SCIENTIFIC AMERICAN SUPPLEMENT NO. 620
NEW YORK, NOVEMBER 18, 1997
Scientific American Supplement. Vol. XXIV., No. 620.
Scientific American established 1845
Scientific American Supplement, $5 a year.
Scientific American and Supplement, $7 a year.
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TABLE OF CONTENTS.
I. ARCHITECTURE—Bristol Cathedral—The history and description of this ancient building, with large illustration.—1 illustration. 9904
II. BIOGRAPHY—Oliver Evans and the Steam Engine.—The work of this early pioneer, hitherto but slightly recognized at his true worth as an inventor. 9896
III. CHEMISTRY—The Chemistry of the Cotton Fiber—By Dr. BOWMAN—An interesting investigation, showing the variation in composition in different cottons. 9909
Synthesis of Styrolene. 9910
Notes on Saccharin. 9910
Alcohol and Turpentine. 9910
IV. ENGINEERING—Auguste's Endless Stone Saw—A valuable improvement, introducing the principle of the band saw, and producing a horizontal cut—10 illustrations. 9896
V. ELECTRICITY.—A Current Meter—The Jehl & Rupp meter for electricity described—1 illustration. 9903
Mix & Genest's Microphone Telephone—The new telephone recently adopted by the imperial post office department of Germany—3 illustrations. 9902
Storage Batteries for Electric Locomotion—By A. RECKENZAUN—A valuable paper on this subject, giving historical facts and working figures of expense, etc. 9903
The Telemeter System—By R.F. UPTON—The system of Oe.L. Clarke, of New York, as described before the British Association—A valuable tribute to an American inventor—1 illustration. 9900
VI. METALLURGY.—The Newbery-Vautin Chlorination Process—A new process of extracting gold from its ores, with details of the management of the process and apparatus—1 illustration. 9907
VII. MISCELLANEOUS.—A Gigantic Load of Lumber—The largest barge load of lumber ever shipped—The barge Wahnapitae and her appearance as loaded at Duluth—1 illustration. 9907
Apparatus for Exercising the Muscles—An appliance for use by invalids requiring to exercise atrophied limbs—1 illustration. 9908
Practical Education.—A plea for the support of manual training schools. 9906
Waves—The subject of ocean waves fully treated—An interesting resume of our present knowledge of this phenomenon of fluids. 9906
VIII. NAVAL ENGINEERING—The New Spanish Armored Cruiser Reina Regente.—Illustration and full description of this recent addition to the Spanish navy.—1 illustration. 9895
The Spanish Torpedo Boat Azor—Illustration and note of speed, etc., of this new vessel—1 illustration. 9895
IX. OPHTHALMOLOGY—The Bull Optometer—An apparatus for testing the eyesight.—The invention of Dr George J. Bull.—3 illustrations. 9908
X. SANITATION AND HYGIENE—The Sanitation of Towns—By J. GORDON, C.E.—A presidential address before the Leicester meeting of the Society of Municipal and Sanitary Engineers and Surveyors of England. 9909
XI. TECHNOLOGY—A New Monster Revolving Black Ash Furnace and the Work Done with It—By WATSON SMITH—The great furnace of the Widnes Alkali Company described, with results and features of its working—4 illustrations. 9900
Apparatus Used for Making Alcohol for Hospital Use during the Civil War between the States—By CHARLES K. GALLAGHER—A curiosity of war times described and illustrated.—1 illustration. 9900
Confederate Apparatus for Manufacturing Saltpeter for Ammunition —By CHARLES K. GALLAGHER—Primitive process for extracting saltpeter from earth and other material—1 illustration. 9900
Electrolysis and Refining of Sugar—A method of bleaching sugar said to be due to ozone produced by electric currents acting on the solution—1 illustration. 9903
Improvements in the Manufacture of Portland Cement—By FREDERICK RANSOME, A.I.C.E.—An important paper recently read before the British Association, giving the last and most advanced methods of manufacture. 9901
Roburite, the New Explosive—Practical tests of this substance, with special application to coal mining. 9897
The Mechanical Reeling of Silk.—An advanced method of treating silk cocoons, designed to dispense with the old hand winding of the raw silk.—3 illustrations. 9898
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THE SPANISH TORPEDO BOAT AZOR.
The Azor was built by Yarrow & Co., London, is of the larger class, having a displacement of 120 tons, and is one of the fastest boats afloat. Her speed is 241/2 miles per hour. She has two tubes for launching torpedoes and three rapid firing Nordenfelt guns. She lately arrived in Santander, Spain, after the very rapid passage of forty hours from England.
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THE NEW SPANISH ARMORED CRUISER REINA REGENTE.
The new armored cruiser Reina Regente, which has been built and engined by Messrs. James & George Thomson, of Clydebank, for the Spanish government, has recently completed her official speed trials on the Clyde, the results attained being sufficient to justify the statement made on her behalf that she is the fastest war cruiser in the world. She is a vessel of considerable size, the following being her measurements: Length over all, 330 ft., and 307 ft. between perpendiculars; breadth, 501/2 ft.; and her draught is 20 ft., giving a displacement of 5,000 tons, which will be increased to 5,600 tons when she is fully equipped.
This vessel belongs to the internally protected type of war cruisers, a type of recent origin, and of which she is the largest example yet built. The internal protection includes an armored deck which consists of steel plates ranging from 3-1/8 in. in thickness in the flat center to 43/4 in. at the sloping sides of the deck. This protective deck covers the "vitals" of the ship, the machinery, boilers, etc. Then there is a very minute subdivision in the hull of the ship, there being, in all, 156 water-tight compartments, 83 of which are between the armored deck and the one immediately above it, or between wind and water. Most of these compartments are used as coal bunkers. Of the remainder of the water-tight compartments, 60 are beneath the armor. Throughout her whole length the Reina Regente has a double bottom, which also extends from side to side of the ship. In order to keep the vessel as free of water as possible, there have been fitted on board four 14 in. centrifugal pumps, all of which are connected to a main pipe running right fore and aft in the ship, and into which branches are received from every compartment. These pumps are of the "Bon Accord" type, and were supplied by Messrs. Drysdale & Co., Glasgow.
Not being weighted by massive external armor, the Reina Regente is unusually light in proportion to her bulk, and in consequence it has been rendered possible to supply her with engines of extraordinary power. They are of the horizontal triple expansion type, driving twin screws, and placed in separate water-tight compartments. The boilers, four in number, are also in separate compartments. Well above the water line there are two auxiliary boilers, which were supplied by Messrs. Merryweather, London, and are intended for raising steam rapidly in cases of emergency. These boilers are connected with all the auxiliary engines of the ship, numbering no fewer than forty-three.
The engines have been designed to indicate 12,000 horse power, and on the trial, when they were making 110 revolutions per minute, they indicated considerably upward of 11,000 horse power, the bearings all the while keeping wonderfully cool, and the temperature of the engine and boiler rooms being never excessive. The boilers are fitted with a forced draught arrangement giving a pressure of 1 in. of water. In the official run she attained a speed equal to 21 knots (over 24 miles) per hour, and over a period of four hours an average speed of 20.72 knots per hour was developed, without the full power of the engines being attained. The average steam pressure in the boilers was 140 lb. per square inch. In the course of some private trials made by the builders, the consumption of coal was tested, with the result that while the vessel was going at a moderate speed the very low consumption of 14 lb. of coal per indicated horse power per hour was reached. The vessel is capable of steaming 6,000 knots when there is a normal supply of coal in her bunkers, and when they are full there is sufficient to enable her to steam 13,000 knots.
The Reina Regente will be manned by 50 officers and a crew of 350 men, all of whom will have their quarters on the main deck. Among her fittings and equipment there are three steam lifeboats and eight other boats, five of Sir William Thomson's patent compasses, and a complete electric light installation, the latter including two powerful search lights, which are placed on the bridge. All parts of the vessel are in communication by means of speaking tubes. In order to enable the vessel to turn speedily, she is fitted with the sternway rudder of Messrs. Thomson & Biles. This contrivance is a combination of a partially balanced rudder with a rudder formed as a continuation of the after lines of a ship. The partial balance tends to reduce the strains on the steering gear, and thereby enables the rudder area to be increased without unduly straining the gear.
When fitted out for actual service, this novel war cruiser will have a most formidable armament, consisting of four 24 centimeter Hontorio guns (each of 21 tons), six 12 centimeter guns (also of the Hontorio type), six 6 pounder Nordenfelt guns, fourteen small guns, and five torpedo tubes—one at the stern, two amidships, and two at the bow of the ship.
It is worthy of note that this war cruiser was constructed in fifteen months, or three months under the stipulated contract time; in fact, the official trial of the vessel took place exactly eighteen months from the signing of the contract. Not only is this the fastest war cruiser afloat, but her owners also possess in the El Destructor what is probably the simplest torpedo catcher afloat, a vessel which has attained a speed of 221/2 knots, or over 26 miles, per hour. —Engineering.
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OLIVER EVANS AND THE STEAM ENGINE.
A correspondent of the New York Times, deeming that far too much credit has been given to foreigners for the practical development of the steam engine, contributes the following interesting resume:
Of all the inventions of ancient or modern times none have more importantly and beneficently influenced the affairs of mankind than the double acting high pressure steam engine, the locomotive, the steam railway system, and the steamboat, all of which inventions are of American origin. The first three are directly and the last indirectly associated with a patent that was granted by the State of Maryland, in 1787, being the very year of the framing of the Constitution of the United States. In view of the momentous nature of the services which these four inventions have rendered to the material and national interests of the people of the United States, it is to be hoped that neither they nor their origin will be forgotten in the coming celebration of the centennial of the framing of the Constitution.
