A Catechism of the Steam Engine
by John Bourne
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213. Q. How is the nominal power of an engine ascertained?

A.—Since the nominal power is a mere conventional expression, it is clear that it must be determined by a merely conventional process. The nominal power of ordinary condensing engines may be ascertained by the following rule: multiply the square of the diameter of the cylinder in inches, by the velocity of the piston in feet per minute, and divide the product by 6,000; the quotient is the number of nominal horses power. In using this rule, however, it is necessary to adopt the speed of piston prescribed by Mr. Watt, which varies with the length of the stroke. The speed of piston with a 2 feet stroke is, according to his system, 160 per minute; with a 2 ft. 6 in. stroke, 170; 3 ft., 180; 3 ft. 6 in., 189; 4 ft., 200; 5 ft., 215; 6 ft., 228; 7 ft., 245; 8 ft., 256 ft.

214. Q.—Does not the speed of the piston increase with the length of the stroke?

A.—It does: the speed of the piston varies nearly as the cube root of the length of the stroke.

215. Q.—And may not therefore some multiple of the cube root of the length of the stroke be substituted for the velocity of the piston in determining the nominal power?

A.—The substitution is quite practicable, and will accomplish some simplification, as the speed of piston proper for the different lengths of stroke cannot always be remembered. The rule for the nominal power of condensing engines when thus arranged, will be as follows: multiply the square of the diameter of the cylinder in inches by the cube root of the stroke in feet, and divide the product by 47; the quotient is the number of nominal horses power of the engine, supposing it to be of the ordinary condensing description. This rule assumes the existence of a uniform effective pressure upon the piston of 7 lbs. per square inch; Mr. Watt estimated the effective pressure upon the piston of his 4 horse power engines at 6-8 lbs. per square inch, and the pressure increased slightly with the power, and became 6.94 lbs. per square inch in engines of 100 horse power; but it appears to be more convenient to take a uniform pressure of 7 lbs. for all powers. Small engines, indeed, are somewhat less effective in proportion than large ones, but the difference can be made up by slightly increasing the pressure in the boiler; and small boilers will bear such an increase without inconvenience.

216. Q.—How do you ascertain the power of high pressure engines?

A.—The actual power is readily ascertained by the indicator, by the same process by which the actual power of low pressure engines is ascertained. The friction of a locomotive engine when unloaded is found by experiment to be about 1 lb. per square inch on the surface of the pistons, and the additional friction caused by any additional resistance is estimated at about .14 of that resistance; but it will be a sufficiently near approximation to the power consumed by friction in high pressure engines, if we make a deduction of a pound and a half from the pressure on that account, as in the case of low pressure engines. High pressure engines, it is true, have no air pump to work; but the deduction of a pound and a half of pressure is relatively a much smaller one where the pressure is high, than where it does not much exceed the pressure of the atmosphere. The rule, therefore, for the actual horse power of a high pressure engine will stand thus: square the diameter of the cylinder in inches, multiply by the pressure of the steam in the cylinder per square inch less 1-1/2 lb., and by the speed of the piston in feet per minute, and divide by 42,017; the quotient is the actual horse power.

217. Q.—But how do you ascertain the nominal horse power of high pressure engines?

A.—The nominal horse power of a high pressure engine has never been defined; but it should obviously hold the same relation to the actual power as that which obtains in the case of condensing engines, so that an engine of a given nominal power may be capable of performing the same work, whether high pressure or condensing. This relation is maintained in the following rule, which expresses the nominal horse power of high pressure engines: multiply the square of the diameter of the cylinder in inches by the cube root of the length of stroke in feet, and divide the product by 15.6. This rule gives the nominal power of a high pressure engine three times greater than that of a low pressure engine of the same dimensions; the average effective pressure being taken at 21 lbs. per square inch instead of 7 lbs., and the speed of the piston in feet per minute being in both rules 128 times the cube root of the length of stroke.[1]

218. Q.—Is 128 times the cube root of the stroke in feet per minute the ordinary speed of all engines?

A.—Locomotive engines travel at a quicker speed—an innovation brought about not by any process of scientific deduction, but by the accidents and exigencies of railway transit. Most other engines, however, travel at about the speed of 128 times the cube root of the stroke in feet; but some marine condensing engines of recent construction travel at as high a rate as 700 feet per minute. To mitigate the shock of the air pump valves in cases in which a high speed has been desirable, as in the case of marine engines employed to drive the screw propeller without intermediate gearing, India rubber discs, resting on a perforated metal plate, are now generally adopted; but the India rubber should be very thick, and the guards employed to keep the discs down should be of the same diameter as the discs themselves.

219. Q.—Can you suggest any eligible method of enabling condensing engines to work satisfactorily at a high rate of speed?

A.—The most feasible way of enabling condensing engines to work satisfactorily at a high speed, appears to lie in the application of balance weights to the engine, so as to balance the momentum of its moving parts, and the engine must also be made very strong and rigid. It appears to be advisable to perform the condensation partly in the air pump, instead of altogether in the condenser, as a better vacuum and a superior action of the air pump valves will thus be obtained. Engines constructed upon this plan may be driven at four times the speed of common engines, whereby an engine of large power may be purchased for a very moderate price, and be capable of being put into a very small compass; while the motion, from being more equable, will be better adapted for most purposes for which a rotary motion is required. Even for pumping mines and blowing iron furnaces, engines of this kind appear likely to come into use, for they are more suitable than other engines for driving the centrifugal pump, which in many cases appears likely to supersede other kinds of pumps for lifting water; and they are also conveniently applicable to the driving of fans, which, when so arranged that the air condensed by one fan is employed to feed another, and so on through a series of 4 or 5, have succeeded in forcing air into a furnace with a pressure of 2-1/2 lbs. on the square inch, and with a far steadier flow than can be obtained by a blast engine with any conceivable kind of compensating apparatus. They are equally applicable if blast cylinders be employed.

220. Q.—Then, if by this modification of the engine you enable it to work at four times the speed, you also enable it to exert four times the power?

A.—Yes; always supposing it to be fully supplied with steam. The nominal power of this new species of engine can readily be ascertained by taking into account the speed of the piston, and this is taken into account by the Admiralty rule for power.

221. Q.—What is the Admiralty rule for determining the power of an engine?

A.—Square the diameter of the cylinder in inches, which multiply by the speed of the piston in feet per minute, and divide by 6,000; the quotient is the power of the engine by the Admiralty rule.[2]

222. Q.—The high speed engine does not require so heavy a fly wheel as common engines?

A.—No; the fly wheel will be lighter, both by virtue of its greater velocity of rotation, and because the impulse communicated by the piston is less in amount and more frequently repeated, so as to approach more nearly to the condition of a uniform pressure.

223. Q.—Can nominal be transformed into actual horse power?

A.—No; that is not possible in the case of common condensing engines. The actual power exerted by an engine cannot be deduced from its nominal power, neither can the nominal power be deduced from the power actually exerted, or from anything else than the dimensions of the cylinder. The actual horse power being a dynamical unit, and the nominal horse power a measure of capacity of the cylinder, are obviously incomparable things.

224. Q.—That is, the nominal power is a commercial unit by which engines are bought and sold, and the actual power a scientific unit by which the quality of their performance is determined?

A.—Yes; the nominal power is as much a commercial measure as a yard or a bushel, and is not a thing to be ascertained by any process of science, but to be fixed by authority in the same manner as other measures. The actual power, on the contrary, is a mechanical force or dynamical effort capable of raising a given weight through a given distance in a given time, and of which the amount is ascertainable by scientific investigation.

225. Q.—Is there any other measure of an actual horse power than 33,000 lbs. raised one foot high in the minute?

A.—There cannot be any different measure, but there are several equivalent measures. Thus the evaporation of a cubic foot of water in the hour, or the expenditure of 33 cubic feet of low pressure steam per minute, is reckoned equivalent to an actual horse power, or 528 cubic feet of water raised one foot high in the minute involves the same result.

[1] Tables of the horse power of both high and low pressure engines are given in the Key.

[2] Example.—What is the power of an engine of 42 inches diameter, 3-1/2 feet stroke, and making 85 strokes per minute? The speed of the piston will be 7 (the length of a double stroke) x 85 = 595 feet per minute. Now 42 x 42 = 1,764 x 595 = 1,049,580 / 6,000 = 175 horses power.


226. Q.—What is meant by the duty of a engine?

A.—The work done in relation to the fuel consumed.

227. Q.—And how is the duty ascertained?

A.—In ordinary mill or marine engines it can only be ascertained by the indicator, as the load upon such engines is variable, and cannot readily be determined; but in the case of engines pumping water, where the load is constant, the number of strokes performed by the engine will represent the work done, and the amount of work done by a given quantity of coal

represents the duty. In Cornwall the duty of an engine is expressed by the number of millions of pounds raised one foot high by a bushel, or 94 lbs. of Welsh coal. A bushel of Newcastle coal will only weigh 84 Lbs.; and in comparing the duty of a Cornish engine with the performance of an engine in some locality where a different kind of coal is used, it is necessary to pay regard to such variations.

228. Q.—Can you tell the duty of an engine when you know its consumption of coal per horse power per hour?

A.—Yes, if the power given be the actual, and not the nominal, power. Divide 166.32 by the number of pounds of coal consumed per actual horse power per hour; the quotient is the duty in millions of pounds. If you already have the duty in millions of pounds, and wish to know the equivalent consumption in pounds per actual horse power per hour, divide 166.32 by the duty in millions of pounds; the quotient is the consumption per actual horse power per hour. The duty of a locomotive engine is expressed by the weight of coke it consumes in transporting a ton through the distance of one mile upon a railway; but this is a very imperfect method of representing the duty, as the tractive efficacy of a pound of coke becomes less as the speed of the locomotive becomes greater; and the law of variation is not accurately known.

