A New Hydraulic Enterprise.

A New Hydraulic Enterprise.

Among the passengers on the French steamer which arrived in New York very recently, was M. Barre of France, the inventor of the gliding railway, propelled by hydraulic force. M. Barre is a French engineer of large experience, who has devoted himself for several years to the development of this new transportation power. The invention while novel had its origin as far back as 1854, in the mind of a French mechanical engineer of distinction. He labored industriously for its perfection, receiving aid meanwhile from Napoleon III., but an end was put to his experiments by the breaking out of the Franco-Prussian war, in which he lost his life. M. Barre had been his co-worker and after the lapse of a few years applied himself to the further development of the scheme of his friend.

The motive power is water and the train is propelled over steel plates, the cars resting upon cast-iron boxes technically called skates. Between the skates and the plates a thin film of water flows, preventing friction as the train glides along upon the plates. A high rate of speed is attainable, as much as 125 miles being claimed as possible for long distances. The cars are built of very light material and the motion is steady, being even smoother than that of a boat passing through still water. The skates cannot leave the rail, and stoppages can be made with remarkable promptness and without shock to passengers. This is due to the fact that the load is very inconsiderable per square inch of slide surface. Of course high rates of speed cannot be developed immediately at the starting point on either this system or the regular steam railways ; yet it is claimed that the hydraulic system has a great advantage over the present system even in that respect. As an illustration it is said that the inventor has entered into a contract with the Metropolitan Railway of London for a two mile section of his road between Neasden and Wimbley, directly parallel with its own steam line. It is a part of the agreement that when the final test is made a locomotive on the rolling train, capable of the highest possible speed, with the highest pressure of steam, the greatest heat in its fire box and its coal bin filled, shall stand by the side of the gliding train of M. Barre. When the signal for starting is given the rolling train shall be allowed to proceed 500 yards before the gliding train shall leave the starting point, and before the rolling train shall have reached three-quarters of the distance the gliding train shall have arrived at the station two miles distant.

The mechanical arrangement of the motive power is quite complex. In brief it may be explained that a main is laid either alongside or under the rails, containing water under pressure, the pressure being supplied by stationary engines placed at intervals along the line. This main, which is provided to convey the water for propelling purposes, has a certain number of accumulators. At the end of each of these vessels are attached vertical discharging pipes, called propellers. These propellers are carried above the level of the rail, so that they will discharge the water horizontally in the direction of the train os it proceeds. Underneath each carriage is fixed a rectilineal turbine or bucket rack which receives the direct impact of water discharged by the propellers, and imparts motion to the train. This turbine has two rows of buckets, one above the other, the angles of their webs being set in opposite direc. tions in order to give a forward or backward motion to the train. The speed of the train depends entirely on the pressure given from the stationary engines.

The number of propellers to each line of rail depends on the minimum length of trains and on the steepness of the gradient. The propeller is opened automatically by a lever at the head of the train, so that on a level line there is always one propeller acting, but on a steep gradient others would be placed, so that two or more would always be acting, and the same speed maintained without regard to the gradient to be overcome. Two supplies of water are necessary, one for the slide* and the other for motive power. On lines where the stations arc near togethei enough water under pressure for the distance to be tun can be carried in the tender, the quantity necessary for each slide being about one and a half pints per second. During the stoppage at a station the tender can be recharged for the distance to the next station. The water used for the slides can be collected and used over again with only a slight loss from either evaporation or infiltration. For long distances the water required for the slides is taken up under sufficient pressure into special reservoirs underneath the carriages from the propellers, and while the train is traveling at a high rate of speed. When the announcement of the invention was first made the objection was offered that it would be impracticable in freezing weather, but it is claimed by the inventor that the only precaution necessary would be to enclose the main pipe in either masonry or woodwork. Furthermore, in long distances the line would be laid with a close observance to gradual slopes and depressions, thus keeping the film in constant motion. Another advantage claimed for it is that it need never cross a highway at grade. Necessarily going at the tremendous rate of 125 miles per hour, signals would be absolutely useless, and on account of the ability of the train to Mcrntl grades with equal facility as moving on the level overhead bridges would in all cases span the highways.

In the present rolling system it is urged that there is a tremendous amount of dead weight. All this in the new system would be obviated by the light material of the equipment —say to the extent of about too per cent. In his plan for long distance roads a train might start from New York and travel continuously without a stop to San Francisco, and a rate of speed of 125 miles per hour be maintained throughout the journey, The remarkable feature of the system is the economical operation in comparison with rolling trains. Owing to the fact that there is little or no oscillation of the cars and no straining of the joints by jarring, the only wear is really confined to the slides in the stoppage of the trains by the cutting off of the water which creates the film on the slides, thus creating friction between the slides and the skate. The motive power engines which supply the propelling water are Srinly planted in beds of masonry, and their cost of maintenance is infinitely less than that of a locomotive.


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