A Catechism of the Steam Engine
by John Bourne
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A.—The hole in the cylinder lid, through which the piston rod passes, is furnished with a recess called a stuffing box, into which a stuffing or packing of plaited hemp is forced, which, pressing on the one side against the interior of the stuffing box, and on the other side against the piston rod, which is smooth and polished, prevents any leakage in this situation. The packing of this stuffing box is forced down by a ring of metal tightened by screws. This ring, which accurately fits the piston rod, has a projecting flange, through which bolts pass for tightening the ring down upon the packing; and a similar expedient is employed in nearly every case in which packing is employed.

103. Q.—In what way is the piston rod connected to the great beam?

A.—The piston rod is connected to the great beam by means of two links, one at each side of the beam shown at f g, (fig. 21.) These links are usually made of the same length as the crank, and their purpose is to enable the end of the great beam to move in the arc of a circle while the piston rod maintains the vertical position. The point of junction, therefore, of the links and the piston rod is of the form of a knuckle or bend at some parts of the stroke.

104. Q.—But what compels the top of the piston rod to maintain the vertical position?

A.—Some engines have guide rods set on each side of the piston rod, and eyes on the top of the piston rod engage these guide rods, and maintain the piston rod in a vertical position in every part of the stroke. More commonly, however, the desired end is attained by means of a contrivance called the parallel motion.

105. Q.—What is the parallel motion?

A.—The parallel motion is an arrangement of jointed rods, so connected together that the divergence from the vertical line at any point in the arc described by the beam is corrected by an equal and opposite divergence due to the arc performed by the jointed rods during the stroke; and as these opposite deviations mutually correct one another, the result is that the piston rod moves in a vertical direction.

106. Q.—Will you explain the action more in detail?

A.—The pin, fig 21, which passes through the end of the beam at f has a link f g hung on each side of the beam, and a short cross bar, called a cross head, extends from the bottom of one of these links to the bottom of the other, which cross head is perforated with a hole in the middle for the reception of the piston rod. There are similar links b d at the point of the main beam, where the air pump rod is attached. There are two rods d g connecting the links b d with the links f g, and these rods, as they always continue parallel to the main beam throughout the stroke, are called parallel bars. Attached to the end of these two rods at d are two other rods c d, of which the ends at c are attached to stationary pins, while the ends at d follow the motion of the lower ends of the links b d. These rods are called the radius bars. Now it is obvious that the arc described by the point d, with c as a centre, is opposite to the arc described by the point g with d as a centre. The rod d g is, therefore, drawn back horizontally by the arc described at d to an extent equal to the versed sine of the arc described at g, or, in other words, the line described by the point g becomes a straight line instead of a curve.

107. Q.—Does the air pump rod move vertically as well as the piston rod?

A.—It does. The air pump rod is suspended from a cross head, passing from the centre of one of the links b d to the centre of the other link, on the opposite side of the beam. Now, as the distance from the central axis of the great beam to the point b is equal to the length of the rod c d, it will follow that the upper end of the link will follow one arc, and the lower end an equal and opposite arc. A point in the centre of the link, therefore, where these opposite motions meet, will follow no arc at all, but will move up and down vertically in a straight line.

108. Q.—The use of the crank is to obtain a circular motion from a reciprocating motion?

A.—That is the object of it, and it accomplishes its object in a very perfect manner, as it gradually arrests the velocity of the piston towards the end of the stroke, and thus obviates what would otherwise be an injurious shock upon the machine. When the crank approaches the lowest part of its throw, and at the same time the piston is approaching the top of the cylinder, the motion of the crank becomes nearly horizontal, or, in other words, the piston is only advanced through a very short distance, for any given distance measured on the circle described by the crank pin. Since, then, the velocity of rotation of the crank is nearly uniform, it will follow that the piston will move very slowly as it approaches the end of the stroke; and the piston is brought to a state of rest by this gradually retarded motion, both at the top and the bottom of the stroke.

109. Q.—What causes the crank to revolve at a uniform velocity?

A.—The momentum of the machinery moved by the piston, but more especially of the fly wheel, which by its operation redresses the unequal pressures communicated by the crank, and compels the crank shaft to revolve at a nearly uniform velocity. Everyone knows that a heavy wheel if put into rapid rotation cannot be immediately stopped. At the beginning and end of the stroke when the crank is vertical, no force of torsion can be exerted on the crank shaft by the crank, but this force is at its maximum when the crank is horizontal. From the vertical point, where this force is nothing, to the horizontal point, where it is at its maximum, the force of torsion exerted on the crank shaft is constantly varying; and the fly wheel by its momentum redresses these irregularities, and carries the crank through that "dead point," as it is termed, where the piston cannot impart any rotative force.

110. Q.—Are the configuration and structure of the steam engine, as it left the hand of Watt, materially different from those of modern engines?

A.—There is not much difference. In modern rotative land engines, the valves for admitting the steam to the cylinder or condenser, instead of being clack or pot-lid valves moved by tappets on the air pump rod, are usually sluice or sliding valves, moved by an eccentric wheel on the crank shaft. Sometimes the beam is discarded altogether, and malleable iron is more largely used in the construction of engines instead of the cast iron, which formerly so largely prevailed. But upon the whole the steam engine of the present day is substantially the engine of Watt; and he who perfectly understands the operation of Watt's engine, will have no difficulty in understanding the operation of any of the numerous varieties of engines since introduced.


111. Q.—Will you describe the principal features of the kind of steam engine employed for the propulsion of vessels?

A.—Marine engines are of two kinds,—paddle engines and screw engines. In the one case the propelling instrument is paddle wheels kept in rotation at each side of the ship: in the other case, the propelling instrument is a screw, consisting of two or more twisted vanes, revolving beneath the water at the stern. Of each class of engines there are many distinct varieties.

112. Q.—What are the principal varieties of the paddle engine?

A.—There is the side lever engine (fig. 26), and the oscillating engine (fig. 27), besides numerous other forms of engine which are less known or employed, such as the trunk (fig. 22), double cylinder (fig. 23), annular, Gorgon (fig. 24), steeple (fig. 25), and many others. The side lever engine, however, and the oscillating engine, are the only kinds of paddle engines which have been received with wide or general favor.

113. Q.—Will you explain the main distinctive features of the side lever engine?

A.—In all paddle vessels, whatever be their subordinate characteristics, a great shaft of wrought iron, s, turned round by the engine, has to be carried from side to side of the vessel, on which shaft are fixed the paddle wheels. The paddle wheels may either be formed with fixed float boards for engaging the water, like the boards of a common undershot water wheel, or they may be formed with feathering float boards as they are termed, which is float boards movable on a centre, and so governed by appropriate mechanism that they enter and leave the water in a nearly vertical position. The common fixed or radial floats, however, are the kind most widely employed, and they are attached to the arms of two or more rings of malleable iron which are fixed by appropriate centres on the paddle shaft. It is usual in steam vessels to employ two engines, the cranks of which are set at right angles with one another. When the paddle wheels are turned by the engines, the float boards engaging the water cause a forward thrust to be imparted to the shaft, which propels forward the vessel on the same principle that a boat is propelled by the action of oars.

114. Q.—These remarks apply to all paddle vessels?

A.—They do. With respect to the side lever engine, it may be described to be such a modification of the land beam engine already described, as will enable it to be got below the deck of a vessel. With this view, instead of a single beam being placed overhead, two beams are used, one of which is set on each side of the engine as low down as possible. The cross head which engages the piston rod is made somewhat longer than the diameter of the cylinder, and two great links or rods proceed one from each end of the cross head to one of the side levers or beams. A similar cross bar at the other end of the beams serves to connect them together and to the connecting rod which, proceeding from thence upwards, engages the crank, and thereby turns round the paddle wheels.

115. Q.—Will you further illustrate this general description by an example?

Q.—Fig. 26 is a side elevation of a side lever engine; x x represent the beams or keelsons to which the engines are attached, and on which the boilers rest. The engines are tied down by strong bolts passing through the bottom of the vessel, but the boiler keeps its position by its weight alone. The condenser and air pump are worked off the side levers by means of side rods and a cross head. A strong gudgeon, called the main centre, passes through the condenser at K, the projecting ends of which serve to support the side levers or beams. L is the piston rod, which, by means of the cross head and side rods, is connected to the side levers or beams, one of which is shown at H H. The line M represents the connecting rod, to which motion is imparted by the beams, through the medium of the cross tail extending between the beams, and which by means of the crank turns the paddle shaft S. The eccentric which works the slide valve is placed upon the paddle shaft. It consists of a disc of metal encircled by a hoop, to which a rod is attached, and the disc is perforated with a hole for the shaft, not in the centre, but near one edge. When, therefore, the shaft revolves, carrying the eccentric with it, the rod attached to the encircling hoop receives a reciprocating motion, just as it would do if attached to a crank in the shaft.

