Richard Marsden.

Cotton spinning : its development, principles, and practice online

. (page 17 of 31)
Online LibraryRichard MarsdenCotton spinning : its development, principles, and practice → online text (page 17 of 31)
Font size
QR-code for this ebook

or hand flax wheel.

Ark Wright's claims as an inventor have been strongly
disputed, it being alleged against him that he purloined and
utilized the ideas of better men than himself, and un-
doubtedly the evidence strongly favours that view of the
case. It is well known that he employed several people
to aid him in his investigations, and whether the inventions
which he ultimately secured and reaped the profits of were
the outcome of his own or his employes' ingenuity cannot now
be known. Certain, however, it is that the results achieved
were obtained under his guidance and at his expense.

It is not probable that Arkwright was engaged upon his
celebrated spinning machine more than two years before he
had, with the aid he employed, so far perfected it as to
secure a patent for it in 1769. This would show that the
tumults and excitement springing out of Hargreaves' in-
vention were the exciting cause of his thoughts being
turned to the subject. King, the watchmaker, made for
him his first rude model in 1767. Hargreaves had in-
vented his jenny in 1764, and the tumult and rioting, com-


menced in 1767, continuing for some time, causing him to
leave the county in 1768. Arkwright, afraid of meeting
with the same sort of treatment, followed Hargreaves to
Nottingham, aloug with a friend who, for some time, had
been aiding him with capital. This friend was John
Smallej of Preston, who advanced nearly all the money
required for the experiments, until his means becoming ex-
hausted it became necessary to obtain other aid. Smalley,
after leaving Arkwright in 1775, started a cotton mill at
Holywell in North Wales. At Nottingham, in a small
factory in Woolpack Lane, with the help of Messrs. Need
and Strutt, who afterwards became his partners, Arkwright
so far perfected his device as to obtain a patent for it at the
date mentioned above. The machine thus protected was
the parent of the second type of our spinning machines,
namely, the modern throstle and ring spinning frames.
As such it is deserving of detailed notice.

The following Fig. 58 is from Arkwright's specifi-
cation of 1769, and probably represents the machine in the
condition to which he had brought it up to that date. It was
constructed to be turned by horse power. The description is
also from the specification. " A is the cog wheel and shaft,
which receive their motion from a horse, b, the drum or
wheel which turns, c, a belt of leather, and gives motion to
the whole machine, d, a lead weight which keeps, F, the
small drum, steady to, E, the forcing wheel. G, the shaft
of wood which gives motion to the wheel, H, and continues
it to, I, four pairs of rollers (the forms of which are drawn
in the margin), which act by tooth and pinion made of
brass and steel nuts fixed in two iron plates, K. That part
of the roller which the cotton runs through is covered
with wood, the top roller with leather, and the bottom one
fluted, which lets the cotton, &c., through it ; by one pair
of rollers moving quicker than the other, draws it finer for
twisting, which is performed by the spindles, t. k, the two
iron plates described above, l, four large bobbins with
cotton rovings, are conducted between rollers at the back.



M, the four threads carried to the bobbins and spindles by
four small wires fixed across the frame in the slip of wood,
V. N, iron levers with small lead weights hanging to the
rollers by pulleys, which keep the rollers close to each other.
0, a cross piece of wood to which the levers are fixed, p,
the bobbins and spindles, q, flyers made of wood with
small wires on the sides, which lead the thread to the

Fig. 58. Arkwright's Spinning Frame.

bobbins, r, small worsted bands put about the whirl of
the bobbins, the screwing of which tight or easy causes the
bobbins to wind up the thread faster or slower, s, the four
whirls of the spindles. T, the four spindles, which run in
iron plates, t, explained in letter m. w, a wooden frame
of the whole machine." Such is the great inventor's de-
scription and illustration of his spinning machine ; it is not
very lucid, and a further description may be permitted.



Fig. 59 is a section of the machine when it had pro-
bably been further improved. The four pairs of rollers,
A, A, by which the sliver was drawn or attenuated, were
composed of brass and steel, and connected by small
pinions : the bottom ones were covered with wood and

Fig. 59. Arkwright's Spinning Frame. Section.

