TOPICS OF THE DAY
THE local abiding place of Labouchere’s Truth, in Fleet street, London, was burned out on Monday. William Cullen Bryant assures us that “ Truth crushed to earth shall rise again,” so that there is no occasion for mourning upon the part of its friends. A little chastening and refining in tone by fire will not do it any harm, either.
THE fire losses in the United States during the month of October, conservatively estimated at $7,032,000, bring the total for the elapsed ten months of the year up to $71,793,000 against $94,049,000 for the same period last year. At this rate the estimate made earlier in the year of $90,000,000 as the extent of the waste for the current twelve months, is not now likely to be exceeded, even if it is reached. This will be a smaller total than was recorded in any year since 1882, when the figures were $84,505,024.
ONE more “handsome modern hotel,” the Rudd House at Owensboro, Ky., is in ruins, and several of the guests are suffering from terrible injuries, if they are not by this time already dead. The fire broke out at night, as usual, somewhere in the basement, and had gained great headway before it was discovered, so that by the time the inmates were aroused the building was well ablaze. There was the customary mad rush for the exits, and most of the frightened people got out safely in their night clothes, but others had to jump from the windows, and were hurt by the fall, while still others were seriously burned. Not one word of fire escapes or night watchmen in this “ handsome modern hotel”!
THE water-works trustees at Cleveland, O., have sent in a bill of $30,000 to a leading manufacturing firm of that city, for water alleged to have been illegally taken during the past five years, for manufacturing purposes, from a water main laid to the works for fire protection only. The peculiar feature about the case is that the trustees refuse to make public the name of the firm, saying, according to the local papers, that this would work injustice to the innocent proprietors of the concern, the main having been tapped by the superintendent without the knowledge of his superiors. It is, however, stated that other firms in Cleveland have also been found to have been using the city water without payment, and the intimation is that if the claims of the water department are not honored, some interesting law suits will follow. A similar case was brought to light in an Eastern city a year or so ago, but the claim of the water-works people was, we think, settled before the matter reached the courts.
STRONG suspicions are felt that the fatal explosion of the Dupont Powder Works near Wilmington, Del., about a month ago, by which twelve persons were killed, and many were injured was the work of an organized gang of incendiaries. Several unsuccessful attempts to blow up the works had, it is said, been previously made and, within a comparatively small time four barns belonging to Mr. Dupont have also been burned. It is thought that the authors of these crimes may be former employees of the works, moved by feelings of revenge for their discharge from the works, a number having been dismissed last summer; the Dupont Company has advertised an offer of a reward of $8000 for the conviction of the guilty persons. If there is really any good foundation for the belief that the powder mill slaughter was the result of anything but accident, as it has been considered, it is to be hoped that the State will now leave no stone unturned to unearth the murderers. The supposition invests the sad affair with a new and terrible interest.
IN his annual report upon the condition of the water supply of the District of Columbia, Professor Richardson, the District chemist, says that the quality of the water in seventy-one percent of the wells in the northwestern part of Washington, examined during the year, was either bad or suspicious; in the southwest the quality was in all cases either bad or suspicious; in the northeast, in two out of three of the wells it was bad, and in the southeast in forty per cent; while in the county he reports seventy per cent of the wells as bad. Mr. Richardson considers that the only argument in favor of keeping the wells of the city open is furnished by the impure condition of the aqueduct water at different seasons of the year. Toward remedying this last, he considers that the utilization of the upper reservoir, after arrangements had been made for the proper disposition of the drainage from its water shed, would go a long way. So bad a showing of the condition of the open wells should certainly open the eyes of the health officials of the city to the danger of allowing them to be longer used as sources of domestic supply. As matters stand they undoubtedly form a greater menace to health than does the water furnished.
The Decision in the Bragg Tripping Device Suit.
THE decision of Judge Gresham of the United States Circuit Court, in favor of Walker against the city of Terre Haute for infringement of the Bragg patent for electrical tripping machinery, has been printed in full, and proves to be a sweeping endorsement of the claims of the owners of the patent. Reviewing the specifications set forth by Bragg in his applications both for the original patent and its reissue, the court holds that in both cases they described the same inventions; the inventor had in mind, in the first place, not alone the precise mechanism described in the specifications and illustrated in the drawings, but any suitable means of utilizing the force of the gong hammer in releasing a weight (which is the equivalent of a spring, for operating any distant mechanism simultaneously with the stroke of the hammer). In applying for a reissue of the patent, a subdivision of the invention was made, a fourth claim being added, but this the court holds was fairly embraced in the original first claim and within the original limit of the invention, which really consisted “in the combination of the designated elements acting in cooperation to accomplish a specific result,” the patentee not being limited to the precise form shown in the drawings. Upon the whole, the validity of the reissued patent is affirmed.
The defense of prior use is also held by Judge Gresham to be unsupported by evidence. Brown S. Flanders testified that in 1869, while connected with a fire engine company in Boston, he made and put in use an automatic device which operated upon the same principle as that described in the Bragg patent. His statements were corroborated by several witnesses, who at that time belonged to the same company. If, as claimed, the Flanders’ device was in use in 1869, the Bragg patent would be invalid; the complaintants, however, brought witnesses who testified that during their connection with the same company in 1869, and for some years afterward, they never saw or heard of any such de vice for releasing horses, while a still larger number of persons who were employed in the Boston Fire Department at the time of the alleged prior use, and who visited the engine house in question from time to time, denied that, before the application for the patent in suit, they had ever seen or heard of such a device.
