The Story of the Cotton Plant
by Frederick Wilkinson
Previous Part     1  2  3     Next Part
Home - Random Browse

The making of the drawing of a fibre, either transverse or horizontal section, is not at all a difficult matter.

All that is needed is what is known as a camera lucida. This consists of a brass fixing for the eye-piece end of the body-tube and a small reflecting prism. This prism receives the image of the objective, and reflects it in this case at right angles downward on to a sheet of paper, which is placed beneath for the purpose of tracing the said image.

Focus the object, first having the microscope in a horizontal position. This will not be a difficult matter. Now remove the cap which fits on the eye-piece, and fix on the camera lucida as shown in the illustration (see Fig. 6). Adjust this until the image of the fibre is seen. Usually one or two smoke-coloured glasses are fixed below the prism, and these are now brought into position so as to allow the image of the fibre to pass through them. Place a sheet of drawing paper directly under the camera lucida, sitting as shown in the illustration. After a few trials it will not be a difficult matter to follow the outline of the image by means of a black lead on the paper as is shown in the figure. In this way many useful working drawings can be made, and a little careful calculation will give the amplification of the drawing after it is made.



After many months of anxious watching and waiting, towards the end of July or early in August, the planter may be seen to be constantly and wistfully looking for the appearance of the bursting bolls of cotton. Daily in the early mornings he is to be seen casting his eyes down the pod-laden rows of cotton plants, to see if he can count a few ripe open bolls as he stands at the head of a row. If this be so, he knows that his harvest is close at hand, and his pickers must be ready at any moment to begin what is certainly the most tedious and difficult work of the plantation, namely, picking the raw cotton from the bursting bolls.

While the planter has been on the lookout in the fields, necessary and important operations have been going on inside in the farm outbuildings. Sacks and baskets which can most expeditiously aid in the removal of the picked cotton from the field to the ginning factory are being got ready. To suit the young and old, tall and small, weak and strong, different sized bags and baskets are required, and after the marking and branding of the same, they are ready for being put into use.

Now the picking of cotton is not at all an easy operation, long continuous bending, a hot sun (for it is a rule scarcely ever broken that cotton must not be plucked unless the sun is shining upon it), a constantly increasing weight round the neck or on the arm, monotonous picking of the cotton from the bolls without bringing away any of the husk or leaf—all tend to make the work of the picker very trying and tiresome. The plantation hands must be early at work, and while the day is very young they are to be seen wending their way, ready to begin when the sun makes its appearance. Often the clothes of the workers are quite wet with the early morning dews. This is specially the case in September and October. By ten o'clock a hot blazing sun streams down upon the pickers as they diligently relieve the heavy-laden bushes of the white fleecy load of cotton. As each picker fills his or her bag, it is quickly emptied into a larger receptacle, and ultimately carried away to the gin house, where it is desirable the cotton should be housed before the night dews come on and consequently damage materially the cotton which the pickers have been careful to pick while the sun was on it.

Mr. Lyman, in his book on the Cotton Culture in the States, says: "It seems like very easy work to gather a material which shows itself in such abundance as fairly to whiten the field, but let the sceptic or the grumbler take a bag on his shoulders and start in between a couple of rows. He will find upon taking hold of the first boll that the fibres are quite firmly attached to the interior lining of the pod, and if he makes a quick snatch, thinking to gather the entire lock, he will only tear it in two, or leave considerable adhering to the pod. And yet he may notice that an experienced picker will gather the cotton and lay his fingers into the middle of the open pod with a certain expertness which only practice gives, the effect of which is to clear the whole pod with one movement of the hand."

Knowing how intensely monotonous and dreary the work of cotton picking is, Mr. Lyman advises the planters to allow a very fair amount of liberty so far as merrymaking is concerned, and he says on this point that "though too much talking and singing must interfere with labour, it is earnestly recommended to every cotton grower to take care to secure cheerfulness if not hilarity in the field. Remember that it is a very severe strain upon the patience and spirits of any one, to be urged to rapid labour of precisely the same description day by day, week by week, month by month. Let there be refreshments at the baskets, a dish of hot coffee in a cool morning, or a pail of buttermilk in a hot afternoon, or a tub of sweetened water, or a basket of apples."

As a rule the cotton gathered on one farm, which has, generally speaking, had something like uniformity in method of cultivation, will produce cotton varying very little in quality and weight.

Hence on large farms there will be something like uniform quality of cotton produced. It will, however, be clear to the general reader that on the small farms of India, say where sufficient cannot be gathered on one farm, or perhaps on a few farms, to make one bale, there will not be that uniformity which is desirable, hence Indian cotton, especially of the poorer types, varies a great deal more than the American varieties. When the hands have gathered sufficient to fill the carts drawn in America usually by mules, and in India by oxen, the cotton is taken to houses in which the seeds are separated from the fibre. This process is called "ginning."

It is astonishing to find how tenaciously the fibres cling to the seed when an attempt is made to separate them. At first much loss was occasioned because of the brutal methods employed, and now even with very much more perfect machinery a good deal of the cotton fibre is injured in the ginning process.

Image: FIG. 8.—Indian women with roller gin.

At present, most of the cotton produced in various parts of the world is ginned by machinery, though in India and China foot gins and other primitive types are still employed.

It should be stated that where a large production of cotton is desired the foot gin or even what is known as the "Churka gin" (which consists of a couple of rollers turned by hand) is never employed. Only a few pounds a day of cotton can be separated from the seeds when this method is adopted.

The following extract from a lecture by the late Sir Benjamin Dobson will be of interest here, as showing what is done at an American ginnery:

"The farmer brings the cotton to the mill in a waggon, with mules or oxen attached; the cotton is weighed, and then thrown out of the waggon into a hopper alongside. From this hopper it is taken by an elevator, or lift, either pneumatic or mechanical, and raised to the third story of the ginning factory. There it is delivered into another part of the room until required. When the cotton is to be ginned it is brought by rakes along the floor to an open sort of hopper or trunk, and from here conveyed to the gins below by travelling lattices.

"In the factory of which I am speaking there were six gins, all of them saw-gins. Each gin was provided with a hopper of its own, and the attendant, when any hopper was full, could either divert the feed to some other gin, as he required, or stop it altogether. The gins produced from 300 pounds to 350 pounds per hour. The cotton is dropped from the condenser, in front of the gin, upon the floor close to the baling press, into which it is raked by the attendant and baled loosely, but only temporarily. The seed falls into a travelling lattice, and is conducted to a straight cylindrical tube, in which works a screw. This takes it some one hundred yards to the oil mill. There the seed is dropped into what are known as 'linting' machines, and as much as possible of the lint or fibre left upon the seed is removed.

"These linting machines—practically another sort of gin—deliver the cotton or waste in a kind of roll, which is straightway put behind a carding engine. Coming out of the carding engine it is made into wadding by pasting it on cardboard paper, for filling in quilts, petticoats, and for other purposes. When the seed has passed the linting machine, it is taken, still by a lattice, to a hulling machine. This machine will take off the outside shell, which is passed to one side, while the green kernel of the seed goes down a shoot. The seed fills certain receptacles placed in the oil press, and is submitted to a hydraulic press. The result is a clear and sweet oil, which I am credibly informed is sold in England and other countries under the name of 'olive oil.' The remains of the green kernel are then pressed into what are termed cattle cakes, or oil cakes, for feeding cattle."

But the reader is probably asking, what is a gin like?

The illustration seen in Fig. 9 is a gin which goes by the name of the "single-acting Macarthy gin," so called because it has only one oscillating blade for removing the fibre from the seed. The back of the machine is shown in the figure. This process at the best is a brutal one, especially when certain gins are employed, but the one figured here is considered to do little damage to the fibre when extracting the seed.

The gin shown in Fig. 9 is of simple construction, consisting of a large leather roller about 40 inches in length and 5 in diameter. "The roller is built up by means of solid washers, or in strips fastened on to wood, against which is pressed a doctor knife.

"The cotton is thrown into a hopper, and, falling, is seized by the friction of the leather and drawn between the doctor knife and the leather surface. Whilst this is taking place, there is a beater knife which is reciprocated at a considerable speed and which strikes the seed attached to the cotton drawn away by the leather roller. The detached seed will then fall through a grid provided for the purpose. A single-action gin should produce about 30 pounds of cleaned cotton per hour."

Image: FIG. 9.—Single-acting Macarthy gin.