229. Q.—What amount of power is generated in good engines of the ordinary kind by a given weight of coal?

A.—The duty of different kinds of engines varies very much, and there are also great differences in the performance of different engines of the same class. In ordinary rotative condensing engines of good construction, 10 lbs. of coal per nominal horse power per hour is a common consumption; but such engines exert nearly twice their nominal power, so that the consumption per actual horse power per hour may be taken at from 5 to 6 lbs. Engines working very expansively, however, attain an economy much superior to this. The average duty of the pumping engines in Cornwall is about 60,000,000 lbs. raised 1 ft. high by a bushel of Welsh coals, which weighs 94 lbs. This is equivalent to a consumption of 3.1 lbs. of coal per actual horse power per hour; but some engines reach a duty of above 100,000,000, or 1.74 lbs. of coal per actual horse power per hour. Locomotives consume from 8 to 10 lbs. of coke in evaporating a cubic foot of water, and the evaporation of a cubic foot of water per hour may be set down as representing an actual horse power in locomotives as well as in condensing engines, if expansion be not employed. When the locomotive is worked expansively, however, there is of course a less consumption of water and fuel per horse power, or per ton per mile, than when the full pressure is used throughout the stroke; and most locomotives now operate with as much expansion as can be conveniently given by the slide valves.

230. Q.—But is not the evaporative power of locomotives affected materially by the proportions of the boiler?

A.—Yes, but this may be said of all boilers; but in locomotive boilers, perhaps, the effect of any misproportion becomes more speedily manifest. A high temperature of the fire box is found to be conducive to economy of fuel; and this condition, in its turn, involves a small area of grate bars. The heating surface of locomotive boilers should be about 80 square feet for each square foot of grate bars, and upon each foot of grate bars about 1 cwt. of coke should be burnt in the hour.

231. Q.—Probably the heat is more rapidly absorbed when the temperature of the furnace is high?

A.—That seems to be the explanation. The rapidity with which a hot body imparts heat to a colder, varies as the square of the difference of temperature; so that if the temperature of the furnace be very high, the larger part of the heat passes into the water at the furnace, thereby leaving little to be transmitted by the tubes. If, on the contrary, the temperature of the furnace be low, a large part of the heat will pass into the tubes, and more tube surface will be required to absorb it. About 16 cubic feet of water should be evaporated by a locomotive boiler for each, square foot of fire grate, which, with the proportion of heating surface already mentioned, leaves 5 square feet of heating surface to evaporate a cubic foot of water in the hour. This is only about half the amount of surface usual in land and marine boilers per cubic foot evaporated, and its small amount is due altogether to the high temperature of the furnace, which, by the rapidity of transmission it causes, is tantamount to an additional amount of heating surface.

232. Q.—You have stated that the steam and vacuum gauges are generally glass tubes, up which mercury is forced by the steam or sucked by the vacuum?

A.—Vacuum gauges are very often of this construction, but steam gauges more frequently consist of a small iron tube, bent like the letter U, and into which mercury is poured. The one end of this tube communicates with the boiler, and the other end with the atmosphere; and when the pressure of the steam rises in the boiler, the mercury is forced down in the leg communicating with the boiler and rises in the other leg, and the difference of level in the legs denotes the pressure of the steam. In this gauge a rise of the mercury one inch in the one leg involves a difference of the level between the two legs of two inches, and an inch of rise is, therefore, equivalent to two inches of mercury, or a pound of pressure. A small float of wood is placed in the open leg to show the rise or fall of the mercury, and this leg is surmounted by a brass scale, graduated in inches, to the marks of which the float points.

233. Q.—What other kinds of steam and vacuum gauges are there?

A.—There are many other kinds; but probably Bourdon's gauges are now in more extended use than, any other, and their operation has been found to be satisfactory in practice. The principle of their action may be explained to be, that a thin elliptical metal tube, if bent into a ring, will seek to coil or uncoil itself if subjected to external or internal pressure, and to an extent proportional to the pressure applied. The end of the tube is sharpened into an index, and moves to an extent corresponding to the pressure applied to the tube; but in the more recent forms of this apparatus, a dial and a hand, like those of a clock, are employed, and the hand is moved round by a toothed sector connected to the tube, and which sector acts on a pinion attached to the hand. Mr. Shank, of Paisley, has lately introduced a form of steam gauge like a thermometer, with a flattened bulb; and the pressure of the steam, by compressing the bulb, causes the mercury to rise to a point proportional to the pressure applied.


234. Q.—You have already stated that the actual power of an engine is ascertained by an instrument called the indicator, which consists of a small cylinder with a piston moving against a spring, and compressing it to an extent answerable to the pressure of the steam. Will you explain further the structure and mode of using that instrument?

A.—The structure of the common form of indicator will be most readily apprehended by a reference to fig. 36, which is a McNaught's indicator. Upon a movable barrel A, a piece of paper is wound, the ends of which are secured by the slight brass clamps shown in the drawing. The barrel is supported by the bracket b, proceeding from the body of the indicator, and at the bottom of the barrel a watch spring is coiled with one end attached to the barrel and the other end to the bracket, so that when the barrel is drawn round by a string wound upon its lower end like a roller blind, the spring returns the barrel to its original position, when the string is relaxed. The string is attached to some suitable part of the engine, and at every stroke the string is drawn out, turning round the barrel, and the barrel is returned again by the spring on the return stroke.

235. Q—But in what way can these reciprocations of the barrel determine the power of the engine?

A.—They do not determine it of themselves, but are only part of the operation. In the inside of the cylinder c there is a small piston moving steam tight in a cylinder of which d is the piston rod, and e a spiral spring of steel, which the piston, when forced upwards by the steam or sucked downwards by the vacuum, either compresses or extends; f is a cock attached to the cylinder of the indicator, and which is screwed into the cylinder cover. It is obvious that, so soon as this cock is opened, the piston will be forced up when the space above the piston of the engine is opened to the boiler, and sucked down when that space is opened to the condenser—in each case to an extent proportionate to the pressure of the steam or the perfection of the vacuum, the top of the piston c being open to the atmosphere. A pencil, p, with a knife hinge, is inserted into the piston rod, at e, and the point of the pencil bears upon the surface of the paper wound upon the drum A. If the drum A did not revolve, this pencil would merely trace on the paper a vertical line; but as the drum A moves round and back again every stroke of the engine, and as the pencil moves up and down again every stroke of the engine, the combined movements trace upon the paper a species of rectangle, which is called an indicator diagram; and the nature of this diagram determines the nature of the engine's performance.

236. Q.—How does it do this?

A.—It is clear that if the pencil was moved up instantaneously to the top of its stroke, and was also moved down instantaneously to the bottom of its stroke, and if it remained without fluctuation while at the top and bottom, the figure described by the pencil would be a perfect rectangle, of which the vertical height would represent the total pressure of the steam and vacuum, and therefore the total pressure urging the piston of the engine. But in practice the pencil will neither rise nor fall instantaneously, nor will it remain at a uniform height throughout the stroke. If the steam be worked expansively the pressure will begin to fall so soon as the steam is cut off; and at the end of the stroke, when the steam comes to be discharged, the subsidence of pressure will not be instantaneous, but will occupy an appreciable time. It is clear, therefore, that in no engine can the diagram described by an indicator be a complete rectangle; but the more nearly it approaches to a rectangle, the larger will be the power produced at every stroke with any given pressure, and the area of the space included within the diagram will in every case accurately represent the power exerted by the engine during that stroke.

237. Q.—And how is this area ascertained?

A.—It may be ascertained in various ways; but the usual mode is to take the vertical height of the diagram at a number of equidistant points on a base line, and then to take the mean of these several heights as representative of the mean pressure actually urging the piston. Now if you have the pressure on the piston per square inch, and if you know the number of square inches in its area, and the velocity with which it moves in feet per minute, you have obviously the dynamical effort of the engine, or, in other words, its actual power.

238. Q.—How is the base line you have referred to obtained?

A.—In proceeding to take an indicator diagram, the first thing to be done is to allow the barrel to make two or three reciprocations with the pencil resting against it, before opening the cock attached to the cylinder. There will thus be traced a horizontal line, which is called the atmospheric line, and in condensing engines, a part of the diagram will be above and a part of it below this line; whereas, in high pressure engines the whole of the diagram will be above this line. Upon this line the vertical ordinates may be set off at equal distances, or upon any base line parallel to it; but the usual course is to erect the ordinates on the atmospheric line.

239. Q.—Will you give an example of an indicator diagram?

A.—Fig. 37 is an indicator diagram taken from a low pressure engine, and the waving line a b c, forming a sort of irregular parallelogram, is that which is described by the pencil. The atmospheric line is represented by the line o o. The scale at the side shows the pressure of the steam, which in this engine rose to about 9 lbs. per square inch, and the vacuum fell to 11 lbs. The steam begins to be cut off when, about one-fourth of the stroke has been performed, and the pressure consequently falls.

240. Q.—Is this species of indicator which you have just described applicable to locomotive engines?

A.—It is no doubt applicable under suitable conditions; but another species of indicator has been applied by Mr. Gooch to locomotive engines, which presents several features of superiority for such a purpose.

This indicator has its cylinder placed horizontally; and its piston compresses two elliptical springs; a slide valve is substituted for a cock, to open or close the communication with the engine. The top of the piston rod of this indicator is connected to the short arm of a smaller lever, to the longer arm of which the pencil is attached, and the pencil has thus a considerably larger amount of motion than the piston; but it moves in the arc of a circle instead of in a straight line. The pencil marks on a web of paper, which is unwound from one drum and wound on to another, so that a succession of diagrams are taken without the necessity of any intermediate manipulation.

241. Q.—These diagrams being taken with a pencil moving in an arc, will be of a distorted form?

A.—They will not be of the usual form, but they may be easily translated into the usual form. It is undoubtedly preferable that the indicator should act immediately in the production of the final form of diagram.


242. Q.—What other gauges or instruments are there for telling the state, or regulating the power of an engine?

A.—There is the counter for telling the number of strokes the engine makes, and the dynamometer for ascertaining the tractive power of steam vessels or locomotives; then there are the gauge cocks, and glass tubes, or floats, for telling the height of water in the boiler; and in pumping engines there is the cataract for regulating the speed of the engine.