Further testimony upon this question was given by members of a Philadelphia fire company,who in 1869 visited Boston for the express purpose of inspecting the engines and fire department of the city, and noting any improvements in apparatus and methods. It had been asserted in evidence by witnesses for the defendant that the Flanders device was at the time in operation in engine house No. 8, and that it was shown and explained to the Philadelphians; these, upon the contrary, swore positively that neither the Flanders device nor anything like it had been shown to them, and that during their visit to Boston they had neither seen nor even heard of it. Finally, the records of the Boston Fire Department, covering the period of the alleged use, make no mention of such a device, and the court considers it incredible that so valuable an appliance should have been invented or introduced in the Boston Department without a patent having been applied for, or its inventor even calling the attention of the department to it.
As to the remaining question, that of infringement, the complainant’s two expert witnesses testified that the device used by the defendant in its engine houses contained the invention embraced in the first and fourth claims of the patent in suit, and the one expert witness for the defense acknowledged the same, and, although some structural differences exist, the court holds that the device used in the Terre Haute engine houses embraces all the elements of the Bragg invention. This decision is pronounced to be in harmony with the decrees entered in the case of Bragg against the cities of San Jose and Stockton, Cal., and Portland, Ore. The city of Terre Haute is enjoined against the further use of the apparatus, and must pay damages to Walker and his associates, and these now announce their intention of proceeding against other cities where such tripping apparatus is in use. It may be noted that the city of Indianapolis some time ago effected a compromise with the owners of the patent and now uses the device by agreement; whether other cities will see fit to adopt this plan or take the chances of the well-known uncertainties of the law, and fight the demands for royalties, remains to be seen. We believe in the rights of inventors, and have strenuously upheld them at all times. A man who, by the exercise of his inventive faculties, in any way simplifies and improves the conditions under which we live and do business, is entitled to a generous reward. Unless the rights of inventors are observed, there is no incentive to them to use their brains, and there comes an end to progress. We trust that the litigation in the Bragg case has reached a conclusion, and that those municipalities which have reaped the benefits of his invention will now see the justice of paying to the owners of the patents a reasonable compensation.
Cold Weather Hints for Factory Owners.
With the approach of winter the Western Manufacturers’ Mutual Insurance Company issues a circular containing some timely hints as to the care of the fire extinguishing appliances in mills and factories so as to prevent the chance of freezing. It also gives some good advice relative to the setting and care of heating apparatus, calculated, if closely followed, to reduce to a minimum the danger of fire from defective stoves, furnaces, stove and steam pipes, chimneys and other flues.
In the matter of fires apparatus it is pointed out that all hydrants and valves should be carefully examined and oiled; preferably with heavy mineral oil, which will not corrode the brass. All hydrants and stand-pipes, and all branch hydrants should be opened after the pipes are emptied, to let out any entrapped water which may have leaked past the valves when the pipes were full; and care taken that all the drip valves are in good condition. The rotary pumps should be oiled, and if exposed to freezing, turned backward to empty them of water. Pipes exposed to freezing should be emptied, and care taken to let the water out from above the check valves. All valves should be marked with an arrow showing the proper way to open them. In buildings equipped with automatic sprinklers, where it is impracticable to keep the buildings or room sufficiently warm to prevent freezing, it is suggested that the sprinklers should be changed to an approved dry pipe system. It is very important that some reliable person or persons should be put in charge of the fire apparatus, and that they should know the working of the same, and see that every part is in order; they can be sute only by making a thorough inspection as often as once a week. A fire organization among the employees is essential to the handling of the fire apparatus.
Buckets of water should be kept full, and distributed in abundance through the various rooms or floors of nearly all risks olher than dwellings. They may be placed on shelves or hung on hooks, as circumstances may require. Galvanized iron or indurated fibre pails are better than wood, they should be marked, “For Fire Only.” Casks of water are generally needed to furnish a further supply to the fire pails. To prevent freezing, add chloride of magnesium or salt to the water.
Stop valves in the mains should be covered by boxes four feet in height, and the direction of opening clearly marked on hand wheel gate. The yard hydrants should be placed at a distance of about forty feet from the building, and be covered with a house, which should also contain hose, nozzles, axes, bars and spanners.
The hydrant house, illustrated herewith, which is recommended by C. J. H. Woodbury, is considered an excellent one. Hydrant houses are made in a great variety of forms, but it is important that the doors should be high enough to avoid ice, or that the house should be placed upon a slight mound. An economical house may be built six feet square, with two detached sides, so that the doors can be swung around to the other side and be held by catches. The pins on which hose is hung should be two inches in diameter, placed diagonally, and staggered in two rows. If there is no hose cart, the reserve hose can be placed on shelves.
Stoves should be in order, set firm on metal legs, and free from cracks, and floors underneath should be protected by zinc, or stone, or enclosed with scantling nailed together and filled with brick and mortar or cement. They should not stand nearer unprotected woodwork than three feet. Any woodwork nearer than three feet should be first covered with asbestos paper, and then covered with tin, or protected in some other equally safe manner. A good guard is made of gas pipe securely screwed to the floor, and should be placed about stoves where there is a liability of stock being piled against them in manufacturing establishments. Stove pipes should be thoroughly cleaned and all unsound lengths replaced by new ones. All stove pipes should enter good brick chimneys horizontally, with but one elbow. In all mills and factories where there is considerable vibration, or where dust or fly is liable to accumulate. the horizontal pipe lengths should be carefully riveted together, and an additional pipe placed outside, leaving at least one inch air space between the inner and outer pipe, supported at frequent intervals by wires, also well wired to hold it in the chimney. In all cases where pipes pass through wooden or lath and plastered partitions, there should be a double collar of metal, with from two to four inches air space, and holes for ventilation, or at least eight inches of masonry about it.
