A Catechism of the Steam Engine
by John Bourne
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403. Q.—Is it the natural effect of surcharged steam to waste away iron?

A.—It is the natural effect of surcharged steam to oxidate the iron with which it is in contact, as is illustrated by the familiar process for making hydrogen gas by sending steam through a red hot tube filled with pieces of iron; and although the action of the surcharged steam in a boiler is necessarily very much weaker than where the iron is red hot, it manifestly must have some oxidizing effect, and the amount of corrosion produced may be very material where the action is perpetual. Boilers with a large extent of heating surface, or with descending flues circulating through the cooler water in the bottom of the boiler before ascending the chimney, will be less corroded internally than boilers in which a large quantity of the heat passes away in the smoke; and the corrosion of the boiler will be diminished if the interior of any flue passing through the steam be coated with fire brick, so as to present the transmission of the heat in that situation. The best practice, however, appears to consist in the transmission of the smoke through a suitable passage on the outside of the boiler, so as to supersede the necessity of carrying any flue through the steam at all; or a column of water may be carried round the chimney, into which as much of the feed water may be introduced as the heat of the chimney is capable of raising to the boiling point, as under this limitation the presence of feed water around the chimney in the steam chest will fail to condense the steam.

404. Q.—In steam vessels there are usually several boilers?

A.—Yes, in steam vessels of considerable power and size.

405. Q.—Are these boilers generally so constructed, that any one of them may be thrown out of use?

A.—Marine boilers are now generally supplied with stop valves, whereby one boiler may be thrown out of use without impairing the efficacy of the remainder. These stop valves are usually spindle valves of large size, and they are for the most part set in a pipe which runs across the steam chests, connecting the several boilers together. The spindles of these valves should project through stuffing boxes in the covers of the valve chests, and they should be balanced by a weighted lever, and kept in continual action by the steam. If the valves be lifted up, and be suffered to remain up, as is the usual practice, they will become fixed by corrosion in that position, and it will be impossible after some time to shut them on an emergency. These valves should always be easily accessible from the engine room; and it ought not to be necessary for the coal boxes to be empty to gain access to them.

406. Q.—Should each boiler have at least one safety valve for itself?

A.—Yes; it would be quite unsafe without this provision, as the stop valve might possibly jam. Sometimes valves jam from a distortion in the shape of the boiler when a considerable pressure is put upon it.

407. Q.—How is the admission of the water into the boiler regulated?

A.—The admission of feed water into the boiler is regulated by hand by the engineer by means of cocks, and sometimes by spindle valves raised and lowered by a screw. Cocks appear to be the preferable expedient, as they are less liable to accident or derangement than screw valves, and in modern steam vessels they are generally employed.

408. Q.—At what point of the boiler is the feed introduced?

A.—The feed water is usually conducted from the feed cock to a point near the bottom of the boiler by means of an internal pipe, the object of this arrangement being to prevent the rising steam from being condensed by the entering water. By being introduced near the bottom of the boiler, the water comes into contact in the first place with the bottoms of the furnaces and flues, and extracts heat from them which could not be extracted by water of a higher temperature, whereby a saving of fuel is accomplished. In some cases the feed water is introduced into a casing around the chimney, from whence it descends into the boiler. This plan appears to be an expedient one when the boiler is short of heating surface, and more than a usual quantity of heat ascends the chimney; but in well proportioned boilers a water casing round the chimney is superfluous. When a water casing is used the boiler is generally fed by a head of water, the feed water being forced up into a small tank, from whence it descends into the boiler by the force of gravity, while the surplus runs to waste, as in the feeding apparatus of land engines.

409. Q.—Suppose that the engineer should shut off the feed water from the boilers while the engine was working, what would be the result?

A.—The result would be to burst the feed pipes, except for a safety valve placed on the feed pipe between the engine and the boilers, which safety valve opens when any undue pressure comes upon the pipes, and allows the water to escape. There is, however, generally a cock on the suction side of the feed pump, which regulates the quantity of water drawn into the pump. But there must be cocks on the boilers also to determine into which boiler the water shall be chiefly discharged, and these cocks are sometimes all shut accidentally at the same time.

410. Q.—Is there no expedient in use in steam vessels for enabling the position of the water level in the boiler to determine the quantity of feed water admitted?

A.—In some steam vessels floats have been introduced to regulate the feed, but their action cannot be depended on in agitated water, if applied after the common fashion. Floats would probably answer if placed in a cylinder which communicates with the water in the boiler by means of small holes; and a disc of metal might be attached to the end of a rod extending beneath the water level, so as to resist irregular movements from the motion of the ship at sea, which would otherwise impair the action of the apparatus.

411. Q.—How is the proper level of the water in the boiler of a steam vessel maintained when, the engine is stopped for some time, and the boiler is blowing off steam?

A.—By means of a separate pump worked sometimes by hand, but usually by a small separate engine called the Donkey engine. This pump, by the aid of suitable cocks, will pump from the sea into the boiler; from the sea upon deck either to wash decks or to extinguish fire; and from the bilge overboard, through a suitable orifice in the side of the ship.


412. Q.—Will you recapitulate the general features of locomotive boilers?

A.—Locomotive boilers consist of three portions (see fig. 29): the barrel E, E, containing the tubes, the fire box B, and the smoke box F; of which the barrel smoke box, and external fire box are always of iron, but the internal fire box is generally made of copper, though sometimes also it is made of iron. The tubes are sometimes of iron, but generally of brass fixed in by ferules. The whole of the iron plates of a locomotive boiler Which are subjected to the pressure of steam, should be Lowmoor or Bowling plates of the best quality; and the copper should be coarse grained, rather than rich or soft, and be perfectly free from irregularities of structure and lamination.

413. Q.—What are the usual dimensions of the barrel?

A.—The thickness of the plates composing the barrel of the boiler varies generally from 5/16ths to 3/8ths of an inch, and the plates should run in the direction of the circumference, so that the fibres of the iron may be in the direction of the strain. The diameter of the barrel commonly varies from 3 ft. to 3 ft. 6 inches; the diameter of the rivets should be from 11/16ths to 3/4ths of an inch, and the pitch of the rivets or distance between their centres should be from 17/8th to 2 inches.

414. Q.—How are the fire boxes of a locomotive constructed?

A.—The space between the external and internal fire boxes forms a water space, which must be stayed every 4-1/2 or 5 inches by means of copper or iron stay bolts, screwed through the outer fire box into the metal of the inner fire box, and securely riveted within it: iron stay bolts are as durable as copper, and their superior tenacity gives them an advantage. Sometimes tubes are employed as stays. The internal and external fire boxes are joined together at the bottom by a N-shaped iron, and round the fire door they are connected by means of a copper ring 1-1/4 in. thick, and 2 in. broad,—the inner fire box being dished sufficiently outward at that point, and the outer fire box sufficiently inward, to enable a circle of rivets 3/4 of an inch in diameter passing through the copper ring and the two thicknesses of iron, to make a water-tight joint. The thickness of the plates composing the external fire box is in general 3/8ths of an inch if the fire box is circular, and from 3/8ths to 1/2 inch if the fire box is square; and the thickness of the internal fire box is in most cases 7/16ths if copper, and from 3/8ths to 7/16ths of an inch if of iron. Circular internal fire boxes, if made of iron, should be welded rather than riveted, as the rivet heads are liable to be burnt away by the action of the fire; and when the fire boxes are square each side should consist of a single plate, turned over at the edges with a radius of 3 inches, for the introduction of the rivets.

415. Q.—Is there any provision for stiffening the crown of the furnace in a locomotive?

A.—The roof of the internal fire box, whether flat as in Stephenson's engines, or dome shaped as in Bury's, requires to be stiffened with cross stay bars, but the bars require to be stronger and more numerous when applied to a flat surface. The ends of these stay bars rest above the vertical sides of the fire box; and to the stay bars thus extending across the crown, the crown is attached at intervals by means of stay bolts. There are projecting bosses upon the stay bars encircling the bolts at every point where a bolt goes through, but in the other parts they are kept clear of the fire box crown so as to permit the access of water to the metal; and, with the view of facilitating the ascent of the steam, the bottom of each stay bar should be sharpened away in those parts where it does not touch the boiler.

