Machinists make every effort to eliminate from a machine the waste due to friction, leveling and grinding to the most perfect smoothness and adjustment every part of the machine. When the machine is in use, friction may be further reduced by the use of lubricating oil. Friction can never be totally eliminated, however, and machines of even the finest construction lose by friction some of their efficiency, while poorly constructed ones lose by friction as much as one half of their efficiency.
170. Man’s Strength not Sufficient for Machines. A machine, an inert mass of metal and wood, cannot of itself do any work, but can only distribute the energy which is brought to it. Fortunately it is not necessary that this energy should be contributed by man alone, because the store of energy possessed by him is very small in comparison with the energy required to run locomotives, automobiles, sawmills, etc. Perhaps the greatest value of machines lies in the fact that they enable man to perform work by the use of energy other than his own.
[Illustration: FIG. 118.—Man’s strength is not sufficient for heavy work.]
Figure 118 shows one way in which a horse’s energy can be utilized in lifting heavy loads. Even the fleeting wind has been harnessed by man, and, as in the windmill, made to work for him (Fig. 119). One sees dotted over the country windmills large and small, and in Holland, the country of windmills, the landowner who does not possess a windmill is poor indeed.
For generations running water from rivers, streams, and falls has served man by carrying his logs downstream, by turning the wheels of his mill, etc.; and in our own day running water is used as an indirect source of electric lights for street and house, the energy of the falling water serving to rotate the armature of a dynamo (Section 310).
[Illustration: FIG. 119.—The windmill pumps water into the troughs where cattle drink.]
A more constant source of energy is that available from the burning of fuel, such as coal and oil. The former is the source of energy in locomotives, the latter in most automobiles.
In the following Chapter will be given an account of water, wind, and fuel as machine feeders.
THE POWER BEHIND THE ENGINE
171. Small boys soon learn the power of running water; swimming or rowing downstream is easy, while swimming or rowing against the current is difficult, and the swifter the water, the easier the one and the more difficult the other; the river assists or opposes us as we go with it or against it. The water of a quiet pool or of a gentle stream cannot do work, but water which is plunging over a precipice or dam, or is flowing down steep slopes, may be made to saw wood, grind our corn, light our streets, run our electric cars, etc. A waterfall, or a rapid stream, is a great asset to any community, and for this reason should be carefully guarded. Water power is as great a source of wealth as a coal bed or a gold mine.