On Laboratory Arts
by Richard Threlfall
Previous Part     1  2  3  4  5  6     Next Part
Home - Random Browse

If a sharp bend is required, heat the tube in the blow-pipe, and bend it rapidly, blowing out the glass meanwhile. The reason why a long bend should be held in a vertical plane is that the hot part tends to droop out of the plane of the bend if the latter be made in a horizontal position. To bend a tube above half an inch in diameter is a more or less difficult operation, and one which increases in difficulty as the diameter of the tube increases.

A U-tube, for instance, may be made as follows: Use the four blow-pipe arrangement so as to heat a fair length of tube, and get, say, two inches of tube very hot—almost fluid, in fact—by means of the carbon block supported from a stand. Remove the tube rapidly from the flame and draw the hot part out to, say, three inches. Then, holding the tube so as to make the bend in a vertical plane, bend it and blow it out together to its proper size.

This operation seems to present no difficulties to experienced glass-workers, even with tubes of about one inch in diameter, but to the amateur it is very difficult. I always look on a large U-tube with feelings of envy and admiration, which the complex trick work of an elaborate vacuum tube does not excite in the least. It will be noted that this method may, and often does, involve a preliminary thickening of the glass.

With tubes over an inch in diameter I have no idea as to what is the best mode of procedure—whether, for instance, a quantity of sand or gas coke might not be used to stuff out the tube during bending, but in this case there would be the difficulty of removing the fragments, which would be sure to stick to the glass.

Of course, if the bend need not be short, the tube could be softened in a tube furnace and bent in a kind of way. I must admit that with tubes of even less than one inch in diameter I have generally managed best by proceeding little by little. I heat as much of the glass as I can by means of a gigantic blow-pipe, having a nozzle of about an inch in diameter, and driven by a machine-blower.

When I find that, in spite of blowing, the tube begins to collapse, I suspend operations, reheat the tube a little farther on, and so proceed. If by any chance any reader knows a good laboratory method of performing this operation, I hope he will communicate it to me. After all, the difficulty chiefly arises from laboratory heating appliances being as a rule too limited in scope for such work.

The bending of very thin tubes also is a difficulty. I have only succeeded here by making very wide bends, but of course the blowing method is quite applicable to this case, and the effect may be obtained by welding in a rather thicker bit of tube, and drawing and blowing it till it is of the necessary thinness. This is, however, a mere evasion of the difficulty.

Sec. 36. Spiral Tubes.

These are easily made where good heating apparatus is available. As, however, one constantly requires to bend tubes of about one-eighth inch in diameter into spirals in order to make spring connections for continuous glass apparatus, I will describe a method by which this is easily done. Provide a bit of iron pipe about an inch and a quarter in outside diameter. Cover this with a thick sheath of asbestos cloth, and sew the edges with iron wire. Hammer the wire down so that a good cylindrical surface is obtained. Make two wooden plugs for the ends of the iron pipe. Bore one to fit a nail, which may be held in a small retort clip, and fasten a stout wire crank handle into the other one. Support the neck of the handle by means of a second clip. In this way we easily get a sort of windlass quite strong enough for our purpose.

Fig. 35.

Provide a large blow-pipe, such as the blow-pipe of a Fletcher crucible furnace, Select a length of tubing and clean it. Lash one end to the cylinder by means of a bit of wire, and hold the other end out nearly horizontally. Then start the blow-pipe to play on the tube just where it runs on to the asbestos cylinder, and at first right up to the lashing. Get an attendant to assist in turning the handle of the windlass, always keeping his eye on the tube, and never turning so fast as to tilt the tube upwards. By means of the blow-pipe, which may be moved round the tubing, heat the latter continuously as it is drawn through the flame, and lay it on the cylinder in even spirals.

If the tubing is thin, a good deal of care will have to be exercised in order to prevent a collapse. A better arrangement, which, however, I have not yet tried, would, I think, be to replace the blow-pipe by two bats-wing burners, permanently fastened to a stand, one of them playing its flame downwards on to the top of the flame of the other. The angle between the directions of the jets might be, say, 130 deg., or whatever is found convenient. In this way the glass would not be so likely to get overheated in spots, and better work would doubtless result. However, I have made numbers of perfectly satisfactory spirals as described. Three or four turns only make a sufficiently springy connection for nearly all purposes.

Sec. 37. On Auxiliary Operations on Glass:-

Boring Holes through Glass:- This is much more easily done than is generally supposed. The best mode of procedure depends on the circumstances. The following three cases will be considered:-

1. Boring holes up to one-quarter inch diameter through thick glass (say over one-eighth inch), or rather larger holes through thin glass.

2. Boring holes of any size through thick glass.

3. Boring round holes through ordinary window glass.

Sec. 38. Boring small Holes.

Take a three-cornered file of appropriate dimensions, and snip the point off by means of a hammer; grind out most of the file marks to get sharp corners. Dip the file in kerosene, and have plenty of kerosene at hand in a small pot. Place the broken end of the file against the glass, and with considerable pressure begin to rotate it (the file) backwards and forwards with the fingers, very much as one would operate a bradawl against a hard piece of wood. The surface of the glass will shortly be ground away, and then the file bradawl will make much quicker progress than might be expected. Two or three minutes should suffice to bore a bit of sheet window-glass.

The following points require attention:

(1) Use any quantity of oil.

(2) After getting through the skin reduce the pressure on the file.

(3) Be sure to turn the file backwards and forwards through a complete revolution at least.

(4) When the hole is nearly through reduce the pressure.

(5) When the hole is through the glass be exceedingly careful not to force the file through too rapidly, otherwise it will simply act as a wedge and cause a complete fracture.

(6) In many cases it is better to harden the file in mercury before commencing operations; both files and glass differ so much in hardness that this point can only be decided by a trial. If it is found necessary to harden the file, use either a large blow-pipe and a coke or charcoal bed, or else a small forge. A small blowpipe, such as is generally found in laboratories, does more harm than good, either by burning the end of the file or raising it to an insufficient temperature.

(7) To sharpen the file, which is often necessary after passing through the "skin" of the glass, put it in a vice so that the point just protrudes clear of the jaws. Then, using a bit of waste iron as an intermediary anvil or punch, knock off the least bit from the point, so as to expose a fresh natural surface. The same result may be brought about by the use of a pair of pliers.

If several holes have to be bored, it is convenient to mount the file in the lathe and use a bit of flat hard wood to press up the glass by means of the back rest. A drilling machine, if not too heavy, does very well, and has the advantage of allowing the glass to remain horizontal so that plenty of oil can be kept in the hole.

Use a very slow speed in either case—much slower than would be used for drilling wrought iron. It is essential that the lubricant should flow on to the end of the file very freely, either from a pipette or from the regular oil-feed. If a little chipping where the file pierces the back surface is inadmissible, it is better, on the whole, to finish the bore by hand, using a very taper file. It is not necessary to use a special file for the lathe, for a well-handled file can be chucked very conveniently in a three-jaw chuck by means of the handle.

Mr. Shenstone recommends a lubricant composed of camphor dissolved in turpentine for general purposes. With the object of obtaining some decisive information as to the use of this lubricant, and to settle other points, I made the following experiments. Using an old three-cornered French file, I chipped off the point and adjusted the handle carefully. I also ground out the file marks near the point, without hardening the file in mercury. Using kerosene and turpentine and camphor, I began to bore holes in a hard bit of 3/32 inch window glass.

Each hole was bored to about one-eighth inch in diameter in four minutes with either lubricant. After hardening the file in mercury and using kerosene, I also required four minutes per hole. After mounting the file in a lathe which had been speeded to turn up brass rods of about one-half-inch diameter, and therefore ran too fast, I required one and a half minutes per hole, and bored them right through, using kerosene. On the whole, I think kerosene does as well as anything, and for filing is, I think, better than the camphor solution. However, I ought to say that the camphor-turpentine compound has probably a good deal to recommend it, for it has survived from long ago. My assistant tells me he has seen his grandfather use it when filing glass.

I beg to acknowledge my indebtedness to Mr. Pye, of the Cambridge Scientific Instrument Company, for showing me in 1886 (by the courtesy of the Company) the file method of glass-boring; it is also described by Faraday in Chemical Manipulation, 1228.

It is not necessary, however, to use a file at all, for the twist drills made by the Morse Drill Company are quite hard enough in their natural state to bore glass. The circumferential speed of the drill should not much exceed 10 feet per minute. In this way the author has bored holes through glass an inch thick without any trouble except that of keeping the lubricant sufficiently supplied. For boring very small holes watchmaker's drills may be used perfectly well, especially those tempered for boring hardened steel. The only difficulty is in obtaining a sufficient supply of the lubricant, and to secure this the drill must be frequently withdrawn.

My reason for describing the file method at such length is to be found in the fact that a Morse drill requires to be sharpened after drilling glass before it can be used in the ordinary way, and this is often a difficulty.

