Scientific American Supplement, No. 312, December 24, 1881 eBook

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 107 pages of information about Scientific American Supplement, No. 312, December 24, 1881.

The next subject I intend to deal with is that of motors.  In 1831, we had the steam-engine, the water-wheel, the windmill, horse-power, manual power, and Stirling’s hot air engines.  Gas engines, indeed, were proposed in 1824, but were not brought to the really practical stage.  We had then tide mills; indeed, we have had them until quite lately, and it may be that some still exist; they were sources of economy in our fuel, and their abandonment is to me a matter of regret.  I remember tide mills on the coast between Brighton and Newhaven, another between Greenwich and Woolwich, another at Northfleet, and in many other places.  Indeed, such mills were used pretty extensively; they were generally erected at the mouth of a stream, and in that way the river bed made the reservoir, and even when they were erected in other situations, those were of a kind suitable for the purpose, that is, lowlying lands were selected, and were embanked to form reservoirs.  In 1881, windmills and water-wheels are much the same, but the turbines are greatly improved, and by means of turbines we are enabled to make available the pressure derived from heads of water which formerly could not be used at all, or if used, involved the erection of enormous water-wheels, such as those at Glasgow and in the Isle of Man, wheels of some eighty feet in diameter.  But now, by means of a small turbine, an excellent effect is produced from high heads of water.  The same effect is obtained from the water-engines which our president has employed with such great success.  In addition to these motors, we have the gas-engine, which, within the last few years only, has become a really useful working and economical machine.  With respect to horse-power motors, we have not only the old horse engines, but we have a new application, as it seems to me, of the work of the horse as a motor.  I allude to those cases where the horse drawing a reaping or thrashing machine, not only pulls it forward as he might pull a cart, but causes its machinery to revolve, so as to perform the desired kind of work.  This species of horse-engine, though known, was but little used in 1831.  With respect to hot-air engines there have been many attempts to improve them, and some hot-air engines are working, and are working with considerable success; but the amount of power they develop in relation to their size is small, and I am inclined to doubt whether it can be much increased.

TRANSMISSION OF POWER.

I now come to the subject of the transmission of power.  I do not mean transmission in the ordinary sense by means of shafting, gearing, or belting, but I mean transmission over long distances.  In 1831, we had for this purpose flat rods, as they were called, rods transmitting power from pumping engines for a considerable distance to the pits where the pumps were placed, and we had also the pneumatic, the exhaustion system—­the invention of John Hague, a Yorkshire-man,

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Scientific American Supplement, No. 312, December 24, 1881 from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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