Scientific American, Vol. XXXIX.—No. 24. [New Series.], December 14, 1878 online

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Vol. XXXIX. - No. 24. [NEW SERIES.]

[$3.20 per Annum [POSTAGE PREPAID.]]

* * * * *


(Illustrated articles are marked with an asterisk.)

Alum in baking powders
Alum in bread 376
Argonaut, or Paper Nautilus* 375
Astronomical notes 377
Babbitt metal, to make [5] 378
Belts, rubber, slipping [6] 378
Bench, saw, Casson's* 374
Boot polish liquid [8] 378
Butter, to color [16] 378
Canal, ship, Belgian* 367
Economy, machine shop 371
Eggs, preservation of 375
Electric light, Werdermann* 373
Engineers, warning to 367
Engine, steam, valve yoke [48] 379
Exterminator, roach [57] 379
Filter for rain water [19] 378
Foot power, new* 370
Glass, iridescent 368
Glass, to make a hole in 375
Hair, to prevent falling out [42]379
Inks, sympathetic 377
Invention, reward of 371
Inventions, new, 370
Inventions, new agricultural 377
Inventions, new mechanical 374
Inventors, bait for 374
Iron and steel, preservation of 367
Iron, malleable, to make [43] 379
Leaves, culinary uses for 370
Line, straight, to draw* [36] 379
Mechanics, amateur* 371
Mexico, progress of science in 376
Microphone as a thief catcher 375
Naphtha and benzine 377
Nitrate of silver, reduction of 377
Notes and queries 378
Oil notes 372
Petroleum and gold 377
Petroleum, progress of 368
Poultices 374
Quinine, effects of on hearing 374
Railroad, first in U. S. [2] 378
Rails and railway accidents 368
Railway notes 373
Sanitary Science in the U. S. 369
Screw heads, blue color for [4] 378
Sheep husbandry, American 375
Shutter fastener, new* 370
Silver mill in the clouds 374
Spider, trap-door* 375
Sprinkler, garden, improved* 370
Telescope, sunshade for [3] 378
Tools, steel, to temper [55] 379
Tree, tallest in the world 375
Tree trunks elongation of 376
Trees, felling by electricity 370
Tubing, to satin finish [51] 379
Vise, an improved* 370
White lead, to test [14] 378
Wire clothing for cylinders* 377
Work, the limit of 368

* * * * *


The ship canal from Ghent to Terneuzen was originally laid out with
many bends, rendering navigation difficult; it had a depth of 14 feet
4 inches and a width of 98 feet 6 inches at the water level. The works
which are at present in course of execution have especially for their
object the deepening of the canal to 21 feet 3 inches, with a width
of 55 feet 9 inches at the bottom and 103 feet 9 inches on the water
line. The slopes have a uniform inclination of 1 to 3, and the towing
paths on each side are placed 6 feet 6 inches above the water level,
and are 32 feet 8 inches wide. In many instances also the course of
the canal has been altered and straightened for the improvement of
navigation; several important diversions have been made for this
purpose. The excavation has been effected by hand, by dredging, and by
the Couvreux excavator, figured as below in _Engineering_.

The earth excavated was carried to spoil, and in many cases was
employed to form dikes inclosing large areas, which served as
receptacles for the semi-liquid material excavated by the dredging
machines with the long conductors; the Couvreux excavator used will be
readily understood from the engraving. It had already done service on
the Danube regulation works. The material with which it had to deal,
however, was of a more difficult nature, being a fine sand charged
with water and very adherent. The length of track laid for the
excavator was about 3 miles along the side of the old canal, which had
been previously lowered to the level of the water.

* * * * *


We are indebted to J. Pechar, Railway Director in Teplitz, Bohemia,
for the first official report in English from the Paris International
Exhibition which has come to hand. This volume contains the report
on the coal and iron products in all countries of the world, and is
valuable for its statistical and other information, giving, as it
does, the places where the coal and minerals are found, and the
quantities of each kind produced, for what it is used, and to what
other countries it is exported. The able compiler of these statistics
in the introduction of his report gives the following account of
the means recommended by Professor Barff, of London, for preventing
oxidation, which is being considerably used abroad. The writer says:

It is well known that the efficient preservation of iron against
rusting is at present only provided for in cases where human life
would be endangered by failure, as in the case of railway bridges
and steamers. Thus, for example, at Mr. Cramer-Klett's ironworks at
Nuremberg every piece of iron used for his bowstring bridges is dipped
in oil heated to eight hundred degrees. The very great care which
is at present taken in this matter may be judged from the current
practice of most bridge and roofing manufacturers. Every piece of
iron before being riveted in its place is cleaned from rust by being
immersed in a solution of hydrochloric acid. The last traces of free
acid having been cleared away, at first by quicklime and afterward by
a copious ablution with hot water, the piece is immediately immersed
in hot linseed oil, which protects every part of the surface from the
action of the atmosphere. Afterward it is riveted and painted.