I ought to say that I have never succeeded in boring the barrel of a glass tap by either of these methods. [Footnote: I have been lately informed that it is usual to employ a splinter of diamond set in a steel wire holder both for tap boring and for drilling earthenware for riveting. The diamond must, of course, be set so as to give sufficient clearance for the wire holder.

For methods of using and setting diamond tools see Sec. 55. It will suffice to say here that a steel wire is softened and filed at one end so as to form a fork; into this the diamond is set by squeezing with pliers. The diamond is arranged so as to present a point in the axis of the wire, and must not project on one side of the wire more than on the other. It is not always easy to get a fragment satisfying these conditions, and at the same time suitable for mounting. A drop of solder occasionally assists the process of setting the diamond.

In drilling, the diamond must be held against the work by a constant force, applied either by means of weight or a spring. I made many trials by this method, using a watchmaker's lathe and pressing up the work by a weight and string, which passed over a pulley. I used about 40 ounces, and drilled a hole 3/32 in diameter in flint glass at a speed of 900 revolutions per minute to a depth of one-eighth of an inch in eight minutes. I used soap and water as a lubricant, and the work was satisfactory.

Since this was set up, I have been informed by Mr. Hicks of Hatton Garden that it is necessary to anneal glass rod by heating it up to the softening point and allowing it to cool very slowly under red-hot sand or asbestos before boring. If this be done, no trouble will be experienced. The annealing must be perfect.]

Sec. 39. For boring large holes through thick glass sheets, or, indeed, through anything where it is necessary to make sure that no accident can happen, or where great precision of position and form of hole is required, I find a boring tube mounted as shown in the picture (Fig. 36) is of great service. Brass or iron tube borers do perfectly well, and the end of the spindle may be provided once for all with a small tube chuck, or the tubes may be separately mounted as shown. A fairly high speed is desirable, and may be obtained either by foot, or, if power is available, is readily got by connecting to the speed cone of a lathe, which is presumably permanently belted to the motor.

Fig. 36.

After trying tubes armed with diamond dust, as will be presently explained, I find that emery and thin oil or turpentine, if liberally supplied below the glass, will do very nearly as well. The tube should be allowed to rise from the work every few seconds, so as to allow of fresh emery and oil being carried into the circular grooves. This is done by lifting the hinged upper bearing, the drill being lifted by a spiral spring between the pulley and the lower bearing shown at B. The glass may be conveniently supported on a few sheets of paper if flat, or held firm in position by wooden clamps if of any other shape. In any case it should be firmly held down and should be well supported. Any desired pressure upon the drill is obtained by weighting the hinged board A.

Sec. 40. The following method was shown to me by Mr. Wimshurst, but I have not had occasion to employ it myself. It is suitable for boring large holes through such glass as the plates of Mr. Wimshurst's Influence machines are usually made of. A diamond is mounted as the "pencil" of a compass, and with this a circle is drawn on the glass in the desired position. The other leg of the compass of course rests on a suitable washer.

To the best of my recollection the further procedure was as follows. A piece of steel rod about one-eighth inch in diameter was ground off flat and mounted in a vice vertically, so as to cause its plane end to form a small horizontal anvil. The centre (approximately) of the diamond-cut circle of the glass was laid on this anvil so as to rest evenly upon it, and the upper surface (i.e. that containing the cut) was then struck smartly with a hammer, completely pulverising the glass above the anvil. The hole was gradually extended in a similar manner right up to the diamond cut, from which, of course, the glass broke away.

A similar method has long been known to glaziers, differing from the preceding in that a series of diamond cuts are run across the circle parallel to two mutually perpendicular diameters. A smart tap on the back of the scored disc will generally cause the fragments to tumble out. I have never tried this myself, but I have seen it done.

Large discs may easily be cut from sheet glass by drawing a circular diamond cut, and gradually breaking away the outer parts by the aid of additional cuts and a pair of pliers or "shanks" (see Fig. 44).

Sec. 41. Operations depending on Grinding: Ground-in Joints.

The process will be perfectly understood by reference to a simple case. Suppose it is desired to grind the end of a tube into the neck of a bottle. If a stoppered bottle is available, the stopper must be taken out and measured as to its diameter at the top and bottom. Select a bit of tube as nearly as possible of the same diameter as the stopper at its thickest part. Draw down the glass in the blow-pipe flame rather by allowing it to sink than by pulling it out. After a few trials no difficulty will be experienced in making its taper nearly equal to that of the stopper, though there will in all probability be several ridges and inequalities. When this stage is reached anneal the work carefully and see that the glass is not too thin. Afterwards use emery and water, and grind the stopper into the bottle.

There are six special directions to be note

(1 )Turn the stopper through at least one revolution in each direction.

(2) Lift it out often so as to give the fresh emery a chance of getting into the joint.

(3) Rotate the bottle as well as the stopper in case there is any irregularity in the force brought to bear, which might cause one side of the neck to be more ground than another, or would cause the tube to set rather to one side or the other.

(4) Use emery passing a 50 sieve, i.e. a sieve with fifty threads to the inch run (see Sec. 144) to begin with, and when the stopper nearly fits, wash this thoroughly away, and finish with flour emery, previously washed to get rid of particles of excessive size; the process of washing will be fully discussed in the chapter on glass-grinding, which see.

(5) Any degree of fineness of surface may be obtained by using graded emery, as will be explained, but, in general, it is unnecessary to attempt a finer surface than can be got with washed flour emery. A superficial and imperfect polish may be given by grinding for a short time with powdered pumice stone.

(6) If the proper taper is not attained by blowing, or if ridges are left on the tapered part, the process may be both hastened and improved by giving the taper a preliminary filing with a three-cornered file and kerosene, just as one would proceed with iron or brass. A little filing will often save a good deal of grinding and make a better job.

If a bottle without a tapered neck is to be employed, it is as well to do the preliminary grinding by means of a cone turned up from a bit of cast iron. This is put in the lathe and pushed into the mouth of the bottle, the latter being supported by the hands. Use about the same surface speed as would be employed for turning cast iron. In this case the emery is better used with kerosene.

If a cylindrical bit of cast iron about an inch in diameter is turned down conically nearly to a point, it will save a good deal of trouble in making separate cones. If it gets ground into rings, and it becomes necessary to turn it up, use a diamond tool until the skin is thoroughly removed; the embedded emery merely grinds the edge off any ordinary steel tool.

For diamond tools see Sec. 55.

Sec. 42. Use of the Lathe in Glass-working.

If it is necessary to remove a good deal of glass, time may be saved by actually turning the glass in a lathe. According to the direction given above for grinding a tube into the neck of a bottle, very little glass need be removed if the drawing down is well done, so that for this purpose turning is often unnecessary.

If the taper of the stopper be small and it is permissible to use a thick tube, or if a solid stopper only has to be provided, or an old stopper quickly altered to a new form, turning is very useful. The glass may be "chucked" in any suitable manner, and run at a speed not exceeding 10 feet per minute. Prepare a three-cornered file by mercury-hardening and by grinding the end flat so as to form a cutting angle of about 80 deg., and use a moderate amount of kerosene lubrication, i.e. enough to keep the glass damp, but even this is not essential. Use the file as an ordinary brass turning tool, and press much more lightly than for metal turning. The glass will be found to scrape off quite pleasantly.

By chucking glass tubes on wooden mandrells the ends may be nicely turned in this manner ready for accurate closing by glass plates.

The process of grinding also is made much more rapid—at all events in the earlier stages—by chucking either the stopper or the bottle and holding the other member in the fingers, or in a wooden vice held in the hands. The finishing touches are best given by hand.

I ought to say that I think a good deal of glass-grinding, as practised in laboratories, might be advantageously replaced by glass turning or filing and certainly will be by any one who will give these methods a trial.

If one tube is to be ground into another, as in grinding a retort into a receiver, the latter must be drawn down from a larger piece, few beginners being able to widen a tube by the method explained with sufficient ease and certainty. The other operations are similar to the operations above described.

Sec. 43. Funnels often require to be ground to an angle of 60 deg.. For this purpose it is well to keep a cast-iron cone, tapering from nothing up to four inches in diameter. This may be mounted on a lathe, and will be found of great use for grinding out the inside of funnels. Care must be taken to work the funnel backwards and forwards, or it will tend to grind so as to form rings, which interfere with filtering. A rough polish may be given on the lines explained in the next section.

Sec. 44. A rough polish may be easily given to a surface which has been finished by washed flour emery, in the following manner. Turn up a disc of soft wood on the lathe, and run it at the highest wood-turning speed. Rub into the periphery a paste of sifted powdered pumice stone and water.

Any fairly smooth ground glass surface may be more or less polished by holding it for a moment against the revolving disc. Exact means of polishing will be described later on. Meanwhile this simple method will be found both quick and convenient, and is often quite sufficient where transparency, rather than figure, is required. I daresay a fine polish may be got on the same lines, using putty powder or washed rouge (not jewellers' rouge, which is too soft, but glass-polishers' rouge) to follow the pumice powder, but I have not required to try this.

