Scientific American Supplement No. 497

Produced by Josephine Paolucci, Don Kretz, Juliet Sutherland and PG Distributed Proofreaders SCIENTIFIC AMERICAN SUPPLEMENT NO. 497 NEW YORK, JULY 11, 1885 Scientific American Supplement. Vol. XX, No. 497. Scientific American established 1845 Scientific American Supplement, $5 a year. Scientific American and Supplement, $7 a year. * * * * * TABLE OF CONTENTS. I.
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Produced by Josephine Paolucci, Don Kretz, Juliet Sutherland and PG Distributed Proofreaders



NEW YORK, JULY 11, 1885

Scientific American Supplement. Vol. XX, No. 497.

Scientific American established 1845

Scientific American Supplement, $5 a year.

Scientific American and Supplement, $7 a year.

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The Acids of Wool Oil

The New Absorbent for Oxygen

Depositing Nickel upon Zinc.–By H.B. SLATER

II. ENGINEERING AND MECHANICS.–Foundations in Quicksand, Lift Bridge over the Ourcq Canal.–3 figures

St. Petersburg a Seaport.–A canal cut from Cronstadt to St. Petersburg.–Opening of same by the Emperor and Empress.–With full page engraving

The New French Dispatch Boat Milan.–With engraving

The Launching and Docking of Ships Sidewise.–4 figures

Improved High Speed Engine.–12 figures

The National Transit Co.’s Pipe Lines for the Transportation of Oil to the Seaboard.–With map and diagram

The Fuel of the Future.–History of natural gas.–Relation to petroleum.–Duration of gas, etc.–With table of analyses Closing Leakages for Packing.–Use of asbestos in stuffing boxes

III. TECHNOLOGY.–Luminous Paint.–Processes of manufacture Boxwood and its Substitutes.–Preparation of same for market, etc.–A paper written by J.A. JACKSON for the International Forestry Exhibition

IV. ARCHÆOLOGY.–An Assyrian Bass-Relief 2,700 years old

V. NATURAL HISTORY.-The Flight of the Buzzard.–By R.A. PROCTOR

VI. BOTANY, ETC.–Convallaria.–A stemless perennial.–By OTTO A. WALL, M.D.–Several figures

VII. MEDICINE, HYGIENE, ETC.–Gaiffe’s New Medical Galvanometer.–1 figure

The Suspension of Life in Plants and Animals

VIII. MISCELLANEOUS.–Composite Portraits.–6 illustrations Hand-Craft and Rede-Craft.–A plea for the first named.–By D.G. GILMAN

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Foundations in quicksand often have to be built in places where least expected, and sometimes the writer has been able to conveniently span the vein with an arch and avoid trouble; but where it cannot be conveniently arched over, it will be necessary to sheath pile for a trench and lay in broad sections of concrete until the space is crossed, the sheath piling being drawn and reset in sections as fast as the trenches are leveled up. The piling is left in permanently if it is not wanted again for use.

Sometimes these bottoms are too soft to be treated in this manner; in that case boxes or caissons are formed, loaded with stone and sunk into place with pig iron until the weight they are to carry is approximated. When settled, the weights are removed and building begins.

Foundations on shifting sand are met with in banks of streams, which swell and become rapids as each winter breaks up. This kind is most troublesome and dangerous to rest upon if not properly treated.

Retaining walls are frequently built season after season, and as regularly become undermined by the scouring of the water. Regular docking with piles and timbers is resorted to, but it is so expensive for small works that it is not often tried.

Foundations are formed often with rock well planted out; and again success has attended the use of bags of sand where rough rock was not convenient or too expensive.

In such cases it is well to try a mattress foundation, which may be formed of brushwood and small saplings with butts from ½ inch to 2½ inches in diameter, compressed into bundles from 8 to 12 inches diameter, and from 12 to 16 feet long, and well tied with ropes every four feet. Other bundles, from 4 to 6 inches diameter and 16 feet long, are used as binders, and these bundles are now cross-woven and make a good network, the long parts protruding and making whip ends. One or more sets of netting are used as necessity seems to require. This kind of foundation may be filled in with a concrete of hydraulic cement and sand, and the walls built on them with usual footings, and it is very durable, suiting the purpose as well as anything we have seen or heard of.–_Inland Architect_.

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This bridge, which was inaugurated in 1868, was constructed under the direction of Mr. Mantion, then engineer-in-chief of the Belt Railway. Fig. 1 shows the bridge raised.

The solution adopted in this case was the only feasible one that presented itself, in view of the slight difference between the level of the railway tracks and the maximum plane of the canal water. This circumstance did not even permit of a thought of an ordinary revolving bridge, since this, on a space of 10 inches being reserved between the level of the water and the bottom of the bridge, and on giving the latter a minimum thickness of 33 inches up to the level of the rails, would have required the introduction into the profile of the railroad of approaches of at least one-quarter inch gradient, that would have interfered with operations at the station close by.


Besides, in the case of a revolving bridge, since the bottom of the latter would be but ten inches above the water level, and the rollers would have to be of larger diameter than that, it would have been necessary to suppose the roller channel placed beneath the level of the water, and it would consequently have been necessary to isolate this channel from the canal by a tight wall. The least fissure in the latter would have inundated the channel.

As the Ourcq Canal had no regular period of closing, it was necessary to construct the bridge without hinderance to navigation. The idea of altering the canal’s course could not be thought of, for the proximity of the fortifications and of the bridge over the military road was opposed to it. Moreover, the canal administration insisted upon a free width of 26 feet, which is that of the sluices of the St. Denis Canal, and which would have led to the projection of a revolving bridge of 28 feet actual opening in order to permit of building foundations with caissons in such a way as to leave a passageway of 26 feet during operations.

For these reasons it was decided to construct a metallic bridge that should be lifted by means of counterpoises and balanced after the manner of gasometers.

The free width secured to navigation is 28 feet. The bridge is usually kept raised to a height of 16 feet above the level of the water in order to allow boats to pass (Fig. 2). In this position it is balanced by four counterpoises suspended from the extremities of chains that pass over pulleys. These counterpoises are of cast iron, and weigh, altogether, 44,000 pounds–the weight of the bridge to be balanced, say 11,000 pounds per counterpoise. Moreover, each of the four chains is prolonged beneath the corresponding counterpoise by a chain of the same weight, called a compensating chain.

The pulleys, B and C, that support the suspension chains have projections in their channels which engage with the links and thus prevent the chains from slipping. They are mounted at the extremity of four latticed girders that likewise carry girder pulleys, D. The pulleys that are situated at the side of the bridge are provided laterally with a conical toothing which gears with a pinion connected with the maneuvering apparatus.

The two pinions of the same side of the bridge are keyed to a longitudinal shaft which is set in motion at one point of its length by a system of gearings. The winch upon which is exerted the stress that is to effect the lifting or the descent of the bridge is fixed upon the shaft of the pinion of the said gearing, which is also provided with a flywheel, c. The longitudinal shafts are connected by a transverse one. e, which renders the two motions interdependent. This transverse shaft is provided with collars, against which bear stiff rods that give it the aspect of an elongated spindle, and that permit it to resist twisting stresses.

The windlasses that lift the bridge are actuated by manual power. Two men (or even one) suffice to do the maneuvering.

This entire collection of pulleys and mechanism is established upon two brick foot bridges between which the bridge moves. These arched bridges offer no obstruction to navigation. Moreover, they always allow free passage to foot passengers, whatever be the position of the bridge. They are provided with four vertical apertures to the right of the suspension chains, in order to allow of the passage of the latter. The girders that support the pulleys rest at one extremity upon the upper part of the bridges, and at the other upon solid brick pillars with stone caps.

Finally, in order to render the descent of the bridge easier, there are added to it two water tanks that are filled from the station reservoir when the bridge is in its upper position, and that empty themselves automatically as soon as it reaches the level of the railroad tracks.

A very simple system of fastening has been devised for keeping the bridge in a stationary position when raised. When it reaches the end of its upward travel, four bolts engage with an aperture in the suspension rod and prevent it from descending. These bolts are set in motion by two connecting rods carried by a longitudinal shaft and maneuvered by a lever at the end of the windlass.

At the lower part the bridge rests upon iron plates set into sills. It is guided in its descent longitudinally by iron plates that have an inclination which is reproduced at the extremities of the bridge girders, and transversely by two inclined angle irons into which fit the external edges of the bottoms of the extreme girders.

[Illustration: FIG. 2.–ELEVATION AND PLAN.]

The total weight of the bridge is, as we have said, 44,000 pounds, which is much less than would have been that of a revolving bridge of the same span. The maneuvering of the bridge is performed with the greatest ease and requires about two minutes.

This system has been in operation at the market station of La Vilette since the year 1868, and has required but insignificant repairs. We think the adoption of it might be recommended for all cases in which a slight difference between the level of a railroad and that of a water course would not permit of the establishment of a revolving bridge.–_Le Genie Civil_.

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The Emperor and Empress of Russia, on Wednesday, May 27. 1885, the second anniversary of their coronation at Moscow, opened the Maritime Canal, in the Bay of Cronstadt, the shallow upper extremity of the Gulf of Finland, by which great work the city of St. Petersburg is made a seaport as much as London. St. Petersburg, indeed, stands almost on the sea shore, at the very mouth of the Neva, though behind several low islands which crowd the head of the Gulf; and though this is an inland sea without saltness or tides, it is closed by ice in winter. Seventeen miles to the west is the island of Cronstadt, a great fortress, with naval dockyards and arsenals for the imperial fleet, and with a spacious harbor for ships of commerce. The navigable entrance channel up the Bay of Cronstadt to the mouth of the Neva lies under the south side of Cronstadt, and is commanded by its batteries. As the bay eastward has a depth not exceeding 12 ft., and the depth of the Neva at its bar is but 9 ft., all large vessels have been obliged hitherto to discharge their cargoes at Cronstadt, to be there transferred to lighters and barges which brought the goods up to the capital. “The delay and expense of this process,” says Mr. William Simpson, our special artist, “will be understood by stating that a cargo might be brought from England by a steamer in a week, but it would take three weeks at least to transport the same cargo from Cronstadt to St. Petersburg. Of course, much of this time was lost by custom house formalities. Sometimes it has taken even longer than is here stated, which made the delivery of goods at St. Petersburg a matter of great uncertainty, thus rendering time contracts almost an impossibility. This state of things had continued from the time of Peter the Great, and his great scheme had never been fully realized. The increase of commerce and shipping had long made this a crying evil; but even with all these difficulties, the trade here has been rapidly growing. A scheme to bring the shipping direct to the capital had thus become almost a necessity. As Manchester wishes to bring the ocean traffic to her doors without the intervention of Liverpool, so St. Petersburg desired to have its steamers sailing up to the city, delivering and loading their cargoes direct at the stores and warehouses in her streets. If Glasgow had not improved the Clyde, and had up to the present day to bring up all goods carried by her ocean going steamers from Port Glasgow–a place constructed for that purpose last century, and which is twenty miles from Glasgow–she would have been handicapped exactly as St. Petersburg has been till now in the commercial race.