Another gin which does considerable damage to fibre, especially if it be over-fed, is still in use in the States. This was the invention of an American named Eli Whitney, and has been named a "saw-gin."

If the reader can imagine a number of circular saws (such as are to be seen in a wood-sawing mill) placed nearly together on a shaft to form an almost continuous roller, he will have a good idea of what the chief part of a saw-gin is like.

As the cotton is fed to the machine, the saws seize it and strip the cotton from the seeds, which fall through grids placed below the saws. The cotton is afterward stripped from the saws themselves by means of a quickly revolving brush which turns in the opposite direction to the saws. This gin is best suited to short stapled cottons, especially such as are grown in the States. For the longer fibred cotton this gin is not well adapted, much injury resulting to the cotton treated by it.

After the cotton is ginned, it is gathered into bundles and roughly baled. When a sufficient quantity has been so treated, it is carried to the "compressors," where the cotton undergoes great reduction in bulk as a result of the enormous pressure to which it is subjected.

For the general reader it will scarcely be necessary or wise to describe a "cotton press" in detail. Let it suffice to say that by means of a series of levers—in the Morse Press seven are used—tremendous pressure can be obtained. Thus for every 1 pound pressure of steam generated there will be seven times that pressure, if seven levers are used. When 200 pounds pressure of steam is up, there will be 1400 pounds pressure per inch on the cotton. So great is the pressure exerted that a bundle of cotton coming to the press from the ginnery, 4 feet in depth, is reduced to 7 inches when drawn from the compressor. While in the press iron bands are put round the cotton, and readers will have frequently seen cotton on its way to the mills having these iron bands round it.

The following table shows the number of bands which are found on bales coming to England from cotton-growing countries:—

No. of bands. Weight in lbs. American bale 6 or 7 500 Egyptian " 11 700 Indian " 13 390 Turkish " 4 250-325 American Cylindrical bale — 420-430 Brazilian — 175-220

Within the last few years an entirely new industry has been started in some of the Southern States of America.

Up to recently the bales sent to European countries from America were all of the same type as shown by the centre bale in Fig. 10.

Image: FIG. 10.—Bales from various cotton-growing countries.

Now a vast quantity of cotton is being baled in the form as shown in Fig. 11, and what are known as cylindrical bales are being exported in large numbers. In the "Round Bale" Circular of the American Cotton Company, it is stated that from the 21st November, 1896, to January 2nd, 1897, no less than 1443 round bales were turned out of the factory at Waco in Texas. The total weight of these bales was 614,832 pounds, giving an average of 426 pounds per bale.

By means of a press the cotton is rolled into the form as shown in the illustration. The press makes a bale 4 feet long and 2 feet in diameter and weighs over 35 pounds per cubic foot or 50 per cent. denser than the bale made under the system as shown in Fig. 10.

Image: FIG. 11.—Cylindrical rolls of cotton.

It is claimed for this new system that the regularity of the size of the bale, 4 x 2 feet, makes it pack much closer than the irregular turtle-backed bales as usually made on the old system.

Under the new style the cotton is pressed gradually and not all at once. For this reason it is claimed that the fibre is not injured and the cotton arrives at the mill with the fibre in as good condition as when it left the gins.

"Bagging and ties are entirely dispensed with, as the air is pressed out of the cotton and it has no tendency to expand again, and the covering needed is only sufficient to keep the cotton clean."

From a number of experiments it is proved that the "round bale" is both fireproof and water proof.

From the illustration of the round bale shown in Fig. 11, it will be seen how readily this new form of bale lends itself to greatly aiding the operatives in the opening processes in the mill. The roll which lies on the floor like a roll of carpet could be so fixed that the cotton could be fed to the opener by being unrolled as shown in the illustration.

At present the round bale system is not popular and it remains to be seen whether it will commend itself to cotton spinners.



Before attempting to give the readers of this story an insight into the various operations through which cotton is made to pass, it may be advisable to briefly enumerate them first.

On the field there are the operations of collecting and ginning, that is, separating the raw cotton from the seeds. To the stranger it is very astonishing that as many as 66 to 75 pounds of seed are got from every 100 pounds of seed cotton gathered. Then in or near the cotton field the process of baling is carried out. Thus there are collecting, ginning and baling, as preliminary processes.

When the cotton arrives in bales at the mill (see Fig. 10), in which it is to be cleaned, opened and spun, it is first weighed and a record kept.

In the mill the first real operation is the taking of quantities of cotton from different bales of cotton from various countries, or different grades from the same country, and "mixing" so as to secure a greater uniformity in the quality of the yarn produced. In this process it is now the common practice to use a machine termed the "Bale Breaker," or "Cotton Puller."

The second important process carried out in the mill is "opening." By this the matted masses of cotton fibres are to a great extent opened out, and a large percentage of the heavy impurities, such as sand, shell, and leaf, fall out by their own weight. It is now also usual at this stage to form the cotton into a large roll or sheet called the "lap."

Immediately following the "opening" comes "scutching," which is merely a continuation of the work performed by the "opener," but done in such a way that greater attention is bestowed upon the production of an even sheet or "lap" of cotton.

The cotton at this stage is practically in the same condition as it was when first gathered from the tree in the plantation.

Carding comes next in order, and it should be observed that this is one of the most beautiful and instructive operations carried on in the mill.

The process of opening out the cotton is continued in this operation to such an extent that the fibres are practically individually separated, and while in this condition very fine impurities are removed, and many of the short and unripe fibres which are always more or less present are removed. Before leaving the machine the fibres are gathered together again in a most wonderful manner and converted into a "sliver," which for all the world looks like a rope of cotton, a little less than an inch in diameter.

In most mills "drawing" succeeds "carding," this operation having for its object (1) the doubling together of four to eight slivers from the card and attenuating them to the dimension of one so as to secure greater uniformity in diameter. (2) The reduction of the crossed and entangled fibres from the card into parallel or side by side order.

After "drawing," the cotton is brought to and sent through a series of machines termed "Bobbin and Fly Frames." There are usually three of these machines for the cotton to pass through, to which are given the names of "Slubbing," "Intermediate," and "Roving" Frames.

Their duties are to carry on the operation of making the sliver of cotton finer or thinner until it is ready for the final process of spinning, and incidentally to add to the uniformity and cleanliness of the thread of cotton.

The final process of spinning is chiefly performed on one of two machines, the "Mule" and the "Ring Frame," either of which makes a thread largely used without further treatment in a spinning mill.

Sometimes, however, the thread is further treated by such operations as doubling, reeling, gassing, etc. It should be added that in the production of the finest and best yarns an important process is gone through, named "combing."

This may be defined as a continuation of the carding process already named before to a much more perfect degree. The chief object is to extract all fibres below a certain required length, and reject them as waste. There is as much of this latter made at this stage of manufacture as that made by all the other machines put together, that is, about 17 per cent. Of course it will be readily seen that this is a costly operation and is limited entirely to the production of the very best and finest yarns.

This process necessitates the employment of a machine called a "Sliver Lap" and sometimes a "Ribbon Lap Machine" in order to put the slivers from the carding engine into a small lap suitable for the "creel" of the "Combing Machine."

Cotton Mixing and the Bale Breaker.—As before stated, the first operation in the mill is the opening out of bales of raw material and making a "mixing." Of course the weight of the bale is ascertained before it is opened.

All varieties of cotton vary in their commercial properties, this variation being due to a number of causes. From a commercial value point of view, there is an enormous difference between the very best and the very worst cottons; so much so, indeed, that they are never blended together. Between these two extremes there is a well-graded number of varieties and classifications of cotton, and some approximate so closely to others in quality, that they are often blended together in the "mixing."

Further than this, the same class of cotton often varies in spinning qualities from a number of circumstances that need not here be named. This is, however, an additional reason why cotton from various bales should be blended together in order to secure uniformity.

A cotton "mixing" may be described as a kind of "stack," resembling somewhat the haystack of the farm yards.

The method usually pursued in making this mixing is somewhat as follows:—A portion of cotton from a certain bale is taken off and spread over a given area of floor space. Then a similar portion from another bale is placed over the first layer already lying on the floor.

The same operation is followed with a third and fourth layer from different bales, and so on with as many bales as the management consider there are variations in quality, the larger the mixing the better for securing uniformity of yarn.

When it is desired to use the cotton, it should be pulled down vertically from the face of the "mixing," so as to secure a fair portion from each bale composing the mixture. Before spreading the cotton out it is usually pulled into pieces of moderate size by the hands of the operative.