The chimneys should be examined carefully, especially where they pass through floors and roofs, as the settling of the building may cause cracks that would let sparks escape. A long-bladed case knife serves well as a probe for this purpose. All pipe holes not in use should have close fitting stoppers. There should be no woodwork of any kind framed into the chimney, and the whole surface of the trimmers and headers next to the flue should be entirely covered with tin or light sheet iron.
Where steam pipes pass through floors or partitions, the woodwork should be cut away from around the pipe at least two inches and covered with asbestos paper, and then covered with tin. Cut a V-shaped piece out of the tin where it passes through the wood on both sides, and nail securely to the wood work. The pipes should be supported by gas or steam pipes, earthen rings or other equally safe material. Do not permit the pipes to come in contact with any woodwork or other inflammable material.
THE MONTREAL WATER-WORKS Report.—The annual report of the superintendent of the Montreal Water-works gives the total length of cast-iron pipe laid in the city during the year 1889 as 53,186 feet, or 10 7-100 miles, the weight of metal being 2178 tons. There were 259 valves laid and 196 hydrants put in. The length of pipe in use in the city, not including house services, was 167 1/2 miles. The total quantity of water pumped during the year was 4,694,227,000 gallons, being 218,198,000 gallons less than in 1888. The daily average consumption was 12,861,000 for 1889, against 13,442,000 gallons for 1888. Three-fourths of the whole quantity was pumped by water power, and the rest by steam. The cost of administration was $93,534, and the expenditure for improve, ment, $232,713. The superintendent draws attention to the necessity for the completion of the larger aqueduct, one section of which was made upwards of twelve years ago, and which completion seems no longer to occupy the attention of the council, and yet the necessity for increase of supply from some source becomes every year more apparent. In the chapter on improvements needed he draws attention to the fact that in case of the wheels being stopped for want of water-power the city would be dependent on two steam engines, neither of which singly is capabable of furnishing the full supply, and either of which might require at any time to stop for repairs.
A NEW SMOKE PROTECTOR.—A new smoke preventer is noted in Industries as having proved unusually efficient., A number of iron boxes with perforated sides are filled with asbestos and placed on the furnace bars just in front of the bridge. Curved arches of fire-resisting material are placed immediately behind the bridge. These boxes and arches become white hot after the furnace gases have passed over them for a short time. The air entering in front of the bridge is heated, and it and the gases from the furnace pass between the spaces formed by the arches, which are so intensely hot that a fierce combustion is caused, entirely destroying the black smoke.
A NEW ENGLISH FIRE ESCAPE.—A novel device in the way of a fire escape has been invented by Captain Rawlings of the Frome (Eng.) Fire Brigade. It is known as an “emergency staircase,” and is described by The Fireman of London as follows: A light staircase is hinged between the joists of the upper floors of buildings, and is kept suspended under the ceiling by means of a spring catch. Immediately over the staircase is a trap-door, which is connected with the same by levers on either side. Under the trap-door is a balance weight as the door opens, so as to exactly balance the ladder. The spring catch is connected by wires to a handle placed in a convenient position in a box with a glass face. In case of fire or other emergency the glass is broken, the handle pulled, and immediately the staircase descends, opening the trap-door, letting down a handrail on either side and raising a guard on either side of the opening of the trap-door, and thus forming a staircase, down which the most timid can descend. The staircases may be placed under each floor of a high building, and the catches connected with a main wire, having a handle on each floor, when, by pulling the handle on either floor, the whole of the staircases descend together, and a complete staircase from bottom to top of the highest building may be formed in an instant, no matter how many floors. The great advantage is that the staircase, when not in use, does not occupy any available space, and can be placed in buildings with a very circumscribed space.
SEWERAGE IN ROME, ITALY.—The streets of Rome are well provided with sewers. At the end of 1870 there were 46,169 yards of sewers, not counting the Trastevere division or part of the Regola. From that date to 1883 many old sewers were put in order and 3869 yards of new built in the Castro Pretoris, the Esquiline and Celean quarters. The quarters constructed since 1883 will be furnished with 59,832 yards, of which 32,800 were constructed at the beginning of 1888. In addition, 2964 yards in the old city have been re paired or rebuilt, leaving 8290 yards to be constructed there. The sewers are divided into three classes, which are of the following dimensions: First class, 8.20 x 6.56 feet; second class, 5.91 x 3.92 feet; third class, 2.95 x 2.00 feet.
The Water Power of Niagara.
As already noted in FIRE AND WATER, work has been at last begun upon a scheme which has for years been the dream of engineers; that of the thorough, practical utilization of the water power of Niagara Falls.
To a small extent this is already used through a hydraulic canal about three-fourths of a mile in length, commencing at a point on the shore of the river above the Falls and terminating on the high cliff below them. There are several large manufactories near the termination of this canal. The new undertaking is, however, much wider reaching in its scope, the plans, which have received the approval of eminent engineers, contemplating the furnishing of a motive force of 120,000 horsepower. The area of the drainage basin of the great lakes contributing to the flow of the Niagara river is about 240,000 square miles, equal to more than twice the area of Great Britain and Ireland, and this flow of water at Niagara Falls is calculated to average 265,000 cubic feet a second, while it is estimated that, by the plans contemplated, the stated amount of horse-power could be obtained by the employment of about 10,200 cubic feet a second, or about .04 per cent of the average flow in the river.
