Scientific American Supplement, No. 484, April 11, 1885
Author: Various
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NEW YORK, APRIL 11, 1885

Scientific American Supplement. Vol. XIX, No. 484.

Scientific American established 1845

Scientific American Supplement, $5 a year.

Scientific American and Supplement, $7 a year.

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I. ENGINEERING AND MECHANICS.—Bridge over the Blaauw Krantz Ravine, Cape Colony.—2 engravings.

Torpedo Ships.

The Gas Engine.—By DUGALD CLERK.—Combustion engines.—First cylinder and piston engine.—Watt's experiments.—First gas engine.—Principles of the gas engine.

Rapid Construction of the Canadian Pacific Railway.—By E.T. ABBOTT.

The Osgood Mammoth Excavator.—3 figures.

Capstan Navigation on the Volga.—4 figures.

Steamboat Equipment of War Vessels.—With engraving of winch for raising and lowering torpedo boats.

Improved Steam Trap.—1 engraving.

II. TECHNOLOGY.—Critical Methods of Detecting Errors in Plane Surfaces.—By JOHN A. BRASHEAR.—11 figures.

Photometric Standards.—9 figures.

Bleaching or Dyeing Yarns and Goods in Vacuo.—1 figure.

On the Moulding of Porcelain.—By CHAS. LAUTH.—Moulding by pressure of the air.—Moulding by vacuum.—Drying the moulded pieces.—2 figures.

Photo-Tricycle Apparatus.—1 figure.

A Photo Printing Light.—1 figure.

A New Actinometer.

Astronomical Photography.

Electricity as a Preventive of Scale in Boilers.

III. DECORATIVE ART.—Alphabet designed by Godfrey Sykes.—An engraving.

Old Wrought Iron Gate.—An engraving.

IV. GEOLOGY.—The Organization and Plan of the United States Geological Survey.—By J.W. POWELL.—A topographic map of the United States.—Paleontology.—Chemistry.—Physical researches.—Statistics.—Library.—Publications.—General geology.—Economic geology.—Relation of the general survey to the State survey.

V. BOTANY, ETC.—The Sunflowers.—Annuals, perennials, etc.—11 engravings.

Lye's Fuchsias.—1 engraving.

VI. HYGIENE, ETC.—Brief Sanitary Matters in Connection with Isolated Country Houses.—By E.W. BOWDITCH.

Sanitary Cooking.—By V.L. OPPENHEIMER.

Time required to digest Different Foods.

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This viaduct is built over a rocky ravine on the railway from Port Alfred to Grahamstown, at a height of about 200 ft. from the bottom. Its length is 480 ft. 6 in., and the width of the platform is 15 ft., the gauge of the railway being 3 ft. 6 in. The central span of the viaduct is an arch of 220 ft. span between abutments, and about 90 ft. height; the remainder of the space on each side is divided into two spans by an iron pier at a distance of 68 ft. from the retaining wall. These piers are 36 ft. 2 in. high, and carry girders 144 ft. long, balanced each on a pivot in the center. One end of these girders is secured to the retaining walls by means of horizontal and vertical anchorages, while the other end rests in a sliding bearing on the top flange of the arch.

In designing the structure the following points had to be considered: (1) That, on account of the great height above the ground, and on account of the high price of timber at the site, the structure could be easily erected without the use of scaffolding supporting it as a whole. (2) That, on account of the high freights to Port Alfred, the quantity of iron in the structure should be as small as possible. (3) That the single parts of the principal span should be easy to lift, and that there should be as few of them as possible. For this latter reason most of them were made in lengths of 20 ft. and more. The question of economy of material presented itself as a comparison between a few standard types, viz., the girder bridge of small independent spans; the cantilever bridge, or the continuous girder bridge in three large spans; the single girder bridge with one large span and several small spans; and the arch with small girder spans on each side. The suspension bridge was left out of question as inadmissible. A girder bridge with small independent spans on rocker piers would probably have been the most economical, even taking into account the great height of the piers near the middle of the ravine, but there would have been some difficulty in holding those piers in position until they could be secured to the girders at the top; and, moreover, such a structure would have been strikingly out of harmony with the character of the site. On the other hand, a cantilever or continuous girder bridge in three spans—although such structures have been erected in similar localities—could not enter into comparison of simple economy of material, because such a design would entirely disregard the anomaly that the greater part of the structure, viz., the side spans, being necessarily constructed to carry across a large space, would be too near the ground to justify the omission of further supports. The question was, therefore, narrowed to a comparison between the present arch and a central independent girder of the same span, including the piers on which it rests. The small side spans could obviously be left out in each case. The comparison was made with a view not only to arrive at a decision in this particular case, but also of answering the question of the economy of the arch more generally. The following table contains the weights of geometrically similar structures of three different spans, of which the second is the one here described. The so-called theoretical weight is that which the structure would have if no part required stiffening, leaving out also all connections and all wind bracing. The moving load is taken at one ton per foot lineal, and the strain on the iron at an average of four tons per square inch. The proportion of the girder is taken at 1 in 8.

- + Theoretical Weight. Total Weight. Span in Feet. + - Arch. Girder. Arch. Girder. - - - 100 0.0724 0.1663 0.1866 0.2443 220 0.1659 0.4109 0.4476 0.7462 300 0.2414 0.6445 0.6464 1.2588 - - - < Tons per foot lineal. ->

It can be seen from these results that the economical advantage of the arch increases with the span. In small arches this advantage would not be large enough to counterbalance the greater cost of manufacture; but in the arch of 220 ft. span the advantage is already very marked. If the table were continued, it would show that the girder, even if the platform were artificially widened, would become impossible at a point where the arch can still be made without difficulty. The calculations leading to the above results would occupy too much space to make it desirable on this occasion to produce them. Our two views are from photographs.—The Engineer.

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Commander Gallwey lately delivered an interesting lecture on the use of torpedoes in war before the royal U.S. Institution, London, discussed H.M.S. Polyphemus, and urged as arguments in her favor: 1. That she has very high speed, combined with fair maneuvering powers. 2. That she can discharge her torpedoes with certainty either ahead or on the beam when proceeding at full speed. 3. That her crew and weapons of defense are protected by the most perfect of all armor possible, namely, 10 ft. of water. 4. That she only presents a mark of 4 ft. above the water line.

Then, he asked, with what weapon is the ironclad going to vanquish these torpedo rams? Guns cannot hit her when moving at speed; she is proof against machine guns, and, being smaller, handier, and faster than most ironclads, should have a better chance with her ram, the more especially as it is provided with a weapon which has been scores of times discharged with certainty at 300 yards. The ironclad, he answered, must use torpedoes, and then he maintained that the speed and handiness of the Polyphemus would enable her to place herself in positions where she could use her own torpedo to advantage, and be less likely to be hit herself. He then called attention to the necessity for well-protected conning towers in these ships, and prophesied that if a submarine ship, armed with torpedoes, be ever built, she will be the most formidable antagonist an ironclad ever had; and the nearer the special torpedo ship approaches this desideratum the better she will be.

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A recent trial of a smoke rocket for testing drains, described by Mr. Cosmo Jones in the Journal of the Society of Arts, is deserving of interest. The one fixed upon is 10 in. long, 21/2 in. in diameter, and with the composition "charged rather hard," so as to burn for ten minutes. This gives the engineer time to light the fuse, insert the rocket in the drain, insert a plug behind it, and walk through the house to see if the smoke escapes into it at any point, finishing on the roof, where he finds the smoke issuing in volumes from the ventilating pipes. The house experimented upon had three ventilating pipes, and the smoke issued in dense masses from each of them, but did not escape anywhere into the house, showing that the pipes were sound. If the engineer wishes to increase the severity of the test, he throws a wet cloth over the top of the ventilating pipe, and so gets a slight pressure of smoke inside it.

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[Footnote 1: Lecture by Mr. Dugald Clerk, before the Literary and Philosophical Society, Oldham.]


In earlier days of mechanics, before the work of the great Scottish engineer, James Watt, the crude steam engines of the time were known as "fire engines," not in the sense in which we now apply the term to machines for the extinguishing of fires, but as indicating the source from which the power was derived, motive power engines deriving their vitality and strength from fire. The modern name—steam engine—to some extent is a misleading one, distracting the mind from the source of power to the medium which conveys the power. Similarly the name "Gas Engine" masks the fact of the motors so called being really fire or heat engines.

The gas engine is more emphatically a "fire engine" than ever the steam engine has been. In it the fire is not tamed or diluted by indirect contact with water, but it is used direct; the fire, instead of being kept to the boiler room, is introduced direct into the motor cylinder of the engine. This at first sight looks very absurd and impracticable; difficulties at once become apparent of so overwhelming a nature that the problem seems almost an impossible one; yet this is what has been successfully accomplished in the gas engine. Engineers accustomed to the construction of steam engines would not many years ago have considered any one proposing such a thing as having taken leave of his senses.

