordfish and Spitfire were fitted with an improved version which proved "very satisfactory," In tests at Chatham on 13th October, 1896, Spitfire was moored in basin number 3 and rolled about 25 degrees while she shone her light on a hatch-painted test vessel situated abeam. The light beam did not waver by more than a half degree during the test. The pump was able to provide its magic within about 20 seconds of being started.
- Annual Report of the Torpedo School, 1890. Plate 6, Fig 3.
- Annual Report of the Torpedo School, 1890. pp. 49-50.
- Annual Report of the Torpedo School, 1890. p. 3.
- Annual Report of the Torpedo School, 1890. p. 51.
- Annual Report of the Torpedo School, 1890. pp. 52-53.
- Annual Report of the Torpedo School, 1890. pp. 54.
- Annual Report of the Torpedo School, 1894. p. 14.
- Annual Report of the Torpedo School, 1896. p. ix.
- Annual Report of the Torpedo School, 1896. p. 51.