During recent years it has become the very general practice to use a small machine called the "Bale Breaker" or "Cotton Puller," and to have also working in conjunction with this machine long travelling "lattices" called "mixing lattices." These perform the operation of "pulling" and "mixing" the cotton much more quickly and effectively than by hand labour.

The "Cotton Puller" or "Bale Breaker" (see Fig. 12) simply consists, in its most useful form, of four pairs of coarsely fluted or spiked rollers of about 6 inches diameter with a feed apron or lattice such as is shown in the illustration.

Image: FIG. 12.—Bale breaker or puller.

The method adopted with the "Bale Breaker" and "mixing lattices" in use is as follows:—

The various bales of cotton intended for "mixing" are placed very near to the feed apron of the Bale Breaker, and a layer from each bale in succession is placed on the apron. The latter feeds the cotton at a slow rate to the revolving rollers of the machine, and as each pair of top and bottom rollers that the cotton meets is revolving more rapidly than the preceding pair, the result is a pulling asunder of the cotton by the rollers, into much smaller pieces, quite suitable for the next machine. The Bale Breaker delivers the cotton upon long travelling aprons of lattice work, which carry the cotton away and deposit it upon any desired portion of the floor to form the "mixing."

Opening.—The name of the next process, viz., "opening," has been given it because its primary function is "to open" out the cotton to such an extent that the greater bulk of the seed, leaf, sand, and dust is readily extracted. The details of this machine and indeed practically of all machines used in cotton spinning, vary so much with different makers, that it would be utterly out of place to deal with them here, so that it may be said at once, that all such points are entirely omitted from this treatment of the subject.

The essential and principal portions of the machines are practically identical for all makers, and it is with these only that it is proposed to deal, taking in all cases the best present-day practice.

The opener, then, is a very powerful machine, being in fact the most powerful used in cotton spinning, and the most important feature of the machine is the employment of a strong beater, to which is fitted a large number of iron or steel knives or spikes. These beat down the cotton and open it at a terrific rate, the beater having a surface speed of perhaps 4000 feet a minute. Various fans, rollers, and other parts are employed to feed the cotton to the beater, and to take it away again after treatment. It will perhaps best serve the purpose of our readers if the passage of the cotton be described through an opener of the most modern and approved construction, dealing with the subject in non-technical terms.

With this object in view, take for example what is termed "The Double Cotton Opener" with "Hopper Feed Attachment." This machine is shown in Fig. 13.

Image: FIG. 13.—"Double opener" with "hopper feed."

The Hopper Feed is about the most recent improvement of any magnitude generally adopted in cotton spinning mills. It is an attachment to the initial or feed end of an opener with the object of feeding the cotton more cheaply and effectively than it can be done by hand.

It may be said to consist of a large iron feed box, into which the cotton is passed in considerable quantities at one time. At the bottom of the feed box, or hopper, is a travelling apron which carries the cotton forward, so as to be brought within the action of steel pins in an inclined travelling apron or lattice. This latter carries the cotton upwards, and special mechanism is provided in the shape of what is termed an "Evener roller," to prevent too much cotton going forward at once.

The cotton that passes over the top of the inclined lattice or apron is stripped off by what is denominated the stripping roller, and is then deposited on the feed apron of the opener, where formerly it was placed by hand.

It may be said that one man can feed two machines with Hopper Feeds as against one without them, and in the best makes the work is done more effectively.

The feed lattice of the opener carries the cotton along to the feed rollers, which project it forward into the path of the large beater. It is here that the opening and cleaning actions are chiefly performed.

The strong knives or spikes of the beater break the cotton into very small portions indeed, and dash it against "cleaning bars" or "grate bars" specially arranged and constructed. Through the interstices of these bars much of the now loosened seed and dirt present in the cotton passes into a suitable receptacle, which is afterward cleaned out at regular intervals.

The opened and cleaned cotton is taken away from the action of the beater by an air current produced by a powerful fan. This latter creates a partial vacuum in the beater chamber by blowing the air out of certain air exit trunks specially provided. To supply this partial vacuum afresh, air can only be obtained from the beater chamber, and the air current thus induced, takes the cotton along with it, and deposits it in the form of a sheet upon what are termed "cages" or "sieve cylinders."

These are hollow cylinders of iron or zinc perforated with a very large number of small holes through which the air rushes, leaving the cotton, as it were, plastered on the outer surfaces of the cages.

It is usual to have a pair of these cages, working one over the other like the pair of rollers in a wringing machine.

The cotton now passes between two pairs of small guide rollers, and is fed by the second pair to a second beater, but of very different construction from the first one.

This consists of two or three iron or steel blades extending the full width of the machine and carried by specially constructed arms from a strong central shaft.

The edges of these beater blades are made somewhat sharp, and they strike down the cotton from the feed roller at the rate of 2000 or more blows per minute.

This of course carries the opening work of the cotton of the first beater to a still further degree, and as in this case the cotton is also struck down upon "beater bars" or cleaning bars, a further quantity of loosened impurities passes through the bars. As before, another powerful fan creates an air current by which the cotton is carried away from the beater and placed upon a pair of "Cages." From this point the cotton is conducted in the form of a sheet between four heavy calender or compression rollers, the rollers being superimposed over each other, and the cotton receiving three compressions in its passage.

This makes a much more solid and tractable sheet of cotton, and it is now simply wound upon an iron roller in the form of a roll of cotton termed a "lap," being now ready for the subsequent process, as shown in the illustration (Fig. 14).

Image: FIG. 14.—Scutching machine with "lap" at the back.

Scutching.—This term obviously means beating, and the process itself is simply a repetition of the opening and cleaning properties of the opener, these objects being attained to a greater degree of perfection. For the best classes of cotton it is often deemed sufficient to pass it through the opener alone, and then to immediately transfer the lap to the process of carding. For some cottons it is the practice to pass the cotton through two scutchers in addition to the opener, while in other cases it is the practice to use one scutcher only in addition to the opener.

In the scutcher it is the most common practice to take four laps from the opener and to place them in a specially constructed creel and resting on a travelling "lattice" or apron. By this they are slowly unwound and the four sheets are laid one upon another and passed in one combined sheet, through feed rollers, to a two or three bladed beater, exactly like the second one described when treating upon the double opener. Also, exactly in the same manner, a lap is formed ready for the immediately succeeding process of carding. In the scutcher the doubling of four laps together tends to produce a sheet of cotton more uniform in thickness and weight than that from the opener. This object of equality of lap is also invariably aided by what are termed Automatic Feed Regulators, which regulate the weight of cotton given to the beater to something like a continuous uniformity. The action is clearly seen in the illustration.

Carding.—By many persons this is deemed to be the most important operation in cotton spinning. Its several duties may be stated as follows:—

1. The removal of a large proportion of any impurities, such as broken leaf, seed and shell, that may have escaped the previous processes. It may usually be deemed to be the final process of cleansing.

2. To open out and disentangle the clusters of fibres into even greater individualisation than existed when first picked, and to leave them in such condition that the subsequent operations can easily draw them out, and reduce them to parallel order.

3. The extraction of a good proportion of the short, broken and unripe fibres, present more or less in all cottons grown, and practically worthless from a manufacturing point of view.

4. The reduction of the heavy sheet or lap of cotton from the scutcher, into a comparatively light and thin sliver. Ordinarily, one yard of the lap put up behind the card weighs more than 100 times as heavy as the sliver delivered at the front of the card.

There are several varieties of Carding Engine, but in each case nearly all the essential features are practically the same in one card as in another. At the present time, the type of Carding Engine which has practically superseded all others is denominated the "Revolving Flat Card." This Card originated with Mr. Evan Leigh, of Manchester, and after being in close competition with several other types has almost driven them out of the market. Of course it has been considerably improved by later inventors, and various machine makers have their own technical peculiarities.

In the illustration seen in Fig. 15 there is conveyed an excellent idea of the appearance of the heavy lap of cotton as it is placed behind the Carding Engine, and of the manner in which the same cotton appears as a "sliver" or soft strand of cotton as it issues from the front of the same machine, and enters the cylindrical can into which it is passed, and coiled into compact layers, suitable for withdrawal at the immediately succeeding process.

Image: FIG. 15.—Two views of the carding engine: upper view, cotton entering; lower view, cotton leaving.