The late Sir William Siemens worked for many years on combustion engines, some of his patents on this subject dating back to 1860. In the course of a conversation I had with him on the subject of his earlier patents, I asked him why he had entitled one of those patents "steam engine improvements" when it was wholly concerned with a gas engine using hydrogen and air in the motive cylinder, the combustion of the hydrogen taking place in the motive cylinder. He answered me that in 1860 he did not care to entitle his patent gas or combustion engine simply because engineers at that time would have thought him mad.

Notwithstanding this widespread incredulity among engineers, and the apparent novelty of the gas engine idea, fire or combustion engines have been proposed long, long ago. The first Newcomen steam engine ever set to work was used by a Mr. Back, of Wolverhampton, in the year 1711. Thirty-one years before this time, in Paris—year 1680—Huyghens presented a memoir to the Academy of Sciences describing a method of utilizing the expansive force of gunpowder. This engineer is notable as being the very first to propose the use of a cylinder and piston, as well as the first combustion engine of a practical kind.

The engine consists of a vertical open topped cylinder, in which works a piston; the piston is connected by a chain passing over a pulley above it to a heavy weight; the upstroke is accomplished by the descent of the weight, which pulls the piston to the top of the cylinder; gunpowder placed in a tray at the bottom of the cylinder is now ignited, and expels the air with which the cylinder is filled through a shifting valve, and, after the products of combustion have cooled, a partial vacuum takes place and the atmospheric pressure forces down the piston to the bottom of its stroke, during which work may be obtained.

On the board I have made a sketch of this engine. Some years previous to Huyghens' proposal, the Abbe Hautefeuille (1678) proposed a gunpowder engine without piston for pumping water. It is similar to Savery's steam engine, but using the pressure of the explosion instead of the pressure of steam. This engine, however, had no piston, and was only applicable as a pump. The Savery principle still survives in the action of the well-known pulsometer steam pump.

Denys Papin, the pupil and assistant of Huyghens, continued experimenting upon the production of motive power, and in 1690 published a description of his attempts at Leipzig, entitled "A New Method of Securing Cheaply Motive Power of Considerable Magnitude."

He mentions the gunpowder engine, and states that "until now all experiments have been unsuccessful; and after the combustion of the exploded powder there always remains in the cylinder one-fifth of its volume of air."

For the explosion of the gunpowder he substituted the generation and condensation of steam, heating the bottom of his cylinder by a fire; a small quantity of water contained in it was vaporized, and then on removing the fire the steam condensed and the piston was forced down. This was substantially the Newcomen steam engine, but without the separate boiler.

Papin died about the year 1710, a disappointed man, about the same time as Newcomen. Thomas Newcomen, ironmonger and blacksmith, of Dartmouth, England, had first succeeded in getting his engine to work. The hard fight to wrest from nature a manageable motive power and to harness fire for industrial use was continued by this clever blacksmith, and he succeeded when the more profound but less constructively skillful philosophers had failed.

The success of the steam method and the fight necessary to perfect it to the utmost absorbed the energy of most able engineers—Beighton, John Smeaton—accomplishing much in applying and perfecting it before the appearance of James Watt upon the scene.

It is interesting to note that in England alone over 2,000 horse power of Newcomen engines were at work before Watt commenced his series of magnificent inventions; he commenced experimenting on a Newcomen engine model in 1759 at Glasgow University, and in 1774 came to Birmingham, entered into partnership with Boulton, and 1781 we find his beautiful double acting beam condensing engine in successful work.

From that time until now the steam engine has steadily advanced, increasing in economy of fuel from 10 lb. of coal per horse power per hour to about 13/4 lb. per horse power per hour, which is the best result of to-day's steam engine practice. This result, according to the highest authorities, is so near to the theoretical result possible from a steam engine that further improvement cannot now be looked for. Simultaneously with the development of the steam engine, inventors continued to struggle with the direct acting combustion or gas engine, often without any definite understanding of why they should attempt such apparent impossibilities, but always by their experiments and repeated failures increasing knowledge, and forming a firm road upon which those following them traveled to success.

In 1791 John Barber obtained a patent for an engine producing inflammable gas, mixing it with air, igniting it, and allowing the current so produced to impinge upon a reaction wheel, producing motion similar to the well known Aelopile, which I have at work upon the table. About this time, Murdoch (Jas. Watt's assistant at Birmingham) was busy introducing coal gas into use for lighting; in 1792 Boulton and Watt's works were lighted up with coal gas. From this time many gas engines were proposed, and the more impracticable combustion of gunpowder received less attention.

In 1794 Thomas Mead obtained a patent for an engine using the internal combustion of gas; the description is not a clear one, his ideas seem confused.

In the same year Robert Street obtained a patent for an engine which is not unlike some now in use. The bottom of a cylinder, containing a piston, is heated by a fire, a few drops of spirits of turpentine are introduced and evaporated by the heat, the piston is drawn up, and air entering mixes with the inflammable vapor. A light is applied at a touch hole, and the explosion drives up the piston, which, working on a lever, forces down the piston of a pump for pumping water. Robt. Street adds to his description a note: "The quantity of spirits of tar or turpentine to be made use of is always proportional to the confined space, in general about 10 drops to a cubic foot." This engine is quite a workable one, although the arrangements described are very crude.

The first gas engine that was actually at work for some years; and was applied to a variety of purposes, was Samuel Buren's. His patent was granted in 1823, and in 1826 he built a locomotive carriage with which he made several experimental runs in London; he also propelled a vessel with it upon the Thames, and fitted up a large engine for pumping purposes. A company was formed to introduce his engine, but it proved too wasteful of fuel, and the company went into voluntary liquidation. Like almost all engines of this time, the combustion of gas and air was used to produce a vacuum, the piston being driven by atmospheric pressure.

Buren's locomotive carriage was thus in action three years before the great trial in 1829, from which George Stephenson emerged victorious with his wonderful engine "The Rocket." To those curious in the matter, I may mention that S. Buren's patents are dated 1823, No. 4,874, and 1826, No. 5,350.

From this time on, a continuous series of gas engine patents appear, 20 engines being patented between 1826 and 1860, which is the next date worthy of particular mention.

In this year, 1860, the famous "Lenoir" engine appeared. The use of high pressure steam engines had long been common, and Lenoir's engine was analogous to the high pressure engine, as Buren's was to the condensing engine. It created a very general interest, and many engines were constructed and used in France, England, and America; it resembled very much in external appearance an ordinary high pressure horizontal steam engine, and it was double acting.

During the following six years, other 20 British patents were granted, and the gas engine passed from the state of a troublesome toy to a practicable and widely useful machine.

From 1791 to the end of 1866, in all 46 British patents were granted for gas engines, and in these patents are to be found the principles upon which the gas engines of to-day are constructed, many years elapsing before experience enough was gained to turn the proposals of the older inventors to practical account.

The most important of these patents are:

No. Year. Robert Street 1,983 1794 Direct-acting engine. Samuel Buren 4,874 1823 Vacuum engine. Samuel Buren 5,350 1826 Vacuum engine. W.L. Wright 6,525 1833 Direct-acting engine. Wm. Barnett 7,615 1838 Compression first proposed. Barsante & Matteucci 1,072 1854 Rack & clutch engine. Drake 562 1855 Direct-acting engine. Lenoir 335 1860 D.I. engine, electric ignition. C.W. Siemens 2,074 1860 Compression, constant pressure. Hugon 2,902 1860 Platinum ignition. Millein 1,840 1861 Compression, both constant vol. and pressure. F.H. Wenham 1,873 1864 Free piston. Hugon 986 1865 Flame ignition. Otto and Langen 434 1866 Rack and clutch, flame ignition.

Leaving for the present the history of the gas engine, which brings us to a stage comparable to the state of the steam engine during the Newcomen's time, it will be advisable to give some consideration to the principles concerned in the economical and efficient working of gas engines, in order to understand the more recent developments.

It has been seen that gunpowder was the explosive used to produce a vacuum in Huyghens' engine, and that it was abandoned in favor of gas by Buren in 1823. The reason of departure is very obvious: a gunpowder explosion and a gaseous explosion differ in very important practical points.