416. Q.—Is any inconvenience experienced from the intense heat in a locomotive furnace?

A.—The fire bars in locomotives have always been a source of trouble, as from the intensity of the heat in the furnace they become so hot as to throw off a scale, and to bend under the weight of the fuel. The best alleviation of these evils lies in making the bars deep and thin: 4 or 5 inches deep by five eighths of an inch thick on the upper side, and three eighths of an inch on the under side, are found in practice to be good dimensions. In some locomotives a frame carrying a number of fire bars is made so that it may be dropped suddenly by loosening a catch; but it is found that any such mechanism can rarely be long kept in working order, as the molten clinker by running down between the frame and the boiler will generally glue the frame into its place. It is therefore found preferable to fix the frame, and to lift up the bars by the dart used by the stoker, when any cause requires the fire to be withdrawn. The furnace bars of locomotives are always made of malleable iron, and indeed for every species of boiler malleable iron bars are to be preferred to bars of cast iron, as they are more durable, and may if thin be set closer together, whereby the small coal or coke is saved that would otherwise fall into the ash pit. The ash box of locomotives is made of plate iron, a quarter thick: it should not be less than 10 in. deep, and its bottom should be about 9 in. above the level of the rails. The chimney of a locomotive is made of plate iron one eighth of an inch thick: it is usually of the same diameter as the cylinder, but is better smaller, and must not stand more than 14 ft. high above the level of the rails.

417. Q.—Are locomotive boilers provided with a steam chest?

A.—The upper portion of the external fire box is usually formed into a steam chest, which is sometimes dome shaped, sometimes semicircular, and sometimes of a pyramidical form, and from this steam chest the steam is conducted away by an internal pipe to the cylinders; but in other cases an independent steam chest is set upon the barrel of the boiler, consisting of a plate iron cylinder, 20 inches in diameter, 2 feet high, and three eighths of an inch thick, with a dome shaped top, and with the seam welded and the edge turned over to form a flange of attachment to the boiler. The pyramidical dome, of the form employed in Stephenson's locomotives, presents a considerable extent of flat surface to the pressure of the steam, and this flat surface requires to be very strongly stayed with angle irons and tension rods; whereas the semiglobular dome of the kind employed in Bury's engines requires no staying whatever. Latterly, however, these domes over the fire box have been either much reduced in size or abandoned altogether.

418. Q.—Is any beneficial use made of the surplus steam of a locomotive?

A.—To save the steam which is formed when the engine is stationary, a pipe is usually fitted to the boiler, which on a cock being turned conducts the steam into the water in the tender, whereby the feed water is heated, and less fuel is subsequently required. This method of disposing of the surplus steam may be adopted when the locomotive is descending inclines, or on any occasion where more steam is produced than the engine can consume.

419.Q.—What means are provided to facilitate the inspection and cleaning of locomotive boilers?

A.—The man hole, or entrance into the boiler, consists of a circular or oval aperture of about 15 in. diameter, placed in Bury's locomotive at the apex of the dome, and in Stephenson's upon the front of the boiler, a few inches below the level of the rounded part; and the cover of the man hole in Bury's engine contains the safety valve seats. In whatever situation this man hole is placed, the surfaces of the ring encircling the hole, and of the internal part of the door or cover, should be accurately fitted together by scraping or grinding, so that they need only the interposition of a little red lead to make them quite tight when screwed together. Lead or canvas joints, if of any considerable thickness, will not long withstand the action of high pressure steam; and the whole of the joints about a locomotive should be such that they require nothing more than a little paint or putty, or a ring of wire gauze smeared with white or red lead to make them perfectly tight. There must be a mud hole opposite the edge of each water space, if the fire box be square, to enable the boiler to be easily cleaned out, and these holes are most conveniently closed by screwed plugs made slightly taper. A cock for emptying the boiler is usually fixed at the bottom of the fire box, and it should be so placed as to be accessible when the engine is at work, in order that the engine driver may blow off some water if necessary; but it must not be in such a position as to send the water blown off among the machinery, as it might carry sand or grit into the bearings, to their manifest injury.

420. Q.—Will you state the dimensions of the tube plate, and the means of securing the tubes in it?

A.—The tube plates are generally made from five eighths to three fourths of an inch thick, but seven eighths of an inch thick appears to be preferable, as when the plate is thick the holes will not be so liable to change their figure during the process of feruling the tubes: the distance between the tubes should never be made less than three fourths of an inch, and the holes should be slightly tapered so as to enable the tubes to hold the tube plates together. The tubes are secured in the tube plates by means of taper ferules driven into the ends of the tubes. The ferules are for the most part made of steel at the fire box end, and of wrought iron at the smoke box end, though ferules of malleable cast iron have in some cases been used with advantage: malleable cast iron ferules are almost as easily expanded when hammered cold upon a mandrel, as the common wrought iron ones are at a working heat. Spring steel, rolled with a feather edge, to facilitate its conversion into ferules, is supplied by some of the steel-makers of Sheffield, and it appears expedient to make use of steel thus prepared when steel ferules are employed. In cases where ferules are not employed, it may be advisable to set out the tube behind the tube plate by means of an expanding mandrel. There are various forms of this instrument. One form is that known as Prosser's expanding mandrel, in which there are six or eight segments, which are forced out by means of a hexagonal or octagonal wedge, which is forced forward by a screw. When the wedge is withdrawn, the segments collapse sufficiently to enable them to enter the tube, and there is an annular protuberance on the exterior circle of the segments, which protuberance, when the mandrel is put into the tube, just comes behind the inner edge of the tube plate. When the wedge is tightened up by the screw, the protuberance on the exterior of the segments composing the mandrel causes a corresponding bulge to take place in the tube, at the back of the tube plate, and the tube is thereby brought into more intimate contact with the tube plate than would otherwise be the case. There is a steel ring indented into the segments of Prosser's mandrel, to contract the segments when the central wedge is withdrawn. A more convenient form of the instrument, however, is obtained by placing the segments in a circular box, with one end projecting; and supporting each segment in the box by a tenon, which fits into a mortise in the cylindrical box. To expand the segments, a round tapered piece of steel, like a drift, is forced into a central hole, round which the segments are arranged. A piece of steel tube, also slit up to enable a central drift to expand it, answers very well; but the thickness of that part of the tube in which there requires to be spring enough to let the mandrel expand, requires to be sufficiently reduced to prevent the pieces from cracking when the central drift is driven in by a hammer. The drift is better when made with a globular head, so that it may be struck back by the hammer, as well as be driven in. An expanding mandrel, with a central drift, is more rapid in its operation than when the expansion is produced by means of a screw.

421. Q.—Will you explain the means that are adopted to regulate the admission of steam to the cylinders?

A.—In locomotives, the admission of the steam from the boiler to the cylinders is regulated by a valve called the regulator, which is generally placed immediately above the internal fire box, and is connected with two copper pipes;—one conducting steam from the highest point of the dome down to it, and the other conducting the steam that has passed through it along the boiler to the upper part of the smoke box. Regulators may be divided into two sorts, viz., those with, sliding valves and steam ports, and those with conical valves and seats, of which the latter kind are the best. The former kind have for the most part consisted of a circular valve and face, with radial apertures, the valve resembling the outstretched wings of a butterfly, and being made to revolve on its central pivot by connecting links between its outer edges, or by its central spindle. In some of Stephenson's engines the regulator consists of a slide valve covering a port on the top of the valve chests. A rod passes from this valve through the smoke box below the boiler, and by means of a lever parallel to the starting lever, is brought up to the engineer's reach. Cocks were at first used as regulators, but were given up, as they were found liable to stick fast. A gridiron slide valve has been used by Stephenson, which consists of a perforated square moving upon a face with an equal number of holes. This plan of a valve gives, with a small movement, a large area of opening. In Bury's engines a sort of conical plug is used, which is withdrawn by turning the handle in front of the fire box: a spiral grove of a very large pitch is made in the valve spindle, in which fits a pin fixed to the boiler, and by turning the spindle an end motion is given to it, which either shuts or opens the steam passage according to the direction in which it is turned. The best regulator would probably be a valve of the equilibrium description, such as is used in the Cornish engine: there would be no friction in such a regulator, and it could be opened or shut with a small amount of force. Such valves, indeed, are now sometimes employed for regulators in locomotives.




422. Q.—Will you explain the course of procedure in the erection of a pumping engine, such as Boulton and Watt introduced into Cornwall?

A.—The best instructions on this subject are those of Mr. Watt himself, which are as follows:—Having fixed on the proper situation of the pump in the pit, from its centre measure out the distance to the centre of the cylinder, from which set off all the other dimensions of the house, including the thickness of the walls, and dig out the whole of the included ground to the depth of the bottom of the cellar, so that the bottom of the cylinder may stand on a level with the natural ground of the place, or lower, if convenient, for the less the height of the house above the ground, the firmer it will be. The foundations of the walls must be laid at least two feet lower than the bottom of the cellar, unless the foundation be firm rock; and care must be taken to leave a small drain into the pit quite through the lowest part of the foundation of the lever wall, to let off any water that may be spilt in the engine house, or may naturally come into the cellar. If the foundation at that depth does not prove good, you must either go down to a better if in your reach, or make it good by a platform of wood or piles, or both.