“For some years the subject was discussed at St. Petersburg, and more than one scheme was proposed; at last the project of General N. Pooteeloff was adopted. According to this plan, a canal has been cut through the shallow bottom of the Gulf of Finland, all the way from Cronstadt to St. Petersburg. The line of this canal is from northwest to southeast; it may be said to run very nearly parallel to the coast line on the south side of the Gulf, and about three miles distant from it. This line brings the canal to the southwest end of St. Petersburg, where there are a number of islands, which have formed themselves, in the course of ages, where the Bolshaya, or Great Neva, flows into the Gulf. It is on these islands that the new port is to be formed. It is a very large harbor, and capable of almost any amount of extension. It will be in connection with the whole railway system of Russia. One part of the scheme is that of a new canal, on the south side of the city, to connect the maritime canal, as well as the new harbor, with the Neva, so that the large barges may pass, by a short route, to the river on the east, and thus avoid the bridges and traffic of the city.

“The whole length of the canal is about eighteen miles. The longer portion of it is an open channel, which is made 350 feet wide at bottom. Its course will be marked by large iron floating buoys; these it is proposed to light with gas by a new self-acting process which has been very successful in other parts of the world; by this means the canal will be navigable by night as well as by day. The original plan was to have made the canal 20 feet deep, but this has been increased to 22 feet. The Gulf of Finland gradually deepens toward Cronstadt, so that the dredging was less at the western end. This part was all done by dredgers, and the earth brought up was removed to a safe distance by means of steam hopper barges. The contract for this part of the work was sublet to an American firm–Morris and Cummings, of New York. The eastern portion of the work on the canal is by far the most important, and about six miles of it is protected by large and strong embankments on each side. These embankments were formed by the output of the dredgers, and are all faced with granite bowlders brought from Finland; at their outer termination the work is of a more durable kind, the facing is made of squared blocks of granite, so that it may stand the heavy surf which at times is raised by a west wind in the Gulf. These embankments, as already stated, extend over a space of nearly six miles, and represent a mass of work to which there is no counterpart in the Suez Canal; nor does the plan of the new Manchester Canal present anything equivalent to it. The width of this canal also far exceeds any of those notable undertakings. The open channel is, as stated above, 350 ft. wide; within the embankments the full depth of 22 ft. extends to 280 ft., and the surface between the embankments is 700 ft. This is nearly twice the size of the Suez Canal at the surface, which is 100 meters, or about 320 ft., while it is only about 75 ft. at the bottom; the Amsterdam Canal is 78 ft. wide. The new Manchester Canal is to be 100 ft. of full depth, and it boasts of this superiority over the great work of Lesseps. The figures given above will show how far short it comes of the dimensions of the St. Petersburg Canal. The Manchester Canal is to be 24 ft. in depth; in that it has the advantage of 2 ft. more than the St. Petersburg Canal; but with the ample width this one possesses, this, or even a greater depth, can be given if it should be found necessary. Most probably this will have ultimately to be done, for ocean going steamers are rapidly increasing in size since the St. Petersburg Canal was planned, and in a very few years the larger class of steamers might have to deliver their cargoes at Cronstadt, as before, if the waterway to St. Petersburg be not adapted to their growing dimensions.


“The dredging between the embankments of the canal was done by an improved process, which may interest those connected with such works. It may be remembered that the Suez Canal was mostly made by dredging, and that the dredgers had attached to them what the French called ‘long couloirs’ or spouts, into which water was pumped, and by this means the stuff brought up by the dredgers was carried to the sides of the canal, and there deposited. The great width of the St. Petersburg Canal was too much for the long couloirs, hence some other plan had to be found. The plan adopted was that invented by Mr. James Burt, and which had been used with the greatest success on the New Amsterdam Canal. Instead of the couloir, floating pipes, made of wood, are in this system employed; the earth or mud brought up has a copious stream of water poured on it, which mixes in the process of descending, and the whole becomes a thick liquid. This, by means of a centrifugal pump, is propelled through the floating pipes to any point required, where it can be deposited. The couloir can only run the output a comparatively short distance, while this system can send it a quarter of a mile, or even further, if necessary. Its power is not limited to the level surface of the water. I saw on my visit to the canal one of the dredgers at work, and the floating pipes lay on the water like a veritable sea-serpent, extending to a long distance where the stuff had to be carried. At that point the pipe emerged from the water, and what looked very much like a vertebra or two of the serpent crossed the embankment, went down the other side, and there the muddy deposit was pouring out in a steady flow. Mr. Burt pointed out to me one part of the works where his pump had sent the stuff nearly half a mile away, and over undulating ground. This system will not suit all soils. Hard clay, for instance, will not mix with the water; but where the matter brought up is soft and easily diluted, this plan possesses many advantages, and its success here affords ample evidence of its merits.

“About five miles below St. Petersburg, a basin had been already finished, with landing quays, sheds, and offices; and there is an embankment connecting it with the railways of St. Petersburg, all ready for ships to arrive. When the ships of all nations sail up to the capital, then the ideas of Peter the Great, when he laid the foundations of St. Petersburg, will be realized. St. Petersburg will be no longer an inland port. It will, with its ample harbor and numerous canals among its streets, become the Venice of the North. Its era of commercial greatness is now about to commence. The ceremony of letting the waters of the canal into the new docks was performed by the Emperor in October, 1883. The Empress and heir apparent, with a large number of the Court, were present on the occasion. The works on the canal, costing about a million and a half sterling, were begun in 1876, and have been carried out under the direction of a committee appointed by the Government, presided over by his Excellency, N. Sarloff. The resident engineer is M. Phofiesky; and the contractors are Messrs. Maximovitch and Boreysha.”

We heartily congratulate the Russian government and the Russian nation upon the accomplishment of this great and useful work of peace. It will certainly benefit English trade. The value of British imports from the northern ports of Russia for the year 1883 was £13,799,033; British exports, £6,459,993; while from the southern ports of Russia our trade was: British imports, £7,177,149; British exports, £1,169,890–making a total British commerce with European Russia of £20,976,182 imports from Russia and £7,629,883 exports to Russia. It cannot be to the interest of nations which are such large customers of each other to go to war about a few miles of Afguhan frontier. The London _Chamber of Commerce Journal_, ably edited by Mr. Kenric B. Murray, Secretary to the Chamber, has in its May number an article upon this subject well deserving of perusal. It points out that in case of war most of the British export trade to Russia would go through Germany, and might possibly never again return under British control. In spite of Russian protective duties, this trade has been well maintained, even while the British import of Russian commodities, wheat, flax, hemp, tallow, and timber, was declining 40 per cent. from 1883 to 1884. The St. Petersburg Maritime Canal will evidently give much improved facilities to the direct export of English goods to Russia. Without reference to our own manufactures, it should be observed that the Russian cotton mills, including those of Poland, consume yearly 264 million pounds of cotton, most of which comes through England. The importation of English coal to Russia has afforded a noteworthy instance of the disadvantage hitherto occasioned by the want of direct navigation to St. Petersburg; the freight of a ton of coal from Newcastle to Cronstadt was six shillings and sixpence, but from Cronstadt to St. Petersburg it cost two shillings more. It is often said, in a tone of alarm and reproach, that Russia is very eager to get to the sea. The more Russia gets to the sea everywhere, the better it will be for British trade with Russia; and friendly intercourse with an empire containing nearly a hundred millions of people is not to be lightly rejected.–_Illustrated London News_.

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The Milan, a new dispatch boat, has recently been making trial trips at Brest. It was constructed at Saint Nazaire, by the “Societe des Ateliers et Chantiers de la Loire,” and is the fastest man-of-war afloat. It has registered 17 knots with ordinary pressure, and with increase of pressure can make 18 knots, but to attain such high speed a very powerful engine is necessary. In fact, a vessel 303 ft. long, 33 ft. wide, and drawing 12 ft. of water, requires an engine which can develop 4,000 H.P.


The hull of the Milan is of steel, and is distinguished for its extreme lightness. The vessel has two screws, actuated by four engines arranged two by two on each shaft.

The armament consists of five three inch cannons, eight revolvers, and four tubes for throwing torpedoes.

The Milan can carry 300 tons of coal, an insufficient quantity for a long cruise, but this vessel, which is a dispatch boat in every acceptation of the word, was constructed for a definite purpose. It is the first of a series of very rapid cruisers to be constructed in France, and yet many English packets can attain a speed at least equal to that of the Milan. We need war vessels which can attain twenty knots, to be master of the sea.–_L’Illustration_.

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The slips of the shipyards at Alt-Hofen (Hungary) belonging to the Imperial and Royal Navigation Company of the Danube are so arranged that the vessels belonging to its fleet can be hauled up high and dry or be launched sidewise. They comprise three distinct groups, which are adapted, according to needs, for the construction or repair of steamers, twenty of which can be put into the yard at a time. The operation, which is facilitated by the current of the Danube, consists in receiving the ships upon frames beneath the water and at the extremity of inclined planes running at right angles with them. After the ship has been made secure by means of wedges, the frame is drawn up by chains that wind round fixed windlasses. These apparatus are established upon a horizontal surface 25.5 feet above low-water mark so as to give the necessary slope, and at which terminate the tracks. They may, moreover, be removed after the ships have been taken off, and be put down again for launching. For 136 feet of their length the lower part of the sliding ways is permanent, and fixed first upon rubble masonry and then upon the earth.

Fig. 1 gives a general view of the arrangement. The eight sliding ways of the central part are usually reserved for the largest vessels. The two extreme ones comprise, one of them 7, and the other 6, tracks only, and are maneuvered by means of the same windlasses as the others. A track, FF, is laid parallel with the river, in order to facilitate, through lorries, the loading and unloading of the traction chains. These latter are ¾ inch in diameter, while those that pass around the hulls are 1 inch.

The motive power is furnished by a 10 H.P. steam engine, which serves at the same time for actuating the machine tools employed in construction or repairs. The shaft is situated at the head of the ways, and sets in motion four double-gear windlasses of the type shown in Fig. 2. The ratio of the wheels is as 9 to 1. The speed at which the ships move forward is from 10 to 13 feet per minute. Traction is effected continuously and without shock. After the cables have been passed around the hull, and fastened, they are attached to four pairs of blocks each comprising three pulleys. The lower one of these is carried by rollers that run over a special track laid for this purpose on the inclined plane.


The three successive positions that a boat takes are shown in Fig. 1. In the first it has just passed on to the frame, and is waiting to be hauled up on the ways; in the second it is being hauled up; and in the third the frame has been removed and the boat is shoved up on framework, so that it can be examined and receive whatever repairs may be necessary. This arrangement, which is from plans by Mr. Murray Jackson, suffices to launch 16 or 18 new boats annually, and for the repair of sixty steamers and lighters. These latter are usually 180 feet in length, 24 feet in width, and 8 feet in depth, and their displacement, when empty, is 120 tons. The dimensions of the largest steamers vary between 205 and 244 feet in length, and 25 and 26 feet in width. They are 10 feet in depth, and, when empty, displace from 440 to 460 tons. The Austrian government has two monitors repaired from time to time in the yards of the company. The short and wide forms of these impose a heavier load per running foot upon the ways than ordinary boats do, but nevertheless no difficulty has ever been experienced, either in hauling them out or putting them back into the water.–_Le Genie Civil_.