In the main, the parts which operate upon the cotton fibres in their passage through this machine consist of a number of cylinders or rollers of various diameters, but practically equal in width. Some of these rollers are merely to guide and conduct the cotton forward, but the more important are literally bristling all over with a vast number of closely set and finely drawn steel wire teeth, whose duty it is to open, and comb out, and clean the fibers as they pass along.

To begin with, the "lap" or roll of cotton is placed behind the machine so as to rest on a roller of 6 inches in diameter, which slowly unwinds the lap at the rate of about 9 inches per minute, by frictional contact therewith.

Here, it may be said that the width of this and other chief rollers and cylindrical parts of the card may be about 38 inches or 40 inches wide, there being a tendency to make present-day Carding Engines rather narrower than formerly, in order to give greater strength to certain parts. From the lap roller the sheet of cotton is conducted for about 8 inches over a smooth feed plate, and then it goes underneath a fluted roller of 2-1/4 inches diameter, termed the feed roller, having practically the same surface speed as the lap roller, or possibly a small fraction more to keep the cotton lap tight.

At this stage the actual work of the Carding Engine may be said to commence. While the feed roller and the feed plate hold the end of the sheet of cotton and project it forward at the slow rate of 8 or 9 inches per minute, this projecting end of the lap becomes subject to the action of a powerful roller or beater termed the taker-in or licker-in.

The most recent and improved construction of this roller is termed the Metallic Taker-in, and it is covered all over with strong steel teeth shaped something like those of a saw. It is about 9 inches in diameter, and its strong teeth strike the cotton down from the feed roller with a surface speed of nearly 1000 feet per minute.

It is at this stage that the bulk of the heavier impurities still found in the cotton are removed, as these fall through certain grids below the taker-in immediately they are loosened from the retaining fibres by the powerful teeth of the taker-in.

The great bulk of the cotton fibres, however, are retained by the teeth of the taker-in and carried round the under side to a point where they are exposed to the action of the central and most important part of every Carding Engine, viz., the main "cylinder." The licker-in contains about twenty-eight teeth per square inch, but the "cylinder" is the first of the parts that the cotton arrives at, previously referred to as being covered with a vast number of closely set steel wire teeth.

Just to convey an idea of this point to the uninitiated reader, it may be said that it is quite common to have on the "cylinder" as many as 600 steel wire teeth in one square inch. For a cylinder 40 inches wide and 50 inches diameter, this works out to the vast number of over 3,800,000 steel wire teeth on one cylinder, each tooth being about 1/4 inch long, and secured in a cloth or rubber foundation before the latter is wound round the cylinder.

The steel teeth of the cylinder strip the fibres from the taker-in and carry them in an upward direction, the surface speed of the cylinder being over 2000 feet per minute.

Placed over the cylinder, and extending for nearly one-half of its circumference, are what are technically known as the "flats."

These are narrow iron bars, each about 1-3/8 inches wide; each being covered with steel wire teeth in the same manner as the cylinder; and each extending right across the width of the cylinder, and resting on a suitable bearing termed the "bend."

They are formed into an endless chain containing about 108 "flats," but only about 44 of which are in actual work at one time; this endless chain of flats being given a slow movement of about 3 inches per minute.

Here it may be said that the various working parts are set as close as possible to each other without being in actual contact, the usual distance being about 1/143rd of an inch determined by a specially constructed gauge, in the hands of a skilled workman.

The steel teeth of the flats, being set very close to those of the cylinder, catch hold of and retain a portion of the short warty fibres and fine impurities that may be on the points of the cylinder teeth, the amount of this reaching about 3 per cent. of the cotton passed through the machine. In addition to this the teeth of the flats work against those of the cylinder so as to exercise a combing action on the cotton fibres.

Having passed the "flats," the cotton is deposited by the cylinder on what is termed the doffer. This is a cylindrical body, exactly similar to the main "cylinder" excepting that it is only about half the diameter, say 24 inches. Its steel wire teeth are set in the opposite way to those of the cylinder, and its surface speed is only about 75 feet per minute. These two circumstances acting together enable it to take the cotton fibres from the main cylinder.

The operations of carding may now be said to be practically performed, as the remaining operations have for their object the stripping, collecting, and guiding of the cotton into a form suitable for the next succeeding processes. The fleece of cotton is stripped from the doffer by the "Doffer Comb," which is a thin bar of steel, having a serrated under edge, and making about 1600 beats or strokes per minute. From this point cotton is collected into the form of a loose rope or "sliver," and passed first through a trumpet-shaped mouth, and then through a pair of calender rollers about six inches wide and four inches in diameter.

Image: FIG. 16.—Lap, web, and sliver of cotton.

Finally, the sliver of cotton is carried upward, as shown in the illustration (Fig. 15), and passed through special apparatus and deposited into the can, also shown. This latter is about 10 inches in diameter and 36 inches in length, and the whole arrangement for depositing the cotton suitably into the can is denominated the "Coiler." In the next illustration (Fig. 16) are shown three forms in which the cotton is found before and after working by the Carding Engine. That to the left is the lap as it enters, the middle figure is part of the web as it comes from the doffer, and that to the right is part of a coil of cotton from the can.

Such is a brief description of the most important of the preparatory processes of cotton spinning. There are innumerable details involving technical knowledge which fall outside the province of this story.

Drawing Frames.—It is a very common thing for a new beginner in the study of cotton spinning to ask—what is the use of the drawing frame? As a matter of fact, the unpractised eye cannot see any difference between the sliver or soft rope of cotton as it reaches, the drawing frame and as it leaves the frame.

The experienced eye of the practical man can, however, detect a wonderful difference.

It has been shown that the immediately preceding operation of carding—amongst other things—reduces the heavy lap into a comparatively thin light sliver; thus advancing with one great stride a long way toward the production of the long fine thread of yarn ready for the market.

No such difference can be perceived in the sliver at the drawing frame. This machine is practically devoted to improving the thread finally made in two distinct and important ways.

1. The fibres of cotton in the sliver, as they leave the Carding Engine, are in a very crossed and entangled condition, not at all suited to the production of a strong yarn by the usual processes of cotton spinning. The first duty of the drawing frame may be said, therefore, to be the laying of the fibres in parallel order to one another, by the action of the drawing rollers.

2. The sliver of cotton, as it leaves the card, is by no means sufficiently uniform in weight per yard for the production of a uniform and strong finished thread. It will easily be conceived by the readers of this story of the cotton plant that the strength of any thread is only that of its weakest portions.

Take a rope intended to hold a heavy weight suspended at its lower end, and assume it to be made of the best material and stoutest substance, but to contain one very weak place in it; this rope would practically be useless, because the strength of the rope would only be that of the weakest part.

The drawing machine in cotton spinning aims at removing the weak places in cotton thread, thus making the real strength of the thread vastly greater than it would otherwise be.

The method by which these important objects are attained may be briefly explained as follows:—

From four to eight, but most usually six, cans of sliver from the previous machine are placed behind the frame, and the ends of the slivers conducted over special mechanism within the range of action of four pairs of drawing rollers. This passage of the cotton is shown very clearly in Fig. 17.

The top rollers are made of cast iron, covered with soft and highly finished leather made from sheepskins, the object of this being to cause the rollers to have a firm grip of the cotton fibres, without at the same time injuring them. The bottom rollers are of iron or steel, made with longitudinal flutes or grooves, in order to bite the cotton fibres firmly on the leathers of the top rollers. In order to assist the rollers in maintaining a firm grip of the fibres the top rollers are held down by somewhat heavy weights.

The action of the drawing rollers will be adequately discussed later in this story, when dealing with the inventions of Lewis Paul and Sir Richard Arkwright, and need not be enlarged upon at this stage.

It will be sufficient, therefore, to say that, assuming that six slivers are put up together at the back of the frame, the "draft" or amount of drawing-out between the first and second pairs of rollers the cotton comes to, may be about 1.3, between the second and third pairs 1.8, and between the third and fourth pairs 2.6. These three multiplied together give a total draft of slightly over 6.

In other words, assuming that 1 inch of cotton be passed through the first pair of rollers, the second pair will immediately draw it out into 1.3 inches; the third pair will draw out the same portion of cotton into 1.3 x 1.8 inches = 2.34 inches, and the fourth or last pair of rollers will draw out the same portion of cotton into 2.34 x 2.6 inches = 6.084.