423. Q.—These directions refer to the foundations?

A..—Yes; but I will now proceed to the other parts. Within the house, low walls must be built to carry the cylinder beams, so as to leave sufficient room to come at the holding down bolts, and the ends of these beams must also be lodged in the wall The lever wall must be built in the firmest manner, and run solid, course by course, with thin lime mortar, care being taken that the lime has not been long slaked. If the house be built of stone, let the stones be large and long, and let many headers be laid through the wall: it should also be a rule, that every stone be laid on the broadest bed it has, and never set on its edge. A course or two above the lintel of the door that leads to the condenser, build into the wall two parallel flat thin bars of iron equally distant from each other, and from the outside and inside of the wall, and reaching the whole breadth of the lever wall. About a foot higher in the wall, lay at every four feet of the breadth of the front, other bars of the same kind at right angles to the former course, and reaching quite through the thickness of the wall; and at each front corner lay a long bar in the middle of the side walls, and reaching quite through the front wall; if these bars are 10 feet or 12 feet long it will be sufficient. When the house is built up nearly to the bottom of the opening under the great beam another double course of bars is to be built in, as has been directed. At the level of the upper cylinder beams, holes must be left in the walls for their ends, with room to move them laterally, so that the cylinder may be got in; and smaller holes must be left quite through the walls for the introduction of iron bars, which being firmly fastened to the cylinder beams at one end, and screwed at the other or outer end, will serve, by their going through both the front and back walls, to bind the house more firmly together. The spring beams or iron bars fastened to them must reach quite through the back wall, and be keyed or screwed up tight; and they must be firmly fastened to the lever wall on each side, either by iron bars, firm pieces of wood, or long strong stones, reaching far back into the wall. They must also be bedded solidly, and the residue of the opening must be built up in the firmest manner.

424. Q.—If there be a deficiency of water for the purpose of condensation, what course should be pursued?

A.—If there be no water in the neighborhood that can be employed for the purpose of condensation, it will be necessary to make a pond, dug in the earth, for the reception of the water delivered by the air pump, to the end that it may be cooled and used again for the engine. The pond may be three or four feet deep, and lined with turf, puddled, or otherwise made water tight. Throwing up the water into the air in the form of a jet to cool it, has been found detrimental; as the water is then charged with air which vitiates the vacuum.

425. Q.—How is the piston of a pumping engine packed?

A.—To pack the piston, take sixty common-sized white or untarred rope-yarns, and with them plait a gasket or flat rope as close and firm as possible, tapering for eighteen inches at each end, and long enough to go round the piston, and overlapped for that length; coil this rope the thin way as hard as possible, and beat it with a sledge hammer until its breadth answers the place; put it in and beat it down with a wooden drift and a hand mallet, pour some melted tallow all around, then pack in a layer of white oakum half an inch thick, so that the whole packing may have the depth of five to six inches, depending on the size of the engine; finally, screw down the junk ring. The packing should be beat solid, but not too hard, otherwise it will create so great a friction as to prevent the easy going of the engine. Abundance of tallow should be allowed, especially at first; the quantity required will be less as the cylinder grows smooth. In some of the more modern pumping engines, the piston is provided with metallic packing, consisting for the most part of a single ring with a tongue piece to break the joint, and packed behind with hemp. The upper edge of the metallic ring is sharpened away from the inside so as to permit more conveniently the application of hemp packing behind it; and the junk ring is made much the same as if no metallic packing were employed.

426. Q.—Will you explain the mode of putting the engine into operation?

A.—To set the engine going, the steam must be raised until the pressure in the steam pipe is at least equal to three pounds on the square inch; and when the cylinder jacket is fully warmed, and steam issues freely from the jacket cock, open all the valves or regulators; the steam will then forcibly blow out the air or water contained in the eduction pipe, and to get rid of the air in the cylinder, shut the steam valve after having blown through the engine for a few minutes. The cold water round the condenser will condense some of the steam contained in the eduction pipe, and its place will be supplied by some of the air from the cylinder. The steam valve must again be opened to blow out that air, and the operation is to be repeated until the air is all drawn out of the cylinder. When that is the case shut all the valves, and observe if the vacuum gauge shows a vacuum in the condenser; when there is a vacuum equivalent to three inches of mercury, open the injection a very little, and shut it again immediately; and if this produces any considerable vacuum, open the exhausting valve a very little way, and the injection at the same time. If the engine does not now commence its motion, it must be blown through again until it moves. If the engine be lightly loaded, or if there be no water in the pumps, the throttle valve must be kept nearly closed, and the top and exhaustion regulators must be opened only a very little way, else the engine will make its stroke with violence, and perhaps do mischief. If there is much unbalanced weight on the pump end, the plug which opens the steam valve must be so regulated, that the valve will only be opened very slightly; and if after a few strokes it is found that the engine goes out too slowly, the valve may be then so adjusted as to open wider. The engine should always be made to work full stroke, that is, until the catch pins be made to come within half an inch of the springs at each end, and the piston should stand high enough in the cylinder when the engine is at rest, to spill over into the perpendicular steam pipe any water which may be condensed above it; for if water remain upon the piston, it will increase the consumption of steam. When the engine is to be stopped, shut the injection valve and secure it, and adjust the tappets so as to prevent the exhausting valve from opening and to allow the steam valve to open and remain open, otherwise a partial vacuum may arise in the cylinder, and it may be filled with water from the injection or from leaks. A single acting engine, when it is in good order, ought to be capable of going as slow as one stroke in ten minutes, and as fast as ten strokes in one minute; and if it does not fulfil these conditions, there is some fault which should be ascertained and remedied.

427. Q.—Your explanation has reference to the pumping engine as introduced into Cornwall by Watt: have any modifications been since made upon it?

A.—In the modern Cornish engines the steam is used very expansively, and a high pressure of steam is employed. In some cases a double cylinder engine is used, in which the steam, after having given motion to a small piston on the principle of a high pressure engine, passes into a larger cylinder, where it operates on the principle of a condensing engine; but there is no superior effect gained by the use of two cylinders, and there is greater complexity in the apparatus. Instead of the lever walls, cast iron columns are now frequently used for supporting the main beam in pumping engines, and the cylinder end of the main beam is generally made longer than the pump end in engines made in Cornwall, so as to enable the cylinder to have a long stroke, and the piston to move quickly, without communicating such a velocity to the pump buckets as will make them work with such a shock as to wear themselves out quickly. A high pressure of steam, too, can be employed where the stroke is long, without involving the necessity of making the working parts of such large dimensions as would otherwise be necessary; for the strength of the parts of a single acting engine will require to be much the same, whatever the length of the stroke may be.

428. Q.—What kind of pump is mostly used in draining deep mines?

A.—The pump now universally preferred is the plunger pump, which admits of being packed or tightened while the engine is at work; but the lowest lift of a mine is generally supplied with a pump on the suction principle, both with the view of enabling the lowest pipe to follow the water with facility as the shaft is sunk deeper, and to obviate the inconvenience of the valves of the pump being rendered inaccessible by any flooding in the mine. The pump valves of deep mines are a perpetual source of expense and trouble, as from the pressure of water upon them it is difficult to prevent them from closing with violence; and many expedients have been contrived to mitigate the evil, of which the valve known as Harvey and West's valve has perhaps gained the widest acceptation.

429. Q.—Will you describe Harvey and West's pump valve?

A.—This valve is a compromise between the equilibrium valve, of the kind employed for admitting the steam to and from the cylinder in single acting engines, and the common spindle valve formerly used for that purpose; and to comprehend its action, it is necessary that the action of the equilibrium valve, which has been already represented fig. 34, should first be understood. This valve consists substantially of a cylinder open at both ends, and capable of sliding upon a stationary piston fixed upon a rod the length of the cylinder, which proceeds from the centre of the orifice the valve is intended to close. It is clear, that when the cylinder is pressed down until its edge rests upon the bottom of the box containing it, the orifice of the pipe must be closed, as the steam can neither escape past the edge of the cylinder nor between the cylinder and the piston; and it is equally clear, that as the pressure upon the cylinder is equal all around it, and the whole of the downward pressure is maintained by the stationary piston, the cylinder can be raised or lowered without any further exertion of force than is necessary to overcome the friction of the piston and of the rod by which the cylinder is raised. Instead of the rubbing surface of a piston, however, a conical valve face between the cylinder and piston is employed, which is tight only when the cylinder is in its lowest position; and there is a similar face between, the edge of the cylinder and the bottom of the box in which it is placed. The moving part of the valve, too, instead of being a perfect cylinder, is bulged outward in the middle, so as to permit the steam to escape past the stationary piston when the cylindrical part of the valve is raised. It is clear, that if such a valve were applied to a pump, no pressure of water within the pump would suffice to open it, neither would any pressure of water above the valve cause it to shut with violence; and if an equilibrium valve, therefore, be used as a pump valve at all, it must be opened and shut by mechanical means. In Harvey and West's valves, however, the equilibrium principle is only partially adopted; the lower face is considerably larger in diameter than the upper face, and the difference constitutes an annulus of pressure, which will cause the valve to open or shut with the same force as a spindle valve of the area of the annulus. To deaden the shock still more effectually, the lower face of the valve is made to strike upon end wood driven into an annular recess in the pump bucket; and valves thus constructed work with very little noise or tremor; but it is found in practice, that the use of Harvey and West's valve, or any contrivance of a similar kind, adds materially to the load upon the pump, especially in low lifts where the addition of a load, to the valve makes a material addition to the total resistance which the engine has to overcome. Instead of end wood driven into a recess for the valve to strike upon, a mixture of tin and lead cast in a recess is now frequently used, and is found to be preferable to the wood.

