A Catechism of the Steam Engine eBook

John Bourne
This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 507 pages of information about A Catechism of the Steam Engine.

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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A Catechism of the Steam Engine from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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