Gunpowder being a solid substance is capable of being packed into a very small space; the gas evolved by its decomposition is so great in volume that, even in the absence of any evolution of heat, a very high pressure would result. One cubic inch of gunpowder confined in a space of one cubic inch would cause a pressure by the gas it contains alone of 15,000 lb. per square inch; if the heating effect be allowed for, pressures of four times that amount, or 60,000 lb. per square inch, are easily accounted for. These pressures are far too high for use in any engine, and the bare possibility of getting such pressure by accident put gunpowder quite outside the purpose of the engineer, quite apart from any question of comparative cost. In a proper mixture of inflammable gas and air is found an exceedingly safe explosive, perfectly manageable and quite incapable of producing pressures in any sense dangerous to a properly constructed engine.

The pressure produced by the explosion of any mixture of gas and air is strictly determined and limited, whereas the pressure produced by the explosion of gunpowder depends greatly upon the relation between the volume of the gunpowder and the space in which it is confined.

Engines of the "Lenoir" type are the simplest in idea and construction; in them a mixture of gas and air is made in the cylinder during the first half of the piston stroke, air being taken from the atmosphere and drawn into the cylinder by the forward movement of the piston. At the same time gas entering by a number of holes, and streaming into the air to form an explosive mixture, the movement of a valve cuts off the supply, and brings the igniting arrangement into action. The pressure produced by the explosion acting upon the piston makes it complete its stroke, when the exhaust valve opens exactly as in the steam engine. The Lenoir and Hugon engines, the earlier forms of this type, were double acting, receiving two impulses for every revolution of the crank, the impulse differing from that in a high pressure steam engine in commencing at half stroke.

The Lenoir igniting arrangement was complicated and troublesome. I have it upon the table; the mixture was ignited at the proper time by the electric spark produced from a primary battery and Ruhmkorff coil.

The Hugon engine was an advance in this respect, using a flame ignited, and securing greater certainty of action in a comparatively simple manner.

It is really a modification of Barnett's lighting cock described in his patent of 1838.

Other difficulties were found in using these engines; the pistons became exceedingly hot. In the case of the Lenoir larger engines, it sometimes became red hot, and caused complete ruin of the cylinder by scoring and cutting up. Hugon to prevent this injected some water.

In the all important question of economy, these engines were found grievously wanting, Lenoir consuming 95 cubic feet per I.H.P. per hour; Hugon consuming 85 cubic feet per I.H.P. per hour.

The surviving engines of this type are only used for very small powers, from one to four man power, or 1/8 to 1/2 horse, the most widely known of this kind being the "Bischoff," which is very largely used; its consumption of gas is even greater than the Lenoir, being 110 cubic feet per horse power per hour, as tested with a half-horse engine at a late exhibition of gas apparatus at Stockport.

So large a consumption of gas prevented these engines coming into extended use for engines of moderate power, and led inventors to work to obtain better results. The force generated by the explosion of a mixture of gas and air is very short lived, and if it is to be fully utilized must be used quickly; a high pressure is produced, but it very quickly disappears.

The quicker the piston moves after the maximum pressure is reached, the less will be the loss of heat to the sides of the cylinder. The flame which fills the cylinder and causes the increase of pressure rapidly loses heat, and the pressure falls.

The idea of using a free piston was proposed as a remedy; it was thought that a piston connected to a crank in the ordinary manner could not move fast enough to utilize the pressure before it was lost. Many inventors proposed to perform work upon a piston free from any direct connection with the crank or shaft of the engine; the explosion after attaining its maximum pressure expends its force in giving velocity to a piston; the velocity so acquired carries it on against atmospheric pressure until the energy is all absorbed, and a vacuum or deficit of pressure exists in the cylinder instead of an excess of pressure. The return stroke is accomplished by the atmospheric pressure, and the work is now done upon the engine shaft on the return only. The method of connecting on the return stroke while leaving the piston free on the out stroke varies, but in many engines the principle was the same.

Barsante and Matteucci, year 1857, British patent No. 1,625, describe the first engine of this kind, but Messrs. Otto and Langen were the first to successfully overcome all difficulties and make a marketable engine of it. Their patent was dated 1866, No. 434. To distinguish it from Otto's later patents, it may be called the rack and clutch engine.

The economy obtained by this engine was a great advance upon the Lenoir. According to a test by Prof. Tresca, at the Paris Exhibition of 1867, the gas consumed was 44 cubic feet per indicated horse power per hour. According to tests I have made myself in Manchester with a two horse power engine, Otto and Langen's free piston engine consumes 40 cubic feet per I.H.P. per hour. This is less than one-half of the gas used by the Hugon engine for one horse power.

The igniting arrangement is a very good modification of Barnett's lighting cock, which I have explained already, but a slide valve is used instead of a cock.

Other engines carried out the same principle in a different manner, including Gilles' engine, but they were not commercially so successful as the Otto and Langen. Mr. F.H. Wenham's engine was of this type, and was working in England, Mr. Wenham informed me, in 1866, his patent being taken out in 1864.

The great objection to this kind of engine is the irregularity and great noise in working; this was so great as to prevent engines from being made larger than three horse power. The engine, however, did good work, and was largely used from 1866 until the end of 1876, when Mr. Otto produced his famous engine, now known as "The Otto Silent Gas Engine." In this engine great economy is attained without the objectionable free piston by a method proposed first by Burnett, 1838, and also by a Frenchman, Millein, in 1861; this method is compression before ignition. Other inventors also described very clearly the advantages to be expected from compression, but none were able to make it commercially successful till Mr. Otto. To him belongs the great credit of inventing a cycle of operations capable of realizing compression in a simple manner.

Starting from the same point as inventors did to produce the free piston engine—namely, that the more quickly the explosive force is utilized, the less will be the loss, and the greater the power produced from a quantity of burning gas—it is evident that if any method can be discovered to increase the pressure upon the piston without increasing the temperature of the flame causing this pressure, then a great gain will result, and the engine will convert more of the heat given to it into work. This is exactly what is done by compression before ignition. Suppose we take a mixture of gas and air of such proportions as to cause when exploded, or rather ignited (because explosion is too strong a term), a pressure of 45 lb. above atmosphere, or 60 lb. per square inch absolute pressure. Then this mixture, if compressed to half volume before igniting and kept at constant temperature, would give, when ignited, a pressure of 120 lb. total, or 105 lb. above atmosphere, and this without any increase of the temperature of the flame.

The effect of compression is to make a small piston do the work of a large one, and convert more heat into work by lessening the loss of heat through the walls of the cylinder. In addition to this advantage, greater expansions are made possible, and therefore greatly increase economy.

The Otto engine must be so familiar in appearance to all of you, that I need hardly trouble you with details of its external appearance. I shall briefly describe its action. Its strong points and its weak points are alike caused by its cycle. One cylinder and piston suffices to carry out its whole action. Its cycle is: First outstroke, gas and air sucked into the cylinder; first instroke, gas and air compressed into space; second outstroke, impulse due to ignition; second instroke, discharge of exhausted gases. When working at full power, it gets one impulse for every two revolutions; this seems to be a retrograde movement, but, notwithstanding, the advantages obtained are very great. The igniting arrangement is in the main similar to that used on the rack and clutch engine. The engine has been exceedingly successful, and is very economical. The Otto compression engine consumes 21 cubic feet of gas per I.H.P. per hour, and runs with great smoothness.

In 1876 I commenced my work upon gas engines, and very soon concluded that the compression system was the true line to proceed upon. It took me two years to produce a workable engine. My efforts have always been directed toward producing an engine giving at least one impulse every revolution and, if possible, to start without hand labor, just as a steam engine does. My first gas engine was running in 1878, and patented and exhibited in 1879. It was first exhibited at the Kilburn Royal Agricultural Society's show.

This engine was self-starting, gave an ignition at every revolution, and ignited without external flame. It consisted of two cylinders, a motor, and a compressing pump, with a small intermediate reservoir. Suitable valves introduced the mixture of gas and air into the pump, and passed it when compressed from the reservoir to the motor cylinder. The igniting arrangement consisted of a platinum cage firmly fixed in a valve port; this cage was heated in the first instance by a flame of gas and air mixed; it became white hot in a few seconds, and then the engine was started by opening a valve.

The platinum was kept hot by the heat derived from the successive ignitions, and, the engine once started, no further external flame was required. I have here one of these platinum cages which has been in use. Finding this method not well suited for small engines, I produced the engine which is at present in the market under my name.

The cycle is different, and is designed for greater simplicity and the avoidance of back ignitions. It also consists of two cylinders, motor cylinder and the displace or charging cylinder. There is no intermediate reservoir. The displace crank leads the motor by a right angle, and takes into it the mixed charge of gas and air, in some cases taking air alone during the latter part of its stroke.

