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GRAFTON'S EARTHEN GAS RETORTS. The notice taken in our recent review plan ; and to such an extent did this proceed, of “ Books on Gas Lighting," of the that in one of the principal gas works of the successful substitution of earthen retorts metropolis, where six of the largest ovens of for the more common ones of iron, has led this description were set up at a great cost, to our being favoured with numerous en a plot was almost simultaneously laid for quiries for some further information re

their destruction, which soon produced the

effect desired by the contrivers. The same specting the mode of constructing and fitting them up. For the satisfaction

fate attended two of the retorts erected at therefore of the enquirers, and in the

Montpelier, where they were wilfully de

stroyed. It is but justice to add, that the hope of promoting the more general

directors of both companies afforded Mr. adoption of what appears from every Grafton every advantage and facility for a account to be a most useful invention, fair trial, and in the first instance, offered a we extract from Mr. Clegg's Treatise large reward for the discovery of the persons the following additional details, as also who had designed and occasioned the loss. the accompanying engravings (on a re I mention this as an example out of many, duced scale) ; but we would advise parties to show that new inventions, however vadesirous of erecting retorts on this plan, luable, which profess to make great changes, to apply for the professional aid of the rarely meet with encouragement in the first inven or, Mr. J. Grafton (Gas Works,

instance. As a further proof of this remark, Cambridge,) or Mr. Clegg himself. Fig. I may notice the long time lost before the 1 of the engravings is a longitudinal sec

immense advantages offered by the meter to tion of a set of these retorts, with the

gas companies were acknowledged or apprewell-known hydraulic valve of Mr. Clegg,

ciated. At Manchester, one of the most sen., attached ; fig. 2, a transverse sec

enlightened towns in the kingdom for me.

chanical and chemical science, this valuable tiun through the line A. B.

instrument was for a long time expressly Mr. Clegg's Description.

forbidden to be used, although five years af. The first idea of adopting fire-clay as a terwards the directors were compelled to substitute for metal in the construction of acknowledge that the great success of the retorts occurred to Mr. Grafton in the year Manchester works was chiefly attributable to 1820, when he took out a patent for the in the meter. vention; the first of them erected in this In England and Scotland the fire clay kingdom was at the manufactory of Messrs. retort has superseded the use of metal in no Butcher, in Wolverhampton. This retort less than forty towns; in some instances it was of the square form, but it was soon has lasted for the extraordinary period of after altered to the oven, or D-shape, which twelve years; while, during this time, at all form has been adopted ever since, as shown other works where the invention is not yet in the engravings ; large numbers have been used, it may be asserted that iron retorts put up under his direction in different parts have been renewed as many times. The of this kingdom and in several towns on the oven, or D-shaped retorts are found to be continent.

the most advantageous, being made with a The reader will fully understand their capacity to carbonize 1 cwt. of coal every plan of construction from the engravings, hour. They can be constructed either to be which require no description, except that I heated by coke ovens, or coke furnaces, or may remark, that the bottom is exposed di. by the burning of tar ; with coke orens they rectly to the heat of the fire, and is slightly are more durable, “ cambered," or curved upwards, to enable One practical point must be observed, it with more certainty to retain its form. that clay retorts of small dimensions are lesg The cement with which the parts of the oven economical than those of larger size, owing are jointed is a composition which Mr. to the great per centage of fuel required Grafton has been at much pains to render to keep them at a proper temperature for perfect, but he has not favoured me with the decomposing the coal. The advantage of materials of which it is formed. It seems using the latter description of distilling vesto be an excellent substance, and when the sel is simply a question of profit and loss; or, interior is coated with it, becomes vitrified whether it was cheaper to burn iron or coal. and quite gas-tight under considerable pres The material of which they are formed is a

non-conductor of heat, consequently, the abDuring the first seven years after their sorption of caloric is less rápid ; and al. introduction, great prejudice and opposition though they retain their heat when a fresh from interested bodies existed against this charge is introduced better than iron retorts,


