250. Q.—Suppose the cock of the cataract be shut?
A.—If the cock of the cataract be shut, it is clear that the plunger cannot descend at all, and as in that case the injection valve cannot be opened, the engine must stand still; but if the cock be slightly opened, the plunger will descend slowly, the injection valve will slowly open, and the engine will make a gradual stroke as it obtains the water necessary for condensation. The extent to which the cock is open, therefore, will regulate the speed with which the engine works; so that, by the use of the cataract, the speed of the engine may be varied to suit the variations in the quantity of water requiring to be lifted from the mine. In some cases an air cylinder, and in other cases an oil cylinder, is employed instead of the apparatus just described; but the principle on which the whole of these contrivances operate is identical, and the only difference is in the detail.
251. Q.—You have now shown that the performance of an engine is determinable by the indicator; but how do you determine the power of the boiler?
A.—By the quantity of water it evaporates. There is, however, no very convenient instrument for determining the quantity of water supplied to a boiler, and the consequence is that this element is seldom ascertained.
PROPORTION OF BOILERS.
252. Q.—What are the considerations which must chiefly be attended to in settling the proportions of boilers?
A.—In the first place there must be sufficient grate surface to enable the quantity of coal requisite for the production of the steam to be conveniently burnt, taking into account the intensity of the draught; and in the next place there must be a sufficient flue surface readily to absorb the heat thus produced, so that there may be no needless waste of heat by the chimney. The flues, moreover, must have such an area, and the chimney must be of such dimensions, as will enable a suitable draught through the fire to be maintained; and finally the boiler must be made capable of containing such supplies of water and steam as will obviate inconvenient fluctuations in the water level, and abate the risk of water being carried over into the engine with the steam. With all these conditions the boiler must be as light and compact as possible, and must be so contrived as to be capable of being cleaned and repaired with facility.
253. Q.—Supposing, then, that you had to proportion a boiler, which should be capable of supplying steam sufficient to propel a steam vessel or railway train at a given speed, or to perform any other given work, how would you proceed?