[Illustration: FIG. 2.–DETAILS OF WINDLASS.]

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This engine, exhibited at South Kensington by Fielding and Platt, of Gloucester, consists virtually of a universal joint connecting two shafts whose axes form an obtuse angle of about 157 degrees. It has four cylinders, two being mounted on a chair coupling on each shaft. The word cylinder is used in a conventional sense only, since the cavities acting as such are circular, whose axes, instead of being straight lines, are arcs of circles struck from the center at which the axes of the shafts would, if continued, intersect. The four pistons are carried upon the gimbal ring, which connects, by means of pivots, the two chair couplings.


Fig. 10 shows clearly the parts constituting the coupling, cylinders, and pistons of a compound engine. CC are the high-pressure cylinders; DD the low pressure; EEEE the four parts forming the gimbal ring, to which are fixed in pairs the high and low pressure pistons, GG and FF; HHHH are the chair arms formed with the cylinders carrying pivots, IIII, which latter fit into the bearings, JJJJ, in the gimbal ring. Figs. 1, 2, 3, 4 show these parts connected and at different points of the shaft’s rotation. The direction of rotation is shown by the arrow. In Fig. 1 the lower high-pressure cylinder, C, is just about taking steam, the upper one just closing the exhaust; the low-pressure pistons are at half stroke, that in sight exhausting, the opposite one, which cannot be seen in this view, taking steam.

In Fig 2 the shaft has turned through one-eighth of a revolution; in Fig. 3, a quarter turn; Fig. 4, three-eighths of a turn. Another eighth turn brings two parts into position represented by Fig. 1, except the second pair of cylinders now replace the first pair. The bearings, KL, support the two shafts and act as stationary valves, against which faces formed on the cylinders revolve; steam and exhaust ports are provided in the faces of K and L, and two ports in the revolving faces, one to each cylinder. The point at which steam is cut off is determined by the length of the admission ports in K and L. The exhaust port is made of such a length that steam may escape from the cylinders during the whole of the return stroke of pistons.

Fig. 5 shows the complete engine. It will be seen that the engine is entirely incased in a box frame, with, however, a lid for ready access to the parts for examination, one great advantage being that the engine can be worked with the cover removed, thus enabling any leakage past the pistons or valve faces to be at once detected. The casing also serves to retain a certain amount of lubricant.

The lubrication is effected by means of a triple sight-feed lubricator, one feeder delivering to steam inlet, and two serving the main shaft bearings.

Figs, 6 and 7 are an end elevation and plan of the same engine. There is nothing in the other details calling for special notice.

Figs. 8 and 9 show the method of machining the cylinders and pistons, the whole of which can be done by ordinary lathes, which is evidently a great advantage in the event of reboring, etc., being required in the colonies or other countries where special tools are inaccessible.

Figs. 11 and 12 are sections which explain themselves.–_The Engineer_.

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While Englishmen and Americans have been alike interested in the late project for forcing water by a pipe line over the mountainous region lying between Suakim and Berber in the far-off Soudan, few men of either nation have any proper conception of the vast expenditure of capital, natural and engineering difficulties overcome, and the bold and successful enterprise which has brought into existence far greater pipe lines in our own Atlantic States. We refer to the lines of the National Transit Company, which have for a purpose the economic transportation of crude petroleum from Western Pennsylvania to the sea coast at New York, Philadelphia, and Baltimore, and to the Lakes at Cleveland and Buffalo.

To properly commence our sketch of this truly gigantic enterprise, we must go back to the discovery of petroleum in the existing oil regions of Pennsylvania and adjacent States. Its presence as an oily scum on the surface of ponds and streams had long been known, and among the Indians this “rock-oil” was highly appreciated as a vehicle for mixing their wax paint, and for anointing their bodies; in later years it was gathered in a rude way by soaking it up in blankets, and sold at a high price for medicinal purposes only, under the name of Seneca rock oil, Genesee oil, Indian oil, etc.

But the date of its discovery as an important factor in the useful arts and as a source of enormous national wealth was about 1854. In the year named a certain Mr. George H. Bissell of New Orleans accidentally met with a sample of the “Seneca Oil,” and being convinced that it had a value far beyond that usually accorded it, associated himself with some friends and leased for 99 years some of the best oil springs near Titusville, Pa. This lease cost the company $5,000, although only a few years before a cow had been considered a full equivalent in value for the same land. The original prospectors began operations by digging collecting ditches, and then pumping off the oil which gathered upon the surface of the water. But not long after this first crude attempt at oil gathering, the Pennsylvania Rock Oil Co. was organized, with Prof. B. Silliman of Yale College as its president, and a more intelligent method was introduced into the development of the oil-producing formation. In 1858, Col. Drake of New Haven was employed by the Pennsylvania Co. to sink an artesian well; and, after considerable preparatory work, on August 28, 1859, the first oil vein was tapped at a depth of 69½ feet below the surface; the flow was at first 10 barrels per day, but in the following September this increased to 40 barrels daily.


The popular excitement and the fortunes made and lost in the years following the sinking of the initial well are a matter of history, with which we have here nothing to do. It is sufficient to say that a multitude of adventurers were drawn by the “oil-craze” into this late wilderness, and the sinking of wells extended with unprecedented rapidity over the region near Titusville and from there into more distant fields.

By June 1, 1862, 495 wells had been put down near Titusville, and the daily output of oil was nearly 6,000 barrels, selling at the wells at from $4.00 to $6.00 per barrel. But the tapping of this vast subterranean storehouse of oleaginous wealth continued, until the estimated annual production was swelled from 82,000 barrels in 1859 to 24,385,966 barrels in 1883; in the latter year 2,949 wells were put down, many of them, however, being simply dry holes.[1] The total output of oil in the Pennsylvania regions, between 1859 and 1883, is estimated at about 234,800,000 barrels–enough oil to fill a tank about 10,000 feet square, nearly two miles to a side, to a depth of over 13½ feet.

[Footnote 1: The total number of wells in the Pennsylvania oil regions cannot be given. In the years 1876-1884, inclusive, 28,619 wells were sunk; this is an average of 3,179 per year. During the same period 2,507 dry holes were drilled at an average cost of $1,500 each.]

As long as oil could be sold at the wells at from $4.00 to $10.00 a barrel, the cost of transportation was an item hardly worthy of consideration, and railroad companies multiplied and waged a bitter war with each other in their scramble after the traffic. But as the production increased with rapid strides, the market price of oil fell with a corresponding rapidity, until the quotations for 1884 show figures as low as 50 to 60 cents per barrel for the crude product at Oil City.

In December, 1865, the freight charge per barrel for a carload of oil from Titusville to New York, and the return of the empty barrels, was $3.50.[1] To this figure was added the cost of transportation by pipe-line from Pithole to Titusville, $1.00; cost of barreling, 25 cents; freight to Corry, Pa., 80 cents; making the total cost of a barrel of crude oil in New York, $5.55. In January, 1866, the barrel of oil in New York cost $10.40, including in this figure, however, the Government tax of $1.00 and the price of the barrel, $3.25.

[Footnote 1: It is stated that in 1862 the cost of sending one barrel of oil to New York was $7.45. Steamboats charged $2.00 per barrel from Oil City to Pittsburg, and the hauling from Oil Creek to Meadville cost $2.25 per barrel.]

The question of reducing these enormous transportation charges was first broached, apparently, in 1864, when a writer in the _North American_, of Philadelphia, outlined a scheme for laying a pipe-line down the Allegheny River to Pittsburg. This project was violently assailed by both the transportation companies and the people of the oil region, who feared that its success would interfere with their then great prosperity. But short pipe-lines, connecting the wells with storage tanks and shipping points, grew apace and prepared the way for the vast network of the present day, which covers this region and throws out arms to the ocean and the lakes.

Among the very first, if not the first, pipe lines laid was one put down between the Sherman well and the railway terminus on the Miller farm. It was about 3 miles long, and designed by a Mr. Hutchinson; he had an exaggerated idea of the pressure to be exercised, and at intervals of 50 to 100 feet he set up air chambers 10 inches in diameter. The weak point in this line, however, proved to be the joints; the pipes were of cast iron, and the joint-leakage was so great that little, if any, oil ever reached the end of the line, and the scheme was abandoned in despair.

In connection with this question of oil transportation, a sketch of the various methods, other than pipelines, adopted in Pennsylvania may not be out of place. We are mainly indebted to Mr. S.F. Peckham, in his article on “Petroleum and its Products” in the U. S. Census Report of 1880, for the information relating to tank-cars immediately following:

Originally the oil was carried in 40 and 42 gallon barrels, made of oak and hooped with iron; early in 1866, or possibly in 1865, tank-cars were introduced. These were at first ordinary flat-cars upon which were placed two wooden tanks, shaped like tubs, each holding about 2,000 gallons.

On the rivers, bulk barges were also, after a time, introduced on the Ohio and Allegheny; at first these were rude affairs, and often of inadequate strength; but as now built they are 130 x 22 x 16 feet, in their general dimensions, and divided into eight compartments, with water-tight bulkheads; they hold about 2,200 barrels.

In 1871 iron-tank cars superseded those of wood, with tanks of varying sizes, ranging from 3,856 to 5,000 gallons each. These tanks were cylinders, 24 feet 6 inches long, and 66 inches in diameter, and weighed about 4,500 lb. The heads are made of 5/46 in. flange iron, the bottom of ½ in., and the upper half of the shell of 3/16 in. tank iron.

In October, 1865, the Oil Transportation Co. completed and tested a pipe-line 32,000 feet long; three pumps were used upon it, two at Pithole and one at Little Pithole. July 1, 1876, the pipe-line owners held a meeting at Parkers to organize a pipe-line company to extend to the seaboard under the charter of the Pennsylvania Transportation Co., but the scheme was never carried out. In January, 1878, the Producers’ Union organized for a similar seaboard line, and laid pipes, but they never reached the sea, stopping their line at Tamanend, Pa. The lines of the National Transit Co., illustrated in our map, were completed in 1880-81, and this company, to which the United Pipe Lines have also been transferred, is said to have $15,000,000 invested in plant for the transport of oil to tide water.

The National Transit Co. was organized under what was called the Pennsylvania Co. act, about four years ago, and succeeded to the properties of the American Transit Co., a corporation operating under the laws of Pennsylvania. Since its organization the first named company has constructed and now owns the following systems:

The line from Olean, N.Y., to Bayonne, N.J., and to Brooklyn, N.Y., of which a full page profile is given, showing the various pumping stations and the undulations over its route of about 300 miles. The Pennsylvania line, 280 miles long, from Colegrove, Pa., to Philadelphia. The Baltimore line, 70 miles long, from Millway, Pa., to Baltimore. The Cleveland line, 100 miles long, from Hilliards, Pa., to Cleveland, O. The Buffalo line, 70 miles long, from Four Mile, Cattaraugus County, N.Y., to Buffalo, and the line from Carbon Center, Butler County, Pa., to Pittsburg, 60 miles in length. This amounts to a total of 880 miles of main pipe-line alone, ranging from 4 inches to 6 inches in diameter; or, adding the duplicate pipes on the Olean New York line, we have a round total of 1,330 miles, not including loops and shorter branches and the immense network of the pipes in the oil regions proper.