116. Q.—Will you describe the mode of starting the engine?

A.—I may first mention that when the engine is at rest, the connection between the eccentric and the slide valve is broken, by lifting the end of the eccentric rod out of a notch which engages a pin on the valve shaft, and the valve is at such times free to be moved by hand by a bar of iron, applied to a proper part of the valve gear for that purpose. This being so, the engineer, when he wishes to start the engine, first opens a small valve called the blow through valve, which permits steam from the boiler to enter the engine both above and below the piston, and also to fill the condenser and air pump. This steam expels the air from the interior of the engine, and also any water which may have accumulated there; and when this has been done, the blow through valve is shut, and a vacuum very soon forms within the engine, by the condensation of the steam. If now the slide valve be moved by hand, the steam from the boiler will be admitted on one side of the piston, while there is a vacuum on the other side, and the piston will, therefore, be moved in the desired direction. When the piston reaches the end of the stroke, the valve has to be moved in the reverse direction, when the piston will return, and after being moved thus by hand, once or twice, the connection of the valve with the eccentric is to be restored by allowing the notch on the end of the eccentric rod to engage the pin on the valve lever, when the valve will be thereafter moved by the engine in the proper manner. It will, of course, be necessary, when the engine begins to move, to open the injection cock a little, to enable water to enter for the condensation of the steam. In the most recent marine engines, a somewhat different mechanism from this is used for giving motion to the valves, but that mechanism will be afterwards described.

117. Q.—Are all marine engines condensing engines?

A.—Nearly all of them are so; but recently a number of gunboats have been constructed, with high pressure engines. In general, however, marine engines are low pressure or condensing engines.

118. Q.—Will you now describe the chief features of the oscillating paddle marine engine?

A.—In the oscillating paddle marine engine, the arrangement of the paddle shaft and paddle wheels is the same as in the case already described, but the whole of the side levers, side rods, cross head, cross tail, and connecting rod are discarded. The cylinder is set immediately under the crank; the top of the piston rod is connected immediately to the crank pin; and, to enable the piston rod to accommodate itself to the movement of the crank, the cylinder is so constructed as to be susceptible of vibrating or oscillating upon two external axes or trunnions. These trunnions are generally placed about half way up on the sides of the cylinder; and through one of them steam is received from the boiler, while through the other the steam escapes to the condenser. The air pump is usually worked by means of a crank in the shaft, which crank moves the air pump bucket up and down as the shaft revolves.

119. Q.—Will you give an example of a paddle oscillating engine?

A.—I will take as an example the oscillating engines constructed by Messrs. Ravenhill & Salked, for the Holyhead Packets. Fig. 27 is a longitudinal section of this vessel, showing an engine and boiler; and fig. 28 is a transverse section of one of the engines, showing also one of the wheels. There are two cylinders in this vessel, and one air pump, which lies in an inclined position, and is worked by a crank in the shaft which stretches between the cylinders, and which is called the intermediate shaft. A A, is one of the cylinders, B B the piston rod, and C C the crank. D is the crank in the intermediate shaft, which works the air pump E. There are double eccentrics fixed on the shaft, whereby the movement of the slide valves is regulated. The purpose of the double eccentrics is to enable an improved arrangement of valve gear to be employed, which is denominated the link motion, and which will be described hereafter. I I are the steam pipes leading to the steam trunnions K K, on which, and on the eduction trunnions connected with the pipe M, the cylinders oscillate.

120. Q.—By what species of mechanism are the positions of the paddle floats of feathering wheels governed?

A.—The floats are supported by spurs projecting from the rim of the wheel, and they may be moved upon the points of the spurs, to which they are attached by pins, by means of short levers proceeding from the backs of the floats, and connected to rods which proceed towards the centre of the wheel. The centre, however, to which these rods proceed is not concentric with the wheel, and the rods, therefore, are moved in and out as the wheel revolves, and impart a corresponding motion to the floats. In some feathering wheels the proper motion is given to the rods by means of an eccentric on the ship's side. The action of paddle wheels, whether radial or feathering, will be more fully described in the chapter on Steam Navigation.


121. Q.—What are the principal varieties of screw engines?

A.—The engines employed for the propulsion of screw vessels are divided into two great classes,—geared engines and direct acting engines; and each of these classes again has many varieties. In screw vessels, the shaft on which the screw is set requires to revolve at a much greater velocity than is required in the case of the paddle shaft of a paddle vessel; and in geared engines this necessary velocity of rotation is obtained by the intervention of toothed wheels,—the engines themselves moving with the usual velocity of paddle engines; whereas in direct acting engines the required velocity of rotation is obtained by accelerating the speed of the engines, and which are connected immediately to the screw shaft.

122. Q.—Will you describe some of the principal varieties of geared engines?

A.—A good many of the geared engines for screw vessels are made in the same manner as land engines, with a beam overhead, which by means of a connecting rod extending downwards, gives motion to the crank shaft, on which are set the cog wheels which give motion to pinions on the screw shaft,—the teeth of the wheels being generally of wood and the teeth of the pinions of iron. There are usually several wheels on the crank shaft and several pinions on the screw shaft; but the teeth of each do not run in the same line, but are set a little in advance of one another, so as to divide the thickness of the tooth into as many parts as there are independent wheels or pinions. By this arrangement the wheels work more smoothly than they would otherwise do.

123. Q.—What other forms are there of geared screw engines?

A.—In some cases the cylinders lie on their sides in the manner of the cylinders of a locomotive engine. In other cases vertical trunk engines are employed; and in other cases vertical oscillating engines.

124. Q.—Will you give an example of a geared vertical oscillating engine?

A.—The engines of a geared oscillating engine are similar to the paddle wheel engines (figs. 27 and 28), but the engines are placed lengthways of the ship, and instead of a paddle wheel on the main shaft, there is a geared wheel which connects with a pinion on the screw shaft. The engines of the Great Britain are made off the same patterns as the paddle engines constructed by Messrs. John Penn & Son, for H.M.S. Sphinx. The diameter of each cylinder is 82-1/2 inches, the length of travel or stroke of the piston is 6 feet, and the nominal power is 500 horses. The Great Britain is of 3,500 tons burden, and her displacement at 16 feet draught of water is 2,970 tons. The diameter of the screw is 15-1/2 feet, length of screw in the line of the shaft, 3 feet 2 inches, and the pitch of the screw, 19 feet.

125. Q.—What do you mean by the pitch of the screw?

A.—A screw propeller may be supposed to be a short piece cut off a screw of large diameter like a spiral stair, and the pitch of a spiral stair is the vertical height from any given step to the step immediately overhead.

126. Q.—What is the usual number of arms?

A.—Generally a screw has two arms, but sometimes it has three or more. The Great Britain had three arms or twisted blades resembling the vanes of a windmill. The multiple of the gearing in the Great Britain is 3 to 1, and there are 17-1/2 square feet of heating surface in the boiler for each nominal horse power. The crank shaft being put into motion by the engine, carries round with it the great cog wheel, or aggregation of cog wheels, affixed to its extremity; and these wheels acting on suitable pinions on the screw shaft, cause the screw to make three revolutions for every revolution made by the engine.

127. Q.—What are the principal varieties of direct acting screw engines?

A.—In some cases four engines have been employed instead of two, and the cylinders have been laid on their sides on each side of the screw shaft. This multiplication of engines, however, introduces needless complication, and is now but little used. In other cases two inverted cylinders are set above the screw shaft on appropriate framing; and connecting rods attached to the ends of the piston rods turn round cranks in the screw shaft.

128. Q.—What is the kind of direct acting screw engine employed by Messrs. Penn.

A.—It is a horizontal trunk engine. In this engine a round pipe called a trunk penetrates the piston, to which it is fixed, being in fact cast in one piece with it; and the trunk also penetrates the top and bottom of the cylinder, through which it moves, and is made tight therein by means of stuffing boxes. The connecting rod is attached at one end to a pin fixed in the middle of the trunk, while the other end engages the crank in the usual manner. The air pump is set within the condenser, and is wrought by a rod which is fixed to the piston and derives its motion therefrom. The air pump is of that species which is called double-acting. The piston or bucket is formed without valves in it, but an inlet and outlet valve is fixed to each end of the pump, through the one of which the water is drawn into the pump barrel, and through the other of which it is expelled into the hot well.


129. Q.—Will you describe the more important features of the locomotive engine?

A.—The locomotive employed to draw carriages upon railways, consists of a cylindrical boiler filled with brass tubes, through which the hot air passes on its progress from the furnace to the chimney, and attached to the boiler are two horizontal cylinders fitted with pistons, valves, connecting rods, and other necessary apparatus to enable the power exerted by the pistons to turn round the cranked axle to which the driving wheels are attached. There are, therefore, two independent engines entering into the composition of a locomotive, the cranks of which are set at right angles with one another, so that when one crank is at its dead point, the other crank is in a position to act with its maximum efficacy. The driving wheels, which are fixed on the crank shaft and turn round with it, propel the locomotive forward on the rails by the mere adhesion of friction, and this is found sufficient not merely to move the locomotive, but to draw a long train of carriages behind it.

130. Q.—Are locomotive engines condensing or high pressure engines.

A.—They are invariably high pressure engines, and it would be impossible or at least highly inconvenient, to carry the water necessary for the purpose of condensation. The steam, therefore, after it has urged the piston to the end of the stroke, escapes into the atmosphere. In locomotive engines the waste steam is always discharged into the chimney through a vertical pipe, and by its rapid passage it greatly increases the intensity of the draught in the chimney, whereby a smaller fire grate suffices for the combustion of the fuel, and the evaporative power of the boiler is much increased.