Image: FIG. 17.—Drawing frame showing eight slivers entering and one leaving the machine.

The six slivers put up at the back are therefore drawn out or attenuated to the dimensions of one by the rollers, and then at the delivery side of the machine the six slivers are united into one sliver, and arranged in beautiful order inside a can exactly as described for the Carding Engine.

Now it is in the doubling together and again drawing-out of the slivers of cotton that the two objects of making the fibres parallel and the slivers uniform are effected.

In the first place, even the uninitiated readers of this story may conceive that the combining of six slivers will naturally cause any extra thick or thin places in any of the individual slivers to become much reduced in extent by falling along with correct diameters of the other five slivers; and experience proves that such is the actual fact. In this way the slivers, or soft untwisted ropes of cotton, are made uniform.

It is perhaps not so easy to see how it is that drawing rollers make the fibres of cotton parallel. As a matter of fact, it may be said that as each pair of rollers projects the fibres forward, the next pair of rollers takes hold of the fibres and draws their front extremities forward more rapidly than the other pair will let the back extremities of the same fibres pass forward. It is this action often repeated that draws the fibres straight, or in other words, reduces them to a condition in which they are parallel to each other.

It is the usual practice to pass each portion of cotton through three separate frames in this manner, in immediate and rapid succession. The "slivers" or ropes of cotton made at the front of the first drawing frame, would be placed in their cans behind a second drawing frame and the exact process just described would be repeated. The same identical process would usually be performed yet a third time in order to secure the required objects with what is considered a sufficient degree of perfection.

After this the cotton is usually deemed to be quite ready for the immediately succeeding process of "slubbing."

Bobbin and Fly Frames.—The series of machines now to be dealt with, are distinguished more for their complicated mechanism in putting twist into the attenuated cotton and in winding it upon bobbins in suitable form for the immediately succeeding process, than for the action of the parts upon the cotton so as to render it better fitted for the production of strong, fine yarn.

The manner in which these machines perform a part in the actual production of a thread or yarn is practically a repetition of the work of the drawing frame, with the great difference that the strand or thin rope of cotton leaves each machine of the series in a thinner and longer condition than when it arrived.

This attenuation of the cotton roving is indeed the chief desideratum that bobbin and fly frames aim at, although they assist in making the strand of cotton more uniform by carrying still further to a limited extent the doubling principle so extensively utilised at the drawing frames.

The basis of the operations are again the drawing rollers, brought to such a state of perfection by Richard Arkwright, and here it may be useful to remind the readers of this story how superior in this respect of general adaption Arkwright's method of spinning was to that of Hargreaves'. It will be remembered that the latter named inventor utilised a travelling carriage, for drawing the cotton finer, while the former performed the same work by drawing rollers.

Although the travelling carriage principle was at one time somewhat largely utilised in preparing the rovings for the final process of spinning, it has long since entirely given way before the superior merits and adaptability of the drawing roller principle; and it is now this latter method which is universally employed.

It usually takes three bobbin and fly frames to make up what may be called a "set," each portion of the cotton roving passing through the three machines in succession. For low classes of yarn only two of these machines may be used, while for the finest yarns there are sometimes four used to make up the "set."

Of course, all the readers of this story must understand that in an ordinary-sized cotton spinning mill there will be many sets of these machines, just as there will be a large number of "carding engines" and "drawing frames," and mules. Bale brakers, openers and scutchers are so very productive that only a limited number is required as compared with the other machines already named.

Those of our readers who have studied the details of Arkwright's spinning frame, described in another chapter in this book, and have understood those details, will have a clear comprehension of the action of the parts and leading mechanical principles concerned in the operations of a modern bobbin and fly frame. Certainly there are some of the most difficult problems of cotton spinning involved in the mechanism of these machines, but these points are so highly technical that it is not intended to introduce them here.

The "set" of machines just named are usually known by the names "Slubber," "Intermediate or Second Slubber," and "Roving" Frames.

Nearly all the operations and mechanisms involved in one are almost identical in the others, so that a description of one only in the set is necessary, merely explaining that the parts of each machine the cotton comes to in the latter two of the set are smaller and more finely set than the corresponding parts of the immediately preceding machine.

Taking the Intermediate frame as a basis, the operation may be described as follows:—The bobbins formed at the slubbing frame are put in the creel of the Intermediate, as shown in the photograph (Fig. 18), each bobbin resting on a wooden skewer or peg which will easily rotate.

In order to increase the uniformity of the roving or strand of cotton, the ends from two of the slubbing rovings are conducted together through the rollers of the machine.

There are three pairs of these rollers, acting on the cotton in every way just as described for the drawing frame.

Although two rovings are put together behind the rollers, yet the "draft" or drawing-out power of the rollers is such, that the roving that issues from the front of the rollers is about three times as thin as each individual roving put up behind the rollers. This drawing-out action of the rollers need not be further dilated upon at this stage.

The points which demand some little attention at our hands, are the methods and mechanism involved in twisting the attenuated roving, and winding it upon bobbins or spools in suitable form for the next process.

Image: FIG. 18.—Intermediate frame (bobbin and fly frame).

As regards twisting of the roving it must be distinctly understood that when the attenuated strand of cotton issues from the rollers of the first bobbin and fly frame, it has become so thin and weak that it can no longer withstand the requisite handling without being seriously damaged. Hence the introduction of "Twist," which is by far the most important strength-producing factor or principle entering into the composition of cotton roving and yarn.

Without twist there would be no cotton factories, no cotton goods; none of the splendid and gigantic buildings of one description or another which are found so plentifully intermingled with the dwellings and factories of large cotton manufacturing towns!

In a sense it is to this all-powerful factor of "twist" that all these buildings owe their existence, since it would be practically impossible to make a thread from cotton fibres without the assistance of "twist" to make the fibres adhere to each other. Hence there could be none of that wealth which has caused the erection of these buildings.

This is true in a double sense, since we have both the natural twist of the cotton fibres and the artificial twist introduced at the latter processes of cotton spinning, in order to make individual fibres and aggregations of fibres adhere to each other. What is termed the natural twist of the fibres may average in good cottons upwards of 180 twists per inch, while the twists per inch put into the finished threads of yarn from those fibres may vary, say, between 20 and 30 twists per inch.

In all the fly frames, therefore, this artificial twist is invariably and necessarily put into the roving. As the cotton leaves the front or delivery rollers, each strand descends to a bobbin of from 8 to 12 inches long, upon which it is wound by special mechanism. As in Arkwright's frame, this bobbin is placed loosely upon a vertical "spindle," and upon the latter is fitted a "flyer," whose duty it is to guide the cotton upon the bobbin.

The primary duty of the spindle is to insert the "twist" which has been shown to be so necessary to give sufficient strength to the roving.

Let any reader of this story hold a piece of soft stuff in one hand while with the other hand he rotates or twists the roving and he will have an idea of the method and effect of twisting (see Fig. 19).

Without going into minute details we may say that the practical effect is that, while the roving is held firmly by the rollers, it is twisted by means of its connection at the other end to the rotating bobbin, spindle and flyer. The twist runs right from the spindle along the 6 to 12 inches of cotton that may extend from the spindle top to the "nip" of the rollers, thus imparting the requisite strength to the roving as it issues from the rollers. The mechanism for revolving the spindles is by no means difficult to understand, simply consisting of a number of shafts and wheels revolved at a constant, definite and regulated speed per minute.

Not only is it necessary to provide special apparatus for twisting the cotton at the bobbin and fly frames, but also very complicated and highly ingenious mechanism for winding the attenuated cotton in suitable form upon the bobbins. Indeed it is with this very mechanism that some of the most difficult problems of cotton spinning machinery are associated.

Although the cotton at this stage is strengthened by twist, yet it is extremely inadvisable and practically inadmissible to insert more than from 1 to about 4 twists per inch at any of these machines, so that at the best the rovings are still very weak.

If too much twist were inserted at any stage, the drawing rollers of the immediately succeeding machine could not carry on the attenuating process satisfactorily.

This winding problem was so difficult that it absolutely baffled the ingenuity of Arkwright and his contemporaries and immediate successors, and it was not until about 1825 that the difficulties were solved by the invention of the differential winding motion by Mr. Holdsworth, a well-known Manchester spinner, whose successors are still eminent master cotton spinners.

This winding motion is still more extensively used than any other, although it may be said that quite recently several new motions have been more or less adopted, whose design is to displace Holdsworth's motion by performing the same work in a rather more satisfactory manner.

