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THE STEAM ENGINE ***




Produced by Chris Curnow, Christine P. Travers and the
Online Distributed Proofreading Team at http://www.pgdp.net
(This file was produced from images generously made
available by The Internet Archive)









[Illustration: Pl. XIII. AMERICAN HIGH-PRESSURE ENGINE]




THE STEAM ENGINE

FAMILIARLY EXPLAINED AND ILLUSTRATED;


WITH

AN HISTORICAL SKETCH OF ITS INVENTION AND
PROGRESSIVE IMPROVEMENT;

ITS APPLICATIONS TO
NAVIGATION AND RAILWAYS;

WITH
PLAIN MAXIMS FOR RAILWAY SPECULATORS.


BY THE

REV. DIONYSIUS LARDNER, LL. D., F. R. S.,

FELLOW OF THE ROYAL SOCIETY OF EDINBURGH; OF THE ROYAL IRISH ACADEMY;
OF THE ROYAL ASTRONOMICAL SOCIETY; OF THE CAMBRIDGE
PHILOSOPHICAL SOCIETY; OF THE STATISTICAL SOCIETY OF PARIS; OF THE
LINN√ЖAN AND ZOOLOGICAL SOCIETIES; OF THE SOCIETY FOR
PROMOTING USEFUL ARTS IN SCOTLAND, ETC.


WITH ADDITIONS AND NOTES,

BY JAMES RENWICK, LL. D.,

PROFESSOR OF NATURAL EXPERIMENTAL PHILOSOPHY AND CHEMISTRY
IN COLUMBIA COLLEGE, NEW YORK.


ILLUSTRATED BY ENGRAVINGS AND WOODCUTS.

SECOND AMERICAN, FROM THE FIFTH LONDON, EDITION,
CONSIDERABLY ENLARGED.

PHILADELPHIA:

E. L. CAREY & A. HART.

1836




Entered, according to the Act of Congress, in the year 1836, by E. L.
CAREY & A. HART, in the Clerk's office of the District Court for the
Eastern District of Pennsylvania.




PREFACE

OF

THE AMERICAN EDITOR.


Several of the additions, which were made by the Editor to the first
American edition, have been superseded by the great extension, which
the original has from time to time received from its author. This is
more particularly the case, with the sections which had reference to
the character of steam at temperatures other than that of boiling
water, to the use of steam in navigation, and to its application to
locomotion. These sections have of course been omitted. A few new
sections, and several notes have been added, illustrative of such
points as may be most interesting to the American reader.

COLUMBIA COLLEGE,
_New York, March, 1836_.




PREFACE

TO

THE FIFTH EDITION.


This volume should more properly be called a new work than a new
edition of the former one. In fact the book has been almost rewritten.
The change which has taken place, even in the short period which has
elapsed since the publication of the first edition, in the relation of
the steam engine to the useful arts, has been so considerable as to
render this inevitable.

The great extension of railroads, and the increasing number of
projects which have been brought forward for new lines connecting
various points of the kingdom, as well as the extension of steam
navigation, not only through the seas and channels surrounding and
intersecting these islands, and throughout other parts of Europe, but
through the larger waters which are interposed between our dominions
in the East and the countries of Egypt and Syria, have conferred so
much interest on the application of steam to transport, that I have
thought it adviseable to extend the limits of the present edition
considerably beyond those of the last. The chapter on railroads has
been enlarged and improved. Three chapters have been added. The
twelfth chapter contains a view of steam navigation; the thirteenth
contains several important points connected with the economy of steam
power, which, when this work was first published, would not have
offered sufficient interest to justify their admission into a popular
treatise; and the fourteenth chapter contains a series of compendious
maxims, for the instruction and guidance of persons desirous of making
investments or speculating in railway property.

_London, December, 1835._




PREFACE

TO

THE FIRST EDITION.


There are two classes of persons whose attention may be attracted by a
treatise on such a subject as the Steam Engine. One consists of those
who, by trade or profession, are interested in mechanical science, and
who therefore seek information on the subject of which it treats, as a
matter of necessity, and a wish to acquire it in a manner and to an
extent which may be practically available in their avocations. The
other and more numerous class is that part of the public in general,
who, impelled by choice rather than necessity, think the interest of
the subject itself, and the pleasure derivable from the instances of
ingenuity which it unfolds, motives sufficiently strong to induce them
to undertake the study of it. Without leaving the former class
altogether out of view, it is for the use of the latter principally
that the following lectures are designed.