131. Q.—Can you give an example of a good locomotive engine of the usual form?

A.—To do this I will take the example of one of Hawthorn's locomotive engines with six wheels represented in fig. 29; not one of the most modern construction now in use, nor yet one of the most antiquated. M is the cylinder, R the connecting rod, C C the eccentrics by which the slide valve is moved; J J is the steam pipe by which the steam is conducted from the steam dome of the boiler to the cylinder. Near the smoke stack end of this pipe is a valve K or regulator moved by a handle p at the front of the boiler, and of which the purpose is to regulate the admission of the steam to the cylinder; f is a safety valve kept closed by springs; N is the eduction pipe, or, as it is commonly termed in locomotives, the blast pipe, by which the steam, escaping from the cylinder after the stroke has been performed, is projected up the chimney H. The water in the boiler of course covers the tubes and also the top of the furnace or fire box. It will be understood that there are two engines in each locomotive, though, from the figure being given in section, only one engine can be shown. The cylinders of this engine are each 14 inches diameter; the length of the stroke of the piston is 21 inches. There are two sets of driving wheels, 5 feet diameter, with outside connections.

132. Q.—What is the tender of a locomotive?

A.—It is a carriage attached to the locomotive, of which the purpose is to contain coke for feeding the furnace, and water for replenishing the boiler.

133. Q.—Can you give examples of modern locomotives?

A.—The most recent locomotives resemble in their material features the locomotive represented in fig. 29. I can, however, give examples of some of the most powerful engines of recent construction. Fig. 30 represents Gooch's express engine, adapted for the wide gauge of the Great Western Railway; and fig. 31 represents Crampton's express engine, adapted for the ordinary or narrow gauge railways. The cylinders of Gooch's engine are each 18 inches diameter, and 24 inches stroke; the driving wheels are 8 feet in diameter; the fire grate contains 21 square feet of area; and the heating surface of the fire box is 153 square feet. There are in all 305 tubes in the boiler, each of 2 inches diameter, giving a heating surface in the tubes of 1799 square feet. The total heating surface, therefore, is 1952 square feet. Mr. Gooch states that an engine of this class will evaporate from 300 to 360 cubic feet of water in the hour, and will convey a load of 236 tons at a speed of 40 miles an hour, or a load of 181 tons at a speed of 60 miles an hour. The weight of this engine empty is 31 tons; of the tender 8-1/2 tons; and the total weight of the engine when loaded is 50 tons. In one of Crampton's locomotives, the Liverpool, with one set more of carrying wheels than the fig., the cylinders are of 24 inches diameter and 18 inches stroke; the driving wheels are 8 feet in diameter; the fire grate contains 21-1/2 square feet of area; and the heating surface of the fire box is 154 square feet. There are in all 300 tubes in the boiler of 2-3/16 inches external diameter, giving a surface in the tubes of 2136 square feet, and a total heating surface of 2290 square feet. The weight of this engine is stated to be 35 tons when ready to proceed on a journey. Both engines were displayed at the Great Exhibition in 1851, as examples of the most powerful locomotive engines then made. The weight of such engines is very injurious to the railway; bending, crushing, and disturbing the rails, and trying very severely the whole of the railway works. No doubt the weight may be distributed upon a greater number of wheels, but if the weight resting on the driving wheels be much reduced, they will not have sufficient bite upon the rails to propel the train without slipping. This, however, is only one of the evils which the demand for high rates of speed has produced. The width of the railway, or, as it is termed, the gauge of the rails, being in most of the railways in this kingdom limited to 4 feet 8-1/2 inches, a corresponding limitation is imposed on the diameter of the boiler; which in its turn restricts the number of the tubes which can be employed. As, however, the attainment of a high rate of speed requires much power, and consequently much heating surface in the boiler, and as the number of tubes cannot be increased without reducing their diameter, it has become necessary, in the case of powerful engines, to employ tubes of a small diameter, and of a great length, to obtain the necessary quantity of heating surface; and such tubes require a very strong draught in the chimney to make them effective. With a draught of the usual intensity the whole of the heat will be absorbed in the portion of the tube nearest the fire box, leaving that portion nearest the smoke box nothing to do but to transmit the smoke; and with long tubes of small diameter, therefore, a very strong draught is indispensable. To obtain such a draught in locomotives, it is necessary to contract the mouth of the blast pipe, whereby the waste steam will be projected into the chimney with greater force; but this contraction involves an increase of the pressure on the eduction side of the piston, and consequently causes a diminution in the power of the engine. Locomotives with small and long tubes, therefore, will require more coke to do the same work than locomotives in which larger and shorter tubes may be employed.




134. Q.—What is meant by latent heat?

A.—By latent heat is meant the heat existing in bodies which is not discoverable by the touch or by the thermometer, but which manifests its existence by producing a change of state. Heat is absorbed in the liquefaction of ice, and in the vaporization of water, yet the temperature does not rise during either process, and the heat absorbed is therefore said to become latent. The term is somewhat objectionable, as the effect proper to the absorption of heat has in each case been made visible; and it would be as reasonable to call hot water latent steam. Latent heat, in the present acceptation of the term, means sensible liquefaction or vaporization; but to produce these changes heat is as necessary as to produce the expansion of mercury in a thermometer tube, which is taken as the measure of temperature; and it is hard to see on what ground heat can be said to be latent when its presence is made manifest by changes which only heat can effect. It is the temperature only that is latent, and latent temperature means sensible vaporization or liquefaction.

135. Q.—But when you talk of the latent heat of steam, what do you mean to express?

A.—I mean to express the heat consumed in accomplishing the vaporization compared with that necessary for producing the temperature. The latent heat of steam is usually reckoned at about 1000 degrees, by which it is meant that there is as much heat in any given weight of steam as would raise its constituent water 1000 degrees if the expansion of the water could be prevented, or as would raise 1000 times that quantity of water one degree. The boiling point of water, being 212 degrees, is 180 degrees above the freezing point of water—the freezing point being 32 degrees; so that it requires 1180 times as much heat to raise 1 lb. of water into steam, as to raise 1180 lbs. of water one degree; or it requires about as much heat to raise a pound of boiling water into steam, as would raise 5-1/2 lbs. of water from the freezing to the boiling point; 5-1/2 multiplied by 180 being 990 or 1000 nearly.

136. Q.—When it is stated that the latent heat of steam is 1000 degrees, it is only meant that this is a rough approximation to the truth?

A.—Precisely so. The latent heat, in point of fact, is not uniform at all temperatures, neither is the total amount of heat the same at all temperatures. M. Regnault has shown, by a very elaborate series of experiments on steam, which he has lately concluded, that the total heat in steam increases somewhat with the pressure, and that the latent heat diminishes somewhat with the pressure. This will be made obvious by the following numbers:

Pressure. Temperature. Total Heat. Latent Heat. 15 lbs. 213.1 deg. 1178.9 deg. 965.8 deg. 50 281.0 1199.6 918.6 100 327.8 1213.9 886.1

If, then, steam of 100 lbs. be expanded down to steam of 15 lbs., it will have 35 degrees of heat over that which is required for the maintenance of the vaporous state, or, in other words, it will be surcharged with heat.

137. Q.—What do you understand by specific heat?

A.—By specific heat, I understand the relative quantities of heat in bodies at the same temperature, just as by specific gravity I understand the relative quantities of matter in bodies of the same bulk. Equal weights of quicksilver and water at the same temperature do not contain the same quantities of heat, any more than equal bulks of those liquids contain the same quantity of matter. The absolute quantity of heat in any body is not known; but the relative heat of bodies at the same temperature, or in other words their specific heats, have been ascertained and arranged in tables,— the specific heat of water being taken as unity.

138. Q.—In what way does the specific heat of a body enable the quantity of heat in it to be determined?

A.—If any body has only half the specific heat of water, then a pound of that body will, at any given temperature, have only half the heat in it that is in a pound of water at the same temperature. The specific heat of air is .2669, that of water being 1; or it is 3.75 times less than that of water. An amount of heat, therefore, which would raise a pound of water 1 degree would raise a pound of air 3.75 degrees.


139. Q.—What is the nature of combustion?

A.—Combustion is nothing more than an energetic chemical combination, or, in other words, it is the mutual neutralization of opposing electricities. When coal is brought to a high temperature it acquires a strong affinity for oxygen, and combination with oxygen will produce more than sufficient heat to maintain the original temperature; so that part of the heat is rendered applicable to other purposes.

140. Q.—Does air consist of oxygen?

A.—Air consists of oxygen and nitrogen mixed together in the proportion of 3.29 lbs. of nitrogen to 1 lb. of oxygen. Every pound of coal requires about 2.66 lbs. of oxygen for its saturation, and therefore for every pound of coal burned, 8.75 pounds of nitrogen must pass through the fire, supposing all the oxygen to enter into combination. In practice, however, this perfection of combination does not exist; from one-third to one-half of the oxygen will pass through the fire without entering into combination at all; so that from 16 to 18 lbs. of air are required for every pound of coal burned. 18 lbs. of air are about 240 cubic feet, which may be taken as the quantity of air required for the combustion of a pound of coal in practice.