The high pressure steam engine in its stationary form is almost ubiquitous in America. In all great iron and steel works, in all factories, in all plants for lighting cities with electricity, in brief, wherever in the United States great power in compact form is wanted, there will be found the high pressure steam engine furnishing all the power that is required, and more, too, if more is demanded, because it appears to be equal to every human requisition. But go beyond America. Go to Great Britain, and the American steam engine—although it is not termed American in Great Britain—will be found fast superseding the English engine—in other words, James Watt's condensing engine. It is the same the world over. On all the earth there is not a steam locomotive that could turn a wheel but for the fact that, in common with every locomotive from the earliest introduction of that invention, it is simply the American steam engine put on wheels, and it was first put on wheels by its American inventor, Oliver Evans, being the same Oliver Evans to whom the State of Maryland granted the before mentioned patent of 1787.
He is the same Oliver Evans whom Elijah Galloway, the British writer on the steam engine, compared with James Watt as to the authorship of the locomotive, or rather "steam carriage," as the locomotive was in those days termed. After showing the unfitness of Mr. Watt's low pressure steam engine for locomotive purposes, Mr. Galloway, more than fifty years ago, wrote: "We have made these remarks in this place in order to set at rest the title of Mr. Watt to the invention of steam carriages. And, taking for our rule that the party who first attempted them in practice by mechanical arrangements of his own is entitled to the reputation of being their inventor, Mr. Oliver Evans, of America, appears to us to be the person to whom that honor is due." He is the same Oliver Evans whom the Mechanics' Magazine, of London, the leading journal of its kind at that period, had in mind when, in its number of September, 1830, it published the official report of the competitive trial between the steam carriages Rocket, San Pariel, Novelty, and others on the Liverpool and Manchester Railway.
In that trial the company's engines developed about 15 miles in an hour, and spurts of still higher speed. The Magazine points to the results of the trial, and then, under the heading of "The First Projector of Steam Traveling," it declares that all that had been accomplished had been anticipated and its feasibility practically exemplified over a quarter of a century before by Oliver Evans, an American citizen. The Magazine showed that many years before the trial Mr. Evans had offered to furnish steam carriages that, on level railways, should run at the rate of 300 miles in a day, or he would not ask pay therefor. The writer will state that this offer by Mr. Evans was made in November, 1812, at which date not a British steam carriage had yet accomplished seven miles in an hour.
In 1809 Mr. Evans endeavored to establish a steam railway both for freight and passenger traffic between New York and Philadelphia, offering to invest $500 per mile in the enterprise. At the date of his effort there was not a railway in the world over ten miles long, nor does there appear to have been another human being who up to that date had entertained even the thought of a steam railway for passenger and freight traffic. In view of all this, is it at all surprising that the British Mechanics' Magazine declared Oliver Evans, an American, to be the first projector of steam railway traveling? In 1804 Mr. Evans made a most noteworthy demonstration, his object being to practically exemplify that locomotion could be imparted by his high pressure steam engine to both carriages and boats, and the reader will see that the date of the demonstration was three years before Fulton moved a boat by means of Watt's low pressure steam engine. The machine used involved the original double acting high pressure steam engine, the original steam locomotive, and the original high pressure steamboat. The whole mass weighed over twenty tons.
Notwithstanding there was no railway, except a temporary one laid over a slough in the path, Mr. Evans' engine moved this great weight with ease from the southeast corner of Ninth and Market streets, in the city of Philadelphia, one and a half miles, to the River Schuylkill. There the machine was launched into the river, and the land wheels being taken off and a paddle wheel attached to the stern and connected with the engine, the now steamboat sped away down the river until it emptied into the Delaware, whence it turned upward until it reached Philadelphia. Although this strange craft was square both at bow and stern, it nevertheless passed all the up-bound ships and other sailing vessels in the river, the wind being to them ahead. The writer repeats that this thorough demonstration by Oliver Evans of the possibility of navigation by steam was made three years before Fulton. But for more than a quarter of a century prior to this demonstration Mr. Evans had time and again asserted that vessels could be thus navigated. He did not contend with John Fitch, but on the contrary tried to aid him and advised him to use other means than oars to propel his boat. But Fitch was wedded to his own methods. In 1805 Mr. Evans published a book on the steam engine, mainly devoted to his form thereof. In this book he gives directions how to propel boats by means of his engine against the current of the Mississippi. Prior to this publication he associated himself with some citizens of Kentucky—one of whom was the grandfather of the present Gen. Chauncey McKeever, United States Army—the purpose being to build a steamboat to run on the Mississippi. The boat was actually built in Kentucky and floated to New Orleans. The engine was actually built in Philadelphia by Mr. Evans and sent to New Orleans, but before the engine arrived out the boat was destroyed by fire or hurricane. The engine was then put to sawing timber, and it operated so successfully that Mr. Stackhouse, the engineer who went out with it, reported on his return from the South that for the 13 months prior to his leaving the engine had been constantly at work, not having lost a single day!
The reader can thus see the high stage of efficiency which Oliver Evans had imparted to his engine full 80 years ago. On this point Dr. Ernst Alban, the German writer on the steam engine, when speaking of the high pressure steam engine, writes: "Indeed, to such perfection did he [Evans] bring it, that Trevithick and Vivian, who came after him, followed but clumsily in his wake, and do not deserve the title of either inventors or improvers of the high pressure engine, which the English are so anxious to award to them.... When it is considered under what unfavorable circumstances Oliver Evans worked, his merit must be much enhanced; and all attempts made to lessen his fame only show that he is neither understood nor equaled by his detractors."
The writer has already shown that there are bright exceptions to this general charge brought by Dr. Alban against British writers, but the overwhelming mass of them have acted more like envious children than like men when speaking of the authorship of the double acting high pressure steam engine, the locomotive, and the steam railway system. Speaking of this class of British writers, Prof. Renwick, when alluding to their treatment of Oliver Evans, writes: "Conflicting national pride comes in aid of individual jealousy, and the writers of one nation often claim for their own vain and inefficient projectors the honors due to the successful enterprise of a foreigner." Many of these writers totally ignore the very existence of Oliver Evans, and all of them attribute to Trevithick and Vivian the authorship of the high pressure steam engine and the locomotive. Yet, when doing so, all of them substantially acknowledge the American origin of both inventions, because it is morally certain that Trevithick and Vivian got possession of the plans and specifications of his engine. Oliver Evans sent them to England in 1794-5 by Mr. Joseph Stacy Sampson, of Boston, with the hope that some British engineer would approve and conjointly with him take out patents for the inventions. Mr. Sampson died in England, but not until after he had extensively exhibited Mr. Evans' plans, apparently, however, without success. After Mr. Sampson's death Trevithick and Vivian took out a patent for a high pressure steam engine. This could happen and yet the invention be original with them.
But they introduced into Cornwall a form of boiler hitherto unknown in Great Britain, namely, the cylindrical flue boiler, which Oliver Evans had invented and used in America years before the names of Trevithick and Vivian were associated with the steam engine. Hence, they were charged over fifty years ago with having stolen the invention of Mr. Evans, and the charge has never been refuted. Hence when British writers ignore the just claims of Oliver Evans and assert for Trevithick and Vivian the authorship of the high pressure steam engine and the locomotive, they thereby substantially acknowledge the American origin of both inventions. They are not only of American origin, but their author, although born in 1755, was nevertheless an American of the second generation, seeing that he was descended from the Rev. Dr. Evans Evans, who in the earlier days of the colony of Pennsylvania came out to take charge of the affairs of the Episcopal Church in Pennsylvania.
The writer has thus shown that with the patent granted by the State of Maryland to Oliver Evans in 1787 were associated—first, the double acting high pressure steam engine, which to-day is the standard steam engine of the world; second, the locomotive, that is in worldwide use; third, the steam railway system, which pervades the world; fourth, the high pressure steamboat, which term embraces all the great ocean steamships that are actuated by the compound steam engine, as well as all the steamships on the Mississippi and its branches.
The time and opportunity has now arrived to assert before all the world the American origin of these universally beneficent inventions. Such a demonstration should be made, if only for the instruction of the rising generation. Not a school book has fallen into the hands of the writer that correctly sets forth the origin of the subject matter of this paper. He apprehends that it is the same with the books used in colleges and universities, for otherwise how could that parody on the history of the locomotive, called "The Life of George Stephenson, Railway Engineer," by Samuel Smiles, have met such unbounded success? To the amazement of the writer, a learned professor in one of the most important institutions of learning in the country did, in a lecture, quote Smiles as authority on a point bearing on the history of the locomotive! It is true that he made amends by adding, when his lecture was published, a counter statement; but that such a man should have seriously cited such a work shows the widespread mischief done among people not versed in engineering lore by the admirably written romance of Smiles, who as Edward C. Knight, in his Mechanical Dictionary, truly declares, has "pettifogged the whole case." If, as Prof. Renwick intimates, "conflicting national pride" has led the major part of British writers to suppress the truth as to the origin of the high pressure steam engine, the locomotive, and the steam railway system, surely true national pride should induce the countrymen of Oliver Evans to assert it. In closing this paper the writer will say, for the information of the so-called "practical" men of the country, or, in other words, those men whose judgment of an invention is mainly guided by its money value, that Poor's Manual of Railroads in the United States for 1886 puts their capital stock and their debts at over $8,162,000,000. The value of the steamships and steamboats actuated by the high pressure steam engine the writer has no means of ascertaining. Neither can he appraise the factories and other plants in the United States—to say nothing of the rest of the world—in which the high pressure steam engine forms the motive power.