This great work has been undertaken by the Niagara River Hydraulic Tunnel Power and Sewer Company that was incorporated in 1886, and under a recent amendment is to be known as the Niagara Power Company. The officers are: President, C. B. Gaskill; first vice-president, H. S. Ware; second vice-president, M. Ryan; secretary, A. J. Porter; treasurer, F. R. Delano of Niagara Falls; trustees, T. V. Welch, Benjamin Flagle_____, M. H. Kingsley, Peter A. Porter, W. C. Ely and the officers named above.
The scheme which has been adopted differs materially from the usual method of utilizing a water power. In brief, a tunnel beginning at a point on the river bank, below the footbridge on the American side, is to be run for a mile and a half above the falls, at a depth of 165 feet below the surface of the river. Above this is to be constructed a canal, drawing its water from the river and discharging it with a head of 165 feet into the tunnel below through turbine wheels at the points where manufactories are to be erected, in short, giving a fall of water wherever it is convenient to place a turbine wheel.
The tunnel is to be 29 feet in height and 18 feet in width. The lower end is to be at such a level below the Falls that 14 of the 29 feet are to be submerged, and it is to extend back along the course of the river at a rising grade of seven-tenths of one per cent to a point, as before noted, about a mile and a half above the Falls. At that point it is to be 165 feet below the surface, and its course takes it 200 feet below the village of Niagara. The canal leading to the tunnel from the river is to be constructed directly over the line of the tunnel. It is proposed to run the tunnel up stream parallel with the shore and about 400 feet distant from the navigable waters of the river, a distance of another mile and a half at a grade of 36 feet to the mile, and at an average depth of 100 feet below the surface. Three transverse conduits will connect the canal above the tunnel with the river 400 feet away.
The first canal will start from the river at a point above Grace Island, and will extend over the tunnel a distance of 2000 feet. That canal is expected to furnish 20,000 horse-power. The entire horse-power furnished by this scheme will be available day and night, and will be equal to five times that of Lowell, Lawrence and Holyoke combined.
Work has been begun by the contractors, the Cataract Construction Company of New Jersey, on the first section of the lower end of the tunnel, and a survey has shown that most of its course is to be through solid rock. The sectional view of the canal, tunnel and wheel pits given herewith makes the scheme perfectly plain. Above is the canal with a supply of water that can be regulated in accordance with the demand for power. At a distance varying from 165 feet to too feet beneath it is the tunnel. Wheel pits may be sunk on either side of this canal, wherever it may be desirable to build a manufactory. Gearing space is to be left around the pipe carrying the water, and at a distance of about 120 feet below the surface the turbine wheels are to be placed. The power generated by the wheels is to be transmitted by cable to the mills on the bank of the canal, at a point where the river is navigable for the lake steamboats. It is proposed to use 300 of the 1300 acres of land that the company has acquired, as sites for the mills and manufactories, and the rest for dwellings.
Notes Made in Holland in 1887.*
In the spring of 1887 the writer visited Holland, and walked over that portion of the country lying between Rotterdam and Amsterdam. As is well known, the country is small, only about 175 by 125 miles in greatest extent.
*Extracts front a paper read at the annual convention of the New England Water-works Association, held at Portland, Me., June, 1890, by Augustus W. Locke, member of the association.
In the provinces of North and South Holland, Zeeland, Utrecht and Friesland lie most of the low or reclaimed lands, while the provinces of North Brabant, Guilderland, Limburg, Overijsel and Drenthe, comprising about half the kingdom and lying more in the interior, are mostly dry and sandy. North and South Holland, to which the following sketch principally refers, form the most characteristic and interesting part of the country. Within their borders are the cities of Rotterdam, Hague, Leyden, Harlem and Amsterdam and the great Harlem Polder, the greatest engineering work of its class in the world. These two little provinces are together only about nihety miles long and fifty miles wide in the widest place, but their soil, nine-tenths of which has been reclaimed from the sea, the lake and the morass, is the home of a race which has not only carried on a successful contest with the elements under more unfavorable circumstances than any other people ever grappled with successfully, but which, in a long and bitter war, once defeated and drove out of their country the armies of Spain, which was then the most powerful nation of Europe, and also created among themselves the only original school of art that ever arose from a northern soil.
In this region water is the one great question, not with reference to how it shall be secured and brought to the inhabitants, but how it shall be prevented from flooding the land and drowning out the inhabitants. They are like sailors who desire to go on with their every-day business, but, whether they accomplish anything else or not, have got to keep themselves above water. The county is flat; there are no hills. Along the brick-paved highways and crossing each other on the farms are many ditches from four to six feet wide. These lead into small canals. When the land is below the level of the large canals, as is often the case, the wind-mill or the steam pump is called into use to force the water up into the large canals leading to the rivers or the sea.
The canals answer a double purpose; they conduct away the surplus water, and they also afford to the inhabitants the best system of inland communication in the world. All the heavy business of the country is done on the canals, excepting what is done on the few and short railroads. They vary from 25 feet to too feel in width, except the North Sea canal, which is the widest one I saw, and principally intended for navigation, and is from 180 to 300 feet in width and from 22 to 26 feet in depth.
The cities of the low countries are usually surrounded by canals constructed originally for the threefold purpose of drainage, navigation ana protection from enemies. Branches of these extend through the centres of the principal streets and afford a convenient way of discharging goods, which, when unloaded from the steamer or barge, are then carried or wheeled across the strict to the storehouse. The sides of the canals in cities are usually faced with stone or timber, and have no railings or other protection to prevent falling into the water, which, fortunately, is not very deep.