Notwithstanding all this, the painting requires continual and
careful renewal. On the Britannia Bridge, near Bangor, the painter is
permanently at work; yet, in spite of all this care and expense, rust
cannot be entirely avoided. The age of iron railway bridges is still
too short to enable us to draw conclusions as to the probabilities of
accidents. Now, Professor Barff has discovered a process by which
iron may be kept from rusting by being entirely coated with its own
sesquioxide. A piece of iron exposed to the action of superheated
steam, in a close chamber and under a certain pressure, becomes
gradually covered by a skin of this black oxide, of a thickness
depending upon the temperature of the steam and the duration of
the experiment. For instance, exposure during five hours to steam
superheated to five hundred degrees will produce a hermetical coating
capable of resisting for a considerable time the application of emery
paper and of preserving the iron from rust even in a humid atmosphere,
if under shelter from the weather. If the temperature is raised to
1,200 degrees, and the time of exposure to six or seven hours, the
skin of sesquioxide will resist every mechanical action, and the
influence of any kind of weather. The sesquioxide being harder than
the iron itself, and adhering to its surface even more firmly than the
atoms of iron do to each other, there is an increased resistance not
only to chemical but also to mechanical action. The surface is not
altered by the process in any other respect, a plain forging retaining
its roughness, a polished piece its smooth surface. If the skin is
broken away oxidation takes place, but only just on the spot from
which the oxide has been removed. If Professor Barff's experiments
are borne out by practice, this invention may become of very great
importance. It is within the bounds of probability that it may enable
iron, by increasing its facility in competing with wood, to recover,
at least for a considerable time, even more than the ground it has
lost by the extraordinary extension of the use of steel. Iron is
already being used for building purposes to a large extent; but
oxidation once thoroughly prevented it will be able to take the place
of wood and stone to a still greater degree. Iron roofing may be
made quite as light as that of wood, and of greater strength, by a
judicious arrangement and use of T iron.

* * * * *


Drs. Charles M. Cresson and Robert E. Rogers, of this city, says
the Philadelphia _Ledger_, well known as experts in chemistry and
dynamics, were appointed by the Reading Railroad Company to inquire
into and report upon the causes of the recent explosion of the boiler
of the express locomotive "Gem," at Mahanoy City, by which five lives
were lost. Their report, which is designed to cover the whole scope
of a most careful investigation, is not yet made public, but they have
arrived at the following specific conclusion, which we give in their
own language: "We are, therefore, of the opinion that the explosion of
the boiler of the locomotive 'Gem,' was produced by the projection of
foam upon the heated crown bars of the furnace, caused by suddenly
and widely opening the safety valve, at a time when the water had been
permitted to get so low as to overheat the crown of the furnace." This
is an important matter that should be carefully noted by locomotive
and other engineers.

* * * * *



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* * * * *

VOL. XXXIX., No. 24. [NEW SERIES.] Thirty-third Year. NEW YORK,

* * * * *



No. 154,

For the Week ending December 14, 1878.

Price 10 cents. For sale by all newsdealers.

I. ENGINEERING AND MECHANICS. - Portable Steam Pumping Engine, 1
engraving. - New Bone Crushing Mill, 2 engravings. - Picard's Boiler.
Extraction of Salt from Salt Water. - Compressed Air Machines.
Hydraulic vs. air pressure. Causes of the losses of power.
Estimates of useful effects obtainable. - The St. Gothard Tunnel.
By GEO. J. SPECHT, C.E. - Apparatus for Lifting Sunken Vessels,
with 8 figures. - Russia Sheet Iron. - Manufacture of Artificial
Stone. - Compressed Fuel. - The New Magnesi Process for Boiler Feed

Description of sixteen new and peculiar wine presses at the
Exhibition, with 31 figures and 9 engravings. The Press Primat;
Press Mabille; Press David; Samain Press; Marchand, Maupre,
Boyries, Chapellier, Marmonier, Nogues, Mailhe, Moreau, Piquet,
Delperoux, Terrel des Chenes, and Cassan fils Presses.

The Algerian Exhibit. The street of Algiers, with 1
illustration. - Woolen Fabrics.