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AUGUSTE'S ENDLESS STONE SAW.
It does not seem as if the band or endless saw should render the same services in sawing stone as in working wood and metals, for the reason that quite a great stress is necessary to cause the advance of the stone (which is in most cases very heavy) against the blade. Mr. A. Auguste, however, has not stopped at such a consideration, or, better, he has got round the difficulty by holding the block stationary and making the blade act horizontally. Fig. 1 gives a general view of the apparatus; Fig. 2 gives a plan view; Fig. 3 is a transverse section; Fig. 4 is an end view; Figs. 5, 6, and 7 show details of the water and sand distributer; and Figs. 8, 9, and 10 show the pulleys arranged for obtaining several slabs at once.
The machine is wholly of cast iron. The frame consists of four columns, A, bolted to a rectangular bed plate, A', and connected above by a frame, B, that forms a table for the support of the transmission pieces, as well as the iron ladders, a, and the platform, b, that supports the water reservoirs, C, and sand receptacles, C'.
Between the two columns at the ends of the machine there are two crosspieces, D and D', so arranged that they can move vertically, like carriages. These pieces carry the axles of the pulleys, P and P', around which the band saw, S, passes. In the center of the bed plate, A', which is cast in two pieces connected by bolts, there are ties to which are screwed iron rails, e, which form a railway over which the platform car, E, carrying the stone is made to advance beneath the saw.
The saw consists of an endless band of steel, either smooth or provided with teeth that are spaced according to the nature of the material to be worked. It passes around the pulleys, P and P', which are each encircled by a wide and stout band of rubber to cause the blade to adhere, and which are likewise provided with two flanges. Of the latter, the upper one is cast in a piece with the pulley, and the lower one is formed of sections of a circle connected by screws. The pulley, P, is fast, and carries along the saw; the other, P', is loose, and its hub is provided with a bronze socket (Figs. 1 and 4). It is through this second pulley that the blade is given the desired tension, and to this effect its axle is forged with a small disk adjusted in a frame and traversed by a screw, d', which is maneuvered through a hand wheel. The extremities of the crosspieces, D and D', are provided with brass sockets through which the pieces slide up and down the columns, with slight friction, under the action of the vertical screws, g and g', within the columns.
A rotary motion is communicated to the four screws simultaneously by the transmission arranged upon the frame. To this effect, the pulley, P, which receives the motion and transmits it to the saw, has its axle, f, prolonged, and grooved throughout its length in order that it may always be carried along, whatever be the place it occupies, by the hollow shaft, F, which is provided at the upper extremity with a bevel wheel and two keys placed at the level of the bronze collars of its support, G. The slider, D, is cast in a piece with the pillow block that supports the shaft, f, and the bronze bushing of this pillow block is arranged to receive a shoulder and an annular projection, both forged with the shaft and designed to carry it, as well as the pulley, P, keyed to its extremity. Now the latter, by its weight, exerts a pressure which determines a sensible friction upon the bushing through this shoulder and projection, and, in order to diminish the same, the bushing is continuously moistened with a solution of soap and water through the pipe, g, which runs from the reservoir, G'.
The saw is kept from deviating from its course by movable guides placed on the sliders, D and D'. These guides, H and H', each consist of a cast iron box fixed by a nut to the extremity of the arms, h and h', and coupled by crosspieces, j and j', which keep them apart and give the guides the necessary rigidity.
The shaft, m, mounted in pillow blocks fixed to the left extremity of the frame, receives motion from the motor through the pulley, p, at the side of which is mounted the loose pulley, p. This motion is transmitted by the drum, M, and the pulley, L, to the shaft, l, at the other extremity. This latter is provided with a pinion, l', which, through the wheel, F', gives motion to the saw. The shaft, m, likewise controls the upward or downward motion of the saw through the small drums, N and n, and the two pairs of fast and loose pulleys, N' and n'. This shaft, too, transmits motion (a very slow one) to the four screws, g and g', in the interior of the columns, and the nuts of which are affixed to the sliders, D and D'. To this effect, the shaft, q, is provided at its extremities with endless screws that gear with two wheels, q', with helicoidal teeth fixed near the middle of two parallel axes, r, running above the table, B, and terminating in bevel wheels, r', that engage with similar wheels fixed at the end of the screws, g and g'.
The car that carries the block to the saw consists of a strong frame, E, mounted upon four wheels. This frame is provided with a pivot and a circular track for the reception of the cast iron platform, E', which rests thereon through the intermedium of rollers. Between the rails, e, and parallel with them, are fixed two strong screws, e', held by supports that raise them to the bottom of the car frame, so that they can be affixed thereto. When once the car is fastened in this way, the screws are revolved by means of winches, and the block is thus made to advance or recede a sufficient distance to make the lines marked on its surface come exactly opposite the saw blade.
In sawing hard stones, it is necessary, as well known, to keep up a flow of water and fine sand upon the blade in order to increase its friction. Upon two platforms, b, at the extremities of the machine, are fixed the water reservoir, C, and the receptacles, C', containing fine sand or dry pulverized grit stone. As may be seen from Figs. 5 and 6, the bottom of the sand box, C', is conical and terminates in a hopper, T, beneath which is adjusted a slide valve, t, connected with a screw that carries a pulley, T'. By means of this valve, the bottom of the hopper may be opened or closed in such a way as to regulate the flow of the sand at will by acting upon the pulley, T', through a chain, t', passing over the guide pulley, t squared. A rubber tube, u, which starts from the hopper, runs into a metal pipe, U, that descends to the guide, H, with which it is connected by a collar. Under the latter, this pipe terminates in a sphere containing a small aperture to allow the sand to escape upon an inclined board provided with a flange. At the same time, through the rubber tube, c, coming from the reservoir, C, a stream of water is directed upon the board in order to wet the sand.
As the apparatus with but a single endless saw makes but two kerfs at once, Mr. Auguste has devised an arrangement by means of which several blades may be used, and the work thus be expedited.
Without changing the general arrangements, he replaces the pulleys, P and P', by two half drums, V and V' (Figs. 8, 9, and 10), which are each cast in a piece with the crosspieces, D squared and D cubed, designed to replace D and D', and, like them, sliding up and down the columns, A, of the frame. Motion is transmitted to all the saw blades by a cog wheel, X, keyed to the vertical shaft, f, and gearing with small pinions, x, which are equally distant all around, and which themselves gear with similar pinions forming the radii of a succession of circles concentric with the first. All these pinions are mounted upon axles traversing bronze bearings within the drum, which, to this effect, is provided with slots. The axles of the pinions are prolonged in order to receive rollers, x', surrounded with rubber so as to facilitate, through friction, the motion of all the blades running between them.
The other drum, V', is arranged in the same way, except that it is not cast in a piece with the carriage, D cubed, but is so adjusted to it that a tension may be exerted upon the blades by means of the screw, d, and its hand wheel.
Through this combination, all the blades are carried along at once in opposite directions and at the same speed.—Publication Industrielle.
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ROBURITE, THE NEW EXPLOSIVE.
A series of experiments of great interest and vital importance to colliery owners and all those engaged in mining coal has been carried out during the last ten days in the South Yorkshire coal field. The new mines regulation act provides that any explosible used in coal mines shall either be fired in a water cartridge or be of such a nature that it cannot inflame firedamp. This indeed is the problem which has puzzled many able chemists during the last few years, and which Dr. Roth, of Berlin, claims to have solved with his explosive "roburite." We recently gave a detailed account of trials carried out at the School of Military Engineering, Chatham, to test the safety and strength of roburite, as compared with gun cotton, dynamite, and blasting gelatine. The results were conclusive of the great power of the new explosive, and so far fully confirmed the reports of the able mining engineer and the chemical experts who had been sent to Germany to make full inquiries. These gentlemen had ample opportunity of seeing roburite used in the coal mines of Westphalia, and it was mainly upon their testimony that the patents for the British empire were acquired by the Roburite Explosive Company.
It has, however, been deemed advisable to give practical proof to those who would have to use it, that roburite possesses all the high qualities claimed for it, and hence separate and independent trials have been arranged in such representative collieries as the Wharncliffe Silkstone, near Sheffield, Monk Bretton, near Barnsley, and, further north, in the Durham coal field, at Lord Londonderry's Seaham and Silksworth collieries. Mr. G.B. Walker, resident manager of the Wharncliffe Colliery Company, had gone to Germany as an independent observer—provided with a letter of introduction from the Under Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs—and had seen the director of the government mines at Saarbruck, who gave it as his opinion that, so far as his experience had gone, the new explosive was a most valuable invention. Mr. Walker was so impressed with the great advantages of roburite that he desired to introduce it into his own colliery, where he gladly arranged with the company to make the first coal mining experiments in this country. These were recently carried out in the Parkgate seam of the Wharncliffe Silkstone colliery, under the personal superintendence of the inventor, Dr. Roth, and in the presence of a number of colliery managers and other practical men.