430. Q.—Is there any other kind of pump valve which is free from the shocks incidental to the working of common valves?

A.—In some cases canvass valves are used for pumps, with the effect of materially mitigating the shock; but they require frequent renewal, and are of inferior eligibility in their action to the slide valve, which might in many cases be applied to pumps without inconvenience.

431. Q.—Could not a form of pump be devised capable of working without valves at all?

A..—It appears probable, that by working a common reciprocating pump at a high speed, a continuous flow of water might be maintained through the pipes in such a way as to render the existence of any valves superfluous after once the action was begun, the momentum of the moving water acting in fact as valves. The centrifugal pump, however, threatens to supersede pumps of every other kind; and if the centrifugal pump be employed there will be no necessity for pump valves at all. There is less loss of effect by the centrifugal pump than by the common pump.

432. Q.—What is the best form of the centrifugal pump?

A.—There are two forms in which the centrifugal pump may be applied to mines;—that in which the arms diverge from the bottom, like the letter V; and that in which revolving arms are set in a tight case near the bottom of the mine, and are turned by a shaft from the surface. Such pumps both draw and force; and either by arranging them in a succession of lifts in the shaft of the mine, or otherwise, the water may be drawn without inconvenience from any depth. The introduction of the centrifugal pump would obviously extinguish the single acting engine, as rotative engines working at a high speed would be the most appropriate form of engine where the centrifugal pump was employed.

433. Q.—This would not be a heavy deprivation?

A.—The single acting engine is a remnant of engineering barbarism which must now be superseded by more compendious contrivances. The Cornish engines, though rudely manufactured, are very expensive in production, as a large engine does but little work; whereas by employing a smaller engine, moving with a high speed, the dimensions may be so far diminished that the most refined machinery may be obtained at less than the present cost.

434. Q.—Are not the Cornish engines more economical in fuel than other engines?

A.—It is a mistake to suppose that there is any peculiar virtue in the existing form of Cornish engine to make it economical in fuel, or that a less lethargic engine would necessarily be less efficient. The large duty of the engines in Cornwall is traceable to the large employment of the principle of expansion, and to a few other causes which may be made of quite as decisive efficacy in smaller engines working with a quicker speed; and there is therefore no argument in the performance of the present engines against the proposed substitution.


435. Q.—What species of paddle engine do you consider to be the best?

A.—The oscillating engine.

436. Q.—Will you explain the grounds of that preference?

A.—The engine occupies little space, consists of few parts, is easily accessible for repairs, and may be both light and strong at the same time. In the case of large engines the crank in the intermediate shaft is a disadvantage, as it is difficult to obtain such a forging quite sound. But by forging it in three cranked flat bars, which are then laid together and welded into a square shaft, a sound forging will be more probable, and the bars should be rounded a little on the sides which are welded to allow the scoriae to escape during that operation. It is important in so large a forging not to let the fire be too fierce, else the surface of the iron will be burnt before the heart is brought to a welding heat. In some cases in oscillating engines the air pump has been wrought by an eccentric, and that may at any time be done where doubt of obtaining a sound intermediate shaft is entertained; but the precaution must be taken to make the eccentric very wide so as to distribute the pressure over a large surface, else the eccentric will be apt to heat.

437. Q.—Have not objections been brought against the oscillating engine?

A.—In common with every other improvement, the oscillating engine, at the time of its introduction, encountered much opposition. The cylinder, it was said, would become oval, the trunnion bearings would be liable to heat and the trunnion joints to leak, the strain upon the trunnions would be apt to bend in or bend out the sides of the cylinder; and the circumstance of the cylinder being fixed across its centre, while the shaft requires to accommodate itself to the working of the ship, might, it was thought, be the occasion of such a strain upon the trunnions as would either break them or bend the piston rod. It is a sufficient reply to these objections to say that they are all hypothetical, and that none of them in practice have been found to exist—to such an extent at least as to occasion any inconvenience; but it is not difficult to show that they are altogether unsubstantial, even without a recourse to the disproofs afforded by experience.

438. Q.—Is there not a liability in the cylinder to become oval from the strain thrown on it by the piston?

A.—There is, no doubt, a tendency in oscillating engines for the cylinder and the stuffing box to become oval, but after a number of years' wear it is found that the amount of ellipticity is less than that which is found to exist in the cylinders of side lever engines after a similar trial. The resistance opposed by friction to the oscillation of the cylinder is so small, that a man is capable of moving a large cylinder with one hand; whereas in the side lever engine, if the parallel motion be in the least untrue, which is, at some time or other, an almost inevitable condition, the piston is pushed with great force against the side of the cylinder, whereby a large amount of wear and friction is occasioned. The trunnion bearings, instead of being liable to heat like other journals, are kept down to the temperature of the steam by the flow of steam passing through them; and the trunnion packings are not liable to leak when the packings, before being introduced, are squeezed in a cylindrical mould.

439. Q.—Might not the eduction trunnions be immersed in water?

A.—In some cases a hollow, or lantern brass, about one third or one fourth the length of the packing space, and supplied with steam or water by a pipe, is introduced in the middle of the packing, so that if there be any leakage through the trunnion, it will be a leakage of steam or water, which will not vitiate the vacuum; but in ordinary cases this device will not be necessary, and it is not commonly employed. It is clear that there can be no buckling of the sides of the cylinder by the strain upon the trunnions, if the cylinder be made strong enough, and in cylinders of the ordinary thickness such an action has never been experienced; nor is it the fact, that the intermediate shaft of steam vessels, to which part alone the motion is communicated by the engine, requires to adapt itself to the altering forms of the vessel, as the engine and intermediate shaft are rigidly connected, although the paddle shaft requires to be capable of such an adaptation. Even if this objection existed, however, it could easily be met by making the crank pin of the ball and socket fashion, which would permit the position of the intermediate shaft, relatively with that of the cylinder, to be slightly changed, without throwing an undue strain upon any of the working parts.

440. Q.—Is the trunk engine inferior to the oscillating?

A.—A very elegant and efficient arrangement of trunk engine suitable for paddle vessels has latterly been employed by Messrs. Rennie, of which all the parts resemble those of Penn's oscillating engine except that the cylinders are stationary instead of being movable; and a round trunk or pipe set upon the piston, and moving steam tight through the cylinder cover, enables the connecting rod which is fixed to the piston to vibrate within it to the requisite extent. But the vice of all trunk engines is that they are necessarily more wasteful of steam, as the large mass of metal entering into the composition of the trunk, moving as it does alternately into the atmosphere and the steam, must cool and condense a part of the steam. The radiation of heat from the interior of the trunk will have the same operation, though in vertical trunk engines the loss from this cause might probably be reduced by filling the trunk with oil, so far as this could be done without the oil being spilt over the edge.

441. Q.—What species of screw engine do you consider the best?

A.—I am inclined to give the preference to a variety of the horizontal steeple engine, such as was first used in H.M.S. Amphion. In this engine the cylinders lie on their sides, and they are placed near the side of the vessel with their mouths pointing to the keel. From each cylinder two long piston rods proceed across the vessel to a cross head working in guides; and from this cross head a connecting rod returns back to the centre of the vessel and gives motion to the crank. The piston rods are so placed in the piston that one of them passes above the crank shaft, and the other below the crank shaft. The cross head lies in the same horizontal plane as the centre of the cylinder, and a lug projects upwards from the cross head to engage one piston rod, and downwards from the cross head to engage the other piston rod. The air pump is double acting, and its piston or bucket has the same stroke as the piston of the engine. The air pump bucket derives its motion from an arm on the cross head, and a similar arm is usually employed in engines of this class to work the feed and bilge pumps.