Sec. 45. It is sometimes required to give to ground glass surfaces a temporary transparency. This is to be done by using a film of oil of the same refractive index as the glass. Cornu has employed a varnish consisting of a mixture of turpentine and oil of cloves, but the yellow-brown colour of the latter is often a disadvantage. It will be found that a mixture of nut oil and oil of bitter almonds, or of bromo-napthalene and acetone, can be made of only a faint yellow colour; and by exact adjustment of the proportions will have the same refractive index for any ray as crown glass (ordinary window glass).

Procure a sample of the glass and smash it up to small fragments in an iron mortar. Sift out the fine dust and the larger pieces; bits about as large as small beads—say one-sixteenth inch every way—do very well. Boil the sifted glass with strong commercial hydrochloric acid to remove iron, wash with distilled water and a few drops of alcohol, dry on blotting paper in the sun or otherwise. Put the dry glass into a bottle or beaker, and begin by adding almond oil (or bromo-napthalene), then add nut oil (or acetone) till the glass practically disappears when examined by sodium light, or light of any other wave-length, as may be required.

The adjustment of the mixture is a matter of great delicacy, one drop too much of either constituent, in, say, 50 cubic centimetres, makes all the difference. The final adjustment is best accomplished by having two mixtures of the oils, one just too rich in almond, the other in nut oil; by adding one or other of these, the required mixture is soon obtained.

It is to be noted

(1) That adjustment is only perfect for light of one wave-length.

(2) That adjustment is only perfect at one temperature.

On examining a bottle of rather larger fragments of glass immersed in an adjusted mixture by ordinary daylight, a peculiarly beautiful play of colours is seen.

Of course, if it is only desired to make ground glass fairly transparent, these precautions are unnecessary, but it seemed better to dispose of the matter once for all in this connection.

M. Cornu's object was to make a varnish which would prevent reflection from the back of a photographic plate on to the film. I have had occasion to require to do the same when using a scale made by cutting lines through a film of black varnish on a slip of glass. This succeeded perfectly by making the varnish out of Canada balsam stained with a black aniline dye.

Mr. Russell, Government Astronomer of New South Wales, finds that the "halation" of star photographs can be prevented by pouring over the back of the plate a film of collodion suitably stained.

Sec. 46. Making Ground Glass.

This is easily done by rubbing the surface of polished glass with a bit of cast iron and washed "flour of emery." Of course, if the fineness of grain of the surface is of importance, appropriate sizes of emery must be employed. The iron may be replaced by a bit of glass cut with transverse grooves to allow the emery to distribute itself, or even by a bit of glass without such grooves, provided it does not measure more than one or two inches each way. If great speed is an object rather than the fineness of the surface, use a bit of lead and coarse emery, say any that will pass a sieve with fifty threads to the inch.

It may perhaps be mentioned here that it is a pity to throw away emery which has been used between glass and glass. In the chapter dealing with fine optical work the use of emery of various grades of fineness will be treated, and the finer grades can only be obtained (to my knowledge) from emery which has been crushed in the process of glass or metal grinding, especially the former. A large jam-pot covered with a cardboard lid does well as a receptacle of washings.

Sec. 47. Glass-cutting.

This is an art about which more can be learned in five minutes by watching it well practised than by pages of written description. My advice to any one about to commence the practice of the art would be to make friends with a glazier and see it done. What follows is therefore on the supposition that this advice has been followed.

After some experience of cutters made of especially hardened steel, I believe better work can generally be got out of a diamond, provided the cost is not an objection. It is economy to pay a good price for a good diamond. As is well known, the natural angle of the crystal makes the best point, and a person buying a diamond should examine the stone by the help of a lens, so as to see that this condition is fulfilled. The natural angle is generally, if not always, bounded by curved edges, which have a totally different appearance from the sharp edges of a "splinter."

When a purchase is to be made, it is as well for the student to take a bit of glass and a foot-rule with him, and to test the diamond before it is taken away. When a good diamond has been procured, begin by taking cuts on bits of clean window glass until the proper angle at which to hold the tool is ascertained. Never try to cut over a scratch, if you value your diamond, and never press hard on the glass; a good cut is accompanied by an unmistakable ringing sound quite different from the sound made when the diamond is only scratching.

Perhaps the most important advice that can be given is, Never lend the diamond to anybody—under any circumstances.

The free use of a diamond is an art which the physicist will do well to acquire, for quite a variety of apparatus may be made out of glass strips, and the accuracy with which the glass breaks along a good cut reduces such an operation as glass-box-making to a question of accurate drawing.

Sec. 48. Cementing.

One of the matters which is generally confused by too great a profusion of treatment is the art of cementing glass to other substances.

The following methods will be found to work, subject to two conditions:

(1) The glass must be clean;

(2) it must be hot enough to melt the cement.

For ordinary mending purposes when the glass does not require to be placed in water (especially if hot) nothing is better than that kind of glue which is generally called "diamond cement." This may be easily made by dissolving the best procurable isinglass in a mixture of 20 per cent water and 80 per cent glacial acetic acid—the exact proportions are not of consequence.

First, the isinglass is to be tightly packed into a bottle with a wide neck, then add the water, and let the isinglass soak it up. Afterwards pour in the acetic acid, and keep the mixture near 100 deg.C. for an hour or two on the water bath—or rather in it. The total volume of acetic acid and water should not be more than about half of the volume of isinglass when the latter is pressed into the bottle as tightly as possible.

The proper consistency of the cement may be ascertained by lifting a drop out of the bottle and allowing it to cool on a sheet of glass. In ten minutes it ought not to be more than slightly sticky, and the mass in the bottle, after standing a few hours cold, should not be sticky at all, and should yield, jelly-like, to the pressure of the finger to only a slight degree. If the glue is too weak, more isinglass may be added (without any preliminary soaking).

A person making the mixture for the first time almost always gets it too weak. It is difficult to give exact proportions by weight, as isinglass and gelatine (which may replace it) differ greatly in quality. This cement is applied like glue, and will cement nearly anything as well as glass. Of course, as much cement as possible must be squeezed out of any joint where it is employed. The addition of gums, as recommended in some books, is unnecessary.

Ordinary glue will serve perfectly for cementing glass to wood.

"Chipped glass" ware is, I understand, made by painting clean glass with glue. As the glue dries and breaks by contraction, it chips off the surface of the glass. I have never seen this done. In nearly all cases where alcohol is not to be employed very strong joints may be made by shellac. Orange shellac is stronger than the "bleached" variety.

A sine qua non is that the glass be hot enough to melt the shellac. The best way is to heat the glass surfaces and rub on the shellac from a bit of flake; the glass should not be so hot as to discolour the shellac appreciably, or its valuable properties will be partly destroyed. Both glass surfaces being thus prepared, and the shellac being quite fluid on both, they may be brought together and clamped tightly together till cool. Shellac that has been overheated, or dissolved in alcohol, or bleached, is of little use as compared with the pale orange flaky product. Dark flakes have probably been overheated during the preliminary refining.

For many purposes a cement is required capable of resisting carbon bisulphide. This is easily made by adding a little treacle (say 20 per cent) to ordinary glue. Since the mixture of glue and treacle does not keep, i.e. it cannot be satisfactorily melted up again after once it has set, no more should be made up than will be wanted at the time. If the glue be thick, glass boxes for carbon disulphide may be easily put together, even though the edges of the glass strips are not quite smooth, for, unlike most cements, this mixture remains tough, and is fairly strong in itself.

I have found by experiment that most fixed and, to a less degree, essential oils have little or no solvent action on shellac, and I suspect that the same remark applies to the treacle-glue mixture, but I have not tried. Turpenes act on shellac slightly, but mineral oils apparently not at all. The tests on which these statements are based were continued for about two years, during which time kerosene and mineral oils had no observable effect on shellac—fastened galvanometer mirrors.

Sec. 49. Fusing Electrodes into Glass.

This art has greatly improved since the introduction of the incandescent lamp; however, up to the present, platinum seems to remain the only substance capable of giving a certainly air-tight result. I have not tried the aluminium-alumina method.

Many years ago it was the fashion to surround the platinum wire with a drop of white enamel glass in order to cause better adhesion between it and the ordinary glass. [Footnote: Hittorf and Geissler (Pogg. Ann. 1864, Sec. 35; English translation, Phys. Soc. London, p. 138) found that it was impossible to make air-tight joints between platinum and hard potash glass, but that soft lead glass could be used with success as a cement.] However, in the case of flint glass, if one may judge from incandescent lamps, this is not essential—a fact which entirely coincides with my own experience.

On the other hand, when sealing electrodes into German glass I have often used a drop of enamel with perfect results, though this is not always done in Germany. In all cases, however, in which electrodes have to be sealed in—especially when they are liable to heat—I recommend flint glass, and in this have the support of Mr. Rain (The Incandescent Lamp and its Manufacture, p. 131). The exact details for the preparation of eudiometer tubes are given by Faraday (Chemical Manipulation, Sec. 1200).