A general description of the longest line will practically suffice for all, as they differ only in diameter of pipe used and power of the pumping plant. As shown on the map and profile, this long line starts at Olean, near the southern boundary of New York State, and proceeds by the route indicated to tide water at Bayonne, N.J., and by a branch under the North and East rivers and across the upper end of New York city to the Long Island refineries. This last named pipe is of unusual strength, and passes through Central Park; few of the thousands who daily frequent the latter spot being aware of the yellow stream of crude petroleum that is constantly flowing beneath their feet. The following table gives the various pumping stations on this Olean New York line, and some data relating to distances between stations and elevations overcome:

|—————————————————————-| | | | | Greatest | | | | | Summit | | | Miles | Elevation | between | | | between | above Tide. | Stations. | | Pumping Stations. | Stations. | Ft. | Ft. | |______________________|___________|________________|____________| | Olean | — | 1,490 | — | | Wellsville | 28.20 | 1,510 | 2,490 | | Cameron | 27.91 | 1,042 | 2,530 | | West Junction | 29.70 | 911 | 1,917 | | Catatonk | 27.37 | 869 | 1,768 | | Osborne | 27.99 | 1,092 | 1,539 | | Hancock | 29.86 | 922 | 1,873 | | Cochecton | 26.22 | 748 | 1,854 | | Swartwout | 28.94 | 475 | 1,478 | | Newfoundland | 29.00 | 768 | 1,405 | | Saddle River | 28.77 | 35 | 398 | |______________________|___________|________________|____________|

On this line two six-inch pipes are laid the entire length, and a third six-inch pipe runs between Wellsville and Cameron, and about half way between each of the other stations, “looped” around them. The pipe used for the transportation of oil is especially manufactured to withstand the great strain to which it will be subjected, the most of it being made by the Chester Pipe and Tube Works, of Chester, Pa., the Allison Manufacturing Co., of Philadelphia and the Penna. Tube Works, of Pittsburg, Pa. It is a lap-welded, wrought-iron pipe of superior material, and made with exceeding care and thoroughly tested at the works. The pipe is made in lengths of 18 feet, and these pieces are connected by threaded ends and extra strong sleeves. The pipe-thread and sleeves used on the ordinary steam and water pipe are not strong enough for the duty demanded of the oil-pipe. The socket for a 4-inch steam or water pipe is from 2½ to to 2¾ inches long, and is tapped with 8 standard threads to the inch, straight or parallel to the axis of the pipe; with this straight tap only three or four threads come in contact with the socket threads, or in any way assist in holding the pipes together. In the oil-pipe, the pipe ends and sockets are cut on a taper of ¾ inch to 1 foot, for a 4-inch pipe, and the socket used is thicker than the steam and water socket, is 3¾ inches long, and has entrance for 1 5/8 inches of thread on each pipe end tapped with 9 standard threads to the inch. In this taper socket you have iron to iron the whole length of the thread, and the joint is perfect and equal by test to the full strength of the pipe. Up to 1877 the largest pipe used on the oil lines was 4-inch, with the usual steam thread, but the joints leaked under the pressure, 1,200 pounds to the square inch being the maximum the 8-thread pipe would stand. This trouble has been remedied by the 9-thread, taper-cut pipe of the present day, which is tested at the mill to 1,500 pounds pressure, while the average duty required is 1,200 pounds; as the iron used in the manufacture of this line-pipe will average a tensile test strain of 55,000 pounds per square inch, the safety factor is thus about one-sixth.


The line-pipe is laid between the stations in the ordinary manner, excepting that great care is exercised in perfecting the joints. No expansion joints or other special appliances of like nature are used on the line as far as we can learn; the variations in temperature being compensated for, in exposed locations, by laying the pipe in long horizontal curves. The usual depth below the surface is about 3 feet, though in some portions of the route the pipe lies for miles exposed directly upon the surface. As the oil pumped is crude oil, and this as it comes from the wells carries with it a considerable proportion of brine, freezing in the pipes is not to be apprehended. The oil, however, does thicken in very cold weather, and the temperature has a considerable influence on the delivery.

A very ingenious patented device is used for cleaning out the pipes, and by it the delivery is said to have been increased in certain localities 50 per cent. This is a stem about 2½ feet long, having at its front end a diaphragm made of wings which can fold on each other, and thus enable it to pass an obstruction it cannot remove; this machine carries a set of steel scrapers, somewhat like those used in cleaning boilers. The device is put into the pipe, and propelled by the pressure transmitted from the pumps from one station to another; relays of men follow the scraper by the noise it makes as it goes through the pipe, one party taking up the pursuit as the other is exhausted. They must never let it get out of their hearing, for if it stops unnoticed, its location can only again be established by cutting the pipe.

The pumping stations are substantial structures of brick, roofed with iron. The boiler house is removed some distance from the engine house for greater safety from fire; the building, about 40 by 50 feet, contains from six to seven tubular boilers, each 5 by 14 feet, and containing 80 three-inch tubes. The pump house is a similar brick structure about 40 by 60 feet, and contains the battery of pumping engines to be described later. At each station are two iron tanks, 90 feet in diameter and 30 feet high; into these tanks the oil is delivered from the preceding station, and from them the oil is pumped into the tanks at the next station beyond. The pipe-system at each station is simple, and by means of the “loop-lines” before mentioned the oil can be pumped directly around any station if occasion would require it.

The pumps used on all these lines are the Worthington compound, condensing, pressure pumping engines. The general characteristics of these pumps are, independent plungers with exterior packing, valve-boxes subdivided into separate small chambers capable of resisting very heavy strains, and leather-faced metallic valves with low lift and large surfaces. These engines vary in power from 200 to 800 horse-power, according to duty required. They are in continuous use, day and night, and are required to deliver about 15,000 barrels of crude oil per 24 hours, under a pressure equivalent to an elevation of 3,500 feet.

We have lately examined the latest pumping engine plant, and the largest yet built for this service, by the firm of H.R. Worthington; it is to be used at the Osborne Hollow Pumping Station. As patents are yet pending on certain new features in this engine, we must defer a full description of it for a later issue of our journal.

The Pennsylvania line has a single 6-inch pipe 280 miles long, with six pumping stations as shown in the map, and groups of shorter lines, with a loop extending from the main line to Milton, Pa., a shipping point for loading on cars. At Millway, Pa., a 5-inch pipe leaves the Pennsylvania line and runs to Baltimore, a distance of 70 miles, and is operated from the first named station alone, there being no intermediate pumping station.[1] The Cleveland pipe, 100 miles long, is 5 inches in diameter, and has upon it four pumping stations; it carries oil to the very extensive refineries of the company at the terminal on Lake Erie. The Buffalo line is 4 inches in diameter and 70 miles long; it has a pumping station at Four-Mile and at Ashford (omitted on the map). The Pittsburg line is 4 inches in diameter and 60 miles long; it has pumping stations at Carbon Center and at Freeport.

[Footnote 1: Millway is about 400 feet above tide-water at Baltimore, but the line passes over a very undulating country in its passage to the last named point. We regret that we have no profile on this 70 mile line operated by a single pumping plant.–_Ed. Engineering News_.]

A very necessary and remarkably complete adjunct to the numerous pipe lines of this company is an independent telegraph system extending to every point on its widely diverging lines. The storage capacity of the National Transit Co.’s system is placed at 1,500,000 barrels, and this tankage is being constantly increased to meet the demands of the producers.[1]

[Footnote 1: As showing the extent of the sea-coast transportation of petroleum, we should mention that the statistics for 1884 show a total of crude equivalent exported from the United States in that year, equaling 16,661,086 barrels, of 51 gallons each. This is a daily average of 42,780 barrels.]

The company is officially organized as follows: C.A. Griscom, President; Benjamin Brewster, Vice President; John Bushnell, Secretary; Daniel O’Day, General Manager; J.H. Snow, General Superintendent. Mr. Snow was the practical constructor of the entire system, and the general perfection of the work is mainly due to his personal experience, energy, and careful supervision. His engineering assistants were Theodore M. Towe and C.J. Hepburn on the New York line and J.B. Barbour on the Pennsylvania lines.

The enterprise has been so far a great engineering success, and the oil delivery is stated on good authority to be within 2 per cent. of the theoretical capacity of the pipes. From a commercial standpoint, the ultimate future of the undertaking will be determined by the lasting qualities of wrought iron pipe buried in the ground and subjected to enormous strain; time alone can determine this question.

In preparing this article we are indebted for information to the firm of H.R. Worthington, to General Manager O’Day, of the National Transit Co., to the editor of the _Derrick_ of Oil City, Pa., and to numerous engineering friends.–_Engineering News_.

* * * * *



The practical application of natural gas, as an article of fuel, to the purpose of manufacturing glass, iron, and steel, promises to work a revolution in the industrial interests of America–promises to work a revolution; for notwithstanding the fact that, in many of the largest iron, steel, and glass factories in Pittsburg and its vicinity, natural gas has already been substituted for coal, the managers of some such works are shy of the new fuel, mainly for two reasons: 1. They doubt the continuity and regularity of its supply. 2. They do not deem the difference between the price of natural gas and coal sufficient as yet to justify the expenditure involved in the furnace changes necessary to the substitution of the one for the other. These two objections will doubtless disappear with additional experience in the production and regulation of the gas supply, and with enlarged competition among the companies engaging in its transmission from the wells to the works. At present the use of natural gas as a substitute for coal in the manufacture of glass, iron, and steel is in its infancy.

Natural gas is as ancient as the universe. It was known to man in prehistoric times, we must suppose, for the very earliest historical reference to the Magi of Asia records them as worshiping the eternal fires which then blazed, and still blaze, in the fissures of the mountain heights overlooking the Caspian Sea. Those records appertain to a period at least 600 years before the birth of Christ; but the Magi must have lived and worshiped long anterior to that time.

Zoroaster, reputed founder of the Parsee sect, is placed contemporary with the prophet Daniel, from 2,500 to 600 B.C.; and, although Daniel has been doubted, and Zoroaster may never have seen the light, the fissures of the Caucasus have been flaming since the earliest authentic records.

The Parsees (Persians) did not originally worship fire. They believed in two great powers–the Spirit of Light, or Good, and the Spirit of Darkness, or Evil. Subsequent to Zoroaster, when the Persian empire rose to its greatest power and importance, overspreading the west to the shores of the Caspian and beyond, the tribes of the Caucasus suffered political subjugation; but the creed of the Magi, founded upon the eternal flame-altars of the mountains, proved sufficiently vigorous to transform the Parseeism of the conquerors to the fire worship of the conquered.