141. Q.—What are the constituents of coal?

A.—The chief constituent of coal is carbon or pure charcoal, which is associated in various proportions with volatile and earthy matters. English coal contains 80 to 90 per cent. of carbon, and from 8 to 18 per cent. of volatile and earthy matters, but sometimes more than this. The volatile matters are hydrogen, nitrogen, oxygen, and sulphur.

142. Q.—What is the difference between anthracite and bituminous coal?

A.—Anthracite consists almost entirely of carbon, having 91 per cent. of carbon, with about 7 per cent. of volatile matter and 2 per cent. of ashes. Newcastle coal contains about 83 per cent. of carbon, 14 per cent. of volatile matter, and 3 per cent. of ashes.

143. Q.—Will you recapitulate the steps by which you determine the quantity of air required for the combustion of coal?

A.—Looking to the quantity of oxygen required to unite chemically with the various constituents of the coal, we find for example that in 100 lbs. of anthracite coal, consisting of 91.44 lbs. of carbon, and 3.46 lbs. of hydrogen, we shall for the 91.44 lbs. of carbon require 243.84 lbs. of oxygen—since to saturate a pound of carbon by the formation of carbonic acid, requires 2-2/3 lbs. of oxygen. To saturate a pound of hydrogen in the formation of water, requires 8 lbs. of oxygen; hence 3.46 Fibs. of hydrogen will take 27.68 lbs. of oxygen for its saturation. If then we add 243.84 lbs. to 27.68 lbs. we have 271.52 lbs. of oxygen required for the combustion of 100 lbs. of coal. A given weight of air contains nearly 23.32 per cent of oxygen; hence to obtain 271.52 lbs. of oxygen, we must have about four times that quantity of atmospheric air, or more accurately, 1164 lbs. of air for the combustion of 100 lbs. of coal. A cubic foot of air at ordinary temperature weighs about .075 lbs.; so that 100 lbs. of coal require 15,524 cubic feet of air, or 1 lb. of coal requires about 155 cubic feet of air, supposing every atom of the oxygen to enter into combination. If, then, from one-third to one-half of the air passes unconsumed through the fire, an allowance of 240 cubic feet of air for each pound of coal will be a small enough allowance to answer the requirements of practice, and in some cases as much as 300 cubic feet will be required,—the difference depending mainly on the peculiar configuration of the furnace.

144. Q.—Can you state the evaporative efficacy of a pound of coal?

A.—The evaporative efficacy of a pound of carbon has been found experimentally to be equivalent to that necessary to raise 14,000 lbs. of water through 1 degree, or 14 lbs. of water through 1000 degrees, supposing the whole heat generated to be absorbed by the water. Now, if the water be raised into steam from a temperature of 60 deg., then 1118.9 deg. of heat will have to be imparted to it to convert it into steam of 15 lbs. pressure per square inch. 14,000 / 1118.9 = 12.512 Lbs. will be the number of pounds of water, therefore, which a pound of carbon can raise into steam of 15 lbs. pressure from a temperature of 60 deg.. This, however, is a considerably larger result than can be expected in practice.

145. Q.—Then what is the result that may be expected in practice?

A.—The evaporative powers of different coals appear to be nearly proportional to the quantity of carbon in them; and bituminous coal is, therefore, less efficacious than coal consisting chiefly of pure carbon. A pound of the best Welsh or anthracite coal is capable of raising from 9-1/2 to 10 lbs. of water from 212 deg. into steam, whereas a pound of the best Newcastle is not capable of raising more than about 8-1/2 lbs. of water from 212 deg. into steam; and inferior coals will not raise more than 6-1/2 lbs. of water into steam. In America it has been found that 1 lb. of the best coal is equal to 2-1/2 lbs. of pine wood, or, in some cases to 3 lbs.; and a pound of pine wood will not usually evaporate more than about 2 1/2 lbs. of water, though, by careful management, it may be made to evaporate 4 1/2 lbs. Turf will generate rather more steam than wood. Coke is equal or somewhat superior to the best coal in evaporative effect.

146. Q.—How much water will a pound of coal raise into steam in ordinary boilers?

A.—From 6 to 8 lbs. of water in the generality of land boilers of medium quality, the difference depending on the kind of boiler, the kind of coal, and other circumstances. Mr. Watt reckoned his boilers as capable of evaporating 10.08 cubic feet of water with a bushel or 84 lbs. of Newcastle coal, which is equivalent to 7 1/2 lbs. of water evaporated by 1 lb. of coal, and this may be taken as the performance of common land boilers at the present time. In some of the Cornish boilers, however, a pound of coal raises 11.8 lbs. of boiling water into steam, or a cwt. of coal evaporates about 21 cubic feet of water from 212 deg..

147. Q.—What method of firing ordinary furnaces is the best?

A.—The coals should be broken up into small pieces, and sprinkled thinly and evenly over the fire a little at a time. The thickness of the stratum of coal upon the grate should depend upon the intensity of the draught: in ordinary land or marine boilers it should be thin, whereas in locomotive boilers it requires to be much thicker. If the stratum of coal be thick while the draught is sluggish, the carbonic acid resulting from combustion combines with an additional atom of carbon in passing through the fire, and is converted into carbonic oxide, which may be defined to be invisible smoke, as it carries off a portion of the fuel: if, on the contrary, the stratum of coal be thin while the draught is very rapid, an injurious refrigeration is occasioned by the excess of air passing through the furnace. The fire should always be spread of uniform thickness over the bars of the grate, and should be without any holes or uncovered places, which greatly diminish the effect of the fuel by the refrigeratory action of the stream of cold air which enters thereby. A wood fire requires to be about 6 inches thicker than a coal one, and a turf fire requires to be 3 or 4 inches thicker than a wood one, so that the furnace bars must be placed lower where wood or turf is burned, to enable the surface of the fire to be at the same distance from the bottom of the boiler.

148. Q.—Is a slow or a rapid combustion the most beneficial?

A.—A slow combustion is found by experiment to give the best results as regards economy of fuel, and theory tells us that the largest advantage will necessarily be obtained where adequate time has been afforded for a complete combination of the constituent atoms of the combustible, and the supporter of combustion. In many of the cases, however, which occur in practice, a slow combustion is not attainable; but the tendencies of slow combustion are both to save the fuel, and to burn the smoke.

149. Q.—Is not the combustion in the furnaces of the Cornish boilers very slow?

A.—Yes, very slow; and there is in consequence very little smoke evolved. The coal used in Cornwall is Welsh coal, which evolves but little smoke, and is therefore more favorable for the success of a smokeless furnace; but in the manufacturing districts, where the coal is more bituminous, it is found that smoke may be almost wholly prevented by careful firing and by the use of a large capacity of furnace.

150. Q.—Do you consider slow combustion to be an advisable thing to practise in steam vessels?

A.—No, I do not. When the combustion is slow, the heat in the furnaces and flues is less intense, and a larger amount of heating surface consequently becomes necessary to absorb the heat. In locomotives, where the heat of the furnace is very intense, there will be the same economy of fuel with an allowance of 5 or 6 square feet of surface to evaporate a cubic foot of water as in common marine boilers with 10 or 12.

151. Q.—What is the method of consuming smoke pursued in the manufacturing districts?

A.—In Manchester, where some stringent regulations for the prevention of smoke have for some time been in force, it is found that the readiest way of burning the smoke is to have a very large proportion of furnace room, whereby slow combustion may be carried on. In some cases, too, a favourable result is arrived at by raising a ridge of coal across the furnace lying against the bridge, and of the same height: this ridge speedily becomes a mass of incandescent coke, which promotes the combustion of the smoke passing over it.

152. Q.—Is the method of admitting a stream of air into the flues to burn the smoke regarded favorably?

A.—No; it is found to be productive of injury to the boiler by the violent alternations of temperature it occasions, as at some times cold air impinges on the iron of the boiler, and at other times flame,—just as there happens to be smoke or no smoke emitted by the furnace. Boilers, therefore, operating upon this principle, speedily become leaky, and are much worn by oxidation, so that, if the pressure is considerable, they are liable to explode. It is very difficult to apportion the quantity of air admitted, to the varying wants of the fire; and as air may at some times be rushing in when there is no smoke to consume, a loss of heat, and an increased consumption of fuel may be the result of the arrangement; and, indeed, such is the result in practice, though a carefully performed experiment usually demonstrates a saving in fuel of 10 or 12 per cent.

153. Q.—What other plans have been contrived for obviating the nuisance of smoke?

A.—They are too various for enumeration, but most of them either operate upon the principle of admitting air into the flues to accomplish the combustion of the uninflammable parts of the smoke, or seek to attain the same object by passing the smoke over or through the fire or other incandescent material. Some of the plans, indeed, profess to burn the inflammable gases as they are evolved from the coal, without permitting the admixture of any of the uninflammable products of combustion which enter into the composition of smoke; but this object has been very imperfectly fulfilled in any of the contrivances yet brought under the notice of the public, and in some cases these contrivances have been found to create weightier evils than they professed to relieve.

154. Q.—You refer, I suppose, to Mr. Charles Wye Williams' Argand furnace?

A.—I chiefly refer to it, though I also comprehend all other schemes in which there is a continuous admission of air into the flues, with an intermittent generation of smoke.