In these pages no attempt whatever will be made to give a technical explanation of the mechanism of the winding motion. It may be said that it was a special application of the Sun and Planet motion originally utilised by Watt in his Steam Engine, for obtaining a rotary motion of his fly-wheel.

Sufficient be it to say that this "Differential Motion," acting in conjunction with what are termed "Cone drums," imparts a varying motion to the bobbins upon which the cotton is wound, in such a manner that the rate of winding is kept practically constant throughout the formation of the bobbins of roving, although the diameters of the latter are constantly increasing.

The spindles and bobbins always rotate in the same direction, but while the revolutions per minute of the spindles are constant, so as to keep the twist uniform, those of the bobbins are always varying, in order to compensate for their increasing diameters or thicknesses of the bobbins. The delivery of cotton from the rollers is also constant and the mechanism required to operate them is exceedingly simple.

A vast number of details could easily be added respecting the operations performed by the bobbin and fly frames, but further treatment is deemed unnecessary in this story.



There can be no better illustration of the truth of the old saying, that "Necessity is the mother of invention," than to read the early history of the cotton manufacture, and the difficulties under which the pioneers of England's greatest industry laboured.

The middle years of the eighteenth century act as the watershed between the old and the new in cotton manufacture, for up to 1760 the same type of machinery was found in England which had existed in India for centuries. But a change was coming, and as a greater demand arose for cotton goods, it became absolutely necessary to discover some better way of manipulating cotton, in order to get off a greater production.

"When inventors fail in their projects, no one pities them; when they succeed, persecution, envy, and jealousy are their reward." So says Baines, and it would appear, from reference to the history of the cotton industry, to be only too true. Certain it is, that the early inventors of the machinery for improving cotton spinning did not reap the advantages which their labours and inventions entitled them to. They ploughed and sowed, but others reaped.

Among the most celebrated of the early inventors, the following stand out in great prominence—John Kay, Lewis Paul, John Wyatt, Richard Arkwright, Thomas Highs, James Hargreaves, and Samuel Crompton.

When and how spinning originated no one can say, though it can be traced back through many, many centuries. Several nations claim to have been the first to discover the art, but when asked for proof the initial stages are greatly obscured by impenetrable clouds of mystery.

For example, the Egyptians credit the goddess Isis with the discovery, the Greeks Minerva, the Chinese the Emperor Yao. It is related of Hercules, that, when in love with Omphale, he debased himself by taking the spindle and spinning a thread at her feet. This form of work was considered to belong only to women, and by spinning for her in this position he was thought to have greatly humiliated himself.

If Hercules were back again, and could stand between two modern mules and see the men and boys engaged in spinning hundreds of threads at once, no doubt he would wonder, just as we do to-day at his fabled feats.

It is not difficult to imagine that very early on in the world's history the twisting together of strands of wool and cotton would force itself upon the attention of the ancients. If the reader will take a little cotton wool in the left hand and by means of the first finger and thumb of the right take a few cotton fibres and gently twist them together and at the same time draw the thread formed outwards, it will be seen how very easy it is (from the nature of the cotton) to form a continuous thread.

What would very soon suggest itself would be something to which the thread, when twisted, could be fastened and, according to Mr. Marsden (who supposes the first spinner to have been a shepherd boy), a twig which was close at hand would be the very thing to which he could attach his twisted fibres. He also supposes that, having spun a short length, the twig by accident was allowed to dangle and immediately to untwist by spinning round in the reverse way, and ultimately fall to the ground.

He further adds, the boy would argue to himself "that if this revolving twig could take the twist out by a reversion of its movements, it could be made to put it in." This would be the first spinning spindle. The explanation is probably not very far wide of the mark.

A weighted twig or spindle would next be used, and as each length of spun thread was finished, it would be wound on to the spindle and fastened.

As it would be extremely awkward to work the fibre up without a proper supply, a bundle of this was fastened to the end of a stick and carried most probably under the left arm, leaving the right hand free, or in the belt, much in the same way as is done in some country districts in the North of Europe to-day.

The modern name for this stick is Distaff, a word which is derived from the Low German—diesse, the bunch of flax on a distaff, and staff. Originally it would be the staff on which the tow or flax was fastened, and from which the thread was drawn. The modern representative of the spindle with the twisted thread wound on it is the "cop," and the intermittent actions of first putting twist in the thread and then winding on the spindle, have their exact counterparts on the latest of the self-acting mules of to-day.

Image: FIG. 19.—Twist put in cotton by the hand.

It may be interesting to note that St. Distaff's Day is January 7th, the day after the Epiphany, a church festival celebrated in commemoration of the visit of the Wise Men of the East to Bethlehem. As this marks the end of the Christmas festival, work with the distaff was commenced, hence the name, St. Distaff's Day.

It is also called "Rock Day," rock being another name for distaff. "Rocking Day" in Scotland was a feasting day when friends and neighbours met together in the early days of the New Year, to celebrate the end of the Christmastide festival.

The reign of Henry VII. is said to have witnessed the introduction into England of the spindle and distaff.

In process of time, the suspended spindle was superseded by one which was driven by mechanical means. Over and over again, the spindle, as it lay upon the floor, must have suggested that it could be made to work in that position, viz., horizontal. And so comes now a contrivance for holding the spindle in this position.

Mr. Baines, in his history of the cotton manufacture, gives a figure of an old Hindoo spinning wheel, and it is extremely likely that this very form of machine was the forerunner of the type which later on found its way into Europe. At the beginning of the sixteenth century what was known as the Jersey wheel came into common use. This machine is shown in Fig. 20.

Lying to the left hand of the woman in the illustration is a hand card. This consisted of square board with a handle, and was covered by fine wire driven in, so as to make what was really a wire brush. By means of this, the spinner was enabled to prepare her cotton, and she did with it (though not nearly so well) what is done by the Carding Engine of to-day, viz., fully opened out the fibres of cotton ready for spinning. Having taken the cotton from the hand cards, she produced at first a very thick thread which was called a roving. This she wound on a spindle, which was afterwards treated again on the wheel a second time, and drawn out still more, and then having the twist put in, it was made much thinner into so-called yarn. Only one thread could by this method be dealt with at a time by one person, but the main operations carried out on the old spinning wheel have their exact reproductions on the mule of to-day, viz.:—Drawing, Twisting and Winding.

Image: FIG. 20.—Jersey spinning wheel (after Baines).

But still the process of evolution went on, and following quickly on the heels of the Jersey wheel is the Saxony or Leipsic wheel. Here for the first time is seen the combination of spindle, flyer and bobbin.

This machine was so arranged that by means of two grooved wheels of different diameters, but both driven by the large wheel similar to the one in the Jersey wheel, and which was operated by the spinner, two speeds were obtained. The bobbin was attached to the smaller, and the spindle, to which was fastened the flyer or "Twister," was driven by the larger of two wheels.

In this form of spinning machine, then, there were the following operations performed:—

By the spindle and flyer both revolving at the same velocity, the thread was attenuated and twisted as it was carried to the bobbin. This latter was, as already named, driven by the smaller of the two wheels and had a motion all its own, though much quicker than that of the spindle. In this way a bobbin of yarn was built up, and the Saxony wheel no doubt gave many fruitful ideas to the inventors who appeared later on, and who, by reason of their research and experiment, evolved the fly frames of to-day; this was notably so in the case of Arkwright.

There had been very great opposition to the introduction of cotton goods into England by manufacturers and others interested in the wool and fustian trade, and matters even got so bad that the British Parliament was foolish enough to actually pass an Act in 1720, prohibiting "the use or wear in Great Britain, in any garment or apparel whatsoever, of any printed, painted, stained, or dyed calico, under the penalty of forfeiting to the informer the sum of L5."

Just as though this was not sufficiently severe, it was also enacted that persons using printed or dyed calico "in or about any bed, chair, cushion, window-curtain, or any other sort of household stuff or furniture," would be fined L20, and a like amount was to be paid by those who sold the stuff.

There can be no doubt whatever, that this Act was designed to strike a death-blow at the cotton industry, which at this time was beginning to make itself felt in the commerce of the country. A curious exception should be mentioned here. Calico, which was all blue, was exempted from the provisions of this Act, as were also muslins, fustians and neck-ties. However, in 1736 this iniquitous piece of legislation was somewhat relaxed, and Parliament was good enough to decree in the year just named that it would be lawful for anyone to wear "any sort of stuff made of linen yarn and cotton wool manufactured and printed or painted with any colour or colours within the kingdom of Great Britain, provided that the warp thereof be entirely linen yarn."