About the beginning of the seventh century of the Christian era, the Grecian Emperor Heraclius overturned the fire altars of the Magi at Baku, the chief city on the Caspian, but the fire worshipers were not expelled from the Caucasus until the Mohammedans subjugated the Persian Empire, when they were driven into the Rangoon, on the Irrawaddy, in India, one of the most noted petroleum producing districts of the world.

Petroleum and natural gas are so intimately related that one would hardly dare to say whether the gas proceeds from petroleum or the petroleum is deposited from the gas. It is, however, safe to assume that they are the products of one material, the lighter element separating from the heavier under certain degrees of temperature and pressure. Thus petroleum may separate from the gas as asphaltum separates from petroleum. But some speculative minds consider natural gas to be a product of anthracite coal. The fact that the great supply-field of natural gas in Western Pennsylvania, New York, West Virginia, and Eastern Ohio is a bituminous and not an anthracite region does not of itself confute that theory, as the argument for it is, that the gas may be tapped at a remote distance from the source of supply; and, whereas anthracite is not a gas-coal, while bituminous is, we are told to suppose that the gas which once may have been a component part of the anthracite was long ago expelled by Nature, and has since been held in vast reservoirs with slight waste, awaiting the use of man. That is one theory; and upon that supposition it is suggested that anthracite may exist below the bituminous beds of the region lying between the Alleghany Mountains and the Great Lakes. Another theory is, that natural gas is a product of the sea-weed deposited in the Devonian stratum. But, leaving modern theories on the origin of natural gas and petroleum, we may suppose the natural gas jets now burning in the fissures of the Caucasus to have started up in flames about the time when, according to the Old Testament, Noah descended from Mount Ararat, or very soon thereafter. In the language of modern science it would be safe to say that those flames sprang up when the Caucasus range was raised from beneath the surface of the universal sea. The believer in biblical chronology may say that those fires have been burning for four thousand years–the geologist may say for four millions.

We know that Alexander the Great penetrated to the Caspian; and in Plutarch we read: “Hence [Arbela] he marched through the province Babylon [Media?], which immediately submitted to him, and in Ecbatana [?] was much surprised at the sight of the place where fire issues in a continuous stream, like a spring of water, out of a cleft in the earth, and the stream of naphtha, which not far from this spot flows out so abundantly as to form a large lake. This naphtha, in other respects resembling bitumen, is so subject to take fire that, before it touches the flame, it will kindle at the very light that surrounds it, and often inflames the intermediate air also. The barbarians, to show the power and nature of it, sprinkled the street that led to the king’s lodgings with little drops of it, and, when it was almost night, stood at the farther end with torches, which being applied to the moistened places, the first taking fire, instantly, as quick as a man could think of it, it caught from one end to another in such manner that the whole street was one continued flame. Among those who used to wait upon the king, and find occasion to amuse him, when he anointed and washed himself, there was one Athenophanus, an Athenian, who desired him to make an experiment of the naphtha upon Stephanus, who stood by in the bathing place, a youth with a ridiculously ugly face, whose talent was singing well. ‘For,’ said he, ‘if it take hold of him, and is not put out, it must undeniably be allowed to be of the most invincible strength.’ The youth, as it happened, readily consented to undergo the trial, and as soon as he was anointed and rubbed with it, his whole body was broke out into such a flame, and was so seized by the fire, that Alexander was in the greatest perplexity and alarm for him, and not without reason; for nothing could have prevented him from being consumed by it if, by good chance, there had not been people at hand with a great many vessels of water for the service of the bath, with all which they had much ado to extinguish the fire; and his body was so burned all over that he was not cured of it a good while after. And thus it was not without some plausibility that they endeavor to reconcile the fable to truth, who say this was the drug in the tragedies with which Medea anointed the crown and veils which she gave to Creon’s daughter.”

An interesting reference to the fire-worshipers of the Caucasus is contained in the “History of Zobeide,” a tale of the wonderful Arabian Nights Entertainment. It runs thus:

“I bought a ship at Balsora, and freighted it; my sisters chose to go with me, and we set sail with a fair wind. Some weeks after, we cast anchor in a harbor which presented itself, with intent to water the ship. As I was tired with having been so long on board, I landed with the first boat, and walked up into the country. I soon came in sight of a great town. When I arrived there, I was much surprised to see vast numbers of people in different postures, but all immovable. The merchants were in their shops, the soldiery on guard; every one seemed engaged in his proper avocation, yet all were become as stone…. I heard the voice of a man reading Al Koran…. Being curious to know why he was the only living creature in the town,… he proceeded to tell me that the city was the metropolis of a kingdom now governed by his father; that the former king and all his subjects were Magi, worshipers of fire and of Nardoun. the ancient king of the giants who rebelled against God. ‘Though I was born,’ continued he, ‘of idolatrous parents, it was my good fortune to have a woman governess who was a strict observer of the Mohammedan religion. She taught me Arabic from Al Koran; by her I was instructed in the true religion, which I would never afterward renounce. About three years ago a thundering voice was heard distinctly throughout the city, saying, “Inhabitants, abandon the worship of Nardoun and of fire, and worship the only true God, who showeth mercy!” This voice was heard three years successively, but no one regarded it. At the end of the last year all the inhabitants were in an instant turned to stone. I alone was preserved.'”

In the foregoing tale we doubtless have reference to the destruction of Baku, on the Caspian (though to sail from Balsora to Baku is impossible), and the driving away into India, by the Arabs under Caliph Omar, of all who refused to renounce fire-worship and adopt the creed of the Koran. The turning of the refractory inhabitants into stone is probably the Arabian storyteller’s figurative manner of referring to the finding of dead bodies in a mummified condition.

It is known that the Egyptians made use of bitumen, in some form, in the preservation of their dead, a fact with which the Arabians were familiar. As the Magi held the four elements of earth, air, fire, and water to be sacred, they feared to either bury, burn, sink, or expose to air the corrupting bodies of their deceased. Therefore, it was their practice to envelop the corpse in a coating of wax or bitumen, so as to hermetically seal it from immediate contact with either of the four sacred elements. Hence the idea of all the bodies of the Magi left at Baku being turned to stone, while only the true believer in Mohammed remained in the flesh.

Marco Polo, the famous traveler of the thirteenth century, makes reference to the burning jets of the Caucasus, and those fires are known to the Russians as continuing in existence since the army of Peter the Great wrested the regions about the Caspian from the modern Persians. The record of those flaming jets of natural gas is thus brought down in an unbroken chain of evidence from remote antiquity to the present day, and they are still burning.

Numerous Greek and Latin writers testify to the known existence of petroleum about the shores of the Mediterranean two thousand years ago. More modern citations may, however, be read with equal interest. In the “Journal of Sir Philip Skippon’s Travels in France,” in 1663, we find the following curious entries:

“We stayed in Grenoble till August 1st, and one day rode out, and, after twice fording the river Drac (which makes a great wash) at a league’s distance, went over to Pont de Clef, a large arch across that river, where we paid one sol a man; a league further we passed through a large village called Vif, and about a league thence by S. Bathomew, another village, and Chasteau Bernard, where we saw a flame breaking out of the side of a bank, which is vulgarly called La Fountaine qui Brule; it is by a small rivulet, and sometimes breaks out in other places; just before our coming some other strangers had fried eggs here. The soil hereabouts is full of a black stone, like our coal, which, perhaps, is the continual fuel of the fire…. Near Peroul, about a league from Montpelier, we saw a boiling fountain (as they call it), that is, the water did heave up and bubble as if it boiled. This phenomenon in the water was caused by a vapor ascending out of the earth through the water, as was manifest, for if that one did but dig anywhere near the place, and pour water upon the place new digged, one should observe in it the like bubbling, the vapor arising not only in that place where the fountain was, but all thereabout; the like vapor ascending out of the earth and causing such ebullition in water it passes through hath been observed in Mr. Hawkley’s ground, about a mile from the town of Wigan, in Lancashire, which vapor, by the application of a lighted candle, paper; or the like, catches fire and flames vigorously. Whether or not this vapor at Peroul would in like manner catch fire and burn I cannot say, it coming not in our minds to make the experiment…. At Gabian, about a day’s journey from Montpelier, in the way to Beziers, is a fountain of petroleum. It burns like oil, is of a pungent scent, and a blackish color. It distills out of several places of the rock all the year long, but most in the summer time. They gather it up with ladles and put it in a barrel set on end, which hath a spigot just at the bottom. When they have put in a good quantity, they open the spigot to let out the water, and when the oil begins to come presently stop it. They pay for the farm of this fountain about fifty crowns per annum. We were told by one Monsieur Beaushoste, a chymist in Montpelier, that petroleum was the very same with oil of jet, and not to be distinguished from it by color, taste, smell, consistency, virtues, or any other accident, as he had by experience found upon the coast of the Mediterranean Sea, in several places, as at Berre, near Martague, in Provence; at Messina, in Sicily, etc.”

In Harris’ “Voyages,” published in 1764, an article on the empire of Persia thus refers to petroleum:

“In several parts of Persia we meet with naphtha, both white and black; it is used in painting and varnish, and sometimes in physic, and there is an oil extracted from it which is applied to several uses. The most famous springs of naphtha are in the neighborhood of Baku, which furnish vast quantities, and there are also upward of thirty springs about Shamasky, both in the province of Schirwan. The Persians use it as oil for their lamps and in making fireworks, of which they are extremely fond, and in which they are great proficients.”

Petroleum has long been known to exist also in the northern part of Italy, the cities of Parma and Genoa having been for many years lighted with it.

In the province of Szechuen, China, natural gas is obtained from beds of rock-salt at a depth of fifteen to sixteen hundred feet. Being brought to the surface, it is conveyed in bamboo tubes and used for lighting as well as for evaporating water in the manufacture of salt. It is asserted that the Chinese used this natural gas for illuminating purposes long before gas-lighting was known to the Europeans. Remembering the unprogressive character of Chinese arts and industries, there is ground for the belief that they may have been using this natural gas as an illuminant these hundreds of years.

In the United States the existence of petroleum was known to the Pilgrim Fathers, who doubtless obtained their first information of it from the Indians, from whom, in New York and western Pennsylvania, it was called Seneka oil. It was otherwise known as “British” oil and oil of naphtha, and was considered “a sovereign remedy for an inward bruise.”

The record of natural gas in this country is not so complete as that of petroleum, but we learn that an important gas spring was known in West Bloomfleld, N.Y., seventy years ago. In 1864 a well was sunk to a depth of three hundred feet upon that vein, from which a sufficient supply of gas was obtained to illuminate and heat the city of Rochester (twenty-five miles distant), it was supposed. But the pipes which were laid for that purpose, being of wood, were unfitted to withstand the pressure, in consequence of which the scheme was abandoned; but gas from that well is now in use as an illuminant and as fuel both in the town of West Bloomfield and at Honeoye Falls. The village of Fredonia, N.Y., has been using natural gas in lighting the streets for thirty years or there about. On Big Sewickley Creek, in Westmoreland County, Pa., natural gas was used for evaporating water in the manufacture of salt thirty years ago, and gas is still issuing at the same place. Natural gas has been in use in several localities in eastern Ohio for twenty-five years, and the wells are flowing as vigorously as when first known. It has also been in use in West Virginia for a quarter of a century, as well as in the petroleum region of western Pennsylvania, where it has long been utilized in generating steam for drilling oil wells.