The motor on the outstroke crosses V-shaped parts about from one-sixth to one-seventh from the out end, the displacer charge now passing into the motor cylinder, displacing the exhaust gases by these ports and filling the cylinder and the space at the end of it with the explosive mixture. The introduction of some air in advance of the charge serves the double purpose of cooling down the exhaust gases and preventing direct contact of the inflammable mixture with flame which may linger in the cylinder from the previous stroke. The instroke of the motor compresses the charge into the conical space at the end of the cylinder, and, when fully compressed, ignition is effected by means of the slide I have upon the table.

This system of ignition has been found very reliable, and capable of acting as often as 400 times per minute, which the Otto ignite is quite incapable of doing. By this cycle the advantages of compression are gained and one step nearer to the steam engine is attained, that is, an impulse is given for every revolution of the engine.

As a consequence, I am able with my engine to give a greater amount of power for a comparatively small weight. In addition to this, I have introduced a method of self-starting; in this I believe I was the first—about 100 of my engines are now using self-starting.

The largest single engine I have yet made indicates 30 H.P. The consumption of gas in Glasgow is: Clerk engine consumes in Glasgow 18 cubic feet per I.H.P. per hour; Clerk engine consumes in Manchester 22 cubic feet per I.H.P. per hour. So far as I know, the Otto engine and my own are the only compression engines which have as yet made any success in the market. Other engines are being continually prepared, gas engine patents being taken out just now at the rate of 60 per annum, but none of them have been able as yet to get beyond the experimental stage. The reason is simply the great experience necessary to produce these machines, which seem so very simple; but to the inexperienced inventor the subject fairly bristles with pitfalls.

I have here sections of some of the earlier engines, including Dr. Siemens' and Messrs. Simon and Beechy. Although interesting and containing many good points, these have not been practically successful.

The Simon engine is an adaptation of the well-known American petroleum motor, the Brayton, the only difference consisting in the use of steam as well as flame.

Dr. Siemens worked for some twenty years on gas engines, but he aimed rather high at first to attain even moderate success. Had he lived, I doubt not but that he would have succeeded in introducing them for large powers. In 1882 he informed me that he had in hand a set of gas engines of some hundreds of horse power for use on board ship, to be supplied with gas from one of his gas producers modified to suit the altered conditions.

Summarizing the ground over which we have passed, we find the origin of the gas engine in the minds of the same men as were first to propose the steam engine, Huyghens and Papin, 1680 and 1690. Greater mechanical difficulties and ignorance of the nature of explosives caused the abandonment of the internal combustion idea, and the mechanical difficulties with steam being less, the steam engine became successful, and triumphed over its rival. The knowledge and skill gained in the construction of steam engines made it possible once again to attack the more difficult problem, and simultaneously with the introduction and perfecting of the steam engine, the gas engine idea became more and more possible, the practicable stage commencing with Lenoir and continuing with Hugon, Millein, Otto and Langen, F.H. Wenham, then Otto and Clerk. In 1860, 95 cubic feet of gas produced one horse power for an hour; in 1867, 40 cubic feet accomplished the same thing; and now (1885) we can get one horse power for an hour for from 15 to 20 cubic feet of gas, depending on the size of the engine used.

Considered as a heat engine, the gas engine is now twice as efficient as the very best modern steam engine. It is true the fuel used at present is more expensive than coal, and for large powers the steam engine is the best because of this. But the way is clearing to change this. Gas engines as at present, if supplied with producer gas, produced direct from coal without leaving any coke, as is done in the Siemens, the Wilson, and the Dawson producers, will give power at one-half the cost of steam power. They will use 7/8 of a pound of coal per horse power per hour, instead of 1-3/4 lb., as is done in the best steam engines. The only producer that makes gas for gas engines at present is the Dawson, and in it anthracite is used, because of the difficulty of getting rid of the tar coming from the Siemens and Wilson producers, using any ordinary slack.

When this difficulty has been overcome, and that it will be overcome there can be no manner of doubt, gas engines will rapidly displace the steam engine, because a gas engine with a gas producer, producing gas from any ordinary coal with the same ease as steam is produced from a boiler, will be much safer, and will use one-half the fuel of the very best steam engines for equal power. The first cost also will not be greater than that of steam. The engine itself will be more expensive than a steam engine of equal power, but the gas producer will be less expensive than the boiler at present. Perfect as the gas engine now is, considered as a machine for converting heat into work, the possibility of great development is not yet exhausted. Its economy may be increased two or even three fold; in this lies the brilliant future before it. The steam engine is nearly as perfect as it can be made; it approaches very nearly the possibility of its theory. Its defect does not lie in its mechanism, but in the very properties of water and steam itself. The loss of heat which takes place in converting liquid water into gaseous steam is so great that by far the greater portion of the heat given out by the fuel passes away either in the condenser or the exhaust of a steam engine; but a small proportion of the heat is converted into work.

The very best steam engines convert about 11 per cent. of the heat given them into useful work, the remaining 89 per cent. being wasted, principally in the exhaust of the engine.

Gas engines now convert 20 per cent. of the heat given to them into work, and very probably will, in a few years more, convert 60 per cent. into useful work. The conclusion, then, is irresistible that, when engineers have gained greater experience with gas engines and gas producers, they will displace steam engines entirely for every use—mills, locomotives, and ships.

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By E.T. ABBOTT, Member of the Engineers' Club of Minnesota. Read December 12, 1884.

During the winter of 1881 and 1882, the contract was let to Messrs. Langdon, Sheppard & Co., of Minneapolis, to construct during the working season of the latter year, or prior to January 1, 1883, 500 miles of railroad on the western extension of the above company; the contract being for the grading, bridging, track-laying, and surfacing, also including the laying of the necessary depot sidings and their grading. The idea that any such amount of road could be built in that country in that time was looked upon by the writer hereof, as well as by railroad men generally, as a huge joke, perpetrated to gull the Canadians. At the time the contract was let, the Canadian Pacific Railway was in operation to Brandon, the crossing of the Assiniboine River, 132 miles west of Winnipeg. The track was laid, however, to a point about 50 miles west of this, and the grading done generally in an unfinished state for thirty miles further. This was the condition of things when the contract was entered into to build 500 miles—the east end of the 500-mile contract being at Station 4,660 (Station being at Brandon) and extending west to a few miles beyond the Saskatchewan River.

The spring of 1882 opened in the most unpromising manner for railroad operations, being the wettest ever known in that country. Traffic over the St. Paul, Minneapolis & Manitoba Railroad, between St. Paul and Winnipeg, was entirely suspended from April 15 to the 28th, owing to the floods on the Red River at St. Vincent and Emerson, a serious blow to an early start, as on this single track depended the transportation of all supplies, men, timber, and contractors' plant, together with all track materials (except ties), all of these things having to come from or through St. Paul and Minneapolis. The writer hereof was appointed a division engineer, and reported at Winnipeg the 15th of April, getting through on the last train before the St. Vincent flood. No sooner was the line open from St. Paul to Winnipeg than the cotillon opened between Winnipeg and Brandon, with a succession of washouts that defied and defeated all efforts to get trains over, so it was not until the fifth day of May that I left Winnipeg to take charge of the second division of 30 miles.

By extremely "dizzy" speed I was landed at the end of the track, 180 miles from Winnipeg, on the evening of the 9th (4 days). My outfit consisted of three assistant engineers and the necessary paraphernalia for three complete camps, 30 days' provisions (which turned out to be about 20), 11 carts and ponies, the latter being extremely poor after a winter's diet on buffalo grass and no grain. On the 18th day of May I had my division organized and camps in running order. The country was literally under water, dry ground being the exception, and I look upon the feat of getting across the country at all as the engineering triumph of my life.

On May 20 a genuine blizzard set in, lasting 24 hours, snowed five inches, and froze the sloughs over with half an inch of ice, a decidedly interesting event to the writer, as he was 18 miles from the nearest wood, therefore lay in his blankets and ate hard tack. I stabled my ponies in the cook tent, and after they had literally eaten of the sod inside the tent, I divided my floor with them.

On 28th day of May I saw the first contractor, who broke ground at station 7,150. On the 1st of June I was relieved from this division, and ordered to take the next, 50 miles west. On the 13th day of June ground was broken on this division, at station 8,070, or only about 62 miles west of the east end of the 500-mile contract. It looked at this time as though they might build 150 miles, but not more. But from this time on very rapid progress was made. On July 17 the track reached station 7,000, making however up to this time but about 50 miles of track-laying, including that laid on the old grade; but large forces were put on to surfacing, and the track already laid was put in excellent condition for getting material to the front. The weather from this until the freezing-up was all that could be desired. Work ceased about the 1st of January, 1883, for the season, and the final estimate for the work was as follows: 6,103,986 cubic yards earth excavation, 2,395,750 feet B.M. timber in bridges and the culverts, 85,708 lineal feet piling, 435 miles of track-laying. This work was all done in 182 working days, including stormy ones, when little, if anything, could be done, making a daily average of 33,548 yards excavation, 13,150 feet B.M. timber, 471 feet piling, 2-38/100 miles track-laying. We never had an accurate force report made of the whole line, but roughly there were employed 5,000 men and 1,700 teams.