In view of what has preceded, however, I will content myself with the following notes. Make the hole through which the wire is to protrude only slightly larger than the wire itself, and be sure that the latter is clean. Allow the glass to cool sufficiently not to stick to the wire when the latter is pushed in. Be sure that, on heating, the glass does not get reduced, and that it flows up to the wire all round; pull and push the wire a little with a pair of pincers, to ensure this.

It is not a bad plan to get the glass exceedingly fluid round the wire—even if the lump has to be blown out a little afterwards—as it cools. The seal should finally be well annealed in asbestos, but first by gradually moving it into the hot air in front of the flame.

It was observed by Professor J. J. Thomson and the author some years ago (Proc. Roy. Soc. 40. 331. 1886) that when very violent discharges are taken through lightly sealed-in electrodes in lead-glass tubes—say from a large battery of Leyden jars—gas appears to be carried into the tube over and above that naturally given off by the platinum, and this without there being any apparent want of perfection in the seal. This observation has since been confirmed by others. Consequently in experiments on violent discharges in vacuo where certainty is required as to the exclusion of air, the seals should be protected by a guard tube or cap containing mercury; this must, of course, be put in hot and clean, on hot and clean glass, and in special cases should be boiled in situ.

A well-known German physicist (Warburg, I think) recommends putting the seals under water, but I cannot think that this is a good plan, for if air can get in, why not water? which has its surface tension in its favour. The same reasoning prevents my recommending a layer of sulphuric acid above the mercury-a method used for securing air-tightness in "mercury joints" by Mr. Gimingham, Proc. R. S. 1874.

Further protection may be attained for many purposes by coating the platinum wire with a sheath of glass, say half an inch long, fused to the platinum wire to a depth of one-twentieth of an inch all round.

In some cases the electrodes must be expected to get very hot, for instance, when it is desired to platinise mirrors by the device of Professor Wright of Yale. In this and similar cases I have met with great success by using "barometer" tubes of about one-twelfth of an inch bore, and with walls, say, one-tenth of an inch thick. [Footnote: "Barometer" tube is merely very thick-walled glass tubing, and makes particularly bad barometers, which are sold as weather glasses.]

This tube is drawn down to a long point—say an inch long by one-eighth of an inch external diameter, and the wire is fused in for a length, say, of three-quarters of an inch, but only in the narrow drawn—down part of the tube. At different times I have tried four such seals, and though the electrodes were red hot for hours, I have never had an accident—of course they were well annealed.

Fig. 37.

For directions as to the making of high vacuum tubes, see the section dealing with that matter.

Sec. 50. As economy of platinum is often of importance, the following little art will save money and trouble. Platinum is easily caused to join most firmly to copper—with which, I presume, it alloys—by the following method. Hold the platinum wire against the copper wire, end to end, at the tip of the reducing flame of a typical blowpipe—or anywhere—preferably in the "reducing" part of the oxygas flame; in a moment the metals will fuse together at the point of contact, when they may be withdrawn.

Such a joint is very strong and wholly satisfactory, much better than a soldered joint. If the work is not carried out successfully so that a considerable drop of copper-platinum alloy accumulates, cut it off and start again. The essence of success is speed, so that the copper does not get "burned." If any considerable quantity of alloy is formed it dissolves the copper, and weakens it, so that we have first the platinum wire, then a bead of alloy, and then a copper wire fused into the bead, but so thin just outside the latter that the joint has no mechanical strength.

Sec. 51. The Art of making Air-light Joints.

Lamp-manufacturers and others have long since learned that when glass is in question not only are fused joints made as easily as others, but that they afford the only reliable form of joint. An experimenter who uses flint glass, has a little experience, an oxygas blow-pipe and a blowing apparatus, will prefer to make his joints in this way, simply from the ease with which it may be done. When it comes to making a tight joint between glass and other substances the problem is by no means so easy. Thus Mr. Griffiths (Phil. Trans. 1893, p. 380) failed to make air-tight joints by cementing glass into steel tubes, using hard shellac, and the tubes fitting closely. These joints were satisfactory at first, but did not last; the length of the joint is not stated. The difficulty was finally got over by soldering very narrow platinum tubes into the steel, and fusing the former into the glass.

Mr. Griffiths has since used an alloy with success as a cement, but I cannot discover what it is made from. Many years ago Professor Hittorf prepared good high vacuum tubes by plugging the ends of glass tubes with sealing wax merely, though in all cases the spaces to be filled with wax were long and narrow (Hittorf, Pogg. Ann. 1869, Sec. 5, English translation, Phys. Soc. p. 113). Again, Regnault habitually used brass ferules, and cemented glass into them by means of his mastic, which can still be procured at a low rate from his instrument-makers (Golan, Paris). Lenard also, in his investigations on Cathode Rays (Wied. Ann, vol. li. p. 224), made use of sealing wax covered with marine glue.

Surely in face of these facts we must admit that cement joints can be made with fair success. I do not know the composition of M. Regnault's mastic, but Faraday (Manipulations, Sec. 1123) gives the following receipt for a cement for joining ferules to retorts, etc:

Resin 5 parts.

Beeswax 1 part.

Red ochre or Venetian red, finely powdered and sifted 1 part.

I believe this to be substantially the same as Regnault's mastic, though I have never analysed the latter.

For chemical work the possibility of evolution of gas from such a cement must be taken into account, and I should certainly not trust it for this reason in vacuum tube work, where the purity of the confined gas could come in question. Otherwise it is an excellent cement, and does not in my experience tend to crack away from glass to the same extent as paraffin or pure shellac.

This cracking away from glass, by the way, is probably an effect of difference in rate of expansion between the glass and cement which probably always exists, and, if the cement be not sufficiently viscous, must, beyond certain temperature limits, either produce cracks or cause separation. Professor Wright of Yale has used a hard mineral pitch as a cement in vacuum work with success.

My attention has been directed to a fusible metal cement containing mercury, and made according to the following receipt, given by Mr. S. G. Rawson, Journal of the Society of Chemical Industry, vol. ix. (1890), P. 150:-

Bismuth 40 per cent

Lead 25 per cent

Tin 10 per cent

Cadmium 10 per cent

Mercury 15 per cent

This is practically one form of Rose's fusible metal with 15 per cent mercury added. It takes nearly an hour to set completely, and the apparatus must be clean and warm before it is applied.

As the result of several trials by myself and friends, I am afraid I must dissent from the claim of the author that such a cement will make a really air-tight joint between glass tubes. Indeed, the appearance of the surface as viewed through the glass is not such as to give any confidence, no matter what care may have been exercised in performing all the operations and cleaning the glass; besides which the cement is rigid when cold, and the expansion difficulty comes in.

On the other hand, if extreme air-tightness is not an object, the cement is strong and easily applied, and has many uses. I have an idea that if the joints were covered with a layer of soft wax, the result would be satisfactory in so far as air-tightness is concerned.

This anticipation has since been verified.

In many cases one can resort to the device already mentioned of enclosing a rubber or tape-wrapped joint between two tubes in a bath of mercury, but in this case the glass must be clean and hot and the mercury also warm, dry, and pure when the joint is put together, otherwise an appreciable air film is left against the glass, and this may creep into the joint.

Perhaps the easiest way of making such a joint is to use an outer tube of thin clean glass, and bore a narrow hole into it from one side to admit the mercury; if the mercury is to be heated in vacuo, it is better to seal on a side joint. It is always better, if possible, to boil the mercury in situ, which involves making the wrapping of asbestos, but, after all, we come back to the position I began by taking up, viz. that the easiest and most reliable method is by fusion of the glass—all the rest are unsuitable for work of real precision.

I should be ungrateful, however, were I not to devote a few lines to the great convenience and merit of so-called "centering cement." This substance has two or three very valuable properties. It is very tough and strong in itself, and it remains plastic on cooling for some time before it really sets. If for any reason a small tube has to be cemented into a larger one, which is a good deal larger, so that an appreciable mass of cement is necessary, and particularly if the joint requires to have great mechanical strength, this cement is invaluable. I have even used a plug of it instead of a cork for making the joint between a gas delivery tube and a calcium chloride tower. (Why are these affairs made with such abominable tubulures?)

The joint in question has never allowed the tube to sag though it projects horizontally to a distance of 6 inches, and has had to withstand nearly two years of Sydney temperature. The cement consists of a mixture of shellac and 10 per cent of oil of cassia.

The shellac is first melted in an iron ladle, and the oil of cassia quickly added and stirred in, to an extent of about 10 per cent, but the exact proportions are not of importance. Great care must be taken not to overheat the shellac.



[Footnote: Written in May 1896.]

WHEN Professor Roentgen's discovery was first announced at the end of 1895 much difficulty was experienced in obtaining radiation of the requisite intensity for the repetition of his experiments. The following notes on the production of vacuum tubes of the required quality may therefore be of use to those who desire to prepare their own apparatus. It appears that flint glass is much more opaque to Roentgen's radiation than soda glass, and consequently the vacuum tubes require to be prepared from the latter material.