Many draw-bridges cross the canals. These are imple in construction, and are generally moved by two great beams suspended horizontally in the air on the principle of a New England well sweep. When a barge approaches the draw-tender pulls down on a ro e and the bridge rears up promptly and allows it to pass.
Steam power is used to a considerable extent in raising the water. There are very large pumping engines at Katwijk, at Halfway and at Cruguers, which I sa; the first at the outlet of the old Rhin, near Leyden, and the two latter near Harlem, on the banks of the Harlem Polder, and there are other similar engines in the vicinity. The old Rhine is called a dead river. Once it had a natural outlet, but in the ninth century storms cast up the sands of the North Sea and choked it. In 1807 an artificial outlet was opened at Katwijk. In rainy weather the water from many polders is pumped into the old Rhine, which drags itself slowly to this outlet, and is pumped into the sea.
There are four engines at this place, and they operate six great horizontal paddle wheels, which somewhat resemble the side wheels of a steamer. Each wheel has twenty-four paddles. Each paddle has a surface of 2 1/2 x 2 1/4 metres. The diameter of the wheel, paddles and all, is about 9 metres. The whole of this machinery at Katwijk is capable of discharging 120,000 cubic metres of water per hour. These wheels are built on the same principle as the ancient windmill water wheel, and they push the water up an inclined plane to the required level, a flood gate preventing it from returning when the wheel stops. Each paddle is placed at an angle of about forty-five degrees, with a tangent at the point where it is attached to the dam.
Many miles of dykes may be seen guarding the land and its inhabitants against floods from without. They seem to have been built wherever they were needed, regardless of expense. On the west coast they are unnecessary, as the waves of the North Sea have cast up a long ridge of sand, extending from Helder to the mouth of the Maas, about seventy-five miles; but all along the low shore of the Zuider Zee, on the banks of the network of rivers which form the outlet of the Rhine, and around the large polders, and on each side of many of the canals, where they are raised above the land, the dykes and dams may be seen silently doing their duty. Oftentimes they stand on dry land in summer, and are only intended to hold back floods which occur in the wet seasons, as, for instance, the dykes on each side of the Maas, between Rotterdam and the sea, while others are constantly in use. Of this variety is the dyke or dam across the mouth of the Ij, near Schillingwout, to keep back the waters of the Zuider Zee from the North Sea canal and out of the streets of Amsterdam. This dam is about ten feet above the water and fifteen feet wide on top. Its slopes are paved, nearly to the top. with blocks of stone, showing a surface from a foot square up to three feet square. It is about a mile long, and has three locks for the passage of water and such vessels as navigate the shallow waters of the Zuider Zee. When I saw these locks the water in the Zee was about two feet higher than in Amsterdam harbor. The marks on the dam and stonework indicated that it had been about six feet higher outside than inside.
When the ground is soft or when other foundations are impracticable, a great deal of willow work is used. noticed an example of this at Katwijk, the outlet of the old Rhine. There the shore seems to be entirely of sand. The artificial opening through this sand is protected on both sides by interlaced willow work weighted with square blocks stone. The willow work showed about five feet ab ve the water when I saw it. It seemed to me that this method of protection would be inadequate to withstand waves such as we have on the Atlantic coast; but I judged that the sea heaving ashore was not very severe even in storms, as there were in sight about 200 fishing vessels near the shore having no harbor within twenty miles and no place of refuge except the beach, where several were already grounded at low-water mark and discharging their cargoes.
(To be Continued.)
THK HEIGHTS OF MODERN BUILDINGS.—The heights of the hereinafter named buildings in New York and Chicago are given as follows: Washington building, New York, E. H. Kendall, architect, from curb to highest point of roof, 168 feet; World building, New York, Geo. B. Post, architect, from curb to highest point of roof. 194 feet; World building, to top of tower, 309 feet; Times building. New York, Geo. B. Post, architect, from curb to highest point of roof, 183 feet; Equitable building, New York, Geo. B. Post, architect, from curb to highest point of roof, 142 feet; Equitable building, to top of tower, 170 feet; Union Trust building, New York, Geo. B. Post, architect, from curb to highest point of roof, 148 feet; Union Trust building, to top of tower, 194 feet; Chicago Auditorium, Chicago, Adler & Sullivan, architects, from curb to highest point of roof, 180 feet; Chicago Auditorium, to top of tower, 270 feet; Madison Square Garden, New York, tower, McKim, Mead & White, architects (now building), 300 feet.
NEW SEWERAGE SYSTEM FOR AN ESSEX TOWN.—The local board of Grays Thurrock, in Essex, lately advertised open competition for the best scheme for the sewerage and sewage disposal of the town. The present population is 12,000, and it is rapidly increasing. The local board have unanimously selected a scheme prepared by Mr. W. H. Radford, C. E., of Nottingham, and he has been engaged to superintend the execution of the works. The pumping station will placed on the east side of the Marsh road, and the whole of the sewage will be brought down to the site by gravitation through 8 1/2 miles of pipe sewers. One of the most important features of the schemes is that there will only be one pumping station, and, with a storage tank for the reception of the night sewage, the pumps will only be required to be worked by day unless there is an exceptional storm. The pumping machinery is in duplicate, and it will raise 120,000 gallons per hour. The sewage will be pumped a lift of 97 feet to the Lodge Farm, where it will be purified by broad irrigation on 93 acres of light dry land, eminently adapted for the purpose. Ten acres will be laid out as a special intermittent filtration area. The land would suffice for a population of 30,000 if necessary. All surplus storm waters will flow into the Thames by gravitation at low water, and will be pumped into the Thames at high water. Tida! and automatic flushing arrangements are provided. Mr. Radford proposes a separate system of five miles of pipe sewers for road surface water, which will be stored in open back waters during high water, and turned into the Thames by gravitation at low water. The total cost of the engineering works will be £19,400.—Engineering, London.