In 1826 the _American Journal of Science_ contained a letter from Dr. S.P. Hildreth, who, in writing of the products of the Muskingum (Ohio) Valley, said: “They have sunk two wells, which are now more than four hundred feet in depth; one of them affords a very strong and pure salt water, but not in great quantity; the other discharges such vast quantities of petroleum, or, as it is vulgarly called, ‘Seneka oil,’ and besides is so subject to such tremendous explosions of gas, as to force out all the water and afford nothing but gas for several days, that they make little or no salt.”

The value of the foregoing references is to be found in the testimony they offer as to the duration of the supply of natural gas. Whether we look to the eternal flaming fissures of the Caucasus, or to New York, Pennsylvania, and Ohio, there is much to encourage the belief that the flow of natural gas may be, like the production of petroleum, increased rather than diminished by the draughts made upon it. Petroleum, instead of diminishing in quantity by the millions of barrels drawn from western Pennsylvania in the last quarter of a century, seems to increase, greater wells being known in 1884 than in any previous year, and prices having fallen from two dollars per bottle for “Seneka oil” to sixty cents per barrel for the same article under the name of crude petroleum. Hence we may assume that, as new pipe-lines are laid, the supply of natural gas available for use in the great manufacturing district of Pittsburg and vicinity will be increased, and the price of this fuel diminished in a corresponding ratio.

Natural gas is now supplied in Pittsburg at a small discount on the actual cost of coal used last year in the large manufacturing establishments, an additional saving being made in dispensing with firemen and avoidance of hauling ashes from the boiler-room. It is supplied, for domestic purposes, at twenty cents per thousand cubic feet, which is not cheaper than coal in Pittsburg, but it is a thousand per cent cleaner, and in that respect it promises to prove a great blessing, not only to those who can afford to use it, but to the community at large, in the hope held out that the smoke and soot nuisance may be abated in part, if not wholly subdued, and that gleams of sunshine there may become less phenomenal in the future than they are at the present time. Twenty cents per thousand feet is too high a price to bring gas into general use for domestic purposes in a city where coal is cheap. Ten cents would be too much, and no doubt five cents per thousand would pay a profit. The fact is, the dealers in natural gas appear to be somewhat doubtful of the continuity of supply, and anxious to get back the cost of wells and pipes in one year, which, if successful, would be an enormous return on the investment.

There are objections to the use of natural gas by mill operators–that it costs too much, and that the continuity of the supply is uncertain; by heads of families, that it is odorless, and, in case of leakage from the pipes, may fill a room and be ready to explode without giving the fragrant warning offered by common gas. Both of these objections will probably disappear under the experience that time must furnish. More wells and tributary lines will lessen the cost and tend to regulate the pressure for manufacturers. Cut-offs and escape pipes outside of the house will reduce the risk of explosions within. The danger in the house may also be lessened by providing healthful ventilation in all apartments wherein gas shall be consumed.

This subject of, the ventilation of rooms in which common gas is ordinarily used is beginning to attract attention. It is stated, upon scientific authority, that a jet of common gas, equivalent to twelve sperm candles, consumes 5.45 cubic feet of oxygen per hour, producing 3.21 feet of carbonic acid gas, vitiating, according to Dr. Tidy’s “Handbook of Chemistry,” 348.25 cubic feet of air. In every five cubic feet of pure air in a room there is one cubic foot of oxygen and four of nitrogen. Without oxygen human life, as well as light, would become extinct. It is asserted that one common gas-jet consumes as much oxygen as five persons.

Carbonic acid gas is the element which, in deep mines and vaults, causes almost instant insensibility and suffocation to persons subjected to its influences, and instantly extinguishes the flame of any light lowered into it. The normal quantity of this gas contained in the air we breathe is 0.04; one per cent, of it causes distress in breathing; two per cent, is dangerous; four per cent, extinguishes life, and four per cent of it is contained in air expelled from the lungs. According to Dr. Tidy’s table, each ordinary jet of common gas contributes to the air of a room sixteen by ten feet on the sides and nine feet high, containing 1,440 cubic feet of air, twenty-two per cent, of carbonic acid gas, which, continued for twenty-four hours without ventilation, would reach the fatal four per cent.

Prof. Huxley gives, as a result of chemical analyses, the following table of ratio of carbonic-acid gas in the atmosphere at the points named:

On the Thames, at London 0.0343 In the streets of London 0.0380 Top of Ben Nevis 0.0327 Dress circle of Haymarket theater (11:30 P.M.) 0.0757 Chancery Court (seven feet from the ground) 0.1930 From working mines (average of 339 samples) 0.7853 Largest amount in a Cornish mine 2.0500

In addition to the consumption of oxygen and production of carbonic acid by the use of common gas, the gas itself, owing to defectiveness of the burner, is projected into the air. Now, considering the deleterious nature of all illuminating gases, the reasons for perfect ventilation of rooms in which natural gas is used for heating and culinary purposes are self-evident, not alone as a protection against explosions, but for the health of the occupants of the house, remembering that a larger supply of oxygen is said to be necessary for the perfect combustion of natural than of common gas.

Carbonic oxide, formed by the consumption of carbon, with an insufficient supply of air, is the fatal poison of the charcoal furnace, not infrequently resorted to, in close rooms, as a means of suicide. The less sufficient the air toward perfect combustion, the smaller the quantity of carbonic acid and the greater the amount of carbonic oxide. That is to say, at the time of ignition the chief product of combustion is carbonic oxide, and, unless sufficient air be added to convert the oxide to carbonic acid, a decidedly dangerous product is given off into the room. Yet, by means of a flue to carry off the poisonous gases from burning jets, the combustion of gas, creating a current, is made an aid to ventilation. Unfortunately, this important fact, if commonly known, is not much heeded by heads of families or builders of houses. But in any large community where gas comes into general use as an article of fuel, this fact will gradually become recognized and respected.

The property of indicating the presence of very minute quantities of gas in a room is claimed for an instrument recently described by C. Von Jahn in the _Revue Industrielle_. This is a porous cup, inverted and closed by a perforated rubber stopper. Through the perforation in the stopper the interior of the cup is connected with a pressure gauge containing colored water. It is claimed that the diffusion of gas through the earthenware raises the level of the water in the gauge so delicately that the presence of one-half of one per cent, of gas may be detected by it. Other instruments of a slightly different character are credited by their inventors with most sensitive power of indicating gas-leakages, but their practical efficiency remains to be demonstrated. An automatic cut-off for use outside of houses in which natural gas is consumed has been invented, but this writer knows nothing of either its mode of action or its effectiveness.

The great economic question, however, connected with the use of natural gas is, how will it affect the industrial interests of the country? There are grounds for the belief that a sufficient supply of natural gas may be found in the vicinity of Pittsburg to reduce the cost of fuel to such a degree as to make competition in the manufacture of iron, steel, and glass, in any part of the country where coal must be used, out of the question. Such a condition of affairs would probably result in driving the great manufacturing concerns of the country into the region where natural gas is to obtained. That may be anywhere from the western slope of the Alleghanies to Lake Erie or to Lake Michigan. And, if the cost of producing iron, steel, and glass can be so cheapened by the new fuel, the tariff question may undergo some important modification in politics. For, if the reduction in the cost of fuel should ever become an offset to the lower rate of wages in Europe, the manufacturers of Pennsylvania, who have long been the chief support of the protective policy of the country, may lose their present interest in that question, and leave the tariff to shift for itself elsewhere. It should be remembered that natural gas is not, as yet, much cheaper than coal in Pittsburg. But it may safely be assumed that it will cheapen, as petroleum has done, by a development of the territory in which it is known to exist in enormous quantities. It is quite possible that, instead of buying gas, many factories will bore for it with success, or remove convenient to its natural sources, so that a gas well may ultimately become an essential part of the “plant” of a mill or factory. Even now coal cannot compete with gas in the manufacture of window glass, for, the gas being free from sulphur and other impurities contained in coal, produces a superior quality of glass; so that in this branch of industry the question of superiority seems already settled.

Having said thus much of an industry now in its infancy but promising great growth, I submit tables of analyses of common and of the natural or marsh gas, the latter from a paper recently prepared by a committee of the Engineers’ Society of Western Pennsylvania, and for the use of which I am indebted to that association:


Hydrogen 46.0
Light carbureted hydrogen (marsh gas) 39.5 Condensible hydrocarbon 3.8
Carbonic oxide 7.5
” acid 0.6
Aqueous vapor 2.0
Oxygen 0.1
Nitrogen 0.5

Natural gas is now conveyed to Pittsburg through four lines of 5-5/8 inch pipe and one line of eight inch pipe. A line of ten inch pipe is also being laid. The pressure of the gas at the wells is from 150 to 230 pounds to the square inch. As the wells are on one side eighteen and on the other about twenty-five miles distant, and as the consumption is variable, the pressure at the city cannot be given. Greater pressure might be obtained at the wells, but this would increase the liability to leakage and bursting of pipes. For the prevention of such casualties safety valves are provided at the wells, permitting the escape of all superfluous gas. The enormous force of this gas may be appreciated from a comparison of, say, 200 pounds pressure at the wells with a two ounce pressure of common gas for ordinary lighting. The amount of natural gas now furnished for use in Pittsburg is supposed to be something like 25,000,000 cubic feet per day; the ten inch pipe now laying is estimated to increase the supply to 40,000,000 feet. The amount of manufactured gas used for lighting the same city probably falls below 3,000,000 feet.

About fifty mills and factories of various kinds in Pittsburg now use natural gas. It is used for domestic purposes in two hundred houses. Its superiority over coal in the manufacture of window glass is unquestioned. That it is not used in all the glass houses of Pittsburg is due to the fact that its advantages were not fully known when the furnaces were fired last summer, and it costs a large sum to permit the furnaces to cool off after being heated for melting. When the fires cool down, and before they are started up again, the furnaces now using coal will doubtless all be changed so as to admit natural gas. The superiority of French over American glass is said to be due to the fact that the French use wood and the Americans coal in their furnaces, wood being free from sulphur, phosphorus, etc. The substitution of gas for coal, while not increasing the cost, improves the quality of American glass, making it as nearly perfect as possible.

While the gas is not used as yet in any smelting furnace nor in the Bessemer converters, it is preferred in open hearth and crucible steel furnaces, and is said to be vastly superior to coal for puddling. The charge of a puddling furnace, consisting of 500 pounds of pig-metal and eighty pounds of “fix,” produces with coal fuel 490 to 500 pounds of iron. With gas for fuel, it is claimed that the same charge will yield 520 to 530 pounds of iron. In an iron mill of thirty furnaces, running eight heats each for twenty-four hours, this would make a difference in favor of the gas of, say, 8 x 30 x 25 = 6,000 pounds of iron per day. This is an important item of itself, leaving out the cost of firing with coal and hauling ashes.