The admirable organization of the contractors was something wonderful. The grading work was practically all done by sub-contractors, Messrs. Langdon, Sheppard & Co. confining themselves to putting in the supplies and doing the bridge work, surfacing, and track-laying. The grading forces were scattered along about 150 miles ahead of the track and supply stores, established about 50 miles apart, and in no case were sub-contractors expected to haul supplies over 100 miles. If I remember rightly, there were four trains of about forty wagons each, hauling supplies from the end of track to the stores.

As can be readily seen, the vital point of the whole work, and the problem to solve, was food for men and horses. 1,700 bushels of oats every day and 15,000 pounds of provisions, Sundays and all, for an entire season, which at the beginning of the work had to come about 170 miles by rail, and then be taken from 50 to 150 miles by teams across a wilderness, is on the face of it considerable of an undertaking, to say nothing about hauling the pile-drivers, piles, and bridge-timber there. To keep from delaying the track, sidings 1,500 feet long were graded, about 7 miles apart. A side-track crew, together with an engine, four flats, and caboose, were always in readiness; and as soon as a siding was reached, in five hours the switches would be in, and the next day it would be surfaced and all in working order, when the operating department would fill it with track material and supplies. From the head of the siding to the end of the track the ground was in hands of track-laying engine, never going back of the last siding for supplies or material, and my recollection is that there were but six hours' delay to the track from lack of material the whole season, at any rate up to some time in November. The track-laying crew was equal to 4 miles per day, and in the month of August 92 miles of track were laid. The ties were cut on the line of the road about 100 miles east of Winnipeg, so the shortest distance any ties were hauled was 270 miles; the actual daily burden of the single track from Winnipeg west was 24 cars steel, 24 cars ties, aside from the transportation of grain and provisions, bridge material, and lumber for station houses. The station buildings were kept right up by the company itself, and a depot built with rooms for the agent every 15 miles, or at every second siding. The importance of keeping the buildings up with the track was impressed on the mind of the superintendent of this branch, and, as a satire, he telegraphed asking permission to haul his stuff ahead of the track by teams, he being on the track-layers' heels with his stations and tanks the whole season. The telegraph line was also built, and kept right up to the end of the track, three or four miles being the furthest they were at any time behind.

It might be supposed that work done so rapidly would not be well done, but it is the best built prairie road I know of on this continent. It is built almost entirely free from cuts, and the work is at least 20 per cent. heavier than would ordinarily be made across the same country in the States, on account of snow. 2,640 ties were laid to the mile, and the track ballasting kept well up with the laying; so well, in fact, and so well done, that as 100 mile sections were completed schedule trains were put on 20 miles an hour, and the operating department had nothing to do but make a time table; the road was built by the construction department before the operating department was asked to take it. The engineering was organized in divisions of 30 miles each, and as each was finished the parties moved ahead again to the front, the engineers usually finding men sitting on their shovels waiting for the work to be laid out for them. It was as much as the locating parties could do to keep out of the way of the construction. The roadbed was built 14 ft. wide in embankment and 20 in the very few cuts there were, there being no cuts of any moment except through the Coteaus and the Saskatchewan crossing, and these have since been widened out on account of snow, so that the road can be operated the year round and the bucking-snow account cut no figure in the operating expenses.

The country is a virgin desert. From Winnipeg to the Pacific Ocean there are a few places that might attain to the dignity of an oasis—at Brandon, Portage la Prairie, etc.—but it is generally what I should call worthless; 100 miles to wood and 100 feet to water was the general experience west of the Moose jaw, and the months of June, July, and August are the only three in the year that it is safe to bet you will not have sleighing. I burned wood and used stakes that were hauled by carts 85 miles, and none any nearer. It is a matter of some pride that both the engineering and the construction were done by what our Canadian neighbors kindly termed "Yankee importations." However, there was one thing that in the building of this road was in marked contrast to any other Pacific road ever constructed, that is, there was no lawlessness, no whisky, and not even a knock-down fight that I ever heard of the whole season, and even in the midst of 12,000 Indians, all armed with Winchester rifles and plenty of ammunition, not one of the locating or construction parties ever had a military escort, nor were any depredations ever committed, except the running off of a few horses, which were usually recovered; and I think there were but two fatal accidents during the season, one man killed on the Grand Coule Bridge, and another from being kicked by a horse.

The track was all laid from one end, and in no case were rails hauled ahead by teams. Two iron cars were used, the empty returning one being turned up beside the track to let the loaded one by.

The feat in rapid construction accomplished by this company will never be duplicated, done as it was by a reckless expenditure of money, the orders to the engineers being to get there regardless of expense and horse-flesh; if you killed a horse by hard driving, his harness would fit another, and there was no scrutiny bestowed on vouchers when the work was done; and I must pay the tribute to the company to say that everything that money would buy was sent to make the engineers comfortable. It was bad enough at best, and the Chief Engineer (J.C. James) rightly considered that any expense bestowed on the engineering part of the work was a good investment.

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In the accompanying illustration, we present to our readers a mammoth excavator, built by the Osgood Dredge Company of Albany, N.Y., for the Pacific Guano Company of California, for uncovering their phosphate deposits on Chisholm Island, South Colombia.

In order to bring out more clearly the principal problem involved in the construction of this machine, we shall state first the proposed method of its operation. This is as follows, viz.: The excavator is to dig a trench thirty feet wide, down to the phosphate rock, and the entire length of the bed—about one quarter of a mile—dumping the earth of the first cut to one side. The phosphate is taken out behind the excavator. On reaching the end of the bed, the excavator is reversed and starts back, making a second cut thirty feet wide, and dumping now into the cut from which the phosphate has just been removed. In this way the entire bed is traversed, the excavator turning over the earth in great furrows thirty feet wide, and giving an opportunity to simultaneously get out all the phosphate.

As will be seen, the main problem presented was to turn the car around at each end of the cut in a very limited space. To accomplish this, the car is mounted on a fixed axle at each end and on a truck under its center of gravity; this is somewhat forward of the geometrical center of the car. The frame of the truck is circular, thirteen feet in diameter, made of I beams curved to shape. The circle carries a track, on which a ring of coned rollers revolves, which in turn supports the car. By pulling out the track from under both ends of the car, the whole weight is balanced on this central turntable truck, thus admitting of the car being turned, end for end, within its own length. This method of turning the car, and the size of the machine, are the principal features.

The car is 40' x 13', with arched truss sides. The track is seven feet gauge, the spread between tracks 20 feet, the height of the A frame 38 feet, length of boom 40 feet, swinging in a circle of 30 feet radius, and through two-thirds of the entire circle. It has a steel dipper of 46 cubic feet capacity, 1 inch steel chains, 10" x 12" double cylinder hoisting engine, and 61/4" x 8" double cylinder reversible crowding engine. The drums are fitted with friction clutches. Owing to the great distance at which the dipper is handled, its size is reduced, and because it swings on the arc of so large a circle the capacity of this machine is only one-half of that of the No. 1 excavator built by the Osgood Dredge Company. Nevertheless it will do the work of from 75 to 100 men, since its capacity is from 800 to 1,000 cubic yards per day, the amount of rock uncovered depending, of course, upon the depth of earth overlying it. The excavator will dump 30 feet from the center line of the car, and 26 feet above the track, which is laid on the rock. Total weight about fifty tons. The crew required for its operation consists of 1 engineer, 1 fireman, 1 craneman, and 4 to 5 pit men to tend jacks, move track, etc.

In the illustration the boiler connections are omitted, also the housing for the protection of the crew. The design is characterized by the evident care which has been bestowed upon securing simplicity and durability.—American Engineer.

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At a recent meeting of the Engineers' Club of Philadelphia, Mr. John C. Trautwine, Jr., exhibited and described drawings of a large land dredge built by the Osgood Dredge Co., of Albany, New York, for the Pacific Guano Co., to be used in removing 8 to 15 feet of material from the phosphate rock at Bull River, S.C.

The more prominent features of the machine are the car-body, the water tank, boiler and engine, the A frame (so-called from its slight resemblance to the letter A), the boom, the dipper-handle; and the dipper, drawings of which were shown and described in detail.