An Interesting Celebration.
The centennial celebration of the organization of Laurel Steam Fire Engine Company No. 1 of York, Pa., which took place on October 23 last, was made the occasion of a most enjoyable gathering there of active and veteran fire companies from other cities in the State. The Laurel Company has a noteworthy history. The original organization dates from 1771, when it was known as the Sun Fire Brigade of York-town, but it was reorganized in 1790 under the name of “Laurel,” and has been in continuous service ever since. The exercises at the recent celebration consisted of a large and well arranged street parade, a banquet and a grand ball, the towns-people generally taking much interest in the event, and vying with each other to make it a success.
Among the best known of the old firemen of York is S. H. Spangler, whose portrait is annexed. Mr. Spangler was born in York over fifty years ago, and has been engaged nearly all his life in the publishing business, now occupying the position of foreman of the job department of The York Daily. He joined the Laurel Fire Company in 1855. For a number of years he was vice-president of the company, took an active part in all its transactions and was foremost in introducing new appliances, and in other ways adding to the efficiency of the organization. It was through his instrumentality that a steam fire engine, the first one in the town, and which is still in active service, was procured in 1868. During the civil war Mr. Spangler did good service in the Union army.
Direct Pressure Water Supply.*
In the designing and operating of direct pressure systems of water supply for small towns some very interesting conditions frequently arise that are not to be met with elsewhere. In such a system we may meet with the following requirements. A domestic supply of 300 gallons per minute at 50 pounds pressure and a fire supply of 1200 gallons per minute at 120 pounds pressure; the former to be maintained continuously, the latter not more than six hours per month.
These conditions arc usually met by putting in an engine with variable cut-off, or else a compound pump arranged to admit live steam to the low pressure cylinders, thus acting as a non-expansive engine on fire service. This latter is a very satisfactory and economical arrangement for a small town, but it will readily be seen that it will make excessive demands upon the boiler plant at the outbreak of a fire. From the fact that the quantity of water required in case of fire is four times that required for domestic service it is evident that the piston speed will be increased four times, and hence, without considering increase of pressure, four times as much steam will be used.
*G. S. Williams in The Technic, the annual of the Engineering Society of the University of Michigan.
As on domestic service the fires will be ordinarily banked, the result of an alarm of fire is generally a decided fall of boiler pressure, and hence it is that the live steam connection to the low pressure cylinder is considered so valuable; but this does not completely remedy the difficulty. Consider a pump whose cylinders are 10 inches and 16 inches in diameter. The low pressure cylinder area will then be 2.56 times that of the high pressure. The stroke being the same the volumes will be in the same ratio. A pair of such pumps if duplex will just about meet the requirements laid down above. On domestic service one alone would be run. On fire service both would be run and at double the speed on domestic service. Ordinarily in these pumps on fire service no work is done in the high pressure cylinder, as no separate exhaust is provided for it, so the amount of steam used per stroke on fire service will be 2.56 times that used on domestic service, and as there are four times as many strokes the steam required for fire service will be ten times that required for domestic service, approximately. Of course some diminution of pressure will generally be allowable, but it is safe to say that the fire service will require eight times as much steam as the domestic service. As this demand is one that must be met in a very short time, or the effectiveness of the fire service will be seriously impaired, some special device appears to be necessary in the way of a blower to produce a sudden increase of combustion. While a very high chimney may serve the purpose to some extent, there is at hand a much more effective means of accomplishing the desired result—viz., the exhaust steam. While ordinary fuel consumption varies from 10 to 20 pounds per square foot of grate, a combustion of 120 pounds may be produced by a steam blast. After using steam for heating the feed water and the pump room there is still enough of the exhaust remaining for a good steam blast, for less than one-fith will be required for the feed water and not more than the same amount for heating any ordinary pump room; the rest would ordinarily go to waste. By utilizing the exhaust steam for a blast, by means of nozzles at the base of the stack, as in a locomotive, a smaller chimney and a smaller boiler plant will be sufficient, thus involving less initial cost; and while it may be argued that a steam blast is of low efficiency and detrimental to the life of the chimney, it seems to us that where it would be used so seldom, and where it would then use only steam that must otherwise be wasted, it could not be anything but a very effective and valuable addition to the plant, and the smaller chimney needed with it could be replaced at a small expense when it should become necessary. It is also to be remembered that a good supply of water at the beginning of a fire may be infinitely more valuable than the same supply twenty minutes later, and any device that will assist in insuring such a supply should not be overlooked.