Suted, and the top ones were covered with leather, as is
the custom at the present day. The upper rollers were
kept in contact with the lower ones by means of the
weighted cords and pulleys, b, b. As the sliver was de-
livered from the rollers it was twisted into a thread by


the flyer, c, upon the spindle, and wound upon the bobbin, d.
The bobbin was fitted loosely upon the spindle, and its
revolution retarded by a friction band working upon the
bottom flange, F, and which was brought to the requisite
state of tension by a screw pin to which the end was
attached. This also caused the yarn to be wound upon
the bobbin tightly. One leg of the flyer, c, had pins in-
serted in it to guide the yarn upon the barrel, this being
in fact the actual method employed in the flnx wheel, as
already seen. The yarn was thus wound upon the bobbin
in successive stages, the bobbin being stopped to efi'ect the
transfer of the thread from one position to the other.

A few words of comment and comparison between this
machine and that of Hargreaves may be permitted. In
the first place allowances must be made for the crude-
ness of the drawing, which does not do justice to the
invention, and which incidentally shows what has since
been called mechanical drawing in a very early stage of
its development. Hargreaves found the spindle in the
hand wheel arranged in a horizontal position, as shown
in both forms of that machine. One of the great merits
and distinctions of his invention is that he changed this
to a vertical position. Arkwright, who followed him,
clearly borrowed and adopted this arrangement in his
frame. Hargreaves in attenuating the rove adhered to the
principle employed in hand spinning ; namely, drawing it
by the recession of the carriage from the spindles. Whether
he had ever or not heard of the attempts of Paul and
Wyatt to accomplish this by means of rollers does not
appear, but undoubtedly Arkwright had obtained a know-
ledge of it, and must, at the same time, have learned of its
failure. What led the latter to renew the attempt cannot
now be known, but he appears to have pressed the matter
upon the attention of the mechanics he employed, and it is
probably owing to his persistence that success was ulti-
mately achieved. It is not clear whether he himself solved
the problem, or owed it to his assistants, or whether it was


the result of their joint efforts. This, however, is now a
matter of no importance, the world having secured the
benefit of the realized idea, which is one of the greatest in-
ventions of the age; and though it had been previously sug-
gested, it was first practically embodied in Arkwright's
spinning frame. The presumption, therefore, is almost
entirely in his favour, and for his solution of the problem
the world can hardly award him too much honour.

Roller drawing is the distinctive feature of his machine,
and this has since been introduced into every other form of
cotton spinning frames, and into many of those for dealing
with other fibres. The rove in both the new forms of spinning
machines was arranged in creels, Hargreaves' being placed
inside the frame and Arkwright's superimposed upon it.
In winding the spun yarn upon the spindle, Hargreaves
adopted a guide wire, the parent of the modern faller, and
the equivalent of the guiding fingers of the hand spinner ;
practically a multiple of them. Arkwright again utilized
the best and most advanced form of achieving the same
end, which he found existing in the differential speeds of
the bobbin and flyer of the Saxony wheel. Arkwright has
sometimes been credited with the invention of the flyer,
but this is a mistake, it having been invented long before
his birth. There exists in the library of the English.
Patent Office a small work written by Thomas Firmin, on
*' The Employment of the Poor," the frontispiece to which
is a figure of a girl at a spinning wheel, the spindle of which
carries a flyer, one leg of which forms a heck composed of
guide pins for directing the thread upon the bobbin. When
the mill at Cromford was started, the spinning frames
Arkwright put into that place showed a great advance
upon those first constructed, the winding being accom-
plished by the drag or frictional retardation of the bobbin,
which was not driven by a band as in the Saxony wheel,
but left to be drawn round by the yarn. The winding
was also improved, the heck upon the flyer having been
dispensed with, and a traverse rail introduced which


