Improvements in Plumbing Work.
IN the development of the mechanical arts perhaps there are none which have made such progress in the same time as that of plumbing work. A comparison of what it was in detail twenty years ago with what it is now would seem to give emphasis to the expression “there is no comparison.”
Then it was simply introducing water to premises, placing a valve hopper in the basement or cellar of the dwelling, a valve water closet in the bath-room on the second story, a copper bath tub and four or five wash basins located in the second and third stories of the dwelling, ordinary iron soil pipe continued to the roof, and one trap on the second story under the water closet was generally depended upon for trappage of all the apparatus on the second and third stories of dwellings. The trap of the hopper or servants’ water closet in basement or cellar served to trap the kitchen sink and wash tubs on basement floors. Little attention was bestowed upon the question of flushing tanks for water closets, vent pipes for traps, or any of the features of improvement incident to sanitary science relating to plumbing work.
There is no branch of mechanics connected with dwelling construction that has such an intimate and direct effect upon the health of the people as that of plumbing. Science has met the requirements and provided for the emergency perhaps a little in advance of some of the requirements of the public. In passing through the warehouses of manufacturers of plumbers’ materials the fact is demonstrated that earthenware takes precedence for all decent water closet apparatus—and why should it not? In the experience of users of metallic devices for water closets none can prove a durability or a cleanliness equal to earthenware. The rule applies with equal force concerning bath tubs, wash tubs, and kitchen sink drains, and slop hoppers.
The absence of superfluous wood-work about wash basins, bath tubs, water closets, and in fact any piece of plumbing apparatus, has proved to be a great improvement in the matter of preventing dirt or filth of any description being hidden from observation and making it easy to remove. The use of marble and tile for flooring and wainscoting in and about plumbing apparatus is the complete attainment of cleanliness and durability.
Plumbing apparatus exposed to view has called for the skill of the artist in decorating, and what was once disagreeable and offensive to the eye is now graceful in line and ornamental to suit any and every taste.
No plumber of reputation would now think of ignoring a separate trap system, a vent pipe system or a system of flushing tanks for water closets wherever located. No plumber of reputation will use what is called a pan or valve water closet (old fashioned iron body trunk, with an oval or round earthen bowl), the best constructed receptacle for retaining excreta ever devised and impossible to clean or keep clean.
The introduction of syphon action water closets is certainly an improvement upon the many socalled sanitary water closets. The characteristics of syphon action are certainly desirable in water closet service. It would appear from their construction that but little area of the water closet is exposed to the air, that the concentration of flow of water under the influence of syphon action produces a solidity of water column and a velocity not otherwise attainable. Water closets of this character when first introduced had more or less complicated devices in connection with construction. Experience, however, has produced simplification in their construction, and syphon action water closets will certainly become popular in the trade and in common use in preference to others more complicated, and not so well adapted in point of cleanliness and thoroughness in action.
As we go to press the convention of the National Association of Fire Engineers at Springfield, Mass., is still in progress. Our representative reports a full attendance and everything going off smoothly and well according to programme. A full report of the proceedings will appear in next week’s issue of FIRE AND WATER.
THE growing appreciation of the value of irrigation in developing the agricultural resources of the arid regions of the Far West is illustrated anew by the action of the Sunset Irrigation District in California in voting to issue bonds to the amount of $2,000,000 for the construction of canals. This is stated to be the most extensive irrigation scheme ever set about under a single management. It is calculated that if carried out as is now proposed, it will open up to cultivation upwards of 400,000 acres of land, which, for lack of water, is now practically without value, but which, when irrigated, may, from experience elsewhere in the State, be expected to prove rich and fertile and a source of wealth hitherto unattainable.
THE folly in small communities with only one or a few pieces of fire apparatus of permitting these to be taken out of town to distant tournaments, parades and like gatherings for pleasure, leaving the place without protection, was again strikingly illustrated a short time since at Fairfield, Me. The only fire engine which the town possessed had been carried off to Bangor, to take part in the tournament, and, in its absence, the pulp mill of the Shawmut Fibre Company was burned to the ground, with a loss of a quarter of a million of dollars. It will be remembered that when the great fire of 1866 at Portland, Me., started, a great part of the fire department was away from the city at a tournament or something of the sort, and the place fell an easy prey to the flames, and, doubtless, other minor instances of the kind could be looked up readily enough. While there is no particular objection to allowing one or two companies out of a fairly large department to absent themselves temporarily either for pleasure or to assist a neighboring community, the crippling of the fire service of a town for either of these reasons should be positively forbidden. Fire apparatus, to be useful, must be ready at all times for use.