Before the excavation is begun, the forward end of the car (the end nearest the dipper) is lifted clear of the track by means of 3 screw-jacks. When the machine has excavated as far in advance of itself as the length of the boom and that of the dipper-handle will permit, say about 8 feet, the car is again lowered to the track, the screw-jacks removed, and the car is moved forward about 8 feet by winding the rope upon the drum, the other end of the rope being attached to any suitable fixed object near the line of the track. The forward end of the car is then again lifted by means of the 3 screw-jacks, and the digging is resumed. The machine cuts a channel from 25 to 35 feet wide, and deposits all the dirt upon one side. If necessary, it can dump earth about 25 feet above the track. The miners follow in the wake of the machine, getting out the phosphate as fast as it is uncovered. When the machine reaches the end of the field it is lowered to the track and the screw-jacks are removed. Shoes or skids are then placed upon the track, and the wheels of the turntable are run up on them. This lifts the end wheels clear of the track, so that the car and machine rest entirely upon the turntable. By now blocking the turntable wheels and winding up only one of the ropes, the car body and the machine are swung around end for end. The digging is then resumed in the opposite direction, the temporary track, upon which the machine travels, being shifted to one side, so that the second channel is made alongside of the first. The earth removed in cutting this second channel is dumped into the first channel, the phosphate (as stated above) having been first removed.

The dipper is of plate steel, and holds 13/4 cubic yards of earth when even full.

The machine is manned by an engineer, a fireman, and a dipper-tender, besides which from five to ten laborers are required. These look after the track, etc.

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On several of the large rivers on the Continent, with rapid currents, cable towage has been introduced in addition to the older methods of transporting merchandise by sailing and steam boats or by towage with screw or paddle tugs. A chain or wire rope is laid on the bottom of the river bed, fixed to anchors at the ends and passed over a chain pulley driven by the steam engine and guided by pulleys on the steam tug, the tug lifting it out of the water at the bow and dropping it over the stern and winding itself with the barges attached to it along the chain, the latter being utilized as a rule only for the up journey, while down the river the tugs are propelled by paddles or screws, and can tow a sufficient number of barges with the assistance of the current. The system has been found advantageous, as, although the power required for drawing the barges and tugs against the current is of course the same in all cases, the slip and waste of power by screws and paddles is avoided. The size of the screws or paddles is also limited by the nature of the river and its traffic, and with cable towage a larger number of barges can be hauled, while the progress made is definite and there is no drifting back, as occurs with paddle or screw tugs when they have temporarily to slow or stop their engines on account of passing vessels. Several streams, as the Elbe, Rhine, and Rhone, have now such cables laid for long distances in those parts of the rivers where the traffic is sufficient to warrant the adoption of the system. While this has been introduced only during the last 16 or 18 years, a similar method of transporting merchandise has been in use in Russia on the river Volga for upward of 40 years. Navigation on this river is interrupted for about half the year by the ice, and the traffic is of larger amount only during part of the summer, while the length of the river itself is very great, so that laying down permanent cables would not pay; while, on the other hand, the current is so strong that towage of some sort must be resorted to for the transport of large quantities. The problem has been solved by the introduction of the capstan navigation or towage.

There are two kinds of capstans in use, one actuated by horse-power and the other by steam engines. A horse capstan boat carries according to size 150 to 200 horses, which are stabled in the hold. On deck a number of horse gears are arranged at which the horses work. The power of the separate gears is transmitted to a main shaft, which is connected to the drums that wind on the rope. The horses work under an awning to protect them from the burning sunshine, and are changed every three hours. Eight and sometimes ten horses work at each horse gear. The horses are changed without interruption of the work, the gears being disengaged from the main shaft in rotation and the horses taken out and put in while the gear is standing. The horses are bought at the place of departure in the south of Russia and resold at the destination, usually Nishny-Novgorod, at a fair profit, the capstan boat carrying fodder and provender for the attendants. The capstan is accompanied by a steam launch which carries the anchor and hawser forward in advance of the capstan. The latter has a diameter of as much as 5 in., and is two to three miles in length. The anchor is dropped by the tug and the hawser carried back to the capstan, where it is attached to one of the rope drums, and the boat with the barges attached to it towed along by the horse gears described above winding on the hawser. The advance continues without interruption day and night, the launch taking a second anchor and hawser forward and dropping the anchor in advance of the first by a hawser's length, so that when the capstan has wound up the first hawser it finds a second one ready for attachment to the rope drum. The launch receives the first hawser, picks up the anchor, and passes the capstan to drop it again in advance of the anchor previously placed, and carries the hawser back to the capstan, and so on. A capstan tows twelve or more barges, placed in twos or threes beside and close behind each other, with a load of a million pounds, or about 16,000 to 17,000 tons. From Astrachan and the mouth of the Kama the capstans make during the season from the beginning of May to the end of July in the most favorable case two journeys to the fair of Nishny-Novgorod; after this time no more journeys are made, as the freights are wanting. At the end of the up-stream journey the horses are sold, as mentioned before, and the capstan towed down stream by the steam launch to Astrachan or the Kama mouth, where meanwhile a fresh lot of barges has been loaded and got ready, a new supply of horses is bought, and the operation repeated.

Besides these horse capstans there are steam capstans which are less complicated and have condensing steam engines of about 100 horse power, the power being transmitted by gearing to the rope drum. The rope drum shaft projects on both sides beyond the boards of the boat, and for the return journey paddle wheels, are put on to assist the launch in towing the clumsy and big capstan boat down the river. The steam capstans tow considerably larger masses of goods than the horse capstans and also travel somewhat quicker, so that the launch has scarcely sufficient time to drop and raise the anchors and also to make double the journey. We do not doubt that this system of towage might with suitable modifications be advantageously employed on the large rivers in America and elsewhere for the slow transport of large quantities of raw materials and other bulky merchandise, a low speed being, as is well known, much more economical than a high speed, as many of the resistances increase as the square and even higher powers of the velocity.

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The larger ships in the navy, and some of the more recent small ones, such as the new cruisers of the Phaeton class, are fitted with powerful steam winches of a type made by Messrs. Belliss and Co. These are used for lifting the pinnaces and torpedo boats.

We give an illustration of one of these winches. The cylinders are 6 in. in diameter and 10 in. stroke. The barrel is grooved for wire rope, and is safe to raise the second class steel torpedo boats, weighing nearly 12 tons as lifted. The worm gearing is very carefully cut, so that the work can be done quietly and safely. With machinery of this kind a boat is soon put into the water, and as an arrangement is fitted for filling the boat's boilers with hot water from the ship's boilers, the small craft can be under way in a very short time from the order being given.

Mr. White is fitting compound engines with outside condensers to boats as small as 21 ft. long, and we give a view of a pair of compound engines of a new design, which Messrs. Belliss are making for the boats of this class. The cylinders are 4 in. and 7 in. in diameter by 5 in. stroke. The general arrangement is well shown in the engraving. On a trial recently made, a 25 ft. cutter with this type of engines reached a speed of 7.4 knots.

About three years ago the late Controller of the Navy, Admiral Sir W. Houston Stewart, wished to ascertain the relative consumption of fuel in various classes of small vessels. An order was accordingly sent to Portsmouth, and a series of trials were made. From the official reports of these we extract the information contained in tables F and G, and we think the details cannot fail to be of interest to our readers. The run around the island was made in company with other boats, without stopping, and observations were taken every half hour. The power given out by the engines was fairly constant throughout. The distance covered was 56 knots, and the total amount of fuel consumed, including that required for raising steam, was 1,218 lb. of coal and 84 lb. of wood. The time taken in raising steam to 60 lb. pressure was forty-three minutes. The rate of consumption of fuel is of course not the lowest that could be obtained, as a speed of over 10 knots is higher than that at which the machinery could be worked most economically.

The trials afterward made to find the best results that could be obtained in fuel consumption were rather spoiled by the roughness of the weather on the day they were made. The same boat was run for 10 miles around the measured mile buoys in Stokes Bay. The following are some of the results recorded:

Table F.—Report of Trials of Engines of H.M. 48 ft. Twin Screw Steam Pinnace, No. 110.

Date August 4, 1881.

Where tried Round the Isle of Wight

Draught of water / Forward 3 ft. 1/2 in. Aft 3 ft. 61/2 in. Average boiler pressure 104.81 lb. Average pressure in receivers / Starboard 16.27 " Port 16.54 " Mean air pressure in stokehold 1.4 in. water. Vacuum in condenser, average 26.72 in. Weather barometer 30.37 " Revolutions per minute / Starboard 240.75 Port 251.95 lb. Mean pressure in cylinders / Starboard / High 45.33 Low 16.16 Port / High 43.16 Low 15.3 Indicated horse-power / Starboard / High 18.20 Low 16.32 Port / High 18.13 Low 16.17 Collective Total 68.82 Speed by log 10.18 knots. Force of wind One. Sea Smooth. Quantity of coal on board 1 ton. Description Nixon's navigation. Consumption per indicated horse-power per hour 4.17 lb. Time under way 5 hrs. 30 min.