carried the bobbins up and down upon the spindles within
the arms of the flyers, which thus automatically depo-
sited the yarn in even layers upon the bobbins. Coniah
Wood, who patented a spinning frame in 1772, was the
first to introduce the traverse rail for the winding, and to
dispense with the heck upon the flyer. Arkwright, whom
Wood had for a considerable time assisted in his pursuits, as
usual with him, quickly adopted this idea, adding an impor-
tant improvement in a heart-shaped cam which rendered its
action automatic, which it was not in Wood's invention.
Hargreaves' jenny, even after its combination with the
water frame of Arkwright in the mule by Samuel Crompton,
in which it has been brought to the most wonderful degree
of perfection, has remained essentially what it was in its
original form, a spinning frame, with the insignificant ex-
ceptions of the slubbing " billies " and jack frames. One
great merit of Arkwright's machine was its adaptability,
with slight modifications, to use in several stages in the
preparation of cotton for spinning. We find it first in the
drawing frame, and afterwards in the whole series of the
bobbin and fly frames : the slubbing, intermediate, and
roving frame ; and again, but without its distinctive fea-
ture, the drawing rollers, in the throstle doubling frame.
To Arkwright must be awarded the credit of these adapta-
tions, though he left much to do in perfecting the details
of each machine to succeeding inventors.

As it does not fall within the scope of this short treatise
to trace in detail the progress of mechanical invention —
though the task would undoubtedly prove both interesting
and instructive — by which the present stage of comparative
perfection has been attained, haste must be made to deal
with the facts and conditions of to-day. In the transit
from the earliest days of the modern system to the pre-
sent time, it may, however, prove useful to the student
desiring fuller information to give the names of the succes-
sive inventors, and to outline the nature of the contribu-
tions each individually made to the sum of present results.


Hargreaves' invention had not been long at work before
it was considerably improved bj the introduction of the
horizontal cylinder, 2, to drive the spindles and the grooved
wheel B (Fig. 56), which were not originally in the jenny.
They were invented and added by a man in a similai
position of life, named Haley, residing at Hoghton, near
Blackburn. The important part played by the cylinder
for the transmission of motion to the spindles only needs
mentioning to be appreciated.

But incomparably higher than all his contemporaries after
Hargreaves and Arkvvright stands the name and services
of Samuel Crompton, whose invention of the mule spinning
frame has proved of such vast importance to the world. The
solution of the problem, if not the inception of the idea of
spinning more than two threads at a time, as we have seen,
belongs to Hargreaves ; the realization of the attenuation
of the rove by means of drawing rollers, by which these
spindles could be supplied with the requisite material with
facility and in the best form, must be credited to Ark-
wright ; whilst the combination in one spinning frame of
the best points of both of these inventors' machines is due
to Crompton. But he was not merely a person who utilized
the fruit of other men's labour, he was also a great inventor,
as he showed by fixing his creel of rovings in the frame of
his machine, and transferring his spindles to a moving-
carriage. This combination, along with his own improve-
ments, made his frame immensely superior to either the
jenny or water frame. In the first the attenuation of the
rove could not be secured with the evenness that was de-
sirable, and generally the outward traverse of the carriage
was completed before irregularities could be removed by
the process of stretching the thread. In introducing the
roller system of drawing the rove, Crompton secured the
best known means of accomplishing that object, whilst he
retained the outward traverse of the jenny carriage as a
reseive power wherewith to overcome the defects or irre-
gulRvities that might remain in the rove after drawing by


the new system. The defective state of the means for
preparing cotton in the preliminary stages left much to be
done in the final process in the way of perfecting results.
The water frame contained no means of overcoming these
defects, but the mule was enabled to take out irregulari-
ties by means of the *' stretch." This defect of the water
frame was recognized by its inventor himself, and was the
cause of the great devotion he paid to perfecting the pre-
paration, and for his improvements in which the trade is
deeply indebted to him. But all his labour in this direc-
tion was equally advantageous for his great rival's machine,
the mule. The more perfect the rove, proportionately the
more perfect would be the thread from the w^ater frame,
whilst in the mule it would be this plus the improvement
obtained by the stretch. Hence the enormous success of
the mule frame, which, when Arkwright's patents were set
aside or expired, leaving it practicable to use his rollers and
preparatory machinery, distanced its competitor on every
side. It was only as further improvements in details took
place, that the distance in merit between the two machines
or systems of spinning began to diminish, and the water
frame, which afterwards became the throstle frame, ap-
proached more nearly abreast with the mule. Within the
past few years only has the contest become nearly level in
spinning the lower ranges of numbers as to quantity and
quality of production.