155. Q.—This is not so in Prideaux's furnace?

A.—No; in that furnace the air is admitted only during a certain interval, or for so long, in fact, as there is smoke to be consumed.

156. Q.—Will you explain the chief peculiarities of that furnace?

A.—The whole peculiarity is in the furnace door. The front of the door consists of metal Venetians, which are opened when the top lever is lifted up, and shut when that lever descends to its lowest position. When the furnace door is opened to replenish the fire with coals, the top lever is raised up, and with it the piston of the small cylinder attached to the side of the furnace. The Venetians are thereby opened, and a stream of air enters the furnace, which, being heated in its passage among the numerous heated plates attached to the back of the furnace door, is in a favorable condition for effecting the combustion of the inflammable parts of the smoke. The piston in the small cylinder gradually subsides and closes the Venetians; and the rate of the subsidence of the piston may obviously be regulated by a cock, or, as in this case, a small screw valve, so that the Venetians shall just close when there is no more smoke to be consumed;—the air or other fluid within the cylinder being forced out by the piston in its descent.

157. Q.—Had Mr. Watt any method of consuming smoke?

A.—He tried various methods, but eventually fixed upon the method of coking the coal on a dead plate at the furnace door, before pushing it into the fire. That method is perfectly effectual where the combustion is so slow that the requisite time for coking is allowed, and it is much preferable to any of the methods of admitting air at the bridge or elsewhere, to accomplish the combustion of the inflammable parts of the smoke.

158. Q.—What are the details of Mr. Watt's arrangement as now employed?

A.—The fire bars and the dead plate are both set at a considerable inclination, to facilitate the advance of the fuel into the furnace. In Boulton and Watt's 30 horse power land boiler, the dead plate and the furnace bars are both about 4 feet long, and they are set at the angle of 30 degrees with the horizon.

159. Q.—Is the use of the dead plate universally adopted in Boulton and Watt's land boilers?

A.—It is generally adopted, but in some cases Boulton and Watt have substituted the plan of a revolving grate for consuming the smoke, and the dead plate then becomes both superfluous and inapplicable. In this contrivance the fire is replenished with coals by a self-acting mechanism.

160. Q.—Will you explain the arrangement of the revolving grate?

A.—The fire grate is made like a round table capable of turning horizontally upon a centre; a shower of coal is precipitated upon the grate through a slit in the boiler near the furnace mouth, and the smoke evolved from the coal dropped at the front part of the fire is consumed by passing over the incandescent fuel at the back part, from which all the smoke must have been expelled in the revolution of the grate before it can have reached that position.

161. Q.—Is a furnace with a revolving grate applicable to a steam vessel?

A.—I see nothing to prevent its application. But the arrangement of the boiler would perhaps require to be changed, and it might be preferable to combine its use with the employment of vertical tubes, for the transmission of the smoke. The introduction of any effectual automatic contrivance for feeding the fire in steam vessels, would bring about an important economy, at the same time that it would give the assurance of the work being better done. It is very difficult to fire furnaces by hand effectually at sea, especially in rough weather and in tropical climates; whereas machinery would be unaffected by any such disturbing causes, and would perform with little expense the work of many men.

162. Q.—The introduction of some mechanical method of feeding the fire with coals would enable a double tier of furnaces to be adopted in steam vessels without inconvenience?

A.—Yes, it would have at least that tendency; and as the space available for area of grate is limited in a steam vessel by the width of the vessel, it would be a great convenience if a double tier of furnaces could be employed without a diminished effect. It appears to me, however, that the objection would still remain of the steam raised by the lower furnace being cooled and deadened by the air entering the ash-pit of the upper fire, for it would strike upon the metal of the ash-pit bottom.

163. Q.—Have any other plans been devised for feeding the fire by self-acting means besides that of a revolving grate?

A.—Yes, many plans, but none of them, perhaps, are free from an objectionable complication. In some arrangements the bars are made like screws, which being turned round slowly, gradually carry forward the coal; while in other arrangements the same object is sought to be attained by alternately lifting and depressing every second bar at the end nearest the mouth of the furnace. In Juckes' furnace, the fire bars are arranged in the manner of rows of endless chains working over a roller at the mouth of the furnace, and another roller at the farther end of the furnace. These rollers are put into slow revolution, and the coal which is deposited at the mouth of the furnace is gradually carried forward by the motion of the chains, which act like an endless web. The clinkers and ashes left after the combustion of the coal, are precipitated into the ash-pit, where the chain turns down over the roller at the extremity of the furnace. In Messrs. Maudslays' plan of a self-feeding furnace the fire bars are formed of round tubes, and are placed transversely across the furnace. The ends of the bars gear into endless screws running the whole length of the furnace, whereby motion is given to the bars, and the coal is thus carried gradually forward. It is very doubtful whether any of these contrivances satisfy all the conditions required in a plan for feeding furnaces of the ordinary form by self-acting means, but the problem of providing a suitable contrivance, does not seem difficult of accomplishment, and will no doubt be effected under adequate temptation.

164. Q.—Have not many plans been already contrived which consume the smoke of furnaces very effectually?

A.—Yes, many plans; and besides those already mentioned there are Hall's, Coupland's, Godson's, Robinson's, Stevens's, Hazeldine's, Indie's, Bristow and Attwood's, and a great number of others. One plan, which promises well, consists in making the flame descend through the fire bars, and the fire bars are formed of tubes set on an incline and filled with water, which water will circulate with a rapidity proportionate to the intensity of the heat. After all, however, the best remedy for smoke appears to consist in removing from it those portions which form the smoke before the coal is brought into use. Many valuable products may be got from the coal by subjecting it to this treatment; and the residuum will be more valuable than before for the production of steam.


165. Q.—Have experiments been made to determine the elasticity of steam at different temperatures?

A.—Yes; very careful experiments. The following rule expresses the results obtained by Mr. Southern:—To the given temperature in degrees of Fahrenheit add 51.3 degrees; from the logarithm of the sum, subtract the logarithm of 135.767, which is 2.1327940; multiply the remainder by 5.13, and to the natural number answering to the sum, add the constant fraction .1, which will give the elastic force in inches of mercury. If the elastic force be known, and it is wanted to determine the corresponding temperature, the rule must be modified thus:—From the elastic force, in inches of mercury, subtract the decimal .1, divide the logarithm of the remainder by 5.13, and to the quotient add the logarithm 2.1327940; find the natural number answering to the sum, and subtract therefrom the constant 51.3; the remainder will be the temperature sought. The French Academy, and the Franklin Institute, have repeated Mr. Southern's experiments on a larger scale; the results obtained by them are not widely different, and are perhaps nearer the truth, but Mr. Southern's results are generally adopted by engineers, as sufficiently accurate for practical purposes.

166. Q.—Have not some superior experiments upon this subject been lately made in France?

A.—Yes, the experiments of M. Regnault upon this subject have been very elaborate and very carefully conducted, and the results are probably more accurate than have been heretofore obtained. Nevertheless, it is questionable how far it is advisable to disturb the rules of Watt and Southern, with which the practice of engineers is very much identified, for the sake of emendations which are not of such magnitude as to influence materially the practical result. M. Regnault has shown that the total amount of heat, existing in a given weight of steam, increases slightly with the pressure, so that the sum of the latent and sensible heats do not form a constant quantity. Thus, in steam of the atmospheric pressure, or with 14.7 Lbs. upon the square inch, the sensible heat of the steam is 212 degrees, the latent heat 966.6 degrees, and the sum of the latent and sensible heats 1178.6 degrees; whereas in steam of 90 pounds upon the square inch the sensible heat is 320.2 degrees, the latent heat 891.4 degrees, and the sum of the latent and sensible heats 1211.0 degrees. There is, therefore, 33 degrees less of heat in any given weight of water, raised into steam of the atmospheric pressure, than if raised into steam of 90 Lbs.[1] pressure.

167. Q.—What expansion does water undergo in its conversion into steam?

A.—A cubic inch of water makes about a cubic foot of steam of the atmospheric pressure.

168. Q.—And how much at a higher pressure?

A.—That depends upon what the pressure is. But the proportion is easily ascertained, for the pressure and the bulk of a given quantity of steam, as of air or any other elastic fluid, are always inversely proportional to one another. Thus if a cubic inch of water makes a cubic foot of steam, with the pressure of one atmosphere, it will make half a cubic foot with the pressure of two atmospheres, a third of a cubic foot with the pressure of three atmospheres, and so on in all other proportions. High pressure steam indeed is just low pressure steam forced into a less space, and the pressure will always be great in the proportion in which the space is contracted.

169. Q.—If this be so, the quantity of heat in a given weight of steam must be nearly the same, whether the steam is high or low pressure?

A.—Yes; the heat in steam is nearly a constant quantity, at all pressures, but not so precisely. Steam to which an additional quantity of heat has been imparted after leaving the boiler, or as it is called "surcharged steam," comes under a different law, for the elasticity of such steam may be increased without any addition being made to its weight; but surcharged steam is not at present employed for working engines, and it may therefore be considered in practice that a pound of steam contains very nearly the same quantity of heat at all pressures.