Table G.—Report of Trial of Engines of H.M. 48 ft. Steam Pinnace No. 110.

When tried August 3, 1881. Where tried Stokes Bay. Draught / Forward 3 ft. 1 in. Aft 3 ft. 31/4 in. Average boiler pressure 55.52 lb. Vacuum 25.12 in. Weather barometer 30.35 " Revolutions per minute / starboard 165.54 port 161.55 Indicated horse-power[2] / Starboard / High 5.05 Low 5.53 Port / High 3.75 Low 4.02 Collective Total 18.35 Speed of vessel by log (approximate) 7.404 Wind / Force 4 to 5 Direction Bow and Quarter. State of sea Rough.

[Footnote 2: In consequence of the seas breaking over the boat, a large number of diagrams were destroyed, and, on account of the roughness of the weather, cards were only taken with the greatest difficulty. The records of power developed are therefore not put forward as authoritative.]

In connection with this subject it may perhaps be of interest to give particulars of a French and American steam launch; these we extract from the United States official report before mentioned.

Steam Launch of the French Steamer Mouche.

Length on low water level 27 ft. 10-1/2 in. Breadth 5 ft. 11 in. Depth to rabbet of keel 3 ft. 3-1/3 in. Draught of water aft 2 ft. 1-1/2 in. Weight of hull and fittings 2,646 lb. Weight of machinery with water in boiler 3,473 lb.

The boat is built of wood, and coppered. The engine consists of one non-condensing cylinder, 7-1/2 in. in diameter and 5.9 in. stroke. The boiler has 4.3 square feet of grate surface. The screw is 21-2/3 in. in diameter by 43.3 in, pitch. The speed is 7 knots per hour obtained with 245 revolutions per minute, the slip being 19.7 per cent. of the speed.

The United States navy steam cutters built at the Philadelphia navy yard are of the following dimensions:

Length 27 ft. 71/2 in. Breadth 7 ft. 10 in. Depth to rabbet of keel 3 ft. 113/4 in. Displacement (to two feet above rabbet of keel) 5.96 tons. Weight of hull and fittings 4,675 lb. " engine 1,240 " " boiler 3,112 " " water in boiler and tanks 2,696 "

The engine has a single cylinder 8 in. in diameter and 8 in. stroke of piston. The screw is four bladed, 4 in. long and 31 in. in diameter by 45 in. pitch. The following is the performance at draught of water 2 feet above rabbet of keel:

Boiler pressure 90 lb. Revolutions 353 Speed 7.8 knots. Indicated horse power. 53

These boats are of 1870 type, but may be taken as typical of a large number of steam cutters in the United States navy. The naval authorities have, however, been lately engaged in extensive experiments with compound condensing engines in small boats, and the results have proved so conclusively the advantages of the latter system that it will doubtless be largely adopted in future.—Engineer.

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The illustrations we give represent an expansion trap by Mr. Hyde, and made by Mr. S. Farron, Ashton-under-Lyne. The general appearance of this arrangement is as in Fig. 1 or Fig. 3, the center view, Fig. 2, showing what is the cardinal feature of the trap, viz., that it contains a collector for silt, sand, or sediment which is not, as in most other traps, carried out through the valve with the efflux of water. The escape valve also is made very large, so that while the trap may be made short, or, in other words, the expansion pipe may not be long, a tolerably large area of outlet is obtained with the short lift due to the small movement of the expansion pipe.

The object of a steam trap is for the removal of water of condensation without allowing the escape of steam from drying apparatus and steam pipes used for heating, power, or other purposes. One of the plans employed is by an expansion pipe having a valve fixed to its end, so that when the pipe shortens from being cooler, due to the presence of the water, the valve opens and allows the escape of the water until the steam comes to the trap, which, being hotter, lengthens the pipe and closes the valve. Now with this kind of trap, and, in fact, with any variety of trap, we understand that it has been frequently the experience of the user to find his contrivance inoperative because the silt or sand that may be present in the pipes has been carried to the valve and lodged there by the water, causing it to stick, and with expansion traps not to close properly or to work abnormally some way or other. The putting of these contrivances to rights involves a certain amount of trouble, which is completely obviated by the arrangement shown in the annexed engravings, which is certainly a simple, strong, and substantial article. The foot of the trap is made of cast iron, the seat of the valve being of gun metal, let into the diaphragm, cast inside the hollow cylinder. The valve, D, is also of gun metal, and passing to outside through a stuffing box is connected to the central expansion pipe by a nut at E. The valve is set by two brass nuts at the top, so as to be just tight when steam hot; if, then, from the presence of water the trap is cooled, the pipe contracts and the water escapes. A mud door is provided, by which the mud can be removed as required. The silt or dirt that may be in the pipes is carried to the trap by the water, and is deposited in the cavity, as shown, the water rises, and when the valve, D, opens escapes at the pipe, F, and may be allowed to run to waste. A pipe is not shown attached to F, but needless to say one may be connected and led anywhere, provided the steam pressure is sufficient. For this purpose the stuffing-box is provided; it is really not required if the water runs to waste, as is represented in the engraving. To give our readers some idea of the dimensions of the valve, we may say that the smallest size of trap has 1 in. expansion pipe and a valve 3 in. diameter, the next size 11/4 in. expansion pipe and a valve 41/2 in. diameter, and the largest size has a pipe 11/2 in. and a valve 6 in. diameter. Altogether, the contrivance has some important practical advantages to recommend it.—Mech. World.

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[Footnote 3: A paper read before the Engineers' Society of Western Pennsylvania, Dec. 10, 1884.]


In our study of the exact methods of measurement in use to-day, in the various branches of scientific investigation, we should not forget that it has been a plant of very slow growth, and it is interesting indeed to glance along the pathway of the past to see how step by step our micron of to-day has been evolved from the cubit, the hand's breadth, the span, and, if you please, the barleycorn of our schoolboy days. It would also be a pleasant task to investigate the properties of the gnomon of the Chinese, Egyptians, and Peruvians, the scarphie of Eratosthenes, the astrolabe of Hipparchus, the parallactic rules of Ptolemy, Regimontanus Purbach, and Walther, the sextants and quadrants of Tycho Brahe, and the modifications of these various instruments, the invention and use of which, from century to century, bringing us at last to the telescopic age, or the days of Lippershay, Jannsen, and Galileo.

It would also be a most pleasant task to follow the evolution of our subject in the new era of investigation ushered in by the invention of that marvelous instrument, the telescope, followed closely by the work of Kepler, Scheiner, Cassini, Huyghens, Newton, Digges, Nonius, Vernier, Hall, Dollond, Herschel, Short, Bird, Ramsden, Troughton, Smeaton, Fraunhofer, and a host of others, each of whom has contributed a noble share in the elimination of sources of error, until to-day we are satisfied only with units of measurement of the most exact and refined nature. Although it would be pleasant to review the work of these past masters, it is beyond the scope of the present paper, and even now I can only hope to call your attention to one phase of this important subject. For a number of years I have been practically interested in the subject of the production of plane and curved surfaces particularly for optical purposes, i.e., in the production of such surfaces free if possible from all traces of error, and it will be pleasant to me if I shall be able to add to the interest of this association by giving you some of my own practical experience; and may I trust that it will be an incentive to all engaged in kindred work to do that work well?

In the production of a perfectly plane surface, there are many difficulties to contend with, and it will not be possible in the limits of this paper to discuss the methods of eliminating errors when found; but I must content myself with giving a description of various methods of detecting existing errors in the surfaces that are being worked, whether, for instance, it be an error of concavity, convexity, periodic or local error.

A very excellent method was devised by the celebrated Rosse, which is frequently used at the present time; and those eminent workers, the Clarks of Cambridge, use a modification of the Rosse method which in their hands is productive of the very highest results. The device is very simple, consisting of a telescope (a, Fig. 1) in which aberrations have been well corrected, so that the focal plane of the objective is as sharp as possible. This telescope is first directed to a distant object, preferably a celestial one, and focused for parallel rays. The surface, b, to be tested is now placed so that the reflected image of the same object, whatever it may be, can be observed by the same telescope. It is evident that if the surface be a true plane, its action upon the beam of light that comes from the object will be simply to change its direction, but not disturb or change it any other way, hence the reflected image of the object should be seen by the telescope, a, without in any way changing the original focus. If, however, the supposed plane surface proves to be convex, the image will not be sharply defined in the telescope until the eyepiece is moved away from the object glass; while if the converse is the case, and the supposed plane is concave, the eyepiece must now be moved toward the objective in order to obtain a sharp image, and the amount of convexity or concavity may be known by the change in the focal plane. If the surface has periodic or irregular errors, no sharp image can be obtained, no matter how much the eyepiece may be moved in or out.