442. Q.—Is not inconvenience experienced in direct acting screw engines from the great velocity of their motion?

A.—Not if they are properly constructed; but they require to be much stronger, to be fitted with more care, and to have the bearing surfaces much larger than is necessary in engines moving slowly. The momentum of the reciprocating parts should also be balanced by a weight applied to the crank or crank shaft, as is done in locomotives. A very convenient arrangement for obtaining surface is to form the crank of each engine of two cast iron discs cast with heavy sides, the excess of weight upon the heavy sides being nearly equal to that of the piston and its connections. When the piston is travelling in one direction the weights are travelling in the opposite; and the momentum of the piston and its attachments, which is arrested at each reciprocation, is just balanced by the equal and opposite momentum of the weights. One advantage of the horizontal engine is, that a single engine may be employed, whereby greater simplicity of the machinery and greater economy of fuel will be obtained, since there will be less radiating surface in one cylinder than in two.


443. Q.—Is it a beneficial practice to make cylinders with steam jackets?

A.—In Cornwall, where great attention is paid to economy of fuel, all the engines are made with steam jackets, and in some cases a flue winds spirally round the cylinder, for keeping the steam hot. Mr. Watt, in his early practice, discarded the steam jacket for a time, but resumed it again, as he found its discontinuance occasioned a perceptible waste of fuel; and in modern engines it has been found that where a jacket is used less coal is consumed than where the use of a jacket is rejected. The cause of this diminished effect is not of very easy perception, for the jacket exposes a larger radiating surface for the escape of the heat than the cylinder; nevertheless, the fact has been established beyond doubt by repeated trials, that engines provided with a jacket are more economical than engines without one. The exterior of the cylinder, or jacket, should be covered with several plies of felt, and then be cased in timber, which must be very narrow, the boards being first dried in a stove, and then bound round the cylinder with hoops, like the staves of a cask. In many of the Cornish engines the steam is let into casings formed in the cylinder cover and cylinder bottom, for the further economisation of the heat, and the cylinder stuffing box is made very deep, and a lantern or hollow brass is introduced into the centre of the packing, into which brass the steam gains admission by a pipe provided for the purpose; so that in the event of the packing becoming leaky, it will be steam that will be leaked into the cylinder instead of air, which, being incondensable, would impair the efficiency of the engine. A lantern brass, of a similar kind, is sometimes introduced into the stuffing boxes of oscillating engines, but its use there is to receive the lateral pressure of the piston rod, and thus take any strain off the packing.

444. Q.—Will you explain the proper course to pursue in the production of cylinders?

A.—In all engines the valve casing, if made in a separate piece from the cylinder, should be attached by means of a metallic joint, as such a barbarism as a rust joint in such situations is no longer permissible. In the case of large engines with valve casings suitable for long slides, an expansion joint in the valve casing should invariably be inserted, otherwise the steam, by gaining admission to the valve casing before it can enter the cylinder, expands the casing while the cylinder remains unaltered in its dimensions, and the joints are damaged, and in some cases the cylinder is cracked by the great strain thus introduced. The chest of the blow-through valve is very commonly cast upon the valve casing; and in engines where the cylinders are stationary this is the most convenient practice. All engines, where the valve is not of such a construction as to leave the face when a pressure exceeding that of the steam is created in the cylinder by priming or otherwise, should be provided with an escape valve to let out the water, and such valve should be so constructed that the water cannot fly out with violence over the attendants; but it should be conducted away by a suitable pipe, to a place where its discharge can occasion no inconvenience. The stuffing boxes of all engines which cannot be stopped frequently to be repacked, should be made very deep; metallic packing in the stuffing box has been used in some engines, consisting in most instances of one or more rings, cut, sprung, and slipped upon the piston rod before the cross head is put on, and packed with hemp behind. This species of packing answers very well when the parallel motion is true, and the piston rod free from scratches, and it accomplishes a material saving of tallow. In some cases a piece of sheet brass, packed behind with hemp, has been introduced with good effect, a flange being turned over on the under edge of the brass to prevent it from slipping up or down with the motion of the rod. The sheet brass speedily puts an excellent polish upon the rod, and such a packing is more easily kept, and requires less tallow than where hemp alone is employed. In side lever marine engines the attachments of the cylinder to the diagonal stay are generally made of too small an area, and the flanges are made too thick. A very thick flange cast on any part of a cylinder endangers the soundness of the cylinder, by inducing an unequal contraction of the metal; and it is a preferable course to make the flange for the attachment or the framing thin, and the surface large—the bolts being turned bolts and nicely fitted. If from malformation in this part the framing works to an inconvenient extent, the best expedient appears to be the introduction of a number of steel tapered bolts, the holes having been previously bored out; and if the flanges be thick enough, square keys may also be introduced, half into one flange and half into the other, so as to receive the strain. If the jaw cracks or breaks away, however, it will be best to apply a malleable iron hoop around the cylinder to take the strain, and this will in all cases be the preferable expedient, where from any peculiarities of structure there is a difficulty in introducing bolts and keys of sufficient strength.

445. Q.—Which is the most eligible species of piston?

A.—For large engines, pistons with a metallic packing, consisting of a single ring, with the ends morticed into one another, and a piece of metal let in flush over the joint and riveted to one end of the ring, appears to be the best species of piston; and if the cylinder be oscillating, it will be expedient to chamfer off the upper edge of the ring on the inner side, and to pack it at the back with hemp. If the cylinder be a stationary one, springs may be substituted for the hemp packing, but in any case it will be expedient to make the vertical joints of the ends of the ring run a little obliquely, so as to prevent the joint forming a ridge in the cylinder. For small pistons two rings may be employed, made somewhat eccentric internally to give a greater thickness of metal in the centre of the ring; these rings must be set one above the other in the cylinder, and the joints, which are oblique, must be set at right angles with one another, so as to obviate any disposition of the rings, in their expansion, to wear the cylinder oval. The rings must first be turned a little larger than the diameter of the cylinder, and a piece is then to be cut out, so that when the ends are brought together the ring will just enter within the cylinder. The ring, while retained in a state of compression, is then to be put in the lathe and turned very truly, and finally it is to be hammered on the inside with the small end of the hammer, to expand the metal, and thus increase the elasticity.

446. Q.—The rings should be carefully fitted to one another laterally?

A.—The rings are to be fitted laterally to the piston, and to one another, by scraping—a steady pin being fixed upon the flange of the piston, and fitting into a corresponding hole in the lower ring, to keep the lower ring from turning round; and a similar pin being fixed into the top edge of the lower ring to prevent the upper ring from turning round; but the holes into which these pins fit must be made oblong, to enable the rings to press outward as the rubbing surfaces wear. In most cases it will be expedient to press the packing rings out with springs where they are not packed behind with hemp, and the springs should be made very strong, as the prevailing fault of springs is their weakness. Sometimes short bent springs, set round at regular intervals between the packing rings and body of the piston, are employed, the centre of each spring being secured by a steady pin or bolt screwed into the side of the piston; but it will not signify much what kind of springs is used, provided they have sufficient tension. When pistons are made of a single ring, or of a succession of single rings, the strength of each ring should be tested previously to its introduction into the piston, by means of a lever loaded by a heavy weight.

447. Q.—What kind of piston is employed by Messrs. Penn?

A.—Messrs. Penn's piston for oscillating engines has a single packing ring, with a tongue piece, or mortice end, made in the manner already described. The ring is packed behind with hemp packing, and the piece of metal which covers the joint is a piece of thick sheet copper or brass, and is indented into the iron of the ring, so as to offer no obstruction to the application of the hemp. The ring is fitted to the piston only on the under edge; the top edge is rounded to a point from the inside, and the junk ring does not bear upon it, but the junk ring squeezes down the hemp packing between the packing ring and the body of the piston.

448. Q.—How should the piston rod be secured to the piston?

A.—The piston rod, where it fits into the piston, should have a good deal of taper; for if the taper be too small the rod will be drawn through the hole, and the piston will be split asunder. Small grooves are sometimes turned out of the piston rod above and below the cutter hole, and hemp is introduced in order to make the piston eye tight. Most piston rods are fixed to the piston by means of a gib and cutter, but in some cases the upper portion of the rod within the eye is screwed, and it is fixed into the piston by means of an indented nut. This nut is in some cases hexagonal, and in other cases the exterior forms a portion of a cone which completely fills a corresponding recess in the piston; but nuts made in this way become rusted into their seat after some time, and cannot be started again without much difficulty. Messrs. Miller, Ravenhill & Co. fix in their piston rods by means of an indented hexagonal nut, which may be started by means of an open box key. The thread of the screw is made flat upon the one side and much slanted on the other, whereby a greater strength is secured, without creating any disposition to split the nut. In side lever engines it is a judicious practice to add a nut to the top of the piston rod, in addition to the cutter for securing the piston rod to the cross head. In a good example of an engine thus provided, the piston rod is 7 in. in diameter, and the screw 5 in.; the part of the rod which fits into the cross head eye is 1 ft. 5-1/2 in. long, and tapers from 6-1/2 in. to 6-13/16 in. diameter. This proportion of taper is a good one; if the taper be less, or if a portion of the piston rod within the cross head eye be left untapered, as is sometimes the case, it is very difficult to detach the parts from one another.