To this class of readers the Steam Engine is a subject which, if
properly treated of, must present strong and peculiar attractions.
Whether we consider the history of its invention as to time and place,
the effects which it has produced, or the means by which it has caused
these effects, we find everything to gratify our national pride,
stimulate our curiosity, excite our wonder, and command our
admiration. The invention and progressive improvement of this
extraordinary machine, is the work of our own time and our own
country; it has been produced and brought to perfection almost within
the last century, and is the exclusive offspring of British genius
fostered and supported by British capital. To enumerate the effects of
this invention, would be to count every comfort and luxury of life. It
has increased the sum of human happiness, not only by calling new
pleasures into existence, but by so cheapening former enjoyments as to
render them attainable by those who before never could have hoped to
share them. Nor are its effects confined to England alone: they extend
over the whole civilized world; and the savage tribes of America,
Asia, and Africa, must ere long feel the benefits, remote or
immediate, of this all-powerful agent.

If the effect which this machine has had on commerce and the wealth of
nations raise our astonishment, the means by which this effect has
been produced will not less excite our admiration. The history of the
Steam Engine presents a series of contrivances, which, for exquisite
and refined ingenuity, stand without a parallel in the annals of human
invention. These admirable contrivances, unlike other results of
scientific investigation, have also this peculiarity, that to
understand and appreciate their excellence requires little previous
or subsidiary knowledge. A simple and clear explanation, divested as
far as possible of technicalities, and assisted by well selected
diagrams, is all that is necessary to render the principles of the
construction and operation of the Steam Engine intelligible to a
person of plain understanding and moderate information.

The purpose for which this volume is designed, as already explained,
has rendered necessary the omission of many particulars which, however
interesting and instructive to the practical mechanic or professional
engineer, would have little attraction for the general reader. Our
readers require to be informed of the general principles of the
construction and operation of Steam Engines, rather than of their
practical details. For the same reasons we have confined ourselves to
the more striking and important circumstances in the history of the
invention and progressive improvement of this machine, excluding many
petty disputes which arose from time to time respecting the rights of
invention, the interest of which is buried in the graves of their
respective claimants.

In the descriptive parts of the work we have been governed by the same
considerations. The application of the force of steam to mechanical
purposes has been proposed on various occasions, in various countries,
and under a great variety of forms. The list of British patents alone
would furnish an author of common industry and application with matter
to swell his book to many times the bulk of this volume. By far the
greater number of these projects have, however, proved abortive.
Descriptions of such unsuccessful, though frequently ingenious
machines, we have thought it adviseable to exclude from our pages, as
not possessing sufficient interest for the readers to whose use this
volume is dedicated. We have therefore strictly confined our
descriptions either to those Steam Engines which have come into
general use, or to those which form an important link in the chain of
invention.

_December 26, 1827._




CONTENTS.


CHAPTER I.

PRELIMINARY MATTER.

Motion the Agent in Manufactures. - Animal Power. - Power
depending on physical Phenomena. - Purpose of a Machine. -
Prime Mover. - Mechanical qualities of the Atmosphere. - Its
Weight. - The Barometer. - Fluid Pressure. - Pressure of
rarefied Air. - Elasticity of Air. - Bellows. - Effects of
Heat. - Thermometer. - Method of making one. - Freezing and
Boiling Points. - Degrees. - Dilatation of bodies. -
Liquefaction and Solidification. - Vaporisation and
Condensation. - Latent Heat of Steam. - Expansion of Water in
Evaporating. - Effects of Repulsion and Cohesion. - Effect of
Pressure upon Boiling Point. - Formation of a Vacuum by
Condensation. Page 17


CHAPTER II.

FIRST STEPS IN THE INVENTION.

Futility of early Claims. - Watt the real Inventor. - Hero of
Alexandria. - Blasco Garay. - Solomon De Caus. - Giovanni
Branca. - Marquis of Worcester. - Sir Samuel Morland. - Denis
Papin. - Thomas Savery. 38


CHAPTER III.

ENGINES OF SAVERY AND NEWCOMEN.