243. Q.—Will you describe the mechanism of the counter?

A.—The counter consists of a train of wheel work, so contrived that by every stroke of the engine an index hand is moved forward a certain space, whereby the number of strokes made by the engine in any given time is accurately recorded. In most cases the motion is communicated by means of a detent,—attached to some reciprocating part of the engine,—to a ratchet wheel which gives motion to the other wheels in its slow revolution; but it is preferable to derive the motion from some revolving part of the engine by means of an endless screw, as where the ratchet is used the detent will sometimes fail to carry it round the proper distance. In the counter contrived by Mr. Adie, an endless screw works into the rim of two small wheels situated on the same axis, but one wheel having a tooth more than the other, whereby a differential motion is obtained; and the difference in the velocity of the two wheels, or their motion upon one another, expresses the number of strokes performed. The endless screw is attached to some revolving part of the engine, whereby a rotatory motion is imparted to it; and the wheels into which the screws work hang down from it like a pendulum, and are kept stationary by the action of gravity.

244. Q.—What is the nature of the dynamometer?

A.—The dynamometer employed for ascertaining the traction upon railways consists of two flat springs joined together at the ends by links, and the amount of separation of the springs at the centre indicates, by means of a suitable hand and dial, the force of traction. A cylinder of oil, with a small hole through its piston, is sometimes added to this instrument to prevent sudden fluctuations. In screw vessels the forward thrust of the screw is measured by a dynamometer constructed on the principle of a weighing machine, in which a small spring pressure at the index will balance a very great pressure where the thrust is employed; and in each case the variations of pressure are recorded by a pencil on a sheet of paper, carried forward by suitable mechanism, whereby the mean thrust is easily ascertained. The tractive force of paddle wheel steamers is ascertained by a dynamometer fixed on shore, to which the floating vessel is attached by a rope. Sometimes the power of an engine is ascertained by a friction break dynamometer applied to the shaft.

345. Q.—What will determine the amount of thrust shown by the dynamometer?

A.—In locomotives and in paddle steamers it will be determined by the force turning the wheels, and by the smallness of the diameter of the wheels; for with small wheels the thrust will be greater than with large wheels. In screw vessels the thrust will be determined by the force turning round the screw, and by the smallness of the screw's pitch; for with any given force of torsion a fine pitch of screw will give a greater thrust than a coarse pitch of screw, just as is the case when a screw works in a solid nut.

246. Q.—Will you explain the use of the glass gauges affixed to the boiler?

A.—The glass gauges are tubes affixed to the fronts of boilers, by the aid of which the height of the water within the boilers is readily ascertainable, for the water will stand at the same height in the tube as in the boiler, with which there is a communication maintained both at the top and bottom of the tube by suitable stopcocks. The cocks connecting the glass tube with the boiler should always be so constructed that the tube may be blown through with the steam, to clear it of any internal concretion that may impair its transparency; and the construction of the sockets in which the tube is inserted should be such, that, even when there is steam in the boiler, a broken tube may be replaced with facility.

247. Q.—What then are the gauge cocks?

A.—The gauge cocks are cocks penetrating the boiler at different heights, and which, when opened, tell whether it is water or steam that exists at the level at which they are respectively inserted. It is unsafe to trust to the glass gauges altogether as a means of ascertaining the water level, as sometimes they become choked, and it is necessary, therefore, to have gauge cocks in addition; but if the boiler be short of steam, and a partial vacuum be produced within it, the glass gauges become of essential service, as the gauge cocks will not operate in such a case, for though opened, instead of steam and water escaping from them, the air will rush into the boiler. It is expedient to carry a pipe from the lower end of the glass tube downward into the water of the boiler, and a pipe from the upper end upward into the steam in the boiler, so as to prevent the water from boiling down through the tube, as it might otherwise do, and prevent the level of the water from being ascertainable. The average level of water in the boiler should be above the centre of the tube; and the lowest of the gauge cocks should always run water, and the highest should always blow steam.

248. Q.—Is not a float sometimes employed to indicate the level of the water in the boiler?

A.—A float for telling the height of water in the boiler is employed only in the case of land boilers, and its action is like that of a buoy floating on the surface, which, by means of a light rod passing vertically through the boiler, shows at what height the water stands. The float is usually formed of stone or iron, and is so counterbalanced as to make its operation the same as if it were a buoy of timber; and it is generally put in connection with the feed valve, so that in proportion as the float rises, the supply of feed water is diminished. The feed water in land boilers is admitted from a small open cistern, situated at the top of an upright or stand pipe set upon the boiler, and in which there is a column of water sufficiently high to balance the pressure of the steam.

249. Q.—What is the cataract which is employed to regulate the speed of pumping engines?

A.—The cataract consists of a small pump-plunger b and barrel, set in a cistern of water, the barrel being furnished on the one side with a valve, c, opening inwards, through which the water obtains admission to the pump chamber from the cistern, and on the other by a plug, d, through which, if the plunger be forced down, the water must pass out of the pump chamber. The engine in the upward stroke of the piston, which is accomplished by the preponderance of weight at the pump end of the beam, raises up the plunger of the cataract by means of a small rod,—the water entering readily through the valve already referred to; and when the engine reaches the top of the stroke, it liberates the rod by which the plunger has been drawn up, and the plunger then descends by gravity, forcing out the water through the cock, the orifice of which has previously been adjusted, and the plunger in its descent opens the injection valve, which causes the engine to make a stroke.

250. Q.—Suppose the cock of the cataract be shut?

A.—If the cock of the cataract be shut, it is clear that the plunger cannot descend at all, and as in that case the injection valve cannot be opened, the engine must stand still; but if the cock be slightly opened, the plunger will descend slowly, the injection valve will slowly open, and the engine will make a gradual stroke as it obtains the water necessary for condensation. The extent to which the cock is open, therefore, will regulate the speed with which the engine works; so that, by the use of the cataract, the speed of the engine may be varied to suit the variations in the quantity of water requiring to be lifted from the mine. In some cases an air cylinder, and in other cases an oil cylinder, is employed instead of the apparatus just described; but the principle on which the whole of these contrivances operate is identical, and the only difference is in the detail.

251. Q.—You have now shown that the performance of an engine is determinable by the indicator; but how do you determine the power of the boiler?

A.—By the quantity of water it evaporates. There is, however, no very convenient instrument for determining the quantity of water supplied to a boiler, and the consequence is that this element is seldom ascertained.




252. Q.—What are the considerations which must chiefly be attended to in settling the proportions of boilers?

A.—In the first place there must be sufficient grate surface to enable the quantity of coal requisite for the production of the steam to be conveniently burnt, taking into account the intensity of the draught; and in the next place there must be a sufficient flue surface readily to absorb the heat thus produced, so that there may be no needless waste of heat by the chimney. The flues, moreover, must have such an area, and the chimney must be of such dimensions, as will enable a suitable draught through the fire to be maintained; and finally the boiler must be made capable of containing such supplies of water and steam as will obviate inconvenient fluctuations in the water level, and abate the risk of water being carried over into the engine with the steam. With all these conditions the boiler must be as light and compact as possible, and must be so contrived as to be capable of being cleaned and repaired with facility.

253. Q.—Supposing, then, that you had to proportion a boiler, which should be capable of supplying steam sufficient to propel a steam vessel or railway train at a given speed, or to perform any other given work, how would you proceed?

A.—I would first ascertain the resistance which had to be overcome, and the velocity with which it was necessary to overcome it. I should then be in a position to know what pressure and volume of steam were required to overcome the resistance at the prescribed rate of motion; and, finally, I should allow a sufficient heating and fire grate surface in the boiler according to the kind of boiler it was, to furnish the requisite quantity of steam, or, in other words, to evaporate the requisite quantity of water.

254. Q.—will you state the amount of heating surface and grate surface necessary to evaporate a given quantity of water?

A.—The number of square feet of heating or flue surface, required to evaporate a cubic foot of water per hour, is about 70 square feet in Cornish boilers, 8 to 11 square feet in land and marine boilers, and 5 or 6 square feet in locomotive boilers. The number of square feet of heating surface per square foot of fire grate, is from 13 to 15 square feet in wagon boilers; about 40 square feet in Cornish boilers; and from 50 to 90 square feet in locomotive boilers. About 80 square feet in locomotives is a very good proportion.

255. Q.—What is the heating surface of boilers per horse power?

A.—About 9 square feet of flue and furnace surface per horse power is the usual proportion in wagon boilers, reckoning the total surface as effective surface, if the boilers be of a considerable size; but in the case of small boilers the proportion is larger. The total heating surface of a two horse power wagon boiler is, according to Boulton and Watt's proportions, 30 square feet, or 15 ft. per horse power; whereas, in the case of a 45 horse power boiler the total heating surface is 438 square feet, or 9.6 ft. per horse power. In marine boilers nearly the same proportions obtain. The original boilers of the Great Western steamer, by Messrs. Maudslay, were proportioned with about 10 square feet of flue and furnace surface per horse power, reckoning the total amount as effective; but in the boilers of the Retribution, by the same makers, but of larger size, a somewhat smaller proportion of heating surface was adopted. Boulton and Watt have found that in their marine flue boilers, 9 square feet of flue and furnace surface are requisite to boil off a cubic foot of water per hour, which is the proportion of heating surface that is allowed in their land boilers per horse power; but inasmuch as in most modern engines, and especially in marine engines, the nominal considerably exceeds the actual power, they allow 11 or 12 square feet of heating surface per nominal horse power in their marine boilers, and they reckon as effective heating surface the tops of the flues, and the whole of the sides of the flues, but hot the bottoms. For their land engines they still retain Mr. Watt's standard of power, which makes the actual and the nominal power identical; and an actual horse power is the equivalent of a cubic foot of water raised into steam every hour.