449. Q.—Which is the most beneficial construction of slide valve?

A.—The best construction of slide valve appears to be that adopted by Messrs. Penn for their larger engines, and which consists of a three ported valve, to the back of which a ring is applied of an area equal to that of exhaustion port, and which, by bearing steam tight against the back of the casing, so that a vacuum may be maintained within the ring, puts the valve in equilibrium, so that it may be moved with an inconsiderable exercise of force. The back of the valve casing is put on like a door, and its internal surface is made very true by scraping. There is a hole through the valve so as to conduct away any steam which may enter within the ring by leakage, and the ring is kept tight against the back of the casing by means of a ring situated beneath the bearing ring, provided with four lugs, through which bolts pass tapped into bosses on the back of the valve; and, by unscrewing these bolts,—which may be done by means of a box key which passes through holes in the casing closed with screwed plugs,—the lower ring is raised upwards, carrying the bearing ring before it. The rings must obviously be fitted over a boss upon the back of the valve; and between the rings, which are of brass, a gasket ring is interposed to compensate by its compressibility for any irregularity of pressure, and each of the bolts is provided with a ratchet collar to prevent it from turning back, so that the engineer, in tightening these bolts, will have no difficulty in tightening them equally, if he counts the number of clicks made by the ratchet. Where this species of valve is used, it is indispensable that large escape valves be applied to the cylinder, as a valve on this construction is unable to leave the face. In locomotive engines, the valve universally employed is the common three ported valve.

450. Q.—Might not an equilibrium valve be so constructed by the interposition of springs, as to enable it to leave the cylinder face when an internal force is applied?

A.—That can no doubt be done, and in some engines has been done. In the screw steamer Azof, the valve is of the equilibrium construction, but the plate which carries the packing on which the top ring rests, is an octagon, and fits into an octagonal recess on the back of the valve. Below each side of the octagon there is a bent flat spring, which lifts up the octagonal plate, and with it the packing ring against the back of the valve casing; and should water get into the cylinder, it escapes by lifting the valve, which is rendered possible by the compressibility of the springs. An equivalent arrangement is shown in figs. 39 and 40, where the ring is lifted by spiral springs.

451. Q.—What species of valve is that shown in figs. 39 and 40?

A.—It is an equilibrium gridiron valve; so called because it lets the steam in and out by more than one port. A A are the ordinary steam passages to the top and bottom of the cylinder; B B is the ring which rubs against the back of the valve casing, and D is the eduction passage, S S S S shows the limits of the steam space, for the steam penetrates to the central chamber S S by the sides of the valve. When the valve is opened upon the steam side, the cylinder receives steam through both ports at that end of the cylinder, and both ports at the other end of the cylinder are at the same time open to the eduction. The benefit of this species of valve is, that it gives the same opening of the valve that is given in ordinary engines, with half the amount of travel; or if three ports were made instead of two, then it would give the same area of opening that is given in common engines with one third the amount of travel. For direct acting screw engines this species of valve is now extensively used.

452. Q.—Will you describe the configuration and mode of attachment of the eccentric by which the valve is moved?

A.—In marine engines, whether paddle or screw, if moving at a slow rate of speed, the eccentric is generally loose upon the shaft, for the purpose of backing, and is furnished with a back balance and catches, so that it may stand either in the position for going ahead, or in that for going astern. The body of the eccentric is of cast iron, and it is put on the shaft in two pieces. The halves are put together with rebated joints to keep them from separating laterally, and they are prevented from sliding out by round steel pins, each ground into both halves; square keys would probably be preferable to round pins in this arrangement, as the pins tend to wedge the jaws of the eccentric asunder. In some cases the halves of the eccentric are bolted together by means of flanges, which is, perhaps, the preferable practice. The eccentric hoop in marine and land engines is generally of brass; it is expedient to cast an oil cup on the eccentric hoop, and, where practicable, a pan should be placed beneath the eccentric for the reception of the oil droppings. The notch of the eccentric rod for the reception of the pin of the valve shaft is usually steeled, to prevent inconvenient wear; for when the sides of the notch wear, the valve movement is not only disturbed, but it is very difficult to throw the eccentric rod out of gear. It is found to be preferable, however, to fit this notch with a brass bush, for the wear is then less rapid, and it is an easy thing to replace this bush with another when it becomes worn. The eccentric catches of the kind usually employed in marine engines, sometimes break off at the first bolt hole, and it is preferable to have a bolt in advance of the catch face, or to have a hoop encircling the shaft with the catches welded on it, the hoop itself being fixed by bolts or a key. This hoop may either be put on before the cranks in one piece or afterwards in two pieces.

453. Q.—Are such eccentrics used in direct acting screw engines?

A.—No; direct acting screw engines are usually fitted with the link motion and two fixed eccentrics.


454. Q.—What are the details of the air pump?

A.—The air pump bucket and valves are all of brass in modern marine engines, and the chamber of the pump is lined with copper, or made wholly of brass, whereby a single boring suffices. When a copper lining is used, the pump is first bored out, and a bent sheet of copper is introduced, which is made accurately to fill the place, by hammering the copper on the inside. Air pump rods of Muntz's metal or copper are much used. Iron rods covered with brass are generally wasted away where the bottom cone fits into the bucket eye, and if the casing be at all porous, the water will insinuate itself between the casing and the rod and eat away the iron. If iron rods covered with brass be used, the brass casing should come some distance into the bucket eye; the cutter should be of brass, and a brass washer should cover the under side of the eye, so as to defend the end of the rod from the salt water. Rods of Muntz's metal are probably on the whole to be preferred. It is a good practice to put a nut on the top of the rod, to secure it more firmly in the cross head eye, where that plan can be conveniently adopted. The part of the rod which fits into the cross head eye should have more taper when made of copper or brass, than when made of iron; as, if the taper be small, the rod may get staved into the eye, whereby its detachment will be difficult.

455. Q.—What species of packing is used in air pumps?

A.—Metallic packing has in some instances been employed in air pump buckets, but its success has not been such as to lead to its further adoption. The packing commonly employed is hemp. A deep solid block of metal, however, without any packing, is often employed with a satisfactory result; but this block should have circular grooves cut round its edge to hold water. Where ordinary packing is employed, the bucket should always be made with a junk ring, whereby the packing may be easily screwed down at any time with facility. In slow moving engines the bucket valve is generally of the spindle or pot-lid kind, but butterfly valves are sometimes used. The foot and delivery valves are for the most part of the flap or hanging kind. These valves all make a considerable noise in working, and are objectionable in many ways. Valves on Belidor's construction, which is in effect that of a throttle valve hung off the centre, were some years ago proposed for the delivery and foot valves; and it appears probable that their operation would be more satisfactory than that of the valves usually employed.

456. Q.—Where is the delivery valve usually situated?

A.—Some delivery valve seats are bolted into the mouth of the air pump, whereby access to the pump bucket is rendered difficult: but more commonly the delivery valve is a flap valve exterior to the pump. If delivery valve seats be put in the mouth of the air pump at all, the best mode of fixing them appears to be that adopted by Messrs. Maudslay. The top of the pump barrel is made quite fair across, and upon this flat surface a plate containing the delivery valve is set, there being a small ledge all round to keep it steady. Between the bottom of the stuffing box of the pump cover and the eye of the valve seat a short pipe extends encircling the pump rod, its lower end checked into the eye of the valve seat, and its upper end widening out to form the bottom of the stuffing box of the pump cover. Upon the top of this pipe some screws press, which are accessible from the top of the stuffing box gland, and the packing also aids in keeping down the pipe, the function of which is to retain the valve seat in its place. When the pump bucket has to be examined the valve seat may be slung with the cover, so as to come up with the same purchase. For the bucket valves of such pumps Messrs. Maudslay employ two or more concentric ring valves with a small lift. These valves have given a good deal of trouble in some cases, in consequence of the frequent fracture of the bolts which guide and confine the rings; but this is only a fault of detail which is easily remedied, and the principle appears to be superior to that of any of the other metallic air pump valves at present in common use.

457. Q.—Are not air pump valves now very generally made of india rubber?

A.—They are almost invariably so made if the engines are travelling fast, as in the case of direct acting screw engines, and they are very often made of large discs or rings of india rubber, even when the engines travel slowly. A very usual and eligible arrangement for many purposes is that shown in fig. 41, where both foot and delivery valves are situated in the ends of the pump, and they, as well as the valve in the bucket are made of india rubber rings closing on a grating. The trunk in the air pump enables guide rods to be dispensed with.