In all six shots were fired, five of which were for the purpose of winning coal, while the sixth was expressly arranged as a "blowout shot." The roburite—which resembles nothing so much as a common yellow sugar—is packed in cartridges of about 41/2 in. in length and 11/2 in. in diameter, each containing about 65 grammes (one-seventh of a pound) inclosed in a waterproof envelope. By dividing a cartridge, any desired strength of charge can be obtained. The first shot had a charge of 90 grammes (one-fifth of a pound) placed in a hole drilled to a depth of about 4 ft. 6 in., and 13/4 in. in diameter. All the safety lamps were carefully covered, so that complete darkness was produced, but there was no visible sign of an explosion in the shape of flame—not even a spark—only the dull, heavy report and the noise made by the displaced coal. A large quantity of coal was brought down, but it was considered by most of the practical men present to be rather too much broken. The second shot was fired with a single cartridge of 65 grammes, and this gave the same remarkable results as regards absence of flame, and, in each case, there were no noxious fumes perceivable, even the moment after the shot was fired. This reduced charge gave excellent results as regards coal winning, and one of the subsequent shots, with the same weight of roburite, produced from 10 to 11 tons of coal in almost a solid mass.
It has been found that a fertile cause of accidents in coal mines is insufficient tamping, or "stemming," as it is called in Yorkshire. Therefore a hole was bored into a strong wall of coal, and a charge of 45 grammes inserted, and very slightly tamped, with the view of producing a flame if such were possible. This "blowout" shot is so termed from the fact of its being easier for the explosion to blow out the tamping, like the shot from a gun, than to split or displace the coal. The result was most successful, as there was no flash to relieve the utter darkness.
The second set of experiments took place on October 24 last, in the Monk Bretton colliery, near Barnsley, of which Mr. W. Pepper, of Leeds, is owner. This gentleman determined to give the new explosive a fair and exhaustive trial, and the following programme was carried out in the presence of a very large gathering of gentlemen interested in coal mining. The chief inspector of mines for Yorkshire and Lincolnshire, Mr. F.N. Wardell, was also present, and the Roburite Explosives Company was represented by Lieut.-General Sir John Stokes, K.C.B., R.E., chairman, and several of the directors.
1. Surface Experiments.—A shot fired on the ground, exposed. This gave no perceptible flame (70 grammes of roburite was the charge in these experiments).
2. A shot fired on the ground, bedded in fine coal dust. No flame nor ignition of the coal dust was perceptible.
3. A shot fired suspended in a case into which gas was conducted, and the atmospheric air allowed to enter so as to form an explosive mixture. The gas was not fired.
4. A shot fired in a boiler flue 16 ft. by 2 ft. 8 in., placed horizontally, in which was a quantity of fine coal dust kept suspended in the air by the action of a fan. No flame nor ignition of the coal dust took place.
5. A shot fired as above, except that an explosive mixture of gas and air was flowing into the boiler tube in addition to the coal dust. That this mixture was firedamp was proved by the introduction of a safety lamp, the flame of which was elongated, showing what miners call the "blue cap." There was no explosion of the gas or sign of flames.
6. A shot of roburite fired in the boiler tube without any gas or suspended coal dust. The report was quite as loud as in the preceding case; indeed, to several present it seemed more distinct.
7. A shot of 1/2 lb. gunpowder was fired under the same condition as No. 5, i.e., in an explosive mixture of gas and air with coal dust. The result was most striking, and appeared to carry conviction of the great comparative safety of roburite to all present. Not only was there an unmistakable explosion of the firedamp, with very loud report, and a vivid sheet of flame, but the gas flowing into the far end of the boiler tube was ignited and remained burning until turned off.
In the Pit.—1. A 2 in. hole was drilled 4 ft. 6 in. deep into coal, having a face 7 yards wide, fast at both ends, and holed under for a depth of 8 ft., end on, thickness of front of coal to be blown down 2 ft. 10 in., plus 9 in. of dirt. This represented a most difficult shot, having regard to the natural lines of cleavage of the coal—a "heavy job" as it was locally termed. The charge was 65 grammes of roburite, which brought down a large quantity of coal, not at all too small in size. No flame was perceptible, although all the lamps were carefully covered.
2. A 2 in. hole drilled 4 ft. 6 in. into the side of the coal about 10 in. from the top, fast ends not holed under, width of space 10 ft. This was purposely a "blowout" shot. The result was again most satisfactory, the charge exploding in perfect darkness.
3. A "breaking up" shot placed in the stone roof for "ripping," the hole being drilled at an angle of 35 deg. or 40 deg. This is intended to open a cavity in the perfectly smooth roof, the ripping being continued by means of the "lip" thus formed. The charge was 105 grammes (nearly 4 oz), and it brought down large quantities of stone.
4. A "ripping" shot in the stone roof, hole 4 ft. 6 in. deep, width of place 15 ft. with a "lip" of 2 ft. 6 in. This is a strong stone "bind," and very difficult to get down. The trial was most successful, a large heap of stone being brought down and more loosened.
5. A second "blowout" shot, under the conditions most likely to produce an accident in a fiery mine. A 2 in. hole, 4 ft. 6 in. deep, was drilled in the face of the coal near the roof, and charged with 105 grammes of roburite. A space of 6 in. or 8 in. was purposely left between the charge and the tamping. The hole was then strongly tamped for a distance of nearly 2 ft. The report was very loud, and a trumpet-shaped orifice was formed at the mouth of the hole, but no flame or spark could be perceived, nor was any inconvenience caused by the fumes, even the instant after the explosion.
Further Experiments at Wharncliffe Colliery.—On Tuesday, October 25, some very interesting surface trials were arranged with great care by Mr. Walker. An old boiler flue was placed vertically, and closed at top by means of a removable wooden cover, the interior space being about 72 cubic feet. A temporary gasometer had been arranged at a suitable distance by means of a paraffin cask having a capacity of 6 cubic feet suspended inside a larger cask, and by this means the boiler was charged with a highly explosive mixture of gas and air in the proportion of 1 to 12.
1. A charge of gunpowder was placed in the closed end of a piece of gas pipe, and strongly tamped, so as to give the conditions most unfavorable to the ignition of the firedamp. It was, however, ignited, and a loud explosion produced, which blew off the wooden cover and filled the boiler tube with flame.
2. Under the same conditions as to firedamp, a charge of roburite was placed on a block of wood inside the boiler, totally unconfined except by a thin covering of coal dust. When exploded by electricity, as in the previous case, no flame was produced, nor was the firedamp ignited.
3. The preceding experiment was repeated with the same results.
4. A charge of blasting gelatine, inserted in one of Settle's water cartridges, was suspended in the boiler tube and fired with a fulminate of mercury detonator in the usual manner. The gelatine did not, however, explode, the only report being that of the detonator. After a safe interval the unexploded cartridge was recovered, or so much of it as had not been scattered by the detonator, and the gelatine was found to be frozen. This fact was also evident from an inspection of other gelatine dynamite cartridges which had been stored in the same magazine during the night. This result, although not that intended, was most instructive as regards the danger of using explosives which are liable to freeze at such a moderate temperature, and the thawing of which is undoubtedly attended with great risk unless most carefully performed. Also, the small pieces of the gelatine or dynamite, when scattered by the explosion of the detonator, might cause serious accident if trodden upon.—Engineering.
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THE MECHANICAL REELING OF SILK.
When automatic machinery for thread spinning was invented, English intelligence and enterprise were quick to utilize and develop it, and thus gained that supremacy in textile manufacture which has remained up to the present time, and which will doubtless long continue. The making of the primary thread is the foundation of all textile processes, and it is on the possibility of doing this by automatic machinery that England's great textile industries depend. The use of highly developed machinery for spinning cotton, wool, and flax has grown to be so much a part of our conception of modern life, as contrasted with the times of our grandfathers, as often to lead to the feeling that a complete and universal change has occurred in all the textile industries. This is, however, not the case. There is one great textile industry—one of the most staple and valuable—still in the primitive condition of former times, and employing processes and apparatus essentially the same as those known and employed before such development had taken place. We mean the art of silk reeling. The improvements made in the production of threads of all other materials have only been applied to silk in the minor processes for utilizing waste; but the whole silk trade and manufacture of the world has, up to this time, been dependent for its raw silk threads upon apparatus which, mechanically speaking, is nearly or quite as primitive as the ancient spinning wheels. Thousands of operatives are constantly employed in forming up these threads by hand, adding filament by filament to the thread as required, while watching the unwinding from the cocoon of many miles of filament in order to produce a single pound of the raw silk thread, making up the thread unaided by any mechanical device beyond a simple reel on which the thread is wound as finished, and a basin of heated water in which the cocoons are placed.
Viewed from any standpoint to which we are accustomed, this state of things is so remarkable that we are naturally led to the belief that there must be some special causes which tended to retard the introduction of automatic machinery, and these are not far to seek. The spinning machinery employed for the production of threads, other than those of raw silk, may be broadly described as consisting of devices capable of taking a mass of confused and comparatively short fibers, laying them parallel with one another, and twisting them into a cylindrical thread, depending for its strength upon the friction and interlocking of these constituent fibers.