256. Q.—What is the proper proportion of fire grate per horse power?

A.—Boulton and Watt allow 0.64 of a square foot area of grate bars per nominal horse power in their marine boilers, and a good effect arises from this proportion; but sometimes so large an area of fire grate cannot be conveniently got, and the proportion of half a square foot per horse power, which is the proportion adopted in the original boiler of the Great Western, seems to answer very well in engines working with a moderate pressure, and with some expansion; and this proportion is now very widely adopted. With this allowance, there will be 22 to 24 square feet of heating surface per square foot of fire grate; and if the consumption of fuel be taken at 6 lbs. per nominal horse power per hour, there will be about 12 lbs. of coal consumed per hour on each square foot of grate. The furnaces should not be more than 6 ft. long, as, if much longer than this, it will be impossible to work them properly for any considerable length of time, as they will become choked with clinker at the back ends.

257. Q.—What quantity of fuel is usually consumed per hour on each square foot of fire grate?

A.—The quantity of fuel burned on each square foot of fire grate per hour, varies very much in different boilers; in wagon boilers it is from 10 to 13 lbs.; in Cornish boilers from 3-1/2 to 4 lbs.; and in locomotive boilers from 80 to 150 lbs.; but about 1 cwt. per hour is a good proportion in locomotives, as has been already explained.


258. Q.—In what manner are the proper sectional area and the proper capacity of the flue of a boiler determined?

A.—The proper collective area for the escape of the smoke and flame over the furnace bridges in marine boilers is 19 square inches per nominal horse power, according to Boulton and Watt's practice, and for the sectional area of the flue they allow 18 square inches per horse power. The sectional area of the flue in square inches is what is termed the calorimeter of the boiler, and the calorimeter divided by the length of the flue in feet is what is termed the vent. In marine flue boilers of good construction the vent varies between the limits of 20 and 25, according to the size of the boiler and other circumstances—the largest boilers having generally the largest vents; and the calorimeter divided by the vent will give the length of the flue in feet. The flues of all flue boilers diminish in their calorimeter as they approach the chimney, as the smoke contracts in its volume in proportion as it parts with its heat.

259. Q.—Is the method of determining the dimensions of a boiler flue, by a reference to its vent and calorimeter, the method generally pursued?

A.—It is Boulton and Watt's method; but some very satisfactory boilers have been made by allowing a proportion of 0.6 of a square foot of fire grate per nominal horse power, and making the sectional area of the flue at the largest part 1/7th of the area of fire grate, and at the smallest part, where it enters the chimney, 1/11th of the area of the fire grate. These proportions are retained whether the boiler is flue or tubular, and from 14 to 16 square feet of tube surface is allowed per nominal horse power.

260. Q.—Are the proportions of vent and calorimeter, taken by Boulton and Watt for marine flue boilers, applicable also to wagon and tubular boilers?

A.—No. In wagon and tubular boilers very different proportions prevail, yet the proportions of every kind of boiler are determinable on the same general principle. In wagon boilers the proportion of the perimeter of the flue which is effective as heating surface, is to the total perimeter as 1 to 3, or, in some cases as 1 to 2.5; and with any given area of flue, therefore, the length of the flue must be from 3 to 2.5 times greater than would be necessary if the total surface were effective, else the requisite quantity of heating surface will not be obtained. If, then, the vent be the calorimeter, divided by the length, and the length be made 3 or 2.5 times greater, the vent must become 3 or 2.5 times less; and in wagon boilers accordingly, the vent varies from 8 to 11 instead of from 21 to 25, as in the case of marine flue boilers. In tubular marine boilers the calorimeter is usually made only about half the amount allowed by Boulton and Watt for marine flue boilers, or, in other words, the collective sectional area of the tubes, for the transmission of the smoke, is from 8 to 9 square inches per nominal horse power. It is better, however, to make the sectional area larger than this, and to work the boiler with the damper sufficiently closed to prevent the smoke and flame from rushing exclusively through a few of the tubes.

261. Q.—What are the ordinary dimensions of the flue in wagon boilers?

A.—In Boulton and Watt's 45 horse wagon boiler the area of flue is 18 square inches per horse power, but the area per horse power increases very rapidly as the size of the boiler becomes less, and amounts to about 80 square inches per horse power in a boiler of 2 horse power. Some such increase is obviously inevitable, if a similar form of flue be retained in the larger and smaller powers, and at the same time the elongation of the flue in the same proportion as the increase of any other dimension is prevented; but in the smaller class of wagon boilers the consideration of facility of cleaning the flues is also operative in inducing a large proportion of sectional area. Boulton and Watt's 2 horse power wagon boiler has 30 square feet of surface, and the flue is 18 inches high above the level of the boiler bottom, by 9 inches wide; while their 12 horse wagon boiler has 118 square feet of heating surface, and the dimensions of the flue similarly measured are 36 inches by 13 inches. The width of the smaller flue, if similarly proportioned to the larger one, would be 6-1/2 inches, instead of 9 inches, and, by assuming this dimension, we should have the same proportion of sectional area per square foot of heating surface in both boilers. The length of flue in the 2 horse boiler is 19.5 ft., and in the 12 horse boiler 39 ft., so that the length and height of the flue are increased in the same proportion.

262. Q.—Will you give an example of the proportions of a flue, in the case of a marine boiler?

A.—The Nile steamer, with engines of 110 horse power by Boulton and Watt, is supplied with steam by two boilers, which are, therefore, of 55 horses power each. The height of the flue winding within the boiler is 60 inches, and its mean width 16-1/2 inches, making a sectional area or calorimeter of 990 square inches, or 18 square inches per horse power of the boiler. The length of the flue is 39 ft., making the vent 25, which is the vent proper for large boilers. In the Dee and Solway steamers, by Scott and Sinclair, the calorimeter is only 9.72 square inches per horse power; in the Eagle, by Caird, 11.9; in the Thames and Medway, by Maudslay, 11.34, and in a great number of other cases it does not rise above 12 square inches per horse power; but the engines of most of these vessels are intended to operate to a certain extent expansively, and the boilers are less powerful in evaporating efficacy on that account.

263. Q.—Then the chief difference in the proportions established by Boulton and Watt, and those followed by the other manufacturers you have mentioned is, that Boulton and Watt set a more powerful boiler to do the same work?

A.—That is the main difference. The proportion which one part of the boiler bears to another part is very similar in the cases cited, but the proportion of boiler relatively to the size of the engine varies very materially. Thus the calorimeter of each boiler of the Dee and Solway is 1296 square inches; of the Eagle, 1548 square inches; and of the Thames and Medway, 1134 square inches; and the length of flue is 57, 60, and 52 ft. in the boilers respectively, which makes the respective vents 22-1/2, 25, and 21. Taking then the boiler of the Eagle for comparison with the boiler of the Nile, as it has the same vent, it will be seen that the proportions of the two are almost identical, for 990 is to 1548 as 39 is to 60, nearly; but Messrs. Boulton and Watt would not have set a boiler like that of the Eagle to do so much work.

264. Q.—Then the evaporating power of the boiler varies as the sectional area of the flue?

A.—The evaporating power varies as the square root of the area of the flue, if the length of the flue remain the same; but it varies as the area simply, if the length of the flue be increased in the same proportion as its other dimensions. The evaporating power of a boiler is referable to the amount of its heating surface, and the amount of heating surface in any flue or tube is proportional to the product of the length of the tube and the square root of its sectional area, multiplied by a certain quantity that is constant for each particular form. But in similar tubes the length is proportional to the square root of the sectional area; therefore, in similar tubes, the amount of heating surface is proportional to the sectional area. On this area also depends the quantity of hot air passing through the flue, supposing the intensity of the draught to remain unaffected, and the quantity of hot air or smoke passing through the flue should vary in the same ratio as the quantity of surface.

265. Q.—A boiler, therefore, to exert four times the power, should have four times the extent of heating surface, and four times the sectional area of flue for the transmission of the smoke?

A.—Yes; and if the same form of flue is to be retained, it should be of twice the diameter and twice the length; or twice the height and width if rectangular, and twice the length. As then the diameter or square root of the area increases in the same ratio as the length, the square root of the area divided by the length ought to be a constant quantity in each type of boiler, in order that the same proportions of flue may be retained; and in wagon boilers without an internal flue, the height in inches of the flue encircling the boiler divided by the length of the flue in feet will be 1 very nearly. Instead of the square root of the area, the effective perimeter, or outline of that part of the cross section of the flue which is effective in generating steam, may be taken; and the effective perimeter divided by the length ought to be a constant quantity in similar forms of flues and with the same velocity of draught, whatever the size of the flue may be.

266. Q.—Will this proportion alter if the form of the flue be changed?

A.—It is clear, that with any given area of flue, to increase the perimeter by adopting a different shape is tantamount to a diminution of the length of the flue; and, if the perimeter be diminished, the length of the flue must at the same time be increased, else it will be impossible to obtain the necessary amount of heating surface. In Boulton and Watt's wagon boilers, the sectional area of the flue in square inches per square foot of heating surface is 5.4 in the two horse boiler; in the three horse it is 4.74; in the four horse, 4.35; six horse, 3.75; eight horse, 4.33; ten horse, 3.96; twelve horse, 3.63; eighteen horse, 3.17; thirty horse, 2.52; and in the forty-five horse boiler, 2.05 square inches. Taking the amount of heating surface in the 45 horse boiler at 9 square feet per horse power, we obtain 18 square inches of sectional area of flue per horse power, which is also Boulton and Watt's proportion of sectional area for marine boilers with internal flues.

267. Q.—If to increase the perimeter of a flue is virtually to diminish the length, then a tubular boiler where the perimeter is in effect greatly extended ought to have but a short length of tube?

A.—The flue of the Nile steamer if reduced to the cylindrical form would be 35-1/2 inches in diameter to have the same area; but it would then require to be made 47-3/4 feet long, to have the same amount of heating surface, excluding the bottom as non-effective. Supposing that with these proportions the heat is sufficiently extracted from the smoke, then every tube of a tubular boiler in which the same draught existed ought to have very nearly the same proportions.