170. Q.—Does not the quantity of heat in any body vary with the temperature?

A.—Other circumstances remaining the same the quantity of heat in a body increases with the temperatures.

171. Q.—And is not high pressure steam hotter than low pressure steam?

A.—Yes, the temperature of steam rises with the pressure.

172. Q.—How then comes it, that there is the same quantity of heat in the same weight of high and low pressure steam, when the high pressure steam has the highest temperature?

A.—Because although the temperature or sensible heat rises with the pressure, the latent heat becomes less in about the same proportion. And as has been already explained, the latent and sensible heats taken together make up nearly the same amount at all temperatures; but the amount is somewhat greater at the higher temperatures. As a damp sponge becomes wet when subjected to pressure, so warm vapor becomes hot when forced into less bulk, but in neither case does the quantity of moisture or the quantity of heat sustain any alteration. Common air becomes so hot by compression that tinder may be inflamed by it, as is seen in the instrument for producing instantaneous light by suddenly forcing air into a syringe.

173. Q.—What law is followed by surcharged steam on the application of heat?

A.—The same as that followed by air, in which the increments in volume are very nearly in the same proportion as the increments in temperature; and the increment in volume for each degree of increased temperature is 1/490th part of the volume at 32 deg.. A volume of air which, at the temperature of 32 deg., occupies 100 cubic feet, will at 212 deg. fill a space of 136.73 cubic feet. The volume which air or steam—out of contact with water—of a given temperature acquires by being heated to a higher temperature, the pressure remaining the same, may be found by the following rule:—To each of the temperatures before and after expansion, add the constant number 458: divide the greater sum by the less, and multiply the quotient by the volume at the lower temperature; the product will give the expanded volume.

174. Q.—If the relative volumes of steam and water are known, is it possible to tell the quantity of water which should be supplied to a boiler, when the quantity of steam expended is specified?

A.—Yes; at the atmospheric pressure, about a cubic inch of water has to be supplied to the boiler for every cubic foot of steam abstracted; at other pressures, the relative bulk of water and steam may be determined as follows:—To the temperature of steam in degrees of Fahrenheit, add the constant number 458, multiply the sum by 37.3, and divide the product by the elastic force of the steam in pounds per square inch; the quotient will give the volume required.

175. Q.—Will this rule give the proper dimensions of the pump for feeding the boiler with water?

A.—No; it is necessary in practice that the feed pump should be able to supply the boiler with a much larger quantity of water than what is indicated by these proportions, from the risk of leaks, priming, or other disarrangements, and the feed pump is usually made capable of raising 3-1/2 times the water evaporated by the boiler. About 1/240th of the capacity of the cylinder answers very well for the capacity of the feed pump in the case of low pressure engines, supposing the cylinder to be double acting, and the pump single acting; but it is better to exceed this size.

176. Q.—Is this rule for the size of the feed pump applicable to the case of high pressure engines?

A.—Clearly not; for since a cylinder full of high pressure steam, contains more water than the same cylinder full of low pressure steam, the size of the feed must vary in the same proportion as the density of the steam. In all pumps a good deal of the effect is lost from the imperfect action of the valves; and in engines travelling at a high rate of speed, in particular, a large part of the water is apt to return, through the suction valve of the pump, especially if much lift be permitted to that valve. In steam vessels moreover, where the boiler is fed with salt water, and where a certain quantity of supersalted water has to be blown out of the boiler from time to time, to prevent the water from reaching too high a degree of concentration, the feed pump requires to be of additional size to supply the extra quantity of water thus rendered necessary. When the feed water is boiling or very hot, as in some engines is the case, the feed pump will not draw from a depth, and will altogether act less efficiently, so that an extra size of pump has to be provided in consequence. These and other considerations which might be mentioned, show the propriety of making the feed pump very much larger than theory requires. The proper proportions of pumps, however, forms part of a subsequent chapter.

[1] A table containing the results arrived at by M. Regnault is given in the Key.



177. Q.—What is meant by working engines expansively?

A.—Adjusting the valves, so that the steam is shut off from the cylinder before the end of the stroke, whereby the residue of the stroke is left to be completed by the expanding steam.

178. Q.—And what is the benefit of that practice?

A.—It accomplishes an important saving of steam, or, what is the same thing, of fuel; but it diminishes the power of the engine, while increasing the power of the steam. A larger engine will be required to do the same work, but the work will be done with a smaller consumption of fuel. If, for example, the steam be shut off when only half the stroke is completed, there will only be half the quantity of steam used. But there will be more than half the power exerted; for although the pressure of the steam decreases after the supply entering from the boiler is shut off, yet it imparts, during its expansion, some power, and that power, it is clear, is obtained without any expenditure of steam or fuel whatever.

179. Q.—What will be the pressure of the steam, under such circumstances, at the end of the stroke?

A.—If the steam be shut off at half stroke, the pressure of the steam, reckoning the total pressure both below and above the atmosphere, will just be one-half of what it was at the beginning of the stroke. It is a well known law of pneumatics, that the pressure of elastic fluids varies inversely as the spaces into which they are expanded or compressed. For example, if a cubic foot of air of the atmospheric density be compressed into the compass of half a cubic foot, its elasticity will be increased from 15 lbs. on the square inch to 30 lbs. on the square inch; whereas, if its volume be enlarged to two cubic feet, its elasticity will be reduced to 7-1/2 lbs. on the square inch, being just half its original pressure. The same law holds in all other proportions, and with all other gases and vapors, provided their temperature remains unchanged; and if the steam valve of an engine be closed, when the piston has descended through one- fourth of the stroke, the steam within the cylinder will, at the end of the stroke, just exert one-fourth of its initial pressure.

180. Q.—Then by computing the varying pressure at a number of stages, the average or mean pressure throughout the stroke may be approximately determined?

A.—Precisely so. Thus in the accompanying figure, (fig. 32), let E be a cylinder, J the piston, a the steam pipe, c the upper port, f the lower port, d the steam pipe, prolonged to e the equilibrium valve, g the eduction valve, M the steam jacket, N the cylinder cover, O stuffing box, n piston rod, P cylinder bottom; let the cylinder be supposed to be divided in the direction of its length into any number of equal parts, say twenty, and let the diameter of the cylinder represent the pressure of the steam, which, for the sake of simplicity, we may take at 10 lbs., so that we may divide the cylinder, in the direction of its diameter, into ten equal parts. If now the piston be supposed to descend through five of the divisions, and the steam valve then be shut, the pressure at each subsequent position of the piston will be represented by a series, computed according to the laws of pneumatics, and which, if the initial pressure be represented by 1, will give a pressure of .5 at the middle of the stroke, and .25 at the end of it.

If this series be set off on the horizontal lines, it will mark out a hyperbolic curve—the area of the part exterior to which represents the total efficacy of the stroke, and the interior area, therefore, represents the diminution in the power of a stroke, when the steam is cut off at one- fourth of the descent. If the squares above the point, where the steam is cut off, be counted, they will be found to amount to 50; and if those beneath that point be counted or estimated, they will be found to amount to about 69. These squares are representative of the power exerted; so that while an amount of power represented by 50 has been obtained by the expenditure of a quarter of a cylinder full of steam, we get an amount of power represented by 69, without any expenditure of steam at all, merely by permitting the steam first used to expand into four times its original volume.

181. Q.—Then by working an engine expansively, the power of the steam is increased, but the power of the engine is diminished?

A.—Yes. The efficacy of a given quantity of steam is more than doubled by expanding the steam four times, while the efficacy of each stroke is made nearly one-half less. And, therefore, to carry out the expansive principle in practice, the cylinder requires to be larger than usual, or the piston faster than usual, in the proportion in which the expansion is carried out. Every one who is acquainted with simple arithmetic, can compute the terminal pressure of steam in a cylinder, when he knows the initial pressure and the point at which the steam is cut off; and he can also find, by the same process, any pressure intermediate between the first and the last. By setting down these pressures in a table, and taking their mean, he can determine the effect, with tolerable accuracy, of any particular measure of expansion. It is necessary to remark, that it is the total pressure of the steam that he must take; not the pressure above the atmosphere, but the pressure above a perfect vacuum.

182. Q.—Can you give any rule for ascertaining at one operation the amount of benefit derivable from expansion?

A.—Divide the length of stroke through which the steam expands, by the length of stroke performed with full pressure, which last call 1; the hyperbolic logarithm of the quotient is the increase of efficiency due to expansion. According to this rule it will be found, that if a given quantity of steam, the power of which working at full pressure is represented by 1, be admitted into a cylinder of such a size that its ingress is concluded when one-half the stroke has been performed, its efficacy will be raised by expansion to 1.69; if the admission of the steam be stopped at one-third of the stroke, the efficacy will be 2.10; at one- fourth, 2.39; at one-fifth, 2.61; at one-sixth, 2.79; at one-seventh, 2.95; at one-eighth, 3.08. The expansion, however, cannot be carried beneficially so far as one-eighth, unless the pressure of the steam in the boiler be very considerable, on account of the inconvenient size of cylinder or speed of piston which would require to be adopted, the friction of the engine, and the resistance of vapor in the condenser, which all become relatively greater with a smaller urging force.