This process is radically different from that employed to make a thread of raw silk, which consists of filaments, each several thousand feet long, laid side by side, almost without twist, and glued together into a solid thread by means of the "gum" or glue with which each filament is naturally coated. If this radical difference be borne in mind, but very little mechanical knowledge is required to make it evident that the principle of spinning machinery in general is utterly unsuited to the making up of the threads of raw silk. Since spinning machinery, as usually constructed for other fibers, could not be employed in the manufacture of raw silk, and as the countries where silk is produced are, generally speaking, not the seat of great mechanical industries, where the need of special machinery would be quickly recognized and supplied, silk reeling (the making of raw silk) has been passed by, and has never become an industrial art. It remained one of the few manual handicrafts, while yet serving as the base of a great and staple industry of worldwide importance.
There is every reason to suppose that we are about to witness a transformation in the art of silk reeling, a change similar to that which has already been brought about in the spinning of other threads, and of which the consequences will be of the highest importance. For some years past work has been done in France in developing an automatic silk-reeling machine, and incomplete notes concerning it have from time to time been published. That the accounts which were allowed to reach the outer world were incomplete will cause no surprise to those who know what experimental work is—how easily and often an inventor or pioneer finds himself hampered by premature publication. The process in question has now, however, emerged from the experimental state, and is practically complete. By the courtesy of the inventor we are in a position to lay before our readers an exact analysis of the principles, essential parts, and method of operation of the new silk-reeling machine. As silk reeling is not widely known in England, it will, however, be well to preface our remarks by some details concerning the cocoon and the manner in which it is at present manufactured into raw silk, promising that if these seem tedious, the labor of reading them will be amply repaid by the clearer understanding of the new mechanical process which will be the result.
The silkworm, when ready to make its cocoon, seeks a suitable support. This is usually found among the twigs of brush placed for the purpose over the trays in which the worms have been grown. At first the worm proceeds by stretching filaments backward and forward from one twig to another in such manner as to include a space large enough for the future cocoon. When sufficient support has thus been obtained, the worm incloses itself in a layer of filaments adhering to the support and following the shape of the new cocoon, of which it forms the outermost stratum. After having thus provided a support and outlined the cocoon, the worm begins the serious work of constrution. The filament from its silk receiver issues from two small spinnarets situated near its jaws. Each filament, as it comes out, is coated with a layer of exceedingly tenacious natural gum, and they at once unite to form a single flattened thread, the two parts lying side by side. It is this flat thread, called the "baye" or "brin," which serves as the material for making the cocoon, and which, when subsequently unwound, is the filament used in making up the raw silk. While spinning, the worm moves its head continually from right to left, laying on the filament in a succession of lines somewhat resembling the shape of the figure eight. As the worm continues the work of making its cocoon, the filament expressed from its body in the manner described is deposited in nearly even layers all over the interior of the wall of the cocoon, which gradually becomes thicker and harder. The filament issuing from the spinnarets is immediately attached to that already in place by means of the gum which has been mentioned. When the store of silk in the body of the worm is exhausted, the cocoon is finished, and the worm, once more shedding its skin, becomes dormant and begins to undergo its change into a moth. It is at this point that its labors in the production of silk terminate and those of man begin. A certain number of the cocoons are set aside for reproduction.
In southern countries the reproduction of silkworms is a vast industry to which great attention is given, and which receives important and regular aid from the government. It is, however, quite distinct from the manufacturing industry with which at present we have to do. The cocoons to be used for reeling, i.e., all but those which are reserved for reproduction, are in the first place "stifled," that is to say, they are put into a steam or other oven and the insect is killed. The cocoons are then ready for reeling, but those not to be used at once are allowed to dry. In this process, which is carried on for about two months, they lose about two-thirds of their weight, representing the water in the fresh chrysalis. The standard and dried cocoons form the raw material of the reeling mills, or filatures, as they are called on the Continent. Each filature endeavors as far as possible to collect, stifle, and dry the cocoons in its own neighborhood; but dried cocoons, nevertheless, give rise to an important commerce, having its center at Marseilles. The appearance of the cocoon is probably well known to most of our readers. Industrially considered, the cocoon may be divided into three parts: (1) The floss, which consists of the remains of the filaments used for supporting the cocoon on the twigs of the brush among which it was built and the outside layer of the cocoon, together with such ends and parts of the thread forming the main part of the shell as have become broken in detaching and handling the cocoon; (2) the shell of the cocoon, which is formed, as has been described, of a long continuous filament, which it is the object of the reeler to unwind and to form up into threads of raw silk; and (3) the dried body of the chrysalis.
We shall first describe the usual practice of reeling, which is as follows: The cocoons are put into a basin of boiling water, on the surface of which they float. They are stirred about so as to be as uniformly acted upon as possible. The hot water softens the gum, and allows the floss to become partially detached. This process is called "cooking" the cocoons. When the cocoons are sufficiently cooked, they are subjected to a process called "beating," or brushing, the object of which is to remove the floss.
As heretofore carried on, this brushing is a most rudimentary and wasteful operation. It consists of passing a brush of heather or broom twigs over the floating cocoons in such manner that the ends of the brush come in contact with the softened cocoons, catch the floss, and drag it off. In practice it happens that the brush catches the sound filaments on the surface of the cocoon as well as the floss, and, as a consequence, the sound filament is broken, dragged off, and wasted. In treating some kinds of cocoons as much as a third of the silk is wasted in this manner, and even in the best reeling, as at present practiced, there is an excessive loss from this cause. At the present low price of cocoons this waste is not as important as it was some time ago, when cocoons were much dearer; but even at present it amounts to between fifteen and twenty millions of francs per annum in the silk districts of France and Italy alone. In France the cooking and brushing are usually done by the same women who reel, and in the same basins. In Italy the brushing is usually done by girls, and often with the aid of mechanically rotated brushes, an apparatus which is of doubtful utility, as, in imitating the movement of hand brushing, the same waste is occasioned.
After the cocoons are brushed they are, in the ordinary process, cleaned by hand, which is another tedious and wasteful operation performed by the reeler, and concerning which we shall have more to say further on. Whatever may be the preparatory operations, they result in furnishing the reeler with a quantity of cocoons, each having its floss removed, and the end of the filament ready to be unwound. Each reeler is provided with a basin containing water, which may be heated either by a furnace or by steam, and a reel, upon which the silk is wound when put in motion by hand or by power. In civilized countries heating by steam and the use of motive power is nearly universal. The reeler is ordinarily seated before the reel and the basin. The reeler begins operations by assembling the cocoons in the basin, and attaching all the ends to a peg at its side. She then introduces the ends of the filaments from several cocoons into small dies of agate or porcelain, which are held over the basin by a support.
The ends so brought in contact stick together, owing to the adhesive substance they naturally contain, and form a thread. To wring out the water which is brought up with the ends, and further consolidate the thread, it is so arranged as to twist round either itself or another similar thread during its passage from the basin to the reel. This process is called "croisure," and is facilitated by guides or small pulleys. Having made the croisure, which consists of about two hundred turns, the operator attaches the end of a thread to the reel, previously passing it through a guide fixed in a bar, which moves backward and forward, so as to distribute the thread on the reel, forming a hank about three inches wide.
The reel is now put into movement, and winds the thread formed by the union of the filaments. It is at this moment that the real difficulties of the reeler begin. She has now to maintain the size and regularity of the thread as nearly as possible by adding new filaments at the proper moment. The operation of adding an end of a filament consists of throwing it in a peculiar manner on the other filaments already being reeled, so that it sticks to them, and is carried up with them. We may mention here that this process of silk reeling can be seen in operation at the Manchester exhibition.
It is only after a long apprenticeship that a reeler succeeds in throwing the end properly. The thread produced by the several filaments is itself so fine that its size cannot readily be judged by the eye, and the speed with which it is being wound renders this even more difficult. But, in order to have an idea of the size, the reeler watches the cocoons as they unwind, counts them, and, on the hypothesis that the filament of one cocoon is of the same diameter as that of another, gets an approximate idea of the size of the thread that she is reeling. But this hypothesis is not exact, and the filament being largest at the end which is first unwound, and tapering throughout its whole length, the result is that the reeler has not only to keep going a certain number of cocoons, but also to appreciate how much has been unwound from each.
If the cocoons are but slightly unwound, there must be fewer than if a certain quantity of silk has been unwound from them. Consequently their number must be constantly varying in accordance with their condition. These facts show that the difficulty of maintaining regularity in a thread is very great. Nevertheless, this regularity is one of the principal factors of the value of a thread of "grege," and this to such an extent that badly reeled silks are sold at from twenty to twenty-five francs a kilogramme less than those which are satisfactorily regular.
The difficulty of this hand labor can be still better understood if it be remembered that the reeler being obliged to watch at every moment the unwinding of each cocoon, in order to obtain one pound of well reeled silk, she must incessantly watch, and without a moment of distraction, the unwinding of about two thousand seven hundred miles of silk filaments. For nine pounds of silk, she reels a length of filament sufficient to girdle the earth. The manufacturer, therefore, cannot and must not depend only on the constant attention that each reeler should give to the work confided to her care. He is obliged to have overseers who constantly watch the reelers, so that the defects in the work of any single reeler, who otherwise might not give the attention required by her work, will not greatly diminish the value either of her own work or that of several other reelers whose silk is often combined to form a single lot. In addition to the ordinary hand labor, considerable expense is thus necessitated for the watching of the reelers.