268. Q.—But what are the best proportions of the parts of tubular boilers relatively with one another?

A.—The proper relative proportions of the parts of tubular boilers may easily be ascertained by a reference to the settled proportions of flue boilers; for the same general principles are operative in both cases. In the Nile steamer each boiler of 55 horse power has about 497 square feet of flue surface or 9 square feet per horse power, reckoning the total surface as effective. The area of the flue, which is rectangular is 990 square inches, therefore the area is equal to that of a tube 35-1/2 inches in diameter; and such a tube, to have a heating surface of 497 square feet, must be 53.4 feet or 640.8 inches in length. The length, therefore, of the tube, will be about 18 times its diameter, and with the same velocity of draught these proportions must obtain, whatever the absolute dimensions of the tube may be. With a calorimeter, therefore, of 18 square inches per horse power, the length of a tube 3 inches diameter must not exceed 4 feet 6 inches, since the heat will be sufficiently extracted from the smoke in this length, if the smoke only travels at the velocity due to a calorimeter of 18 square inches per horse power.

269. Q.—Is this, then, the maximum length of flue which can be used in tubular boilers with advantage?

A.—By no means. The tubes of tubular boilers are almost always more than 4 feet 6 inches long, but then the calorimeter is almost always less than 18 square inches per horse power—generally about two thirds of this. Indeed, tubular boilers with a large calorimeter are not found to be so satisfactory as where the calorimeter is small, partly from the propensity of the smoke in such cases to pass through a few of the tubes instead of the whole of them, and partly from the deposit of soot which takes place when the draught is sluggish. It is a very confusing practice, however, to speak of nominal horse power in connection with boilers, since that is a quantity quite indeterminate.


270. Q.—The main thing after all in boilers is their evaporative powers?

A.—The proportions of tubular boilers, as of all boilers, should obviously have reference to the evaporation required, whereas the demand upon the boiler for steam is very often reckoned contingent upon the nominal horse power of the engine; and as the nominal power of an engine is a conventional quantity by no means in uniform proportion to the actual quantity of steam consumed, perplexing complications as to the proper proportions of boilers have in consequence sprung up, to which most of the failures in that department of engineering may be imputed. It is highly expedient, therefore, in planning boilers for any particular engine, to consider exclusively the actual power required to be produced, and to apportion the capabilities of the boiler accordingly.

271. Q.—In other words you would recommend the inquiry to be restricted to the mode of evaporating a given number of cubic feet of water in the hour, instead of embracing the problem how an engine of a given nominal power was to be supplied with steam?

A.—I would first, as I have already stated, consider the actual power required to be produced, and then fix the amount of expansion to be adopted. If the engine had to work up to three times its nominal power, as is now common in marine engines, I should either increase correspondingly the quantity of evaporating surface in the boiler, or adopt such an amount of expansion as would increase threefold the efficacy of the steam, or combine in a modified manner both of these arrangements. Reckoning the evaporation of a cubic foot of water in the hour as equivalent to an actual horse power, and allowing a square yard or 9 square feet as the proper proportion of flue surface to evaporate a cubic foot of water in the hour, it is clear that I must either give 27 square feet of heating surface in the boiler to have a trebled power without expansion, or I must cut off the steam at one seventh of the stroke to obtain a three-fold power without increasing the quantity of heating surface. By cutting off the steam, however, at one third of the stroke, a heating surface of 13-1/2 square feet will give a threefold power, and it will usually be the most judicious course to carry the expansion as far as possible, and then to add the proportion of heating surface necessary to make good the deficiency still found to exist.

272. Q.—But is it certain that a cubic foot of water evaporated in the hour is equivalent to an actual horse power?

A.—An actual horse power as fixed by Watt is 33,000 lbs. raised one foot high in the minute; and in Watt's 40 horse power engine, with a 31-1/2 inch cylinder, 7 feet stroke, and making 17-1/2 strokes a minute, the effective pressure is 6.92 lbs. on the square inch clear of all deductions. Now, as a horse power is 33,000 lbs. raised one foot high, and as there are 6.92 lbs, on the square inch, it is clear that 33,000 divided by 6.92, on 4768 square inches with 6.92 lbs. on each if lifted 1 foot or 12 inches high, will also be equal to a horse power. But 4768 square inches multiplied by 12 inches in height is 57224.4 cubic inches, or 33.1 cubic feet, and this is the quantity of steam which must be expended per minute to produce an actual horse power.

273. Q.—But are 33 cubic feet of steam expended per minute equivalent to a cubic foot of water expended in the hour?

A..—Not precisely, but nearly so. A cubic foot of water produces 1669 cubic feet of steam of the atmospheric density of 15 lbs. per square inch, whereas a consumption of 33 cubic feet of steam in the minute is 1980 cubic feet in the hour. In Watt's engines about one tenth was reckoned as loss in filling the waste spaces at the top and bottom of the cylinder, making 1872 cubic feet as the quantity consumed per hour without this waste; and in modern engines the waste at the ends of the cylinder is inconsiderable.

274. Q.—What power was generated by a cubic foot of water in the case of the Albion Mill engines when working without expansion?

A.—In the Albion Mill engines when working without expansion, it was found that 1 lb. of water in the shape of steam raised 28,489 lbs. 1 foot high. A cubic foot of water, therefore, or 62-1/2 lbs., if consumed in the hour, would raise 1780562.5 lbs. one foot high in the hour, or would raise 29,676 lbs. one foot high in a minute; and if to this we add one tenth for waste at the ends of the cylinder, a waste which hardly exists in modern engines, we have 32,643 lbs. raised one foot high in the minute, or a horse power very nearly. In some cases the approximation appears still nearer. Thus, in a 40 horse engine working without expansion, Watt found that .674 feet of water were evaporated from the boiler per minute, which is just a cubic foot per horse power per hour; but it is not certain in this case that the nominal and actual power were precisely identical. It will be quite safe, however, to reckon an actual horse power as producible by the evaporation of a cubic foot of water in the hour in the case of engines working without expansion; and for boiling off this quantity in flue or wagon boilers, about 8 lbs. of coal will be required and 9 square feet of flue surface.


275. Q.—These proportions appear chiefly to refer to old boilers. I wish you to state what are the proportions of modern flue and tubular marine boilers.

A.—In modern marine boilers the area of fire grate is less than in Mr. Watt's original boilers, where it was one square foot to nine square feet of heating surface. The heat in the furnace is consequently more intense, and a somewhat less amount of surface suffices to evaporate a cubic foot of water. In Boulton and Watt's modern flue boilers they allow for the evaporation of a cubic foot of water 8 square feet of heating surface, 70 square inches of fire grate, 13 square inches sectional area of flues, 6 square inches sectional area of chimney, 14 square inches area over furnace bridges, ratio of area of flue to area of fire grate 1 to 5.4. To evaporate a cubic foot of water per hour in tubular boilers, the proportions are— heating surface 9 square feet, fire grate 70 square inches, sectional area of tubes 10 square inches, sectional area of back uptake 12 square inches, sectional area of front uptake 10 square inches, sectional area of chimney 7 square inches, ratio of diameter of tube to length of tube 1/28th to 1/30th, cubical content of boiler exclusive of steam chest 6.5 cubic feet, cubical content of steam chest 1.5 cubic feet.

276. Q.—These proportions do not apply to locomotive boilers?

A.—Not at all. In locomotive boilers the draught is maintained by the projection of the waste steam which escapes from the cylinders up the chimney, and the draught is much more powerful and the combustion much more rapid than in cases in which the combustion is maintained by the natural draught of a chimney, except indeed the chimney be of very unusual temperature and height. The proportions proper for locomotive boilers will be seen by the dimensions of a few locomotives of approved construction, which have been found to give satisfactory results in practice, and which are recorded in the following Table:

Name of Engine

Great Britain. Pallas. Snake. Sphinx. Diameter of cylinder 18 in. 15 in. 14-1/4 in. 18 in. Length of stroke 24 in. 20 in. 21 in. 24 in. Diameter of driving wheel 8 ft. 6 ft. 6-1/2 ft. 5 ft. Inside diameter of fire box 53 in. 55 in. 41-1/3 in. 44 in. Inside width of fire box 63 in. 42 in. 43-1/4 in. 39-1/2in. Height of fire box above bars 63 in. 52 in. 48-1/3 in. 55-1/2in. Number of fire bars 29 ... 32 16 Thickness of fire bars 3/4 in. 1-3/4 in. 5/8 in. 1 in. Number of Tubes 305 134 181 142 Outside diameter of tubes 2 in. 2 in. 1-7/8 in. 2-1/8 in. Length of tubes 11 ft 3 in 10 ft 6 in 10 ft 3-1/2 in. 14 ft 3-1/4 in. Space between tubes 1/2 in. 3/4 in. 1/2 in. Inside diameter of ferules 1-9/16 in. 1-1/2 in. 1-5/16 in. 1-5/8 in. Diameter of chimney 17 in. 15 in. 13 in. 15-1/2 in. Diameter of blast orifice 5-1/2 in. 4-5/8 in. 4-1/2 in. 4-3/4 in. Area of grate 21 sq. ft. 16.04 sqft 12.4 sq. ft. 10.56 sq. ft Area of air space of grate 11.4 sqft 4.08 sqft 5.54 sq. ft. 5 sq. ft. Area of tubes 5.46 sqft 2.40 sqft 2.8 sq. ft. 2.92 sq. ft. Area though ferules 4 sq. ft. 1.64 sqft 2 sq. ft. 2.04 sq. ft. Area of chimney 1.77 sqft 1.23 sqft .921 sq. ft. 1.31 sq. ft. Area of blast orifice 23.76 sqin 16.8 sqin 14.18 sq. in. 17.7 sq. in. Heating surface of tubes 1627 sqft 668.7 sqft 823 sq. ft. 864 sq. ft.