There is evidence sufficient to lead to a fair conclusion
that Crompton independently invented the system of draw-
ing the rove by means of rollers. In his first machines
they were of wood, and of so crude a form and structure,
that had he seen or even heard of Arkwright's method, he
could hardly have failed to have made a better beginning.
Crompton's rollers in this respect were speedily improved
upon by Henry Stones, a mechanic of Horwich, near
Bolton, who had probably enjoyed the advantage, denied
to Crompton, of seeing Arkwright's water frame. Stones
therefore introduced the metallic rollers of Arkwright's


frame into Crompton's mule, thus contributing greatly to
its improvement. The same person also effected other im-
provements in the mule.

About this time Hargreaves' jenny was adapted to
another purpose, that of preparing slubbings or rovings
for spinning, which adaptation is illustrated in Fig. 60.
This was accomplished by a person at Stockport, who
mounted his spindles in a carriage like Crompton, which
he placed to run upon the lower cross piece of the frame, a,
instead of the toprail as in the jenny. Haley's cylinder, F,
was used for driving the spindles, and Hargreaves' faller
wire, 8, assumed a better form, and was placed in a more
convenient position. The driving-wheel, E, was mounted
upon standards fixed to the carriage, and was operated as
in the jenny by the winch attached to the end of the axle.
The strips of carded cotton were placed side by side upon an
endless sheet revolving upon two rollers, and which carried
them upwards to and beneath the roller, C, a light wood
pressure roller called the billy roller, and which attracted
some attention at the time. The frame containing these
rollers occupied the position of the spindles in the jenny.
The card ends passed between two bars, equivalent to the
" clove " of the jenny. The upper of these bars, G, was
raised to allow of their passage. When a sufficient length
had been drawn through, the bars were closed again, and
the portion of rove thus drawn off was attenuated as re-
quired, slightly twisted, and then wound upon the spindles.
When the carriage was returned home in the winding pro-
cess, a wheel, 5, ran under the lever, 6, which raised the
sliding wires, 7, upon which the bar, G, was mounted, thus
opening the clasp for the draught of another length of the
carded cotton.

This illustration will serve to show how the component
parts of every invention in the early days of the industry
were transposed and interchanged from one to another, as
the variations gave promise of improvement. The slubbing
billy was a useful machine in its day, and maintained a


position in tbe cotton trade alongside Ark wright's slabbing
and roving frames, until, bj the invention of a more per-
fect system of differential driving of the spindle and
bobbin in the fly frames, the latter were so much im-
proved as to render their superiority incontestable. Then
the slubbing billy disappeared entirely from the cotton
manufacture, but in a modihed and improved form it still
exists in the woollen trade.

The difficulty of constructing the tin cylinders with ac-
curacy, when it was desired to increase the length of the
mules, was, for a short time, an obstacle to their further
extension of size. This was, however, overcome by the
invention of small cylinders, called drums, by a person
named Baker, of Bury, which were arranged vertically
in the carriage of the mule, and were driven by a stout
band from a grooved wheel in the head stock. This ad-
mitted of the length of the carriage again being greatly
extended. Success has, however, finally rewarded the
efforts that have been devoted to the construction of
cylinders, and these can now be made of any length ; as a
consequence this method of driving the spindles has again
been reverted to, and Baker's drums have disappeared.
Baker also invented the diagonal shaft, by which motion
was transmitted to the rollers from the rim. This shaft
dropped out of gear at the rim when the rollers were to
stop. The introduction of this shaft was a great improve-
ment, enabling much more accuracy to be obtained in the
working of the parts, and giving opportunity foi the yarn
to be more highly perfected in the final stretch.