458. Q.—The air pump, when double acting, has of course inlet and outlet valves at each end?

A.—Yes; and the general arrangement of the valves of double acting air pumps, such as are usual in direct acting screw engines, is that represented in the figure of Penn's trunk engine already described in Chapter I. Each inlet and outlet valve consists of a number of india rubber discs set over a perforated brass plate, and each disc is bound down by a bolt in the middle, which bolt also secures a brass guard set above the disc to prevent it from rising too high. The usual configuration of those valves is that represented in figs. 42, 43, and 44; figs. 42 and 43 being a section and ground plan of the species of valve used by Messrs. Penn, and fig. 44 being a section of that used by Messrs. Maudslay. It is important in these valves to have the india rubber thick,—say about an inch thick for valves eight inches in diameter. It is also advisable to make the central bolts with a nut above and a nut below, and to form the bolt with a counter sunk neck, so that it will not fall down when the top nut is removed. The lower point of the bolt should be riveted over on the nut to prevent it from unscrewing, and the top end should have a split pin through the point for the same purpose. The hole through which the bolt passes should be tapped, though the bolt is not screwed into it, so that if a bolt breaks, a temporary stud may be screwed into the hole without the necessity of taking out the whole plate. The guard should be large, else the disc may stretch in the central hole until it comes over it; but the guard should not permit too much lift of the valve, else a good deal of the water and air will return into the pump at the return stroke before the valve shuts. Penn's guard is rather small, and Maudslay's permits too much lift.

459. Q.—What is the proper area through the valve gratings?

A.—The collective area should be at least equal to the area of the pump piston, and the lower edges of the perforations should be rounded off to afford more free ingress or egress to the water.

460. Q.—Is there much strain thrown on the plates in which the valves are set?

A.—A good deal of strain; and in the earlier direct acting screw engines these plates were nearly in every case made too light. They should be made thick, have strong feathers upon them, and be very securely bolted down with split pins at the points of the bolts, to prevent them from unscrewing. The plate will be very apt to be broken should some of the bolts become loose. Of course all the bolts and split pins, as well as the plates and guards, must be of brass.

461. Q.—How are the plates to be taken out should that become necessary?

A.—They are usually taken out through a door in the top of the hot well provided for that purpose, which door should be as large as the plates themselves; and it is a good precaution to cast upon this door—which will be of cast iron—six or eight stout projecting feet which will press upon the top of the outlet or delivery valve plate when the door is screwed down. The upper or delivery valve plate and the lower or foot valve plate should have similar feet. A large part of the strain will thus be transferred from the plates to the door, which can easily be made strong enough to sustain it. It is advisable that the plates should lie at an angle so that the shock of the water may not come upon the whole surface at once.

462. Q.—Does the double acting air pump usual in direct acting screw engines, produce as good a vacuum as the single acting air pump usual in paddle engines?

A.—It will do so if properly constructed; but I do not know of any case of a double acting air pump, with india rubber valves, which has been properly constructed.

463. Q.—What is the fault of such pumps?

A.—The pump frequently works by starts, as if at times it did not draw at all, and then again on a sudden gorged itself with water, so as to throw a great strain upon the working parts. The vacuum, moreover, is by no means so good as it should be, and it is a universal vice of direct acting screw engines that the vacuum is defective. I have been at some pains to investigate the causes of this imperfection; and in a sugar house engine fitted with pumps like those of a direct acting screw engine to maintain a vacuum in the pans, I found that a better vacuum was produced when the engine was going slowly than when it was going fast; which is quite the reverse of what was to have been expected, as the hot water which had to be removed by the condensation of the steam proceeding from the pan, was a constant quantity. In this engine, too, which was a high pressure one, the irregularities of the engine consequent upon the fitful catching of the water by the pump, was more conspicuous, as the working of this vacuum pump was the only work that the engine had to perform.

464. Q.—And were you able to discover the cause of these irregularities?

A.—The main cause of them I found to be the largeness of the space left between the valve plates in this class of pumps, and out of which there is nothing to press the air or water which may be lying there. It consequently happens, that if there be the slightest leakage of air into the pump, this air is merely compressed, and not expelled, by the advance of the air pump piston. It expands again to its former bulk on the return of the pump piston, and prevents the water from entering until there is such an accumulation of pressure in the condenser as forces the water into the pump, when the air being expelled by the water, causes a good vacuum to be momentarily formed in the pump when it gorges itself by taking a sudden gulp of water. So soon, however, as the pressure falls in the condenser and some more air leaks into the pump, the former imperfect action recurs and is again redressed in the same violent manner.

465. Q.—Is this irregular action of the pump the cause of the imperfect vacuum?

A.—It is one cause. Sometimes one end of the pump will alone draw and the other end will be inoperative, although it is equally open to the condenser, and this will chiefly take place at the stuffing box end, where a leakage of air is more likely to occur. I find, however, that even when both ends of the pump are acting equally and there is no leakage of air at all, the vacuum maintained by a double acting horizontal pump with india rubber valves, is not so good as that maintained by a single acting pump of the kind usual in old engines.

466. Q.—Will you specify more precisely what were the results you obtained?

A.—When the vacuum pan was exhausted by the pumps without any boiling being carried on in the pan, but only a little cold water being let into it, and also into the pumps to enable them to act in their best manner, it was found that whereas with the old pump a vacuum of 114 on the sugar boiler's gauge could be readily obtained, equal to about 29-1/2 inches of mercury, the lowest that could possibly be got with the new horizontal pump was 122 degrees of the sugar boiler's gauge, or 29 inches of mercury, and to get that the engine must not go faster than 10 or 12 strokes per minute. The proper speed of the engine was 75 strokes per minute, but if allowed to go at that speed the vacuum fell to 130 of the sugar maker's gauge, or 28-1/2 inches of mercury. When the steam was let into the worms of the pan so as to boil the water in it, the vacuum was 134 at 75 revolutions of the engine, and went down to 132 at 40 revolutions, but rose again to 135, equal to about 28-1/4 inches of mercury, at 20 revolutions.

467. Q.—To what do you attribute the circumstance of a better vacuum being got at low speeds than at high speeds?

A.—It is difficult to assign the precise reason, but it appears to be a consequence of the largeness of the vacant space between the valve plates. When the piston of the air pump is drawn back, the air contained in this large collection of water will cause it to boil up like soda water; and when the piston of the pump is forced forward, this air, instead of being expelled, will be again driven into the water. There will consequently be a quantity of air in the pump which cannot be got rid of at all, and which will impair the vacuum as a matter of course.

468. Q.—What expedient did you adopt to improve the vacuum in the engine to which you have referred?

A.—I put blocks of wood on the air pump piston, which at the end of its stroke projected between the valve plates and forced the water out. I also introduced a cock of water at each end of the pump between the valve plates, to insure the presence of water at each end of the pump to force the air out. With these ameliorations the pump worked steadily, and the vacuum obtained became as good as in the old pump. I had previously introduced an injection cock into each end of the air pump in steam vessels, from which I had obtained advantageous results; and in all horizontal air pumps I would recommend the piston and valve plates to be so constructed that the whole of the water will be expressed by the piston. I would also recommend an injection cock to be introduced at each end of the pump.


469. Q.—Will you explain the arrangement of the feed pump?

A.—In steam vessels, the feed pump plunger is generally of brass, and the barrel of the pump is sometimes of brass, but generally of cast iron. There should be a considerable clearance between the bottom of the plunger and the bottom of the barrel, as otherwise the bottom of the barrel may be knocked out, should coal dust or any other foreign substance gain admission, as it probably would do if the injection water were drawn at any time from the bilge of the vessel, as is usually done if the vessel springs a leak. The valves of the feed pump in marine engines are generally of the spindle kind, and are most conveniently arranged in a chest, which may be attached in any accessible position to the side of the hot well. There are two nozzles upon this chest, of which the lower one leads to the pump, and the upper one to the boiler. The pipe leading to the pump is a suction pipe when the plunger ascends, and a forcing pipe when the plunger descends. The plunger in ascending draws the water out of the hot well through the lowest of the valves, and in descending forces it through the centre valve into the space above it, which communicates with the feed pipe. Should the feed cock be shut so as to prevent any feed water from passing through it, the water will raise the topmost valve, which is loaded to a pressure considerably above the pressure of the steam, and escape into the hot well. This arrangement is neater and less expensive than that of having a separate loaded valve on the feed pipe with an overflow through the ship's side, as is the more usual practice.