277. Q.—What is the amount of draught produced in locomotive boilers in comparison with that existing in other boilers?

A.—A good chimney of a land engine will produce a degree of exhaustion equal to from 1-1/2 to 2-1/2 inches of water. In locomotive boilers the exhaustion is in some cases equal to 12 or 13 inches of water, but from 3 to 6 inches is a more common proportion.

278. Q.—And what force of blast is necessary to produce this exhaustion?

A.—The amount varies in different engines, depending on the sectional area of the tubes and other circumstances. But on the average, it may be asserted that such a pressure of blast as will support an inch of mercury, will maintain sufficient exhaustion in the smoke box to support an inch of water; and this ratio holds whether the exhaustion is little or great. To produce an exhaustion in the smoke box, therefore, of 6 inches of water, the waste steam would require to be of sufficient pressure to support a column of 6 inches of mercury, which is equivalent to a pressure of 3 lbs. on the square inch.

279. Q.—How is the force of the blast determined?

A.—By the amount of contraction given to the mouth of the blast pipe, which is a pipe which conducts the waste steam from the cylinders and debouches at the foot of the chimney. If a strong blast be required, the mouth of this pipe requires to be correspondingly contracted, but such contraction throws a back pressure on the piston, and it is desirable to obtain the necessary draught with as little contraction of the blast pipe as possible. The blast pipe is generally a breeches pipe of which the legs join just before reaching the chimney; but it is better to join the two cylinders below, and to let a single pipe ascend to within 12 or 18 inches of the foot of the chimney. If made with too short a piece of pipe above the joining, the steam will be projected against each side of the chimney alternately, and the draught will be damaged and the chimney worn. The blast pipe should not be regularly tapered, but should be large in the body and gathered in at the mouth.

280. Q.—Is a large and high chimney conducive to strength of draught in locomotives?

A.—It has not been found to be so. A chimney of three or four times its own diameter in height appears to answer fully as well as a longer one; and it was found that when in an engine with 17 inch cylinders a chimney of 15-1/4 inches was substituted for a chimney of 17-1/2 inches, a superior performance was the result. The chimney of a locomotive should have half the area of the tubes at the ferules, which is the most contracted part, and the blast orifice should have 1/10th of the area of the chimney. The sectional area of the tubes through the ferules should be as large as possible. Tubes without ferules it is found pass one fourth more air, and tubes with ferules only at the smoke box end pass one tenth more air than when there are ferules at both ends.

281. Q.—Is the exhaustion produced by the blast as great in the fire box as in the smoke box?

A.—Experiments have been made to determine this, and in few cases has it been found to be more than about half as great as ordinary speeds; but much depends on the amount of contraction in the tubes. In an experiment made with an engine having 147 tubes of 1-3/4 inches external diameter, and 13 feet 10 inches long, and with a fire grate having an area of 9-1/2 square feet, the exhaustion at all speeds was found to be three times greater in the smoke box than in the fire box. The exhaustion in the smoke box was generally equivalent to 12 inches of water, while in the fire box it was equivalent to only 4 inches of water; showing that 4 inches were required to draw the air through the grate and 8 inches through the tubes.

282. Q.—What will be the increase of evaporation in a locomotive from a given increase of exhaustion?

A.—The rate of evaporation in a locomotive or any other boiler will vary as the quantity of air passing through the fire, and the quantity of air passing through the fire will vary nearly as the square root of the exhaustion. With four times the exhaustion, therefore, there will be about twice the evaporation, and experiment shows that this theoretical law holds with tolerable accuracy in practice.

283. Q.—But the same exhaustion will not be produced by a given strength of blast in all engines?

A.—No; engines with contracted fire grates and an inadequate sectional area of tubes, will require a stronger blast than engines of better proportions; but in any given engine the relations between the blast exhaustion and evaporation, hold which have been already defined.

284. Q.—Is the intensity of the draught under easy regulation?

A.—The intensity of the draught may easily be diminished by partially closing the damper in the chimney, and it may be increased by contracting the orifice of the blast. A variable blast pipe, the orifice of which may be enlarged or contracted at pleasure, has been much used. There are various devices for this purpose, but the best appears to be that adopted in Stephenson's engine, where a conical nozzle is moved up or down within the blast pipe, which is made somewhat larger in diameter than the base of the cone, but with a ring projecting internally, against which the base of the cone abuts when the nozzle is pushed up. When the nozzle stands at the top of the pipe the whole of the steam has to pass through it, and the intensity of the blast is increased by the increased velocity thus given to the steam; whereas when the nozzle is moved downward the steam escapes through the annular opening left between the nozzle and the pipe, as well as through the nozzle itself, and the intensity of the blast is diminished by the enlargement of the opening for the escape of the steam thus made available.

285.Q.—What is the best diameter for the tubes of locomotive boilers?

A.—Bury's locomotive with 14 inch cylinders contains 92 tubes of 2-1/8th inches external diameter, and 10 feet 6 inches long; whereas Stephenson's locomotive with 15 inch cylinders contains 150 tubes of 1-5/8ths external diameter, 13 feet 6 inches long. In Stephenson's boiler, in order that the part of the tubes next the chimney may be of any avail for the generation of steam, the draught has to be very intense, which in its turn involves a considerable expenditure of power; and it is questionable whether the increased expenditure of power upon the blast, in Stephenson's long tubed locomotives, is compensated by the increased generation of steam consequent upon the extension of the heating surface. When the tubes are small in diameter they are apt to become partially choked with pieces of coke; but an internal diameter of 1-5/8ths may be employed without inconvenience if the draught be of medium intensity.

286. Q.—Will you illustrate the relation between the length and diameter of locomotive tubes by a comparison with the proportion of flues in flue boilers?

A.—In most locomotives the velocity of the draught is such that it would require very long tubes to extract the heat from the products of combustion, if the heat were transmitted through the metal of the tubes with only the same facility as through the iron of ordinary flue boilers. The Nile steamer, with engines of 110 nominal horses power each, and with two boilers having two independent flues in each, of such dimensions as to make each flue equivalent to 55 nominal horses power, works at 62 per cent. above the nominal power, so that the actual evaporative efficacy of each flue would be equivalent to 89 actual horses power, supposing the engines to operate without expansion; but as the mean pressure in the cylinder is somewhat less than the initial pressure, the evaporative efficacy of each flue may be reckoned equivalent to 80 actual horses power. With this evaporative power there is a calorimeter of 990 square inches, or 12.3 square inches per actual horse power; whereas in Stephenson's locomotive with 150 tubes, if the evaporative power be taken at 200 cubic feet of water in the hour, which is a large supposition, the engine will be equal to 200 actual horses power. If the internal diameter of the tubes be taken at thirteen eighths of an inch, the calorimeter per actual horse power will only be 1.1136 square inches, or in other words the calorimeter in the locomotive boiler will be 11.11 times less than in the flue boiler for the same power, so that the draught in the locomotive must be 11.11 times stronger, and the ratio of the length of the tube to its diameter 11.11 times greater than in the flue boiler, supposing the heat to be transmitted with only the same facility. The flue of the Nile would require to be 35- 1/2 inches in diameter if made of the cylindrical form, and 47-3/4 feet long; the tubes of a locomotive if 1-3/8ths inch diameter would only require to be 22.19 inches long with the same velocity of draught; but as the draught is 11.11 times faster than in a flue boiler, the tubes ought to be 246.558 inches, or about 20-1/2 feet long according to this proportion. In practice, however, they are one third less than this, which reduces the heating surface from 9 to 6 square feet per actual horse power, and this length even is found to be inconvenient. It is greatly preferable therefore to increase the calorimeter, and diminish the intensity of the draught.


287. Q.—By what process do you ascertain the dimensions of the chimney of a land boiler?

A.—By a reference to the volume of air it is necessary in a given time to supply to the burning fuel, and to the velocity of motion produced by the rarefaction in the chimney; for the area of the chimney requires to be such, that with the velocity due to that rarefaction, the quantity of air requisite for the combustion of the fuel shall pass through the furnace in the specified time. Thus if 200 cubic feet of air of the atmospheric density are required for the combustion of a pound of coal,—though 250 lbs. is nearer the quantity generally required,—and 10 lbs. of coal per horse power per hour are consumed by an engine, then 2000 cubic feet of air must be supplied to the furnace per horse power per hour, and the area of the chimney must be such as to deliver this quantity at the increased bulk due to the high temperature of the chimney when moving with the velocity the rarefaction within the chimney occasions, and which, in small chimneys, is usually such as to support a column of half an inch of water. The velocity with which a denser fluid flows into a rarer one is equal to the velocity a heavy body acquires in falling through a height equal to the difference of altitude of two columns of the heavier fluid of such heights as will produce the respective pressures; and, therefore, when the difference of pressure or amount of rarefaction in the chimney is known, it is easy to tell the velocity of motion which ought to be produced by it. In practice, however, these theoretical results are not to be trusted, until they have received such modifications as will make them representative of the practice of the most experienced constructors.

288. Q.—What then is the rule followed by the most experienced constructors?

A.—Boulton and Watt's rule for the dimensions of the chimney of a land engine is as follows:—multiply the number of pounds of coal consumed under the boiler per hour by 12, and divide the product by the square root of the height of the chimney in feet; the quotient is the area of the chimney in square inches in the smallest part. A factory chimney suitable for a 20 horse boiler is commonly made about 20 in. square inside, and 80 ft. high; and these dimensions are those which answer to a consumption of 15 lbs. of coal per horse power per hour, which is a very common consumption in factory engines. If 15 lbs. of coal be consumed per horse power per hour, the total consumption per hour in a 20 horse boiler will be 300 lbs., and 300 multiplied by 12 = 3600, and divided by 9 (the square root of the height) = 400, which is the area of the chimney in square inches. It will not answer well to increase the height of a chimney of this area to more than 40 or 50 yards, without also increasing the area, nor will it be of utility to increase the area much without also increasing the height. The quantity of coal consumed per hour in pounds, multiplied by 5, and divided by the square root of the height of the chimney, is the proper collective area of the openings between the bars of the grate for the admission of air to the fire.