For generating steam in large establishments, one man will attend a battery of twelve or twenty boilers, using gas as fuel, keep the pressure uniform, and have the fire room clean as a parlor. For burning brick and earthenware, gas offers the double advantage of freedom from smoke and a uniform heat. The use of gas in public bakeries promises the abolition of the ash-box and its accumulation of miscellaneous filth, which is said to often impregnate the “sponge” with impurities.

In short, the advantages of natural gas as a fuel are so obvious to those who have given it a trial, that the prediction is made that, should the supply fail, many who are now using it will never return to the consumption of crude coal in factories, but, if necessary, convert it or petroleum into gas at their own works.

It seems, indeed, that until we shall have acquired the wisdom enabling us to conserve and concentrate the heat of the sun, gas must be the fuel of the future.–_Popular Science Monthly_.

TABLE OF ANALYSIS OF NATURAL GAS–FROM VARIOUS SOURCES. _____________________________________________________________________ | | | | | | | | | CONSTITUENTS | [2.] | [3.] | [6.] | [7.] | [8.] | [9.] | |_______________|________|________|________|________|________|_________ | | | | | | | | | Hydrogen | …. | …. | 6.10 | 13.50 | 22.50 | 4.79 | | | | | | | | | | Marsh Gas | 82.41 | 96.50 | 75.44 | 80.11 | 60.27 | 89.65 | | | | | | | | | | Ethane | …. | …. | 18.12 | 5.72 | 6.80 | 4.39 | | | | | | | | | | Propane | …. | …. | trace. | …. | …. | trace. | | | | | | | | | | Carbonic acid | 10.11 | …. | 0.34 | 0.66 | 2.28 | 0.35 | | | | | | | | | | Carbonic oxide| …. | 0.50 | trace. | trace. | trace. | 0.26 | | | | | | | | | | Nitrogen | 4.31 | …. | …. | …. | 7.32 | …. | | | | | | | | | | Oxygen | 0.23 | 2.00 | …. | …. | 0.83 | …. | | | | | | | | | | “Illuminating | 2.94 | 1.00 | …. | …. | …. | 0.56 | | hydrocarbons.”|________|________|________|________|________|________| | | | | | | | | | | 100.00 | 100.00 | 100.00 | 99.99 | 100.00 | 100.00 | |_______________|________|________|________|________|________|________| | |
| Specific gravity 0.693 0.692 0.6148 0.5119 0.5580 | |_____________________________________________________________________| ______________________________________________________________________ | | | | | | | | | CONSTITUENTS | [10.] | [12.] | [14.] | [15.] | [16.] | [17.] | |_______________|________|________|________|________|________|_________ | | | | | | | | | Hydrogen | …. | 19.56 | …. | 0.98 | …. | …. | | | | | | | | | | Marsh Gas | 96.34 | 78.24 | 47.37 | 93.09 | 80.69 | 95.42 | | | | | | | | | | Ethane | …. | …. | …. | …. | 4.75 | …. | | | | | | | | | | Propane | …. | …. | …. | …. | …. | …. | | | | | | | | | | Carbonic acid | 3.64 | …. | 3.10 | 2.18 | 6.44 | 0.60 | | | | | | | | | | Carbonic oxide| | …. | …. | …. | …. | …. | | | | | | | | | | Nitrogen | | …. | 49.39 | 0.49 | 8.12 | 3.98 | | | | | | | | | | Oxygen | | 2.20 | 0.17 | …. | …. | …. | | | | | | | | | | “Illuminating | [10.] | …. | …. | 3.26 | …. | …. | | hydrocarbons.”|________|________|________|________|________|________| | | | | | | | | | | | 100.00 | 100.03 | 100.00 | 100.00 | 100.00 | |_______________|________|________|________|________|________|________| | |
|Specific gravity 0.5923 0.56 | |_____________________________________________________________________|

Petroleum is composed of about 85 per cent of carbon and 15 per cent of nitrogen.


1. Petrolia, Canada.
2. West Bloomfield, N.Y.
3. Olean, N.Y.
4. Fredonis, N.Y.
5. Pioneer Run, Venango Co., Pa.
6. Burn’s Well, near St. Joe., Butler Co., Pa. 7. Harvey Well, Butler Co., Pa.
8. Cherry Tree, Indiana Co., Pa.
9. Leechburg, Pa.
10. Creighton, Pa.
11. Penn Fuel Co.’s Well, Murraysville, Pa. 12. Fuel Gas Co.’s Well, Murraysville.
13. Roger’s Gulch, Wirt Co., W. Va. 14. Gas from Marsh Ground
15. Baku, on the Caspian Sea.
16. Gas occluded in Wigan cannel-coal. 17. Blower in coal-mine. South Wales.


1. Chiefly marsh-gas with ethane and some carbonic acid. 4. A mixture of marsh-gas, ethane and butane. 5. Chiefly propane, with small quantities of carbonic acid and nitrogen.
10. Trace of heavy hydrocarbons.
11. Marsh-gas, with a little carbonic acid. 13. Chiefly marsh-gas, with small quantities of nitrogen and 15.86 per cent
carbonic acid.


1. Fouqué, “Comptes Rendus,” lxvii, p. 1045. 2. H. Wurtz, “Am. Jour. Arts and Sci.” (2), xlix, p. 336. 3. Robert Young.
4. Fouqué, “Comptes Rendus,” lxvii. p. 1045. 5. Fouqué, “Comptes Rendus,” lxvii. p. 1045. 6. S.P. Sadler, “Report L, 2d Geol. Sur. Pa.,” p. 153. 7. S.P. Sadler, “Report L, 3d Geol. Sur. Pa.,” p. 152. 8. S.P. Sadler, “Report L, 3d Geol. Sur. Pa.,” p. 153. 9. S.P. Sadler, “Report L, 3d Geol. Sur. Pa.,” p. 153. 10. F.C. Phillips.
11. Robert Young.
12. Rogers.
13. Fouqué, “Comptes Rendus,” lxvii, p. 1045. 14. Bischof’s Chemical Geology,” I, p. 730. 15. Bischof’s Chemical Geology,” I, p. 730. 16. J.W. Thomas, London, “Chemical Society’s Journal,” 1876, p. 793. 17. Same, 1875, p. 793.

* * * * *



The mineral asbestos is but a very poor packing material in steam-boilers. Moreover, it acts as a strong grinding material on all moving parts.

For some years I have tested the applicability of artificial precipitates to close the holes in boilers, cylinder-covers, and stuffing boxes. I took, generally with the best success, alternate layers of hemp-cotton, thread, and absorbent paper, all well saturated with the chlorides of calcium and magnesium. The next layers of the same fiber are moistened with silicate of soda. By pressure the fluids are mixed and the pores are closed. A stuffing box filled with this mixture has worked three years without grinding the piston-rod.

In the same manner I close the screw-thread hole in gas tubes used for conducting steam. I moisten the thread in the sockets with oleic acid from the candle-works, and dust over it a mixture of 1 part of minium, 2 parts of quick-lime, and 1 part of linseed powder (without the oil). When the tube is screwed in the socket, the powder mixes with the oleic acid. The water coming in at first makes the linseed powder viscid. Later the steam forming the oleate of lime and the oleate of lead, on its way to the outer air, presses it in the holes and closes them perfectly.

After a year in use the tubes can be unscrewed with ease, and the screw threads are perfectly smooth.

With this kind of packing only one exception must be made–that is, it is only tight under pressure; condensation or vacuum must be thoroughly avoided.–_Chem. News_.

* * * * *


In answer to various inquiries concerning the manufacture of this article, we give herewith the process of William Henry Balmain, the original discoverer of luminous paint, and also other processes. These particulars are derived from the letters patent granted in this country to the parties named.

Balmain’s invention was patented in England in 1877, and in this country in 1882. It is styled as Improvements in Painting, Varnishing, and Whitewashing, of which the following is a specification:

The said invention consists in a luminous paint, the body of which is a phosphorescent compound, or is composed in part of such a compound, and the vehicle of which is such as is used as the vehicle in ordinary paint compounds, viz., one which becomes dry by evaporation or oxidation.

The objector article to which such paint or varnish or wash is applied is itself rendered visible in the darkest place, and more or less capable of imparting light to other objects, so as to render them visible also. The phosphorescent substance found most suitable for the purpose is a compound obtained by simply heating together a mixture of lime and sulphur, or carbonate of lime and sulphur, or some of the various substances containing in themselves both lime and sulphur–such, for example, as alabaster, gypsum, and the like–with carbon or other agent to remove a portion of the oxygen contained in them, or by heating lime or carbonate of lime in a gas or vapor containing sulphur.

The vehicle to be used for the luminous paint must be one which will dry by evaporation or oxidation, in order that the paint may not become soft or fluid by heat or be liable to be easily rubbed off by accident or use from the articles to which it has been applied. It may be any of the vehicles commonly used in oil-painting or any of those commonly used in what is known as “distemper” painting or whitewashing, according to the place or purpose in or for which the paint is to be used.

It is found the best results are obtained by mixing the phosphorescent substance with a colorless varnish made with mastic or other resinous body and turpentine or spirit, making the paint as thick as convenient to apply with a brush, and with as much turpentine or spirit as can be added without impairing the required thickness. Good results may, however, be obtained with drying oils, spirit varnishes, gums, pastes, sizes, and gelatine solutions of every description, the choice being varied to meet the object in view or the nature of the article in hand.

The mode of applying the paint, varnish, or wash will also depend upon the circumstances of the case. For example, it may be applied by a brush, as in ordinary painting, or by dipping or steeping the article in the paint, varnish, or wash; or a block or type may be used to advantage, as in calico-printing and the like. For outdoor work, or wherever the surface illuminated is exposed to the vicissitudes of weather or to injury from mechanical contingencies, it is desirable to cover it with glass, or, if the article will admit of it, to glaze it over with a flux, as in enameling, or as in ordinary pottery, and this may be accomplished without injury to the effect, even when the flux or glaze requires a red heat for fusion.

Among other applications of the said invention which may be enumerated, it is particularly advantageous for rendering visible clock or watch faces and other indicators–such, for example, as compasses and the scales of barometers or thermometers–during the night or in dark places during the night time. In applying the invention to these and other like purposes there may be used either phosphorescent grounds with dark figures or dark grounds and phosphorescent figures or letters, preferring the former. In like manner there may be produced figures and letters for use on house-doors and ends of streets, wherever it is not convenient or economical to have external source of light, signposts, and signals, and names or marks to show entries to avenues or gates, and the like.

The invention is also applicable to the illumination of railway carriages by painting with phosphorescent paint a portion of the interior, thus obviating the necessity for the expense and inconvenience of the use of lamps in passing through tunnels. It may also be applied externally as warning-lights at the front and end of trains passing through tunnels, and in other similar cases, also to ordinary carriages, either internally or externally. As a night-light in a bed-room or in a room habitually dark, the application has been found quite effectual, a very small proportion of the surface rendered phosphorescent affording sufficient light for moving about the room, or for fixing upon and selecting an article in the midst of a number of complicated scientific instruments or other objects.

