The removal of these filaments from patent net is still more necessary for its perfection. The net is passed at a moderate velocity through a flame of gas issuing from a very long and narrow slit. Immediately above the flame a long funnel is fixed, which is connected with a large air-pump worked by a steam-engine. The flame is thus drawn forcibly through the net, and all the filaments on both sides of it are burned off at one operation. Previously to this application of the air-pump, the net acting in the same way, although not to the same extent, as the wire-gauze in Davy’s safety lamp, cooled down the flame so as to prevent the combustion of the filaments on the upper side: the air-pump by quickening the current of ignited gas, removes this inconvenience.
1. The importance and diversified applications of the steam engine were most ably enforced in the speeches made at a public meeting held (June 1824) for the purpose of proposing the erection of a monument to the memory of James Watt; these were subsequently printed.
2. Some observations on the subject, by Dr Fitton, occur in the appendix to Captain King’s Survey of the Coast of Australia, vol. ii, p. 397. London, 1826.
65. One great advantage which we may derive from machinery is from the check which it affords against the inattention, the idleness, or the dishonesty of human agents. Few occupations are more wearisome than counting a series of repetitions of the same fact; the number of paces we walk affords a tolerably good measure of distance passed over, but the value of this is much enhanced by possessing an instrument, the pedometer, which will count for us the number of steps we have made. A piece of mechanism of this kind is sometimes applied to count the number of turns made by the wheel of a carriage, and thus to indicate the distance travelled: an instrument, similar in its object, but differing in its construction, has been used for counting the number of strokes made by a steam-engine, and the number of coins struck in a press. One of the simplest instruments for counting any series of operations, was contrived by Mr Donkin.(1*)
66. Another instrument for registering is used in some establishments for calendering and embossing. Many hundred thousand yards of calicoes and stuffs undergo these operations weekly; and as the price paid for the process is small, the value of the time spent in measuring them would bear a considerable proportion to the profit. A machine has, therefore, been contrived for measuring and registering the length of the goods as they pass rapidly through the hands of the operator, by which all chance of erroneous counting is avoided.
67. Perhaps the most useful contrivance of this kind, is one for ascertaining the vigilance of a watchman. It is a piece of mechanism connected with a clock placed in an apartment to which the watchman has not access; but he is ordered to pull a string situated in a certain part of his round once in every hour. The instrument, aptly called a tell-tale, informs the owner whether the man has missed any, and what hours during the night.