289. Q.—Is this rule applicable to the chimneys of steam vessels?

A.—In steam vessels Boulton and Watt have heretofore been in the habit of allowing 8-1/2 square inches of area of chimney per horse power, but they now allow 6 square inches to 7 square inches. In some steam vessels a steam blast like that of a locomotive, but of a smaller volume, is used in the chimney, and many of the evils of a boiler deficient in draught may be remedied by this expedient, but a steam blast in a low pressure engine occasions an obvious waste of steam; it also makes an unpleasant noise, and in steam vessels it frequently produces the inconvenience of carrying the smaller parts of the coal up the chimney, and scattering it over the deck among the passengers. It is advisable, therefore, to give a sufficient calorimeter in all low pressure boilers, and a sufficient height of chimney to enable the chimney to operate without a steam jet; but it is useful to know that a steam jet is a resource in the case of a defective boiler, or where the boiler has to be urged beyond its power.


290. Q.—What is the capacity of steam room allowed in boilers per horse power?

A.—The capacity of steam room allowed by Boulton and Watt in their land wagon boilers is 8-3/4 cubic feet per horse power in the two horse power boiler, and 5-3/4 cubic feet in the 20 horse power boiler; and in the larger class of boilers, such as those suitable for 30 and 45 horse power engines, the capacity of the steam room does not fall below this amount, and, indeed, is nearer 6 than 5-3/4 cubic feet per horse power. The content of water is 18-1/2 cubic feet per horse power in the two horse power boiler, and 15 cubic feet per horse power in the 20 horse power boiler.

291. Q.—Is this the proportion Boulton and Watt allow in their marine boilers?

A.—Boulton and Watt in their early steam vessels were in the habit of allowing for the capacity of the steam, space in marine boilers 16 times the content of the cylinder; but as there were two cylinders, this was equivalent to 8 times the content of both cylinders, which is the proportion commonly followed in land engines, and which agrees very nearly with the proportion of between 5 and 6 cubic feet of steam room per horse power already referred to. Taking for example an engine with 23 inches diameter of cylinder and 4 feet stroke, which will be 18.4 horse power—the area of the cylinder will be 415.476 square inches, which, multiplied by 48, the number of inches in the stroke, will give 19942.848 for the capacity of the cylinder in cubic inches; 8 times this is 159542.784 cubic inches, or 92.3 cubic feet; 92.3 divided by 18.4 is rather more than 5 cubic feet per horse power.

292. Q.—Is the production of the steam in the boiler uniform throughout the stroke of the engine?

A.—It varies with the slight variations in the pressure within the boiler throughout the stroke. Usually the larger part of the steam is produced during the first part of the stroke of the engine, for there is then the largest demand for steam, as the steam being commonly cut off somewhat before the end of the stroke, the pressure rises somewhat in the boiler during that period, and little steam is then produced. There is less necessity that the steam space should be large when the flow of steam from the boiler is very uniform, as it will be where there are two engines attached to the boiler at right angles with one another, or where the engines work at a great speed, as in the case of locomotive engines. A high steam chest too, by rendering boiling over into the steam pipes, or priming as it is called, more difficult, obviates the necessity for so large a steam space; as does also a perforated steam pipe stretching through the length of the boiler, so as not to take the steam from one place. The use of steam of a high pressure, worked expansively, has the same operation; so that in modern marine boilers, of the tubular construction, where the whole or most of these modifying circumstances exist, there is no necessity for so large a proportion of steam room as 5 or 6 cubic feet per nominal horse power, and about one, 1-1/2, or 2 cubic feet of steam room per cubic foot of water evaporated, more nearly represents the general practice.

293. Q.—Is this the proportion of steam room adopted in locomotive boilers?

A.—No; in locomotive boilers the proportion of steam room per cubic foot of water evaporated is considerably less even than this. It does not usually exceed 1/5 of a cubic foot per cubic foot of water evaporated; and with clean water, with a steam dome a few feet high set on the barrel of the boiler, or with a perforated pipe stretching from end to end of the barrel, and with the steam room divided about equally between the barrel and the fire box, very little priming is found to occur even with this small proportion of total steam room. About 3/4 the depth of the barrel is usually filled with water, and 1/4 with steam.

294. Q.—What is priming?

A.—Priming is a violent agitation of the water within the boiler, in consequence of which a large quantity of water passes off with the steam in the shape of froth or spray. Such a result is injurious, both as regards the efficacy of the engine, and the safety of the engine and boiler; for the large volume of hot water carried by the steam into the condenser impairs the vacuum, and throws a great load upon the air pump, which diminishes the speed and available power of the engine; and the existence of water within the cylinder, unless there be safety valves upon the cylinder to permit its escape, will very probably cause some part of the machinery to break, by suddenly arresting the motion of the piston when it meets the surface of the water,—the slide valve being closed to the condenser before the termination of the stroke, in all engines with lap upon the valves, so that the water within the cylinder is prevented from escaping in that direction. At the same time the boiler is emptied of its water too rapidly for the feed pump to be able to maintain the supply, and the flues are in danger of being burnt from a deficiency of water above them.

295. Q.—What are the causes of priming?

A.—The causes of priming are an insufficient amount of steam room, an inadequate area of water level, an insufficient width between the flues or tubes for the ascent of the steam and the descent of water to supply the vacuity the steam occasions, and the use of dirty water in the boiler. New boilers prime more than old boilers, and steamers entering rivers from the sea are more addicted to priming than if sea or river water had alone been used in the boilers—probably from the boiling point of salt water being higher than that of fresh, whereby the salt water acts like so much molten metal in raising the fresh water into steam. Opening the safety valve suddenly may make a boiler prime, and if the safety valve be situated near the mouth of the steam pipe, the spray or foam thus created may be mingled with the steam passing into the engine, and materially diminish its effective power; but if the safety valve be situated at a distance from the mouth of the steam pipe, the quantity of foam or spray passing into the engine may be diminished by opening the safety valve; and in locomotives, therefore, it is found beneficial to have a safety valve on the barrel of the boiler at a point remote from the steam chest, by partially opening which, any priming in that part of the boiler adjacent to the steam chest is checked, and a purer steam than before pusses to the engine.

296. Q.—What is the proper remedy for priming?

A.—When a boiler primes, the engineer generally closes the throttle valve partially, turns off the injection water, and opens the furnace doors, whereby the generation of steam is checked, and a less violent ebullition in the boiler suffices. Where the priming arises from an insufficient amount of steam room, it may be mitigated by putting a higher pressure upon the boiler and working more expansively, or by the interposition of a perforated plate between the boiler and the steam chest, which breaks the ascending water and liberates the steam. In some cases, however, it may be necessary to set a second steam chest on the top of the existing one, and it will be preferable to establish a communication with this new chamber by means of a number of small holes, bored through the iron plate of the boiler, rather than by a single large orifice. Where priming arises from the existence of dirty water in the boiler, the evil may be remedied by the use of collecting vessels, or by blowing off largely from the surface; and where it arises from an insufficient area of water level, or an insufficient width between the flues for the free ascent of the steam and the descent of the superincumbent water, the evil may be abated by the addition of circulating pipes in some part of the boiler, which will allow the water to descend freely to the place from whence the steam rises, the width of the water spaces being virtually increased by restricting their function to the transmission of a current of steam and water to the surface. It is desirable to arrange the heating surface in such a way that the feed water entering the boiler at its lowest point is heated gradually as it ascends, until toward the superior part of the flues it is raised gradually into steam; but in all cases there will be currents in the boiler for which it is proper to provide. The steam pipe proceeding to the engine should obviously be attached to the highest point of the steam chest, in boilers of every construction.

297. Q.—Having now stated the proportions proper to be adopted for evaporating any given quantity of water in steam boilers, will you proceed to show how you would proportion a boiler to do a given amount of work? say a locomotive boiler which will propel a train of 100 tons weight at a speed of 50 miles an hour.

A.—According to experiments on the resistance of railway trains at various rates of speed, made by Mr. Gooch, of the Great Western Railway, it appears that a train weighing, with locomotive, tender, and carriages, about 100 tons, experiences, at a speed of 50 miles an hour, a resistance of about 3,000 lbs., or about 30 lbs. per ton; which resistance includes the resistance of the engine as well as that of the train. This, therefore, is the force which must be imparted at the circumference of the driving wheels, except that small part intercepted by the engine itself, and the force exerted by the pistons must be greater than that at the circumference of the driving wheel, in the proportion of their slower motion, or in the proportion of the circumference of the driving wheel to the length of a double stroke of the engine. If the diameter of the driving wheel be 5-1/2 feet, its circumference will be 17.278 feet, and if the length of the stroke be 18 inches, the length of a double stroke will be 3 feet. The pressure on the pistons must therefore be greater than the traction at the circumference of the driving wheel, in the proportion of 17.278 to 3, or, in other words, the mean pressure on the pistons must be 17,278 lbs.; and the area of cylinders, and pressure of steam, must be such as to produce conjointly this total pressure. It thus becomes easy to tell the volume and pressure of steam required, which steam in its turn represents its equivalent of water which is to be evaporated from the boiler, and the boiler must be so proportioned, by the rules already given, as to evaporate this water freely. In the case of a steam vessel, the mode of procedure is the same, and when the resistance and speed are known, it is easy to tell the equivalent value of steam.


298. Q.—What strain should the iron of boilers be subjected to in working?

A.—The iron of boilers, like the iron of machines or structures, is capable of withstanding a tensile strain of from 50,000 to 60,000 lbs. upon every square inch of section; but it will only bear a third of this strain without permanent derangement of structure, and it does not appear expedient in any boiler to let the strain exceed 4,000 lbs. upon the square inch of sectional area of metal, especially if it is liable to be weakened by corrosion.

299.Q.—Have any experiments been made to determine the strength of boilers?