The invention may also be applied to private and public buildings in cases where it would be economical and advantageous to maintain for a short time a waning or twilight, so as to obviate the necessity for lighting earlier the gas or other artificial light. It may also be used in powder-mills and stores of powder, and in other cases where combustion or heat would be a constant source of danger, and generally for all purposes of artificial light where it is applicable.

In order to produce and maintain the phosphorescent light, full sunshine is not necessary, but, on the contrary, is undesirable. The illumination is best started by leaving the article or surface exposed for a short time to ordinary daylight or even artificial light, which need not be strong in order to make the illumination continue for many hours, even twenty hours, without, the necessity of renewed exposure.

The advantages of the invention consist in obtaining for the purposes of daily life a light which is maintained at no cost whatever, is free from the defects and contingent dangers arising from combustion or heat, and can be applied in many cases where all other sources of light would be inconvenient or incapable of application.

Heretofore phosphorus has been mixed with earthy oxides, carbonates, and sulphates, and with oxides and carbonates of metal, as tin, zinc, magnesia, antimony, and chlorides of the same, also crystallized acids and salts and mineral substances, and same have been inclosed and exhibited in closely-stopped bottles as a phosphorus; but such union I do not claim; but what I claim is:

A luminous paint, the body of which is a phosphorescent substance, or composed in part of such substance, the vehicle of which is such as is ordinarily used in paints, viz., one which will become dry by oxidation or evaporation, substantially as herein described.

A. Krause, of Buffalo, N.Y., obtained a patent for improvement in phosphorescent substances dated December 30, 1879. The patentee says: This invention relates to a substance which, by exposure to direct or indirect sun-light, or to artificial light, is so affected or brought into such a peculiar condition that it will emit rays of light or become luminous in the dark.

It is a well-known fact that various bodies and compositions of matter, more especially compositions containing sulphur in combination with earthy salts, possess the property of emitting rays of light in the dark after having been exposed to sun-light. All of these bodies and compositions of matter are, however, not well adapted for practical purposes, because the light emitted by them is either too feeble to be of any practicable utility, or because the luminous condition is not of sufficient duration, or because the substances are decomposed by exposure to the atmosphere.

Among the materials which have been employed with the best results for producing these luminous compositions are sea-shells, especially oyster-shells. I have found by practical experiments that only the inner surface of these shells is of considerable value in the production of luminous compositions, while the body of the shell, although substantially of the same chemical composition, does not, to any appreciable extent, aid in producing the desired result. It follows from this observation that the smallest shells, which contain the largest surface as compared with their cubic contents, will be best adapted for this purpose.

I have found that chalk, which is composed of the shells of microscopic animals, possesses the desired property in the highest degree; and my invention consists, therefore, of a luminous substance composed of such chalk, sulphur, and bismuth, as will be hereinafter fully set forth.

In preparing my improved composition I take cleaned or precipitated chalk, and subject it to the process of calcination in a suitable crucible over a clear coal or charcoal fire for three or four hours, or thereabout. I then add to the calcined chalk about one-third of its weight of sulphur, and heat the mixture for from forty-five to ninety minutes, or thereabout. A small quantity of bismuth, in the proportion of about one per cent, or less of the mixture, is added together with the sulphur.

The metal may be introduced in the metallic form in the shape of fillings, or in the form of a carbonate, sulphuret, sulphate, or sulphide, or oxide, as may be most convenient.

The substance produced in this manner possesses the property of emitting light in the dark in a very high degree. An exposure to light of very short duration, sometimes but for a moment, will cause the substance to become luminous and to remain in this luminous condition, under favorable circumstances, for upward of twenty-four hours.

The intensity of the light emitted by this composition after exposure is considerable, and largely greater than the light produced by any of the substances heretofore known.

The hereinbefore described substance may be ground with oil and used like ordinary paint; or it may be ground with any suitable varnish or be mixed in the manner of water colors; or it may be employed in any other suitable and well-known manner in which paints are employed.

My improved luminous substance is adapted for a great variety of uses–for instance, for painting business and other signs, guide boards, clock and watch dials, for making the numbers on houses and railway cars, and for painting all surfaces which are exposed periodically to direct or indirect light and desired to be easily seen during the night.

When applied with oil or varnish, my improved luminous substance can be exposed to the weather in the same manner as ordinary paint without suffering any diminution of its luminous property. I claim as my invention the herein described luminous substance, consisting of calcined chalk, sulphur, and bismuth, substantially as set forth.

Merrill B. Sherwood, Jr., of Buffalo, N. Y., obtained a patent for a phosphorescent composition, dated August 9, 1881.

The author says: My invention relates to an improvement in phosphorescent illuminants.

I have taken advantage of the peculiar property which obtains in many bodies of absorbing light during the day and emitting it during the night time.

The object of my invention is the preparation by a prescribed formula, to be hereinafter given, of a composition embodying one of the well-known phosphorescent substances above referred to, which will be applicable to many practical uses.

With this end in view my invention consists in a phosphorescent composition in which the chief illuminating element is monosulphide of calcium.

The composition obtained by the formula may be used either in a powdered condition by dusting it over articles previously coated, in whole or in part, with an adhesive substance, or it may be intimately mixed with paints, inks, or varnishes, serving as vehicles for its application, and in this way be applied to bodies to render them luminous.

The formula for obtaining the composition is as follows: To one hundred parts of unslaked lime, that obtained from calcined oyster shells producing the best results, add five parts of carbonate of magnesia and five parts of ground silex. Introduce these elements into a graphite or fire-clay crucible containing forty parts of sulphur and twenty-five parts of charcoal, raise the whole mass nearly or quite to a white heat, remove from the fire, allow it to cool slowly, and, when it is cold or sufficiently lowered in temperature to be conveniently handled, remove it from the crucible and grind it. The method of reducing the composition will depend upon the mode of its use. If it is to be applied as a loose powder by the dusting process, it should be simply ground dry; but if it is to be mixed with paint or other similar substance, it should be ground with linseed or other suitable oil. In heating the elements aforesaid, certain chemical combinations will have taken place, and monosulphide of calcium, combined with carbonate of lime, magnesia, and silex, will be the result of such ignition.

If, in the firing of the elements, as above set forth, all of the charcoal does not unite with the other elements, such uncombined portion should be removed from the fused mass before it is ground.

If it is designed to mix the composition with paints, those composed of zinc-white and baryta should be chosen in preference to those composed of white lead and colored by vegetable matter, as chemical action will take place between the composition and paint last mentioned, and its color will be destroyed or changed by the gradual action of the sulphureted hydrogen produced. However, by the addition of a weak solution of gum in alcohol or other suitable sizing to the composition, it may be used with paints containing elements sensitive to sulphureted hydrogen without danger of decomposing them and destroying their color.

In many, and possibly in a majority of cases, the illuminating composition applied as a dry powder will give the most satisfactory results, in view of the tendency to chemical action between the paint and composition when intimately mixed; in view of the fact that by the addition to paint of any color of a sufficient quantity of the composition to render the product luminous, the original color of the paint will be modified or destroyed; and, also, in view of the fact that the illuminating composition is so greatly in excess of the paint, the proportions in which they are united being substantially ten parts of the former to one of the latter, it will be difficult to impart a particular color to the product of the union without detracting from its luminosity. On the other hand, the union of dry powder with a body already painted by the simple force of adhesion does not establish a sufficiently intimate relation between it and the paint to cause chemical action, the application of a light coat of powder does not materially change the color of the article to which it is applied; and, further, by the use of the powder in an uncombined state its greatest illuminating effects are obtained. Again, if the appearance in the daytime of the article which it is desired to have appear luminous at night is not material, it may be left unpainted and simply sized to retain the powder.

In printing it is probable that the composition will be employed almost exclusively in the form of dry powder, as printing-ink, normally pasty, becomes too thick to be well handled when it is combined with powder in sufficient quantity to render the printed surface luminous. However, the printed surface of a freshly printed sheet may be rendered luminous by dusting the sheet with powder, which will adhere to all of the inked and may be easily shaken from the unmoistened surfaces thereof.

I am aware that monosulphide of calcium and magnesia have before been used together in phosphorescent compounds. What I claim is a phosphorescent composition consisting of monosulphide of calcium, combined with carbonate of lime, magnesia, and silex, substantially as described.

Orlando Thowless, of Newark, N.J., obtained a patent for a process of manufacturing phosphorescent substances dated November 8, 1881. The inventor says: The object of my invention is to manufacture phosphorescent materials of intense luminosity at low cost and little loss of materials.

I first take clam shells and, after cleaning, place them in a solution composed of about one part of commercial nitric acid and three parts of water, in which the shells are allowed to remain about twenty minutes. The shells are then to be well rinsed in water, placed in a crucible, and heated to a red heat for about four hours. They are then removed and placed, while still red-hot, in a saturated solution of sea salt, from which they are immediately removed and dried. After this treatment and exposure to light the shells will have a blood-red luminous appearance in the dark. The shells thus prepared are used with sulphur and the phosphide and sulphide of calcium to produce a phosphorescent composition, as follows: One hundred parts, by weight, of the shells, prepared as above, are intimately mixed with twenty parts, by weight, of sulphur. This mixture is placed in a crucible or retort and heated to a white heat for four or five hours, when it is to be removed and forty parts more of sulphur, one and one-half parts of calcium phosphide, and one-half part of chemically pure sulphide of calcium added. The mixture is then heated for about ninety minutes to an extreme white heat. When cold, and after exposure to light, this mixture will become luminous. Instead of these two ignitions, the same object may be in a measure accomplished by the addition of the full amount of sulphur with the phosphide and sulphide of calcium and raising it to a white heat but once. The calcium phosphide is prepared by igniting phosphorus in connection with newly slaked lime made chemically pure by calcination. The condition of the shells when the sulphur is added is not material; but the heat renders them porous and without moisture, so that they will absorb the salt to as great an extent as possible. Where calcined shells are mixed with solid salt, the absorbing power of the shells is greatly diminished by the necessary exposure, and there will be a lack of uniformity in the saturation. On the contrary, by plunging the red-hot shells in the saline solution the greatest uniformity is attained.

Instead of using clam shells as the base of my improved composition, I may use other forms of sea shells–such as oyster shells, etc.

I claim as new:

1. The herein described process of manufacturing phosphorescent materials, which consists in heating sea shells red-hot, treating them while heated with a bath of brine, then, after removal from the bath, mixing sulphur and phosphide and sulphide of calcium therewith, and finally subjecting the mixture to a white heat, substantially as and for the purpose described.

2. The described process, which consists in placing clean and red-hot clam shells in a saturated solution of sea salt, and then drying them, for the purpose specified.

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[Footnote: Prize essay written for the International Forestry Exhibition, Edinburgh.]

By JOHN R. JACKSON. A.L.S., Curator of the Museums, Royal Gardens, Ken.

The importance of the discovery of a hard, compact, and even grained wood, having all the characteristics of boxwood, and for which it would form an efficient substitute, cannot be overestimated; and if such