Now as half a loaf is better than none, the cotton manufacturers received a direct impulse by the partial removal of the obnoxious restriction, and very soon the supply was far ahead of the demand.

Manufacturers were crying out constantly for more weight and better stuff, but how by the mechanical means at the disposal of the spinners were they to get it? Lancashire historians say that it was no uncommon thing for weavers to travel miles in search of weft, and then many of them returned to their looms with only a quarter of the amount they required.

Another cause which acted in the direction of increasing the demand for yarns and weft was the invention of the flying shuttle by John Kay about 1738. Previous to his time, the heavy shuttles containing the wefts were sent across the looms by two persons. Now, by his new shuttle he dispensed with the services of one of these artisans, and by means of his arrangement for quickly sending the shuttle along the lathe of the loom, much more cloth was produced. Poor Kay suffered much by the cruel persecution of his countrymen, who ignorantly supposed that in bringing his new shuttle to such perfection, they would be deprived permanently of their occupations, with nothing but starvation looking them in the face. Of course, nothing could be wider of the truth than this, but Kay had to flee his country, and died in poverty and obscurity in a foreign land. Still the shuttle continued to be used, for the makers of cloth had learned that increased production meant more work, and possibly greater profit, and though Kay disappeared, his works remained behind. The demand for weft grew more and more. It has been said that it is the occasion which makes the man, and not man the occasion. It was so in this case, for here was a cry for some mechanical means to be discovered for satisfying the ever-increasing demand for cotton weft. Hitherto single threads only had been dealt with on the spinning machines, but the same year witnessed the introduction of an invention which in a few years completely revolutionized the spinning industry, and which enabled one worker to spin hundreds of threads at once.

The year 1738, which witnessed the birth of Kay's invention, also saw that of Lewis Paul, an artisan of Birmingham. This was a new method of spinning by means of Rollers. It should be remembered that this was thirty years before Arkwright attempted to obtain letters patent for his system of spinning by rollers.

Most of the readers of this little book will have seen what is known in domestic parlance as a clothes-wringer. Here the wooden or rubber rollers, by means of weights or screws, are made to squeeze out most of the moisture which remains after the garment has left the washing-tub. Now if two sets of such rollers could be put together, so that in section the four centres would coincide with the four angular points of a square, and the back pair could be made to have a greater surface velocity than the front pair, this arrangement would give something like the idea which Paul had in his mind at that time. Why make the back pair revolve at a greater rate? For this reason, that as the cotton was supplied to the front pair, and passed on to the second, remembering that these are going at a greater rate, it follows that the cotton would be drawn out in passing from the first to the second pair. Had the rollers been both going at the same speeds, the cotton would pass out as it went in, unaffected. Now it was this idea which Paul practically set out in his machine. From some reason or other, Paul's right to this patent has been often called into question, and up to 1858 it was popularly supposed to have been the sole invention of John Wyatt of Birmingham. In the year named, Mr. Cole, in a paper read before the British Association, proved that Paul was the real patentee, and established the validity of his claim without doubt.

The two distinguishing features of Paul's Spinning Machine were: (1) by means of the rollers and flyers he performed the operations of drawing-out and twisting, which had hitherto been done by the fingers and thumbs of the spinners; and (2) he changed the position of the spindle itself from the horizontal to the vertical.

A glance at the Transactions of the Society for the Encouragement of Arts, Manufactures and Commerce, shows that this period (1760-1770) was most prolific of inventions specially relating to the various sections of the cotton industry. There were "improved spinning wheels," "a horizontal spinning wheel," and three other forms of "spinning machines" submitted to the above society between 1761 and 1767, in the hope of obtaining money grants in the shape of premiums, which had been offered to the best inventions for improving spinning machinery in general.

The above list does not however contain any reference to one improvement by James Hargreaves of Blackburn, Lancashire, to which in this story special mention must be made.

It appears that in 1764 or 1765 this individual had completed a machine for spinning eleven threads simultaneously; and five years later he had developed the machine to so perfect a state that he took out a patent for it, from which time it became known to the industrial world as a Spinning Jenny. His right to the patent has over and over again been challenged, and it has been alleged that Thomas Highs of Leigh, also in Lancashire, was the real inventor. Baines, in his "History of the Cotton Manufacture," is inclined to the view that Hargreaves was the first to perfect the machine known as the "Jenny" (see Fig. 21).

From whatever point of view Hargreaves' machine is looked at, it must be acknowledged to be a decided step forward in the direction of spinning machinery improvement.

The jenny was so unlike Arkwright's frame or Paul's, and preceded that of the former by some years, that its claim to originality can not be questioned. How the inventor came to produce his machine can not be stated, but it is reported that on one occasion he saw a single thread spinning wheel which had been accidentally knocked over, lying with the wheel and spindle free and both revolving.

If the reader will think for a minute it will be apparent that the horizontal position of the spindle would be changed to a vertical one, and Hargreaves argued if one spindle could revolve in that way, why should not eight or any number of spindles be made to work at the same time. How far he successfully worked out that idea will be seen if reference be made to the illustration of the jenny which is shown in Fig. 21.

After what has been said under the head of Carding, Drawing, and Roving, it will easily be understood when it is said that, unlike Arkwright's Machine, Hargreaves' Jenny could only deal with the cotton when in the state of roving, and it was the roving which this machine attenuated and twisted or spun into yarn.

If the reader will imagine he or she is standing in front of the jenny, the following description will be made much clearer:—

Image: FIG. 21.—Hargreaves' spinning jenny (after Baines).

The rovings, which have previously been prepared, are each passed from the bobbins seen on the lower creel, through a number of grooves on one of the bars which run across the frame, as seen in the illustration. These rovings are next passed on to the spindles standing at the back of the frame and secured to them. A second bar in front of the one over which the rovings pass, acts as a brake and prevents, when in its proper position, any more roving being delivered, thus securing all between the spindles and the said bar. The wheel which is seen on the right of the jenny communicates with a cylinder by means of a strap or rope, and this cylinder in turning gives circular motion to the spindles which are connected with the cylinder by endless bands. On the spindle is the wharf, specially formed to allow the band to run without slipping.

The operations for a complete spinning of one delivery is described by Baines as follows:—

"A certain portion of roving being extended from the spindles to the wooden clasp, the clasp was closed, and was then drawn along the horizontal frame to a considerable distance from the spindles, by which the threads were lengthened out, and reduced to the proper tenuity; this was done with the spinner's left hand, and his right hand at the same time turned a wheel which caused the spindles to revolve rapidly, and thus the roving was spun into yarn. By returning the clasp to its first situation, and letting down a presser wire, the yarn was wound on the spindle."

Hatred and jealousy were immediately born when Hargreaves' splendid improvement became known, and, like poor Kay before him, he had to leave his native soil and get to some more secluded spot. He ultimately arrived in Nottingham, set at once to accommodate himself to his new environment, and soon entered into partnership with a Mr. James, and in 1770 took out a patent for his Jenny. In conjunction with his new partner, a mill was built, said to be one of the first, if not the first, spinning mill so called in this country.

Though it is stated by Arkwright that Hargreaves died in comparative obscurity and poverty, others say that this is not so; though he was not wealthy the evidence is sufficiently good to believe that he died in moderate circumstances.

The register of St. Mary's Parish, Nottingham, contains the following entry:—"1778, April 22, James Hargraves."



Whatever may be said in favour of other spinning machinery inventors, it is quite certain that when we put the whole of them together, two stand out in greater prominence than any of the rest, viz., Arkwright and Crompton.

Probably the former did more than any other Englishman to establish what is known as the Modern Factory System. He was not what one might call a brilliant man or great inventor, but he had the happy knack of appreciating and seizing upon what he knew was a good thing, and set about instantly to get all out of it that he could, and there are those who strongly affirm that he often got much more than he was entitled to.

However that may be, it can not be denied that he possessed eminent business qualifications, and these, coupled with other of his qualities, helped to make him exceedingly successful.