COMMENTING upon the recent destructive fire at Montreal, The Canadian Journal of Commerce says that the responsibility for its proving so extensive rests largely upon the city authorities. Last winter, it seems, Chief Benoit asked for money with which to replace a large quantity of imperfect hose with new, but the council refused to allow it. The consequence of this niggardliness was that at the fire in question the energies of the chief and his men were paralyzed by the bursting in all directions of length after length of worn out and rotten hose, owing chiefly to which the fire became uncontrollable, and some $75,000 worth of property was destroyed, which might have been saved had the Aldermen heeded Chief Benoit’s reasonable request. “ Looking at that magnificent display,” says The Journal, “ of the engines and other plant of the fire department paraded with so much justifiable pride on Dominion Day, who could have imagined it possible that all that wealth of means to protect property from fire was a mere show, owing to the hose being useless ? It was like a splendid gold watch case with the main spring left broken, because of the owner being too mean and foolish to replace it.” Unfortunately, Montreal is not alone in the possession of this class of councilmen. The temptation to gain a little cheap political credit for economy by cutting down fire department appropriations is too great a temptation to the average city father.
IN connection with the present indescribable condition of the streets of New York, Gothamites will read with interest the views of Street Cleaning Commissioner Beattie as to the amount of money which will be needed to meet the expenses of his department during next year. The estimate which he has just presented to the Board of Aldermen looks to a total expenditure of the very handsome sum of $2,653,235. It is made in accordance with the recommendations reported to the Mayor by the citizens’ committee, which recently examined into the working of different methods of street cleaning, and provides for the application of the block system to the entire city. Of the total sum asked for $38,400 are for the salaries of the commissioner and his office force, while for the supervision of the working force $124,200 are set aside. The pay of the working force is put at $1,494,888 ; the sum needed for feed, shoeing, etc., at $118,625 I temporary hiring of carts and laborers, $100,000 ; final disposition, $275,000; rents and contingencies, $80,000; plant, $309,120; repairs, etc., to plant, $40,000, and salaries of police, $73,000—in all, as above mentioned, $2,653,233. Now, this is a pretty big city, but these figures are also pretty large and, if the work is properly performed, should certainly, one would think, give New Yorkers the clean streets to which they are entitled and for which they have always shown themselves willing to pay. The lines upon which the street cleaning commissioner now proposes to work have been laid down by a body of representative citizens, and the commissioner should be given amply sufficient money to follow them out. Then if there is no improvement in the situation the responsibility can he definitely placed where it belongs, whether upon the system or the Street Cleaning Bureau.
To gain a proper idea of the extent of public work on improvements and repairs constantly going on in a large city, and of the operations of the various departments, one must go to the cold figures of the reports. That of Commissioner of Public Works Gilroy of New York city, for the past quarter, gives some interesting details of the affairs of his department. For the period in question the expenditures aggregate $1,489,241.15, of which $867,255.54 was for account of annual appropriations, $552,737-59 for account of assessment funds, and $269,248.02 for account of miscellaneous funds. One hundred and twenty-two contracts were entered into, involving $1,548,640.25, and eightyseven contracts completed at a total cost of $452,160.77. In the repairs of pavements 150,270 square yards of pavement were taken up and relaid, while in the repavement of streets 78,677 square yards of new stone block pavements and 30,144 square yards of asphalt pavement were laid. First pavements were laid on nineteen uptown streets, and include 39,195 square yards of granite block pavement and 9488 square yards of asphalt pavement. There are now 367.53 miles of paved streets south of the Harlem river, covering an area of 8,453,651 square yards. Not very much was done in the way of sewerage construction, only 13,181 lineal feet having been built; but it is noted that the system south of the llarlem river now consists of 440.49 miles of sewers and 5279 receiving basins. The additions to the water distribution system were also but moderate, including but 4.82 miles of mains and 46 additional hydrants. As indicating the way in which New Yorkers waste water it may be noted that the average daily supply received and delivered in the city was 158,000,000 gallons, of which 78,000,000 gallons came through the new aqueduct, 70,000,000 gallons through the old aqueduct, and 10,000,000 gallons through the Bronx river aqueduct. The water rents collected during the quarter amounted to $782,473. The bureau of incumbrances seems to have kept pretty busy, attending to 1306 complaints of obstructions in the streets and making 1337 seizures and removals of obstructions. The bureau also removed 183 dead and dangerous shade trees, 589 telegraph poles and about 705 miles of electric wires. These are but the salient features of the report, but suffice to show the scale upon which the operations of the Public Works Department of the chief city of the country is conducted.