Savery's Engine. - Boilers and their Appendages. - Working
Apparatus. - Mode of Operation. - Defects of the Engine. -
Newcomen and Cawley. - Atmospheric Engine. - Accidental
discovery of Condensation by Jet. - Potter's discovery of the
Method of working the Valves. 51


CHAPTER IV.

ENGINE OF JAMES WATT.

Advantages of the Atmospheric Engine over that of Captain Savery.
- It contained no new Principle. - Papin's Engine. - James
Watt. - Particulars of his Life. - His first conceptions of the
Means of economising Heat. - Principle of his projected
Improvements. 69


CHAPTER V.

WATT'S SINGLE-ACTING STEAM ENGINE.

Expansive Principle applied. - Failure of Roebuck, and
partnership with Bolton. - Patent extended to 1800. - Counter.
- Difficulties in getting the Engines into Use. 80


CHAPTER VI.

DOUBLE-ACTING STEAM ENGINE.

The Single-acting Engine unfit to impel Machinery. - Various
Contrivances to adapt it to this Purpose. - Double-Cylinder. -
Double-acting Cylinder. - Various modes of connecting the Piston
with the Beam. - Rack and Sector. - Double Chain. - Parallel
Motion. - Crank. - Sun and Planet Motion. - Fly Wheel. -
Governor. 91


CHAPTER VII.

DOUBLE-ACTING STEAM ENGINE, _continued_.

On the Valves of the Double-acting Steam Engine. - Original
Valves. - Spindle Valves. - Sliding Valve. - D Valve. -
Four-Way Cock. 108


CHAPTER VIII.

BOILER AND ITS APPENDAGES.

Level Gauges. - Feeding apparatus. - Steam Gauge. - Barometer
Gauge. - Safety Valves. - Self-regulating Damper. -
Edelcrantz's Valve. - Furnace. - Smoke-consuming Furnace. -
Brunton's Self-regulating Furnace. - Oldham's Modification. 117


CHAPTER IX.

DOUBLE-CYLINDER ENGINES.

Hornblower's Engine. - Woolf's Engine. - Cartwright's
Engine. 134


CHAPTER X.

LOCOMOTIVE ENGINES ON RAILWAYS.

High-pressure Engines. - Leupold's Engine. - Trevithick and
Vivian. - Effects of Improvement in Locomotion. - Historical
Account of the Locomotive Engine. - Blenkinsop's Patent. -
Chapman's Improvement. - Walking Engine. - Stephenson's First
Engines. - His Improvements. - Liverpool and Manchester Railway
Company. - Their Preliminary Proceedings. - The Great
Competition of 1829. - The Rocket. - The Sanspareil. - The
Novelty. - Qualities of the Rocket. - Successive Improvements.
- Experiments. - Defects of the Present Engines. - Inclined
Planes. - Methods of surmounting them. - Circumstances of the
Manchester Railway Company. - Probable Improvements in
Locomotives. - Their capabilities with respect to speed. -
Probable Effects of the Projected Railroads. - Steam Power
compared with Horse Power. - Railroads compared with Canals. 145


CHAPTER XI.

LOCOMOTIVE ENGINES ON TURNPIKE ROADS.

Railway and Turnpike Roads compared. - Mr. Gurney's inventions.
- His Locomotive Steam Engine. - Its performances. -
Prejudices and errors. - Committee of the House of Commons. -
Convenience and safety of Steam Carriages. - Hancock's Steam
Carriage. - Mr. N. Ogle. - Trevithick's invention. -
Proceedings against Steam Carriages. - Turnpike Bills. - Steam
Carriage between Gloucester and Cheltenham. - Its
discontinuance. - Report of the Committee of the Commons. -
Present State and Prospects of Steam Carriages. 213


CHAPTER XII.

STEAM NAVIGATION.

Propulsion by paddle-wheels. - Manner of driving them. - Marine
Engine. - Its form and arrangement. - Proportion of its
cylinder. - Injury to boilers by deposites and incrustation. -
Not effectually removed by blowing out. - Mr. Samuel Hall's
condenser. - Its advantages. - Originally suggested by Watt. -
Hall's _steam saver_. - Howard's vapour engine. - Morgan's
paddle-wheels. - Limits of steam navigation. - Proportion of
tonnage to power. - Average speed. - Consumption of fuel. -
Iron Steamers. - American steam raft. - Steam navigation to
India. - By Egypt and the Red Sea to Bombay. - By same route to
Calcutta. - By Syria and the Euphrates to Bombay. - Steam
communication with the United States from the west coast of
Ireland to St. Johns, Halifax, and New York. 241


CHAPTER XIII.