III. ELECTRICITY, LIGHT, HEAT, ETC. - Electric Lighting. Estimate
of the comparative heating effect in gas and electric lighting,
and the consequent loss of power. - The Electric Light. Remarks on
its economy. - The Present Bugbear of French Savants.

New Planets.

The Dutch Arctic Expedition. The Peak of Beerenburg, Spitzbergen,
with 1 illustration.

IV. CHEMISTRY AND METALLURGY. - New Process for Separating Iodine
and Bromine from Kelp. - Inoffensive Colors for Toys. - New Coloring
Matters. - Tungsten.

Ozone and the Atmosphere. By ALBERT R. LEEDS, Ph.D. Table of
percentage of ozone contained in the atmosphere at various
localities in the United States. Register of ozone observations
for one month at Upper Saranac Lake, N. Y., giving thermometric
and barometric observations, and full record of weather.
Examination of methods in ozonometry. Preparation of ozone by
electrolysis of water containing sulphuric acid, with 1 engraving.
Preparation by electricity, with 1 engraving. Does the electric
spark decompose potassium iodide? Collection and preservation of
ozone. Preparation by chemical methods. Critical examination of
ozonoscopes. Potassium iodide; starch; paper classification of
ozonoscopes. Examination of ozonoscopes under certain conditions.

Limits of the Combustibility of Gases. - The Diffusion of
Salicylate of Soda. - Singular use of Fluorescein. - New Metal.
Philippium By M. MARC DELAFONTAINE. - Better Pharmaceutical
Education. By RICHARD V. MATTISON, Ph. G. - An El Dorado for

V. MEDICINE AND HYGIENE. - The Science of Easy Chairs. The muscular
conditions of fatigue, and how to obtain the greatest rest. How
easy chairs should be made.

Prof. Huxley on the Hand. Abstract of his inaugural lecture before
the South London Workingmen's College.

Paint from a Sanitary Point of View. The required abolition of
absorbent surfaces in dwellings. Lead poisoning from paint not
thoroughly dry. Cases described in which white lead paint in
dwellings never dries, but gives off poisonous particles, which
are inhaled by the inmates, causing depression, weakness headache,
and loss of appetite. Zinc recommended in paint to avoid lead
poisoning, and the new oxy-sulphide of Zinc described, with
covering qualities equal to white lead.

The Purification of Sewage. By HENRY ROBINSON, F.R.S. Paper
read before the Sanitary Institute of Great Britain. Progress
in purifying sewage by precipitation. The use of chemicals for
precipitating, deodorizing, and disinfecting. Practical data on
a large scale, with cost. Average number of gallons per head of
population, etc., of the successful system now in operation at
Coventry and Hertford. How the water is removed from the sludge by
filter presses. Drying and removal of the sludge. Theoretical and
actual values of the sludge for fertilizing.

VI. AGRICULTURE, HORTICULTURE, ETC. - The Broadside Steam Digger,
with 1 engraving. - Shall I Plow the Lawn? - Bee Culture.

* * * * *


The efforts of the great majority of the Western Pennsylvania
petroleum producers to obtain relief from what they deem the
oppressive acts of the Standard Oil Company and the unjust
discriminations of the United Pipe Lines, and the various railroads
traversing the oil regions, have attracted more than usual attention
to the present condition of this industry and its possible future.

We would here explain that the Standard Oil Company originated in
Cleveland, Ohio, about twelve years ago, and was incorporated under
the laws of Ohio, with a nominal capital now, we are informed, of
$3,000,000, which, however, very inadequately represents the financial
strength of its members. It is now a combination of the most
prominent refiners in the country, and has before been credited with
manipulating the transportation lines to its own special advantage.

We can recall no instance of such serious hostility between parties
whose interests are at the same time of such magnitude and so nearly
identical; nor can we see what substantial, enduring benefit would
accrue to the producers in the event of their victory in the struggle.

They charge that the Standard Oil Company has become the controlling
power to fix prices and to determine the avenues by which the oil
shall be transported eastward for home consumption and for foreign
exportation; that the railway companies have given this company lower
rates than other parties for transporting the oil; and that through
the rates given to it by the railways the value of their property is

The reply, in effect, is, Granting all this to be true, what does
it amount to? Neither more nor less than that the managers of the
Standard Oil Company, by combination of capital, by intelligence and
shrewdness in the management of their operations, have built up a
successful business, and that they have so extended it by the use of
all practicable appliances, and by the purchase of the property of
competitors, that they do practically control the prices of oil, both
crude and refined, and that the uncombined capital of the other oil
producers, lacking the power, the intelligence, and the business skill
which combined capital can secure, cannot compete with the Standard
Oil Company. Now, is there any great wrong or injustice in this?