Fig. 39.

A form of vacuum tube which has proved very successful in the author's hands is sketched in Fig. 38. It is most easily constructed as follows. A bit of tubing about 2 centimetres diameter, 15 centimetres long, and 1.5 millimetre wall thickness, is drawn down to a point. The larger bulb, about 5 centimetres in diameter, is blown at one end of this tube. The thinner the bulb the better, provided that it does not collapse under atmospheric pressure. A very good idea of a proper thickness may be obtained from the statement that about 4 centimetres length of the tubing should be blown out to form the bulb. This would give a bulb of about the thickness of an ordinary fractionating bulb. Before going any further it is as well to test the bulb by tapping on the table and by exhausting it by means of an ordinary water-velocity pump.

The side tube is next prepared out of narrower tubing, and is provided with a smaller bulb, a blowing-out tube, and a terminal, to be made as will be described. This side tube is next fused on to the main tube, special care being taken about the annealing, and the cathode terminal is then sealed into the main tube. After using clean glass it is in general only necessary to rinse the tube out with clean alcohol, after which it may be dried and exhausted.

The success of the operation will depend primarily on the attention given to the preparation and sealing-in of the electrode facing the large bulb.

Preparation of Terminals. Some platinum wire of about No. 26 B.W.G—the exact size is unimportant—must be provided, also some sheet aluminium about 1 millimetre thick, some white enamel cement glass, and a "cane" of flint-glass tube of a few millimetres bore.

The electrodes are prepared by cutting discs of aluminium of from 1 to 1.5 centimetres diameter. The discs of aluminium are bored in the centre, so as to admit the "stems" which are made of aluminium wire of about 1 millimetre diameter. The stems are then riveted into the discs. The "stems" are about I centimetre long, and are drilled to a depth of about 3 millimetres, the drill used being about double the diameter of the platinum wire to be used for making the connections. The faces of the electrodes—i.e. the free surfaces of the aluminium discs—are then hammered flat and brought to a burnished surface by being placed on a bit of highly polished steel and struck by a "set" provided with a hole to allow of the "stem" escaping damage. The operation will be obvious after a reference to Figs. 39 and 40; it is referred to again on page 96.

The platinum wires may be most conveniently attached by melting one end of the piece of platinum wire in the oxygas blow-pipe till it forms a bead just large enough to pass into the hole drilled up the stem of the electrode. The junction between the stein and the platinum wire is then made permanent by squeezing the aluminium down upon the platinum wire with the help of a pair of pliers. It is also possible to fuse the aluminium round the platinum, but as I have had several breakages of such joints, I prefer the mechanical connection described.

Fig. 39. Sets for striking aluminium electrodes

Fig. 40.

i. Aluminium electrode.

ii. Aluminium electrode connected to platinum wire.

iii. Aluminium electrode connected to platinum wire and protected by glass.

iv. Detail of fastening platinum wire.

The stem and platinum wire may now be protected by covering them with a little flint glass. For this purpose the flint-glass tube is pulled down till it will just slip over the stem and wire, and is cut off so as to leave about half a centimetre of platinum wire projecting. The flint-glass tube is then fused down upon the platinum wire, care being taken to avoid the presence of air bubbles. At the close of the operation a single drop of white enamel glass is fused round the platinum wire at a high temperature, so as to make a good joint with the protecting flint-glass tube.

The negative electrode being nearly as large as the main tube, it must be introduced before the latter is drawn down for sealing. After drawing down the main tube in the usual manner, taking care not to make it less than a millimetre in wall-thickness, it is cut off so as to leave a hole not quite big enough for the enamel drop to pass through. By heating and opening, the aperture is got just large enough to allow the enamel drop to pass into it, and when this is the case the joint is sealed, pulled, and blown out until the electrode occupies the right position—viz. in the centre of the tube and with its face normal to the axis of the tube.

The glass walls near the negative electrode must not be less than a millimetre thick, and may be rather more with advantage, the glass must be even, and the joint between the flint glass and the soda glass, or between the wire and the soda glass, must be wholly through the enamel. The "seal" must be well annealed. It will be found that the sealing-in process is much easier when the stem of the electrode is short and when the glass coating is not too heavy. Half a millimetre of glass thickness round the stein is quite sufficient.

The diagram, of the tube shows that the main tube has been expanded round the edges of the cathode. This is to reduce the heating consequent on the projection of cathode rays from the edges of the disc against the glass tube.

The anode is inserted into its bulb in a quite similar manner. If desired it may be made considerably smaller, and does not need the careful adjustment requisite in sealing-in the cathode, nor does the glass near the entry wire require to be so thick.

More intense effects are often got by making the cathode slightly concave, but in this case the risk of melting the thin glass is considerably increased. No doubt, Bohemian glass might be used throughout instead of soft soda glass, and this would not melt so easily; the difficulties of manipulating the glass are, however, more pronounced.

It will be shown directly that the best Roentgen effects are got with a high vacuum, and it is for this reason that the glass near the cathode seal requires to be strong. The potential right up to the cathode is strongly positive inside the tube, and this causes the glass to be exposed to a strong electric stress in the neighbourhood of the seal.

Although the glass-blowing involved in the making of a so-called focus tube is rather more difficult than in the case just described, there is no reason why such a difficulty should not be overcome; I will therefore explain how a focus tube may be made.

Fig. 41.

A bulb about 3 inches in diameter is blown from a bit of tube of a little more than 1 inch diameter. Unless the walls of the tube are about one-eighth of an inch in thickness, this will involve a preliminary thickening up of the glass. This is not difficult if care be taken to avoid making the glass too hot. The larger gas jet described in connection with the soda-glass-blowing table must be employed. In blowing a bulb of this size it must not be forgotten that draughts exercise a very injurious influence by causing the glass to cool unequally; this leads to bulbs of irregular shape.

In the method of construction shown in Fig. 41, the anode is put in first. This anode simply consists of a square bit of platinum or platinum-iridium foil, measuring about 0.75 inch by 1 inch, and riveted on to a bent aluminium wire stem.

As soon as the anode is fused in, and while the glass is still hot, the side tube is put on. The whole of the anode end is then carefully annealed. When the annealing is finished the side tube is bent as shown to serve as a handle when the time comes to mount the cathode. Before placing the cathode in position, and while the main tube is still wide open, the anode is adjusted by means of a tool thrust in through this open end. This is necessary in view of the fact that the platinum foil is occasionally bent during the operation of forcing the anode into the bulb.

The cathode is a portion of a spherical surface of polished aluminium, a mode of preparing which will be given directly. The cathode having been placed inside the bulb, the wide glass tube is carefully drawn down and cut off at such a point that when the cathode is in position its centre of curvature will lie slightly in front of the anode plate. For instance, if the radius of curvature of the cathode be 1.5 inches, the centre of curvature may lie something like an eighth of an inch or less in front of the anode.

The cathode as shown in Fig. 41 is rather smaller than is advantageous. To make it much larger than is shown, however, the opening into the bulb would require to be considerably widened, and though this is not really a difficult operation, still it requires more practice than my readers are likely to have had. The difficulty is not so much in widening out the entry as in closing it down again neatly.

Now as to making the anode. A disc of aluminium is cut from a sheet which must not be too thick—one twenty-fifth of an inch is quite thick enough. This disc is bored at the centre to allow of the stem being riveted in position. The disc is then annealed in the Bunsen flame and the stem riveted on.

The curvature is best got by striking between steel dies (see Figs. 39 and 40). Two bits of tool steel are softened and turned on the lathe, one convex and the other concave. The concave die has a small hole drilled up the centre to admit the stem. The desired radius of curvature is easily attained by cutting out templates from sheet zinc and using them to gauge the turning. The two dies are slightly ground together on the lathe with emery and oil and are then polished, or rather the convex die is polished—the other one does not matter. The polishing is most easily done by using graded emery and oil and polishing with a rag. The method of grading emery will be described in the chapter on glass-grinding.

The aluminium disc is now struck between the dies by means of a hammer. If the radius of curvature is anything more than one inch and the disc not more than one inch in diameter the cathode can be struck at once from the flat as described. For very deep curves no doubt it will be better to make an intermediate pair of dies and to re-anneal the aluminium after the first striking.

When the tube is successfully prepared so far as the glassblowing goes it may be rinsed with strong pure alcohol both inside and out, and dried. The straight part of the side tube is then constricted ready for fusing off and the whole affair is placed on the vacuum pump.

In spite of the great improvements made during recent years in the construction of so-called Geissler vacuum pumps—i.e. pumps in which a Torricellian vacuum is continually reproduced—I am of opinion that Sprengel pumps are, on the whole, more convenient for exhausting Crooke's tubes. A full discussion of the subject of vacuum pumps will be found in a work by Mr. G. S. Ram (The Incandescent Lamp and its Manufacture), published by the Electrician Publishing Company, and it is not my intention to deal with the matter here; the simplest kind of Sprengel pump will be found quite adequate for our purpose, provided that it is well made.