GENERAL ECONOMY OF STEAM POWER.

Mechanical efficacy of steam - proportional to the quantity of
water evaporated, and to the fuel consumed. - Independent of the
pressure. - Its mechanical efficacy by condensation alone. - By
condensation and expansion combined - by direct pressure and
expansion - by direct pressure and condensation - by direct
pressure, condensation, and expansion. - The power of engines.
- The duty of engines. - Meaning of horse power. - To compute
the power of an engine. - Of the power of boilers. - The
structure of the grate-bars. - Quantity of water and steam room.
- Fire surface and flue surface. - Dimensions of steam pipes.
- Velocity of piston. - Economy of fuel. - Cornish duty
reports. 277


CHAPTER XIV.

Plain Rules for Railway Speculators. 307




THE STEAM ENGINE

EXPLAINED AND ILLUSTRATED.




CHAPTER I.

PRELIMINARY MATTER.

Motion the Agent in Manufactures. - Animal Power. - Power
depending on Physical Phenomena. - Purpose of a Machine. -
Prime Mover. - Mechanical qualities of the Atmosphere. - Its
Weight. - The Barometer. - Fluid Pressure. - Pressure of
Rarefied Air. - Elasticity of Air. - Bellows. - Effects of
Heat. - Thermometer. - Method of making one. - Freezing and
Boiling Points. - Degrees. - Dilatation of Bodies. -
Liquefaction and Solidification. - Vaporisation and
Condensation. - Latent heat of Steam. - Expansion of Water in
Evaporating. - Effects of Repulsion and Cohesion. - Effect of
Pressure upon Boiling-Point. - Formation of a Vacuum by
Condensation.


(1.) Of the various productions designed by nature to supply the wants
of man, there are few which are suited to his necessities in the state
in which the earth spontaneously offers them: if we except atmospheric
air, we shall scarcely find another instance: even water, in most
cases, requires to be transported from its streams or reservoirs; and
food itself, in almost every form, requires culture and preparation.
But if, from the mere necessities of physical existence in a primitive
state, we rise to the demands of civil and social life, - to say
nothing of luxuries and refinements, - we shall find that everything
which contributes to our convenience, or ministers to our pleasure,
requires a previous and extensive expenditure of labour. In most
cases, the objects of our enjoyment derive all their excellences, not
from any qualities originally inherent in the natural substances out
of which they are formed, but from those qualities which have been
bestowed upon them by the application of human labour and human skill.

In all those changes to which the raw productions of the earth are
submitted in order to adapt them to our wants, one of the principal
agents is _motion_. Thus, for example, in the preparation of clothing
for our bodies, the various processes necessary for the culture of the
cotton require the application of moving power, first to the soil, and
subsequently to the plant from which the raw material is obtained: the
wool must afterwards be picked and cleansed, twisted into threads, and
woven into cloth. In all these processes motion is the agent: to
cleanse the wool and arrange the fibres of the cotton, the wool must
be beaten, teased, carded, and submitted to other processes, by which
all the foreign and coarser matter may be separated, and the fibres or
threads arranged evenly, side by side. The threads must then receive a
rotatory motion, by which they may be twisted into the required form;
and finally peculiar motions must be given to them in order to produce
among them that arrangement which characterises the cloth which it is
our final purpose to produce.