183. Q.—Is this amount of benefit actually realized in practice?

A.—Only in some cases. It appears to be indispensable to the realization of any large amount of benefit by expansion, that the cylinder should be enclosed in a steam jacket, or should in some other way be effectually protected from refrigeration. In some engines not so protected, it has been found experimentally that less benefit was obtained from the fuel by working expansively than by working without expansion—the whole benefit due to expansion being more than counteracted by the increased refrigeration due to the larger surface of the cylinder required to develop the power. In locomotive engines, with outside cylinders, this condition of the advantageous use of expansion has been made very conspicuous, as has also been the case in screw steamers with four cylinders, and in which the refrigerating surface of the cylinders was consequently large.

184. Q.—The steam is admitted to and from the cylinder by means of a slide or sluice valve?

A.—Yes; and of the slide valve there are many varieties; but the kinds most in use are the D valve,—so called from its resemblance to a half cylinder or D in its cross section—and the three ported valve, shown in fig. 33, which consists of a brass or iron box set over the two ports or openings into the cylinder, and a central port which conducts away the steam to the atmosphere or condenser; but the length of the box is so adjusted that it can only cover one of the cylinder ports and the central or eduction port at the same time. The effect, therefore, of moving the valve up and down, as is done by the eccentric, is to establish a connection alternately between each cylinder port and the central passage whereby the steam escapes; and while the steam is escaping from beneath the piston, the position of the valve is such, that a free communication exists between the space above the piston and the steam in the boiler. The piston is thus urged alternately up and down—the valve so changing its position before the piston arrives at the end of the stroke, that the pressure is by that time thrown on the reverse side of the piston, so as to urge it into motion in the opposite direction.

185. Q.—Is the motion of the valve, then, the reverse of that of the piston?

A.—No. The valve does not move down when the piston moves down, nor does it move down when the piston moves up; but it moves from its mid position, to the extremity of its throw, and back again to its mid position, while the piston makes an upward or downward movement, so that the motion is as it were at right angles to the motion of the piston; or it is the same motion that the piston of another engine, the crank of which is set at right angles with that of the first engine, would acquire.

186. Q.—Then in a steam vessel the valve of one engine may be worked from the piston of the other?

A.—Yes, it may; or it may be worked from its own connecting rod; and in the case of locomotive engines, this has sometimes been done.

187. Q.—What is meant by the lead of the valve?

A.—The amount of opening which the valve presents for the admission of the steam, when the piston is just beginning its stroke. It is found expedient that the valve should have opened a little to admit steam on the reverse side of the piston before the stroke terminates; and the amount of this opening, which is given by turning the eccentric more or less round upon the shaft, is what is termed the lead.

188. Q.—And what is meant by the lap of the valve?

A.—It is an elongation of the valve face to a certain extent over the port, whereby the port is closed sooner than would otherwise be the case. This extension is chiefly effected at that part of the valve where the steam is admitted, or upon the steam side of the valve, as the technical phrase is; and the intent of the extension is to close the steam passage before the end of the stroke, whereby the engine is made to operate to a certain extent expansively. In some cases, however, there is also a certain amount of lap given to the escape or eduction side, to prevent the eduction from being performed too soon when the lead is great; but in all cases there is far less lap on the eduction than on the steam side, very often there is none, and sometimes less than none, so that the valve is incapable of covering both the ports at once.

189. Q.—What is the usual proportional length of stroke of the valve?

A.—The common stroke of the valve in rotative engines is twice the breadth or depth of the port, and the length of the valve face will then be just the breadth of the port when there is lap on neither the steam nor eduction side. Whatever lap is given, therefore, makes the valve face just so much longer. In some engines, however, the stroke of the valve is a good deal more than twice the breadth of the port; and it is to the stroke of the valve that the amount of lap should properly be referred.

190. Q.—Can you tell what amount of lap will accomplish any given amount of expansion?

A.—Yes, when the stroke of the valve is known. From the length of the stroke of the piston subtract that part of the stroke which is intended to be accomplished before the steam is cut off; divide the remainder by the length of the stroke of the piston, and extract the square root of the quotient, which multiply by half the stroke of the valve, and from the product take half the lead; the remainder will be the lap required.

191. Q.—Can you state how we may discover at what point of the stroke the eduction passage will be closed?

A.—To find how much before the end of the stroke the eduction passage will be closed:—to the lap on the steam side add the lead, and divide the sum by half the stroke of the valve; find the arc whose sine is equal to the quotient, and add 90 deg. to it.; divide the lap on the eduction side by half the stroke of the valve, and find the arc whose cosine is equal to the quotient; subtract this arc from the one last obtained, and find the cosine of the remainder; subtract this cosine from 2, and multiply the remainder by half the stroke of the piston; the product is the distance of the piston from the end of the stroke when the eduction passage is closed.

192. Q.—Can you explain how we may determine the distance of the piston from the end of the stroke, before the steam urging it onward is allowed to escape?

A.—To find how far the piston is from the end of its stroke when the steam that is propelling it by expansion is allowed to escape to the atmosphere or condenser—to the lap on the steam side add the lead; divide the sum by half the stroke of the valve, and find the arc whose sine is equal to the quotient; find the arc whose sine is equal to the lap on the eduction side, divided by half the stroke of the valve; add these two arcs together and subtract 90 deg.; find the cosine of the residue, subtract it from 1, and multiply the remainder by half the stroke of the piston; the product is the distance of the piston from the end of its stroke when the steam that is propelling it is allowed to escape into the atmosphere or condenser. In using these rules, all the dimensions are to be taken in inches, and the answers will be found in inches also.

193. Q.—Is it a benefit or a detriment to open the eduction passage before the end of the stroke?

A.—In engines working at a high rate of speed, such as locomotive engines, it is very important to open the exhaust passage for the escape of the steam before the end of the stroke, as an injurious amount of back pressure is thus prevented. In the earlier locomotives a great loss of effect was produced from inattention to this condition; and when lap was applied to the valves to enable the steam to be worked expansively, it was found that a still greater benefit was collaterally obtained by the earlier escape of the steam from the eduction passages, and which was incidental to the application of lap to the valves. The average consumption of coke per mile was reduced by Mr. Woods from 40 lbs. per mile to 15 lbs. per mile, chiefly by giving a free outlet to the escaping steam.

194. Q.—To what extent can expansion be carried beneficially by means of lap upon the valve?

A.—To about one-third of the stroke; that is, the valve may be made with so much lap, that the steam will be cut off when two thirds of the stroke have been performed, leaving the residue to be accomplished by the agency of the expanding steam; but if more lap be put on than answers to this amount of expansion, a very distorted action of the valve will be produced, which may impair the efficiency of the engine. If a further amount of expansion than this is wanted, it may be accomplished by wire drawing the steam, or by so contracting the steam passage that the pressure within the cylinder must decline when the speed of the piston is accelerated, as it is about the middle of the stroke.

195. Q.—Will you explain how this result ensues?

A.—If the valve be so made as to shut off the steam by the time two thirds of the stroke have been performed, and the steam be at the same time throttled in the steam pipe, the full pressure of the steam within the cylinder cannot be maintained except near the beginning of the stroke where the piston travels slowly; for, as the speed of the piston increases, the pressure necessarily subsides, until the piston approaches the other end of the cylinder, where the pressure would rise again but that the operation of the lap on the valve by this time has had the effect of closing the communication between the cylinder and steam pipe, so as to prevent more steam from entering. By throttling the steam, therefore, in the manner here indicated, the amount of expansion due to the lap may be doubled, so that an engine with lap enough upon the valve to cut off the steam at two-thirds of the stroke, may, by the aid of wire drawing, be virtually rendered capable of cutting off the steam at one-third of the stroke.

196. Q.—Is this the usual way of cutting off the steam?

A.—No; the usual way of cutting off the steam is by means of a separate valve, termed an expansion valve; but such a device appears to be hardly necessary in ordinary engines. In the Cornish engines, where the steam is cut off in some cases at one-twelfth of the stroke, a separate valve for the admission of steam, other than that which permits its escape, is of course indispensable; but in common rotative engines, which may realize expansive efficacy by throttling, a separate expansion valve does not appear to be required.

197. Q.—That is, where much expansion is required, an expansion valve is a proper appendage, but where not much is required, a separate expansion valve may be dispensed with?

A.—Precisely so. The wire drawing of the steam causes a loss of part of its power, and the result will not be quite so advantageous by throttling as by cutting off. But for moderate amounts of expansion it will suffice, provided there be lap upon the slide valve.