Fig. 42 is intended to represent a modification of a pump based on the model manufactured by Hicks of Hatton Garden, and arranged to suit the amateur glass-blower. The only point of importance is the construction of the head of the fall tube, of which a separate and enlarged diagram is given. The fall tubes may have an internal diameter up to 2 mm. (two millimetres) and an effective length of 120 cm.

Free use is made of rubber tube connections in the part of the pump exposed to the passage of mercury. The rubber employed should be black and of the highest quality, having the walls strengthened by a layer of canvas. If such tube cannot be easily obtained, a very good substitute may be made by placing a bit of ordinary black tube inside another and rather larger bit and binding the outer tube with tape or ribbon. In any case the tubing which comes in contact with the mercury should be boiled in strong caustic potash or soda solution for at least ten minutes to get rid of free sulphur, which fouls the mercury directly it comes in contact with it. The tubing is well washed, rinsed with alcohol, and carefully dried.

Fig. 42.

The diagram represents what is practically a system of three Sprengel pumps, though they are all fed from the same mercury reservoir and run down into the same mercury receiver. It is much easier to make three pumps, each with separate pinch cocks to regulate the mercury supply, than it is to make three jets, each delivering exactly the proper stream of mercury to three fall tubes.

Sprengel pumps only work at their highest efficiency when the mercury supply is carefully regulated to suit the peculiarities of each fall tube, and this is quite easily done in the model figured. Since on starting the pump the rubber connections have to stand a considerable pressure, the ends of the tubes must be somewhat corrugated to enable the rubber to be firmly wired on to them. The best binding wire is the purest Swedish iron wire, previously annealed in a Bunsen gas flame.

The wire must never be twisted down on the bare rubber, but must always be separated from it by a tape binding. By taking this precaution the wire maybe twisted very much more tightly than is otherwise possible without cutting the rubber.

The only difficulty in making such a pump as is described lies in the bending of the heads of the fall tubes. This bending must be done with perfect regularity and neatness, otherwise the drops of mercury will not break regularly, or will break just inside the top of the fall tube, and so obstruct its entrance that at high vacua no air can get into the tube at all.

The connections at the head of the fall tubes must also be well put on and the joints blown out so that the mercury in dropping over the head is not interfered with by the upper surface of the tube. However, a glance at the enlarged diagram will show what is to be aimed at better than any amount of description. In preparing the fall tubes it is generally necessary to join at least two "canes" together. The joint must be arranged to occur either in the tube leading the mercury to the head of the fall, or in that part of the fall tube which remains full of mercury when the highest vacuum is attained. On no account must the joint be made at the fall itself (at least not by an amateur), nor in that part of the fall tube where the mercury falls freely, particularly at its lower end, where the drops fall on the head of the column of mercury.

When a high vacuum is attained the efficacy of the pump depends chiefly on the way in which the drops fall on the head of the column. If the fall is too long the drops are apt to break up and allow the small bubble of air to escape up the tube, also any irregularity or dirt in the tube at this point makes it more easy for the bubbles of air to escape to the surface of the mercury.

Any pump in which the supply of mercury to the fall tube can be regulated nicely will pump well until the lowest available pressures are being attained; a good pump will then continue to hold the air bubbles, while a bad one will allow them to slip back [Footnote: For special methods of avoiding this difficulty see Mr. Ram's book.] ...

Though three fall tubes are recommended, it must not be supposed that the pump will produce a Crooke's vacuum three times more rapidly than one fall tube. Until the mercury commences to hammer in the pump the three tubes will pump approximately three times faster than one tube, but as soon as the major portion of the air collected begins to come from the layer condensed on the glass surface of the tube to be exhausted and from the electrodes, the rate at which exhaustion will go on no longer depends entirely on the pump.

In order that bubbles of air may not slip back up the fall tube it is generally desirable to allow the mercury to fall pretty briskly, and in this case the capacity of the pump to take air is generally far in excess of the air supply. One advantage of having more than one fall tube is that it often happens that a fall tube gets soiled during the process of exhaustion and no longer works up to its best performance. Out of three fall tubes, however, one is pretty sure to be working well, and as soon as the mercury begins to hammer in the tubes the supply may be shut off from the two falls which are working least satisfactorily.

Thus we are enabled to pump rapidly till a high degree of exhaustion is attained, having practically three pumps instead of one, whereas when the final stages are reached, and three pumps are only a drawback in that they increase the mercury flow, the apparatus is capable of instant modification to meet the new conditions.

The thistle funnels at the head of the fall tubes are made simply by blowing bulbs and then blowing the heads of the bulbs into wider ones, and finally blowing the heads of the wider bulbs off by vigorous blowing. The stoppers are ground in on the lathe before the tubes are attached to the fall tubes. The stoppers require to be at least half an inch long where they fit the necks, and must be really well ground in. The stoppers must first be turned up nicely and the necks ground out by a copper or iron cone and emery. The stoppers are rotated on a lathe at quite a slow speed, say 30 or 40 feet per minute, and the necks are held against them, as described in the section dealing with this art. The stoppers must in this case be finished with "two seconds" emery, and lastly with pumice dust and water (see chapter on glass-grinding).

Unless the stoppers fit exceedingly well trouble will arise from the mercury (which is poured into the thistle heads to form a seal) being forced downwards into the pump by atmospheric pressure.

The joints between the three fall tubes and the single exhaust main are easily made when the tubes are finally mounted, the hooked nozzle of the oxygas blow-pipe being expressly made for such work.

It is, on the whole, advisable to make the pump of flint glass, or at all events the air-trap tube and the fall tubes. A brush flame from the larger gas tube of the single blowpipe table is most suitable for the work of bending the tubes. The jointing of the long, narrow bore fall tubes is best accomplished by the oxygas flame, for in this way the minimum of irregularity is produced; the blowing tubes will of course be required for the job, and the narrow tubes must be well cleaned to begin with.

The air trap is an important though simple part of the pump. Its shoulder or fall should stand rather higher than the shoulders of the fall tubes, so that the mercury may run in a thin stream through a good Torricellian vacuum before it passes down to the fall tubes. This is easily attained by regulating the main mercury supply at the pinch cock situated between the tube from the upper reservoir and the air-trap tube, the other cocks being almost wide open.

It might be thought that the mercury would tend to pick up air in passing through the rubber connections to the fall tubes, but I have not found this to be the case in practice. There is, of course, no difficulty in eliminating the rubber connections between the fall tubes and the mercury supply from the air trap, but it impresses a greater rigidity on the structure and, as I say, is not in general necessary. It must not be forgotten that the mercury always exercises considerable pressure on the rubber joints, and so there is little tendency for gas to come out of the rubber.

The thistle funnels at the head of the fall tubes provide a simple and excellent means of cleaning the fall tubes. For this purpose some "pure" sulphuric acid which has been boiled with pure ammonium sulphate is placed in each thistle funnel, and when the fall tube is dirty the connection to the mercury supply is cut off at the pinch cock so as to leave the tube between this entry and the head of the fall tube quite full of mercury, and the sulphuric acid is allowed to run down the fall tube by raising the stopper. The fall tube should be allowed to stand full of acid for an hour or so, after which it will be found to be fairly clean.

Of course the mercury reservoir thus obtains a layer of acid above the mercury, and as it is better not to run the risk of any acid getting into the pump except in the fall tubes, the reservoir is best emptied from the bottom, by a syphon, if a suitable vessel cannot be procured, so that clean mercury only is withdrawn.

The phosphorus pentoxide tube is best made as shown simply from a bit of wide tube, with two side connections fused to the rest of the pump. It is no more trouble to cut the tube and fuse it up again when the drying material is renewed than to adjust the drying tube to two fixed stoppers, which is the alternative. The practice here recommended is rendered possible only by the oxygas blow-pipe with hooked nozzle. The connection between the pump and tube to be exhausted is made simply by a short bit of rubber tube immersed in mercury.

The phosphorus pentoxide should be pure, or rather free from phosphorus and lower oxides; unless this be the case, the vapour arising from it is apt to soil the mercury in the pump. The phosphorus pentoxide is purified by distilling with oxygen over red-hot platinum black; if this cannot be done, the pentoxide should at least be strongly heated in a tube, in a current of dry air or oxygen, before it is placed in the drying tube.

The mercury used for the pump must be scrupulously clean. It does not, however, require to have been distilled in vacuo. It is sufficient to purify it by allowing it to fall in a fine spray into a large or rather tall jar of 25 per cent nitric acid and 75 per cent water. The mercury is then to be washed and dried by heating to, say, 110 deg. C. in a porcelain dish.

Exhausting a Roentgen Tube.