A very interesting point to be considered in direct pressure engines is the economical length of stroke. The stroke should be such that the losses due to condensation in the cylinder shall be reduced as much as possible. This requires that the ratio of volume to surface shall be a maximum. Then, also, the time that the steam occupies the cylinder is another element to be considered. While in a single cylinder engine it is not difficult to determine the best length of stroke to adopt, in a duplex compound pump, where both pistons act along the same piston rod, it becomes quite a complicated problem. Even in this case, if the ratio of surface to volume and the time of occupancy of the cylinder by the steam were the only considerations, the solution of the problem would not involve very serious difficulties; but we have to consider the variable clearance, the variable service required of the pumps, and the relative disadvantages of condensation in each of the two cylinders. In an ordinary system of the sort considered, in a small town, as already pointed out, the domestic service will probably require less than one-half the capacity of the pump, and yet the pump must be of the greater capacity for the sake of a few hours’ use in a month for fire service, hence a high piston speed cannot be maintained during the greater proportion of the time. So in determining the economical length of stroke we must consider the pump as working at its low piston speed, taking care to introduce no conditions that will be incompatible with the performance of the required fire service.In view of the fact that the sooner the steam can be made to do its work and be exhausted the less will be the condensation, we are inclined to favor short strokes. The condition of minimum surface for maximum volume in a single cylinder makes the length of stroke equal to the diameter of the piston, so that we would certainly not make the stroke longer than the diameter of the low-pressure cylinder, and the economical length according with this condition alone would be somewhere intermediate between the diameters of the two cylinders, but condensation in the high-pressure cylinder will be more detrimental than in the low, because in the former the water so produced must be carried on through the engine, clogging the work in the low-pressure cylinder, while in the latter it is immediately exhausted without further detriment; so we will find it advantageous to favor the high-pressure cylinder as much as possible and make the stroke equal to the diameter of that cylinder. If the engine works at very slow speeds on domestic service it may be desirable to still further shorten the stroke, and the only limit that it appears necessary to impose is that the number of revolutions on fire service shall not be too great. It may be urged that the work expended in overcoming the inertia of the column of water in the mains would be an argument against many strokes and in favor of few, but in a duplex pump only the water in the cylinder comes to rest during the change of stroke, and the more frequent the stroke the less the fluctuation of pressure in the mains and the less energy used up in accelerating the water column, so that a short stroke will be likely to increase the duty of a duplex compound pump up to a certain limit. Just what this limit will be will depend upon the particular case in hand. While at first sight it may appear that the shortening of the stroke will have a detrimental effect by increasing the clearance, yet this is of comparatively small consequence, as the steam occupying the clearance space in the high-pressure cylinder is passed over to the low pressure and does work there, so that all that is really wasted is that in the clearance spaces of the low-pressure cylinder, and this, from its highly expanded condition, will not amount to much. Therefore it seems to us that for such service as that here considered a short stroke is to be looked upon with favor.
HE DIDN’T TRUST THE FIRE ESCAPE.—I reached Memphis at a time when the hotels were crowded, but managed to secure a small room close to a fire escape looking down into the alley. I had scarcely entered it when a gentleman who gave his name, and represented that he was a Chicago broker, knocked at the door and said he wanted to ask a favor. “I am a great coward about fire,” he exclaimed. “My room is on the front, tar better than yours, and yet I shall be only too glad to exchange with you.” I went to see his room, and then gladly exchanged. It was one of the best in the house. At about midnight that night, while all were soundly sleeping, a fire broke out in the kitchen. The electric annunciators were put on, and everybody was soon out of bed. Not knowing where the fire was, or how imminent the danger, a dozen of us made for the alley fire escape in a body. We were hurrying down the hall when a figure in white ran into us, upsetting two or three, and with a wild yell passed on. No one tried the escape. We waited for a while, and by and by got word that the fire was out. An hour later an officer brought in a man clad only in his shirt, who had been found a mile away. It was the broker. He had gone down four pairs of stairs, and ran until exhausted.—New York Sun.
The Collapse of the Water-works Stand-pipe at Temple, Texas.
We noted in FIRE AND WATER of November 1 the bursting of the stand-pipe of the water-works at Temple, Tex., and are now enabled to give our readers a view of the ruins of the structure from a photograph taken on the morning of the mishap.
As before stated, the tank gave way without warning at about 2.30 o’clock on the morning of October 25, with a concussion felt for a considerable distance about the spot. The sheets of boiler steel, of which it was constructed, were thrown in all directions, and the 280,000 gallons of water which it contained gushed out and swept in a great wave over the neighborhood, carrying away fences and barns, and wrecking and damaging other buildings, one dwelling house being crushed fairly like an egg shell, as a correspondent describes it, and afterward fired by an overturned lamp and consumed, its occupant, one Rigdon, being fatally burned. After the water had finally spread itself out and run off, the crowd which quickly gathered saw, in the bright moonlight, the streets, alleys and yards in the vicinity strewn thickly with debris of all kinds—planks and broken timbers, the contents of houses and barns, great sheets of twisted steel plate, bales of cotton and hay, wagons and other like articles and light wreckage.
With daylight a more critical examination was made of the remains of the stand-pipe. This structure, which was built of heavy boiler steel, was 120 feet in height and twenty feet in diameter, and had, as before mentioned, a capacity of 280,000 gallons. It was erected by Thomas & Gorman of Houston, the material having been furnished by Ripley & Bronson of St. Louis, and the steel plates had, it is stated, been tested to withstand an extraordinary pressure. According to our correspondent no weakness had been suspected, and the most careful examination of the broken plates fails to reveal a flaw in the material. When the tank gave way sixteen sections fell toward the street, while eight sections, about forty feet of the lower part, were thrown in a different direction, seven sections falling toward the eastward, and one twisted sheet toward the westward, all resting from 20 to 50 feet away. The plates are described as having been torn and twisted as a man might handle tinfoil.
The stand-pipe had not yet been formally accepted from the contractors. The foundation is unharmed, except in one place, where a gap about two feet long was washed out of the lower part. At latest accounts the cause of the disaster had not yet been fixed upon.