When brains can command capital it is always more successful in
business matters than any amount of brains without capital or capital
without brains. This result is the natural working out of the same
principle that is everywhere to be seen - some men are successful and
others are not.

It is the essence of communism to drag down those who succeed to the
level of the unsuccessful.

If men cannot compete with others in any business they must accept the
fact, and try some other employment.

If, through superior intelligence and capital, the Standard Oil
Company can control the oil business of Pennsylvania, then, according
to the principles of common sense, it must be permitted to do so.

What right, then, has the oil producer to complain? Why, if all that
is alleged is true, will they persist in sinking more wells, when,
as they say, they are controlled by the Standard Oil Company? No one
forces them to lose money by continuing in the business. Let them find
other employment. They do not show that the Standard Oil Company
does anything that combined capital on their part and equal business
ability could not effect.

The cry of monopoly in this case is altogether unfounded, those
opposed to the Standard Oil Company having just as much right to do
all that that company does, and, therefore, there can be no monopoly,
because they have no exclusive powers.

As to the railway companies, they can afford and have a right to
transport the tonnage offered them by the Standard Oil Company at less
cost, because it costs them less to do a regular and large business
than an irregular and smaller one. They would simply be acting in
accordance with business principles the world over.

These are the arguments, the statement of the position of a successful
combination confident in its resources and of victory in the coming
struggle. The justness, the correctness of the doctrines enunciated,
and the wisdom of so doing at this crisis, we do not propose to
criticise; but it is very safe to say that if the prosperity of the
complainants depends upon relief in this direction they may as well
cease producing.

There are too many of them for harmonious and concerted action against
the powerful corporations they complain of; and if they should succeed
in securing equal transportation facilities the prices would still be
regulated by the monopolists, who carry more than four-fifths of the
accumulated stock of the oil regions.

The proposed appeal to Congress to pass some law whereby each producer
can compel railroad companies to carry his produce at regular rates,
amounts to a confession of the desperate straits of the producers
and of their weakness as well; and even if successful, which is most
improbable, would not remedy the deplorable existing state of things.

Still lower rates would fail to give relief, with all the present
avenues of trade filled to repletion and with an increasing output
at the wells. Relief and permanent relief can be found only in the
direction we have before indicated: in the general application of
petroleum and its products to the manufacture of gas for illuminating
and heating purposes, and its substitution for coal in the metallurgic
and other prominent industries of the world.

* * * * *


In distributing the prizes to workmen at the Paris Exhibition, Louis
Blanc, the leader of the French Republican Socialist party, quoted
approvingly these words of Simonde de Sismondi:

"If the workman were his own master, when he had done in two hours
with the aid of machinery what would have taken him twelve hours to do
without it, he would stop at the end of the two."

M. Blanc had been discussing very eloquently, but also very
fallaciously, the relations of machinery to labor. If men were
properly united in the bonds of association, he said, if the
solidarity of interests were realized, "the happy result of the
application of mechanical power to industry would be equal production,
with less of effort, for all. The discovery of an economic method
would never have the lamentable consequence of robbing men of the work
by which they live. Unfortunately, we are far from this ideal. Under
the empire of that universal antagonism which is the very essence of
the economic constitution of modern societies, and which too often
only profits one man by ruining another, machinery has been employed
to make the rule of the strong weigh more heavily on the weak. There
is not a single mechanical invention which has not been a subject of
anguish and a cause of distress to thousands of fathers of families
from the moment it began to work."

If all this, and much else that M. Blanc alleges, were true, then the
condition of all workingmen to-day should be in every way worse than
that of their fathers, in anti-machinery days. But such is not the
case. There never was a time when the laborer toiled less or enjoyed
more than in these days of machinery; and the laborer's condition is
best where the machinery is best and most used.

A hundred years ago the laborer toiled long, produced little, and
enjoyed less. To-day, thanks to the victories of invention, machinery
does the heaviest of the work; the workman's hours of labor are fewer
than formerly; his wages are greater; and his earnings will buy vastly
more, dollar for dollar, than in any previous age in the world's

What laborer of to-day would be satisfied with the remuneration, the
food, the shelter, the clothing of the laboring classes of one hundred
years ago? The wants of men, as well as their thoughts, are widened by

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Online LibraryVariousScientific American, Vol. XXXIX.—No. 24. [New Series.], December 14, 1878 → online text (page 1 of 11)