As yet the carriage had been brought out from the
roller beam by various appliances, all more or less imper-
fect in their nature and action, and most of which left
*' the stretch " or second draw to be completed by the hand
of the spinner. The stretch was longer or shorter accord-
ing to the quality of the material and the counts of yarn
being spun. The first appearance of the germ of the more
perfect system of bringing out the carriage, which has


now been so long in vogue, was in tlie invention of a
parallel scroll with a small conical one attached, by James
Hargreaves, of Tottington, near Bury. " Hargreaves " is
a common name in Lancashire, and though this inventor
bore the same name and surname as the inventor of the
jenny, and though only about nine miles of wild moorland
separates Stanhill, the residence of the last-named, and
Tottington, there is no reason to suppose that any family
relationship existed between them.

The mule up to 1790 was purely a manual machine,
operated by the hand of the spinner. Though the spin-
dles were gradually increasing in number, yet they were
few compared to what they became shortly after they were
adapted for being driven by animal and water power. Mr.
Kelly, of Glasgow, formerly of the Lanark mills, was the
tirst person to accomplish this latter improvement. The
way in which he effected this, was by means of a loose
pulley carrying a catch, which at pleasure could be made
to seize another catch fixed upon the axle. On this axle
was a screw which worked into a wheel, and the number
of teeth in which governed the number of revolutions of
the rim by disengaging the rope from the fast to the loose
pulley. The new arrangement enabled the mule to be
largely increased in size.

This invention had hardly got to work before Mr. Wright,
a Manchester mechanic, and formerly an apprentice of Sir
Richard Arkwright, doubled the dimensions of the mule
at once by placing the head stock, or rim, as it was then
called, in the middle of the length of the frame or roller
beam. The widening of the mule also brought another
difficulty to the front. The carriage became of such a
length that when being drawn out the extremities were
apt to lag behind the centre portions unless the frame
was made of great rigidity and strength, in which case it
became too heavy to operate with facility. The conse-
quence was that good work could not be made, and any
kind was almost impracticable. This obstacle to efficiency


was overcome by the invention of the " squaring " baud,
which enabled the carriage to be brought out on a per-
fectly straight line, like the two sides of a parallel ruler.

Kelly's substitute for manual power was water, but with
the enlargement of the mule, and the erection of special build-
ings or factories for containing them, eligible sites became
difficult to obtain, and were often far from centres of popu-
lation. Stexm power began to be welcomed and extensively
adopted, but it is curious now to note that the steam engine
was first employed to lift water in order to pour it upon
a water wheel, which turned the machinery, as this was
thought to be the only reliable source of steady driving,
nnd perhaps correctly so, in the infancy of the steam engine.
It was not long, however, before such improvements took
place in the latter as to dispense with the necessity
of taking power from it by this roundabout method. Its
direct application enabled mills to be brought to the
centres of population, with which facilities, and a growing
demand for yarns, spindles rapidly increased in number.

Up to 1793 no attempts were made to spin the finer
yarns, say from 100^ and upwards, upon the machinery
driven by water or steam power. At that time these
higher counts began to be attempted by the more skilful
spinners. Mr. Kennedy, one of the earliest of the Man-
chester machinists, and from whose paper on the life of
Samuel Crompton some of the foregoing particulars have
been gleaned, was a careful observer of the difficulties en-
countered in these attempts, and set himself to invent a
remedy. One of these was the slow speed at which it was
necessary the mules should work when spinning, say, 200%
and which reduced the production to a small quantity.
The rollers in this case could only make about twenty-five
revolutions per minute and the spindles about twelve hun-
dred. But when a sufficient length of roving had been
drawn out for one length or traverse of the carriage, the
rollers stopped, and the spindles were accelerated during
the second draw or stretch. This acceleration of speed was


put in by the manual labour of the spinner. Mr. Kennedy,
however, devised a plan by which it was automatically ac-
complished by the mule. His first idea was to adapt the
principle of the arrangement of wheels termed the sun and
planet motion, which was suggested to him by seeing it in
Watts' steam engine. The low state of mechanical skill,
and the consequent difficulties to be encountered in making
the parts at that time, however, deterred him from the
attempt, and he chose the simpler method of an arrange-
ment of four wheels of unequal sizes for producing the
same effect. This plan was partially successful, and by
repeated improvements, made according to the suggestions

Online LibraryRichard MarsdenCotton spinning : its development, principles, and practice → online text (page 17 of 31)