PIPE LAYING IN MARSHY GROUND.—Johann Friedrich Fischer of Worms has patented a method of and apparatus for pipe laying in marshy or swampy ground, during inundations or in other similar circumstances, and for forming foundations in wet ground. Kuhlow’s Review explains that in laying a line of pipes in accordance with this system, a trench is excavated to the water level with a wide bearing on each side for aying the sleepers and rails on which the machines have to travel. As soon as the trench is ready a line of pipes is put together and made tight. The next stage is to erect a sinking frame or caisson, constructed of sheet-iron with angle-iron frame and stays, open at top and bottom, and placed above the connected line of pipes, which are suspended in slings. The line of pipe is covered at each end with porous caps, which permit the water to enter, but not the dirt and soil. The pipe and the sinking frame are then lowered by digging away the ground from under them, and when the proper depth has been reached and the end of the pipe joined on the portion previously laid, the sinking frame is withdrawn by hydraulic power. The caisson is made in sections, so that while the rests are taken up the portion covering the pipe ends may be left, if so desired, until the joint is made. Herr Fischer prefers to make the joints with india-rubber rings on a spigot which would allow for any slight irregularity of the ground. The invention has nothing to do with the freeing of the trenches from water, but merely suggests a way for substituting iron framing to keep a trench open, instead of the timbering usually employed for this purpose.
FIREPROOF WHITEWASH.—It is found, says The English Mechanic, that a most effective composition for fireproofing exterior surfaces may be formed by slaking a sufficient quantity of freshly burned quicklime of the best grade, and when the slaking is complete there is added such an amount of skim milk, or water in its absence, as will make a liquid of the consistency of cream. To every ten gallons of this liquid are added separately and in powder, stirring constantly, the following ingredients in the order named: Two pounds of alum, twenty-four ounces subcarbonate of potassium or commercial potash, and one pound of common salt. If white paint is desired no further addition is made to the liquid, though the whiteness is found to be improved by a few ounces of plaster of paris. Lampblack has the effect of giving a number of shades from slate color to black. Whatever tint is used, it is incorporated at this stage, and the whole, after being strained through a sieve, is run through a paint mill. When ready to apply the paint is heated nearly to the boiling point of water and is put on in its hot condition. It is found that the addition of a quantity of fine white sand to this composition renders it a valuable covering for roof and crumbling brick walls, which it serves to protect.
IMPROVEMENTS TO THE UTICA WATER-WORKS.—The improvements at the water-works of Utica. N. Y., are rapidly progressing. According to a local paper the gate houses have been completed and the embankments have been greatly strengthened. The aerating fountain which is being put in for the purpose of purifying the water before it reaches the distributing reservoir is essentially the same as that used in Rochester and Baltimore, except that instead of forcing the water through one large pipe it is forced through a series of seventy-seven small pipes and thrown high in the air in jets and sprays, thus aerating and consequently purifying it. The plan of the fountain is as follows: The water from the two storage reservoirs is conveyed to the distributing reservoir through 12-inch pipes, but instead of emptying directly into the reservoir as formerly, the pipes have been extended to the centre of the basin, where they are laid in the form of a square. Eighteen pipes 2 inches in diameter rise to a height of 11 feet or about 1 foot above the surface of the water. In the centre of the square a 3-inch pipe rises 2 feet above the surface of the water. Other stands of pipes have been erected near this square, making a total of seventy-seven pipes through which 3,000,000 gallons of water will pass every twenty-four hours. The peculiar advantage claimed for this fountain is the great diffusion of water in the air. It is expected that the fountain will throw water to a height of 50 feet.
SOME USES OF ASBESTOS—Asbestos is now being extensively employed for protection purposes in workshops, foundries and mills to guard against the danger of burning the hands and face, and generally to make working in hot metals a safer and more comfortable occupation. Asbestos mittens to guard the hands are made for firemen, assayers, refiners, etc., and armed with a nair the artisan or worker can grasp hot irons, crucibles and the like without discomfort. Masks, too, for the face are made of asbestos, which are fireproof, and the heat from the hottest fire is said not to penetrate to the skin. Air is drawn from beneath the mask for breathing, so that the burned or flame and smoke-laden atmosphere is not inhaled. Aprons and insulating coverings for the entire body are also constructed, having like protective qualities, and for firemen complete suits of asbestos fireproof cloth are made. For domestic use sad-iron holders of asbestos may be had, and with these the grasp of the iron, however hot it may be, never causes pain or burning. Plumbers are likely to welcome asbestos cloths for joint wiping, and large holders intended for use by smelters, molders and workers in metal generally, are among the more recent uses of this mineral. The asbestos thus prepared is very flexible, and even the mittens are sufficiently pliable to permit of small objects being readily picked up and held in the hand wearing them.—Engineering and Mining Journal.
WOOD IN FIRE.—Wood cannot be rendered incombustible, or more strictly speaking, non-alterable by heat; but its noninflammability may, to a considerable extent, be insured, so as to prevent buildings from a limited and temporary fire, at any rate until assistance arrives. It is, however, hopeless to expect a building encumbered with inflammable substances to pass through such a test uninjured. The methods of preserving wood against fire are of two kinds: the injection of saline solutions and the application of a paint or coating. The former appears but little practical; and, indeed, short of proof to the contrary, it must be considered dangerous in the case of wood of large dimensions. This system is, however, applicable to small pieces of wood. Of all the substances recommended, a concentrated solution of phosphate of ammonia is undoubtedly the best, the use of this substance, notwithstanding its high price, possessing such great advantages that it should be employed in all cases where expense is no object. In the majority of cases, however, coating with a brush is the only practical solution of the question, and the Ghent professors recommend as the substance most suitable for use in this manner, cyanide of potassium and asbestos paint.—Professors Bondin and Denny of Ghent University.