470. Q.—Will you describe what precautions are to be observed in the construction of the cocks used in engines?

A.—All the cocks about an engine should be provided with bottoms and stuffing boxes, and reliance should never be placed upon a single bolt passing through a bottom washer for keeping the plug in its place, in the case of any cock communicating with the boiler; for a great strain is thrown upon that bolt if the pressure of the steam be high, and if the plug be made with much taper; and should the bolt break, or the threads strip, the plug will fly out, and persons standing near may be scalded to death. In large cocks, it appears the preferable plan to cast the bottoms in; and the metal of which all the cocks about a marine engine are made, should be of the same quality as that used in the composition of the brasses, and should be without lead, or other deteriorating material. In some cases the bottoms of cocks are burnt in with hard solder, but this method cannot be depended upon, as the solder is softened and wasted away by the hot salt water, and in time the bottom leaks, or is forced out. The stuffing box of cocks should be made of adequate depth, and the gland should be secured by means of four strong copper bolts. The taper of blow-off cocks is an important element in their construction; as, if the taper be too great, the plugs will have a continual tendency to rise, which, if the packing be slack, will enable grit to get between the faces, while, if the taper be too little, the plug will be liable to jam, and a few times grinding will sink it so far through the shell that the waterways will no longer correspond. One eighth of an inch deviation from the perpendicular for every inch in height, is a common angle for the side of the cock, which corresponds with one quarter of an inch difference of diameter in an inch of height; but perhaps a somewhat greater taper than this, or one third of an inch difference in diameter for every inch of height, is a preferable proportion. The bottom of the plug must be always kept a small distance above the bottom of the shell, and an adequate surface must be left above and below the waterway to prevent leakage. Cocks formed according to these directions will be found to operate satisfactorily in practice, while they will occasion perpetual trouble if there be any malformation.

471. Q.—What is the best arrangement and configuration of the blow-off cocks?

A.—The blow-off cocks of a boiler are generally placed some distance from the boiler; but it appears preferable that they should be placed quite close to it, as there are no means of shutting off the water from the pipe between the blow-off cock and the boiler, should fracture or leakage there arise. Every boiler must be furnished with a blow-off cock of its own, independently of the main blow-off cocks on the ship's sides, so that the boilers may be blown off separately, and may be shut off from one another. The preferable arrangement appears to be, to cast upon each blow-off cock a bend for attaching the cock to the bottom of the boiler, and the plug should stand about an inch in advance of the front of the boiler, so that it may be removed, or re-ground, with facility. The general arrangement of the blow-off pipes is to run a main blow-off pipe beneath the floor plates, across the ship, at the end of the engines, and into this pipe to lead a separate pipe, furnished with a cock, from each boiler. The main blow-off pipe, where it penetrates the ship's side, is furnished with a cock: and in modern steam vessels Kingston's valves are also used, which consist of a spindle or plate valve, fitted to the exterior of the ship, so that if the internal pipe or cock breaks, the external valve will still be operative. Some expedient of this kind is almost necessary, as the blow-off cocks require occasional regrinding, and the sea cocks cannot be re-ground without putting the vessel into dock, except by the use of Kingston's valves, or some equivalent expedient.

472. Q.—What is the proper construction and situation of the injection cocks, and waste water valves?

A.—The sea injection cocks are usually made in the same fashion as the sea blow-off cocks, and of about the same size, or rather larger. The injection water is generally admitted to the condenser by means of a slide valve, but a cock appears to be preferable, as it is more easily opened, and has not any disposition to shut of its own accord. In paddle vessels the sea injection pipes should be put through the ship's sides in advance of the paddles, so that the water drawn in may not be injuriously charged with air. The waste water pipe passing from the hot well through the vessel's side is provided with a stop valve, called the discharge valve, which is usually made of the spindle kind, so as to open when the water coming from the air pump presses against it. In some cases this valve is a sluice valve, but the hot well is then almost sure to be split, if the engine be set on without the valve having been opened. The opening of the waste water pipe should always be above the load water line, as it will otherwise be difficult to prevent leakage through the engine into the ship when the vessel is lying in harbor.

473. Q.—What is the best arrangement of gauge cocks and glass gauges?

A.—Gauge cocks are generally very inartificially made, and occasion needless annoyance. They are rarely made with bottoms, or with stuffing boxes, and are consequently, for the most part, adorned with stalactites of salt after a short period of service. The water discharged from them, too, from the want of a proper conduit, disfigures the front of the boiler, and adds to the corrosion in the ash pits. It would be preferable to combine the gauge cocks appertaining to each boiler into a single upright tube, connected suitably with the boiler, and the water flowing from them could be directed downward into a funnel tube communicating with the bilge. The cocks of the glass tubes, as well as of the gauge cocks, should be furnished with stuffing boxes and with bottoms, unless the water enters through the bottom of the plug, which in gauge cocks is sometimes the case. The glass gauge tubes should always be fitted with a cock at each neck communicating with the boiler, so that the water and steam may be shut off if the tube breaks; and the cocks should be so made as to admit of the tubes being blown through with steam to clear them, as in muddy water they will become so soiled that the water cannot be seen. The gauge cocks frequently have pipes running up within the boiler, to the end that a high water level may be made consistent with an easily accessible position of the gauge cocks themselves. With the glass tubes, however, this species of arrangement is not possible, and the glass tubes must always be placed in the position of the water level.

474. Q.—What is the proper material of the pipes in steam vessels?

A.—Most of the pipes of marine engines should be made of copper. The steam pipes may be of cast iron, if made very strong, but the waste water pipes should be of copper. Cast iron blow-off pipes have in some cases been employed, but they are liable to fracture, and are dangerous. The blow-off and feed pipes should be of copper, but the waste steam pipe may be of galvanized iron. Every pipe passing through the ship's side, and every pipe fixed at both ends, and liable to be heated and cooled, should be furnished with a faucet or expansive joint; and in the case of the cast iron pipes, the part of the pipe fitting into the faucet should be turned. In the distribution of the faucets of the pipes exposed to pressure, care must be taken that they be so placed that the parts of the pipe cannot be forced asunder, or turned round by the strain, as serious accidents have occurred from the neglect of this precaution.

475. Q.—What is the best mode of making pipes tight where they penetrate the ship's side?

A.—In wooden vessels the pipes where they pierce the ship's side, should be made tight, as follows:—the hole being cut, a short piece of lead pipe, with a broad flange at one end, should be fitted into it, the place having been previously smeared with white lead, and the pipe should then be beaten on the inside, until it comes into close contact all around with the wood. A loose flange should next be slipped over the projecting end of the lead pipe, to which it should be soldered, and the flanges should both be nailed to the timber with scupper nails, white lead having been previously spread underneath. This method of procedure, it is clear, prevents the possibility of leakage down through the timbers; and all, therefore, that has to be guarded against after this precaution, is to prevent leakage into the ship. To accomplish this object, let the pipe which it is desired to attach be put through the leaden hause, and let the space between the pipe and the lead be packed with gasket and white lead, to which a little olive oil has been added. The pipe must have a flange upon it to close the hole in the ship's side; the packing must then be driven in from the outside, and be kept in by means of a gland secured with bolts passing through the ship's side. If the pipe is below the water line the gland must be of brass, but for the waste water pipe a cast iron gland will answer. This method of securing pipes penetrating the side, however, though the best for wooden vessels, will, it is clear, fail to apply to iron ones. In the case of iron vessels, it appears to be the best practice to attach a short iron nozzle, projecting inward from the skin, for the attachment of every pipe below the water line, as the copper or brass would waste the iron of the skin if the attachment were made in the usual way.


476. Q.—What is the best method of fixing the screw upon the shaft?

A.—The best way is to cut two large grooves in the shaft coming up to a square end, and two corresponding grooves or key seats in the screw boss opposite the arms. Fit into the grooves on the shaft keys with heads, the length of which is equal to half the depth of the boss, and with the ends of the keys bearing against the ends of the grooves in the shaft. Then ship on the propeller, and drive other keys of an equal length from the other side of the boss, so that the points of the keys will nearly meet in the middle; next burr up the edge of the grooves upon the heads of the keys, to prevent them from working back; and finally tap a bolt into the side of the boss to penetrate the shaft. Propellers so fitted will never get slack.

477. Q.—What is the best way of fitting in the screw pipe at the stern?

A.—It should have projecting rings, which should be turned; and cast iron pieces with holes in them, bored out to the sizes of these rings, should be secured to the stern frames, and the pipe be then shipped through all. Before this is done, however, the stern post must be bored out by a template to fit the pipe, and the pipe is to be secured at the end to the stern post either by a great external nut of cast iron, or by bolts passing through the stern post and through lugs on the pipe. The pipe should be bored throughout its entire length, and the shaft should be turned so as to afford a very long bearing which will prevent rapid wear.

478. Q.—How is the hole formed in the deadwood of the ship in which the screw works?

A.—A great frame of malleable iron, the size of the hole, is first set up, and the plating of the ship is brought to the edge of this hole, and is riveted through the frame. It is important to secure this frame very firmly to the rest of the ship, with which view it is advisable to form a great palm, like the palm of a vice, on its inner superior corner, which, projecting into the ship, may be secured by breast-hook plates to the sides, whereby the strain which the screw causes will be distributed over the stern, instead of being concentrated on the rivets of the frame.

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