Enough has now been said, we think, to give a good idea of silk reeling, as usually practiced, and to show how much it is behind other textile arts from a mechanical point of view. To any one at all familiar with industrial work, or possessing the least power of analysis or calculation, it is evident that a process carried on in so primitive a manner is entirely unsuitable for use in any country in which the conditions of labor are such as to demand its most advantageous employment. In the United States, for instance, or in England, silk reeling, as a great national industry, would be out of the question unless more mechanical means for doing it could be devised. The English climate is not suitable for the raising of cocoons, and in consequence the matter has not attracted very much attention in this country. But America is very differently situated. Previous to 1876 it had been abundantly demonstrated that cocoons could be raised to great advantage in many parts of that country. The only question was whether they could be reeled. In fact, it was stated at the time that the question of reeling silk presented a striking analogy to the question of cotton before the invention of the "gin." It will be remembered that cotton raising was several times tried in the United States, and abandoned because the fiber could not be profitably prepared for the market. The impossibility of competing with India and other cheap labor countries in this work became at least a fact fully demonstrated, and any hope that cotton would ever be produced in America was confined to the breasts of a few enthusiasts.
As soon, however, as it was shown that the machine invented by Eli Whitney would make it possible to do this work mechanically, the conditions were changed; cotton raising become not only possible, but the staple industry of a great part of the country; the population was rapidly increased, the value of real estate multiplied, and within a comparatively short time the United States became the leading cotton country of the world. For many years much more cotton has been grown in America than in all the other countries of the world combined; and it is interesting to note that both the immense agricultural wealth of America and the supply required for the cotton industry of England flow directly from the invention of the cotton gin.
Attention was turned in 1876 to silk raising, and it was found that all the conditions for producing cocoons of good quality and at low cost were most favorable. It was, however, useless to raise cocoons unless they could be utilized; in a word, it was seen that the country needed silk-reeling machinery in 1876, as it had needed cotton-ginning machinery in 1790. Under these conditions, Mr. Edward W. Serrell, Jr., an engineer of New York, undertook the study of the matter, and soon became convinced that the production of such machinery was feasible. He devoted his time to this work, and by 1880 had pushed his investigations as far as was possible in a country where silk reeling was not commercially carried on. He then went to France, where he has since been incessantly engaged in the heart of the silk-reeling district in perfecting, reducing to practice, and applying his improvements and inventions. The success obtained was such that Mr. Serrell has been enabled to interest many of the principal silk producers of the Continent in his work, and a revolution in silk reeling is being gradually brought about, for, strangely enough, he found that the work which he had undertaken solely for America was of equal importance for all silk-producing countries.
We have described the processes by which cocoons are ordinarily cooked and brushed, these being the first processes of the filature. Instead of first softening the gum of the cocoons and then attacking the floss with the points of a brush, Mr. Serrell places the cocoons in a receptacle full of boiling water, in which by various means violent reciprocating or vortex currents are produced. The result is that by the action of the water itself and the rubbing of the cocoons one against the other the floss is removed, carrying with it the end of the continuous filament without unduly softening the cocoon or exposing any of the more delicate filament to the rough action of the brush, as has hitherto been the case. The advantages of this process will be readily understood. In brushing after the ordinary manner, the point of the brush is almost sure to come into contact with and to break some of the filament forming the body of the cocoon. When this occurs, and the cocoon is sent to be reeled, it naturally becomes detached when the unwinding reaches the point at which the break exists. It then has to be sent back, and the end of the filament detached by brushing over again, when several layers of filament are inevitably caught by the brush and wasted, and very probably some other part of the filament is cut. This accounts for the enormous waste which occurs in silk reeling, and to which we have referred. Its importance will be appreciated when it is remembered that every pound of fiber thus dragged off by the brush represents a net loss of about 19s. at the present low prices.
The mechanical details by which Mr. Serrell carries out this process vary somewhat according to the nature of the different cocoons to be treated. In one type of machine the water is caused to surge in and out of a metal vessel with perforated sides; in another a vertical brush is rapidly raised and lowered, agitating the water in a basin, without, however, actually touching the cocoons. After a certain number of strokes the brush is automatically raised, when the ends of the filaments are found to adhere to it, having been swept against it by the scouring action of the water. The cleaning of the cocoons is performed by means of a mechanism also entirely new. In the brushing machinery the floss is loosened and partially detached from the cocoon. The object of the cleaning machine is to thoroughly complete the operation. To this end the cocoons are floated under a plate, and the floss passed up through a slot in the latter. A rapid to and fro horizontal movement is given to the plate, and those cocoons from which the floss has been entirely removed easily give off a few inches of their filament, and allow themselves to be pushed on one side, which is accomplished by the cocoons which still have some floss adhering to them; because these latter, not being free to pay off, are drawn up to the slot in the plate, and by its motion are rapidly washed backward and forward in the water. This washing soon causes all the cocoons to be freed from the last vestiges of floss without breaking the filament, and after about twenty seconds of movement they are all free and clean, ready for reeling.
We have now to explain the operation of the machine by which the thread is formed from the prepared cocoon. At the risk of some repetition, however, it seems necessary to call attention to the character of the work itself. In each prepared cocoon are about a thousand yards of filament ready to pay off, but this filament is nearly as fine as a cobweb and is tapering. The object is to form a thread by laying these filaments side by side in sufficient number to obtain the desired size. For the threads of raw silk used in commerce, the sizes vary, so that while some require but an average of three filaments, the coarsest sizes require twenty-five or thirty. It being necessary keep the thread at as near the same size as possible, the work required is, in effect, to add an additional cocoon filament to the thread which is being wound whenever this latter has tapered down to a given size, or whenever one of the filaments going to form it has become detached. Those familiar with cotton spinning will understand what is meant when it is said that the reeling is effectively a "doubling" operation, but performed with a variable number of ends, so as to compensate for the taper of the filaments. In reeling by hand, as has been said, the size of the silk is judged, as nearly as possible, by a complex mental operation, taking into account the number, size, and state of unwinding of the cocoons. It is impossible to do this mechanically, if for no other reason than this, that the cocoons must be left free to float and roll about in the water in order to give off their ends without breaking, and any mechanical device which touched them would defeat the object of the machine. The only way in which the thread can be mechanically regulated in silk reeling is by some kind of actual measurement performed after the thread has left the cocoons. The conditions are such that no direct measurement of size can be made, even with very delicate and expensive apparatus; but Mr. Serrell discovered that, owing to the great tenacity of the thread in proportion to its size, its almost absolute elastic uniformity, and from the fact that it could be stretched, two or three per cent. without injury, it was possible to measure its size indirectly, but as accurately as could be desired. As this fact is the starting point of an entirely new and important class of machinery, we may explain with considerable detail the method in which this measurement is performed. Bearing in mind that the thread is of uniform quality, it is evident that it will require more force to stretch a coarse thread by a given percentage of its length than it will to stretch one that is finer. Supposing the thread is uniform in quality but varying in size, the force required to stretch it varies directly with the size or sectional area of the thread itself. In the automatic reeling machine this stretch is obtained by causing the thread to take a turn round a pulley of a given winding speed, and then, after leaving this pulley, to take a turn around a second pulley having a somewhat greater winding speed.
By this means the thread which is passing from one pulley to the other is stretched by an amount equal to the difference of the winding speed of the two pulleys. In the diagram (Fig. 2) the thread passes, as shown by the arrows, over the pulley, P, and then over the pulley, P, the latter having a slightly greater winding speed. Between these pulleys it passes over the guide pulley, G. This latter is supported by a lever hinged at S, and movable between the stops, TT. W is an adjustable counterweight. When the thread is passed over the pulleys and guided in this manner, the stretch to which it is subjected tends to raise the guide and lever, so that the latter will be drawn up against the stop, T, when the thread is so coarse that the effort required to stretch it is sufficient to overcome the weight of the guide pulley and the adjustable counterweight. But as the thread becomes finer, which, in the case of reeling silk, happens either from the tapering of the filaments or the dropping off of a cocoon, a moment arrives when it is no longer strong enough to keep up the lever and counterweight. These then descend, and the lever touches the lower stop, T. It will be readily seen that the up and down movements of the lever can be made to take place when the thread has reached any desired maximum or minimum of size, the limits being fixed by suitably adjusting the counterweight.
In the automatic reeling machine this is the method employed for regulating the supply of cocoons. The counterweight being suitably adjusted, the lever falls when the thread has become fine enough to need another cocoon. The stop, T, and the lever serve as two parts of an electric contact, so that when they touch each other a circuit is completed, which trips a trigger and sets in motion the feed apparatus by which a new cocoon is added. In practice the two drums or pulleys are mounted on the same shaft, D (Fig. 1), difference of winding speed being obtained by making them of slightly different diameters.
The lever is mounted as a horizontal pendulum, and the less or greater stress required according to the size to be reeled is obtained by inclining its axis to a less or greater degree from the vertical. An arrangement is also adopted by which the strains existing in the thread when it arrives at the first drum are neutralized, so far as their effect upon the lever is concerned. This is accomplished by simply placing upon the lever an extra guide pulley, L, upon the side opposite to that which corresponds to the guide shown in the diagram, Fig. 2.
An electric contact is closed by a slight movement of the lever whenever the thread requires a new filament of cocoon, and broken again when the thread has been properly strengthened. It is evident that a delicate faller movement might be employed to set the feed mechanism in motion instead of the electric circuit, but, under the circumstances, as the motion is very slight and without force, being, in fact, comparable to the swinging of the beam of a balance through the space of about the sixteenth of an inch, it is simpler to use a contact.