With a pump such as has been described there is seldom any advantage in fusing an extra connection to the vacuum tube so as to allow of a preliminary exhaustion by means of a water pump. About half an hour's pumping may possibly be saved by making use of a water pump.

The tube to be exhausted is washed and dried by careful heating over a Bunsen burner and by the passage of a current of air. The exhausting tube is then drawn down preparatory to sealing off, and the apparatus placed upon the pump. It is best held in position by a wooden clamp supported by a long retort stand.

Exhaustion may proceed till the mercury in the fall tubes commences to hammer. At this point the tube must be carefully heated by a Bunsen flame, the temperature being brought up to, say, 400 deg. C. The heating may be continued intermittently till little or no effect due to the heating is discernible at the pump. When this stage is reached, or even before, the electrodes may be connected up to the coil and a discharge sent through the tube.

Care must be taken to stop the discharge as soon as a purple glow begins to appear, because when this happens, the resistance of the tube is very low, the electrodes get very hot, and may easily get damaged by a powerful discharge, and the platinum of the anode (if a focus tube is in question) begins to be distilled on to the glass. The heating and sparking are to be continued till the resistance of the tube sharply increases. This is tested by always having a spark gap, conveniently formed by the coil terminals, in parallel with the tube. If the terminals are points, it is convenient to set them at about one quarter of an inch distance apart.

As soon as sparks begin to pass between the terminals of the spark gap it becomes necessary to watch the process of exhaustion very carefully. In the first place, stop the pump, but let the coil run, and note whether the sparks continue to flow over the terminals. If the glass and electrodes are getting gas free, the discharge will continue to pass by the spark gap, but if gas is still being freely given off, then in perhaps three minutes the discharge will return to the tube, and pumping must be recommenced. The Roentgen effect only begins to appear when the tube has got to so high a state of exhaustion that the resistance increases rapidly.

By pumping and sparking, the resistance of the tube may be gradually raised till the spark would rather jump over 2 inches of air than go through the tube. When this state is attained the Roentgen effect as tested by a screen of calcium tungstate should be very brilliant. No conclusion as to the equivalent resistance of the tube can be arrived at so long as the discharge is kept going continually. When the spark would rather go over an inch of air in the spark gap than through the tube the pumping and sparking may be interrupted and the tube allowed to rest for, say, five minutes. It will generally be found that the equivalent resistance of the tube will be largely increased by this period of quiescence. It may even be found that the spark will now prefer to pass an air gap 3 inches long.

In any case the sparking should now be continued, the pump being at rest, and the variations of tube resistance watched by adjusting the spark gap. If the resistance falls below an equivalent of 2 inches of air in the gap the pump must be brought into action again and continued until the resistance as thus estimated remains fairly constant for, say, ten minutes. When this occurs the narrow neck of the exhaust tube may be strongly heated till the blow-pipe flame begins to show traces of sodium light. The flame must then be withdrawn and the discharge again tested. This is necessary because it occasionally happens that gas is given off during the heating of the neck to the neighbourhood of its fusion temperature.

If all is right the neck may now be fused entirely off and the tube is finished. Tubes of the focus pattern with large platinum anodes are in general (in my experience) much more difficult to exhaust than tubes of the kind first described. This is possibly to be attributed mainly to the gas given off by the platinum, but is also, no doubt, due to the tubes being much larger and exposing a larger glass surface. The type of tube described first generally takes about two hours to exhaust by a pump made as explained, while a "focus" tube has taken as long as nine hours, eight of which have been consumed after the tube was exhausted to the hammering point.

The pressure at which the maximum heating of the anode by the cathode rays occurs is a good deal higher than that at which the maximum Roentgen effect is produced. There is little doubt that the Roentgen radiation changes in nature to some extent as the vacuum improves either as a primary or secondary effect. It is therefore of some importance to test the tube for the purpose for which it is to be used during the actual exhaustion. It has been stated, for instance, that the relative penetrability of bone and flesh to Roentgen radiation attains a maximum difference at a certain pressure; this is very likely the case. Whether this effect is a direct function of the density of the gas in the tube, or whether it is dependent on the voltage or time integral of the current during the discharge, are questions which still await a solution.

The preparation of calcium tungstate for fluorescent screens is very simple.

Commercial sodium tungstate is fused with dried calcium chloride in the proportion of three parts of the former to two parts of the latter, both constituents being in fine powder and well mixed together. The fusion is conducted in a Fletcher's crucible furnace in a clay crucible. The temperature is raised as rapidly as possible to the highest point which the furnace will attain—i.e. a pure white heat. At this temperature the mixture of salts becomes partly fluid, or at least pasty, and the temperature may be kept at its highest point for, say, a quarter of an hour. At the end of this time the mass is poured and scraped on to a brick, and when cold is broken up and boiled with a large excess of water to dissolve out all soluble matter. The insoluble part, which consists of a gray shining powder, is washed several times with hot water, and is finally dried on filter paper in a water oven.

In order to prepare a screen the powder is ground slightly with very dilute shellac varnish, and is then floated over a glass plate so as to get an even covering. Unless the covering be very even the screen is useless, and no pains should be spared to secure evenness. It is not exactly easy to get a regular coat of the fluorescent material, but it may be done with a little care.



Sec. 52. As no instructions of any practical value in this art have, so far as I know, appeared in any book in English, though a great deal of valuable information has been given in the English Mechanic and elsewhere, I shall deal with the matter sufficiently fully for all practical purposes. On the other hand, I do not propose to treat of all the methods which have been proposed, but only those requisite for the production of the results claimed. The student is requested to read through the chapter before commencing any particular operation.

Sec. 53. The simplest way will be to describe the process of manufacture of some standard optical appliance, from which a general idea of the nature of the operations will be obtained. After this preliminary account special methods may be considered in detail. I will begin with an account of the construction of an achromatic object glass for a telescope, not because a student in a physical laboratory will often require to make one, but because it illustrates the usual processes very well; and requires to be well and accurately made.

A knowledge of the ordinary principles of optics on the part of the reader is assumed, for there are plenty of books on the theory of lenses, and, in any case, it is my intention to treat of the art rather than of the science of the subject. By far the best short statement of the principles involved which I have seen is Lord Rayleigh's article on Optics in the Encyclopaedia Britannica, and this is amply sufficient.

The first question that crops up is, of course, the subject of the choice of glass. It is obvious that the glass must be uniform in refractive index throughout, and that it must be free from air bubbles or bits of opaque matter. [Footnote: The complete testing of glass for uniformity of refractive index can only be arrived at by grinding and polishing a sufficient portion of the surfaces to enable an examination to be made of every part. In the case of a small disc it is sufficient to polish two or three facets on the edge, and to examine the glass in a field of uniform illumination through the windows thus formed. Very slight irregularities will cause a "mirage" easily recognised.]

The simplest procedure is to obtain glass of the desired quality from Messrs. Chance of Birmingham, according to the following abbreviated list of names and refractive indices, which may be relied upon:-

Density. Refractive Index.


Hard crown

2.85 1.5146 1.5172 1.5232 1.5280

Soft crown

2.55 1.5119 1.5146 1.5210 1.5263

Light flint

3.21 1.5700 1.5740 1.5839 1.5922

Dense flint

3.66 1 6175 1.6224 1.6348 1.6453

Extra dense flint

3.85 1.6450 1.6504 1.6643 1.6761

Double extra dense flint

4.45 1.7036 1.7103 1.7273 ...

The above glasses may be had in sheets from 0.25 to 1 inch thick, and 6 to 12 inches square, at a cost of, say, 7s. 6d. per pound.

Discs can also be obtained of any reasonable size. Discs 2 inches in diameter cost about L1 per dozen, discs 3 inches in diameter about 10s. each. The price of discs increases enormously with the size. A 16-inch disc will cost about L100.

For special purposes, where the desired quality of glass does not appear on the list, an application may be made to the Jena Factory of Herr Schott. In order to give a definite example, I may mention that for ordinary telescopic objectives good results may be obtained by combining the hard crown and dense flint of Chance's list, using the crown to form a double convex, and the flint to form a double concave lens. The convex lens is placed in the more outward position in the telescope, i.e. the light passes first through it.

The conditions to be fulfilled are:

(1) The glass must be achromatic;

(2) it must have a small spherical aberration for rays converging to the principal focus.

It is impossible to discuss these matters without going into a complete optical discussion. The radii of curvature of the surfaces, beginning with the first, i.e. the external face of the convex lens, are in the ratio of 1, 2, and 3; an allowance of 15 inches focal length per inch of aperture is reasonable (see Optics in Ency. Brit.), and the focal length is the same as the greatest radius of curvature. Thus, for an object glass 2 inches in diameter, the first surface of the convex lens would have a radius of curvature of 10 inches, the surface common to the convex and concave lens would have a radius of curvature of 20 inches, and the last surface a radius of curvature of 30 inches. This would also be about the focal length of the finished lens. The surfaces in contact have, of course, a common curvature, and need not be cemented together unless a slight loss of light is inadmissible.