This test may be made still more delicate by using the observing telescope, a, at as low an angle as possible, thereby bringing out with still greater effect any error that may exist in the surface under examination, and is the plan generally used by Alvan Clark & Sons. Another and very excellent method is that illustrated in Fig. 2, in which a second telescope, b, is introduced. In place of the eyepiece of this second telescope, a diaphragm is introduced in which a number of small holes are drilled, as in Fig. 2, x, or a slit is cut similar to the slit used in a spectroscope as shown at y, same figure. The telescope, a, is now focused very accurately on a celestial or other very distant object, and the focus marked. The object glass of the telescope, b, is now placed against and "square" with the object glass of telescope a, and on looking through telescope a an image of the diaphragm with its holes or the slit is seen. This diaphragm must now be moved until a sharp image is seen in telescope a. The two telescopes are now mounted as in Fig. 2, and the plate to be tested placed in front of the two telescopes as at c. It is evident, as in the former case, that if the surface is a true plane, the reflected image of the holes or slit thrown upon it by the telescope, b, will be seen sharply defined in the telescope, a.

If any error of convexity exists in the plate, the focal plane is disturbed, and the eyepiece must be moved out. If the plate is concave, it must be moved in to obtain a sharp image. Irregular errors in the plate or surface will produce a blurred or indistinct image, and, as in the first instance, no amount of focusing will help matters. These methods are both good, but are not satisfactory in the highest degree, and two or three important factors bar the way to the very best results. One is that the aberrations of the telescopes must be perfectly corrected, a very difficult matter of itself, and requiring the highest skill of the optician. Another, the fact that the human eye will accommodate itself to small distances when setting the focus of the observing telescope. I have frequently made experiments to find out how much this accommodation was in my own case, and found it to amount to as much as 1/40 of an inch. This is no doubt partly the fault of the telescopes themselves, but unless the eye is rigorously educated in this work, it is apt to accommodate itself to a small amount, and will invariably do so if there is a preconceived notion or bias in the direction of the accommodation.

Talking with Prof. C.A. Young a few months since on this subject, he remarked that he noticed that the eye grew more exact in its demands as it grew older, in regard to the focal point. A third and very serious objection to the second method is caused by diffraction from the edges of the holes or the slit. Let me explain this briefly. When light falls upon a slit, such as we have here, it is turned out of its course; as the slit has two edges, and the light that falls on either side is deflected both right and left, the rays that cross from the right side of the slit toward the left, and from the left side of the slit toward the right, produce interference of the wave lengths, and when perfect interference occurs, dark lines are seen. You can have a very pretty illustration of this by cutting a fine slit in a card and holding it several inches from the eye, when the dark lines caused by a total extinction of the light by interference may be seen.

If now you look toward the edge of a gas or lamp flame; you will see a series of colored bands, that bring out the phenomenon of partial interference. This experiment shows the difficulty in obtaining a perfect focus of the holes or the slit in the diaphragm, as the interference fringes are always more or less annoying. Notwithstanding these defects of the two systems I have mentioned, in the hands of the practical workman they are productive of very good results, and very many excellent surfaces have been made by their use, and we are not justified in ignoring them, because they are the stepping stones to lead us on to better ones. In my early work Dr. Draper suggested a very excellent plan for testing a flat surface, which I briefly describe. It is a well known truth that, if an artificial star is placed in the exact center of curvature of a truly spherical mirror, and an eyepiece be used to examine the image close beside the source of light, the star will be sharply defined, and will bear very high magnification. If the eyepiece is now drawn toward the observer, the star disk begins to expand; and if the mirror be a truly spherical one, the expanded disk will be equally illuminated, except the outer edge, which usually shows two or more light and dark rings, due to diffraction, as already explained.

Now if we push the eyepiece toward the mirror the same distance on the opposite side of the true focal plane, precisely the same appearance will be noted in the expanded star disk. If we now place our plane surface any where in the path of the rays from the great mirror, we should have identically the same phenomena repeated. Of course it is presumed, and is necessary, that the plane mirror shall be much less in area than the spherical mirror, else the beam of light from the artificial star will be shut off, yet I may here say that any one part of a truly spherical mirror will act just as well as the whole surface, there being of course a loss of light according to the area of the mirror shut off.

This principle is illustrated in Fig. 3, where a is the spherical mirror, b the source of light, c the eyepiece as used when the plane is not interposed, d the plane introduced into the path at an angle of 45 deg. to the central beam, and e the position of eyepiece when used the with the plane. When the plane is not in the way, the converging beam goes back to the eyepiece, c. When the plane, d, is introduced, the beam is turned at a right angle, and if it is a perfect surface, not only does the focal plane remain exactly of the same length, but the expanded star disks, are similar on either side of the focal plane.

I might go on to elaborate this method, to show how it may be made still more exact, but as it will come under the discussion of spherical surfaces, I will leave it for the present. Unfortunately for this process, it demands a large truly spherical surface, which is just as difficult of attainment as any form of regular surface. We come now to an instrument that does not depend upon optical means for detecting errors of surface, namely, the spherometer, which as the name would indicate means sphere measure, but it is about as well adapted for plane as it is for spherical work, and Prof. Harkness has been, using one for some time past in determining the errors of the plane mirrors used in the transit of Venus photographic instruments. At the meeting of the American Association of Science in Philadelphia, there was quite a discussion as to the relative merits of the spherometer test and another form which I shall presently mention, Prof. Harkness claiming that he could, by the use of the spherometer, detect errors bordering closely on one five-hundred-thousandth of an inch. Some physicists express doubt on this, but Prof. Harkness has no doubt worked with very sensitive instruments, and over very small areas at one time.

I have not had occasion to use this instrument in my own work, as a more simple, delicate, and efficient method was at my command, but for one measurement of convex surfaces I know of nothing that can take its place. I will briefly describe the method of using it.

The usual form of the instrument is shown in Fig. 4; a is a steel screw working in the nut of the stout tripod frame, b; c c c are three legs with carefully prepared points; d is a divided standard to read the whole number of revolutions of the screw, a, the edge of which also serves the purpose of a pointer to read off the division on the top of the milled head, e. Still further refinement may be had by placing a vernier here. To measure a plane or curved surface with this instrument, a perfect plane or perfect spherical surface of known radius must be used to determine the zero point of the division. Taking for granted that we have this standard plate, the spherometer is placed upon it, and the readings of the divided head and indicator, d, noted when the point of the screw, a, just touches the surface, f. Herein, however, lies the great difficulty in using this instrument, i.e., to know the exact instant of contact of the point of screw, a, on the surface, f. Many devices have been added to the spherometer to make it as sensitive as possible, such as the contact level, the electric contact, and the compound lever contact. The latter is probably the best, and is made essentially as in Fig. 5.

I am indebted for this plan to Dr. Alfred Mayer. As in the previous figure, a is the screw; this screw is bored out, and a central steel pin turned to fit resting on a shoulder at c. The end of d projects below the screw, a, and the end, e, projects above the milled head, and the knife edge or pivot point rests against the lever, f, which in turn rests against the long lever, g, the point, h, of which moves along the division at j. It is evident that if the point of the pin just touches the plate, no movement of the index lever, g, will be seen; but if any pressure be applied, the lever will move through a multiplied arc, owing to the short fulcri of the two levers. Notwithstanding all these precautions, we must also take into account the flexure of the material, the elasticity of the points of contact, and other idiosyncrasies, and you can readily see that practice alone in an instrument so delicate will bring about the very best results. Dr. Alfred Mayer's method of getting over the great difficulty of knowing when all four points are in contact is quite simple. The standard plate is set on the box, g, Fig. 4, which acts as a resonater. The screw, a, is brought down until it touches the plate. When the pressure of the screw is enough to lift off either or all of the legs, and the plate is gently tapped with the finger, a rattle is heard, which is the tell-tale of imperfect contact of all the points. The screw is now reversed gently and slowly until the moment the rattle ceases, and then the reading is taken. Here the sense of hearing is brought into play. This is also the case when the electric contact is used. This is so arranged that the instant of touching of the point of screw, a, completes the electric circuit, in which an electromagnet of short thick wire is placed. At the moment of contact, or perhaps a little before contact, the bell rings, and the turning of the screw must be instantly stopped. Here are several elements that must be remembered. First, it takes time to set the bell ringing, time for the sound to pass to the ear, time for the sensation to be carried to the brain, time for the brain to send word to the hand to cease turning the screw, and, if you please, it takes time for the hand to stop. You may say, of

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