The actual work of supplying the cocoons to the running thread is performed as follows: The cleaned cocoons are put into what is called the feeding basin, B1 (Fig. 1), a receptacle placed alongside of the ordinary reeling basin, B, of a filature. A circular elevator, E, into which the cocoons are charged by a slight current of water, lifts them over one corner of the reeling basin and drops them one by one through an aperture in a plate about six inches above the water of the reeling basin.
The end of the filament having been attached to a peg above the elevator, it happens that when a cocoon has been brought into the corner of the reeling basin, the filament is strung from it to the edge of the hole in the plate in such a position as to be readily seized by a mechanical finger, K (Fig. 3), attached to a truck arranged to run backward and forward along one side of the basin. This finger is mounted on an axis, and has a tang projecting at right angles to the side of the basin, so that the whole is in the form of a bell crank mounted on the truck.
There are usually four threads to each basin. When neither one of them needs an additional cocoon, the finger of the distributing apparatus remains, holding the filament of the cocoon at the corner of the basin where it has been dropped. When a circuit is closed by the weakening of any one of the threads, an electromagnetic catch is released, and the truck with its finger is drawn across the basin by a weight. At the same time the stop shown dotted in Fig. 3 is thrown out opposite to the thread that needs strengthening. This stop strikes the tang of the finger, and causes the latter to be thrown out near to the point at which the filaments going to make up the weakened thread are being drawn from the cocoons. Here the new filament is attached to the new running thread by a kind of revolving finger, J, called in France a "lance-bout." This contrivance takes the place of the agate of the ordinary filature, and is made up, essentially, of the following parts:
(1) A hollow axis, through the inside of which the thread passes instead of going through the hole of an agate. This hollow axis is furnished, near its lower end, with a ridge which serves to support a movable portion turning constantly round the axis. (2) A movable portion turning constantly round the axis. (3) A finger or hook fastened on the side of the movable portion and revolving with it. This hook, in revolving, catches the filament brought up by the finger and serves it on to the thread.
Such are the principal parts of the automatic reeling machine. Although the fact that this machine is entirely a new invention has necessitated a somewhat long explanation, its principal organs can nevertheless be summed up in a few words: (1) A controlling drum which serves to give the thread a constant elongation; (2) a pulley mounted on a pivot which closes an electric current every time that the thread becomes too fine, and attains, in consequence, its minimum strength, in other words, every time that a fresh cocoon is needed; (3) electromagnets with the necessary conducting wires; (4) the feeding basin; (5) distributing finger and stops; and (6) the lance-bout.
Our illustration, Fig. 1, shows diagrammatically a section through the cocoon frame and reel. The thread is composed of three, four, or more filaments, and after passing through the lance-bout, it travels as shown by the arrows. At first it is wound round itself about two hundred times, then passed over a fixed guide pulley, and over a second guide pulley lower down fixed to the frames which carry the lance-bouts, then up through the twist and over the smaller of the pulleys, D. Taking one complete turn, it is led round the guide pulley, L, from there round the larger of the pulleys, D, round the second guide pulley, L, then back to the large wheel, and over a fixed guide pulley across to the reeling frame. Power is supplied to the latter by means of a friction clutch, and to insure even winding the usual reciprocating motion of a guide is employed. The measuring apparatus is pivoted at F, and by raising or lowering the nuts at the end of the bar the required inclination is given.
We had recently an opportunity of examining the whole of this machinery in detail, and seeing the process of silk reeling in actual operation, Mr. Serrell having put up a complete set of his machines in Queen Victoria Street, London. Regarded simply as a piece of ingenious mechanism, the performance of these machines cannot fail to be of the highest interest to engineers, the reeling machine proper seeming almost endowed with human intelligence, so perfectly does it work. But, apart from the technical perfection, Mr. Serrell's improvements are of great importance as calculated to introduce the silk-reeling industry in this country on a large scale, while at the same time its effect upon India as a silk-growing country will be of equal importance.—Industries.
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APPARATUS USED FOR MAKING ALCOHOL FOR HOSPITAL USE DURING THE CIVIL WAR BETWEEN THE STATES.
[Footnote 1: Read at the Cincinnati meeting of the American Pharmaceutical Association.]
By CHARLES K. GALLAGHER, Washington, N.C.
A is an ordinary farm boiler or kettle, with an iron lid securely bolted on; B, a steam pipe ending in a coil within a trough, D. C, D, two troughs made of gum logs, one inverted over the other, securely luted and fastened together by clamps and wedges. The "beer" to be distilled was introduced at E and the opening closed with a plug. The distillate—"low wine"—was collected at F, and redistilled from a set of similar troughs not shown in above figure, and heated by a continuation of the steam coil from D.
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CONFEDERATE APPARATUS FOR MANUFACTURING SALTPETER FOR AMMUNITION.
By CHARLES K. GALLAGHER, Washington, N.C.
Any convenient number of percolators, made of rough boards, arranged over a trough after the style of the old fashioned "lye stand," similar to the figure. Into these was placed the earth scraped from around old tobacco barns, from under kitchens and smokehouses. Then water or water and urine was poured upon it until the mass was thoroughly leached or exhausted. The percolate was collected in a receptacle and evaporated, the salt redissolved, filtered, again evaporated, and crystallized from the mother water.
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THE TELEMETER SYSTEM.
By F.R. UPTON.
In this paper, read before the British Association, the author explained that the "Telemeter System," invented by C.L. Clarke, of New York, is a method by which the slow movement of a revolving hand of any indicating instrument may be reproduced by the movement of a similar hand at a distant place, using electricity to convey the impulse. The primary hand moves until it makes electrical contact, thus sending an impulse. It is here that all previous methods have failed. This contact should be absolute and positive, for if it is not, the receiver will not work in unison. The contact could often be doubled by the jarring of the instrument, thus making the receiver jump twice. Clarke has overcome this defect by so arranging his mechanism that the faintest contact in the primary instrument closes two platinum points in multiple arc with it, thus making a firm and positive contact, which is not disturbed by any jar on the primary contact. This gives the instruments a positive start for the series of operations, instead of the faint contact which would be given, for example, by the light and slowly moving hand of a metallic thermometer. The other trouble with previous methods was that the contact points would corrode, and, in consequence of such corrosion, the instrument would fail to send impulses. Corrosion of the contacts is due to breaking the circuit slowly on a small surface. This is entirely remedied by breaking the circuit elsewhere than at the primary contact, using a quick motion, and also by giving this breaking contact large surface and making it firm. The instrument, as applied to a thermometer, is made as follows: From the free end of the light spiral of a metallic thermometer fixed at the other end, an arm, C, is attached, the end of which moves over an arc of a circle when the temperature varies. This end carries on either side of its extremity platinum contacts which, when the thermometer is at rest, lie between two other platinum points, A B, carried on radial arms. Any variation in temperature brings a point on the thermometer arm in contact with one of these points, and thus gives the initial start to the series of operations without opposing any friction to the free motion of the instrument. The first result is the closing of a short circuit round the initial point of contact, so that no current flows through it. Then the magnets which operate one set of pawls come into play. The two contact points are attached to a toothed wheel in which the pawls play, and these pawls are so arranged that they drive the wheel whenever moved by their magnets; thus the primary contact is broken.
In the receiver there is a similar toothed wheel carrying the hand of the indicating instrument, and actuated at the same moment as the transmitter. The primary contacts are so arranged that the contact is made for each degree of temperature to be indicated. This series of operations leaves the instruments closed and the pawls home in the toothed wheel. To break the circuit another wire and separate set of contacts are employed.
These are arranged on the arms carrying the pawls, and so adjusted that no contact is made until after the toothed wheel has moved a degree, when a circuit is closed and a magnet attracts an armature attached to a pendulum. This pendulum, after starting, breaks the circuit of the magnets which hold the pawls down, as well as of the short-circuiting device. As the pendulum takes an appreciable time to vibrate, this allows all the magnets to drop back, and breaks all circuits, leaving the primary contacts in the same relation as at first. The many details of the instruments are carefully worked out. All the contacts are of a rubbing nature, thus avoiding danger from dirt, and they are made with springs, so as not to be affected by jar.
The receiving instruments can be made recorders also by simple devices. Thus, having only a most delicate pressure in the primary instrument, a distinct ink record may be made in the receiver, even though the paper be rough and soft. The method is applicable to steam gauges, water indicators, clocks, barometers, etc., in fact, to any measuring instrument where a moving hand can be employed.
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A NEW MONSTER REVOLVING BLACK ASH FURNACE AND THE WORK DONE WITH IT.
By WATSON SMITH, Lecturer in Chemical Technology in the Victoria University, etc.
The Widnes Alkali Company, limited, to which I am indebted for permission to describe this latest addition to a family of revolving black ash furnaces, of late not only increasing in number, but also individual size, has kindly allowed my friend, Mr. H. Baker, to photograph the great revolver in question, and I have pleasure now in throwing on the screen a picture of it, and also one of a revolver of ordinary size, so as to render a comparison possible. The revolver of ordinary size measures at most 181/2 ft. long, with a diameter of 121/2 ft. The boiling down pans connected with such a furnace measure 60 ft. in length. Each charge contains four tons of salt cake, and some of these revolvers get through 18 tons of salt cake per day and consume 13 cwt. of coal per ton of cake decomposed.