198. Q.—Will you explain the structure or configuration of expansion apparatus of the usual construction?

A.—The structure of expansion apparatus is very various; but all the kinds operate either on the principle of giving such a motion to the slide valve as will enable it to cut off the steam, at the desired point, or on the principle of shutting off the steam by a separate valve in the steam pipe or valve casing. The first class of apparatus has not been found so manageable, and is not in extensive use, except in that form known as the link motion. Of the second class, the most simple probably is the application of a cam giving motion to the throttle valve, or to a valve of the same construction, which either accurately fits the steam pipe, or which comes round to a face, which, however, it is restrained from touching by a suitable construction of the cam. A kind of expansion valve, often employed in marine engines of low speed, is the kind used in the Cornish engines, and known as the equilibrium valve. This valve is represented in fig. 34. It consists substantially of an annulus or bulging cylinder of brass, with a steam-tight face both at its upper and lower edges, at which points it fits accurately upon a stationary seat. This annulus may be raised or lowered without being resisted by the pressure of the steam, and in rotative engines it is usually worked by a cam on the shaft. The expansion cam is put on the shaft in two pieces, which are fastened to each other by means of four bolts passing through lugs, and is fixed to the shaft by keys. A roller at one end of a bell-crank lever, which is connected with the expansion valve, presses against the cam, so that the motion of the lever will work the valve. The roller is kept against the cam by a weight on a lever attached to the same shaft, but a spring is necessary for high speeds. If the cam were concentric with the shaft, the lever which presses upon it would remain stationary, and also the expansion valve; but by the projection of the cam, the end of the lever receives a reciprocating motion, which is communicated to the valve.

199. Q.—The cam then works the valve?

A.—Yes. The position of the projection of the cam determines the point in relation to the stroke at which the valve is opened, and its circumferential length determines the length of the time during which the valve continues open. The time at which the valve should begin to open is the same under all circumstances, but the duration of its opening varies with the amount of expansion desired. In order to obtain this variable extent of expansion, there are several projections made upon the cam, each of which gives a different degree, or grade as it is usually called, of expansion. These grades all begin at the same point on the cam, but are of different lengths, so that they begin to move the lever at the same time, but differ in the time of returning it to its original position.

200. Q.—How is the degree of expansion changed?

A.—The change of expansion is effected by moving the roller on to the desired grade; which is done by slipping the lever carrying the roller endways on the shaft or pin sustaining it.

201. Q.—Are such cams applicable in all cases?

A.—In engines moving at a high rate of speed the roller will be thrown back from the cam by its momentum, unless it be kept against it by means of springs. In some cases I have employed a spring formed of a great number of discs of India rubber to keep the roller against the cam, but a few brass discs require to be interposed to prevent the India rubber discs from being worn in the central hole.

202. Q.—May not the percussion incident to the action of a cam at a high speed, when the roller is not kept up to the face by springs, be obviated by giving a suitable configuration to the cam itself?

A.—It may at all events be reduced. The outline of the cam should be a parabola, so that the valve may be set in motion precisely as a falling body would be; but it will, nevertheless, be necessary that the roller on which the cam presses should be forced upward by a spring rather than by a counterweight, as there will thus be less inertia or momentum in the mass that has to be moved.

203. Q.—An additional slide valve is sometimes used for cutting off the steam?

A.—Yes, very frequently; and the slide valve is sometimes on the side or back of the valve casing, and sometimes on the back of the main or distributing valve, and moving with it.

204. Q.—Are cams used in locomotive engines?

A.—In locomotive engines the use of cams is inadmissible, and other expedients are employed, of which those contrived by Stephenson and by Cabrey operate on the principle of accomplishing the requisite variations of expansion by altering the throw of the slide valve.

205. Q.—What is Stephenson's arrangement?

A.—Stephenson connects the ends of the forward and backward eccentric rods by a link with a curved slot in which a pin upon the end of the valve rod works. By moving this link so as to bring the forward eccentric rod in the same line with the valve rod, the valve receives the motion due to that eccentric; whereas if the backward eccentric rod is brought in a line with the valve rod, the valve gets the motion proper for reversing, and if the link be so placed that the valve rod is midway between the two eccentric rods, the valve will remain nearly stationary. This arrangement, which is now employed extensively, is what is termed "the link motion." It is represented in the annexed figure, fig. 35, where e is the valve rod, which is attached by a pin to an open curved link susceptible of being moved up and down by the bell-crank lever f'' f'', supported on the centre g, and acting on the links f, while the valve rod e remains in the same horizontal plane; d d' are the eccentric rods, and the link is represented in its lowest position. The dotted lines h' h'' show the position of the eccentric rods when the link is in its highest position, and l l' when in mid position.

206. Q.—What is Cabrey's arrangement?

A.—Mr. Cabrey makes his eccentric rod terminate in a pin which works into a straight slotted lever, furnished with jaws similar to the jaws on the eccentric rods of locomotives. By raising the pin of the eccentric rod in this slot, the travel of the valve will be varied, and expansive action will be the result.

207. Q.—What other forms of apparatus are there for working steam expansively?

A.—They are too numerous for description here, but a few of them may be enumerated. Fenton seeks to accomplish the desired object by introducing a spiral feather on the crank axle, by moving the eccentric laterally against which the eccentric is partially turned round so as to cut off the steam at a different part of the stroke. Dodds seeks to attain the same end by corresponding mechanical arrangements. Farcot, Edwards, and Lavagrian cut off the steam by the application of a supplementary valve at the back of the ordinary valve, which supplementary valve is moved by tappets fixed to the valve casing. Bodmer, in 1841, and Meyer, in 1842, employed two slides or blocks fitted over apertures in the ordinary slide valve, and which blocks were approximated or set apart by a right and left handed screw passing through both.[1] Hawthorn, in 1843, employed as an expansion valve a species of frame lying on the ordinary cylinder face upon the outside of the valve, and working up against the steam side of the valve at each end so as to cut off the steam. In the same year Gonzenbach patented an arrangement which consists of an additional slide valve and valve casing placed on the back of the ordinary slide valve casing, and through this supplementary valve the steam must first pass. This supplementary valve is worked by a double ended lever, slotted at one end for the reception of a pin on the valve link, the position of which in the slot determines the throw of the supplementary valve, and the consequent degree of expansion.

208. Q.—What is the arrangement of expansion valve used in the most approved modern engines?

A.—In modern engines, either marine or locomotive, it is found that if they are fitted with the link motion, as they nearly all are, a very good expansive action can be obtained by giving a suitable adjustment to it, without employing an expansion valve at all. Diagrams taken from engines worked in this manner show a very excellent result, and most of the modern engines trust for their expansive working to the link motion and the throttle valve.

[1] In 1838 I patented an arrangement of expansion valve, consisting of two movable plates set upon the ordinary slide valve, and which might be drawn together or asunder by means of a right and left handed screw passing through both plates. The valve spindle was hollow, and a prolongation of the screw passed up through it, and was armed on the top with a small wheel, by means of which the plates might be adjusted while the engine was at work. In 1839 I fitted an expansion valve in a steam vessel, consisting of two plates, connected by a rod, and moved by tappets up against the steam edges of the valve. In another steam vessel I fitted the same species of valve, but the motion was not derived from tappets, but from a moving part of the engine, though at the moderate speed at which these engines worked I found tappets to operate well and make little noise. In 1837 I employed, as an expansion valve, a rectangular throttle valve, accurately fitting a bored out seat, in which it might be made to revolve, though it did not revolve in working. This valve was moved by a pin in a pinion, making two revolutions for every revolution of the engine, and the configuration of the seat determined the amount of the expansion. In 1855 I have again used expansion valves of this construction in engines making one hundred revolutions per minute, and with perfectly satisfactory results.— J.B.




209. Q.—What do you understand by a horse power?

A.—An amount of mechanical force that will raise 33,000 lbs. one foot high in a minute. This standard was adopted by Mr. Watt, as the average force exerted by the strongest London horses; the object of his investigation being to enable him to determine the relation between the power of a certain size of engine and the power of a horse, so that when it was desired to supersede the use of horses by the erection of an engine, he might, from the number of horses employed, determine the size of engine that would be suitable for the work.

210. Q.—Then when we talk of an engine of 200 horse power, it is meant that the impelling efficacy is equal to that of 200 horses, each lifting 33,000 lbs. one foot high in a minute?

A.—No, not now; such was the case in Watt's engines, but the capacity of cylinder answerable to a horse power has been increased by most engineers since his time, and the pressure on the piston has been increased also, so that what is now called a 200 horse power engine exerts, almost in every case, a greater power than was exerted in Watt's time, and a horse power, in the popular sense of the term, has become a mere conventional unit for expressing a certain size of engine, without reference to the power exerted.

211. Q.—Then, each nominal horse power of a modern engine may raise much more than 33,000 lbs. one foot high in a minute?

A.—Yes; some raise 52,000 lbs., others 60,000 lbs., and others 66,000 lbs., one foot high in a minute by each nominal horse power. Some engines indeed work as high as five times above the nominal power, and therefore no comparison can be made between the performances of different engines, unless the power actually exerted be first discovered.

212. Q.—How is the power actually exerted by engines ascertained?

A.—By means of an instrument called the indicator, which is a miniature cylinder and piston attached to the cylinder cover of the main engine, and which indicates, by the pressure exerted on a spring, the amount of pressure or vacuum existing within the cylinder. From this pressure, expressed in pounds per square inch, deduct a pound and a half of pressure for friction, the loss of power in working the air pump, &c.; multiply the area of the piston in square inches by this residual pressure, and by the motion of the piston, in feet per minute, and divide by 33,000; the quotient is the actual number of horses power of the engine. The same result is attained by squaring the diameter of the cylinder, multiplying by the pressure per square inch, as shown by the indicator, less a pound and a half, and by the motion of the piston, in feet per minute, and dividing by 42,017.

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