I will assume that a lens of about 2 inches diameter is to be made by hand, i.e. without the help of a special grinding or polishing machine; this can be accomplished perfectly well, so long as the diameter of the glass is not above about 6 inches, after which the labour is rather too severe. The two glass discs having been obtained from the makers, it will be found that they are slightly larger in diameter than the quoted size, something having been left for the waste of working.

It is difficult to deal with the processes of lens manufacture without entering at every stage into rather tedious details, and, what is worse, without interrupting the main account for the purpose of describing subsidiary instruments or processes. In order that the reader may have some guide in threading the maze, it is necessary that he should commence with a clear idea of the broad principles of construction which are to be carried out. For this purpose it seems desirable to begin by roughly indicating the various steps which are to be taken.

(1) The glass is to be made circular in form and of a given diameter.

(2) Called Rough Grinding. The surfaces of the glass are to be made roughly convex, plane, or concave, as may be required; the glass is to be equally thick all round the edge. In this process the glass is abraded by the use of sand or emery rubbed over it by properly shaped pieces of iron or lead called "tools."

(3) The glass is ground with emery to the correct spherical figure as given by a spherometer.

(4) Called Fine Grinding. The state of the surface is gradually improved by grinding with finer and finer grades of emery.

(5) The glass is polished by rouge.

(6) The glass is "figured." This means that it is gradually altered in form by a polishing tool till it gives the best results as found by trial.

In processes 2 to 5 counterpart tool surfaces are required—as a rule two convex and two concave surfaces for each lens surface. These subsidiary surfaces are worked (i.e. ground) on discs of cast iron faced with glass, or on slate discs; and discs thus prepared are called "tools."

Taking these processes in the order named, the mode of manufacture is shortly as follows:-

(1) The disc of glass, obtained in a roughly circular form, is mounted on an ordinary lathe, being conveniently cemented by Regnault's mastic to a small face plate. The lathe is rotated slowly, and the glass is gradually turned down to a circular figure by means (1) of a tool with a diamond point; or (2) an ordinary hand-file moistened with kerosene, as described in Sec. 42; or (3) a mass of brass or iron served with a mixture of emery—or sand—and water fed on to the disc, so that the disc is gradually ground circular.

The operation of making a circular disc of given diameter does not differ in any important particular from the similar operation in the case of brass or iron, and is in fact merely a matter of turning at a slow speed.

(2 and 3) Roughing or bringing the surfaces of the glass roughly to the proper convex or concave shape. This is accomplished by grinding, generally with sand in large works, or with emery in the laboratory, where the time saved is of more importance than the value of the emery.

Discs of iron or brass are cast and turned so as to have a diameter slightly less than that of the glass to be ground, and are, say, half an inch thick. These discs are turned convex or concave on one face according as they are to be employed in the production of concave or convex glass surfaces. The proper degree of convexity or concavity may be approximated to by turning with ordinary turning tools, using a circular arc cut from zinc or glass (as will be described) as a "template" or pattern. This also is a mere matter of turning.

The first approximation to the desired convex or concave surface of the glass is attained (in the case of small lenses, say up to three inches diameter) by rotating the glass on the lathe as described above (for the purpose of giving it a circular edge) and holding the tool against the rotating glass, a plentiful supply of coarse emery and water, or sand and water, being supplied between the glass and metal surfaces. The tool is held by hand against the surface of the revolving glass, and is constantly moved about, both round its own axis of figure and to and fro across the glass surface. In this way the glass gradually gets convex or concave.

The curvature is tested from time to time by a spherometer, and the tool is increased or decreased in curvature by turning it on a lathe so as to cause it to grind the glass more at the edges or in the middle according to the indications of the spherometer.

This instrument, by the way—so important for lens makers—consists essentially of a kind of three-legged stool, with an additional leg placed at the centre of the circle circumscribing the other three. This central leg is in reality a fine screw with a very large head graduated on the edge, so that it is easy to compute the fractions of a turn given to the screw. The instrument is first placed on a flat plate, and the central screw turned till its end just touches the plate, a state of affairs which is very sharply discernible by the slight rocking which it enables the instrument to undergo when pushed by the hand. See the sketch.

On a convex or concave surface the screw has to be screwed in or out, and from the amount of screwing necessary to bring all four points into equal contact, the curvature may be ascertained.

Let a be the distance between the equidistant feet, and d the distance through which the screw is protruded or retracted from its zero position on a flat surface. Then the radius of curvature rho is given by the formula 2rho = a2/3d +d.

Fig. 43.

The process of roughing is not always carried out exactly as described, and will be referred to again.

(4) The glass being approximately of the proper radius of curvature on one side, it is reversed on the chuck and the same process gone through on the other side. After this the glass is usually dismounted from the lathe and mounted by cement on a pedestal, which is merely a wooden stand with a heavy foot, so that the glass may be held conveniently for the workman. Sometimes a pedestal about four feet high is fixed in the floor of the room, so that the workman engaged in grinding the lens may walk round and round it to secure uniformity. For ordinary purposes, however, a short pedestal may be placed on a table and rotated from time to time by hand, the operator sitting down to his work.

Rough iron or brass tools do not succeed for fine grinding—i.e. grinding with fine emery, because particles of emery become embedded in the metal so tightly that they cannot be got out by any ordinary cleaning. If we have been using emery passing say a sieve with 60 threads to the inch, and then go on to some passing say 100 threads to the inch, a few of the coarser particles will adhere to the "tool", and go on cutting and scratching all the time grinding by means of the finer emery is in progress.

To get over this it is usual to use a rather different kind of grinding tool. A very good kind is made by cementing small squares of glass (say up to half an inch on the side), on to a disc of slate slightly smaller than the lens surface to be formed (Fig. 51). The glass-slate tool is then "roughed" just like the lens surface, but, of course, if the lens has been roughed "convex" the tool must be roughed "concave".

The "roughed" tool is then used to gradually improve the fineness of grinding of the glass. For this purpose grinding by hand is resorted to, the tool and lens being supplied continually with finer and finer emery. Fig. 52 gives an idea of the way in which the tool is moved across the glass surface. Very little pressure is required. The tool is carried in small circular sweeps round and round the lens, so that the centre of the tool describes a many-looped curve on the lens surface. The tool must be allowed to rotate about its own axis; and the lens and pedestal must also be rotated from time to time.

Every few minutes the circular strokes are interrupted, and simple, straight, transverse strokes taken. In no case (except to correct a, defect, as will be explained) should the tool overhang the lens surface by more than about one quarter the diameter of the latter. After grinding say for an hour with one size of emery fed in by means of a clean stick say every five minutes, the emery is washed off, and everything carefully cleaned. The process is then repeated with finer emery, and so on.

The different grades of emery are prepared by taking advantage of the fact that the smaller the particles the longer do they remain suspended in water. Some emery mud from a "roughing" operation is stirred up with plenty of water and left a few seconds to settle, the liquor is then decanted to a second jug and left say for double the time, say ten seconds; it is decanted again, and so on till four or five grades of emery have been accumulated, each jug containing finer emery than its predecessor in the process.

It is not much use using emery which takes more than half an hour to settle in an ordinary bedroom jug. What remains in the liquid to be decanted is mostly glass mud and not emery at all. The process of fine grinding is continually checked by the spherometer, and the art consists in knowing how to move the grinding tool so as to make the lens surface more or less curved. In general it may be said that if the tool is moved in small sweeps, and not allowed to overhang much, the Centre of the lens will be more abraded, while if bold free strokes are taken with much overhanging, the edges of the lens will be more ground away.

By the exercise of patience and perseverance any one will succeed in gradually fine grinding the lens surface and keeping it to the spherometer, but the skill comes in doing this rapidly by varying the shape of the strokes before any appreciable alteration of curvature has come about.


The most simple way of polishing is to coat the grinding tool with paper, as will be described, and then to brush some rouge into the paper. The polisher is moved over the work in much the same way as the fine grinding tool, until the glass is polished. Many operators prefer to use a tool made by squeezing a disc of slate, armed with squares of warm pitch, against the lens surface (finely ground), and then covering these squares with rouge and water instead of emery and water as in the fine grinding process.

The final process is called "figuring." It will in general be unnecessary with a small lens. With large lenses or mirrors the final touches have to be given after the optical behaviour of the lens or mirror has been tested with the telescope itself, and this process is called "figuring." A book might easily be written on the optical indications of various imperfections in a mirror or lens. Suffice it to say here that a sufficiently skilled person will be able to decide from an observation of the behaviour of a telescope whether a lens will be improved by altering the curvature of one or all of the surfaces.

A very small alteration will make a large difference in the optical properties, so that in general "figuring" is done merely by using the rouge polishing tool as an abrading tool, and causing it to alter the curves in the manner already suggested for grinding. There are other methods based on knocking squares out of the pitch-polisher so that some parts of the glass may be more abraded than others.

Previous Part     1  2  3  4  5  6     Next Part
Home - Random Browse