Images de page
PDF
ePub

THE

STE A M-ENGINE;

BEING A POPULAR DESCRIPTION OF THB

CONSTRUCTION AND ACTION OF THAT ENGINE;

WITH

A SKETCH OF ITS HISTORY, AND OF THE LAWS OF HEAT

AND PNEUMATICS.

ILLU BTRATED BY A NUMBER OF WOOD ENGRAVINGS.

BY HUGO REID,
LECTURER ON CHEMISTRY, ETC.

"Water being evaporated by the force of fire, the vapour shortly acquires a greater space (near two
thousand times) than the water occupied before ; and, was it to be always confined, would burst a piece
of cannon. But, being well regulated according to the laws of gravity, and reduced by science to mer-
sure, weight, and balance, then they carry their burdens peaceably, (like good horses,) and thus become
of great service to mankind."-MORLAND, 1683.

EDINBURGH:
WILLIAM TAIT, 78, PRINCE'S STREET ;
J. M'LEOD, GLASGOW; SIMPKIN, MARSHALL, & Co., LONDON;

AND JOHN CUMMING, DUBLIN.

MDCCCXXXVIII.

[blocks in formation]
[ocr errors][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small]

The Steam-Engine is so interesting a subject-from the extent and variety of its applications, the great power with which it has armed mankind, the varied forms in which it meets us at every turn, the singular ingenuity of its construction, the beautiful mechanical contrivances which it presents, and the many great' laws of nature which it illustrates—that there are few who do not desire some knowledge of its structure and mode of action.

The present work is designed to furnish to the gen. eral reader such an account of this great machine as may be easily understood by those who are previously unacquainted with the subject. The general laws of Heat and PNEUMATICS, on which the action of the engine depends, are fully detailed ; its construction and mode of action are minutely explained, so that, with the aid of the figures, it may be readily understood, even by those who have never seen an engine ; and the different forms into which the engine is thrown, to fit it for its various applications, are separately described. A sketch of its origin and progress

*

is given, as every one must be desirous to know something of the history of an invention, second only to that of Printing in the magnitude of the results which have flowed from it, and far surpassing that operation in the genius displayed in its conception, and the points of interest it offers to the intelligent observer.

It is hoped that this little work may furnish the general reader with all that he requires on the subject of the Steam-Engine, and enable him, when he meets one, to observe its motions with that interest and enjoyment which a knowledge of its structure is calculated to impart. The author trusts, also, that it may be useful, as an introduction or guide, to smooth the path for those who intend to prosecute the study more fully.

Since the remarks in the text on the explosion of Steam-boilers were printed, two explosions, both attended with fatal results, have taken place in steamvessels in this country_in the Victoria, at London, on the 14th instant; and, on the same day, in the JAMES GALLACHER, at Renfrew Ferry, on the Clyde. We trust that there will be a thorough investigation of the causes of these fatal occurrences. If it be such an inquiry as the case demands, in order to elicit everything that may aid in preventing such occurrences in future, we can hardly think it will terminate

in the usual very satisfactory result, that no blame can "be attached to any party concerned. There must be neglect somewhere. Steam is well known to be a good servant but a bad master. But it need never be master. It is not like a wild untrained animal, with an independent and capricious will of its own, and whose motions cannot be calculated. Steam is far more manageable than the best trained and most naturally docile animal. It is called into existence by the will of man, there is no mystery about its action, it is perfectly under his control, can be increased or diminished in its strength at a moment's warning, and there is a perfect knowledge of all the circumstances from which variation in its power can arise. Any one who has attended to the subject knows, that a few simple contrivances would render explosions impossible; and it is disgraceful that such an occurrence as the explosion of a steam-boiler should ever take place.

But explosions have occurred, and are still occurring. After what has happened, we think most persons will feel that adequate securities must be provided now; and that, to ensure these, there must be a vigilant control by some public authority. There is a Dean of Guild, to inspect buildings in towns, and enforce proper repairs, or even cause houses to be pulled down, if regarded as unsafe. There is need of a Dean of Guild for the waters; more especially when so dangerous an element as steam is to be guarded against. Parliament moves slowly. But, in most cases, local boards may do all that is requisite. Would not

« PrécédentContinuer »