A.—The question of the strength of boilers was investigated very elaborately a few years ago by a committee of the Franklin Institute, in America, and it was found that the tenacity of boiler plate increased with the temperature up to 550 deg., at which point the tenacity began to diminish. At 32 deg., the cohesive force of a square inch of section was 56,000 lbs.; at 570 deg., it was 66,500 lbs.; at 720 deg., 55,000 lbs.; at 1,050 deg., 32,000 lbs.; at 1,240 deg., 22,000 lbs.; and at 1,317 deg., 9,000 lbs. Copper follows a different law, and appears to be diminished in strength by every addition to the temperature. At 32 deg. the cohesion of copper was found to be 32,800 lbs. per square inch of section, which exceeds the cohesive force at any higher temperature, and the square of the diminution of strength seems to keep pace with the cube of the increased temperature. Strips of iron cut in the direction of the fibre were found to be about 6 per cent. stronger than when cut across the grain. Repeated piling and welding was found to increase the tenacity of the iron, but the result of welding together different kinds of iron was not found to be favorable. The accidental overheating of a boiler was found to reduce the ultimate or maximum strength of the plates from 65,000 to 45,000 lbs. per square inch of section, and riveting the plates was found to occasion a diminution in their strength to the extent of one third. These results, however, are not precisely the same as those obtained by Mr. Fairbairn.

300. Q.—What were the results obtained by him?

A.—He found that boiler plate bore a tensile strain of 23 tons per square inch before rupture, which was reduced to 16 tons per square inch when joined together by a double row of rivets, and 13 tons, or about 30,000, when joined together by a single row of rivets. A circular boiler, therefore, with the ends of its plates double riveted, will bear at the utmost about 36,000 lbs. per square inch of section, or about 12,000 lbs. per square inch of section without permanent derangement of structure.

301. Q.—What pressure do cylindrical boilers sustain in practice?

A.—In some locomotive boilers, which are worked with a pressure of 80 lbs. upon the square inch, the thickness of the plates is only 5/16ths of an inch, while the barrel of the boiler is 39 inches in diameter. It will require a length of 3.2 inches of the boiler when the plates are 5/16ths thick to make up a sectional area of one square inch, and the separating force will be 39 times 3.2 multiplied by 80, which makes the separating force 9,984 lbs., sustained by two square inches of sectional area—one on each side; or the strain is 4,992 lbs. per square inch of sectional area, which is quite as great strain as is advisable. The accession of strength derived from the boiler ends is not here taken into account, but neither is the weakening effect counted that is caused by the rivet holes. Some locomotives of 4 feet diameter of barrel and of 3/8ths iron have been worked to as high a pressure as 200 lbs. on the inch; but such feats of daring are neither to be imitated nor commended.

302.Q.—Can you give a rule for the proper thickness of cylindrical boilers?

A.—The thickness proper for cylindrical boilers of wrought iron, exposed to an internal pressure, may be found by the following rule:—multiply 2.54 times the internal diameter of the cylinder in inches by the greatest pressure within the cylinder per circular inch, and divide by 17,800; the result is the thickness in inches. If we apply this rule to the example of the locomotive boiler just given, we have 39 x 2.54 x 62.832 (the pressure per circular inch corresponding to 80 lbs. per square inch) = 6224.1379, and this, divided by 17,800, gives 0.349 as the thickness in inches, instead of 0.3125, or 5/16ths, the actual thickness. If we take the pressure per square inch instead of per circular inch, we obtain the following rule, which is somewhat simpler:—multiply the internal diameter of the cylinder in inches by the pressure in pounds per square inch, and divide the product by 8,900; the result is the thickness in inches. Both these rules give the strain about one fourth of the elastic force, or 4,450 lbs. per square inch of sectional area of the iron; but 3,000 lbs. is enough when the flame impinges directly on the iron, as in some of the ordinary cylindrical boilers, and the rule may be adapted for that strain by taking 6,000 as a divisor instead of 8,900.

303. Q.—In marine and wagon boilers, which are not of a cylindrical form, how do you procure the requisite strength?

A.—Where the sides of the boiler are flat, instead of being cylindrical, a sufficient number of stays must be introduced to withstand the pressure; and it is expedient not to let the strain upon these stays be more than 3,000 lbs. per square inch of section, as the strength of internal stays in boilers is generally soon diminished by corrosion. Indeed, a strain at all approaching that upon locomotive boilers would be very unsafe in the case of marine boilers, on account of the corrosion, both internal and external, to which marine boilers are subject. The stays should be small and numerous rather than large and few in number, as, when large stays are employed, it is difficult to keep them tight at the ends, and oxidation of the shell follows from leakage at the ends of the stays. All boilers should be proved, when new, to twice or three times the pressure they are intended to bear, and they should be proved occasionally by the hand pump when in use, to detect any weakness which corrosion may have occasioned.

304. Q.—Will you describe the disposition of the stays in a marine boiler?

A.—If the pressure of steam be 20 lbs. on the square inch, which is a very common pressure in tubular boilers, there will be a pressure of 2,880 lbs. on every square foot of flat surface; so that if the strain upon the stays is not to exceed 3,000 lbs. on the square inch of section, there must be nearly a square inch of sectional area of stay for every square foot of flat surface on the top and bottom, sides, and ends of the boiler. This very much exceeds the proportion usually adopted; and in scarcely any instance are boilers stayed sufficiently to be safe when the shell is composed of flat surfaces. The furnaces should be stayed together with bolts of the best scrap iron, 1-1/4 inch in diameter, tapped through both plates of the water space with thin nuts in each furnace; and it is expedient to make the row of stays, running horizontally near the level of the bars, sufficiently low to come beneath the top of the bars, so as to be shielded from the action of the fire, with which view they should follow the inclination of the bars. The row of stays between the level of the bars and the top of the furnace should be as near the top of the furnace as will consist with the functions they have to perform, so as to be removed as far as possible from the action of the heat; and to support the furnace top, cross bars may either be adopted, to which the top is secured with bolts, as in the case of locomotives, or stays tapped into the furnace top, with a thin nut beneath, may be carried to the top of the boiler; but very little dependence can be put in such stays as stays for keeping down the top of the boiler; and the top of the boiler must, therefore, be stayed nearly as much as if the stays connecting it with the furnace crowns did not exist. The large rivets passing through thimbles, sometimes used as stays for water spaces or boiler shells, are objectionable; as, from the great amount of hammering such rivets have to receive to form the heads, the iron becomes crystalline, so that the heads are liable to come off, and, indeed, sometimes fly off in the act of being formed. If such a fracture occurs between the boilers after they are seated in their place, or in any position not accessible from the outside, it will in general be necessary to empty the faulty boiler, and repair the defect from the inside.

305. Q.—What should be the pitch or numerical distribution of the stays?

A.—The stays, where the sides of the boiler are flat, and the pressure of the steam is from 20 to 30 lbs., should be pitched about a foot or 18 inches asunder; and in the wake of the tubes, where stays cannot be carried across to connect the boiler sides, angle iron ribs, like the ribs of a ship, should be riveted to the interior of the boiler, and stays of greater strength than the rest should pass across, above, and below the tubes, to which the angle irons would communicate the strain. The whole of the long stays within a boiler should be firmly riveted to the shell, as if built with and forming a part of it; as, by the common method of fixing them in by means of cutters, the decay or accidental detachment of a pin or cutter may endanger the safety of the boiler. Wherever a large perforation in the shell of any circular boiler occurs, a sufficient number of stays should be put across it to maintain the original strength; and where stays are intercepted by the root of the funnel, short stays in continuation of them should be placed inside.


306. Q.—What is the chief cause of boiler explosions?

A.—The chief cause of boiler explosions is, undoubtedly, too great a pressure of steam, or an insufficient strength of boiler; but many explosions have also arisen from the flues having been suffered to become red hot. If the safety valve of a boiler be accidentally jammed, or if the plates or stays be much worn by corrosion, while a high pressure of steam is nevertheless maintained, the boiler necessarily bursts; and if, from an insufficiency of water in the boiler, or from any other cause, the flues become highly heated, they may be forced down by the pressure of the steam, and a partial explosion may be the result. The worst explosion is where the shell of the boiler bursts; but the collapse of a furnace or flue is also very disastrous generally to the persons in the engine room; and sometimes the shell bursts and the flues collapse at the same time; for if the flues get red hot, and water be thrown upon them either by the feed pump or otherwise, the generation of steam may be too rapid for the safety valve to permit its escape with sufficient facility, and the shell of the boiler may, in consequence, be rent asunder. Sometimes the iron of the flues becomes highly heated in consequence of the improper configuration of the parts, which, by retaining the steam in contact with the metal, prevents the access of the water: the bottoms of large flues, upon which the flame beats down, are very liable to injury from this cause; and the iron of flues thus acted upon may be so softened that the flues will collapse upward with the pressure of the steam. The flues of boilers may also become red hot in some parts from the attachment of scale, which, from its imperfect conducting power, will cause the iron to be unduly heated; and if the scale be accidentally detached, a partial explosion may occur in consequence.

307. Q.—Does the contact of water with heated metal occasion an instantaneous generation of steam?

A.—It is found that a sudden disengagement of steam does not immediately follow the contact of water with the hot metal, for water thrown upon red hot iron is not immediately converted into steam, but assumes the spheroidal form and rolls about in globules over the surface. These globules, however high the temperature of the metal may be on which they are placed, never rise above the temperature of 205 deg., and give off but very little steam; but if the temperature of the metal be lowered, the water ceases to retain the spheroidal form, and comes into intimate contact with the metal, whereby a rapid disengagement of steam takes place. If water be poured into a very hot copper flask, the flask may be corked up, as there will be scarce any steam produced so long as the high temperature is maintained; but so soon as the temperature is suffered to fall below 350 deg. or 400 deg., the spheroidal condition being no longer maintainable, steam is generated with rapidity, and the cork will be projected from the mouth of the flask with great force.

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