He first saw the light of day on December 23rd, 1732, in Preston, Lancashire, twenty-one years before his great rival and contemporary, Samuel Crompton. His parents could not possibly afford to give him any schooling, he being the youngest of thirteen. Apprenticed to the trade of barber, he became in time a first-rate man in that business. In 1760, when twenty-eight years of age, he left Preston and settled down in Bolton in Lancashire, setting up the business of barber and peruke-maker. The youthful Samuel Crompton would no doubt pay him many visits when in Churchgate, and little did he dream that the head he so often would undoubtedly use his skill upon was the one which would evolve by and by a machine which would amaze the then commercial world; but it was so. Another part of Arkwright's business, that of travelling up and down the country buying and selling human hair for wig-making, would put him au fait with almost every new invention and idea.

Richard's business card proves that he believed in advertising himself even as a barber.

Just about this time there was much excitement, especially in Lancashire, about the marvellous invention of Hargreaves, the particulars of which had now become known to the public. One of the first to appreciate the significance of this invention was Arkwright himself, so that it may reasonably be supposed that he would in good time know all there was to be known of the mechanism used by Hargreaves in his new method of spinning.

Later on, Arkwright became acquainted with a man named Highs of Leigh, another experimenter in spinning. The circle of his acquaintanceship also included Kay, a clockmaker of Warrington, who had assisted Highs on several occasions in his investigations.

At this time Arkwright's all-absorbing hobby was mechanics, and first one experiment and then another was made in rapid succession. Needless to say, his business of barbering suffered in the meanwhile.

From the first he turned his attention to an improvement of spinning cotton by drawing rollers. His efforts were crowned with success, and he ultimately blossomed into a knight, and was elected High Sheriff of Derbyshire. It is rather singular that he should be about the only one of the cotton-machinery inventors of this age who amassed a fortune; most of the others being but slightly removed from want in their last days.

There were many who claimed that they were the real and original inventors of this method of spinning by rollers, but there can be no doubt that to Arkwright alone belongs the credit for bringing these improvements to a higher state of perfection than they ever attained before.

At the present time, roller drawing is the great basis of the operations of modern spinning, wherever performed.

Not only is this the case in the final stages of production, but it is especially true of most of the preparatory processes, whether used for the production of coarse, medium or fine yarns.

As is well known, the great principle of drawing rollers is, that the cotton is passed through three or four pairs of rollers in quick succession, and attenuated by each pair in turn, each pair being made to revolve more quickly than the preceding pair. This identical process is repeated in machine after machine, until finally the bulk of cotton is reduced to a fine thread, of which, in some cases, it takes two or three hundred miles to weigh one pound. Even in what are termed medium numbers or counts of cotton yarn, there are from fifteen to twenty-five miles of thread in a pound avoirdupois, and more than a thousand million pounds of such yarns are spun annually.

The year 1767 found Arkwright entirely absorbed in his ideas of roller drawing, and he got the clockmaker Kay to journey with him to Nottingham, possibly thinking that what had been meted out to other inventors in Lancashire should not be repeated in his case. He here collected about him a number of friends, moneyed and otherwise, who helped in his evolution of spinning machinery.

A man named John Smalley of Preston found him the wherewithal to carry on his experiments first at Preston and later on at Nottingham. Certainly what he put up at Nottingham gave such promise of practical utility, that two experienced business men were led to join him in partnership, and the three of them, Need, Strutt, and Arkwright, very soon had mills built in Nottingham, Cromford and Matlock. The first-named mill was worked by horses, the two latter by water, hence the common name of water frame, given to the machines of Arkwright.

The gentlemen taken into partnership were able and qualified to give good sound advice and help to Arkwright, and about the middle of the year 1769 he took out a patent for his "water frame."

To use his own words, in his specification he "had, by great study and long application, invented a new piece of machinery, never before found out, practised or used, for the making of weft or yarn from cotton, flax, and wool; which would be of great utility to a great many manufacturers, as well as to His Majesty's subjects in general, by employing a great many poor people in working the said machinery, and by making the said weft or yarn much superior in quality to any heretofore manufactured or made."

No useful purpose could be served by reproducing Arkwright's description of the machine in question, but a picture of the actual machine is shown in Fig. 22.

Image: FIG. 22.—Arkwright's machine (after Baines).

The most important feature of the invention, of course, was the drawing out or attenuating of the cotton by rollers revolving at different speeds. But it was also essential that proper mechanism should be provided by which twist would be put into the yarn to make it sufficiently strong; and furthermore, it was necessary to arrange for the attenuated and twisted cotton to be automatically guided and coiled up or wound up into a convenient form. As we have seen, the drawing out of the cotton finer he accomplished by the Drawing Rollers originally invented by Lewis Paul, while for the latter purpose he successfully adapted the principle already existing in the Saxony wheel, used in the linen manufacture, with which he probably became acquainted during his residence at Preston.

It should not be forgotten that Hargreaves had introduced into the commercial world his Jenny, a few years anterior to Arkwright's water frame becoming so successful. These two machines were more or less in rivalry, but not perhaps to that extent which many would suppose. From the very first it was found that the frame of Arkwright's was much more suitable for warp or twist yarns, i.e., the longitudinal threads of a cloth, whereas Hargreaves' machine was more adapted for the production of weft yarns, i.e., the transverse threads of a cloth. Now it cannot be too strongly remarked that, at the present time, after the lapse of a century, the same state of things practically obtain in the improved machines of to-day; Hargreaves' machine being represented by the system of intermittent spinning upon the improved self-actor mule, while Arkwright's water frame is represented by the system of continuous spinning upon the modern Ring Spinning frame. While weft yarn is now almost entirely produced on the mule, warp yarns are in many cases now obtained from the Ring Frames, this latter system at the present time being greatly on the increase and daily becoming more popular.

The Carding Engine was greatly improved by Arkwright's many useful improvements, especially that of the Doffer comb, being entirely his own. The effect of this comb is fully described in the chapter dealing with manipulation of the cotton by the Carding Engine.

Paul was probably the first, in 1748, to invent the Carding Machine. His inventions seemed to hang fire until introduced into Lancashire, when they were adopted by a Mr. Peel, Arkwright and others. The chief defects, perhaps, of this machine was the absence of proper means for putting the cotton on the revolving cylinder and having it stripped when sufficiently carded. Hence the great value of Arkwright's stripping comb.

Some old Carding Engines which were used at this time are still in existence, though only used for museum purposes. As will have been gathered in a former chapter dealing with the manipulation of the cotton in the mill, between the Carding Engine and the final process of spinning there are other and important stages of preparation, and in these it is seen how in one respect Arkwright's method of drawing out cotton by revolving rollers was immeasurably superior to the travelling carriage of Hargreaves.

The strength of a rope is represented by its weakest parts, and the same may be said of yarn. There can be no doubt that one of Arkwright's greatest difficulties was to give an uniform yarn, and though he successfully launched his new machines he felt there was still much to be done in the direction of remedying yarn which was irregular in thickness and strength. In order to do this, he finally adapted his drawing rollers to what is now the modern drawing frame—a machine quite as largely used, and quite as necessary in present-day spinning, as it was a hundred years ago.

It was sought to make this machine do two things. (1) Several slivers of cotton from the Card were put up together at the back, and by means of four pairs of drawing rollers, were reduced to the thickness of one sliver (see the description in chapter vi.). It will be sufficient to say here that this method of doubling and drawing equalises the sliver of cotton by the combination of the thick places with the thin.

Doubling is now the reason of the uniformity of the yarns that are produced in such large quantities.

(2) The Carding Engine did not by any means lay the fibres of cotton sufficiently parallel to each other, and this process of parallelisation was fully accomplished by the front ends of the fibres being drawn forward more rapidly than their back ends by the drawing rollers revolving at different velocities. Mr. Baines says it was common to perform this operation until the finished sliver contained portions from several thousand carding slivers, but we think he would have been nearer the mark if he had said several hundred; although the higher number may be occasionally reached.

Yet again, in order to obtain a thread or yarn of sufficient fineness, it was found necessary to perform some of the attenuation of the cotton sliver as it left the drawing frame and before it reached the final spinning process. To this end, Arkwright adopted the Roving frame, in which the leading feature was again the celebrated drawing rollers. This machine made a soft and moderately twisted strand or roving, and if much twist had been put in, it would have refused to draw out finer at the spinning machine. Hence the means provided by Arkwright for the twisting and winding-on of the attenuated cotton on his spinning frame were utterly inadequate to cope with the soft loose roving, and as a matter of fact Arkwright never did see this problem satisfactorily solved.

Previous Part     1  2  3     Next Part
Home - Random Browse