With regard to the larger revolver, it may be just said that the Widnes Alkali Company has not at once sprung to the adoption of a furnace of the immense size to be presently given, but in 1884 it erected a revolver only about 3 ft. to 4 ft. short of the length of that one, and having two discharging holes. The giant revolving furnace to be described measures in length 30 ft. and has a diameter of 12 ft. 6 in. Inside length is 28 ft. 6 in., with a diameter of 11 ft. 4 in. It is lined with 16,000 fire bricks and 120 fire-clay blocks or breakers, weighing each 11/4 cwt. The bricks weigh per 1,000 about four tons. The weight of salt cake per charge (i.e., contained in each charge of salt cake, limestone, mud, and slack) is 8 tons 12 cwt. For 100 tons of salt cake charged, there are also charged about 110 tons of lime mud and limestone and 55 tons of mixing slack. In a week of seven days about 48 charges are worked through, weighing of raw materials about 25 tons per charge. The total amount of salt cake decomposed weekly is about 400 tons, and may be reckoned as yielding 240 tons of 60 per cent. caustic soda. As regards fuel used for firing, this may be put down as 200 tons per week, or about 10 cwt. per ton of salt cake decomposed. Also with regard to the concentration of liquor from 20 deg. Tw. to 50 deg. Tw., there is sufficient of such concentrated liquor evaporated down to keep three self-fired caustic pots working, which are boiled at a strength of 80 deg. Tw. Were it not for this liquor, no less than seven self-fired pots would be required to do this work, showing a difference of 80 tons of fuel.
The question may be asked, "Why increase the size of these huge pieces of apparatus?" The answer, I apprehend, is that owing to competition and reduction of prices, greater efforts are necessary to reduce costs. With automatic apparatus like the black ash revolver, we may consider no very sensible addition of man power would be needed, in passing from the smallest sized to the largest sized revolver. Then, again, we may, reckoning a certain constant amount of heat lost per each revolver furnace of the small size, consider that if we doubled the size of such revolver, we should lose by no means double the amount of heat lost with the small apparatus; but only the same as that lost in the small furnace plus a certain fraction of that quantity, which will be smaller the better and more efficient the arrangements are. Then, again, there is an economy in iron plate for such a large revolver; there is economy in expense on the engine power and on fuel consumed, as well as in wear and tear.
Just to mention fuel alone, we saw that with an ordinary large sized revolver, the coal consumption was 13 cwt. per ton of salt cake decomposed in the black ash process; but with the giant revolver we have been describing, that consumption is reduced to 10 cwt. per ton of cake decomposed.
The question will be probably asked, How is it possible to get a flame from one furnace to carry through such a long revolver and do its work in fusing the black ash mixture effectively from one end to the other? The furnace employed viewed in front looks very like an ordinary revolver fireplace, but at the side thereof, in line with the front of the revolver, at which the discharge of the "crude soda" takes place, there are observed to be three "charging holes," rather than doors, through which fuel is charged from a platform directly into the furnace through those holes.
The furnace is of course a larger one than furnaces adjusted to revolvers of the usual size. But the effect of one charging door in front and three at the side, which after charging are "banked" up with coal, with the exception of a small aperture above for admission of air, is very similar to that sometimes adopted in the laboratory for increasing heating effect by joining several Bunsen lamps together to produce one large, powerful flame. In this case, the four charging holes represent, as it were, the air apertures of the several Bunsen lamps. Of course the one firing door at front would be totally inadequate to supply and feed a fire capable of yielding a flame that would be adequate for the working of so huge a revolver. As an effort of chemical engineering, it is a very interesting example of what skill and enterprise in that direction alone will do in reducing costs, without in the least modifying the chemical reactions taking place.—Journal Soc. Chem. Industry.
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IMPROVEMENTS IN THE MANUFACTURE OF PORTLAND CEMENT.
[Footnote 1: A paper recently read before the British Association.]
By FREDERICK RANSOMS, A.I.C.E.
So much has been said and written on and in relation to Portland cement that further communications upon the subject may appear to many of the present company to be superfluous. But is this really so? The author thinks not, and he hopes by the following communication, to place before this meeting and the community at large some facts which have up to the present time, or until within a very recent date, been practically disregarded or overlooked in the production of this very important and valuable material, so essential in carrying out the great and important works of the present day, whether of docks and harbors, our coast defenses, or our more numerous operations on land, including the construction of our railways, tunnels, and bridges, aqueducts, viaducts, foundations, etc. The author does not propose to occupy the time of this meeting by referring to the origin or the circumstances attendant upon the early history of this material, the manufacture of which has now assumed such gigantic proportions—these matters have already been fully dealt with by other more competent authorities; but rather to direct the attention of those interested therein to certain modifications, which he considers improvements, by means of which a large proportion of capital unnecessarily involved in its manufacture may be set free in the future, the method of manufacture simplified, the cost of manipulation reduced, and stronger and more uniformly reliable cement be placed within the reach of those upon whom devolves the duty and responsibility of constructing works of a substantial and permanent character; but in order to do this it will be necessary to allude to certain palpable errors and defects which, in the author's opinion, are perpetuated, and are in general practice at the present day.
Portland cement is, as is well known, composed of a mixture of chalk, or other carbonate of lime, and clay—such as is obtained on the banks of the Thames or the Medway—intimately mixed and then subjected to heat in a kiln, producing incipient fusion, and thereby forming a chemical combination of lime with silica and alumina, or practically of lime with dehydrated clay. In order to effect this, the usual method is to place the mechanically mixed chalk and clay (technically called slurry), in lumps varying in size, say, from 4 to 10 lb., in kilns with alternate layers of coke, and raise the mass to a glowing heat sufficient to effect the required combination, in the form of very hard clinker. These kilns differ in capacity, but perhaps a fair average size would be capable of producing about 30 tons of clinker, requiring for the operation, say, from 60 to 70 tons of dried slurry, with from 12 to 15 tons of coke or other fuel. The kiln, after being thus loaded, is lighted by means of wood and shavings at the base, and, as a matter of course, the lumps of slurry at the lower part of the kiln are burned first, but the moisture and sulphurous gases liberated by the heat are condensed by the cooler layers above, and remain until the heat from combustion, gradually ascending, raises the temperature to a sufficient degree to drive them further upward, until at length they escape at the top of the kiln. The time occupied in loading, burning, and drawing a kiln of 30 tons of clinker averages about seven days. It will be readily understood that the outside of the clinker so produced must have been subjected to a much greater amount of heat then was necessary, before the center of such clinker could have received sufficient to have produced the incipient fusion necessary to effect the chemical combination of its ingredients; and the result is not only a considerable waste of heat, but, as always occurs, the clinker is not uniformly burnt, a portion of the outer part has to be discarded as overburnt and useless, while the inner part is not sufficiently burnt, and has to be reburned afterward. Moreover, the clinker, which is of excessively hard character, has to be reduced by means of a crusher to particles sufficiently small to be admitted by the millstones, where it is ground into a fine powder, and becomes the Portland cement of commerce.
This process of manufacture is almost identical in principle and in practice with that described and patented by Mr. Joseph Aspden in the year 1824; and though various methods have been patented for utilizing the waste heat of the kilns in drying the slurry previous to calcination, still the main feature of burning the material in mass in large and expensive kilns remained the same, and is continued in practice to the present day. The attention of the author was directed to this subject some time since in consequence of the failure of a structure in which Portland cement formed an essential element, and he had not proceeded far in his investigation of the cause of the failure when he was struck with what appeared to him to be the unscientific method adopted in its manufacture, and the uncertain results that must necessarily accrue therefrom. Admitting, in the first place, that the materials employed were considered the best and most economical for the purpose readily accessible, viz., chalk and an alluvial deposit found in abundance on the banks of the Thames and the Medway, and being intimately mixed together in suitable proportions, was it necessary, in order to effect the chemical combination of the ingredients at an intense heat, to employ such massive and expensive structures of masonry, occupying such an enormous space of valuable ground, with tall chimney stacks for the purpose of discharging the objectionable gases, etc., at such a height, in order to reduce the nuisance to the surrounding neighborhood? Again, was it possible to effect the perfect calcination of the interior of the lumps alluded to without bestowing upon the outer portions a greater heat than was necessary for the purpose, causing a wasteful expenditure of both time and fuel? And further, as cement is required to be used in the state of powder, could not the mixture of the raw materials be calcined in powder, thereby avoiding the production of such a hard clinker, which has afterward to be broken up and reduced to a fine powder by grinding in an ordinary mill?
The foregoing are some of the defects which the author applied himself to remove, and he now desires to draw attention to the way in which the object has been attained by the substitution of a revolving furnace for the massive cement kilns now in general use, and by the application of gaseous products to effect calcination, in the place of coke or other solid fuel. The revolving furnace consists of a cylindrical casing of steel or boiler plate supported upon steel rollers (and rotated by means of a worm and wheel, driven by a pulley upon the shaft carrying the worm), lined with good refractory fire brick, so arranged that certain courses are set so as to form three or more radial projecting fins or ledges. The cylindrical casing is provided with two circular rails or pathways, turned perfectly true, to revolve upon the steel rollers, mounted on suitable brickwork, with regenerative flues, by passing through which the gas and air severally become heated, before they meet in the combustion chamber, at the mouth of the revolving furnace. The gas may be supplied from slack coal or other hydrocarbon burnt in any suitable gas producer (such, for instance, as those for which patents have been obtained by Messrs. Brook & Wilson, of Middlesbrough, or by Mr. Thwaite, of Liverpool), which producer may be placed in any convenient situation.