In a rude state of society, the motions required in the infant
manufactures are communicated by the immediate application of the
hand. Observation and reflection, however, soon suggest more easy and
effectual means of attaining these ends: the strength of animals is
first resorted to for the relief of human labour. Further reflection
and inquiry suggest still better expedients. When we look around us in
the natural world, we perceive inanimate matter undergoing various
effects in which motion plays a conspicuous part: we see the falls of
cataracts, the currents of rivers, the elevation and depression of the
waters of the ocean, the currents of the atmosphere; and the question
instantly arises, whether, without sharing our own means of
subsistence with the animals whose force we use, we may not equally,
or more effectually, derive the powers required from these various
phenomena of nature? A difficulty, however, immediately presents
itself: we require motion of a particular kind; but wind will not
blow, nor water fall as we please, nor as suits our peculiar wants,
but according to the fixed laws of nature. We want an _upward_ motion;
water falls _downwards_: we want a _circular_ motion; wind blows in a
_straight_ line. The motions, therefore, which are in actual existence
must be modified to suit our purposes: the means whereby these
modifications are produced, are called _machines_. A machine,
therefore, is an instrument interposed between some natural force or
motion, and the object to which force or motion is desired to be
transmitted. The construction of the machine is such as to modify the
natural motion which is impressed upon it, so that it may transmit to
the object to be moved that peculiar species of motion which it is
required to have. To give a very obvious example, let us suppose that
a circular or rotatory motion is required to be produced, and that the
only natural source of motion at our command is a perpendicular fall
of water: a wheel is provided, placed upon the axle destined to
receive the rotatory motion; this wheel is furnished with cavities in
its rim; the water is conducted into the cavities near the top of the
wheel on one side; and being caught by these, its weight bears down
that side of the wheel, the cavities on the opposite side being empty
and in an inverted position. As the wheel turns, the cavities on the
descending side discharge their contents as they arrive near the
lowest point, and ascend empty on the other side. Thus a load of water
is continually pressing down one side of the wheel, from which the
other side is free, and a continued motion of rotation is produced.

In every machine, therefore, there are three objects demanding
attention: - first, The power which imparts motion to it, this is
called the _prime mover_; secondly, The nature of the _machine_
itself; and thirdly, The object to which the motion is to be conveyed.
In the steam engine the first mover arises from certain phenomena
which are exhibited when heat is applied to liquids; but in the
details of the machine and in its application there are several
physical effects brought into play, which it is necessary perfectly to
understand before the nature of the machine or its mode of operation
can be rendered intelligible. We propose therefore to devote the
present chapter to the explanation and illustration of these
phenomena.

(2.) The physical effects most intimately connected with the
operations of steam engines are some of the mechanical properties of
atmospheric air. The atmosphere is the thin transparent fluid in which
we live and move, and which, by respiration, supports animal life.
This fluid is apparently so light and attenuated, that it might be at
first doubted whether it be really a body at all. It may therefore
excite some surprise when we assert, not only that it is a body, but
also that it is one of considerable _weight_. We shall be able to
prove that it presses on every _square inch_[1] of surface with a
weight of about 15lb. avoirdupois.

[Footnote 1: As we shall have frequent occasion to mention this
magnitude, it would be well that the reader should be familiar with
it. It is a _square_, each side of which is an inch. Such as A B C D,
Fig. 1.]

(3.) Take a glass tube A B (fig. 2.) more than 32 inches long, open at
one end A, and closed at the other end B, and let it be filled with
mercury (quicksilver.) Let a glass vessel or cistern C, containing a
quantity of mercury, be also provided. Applying the finger at A so as
to prevent the mercury in the tube from falling out, let the tube be
inverted, and the end, stopped by the finger, plunged into the mercury
in _C_. When the end of the tube is below the surface of the mercury
in C (fig. 3.) let the finger be removed. It will be found that the
mercury in the tube will not, as might be expected, fall to the level
of the mercury in the cistern C, which it would do were the end B open
so as to admit the air into the upper part of the tube. On the other
hand, the level D of the mercury in the tube will be about 30 inches
above the level C of the mercury in the cistern.

(4.) The cause of this effect is, that the weight of the atmosphere
rests on the surface C of the mercury in the cistern, and tends
thereby to press it up, or rather to resist its fall in the tube; and
as the fall is not assisted by the weight of the atmosphere on the
surface D (since B is closed), it follows, that as much mercury
remains suspended in the tube above the level C as the weight of the
atmosphere is able to support.

If we suppose the section of the tube to be equal to the magnitude of
a square inch, the weight of the column of mercury in the tube above
the level C will be exactly equal to the weight of the atmosphere on
each square inch of the surface C. The height of the level D above C
being about 30 inches, and a column of mercury two inches in height,
and having a base of a square inch, weighing about one pound
avoirdupois, it follows that the weight with which the atmosphere
presses on each square inch of a level surface is about 15lb.
avoirdupois.

An apparatus thus constructed, and furnished with a scale to indicate



Online LibraryDionysius LardnerThe Steam Engine Familiarly Explained and Illustrated → online text (page 1 of 26)