[merged small][merged small][merged small][graphic]

yet not sufficiently to bring down the quan lumns for supporting them are 6s. each, and tity of fuel as low as that required for each retort finished costs 31. 4s. The mouth. metal. Notwithstanding this, even small clay pieces are cast metal, and fastened to the retorts are preferred in many places, par. end of the retorts by bolts and flanches, as ticularly in Scotland. Mr. James Reid, of in the ordinary description, and jointed with the Montrose Gas Works, has favoured me fire-clay and iron cement. The retorts are with the following description of the earthen made in two lengths, and are jointed by a retorts:

body of fire-clay well diluted with water. “We have had clay retorts in operation The most economical plan for erecting them for the last three years, and from the great is to set them three under one arch, heated difference in price compared with that of by one fire. Their only drawback is, that iron retorts of the same size, and from the when the heat is let down, they contract unimmense superiority over metal in working evenly on cooling, and are liable to leak them, we have entirely given up the use of when again required for distillation ; they the latter. I tried the retorts in the shape generally last two years." of an ellipsis in the D and circular form, Clay retorts have been used some years and find the cylindrical to be the best adapt. by Mr. Eunson, of Wolverhampton, with suc. ed for carbonizing the coal effectually. The cess, the cost of material for setting an oven size I find best adapted to all purposes, is being under 21. The retorts are circular, 8 feet long, 14 inches diameter, and 4 inches and made in joints of 32 inches long. 1° thick : such a retort costs at Inverkatling, several places these retorts are made at the or Clakmannan 21. 68.; the pillars, or co works.

I am,


mingled with it? And where is the Sir,-Knowing that your scientific pub- good housewife who would not prefer lication is open to every subject connected water pure and clear, for the purposes of with public utility, I could wish to ad washing, cleaning, &c., rather than the dress you concerning an invention which brown or yellow muddy stuff which somehas of late attracted my attention. Last times presents itself under the name of summer I heard much of a design pro water? Do we not hear continually such posed by an ingenious and scientific complaints as these, “ The water is so foreigner for purifying the water of bad we cannot drink it"-" The water is the metropolis by means of filtration, so muddy it is not fit for use." I think, on a plan of far greater magnitude therefore, when means are proposed by than has hitherto been attempted. He which those inconveniences might be has succeeded beyond all doubt in de avoided, they ought to be seriously and monstrating the reality of his plan, and properly attended to, and if proved to be evinced by experiments, made in the as excellent in practice as in theory, presence of approved judges, the practi- general utility and comfort require that cability and sure success of his invention. they should forthwith be rendered avail. But just when every thing appeared in able, train for the realization of his magnifi Trusting that this letter may be the cent project, the matter seems to have means of directing attention to the subbeen laid aside. Whence does this arise ? ject,

Sir, Is the obtaining of pure water a matter

Your very obedient servant, of such trivial importance that it can be

BARTLE CANHAM. viewed with indifference, especially too, London, May 31, 1842. in this water-drinking age? It has been [We recollect having heard some very justly said that “water is so essential surprising accounts of the system of filtraboth to the animal and vegetable creation, tion alluded to by Mr. Canham about a year either for aliment or other purposes, that ago, but from nothing coming of it, we were its importance probably surpasses that of led to set it down in our minds as one of every other substance amongst the great those nine days' wonders of which the arts exuberance bestowed by the beneficent and sciences are so notoriously prolific. Author of nature. The health, comfort,

If there be really any merit in the inrenand enjoyment of mankind, constantly

tion, and the present enquiry should happen require a plentiful supply, and therefore

to meet the eye of the inventor, we shall be if utility be a just criterion of value, the

happy to assist him in bringing it once

more under the notice of the public. The inventions and operations to furnish it

purification of the water of the metropolis readily, and abundantly in a clear and

is still a great desideratum.-Ed. M. M.] salubrious state, would seem to be entitled to peculiar attention.” Is it the additional expense that makes the companies fear to adopt any plan which must necessarily lead to the augmentation of Sir,- Nearly all men are agreed that the water rate ? If the plan suggested the power of steam will some day be suinvolved any large addition to the rate perseded by a newly applied expansive already imposed, that might furnish a force, such as condensed air can supply. plausible reason for delaying to adopt this The usual question has been—"by what valuable invention; but I am told that power will you condense the atmosphere the scientific projector proposes so small independent of human labour or steam ?" an augmentation that, even in these eco. and my reply was usually-" by some nomical days, it ought not to induce a mo ingenious application of the force of gunment's demur. Some will say that the powder, or the materials of which it is quantity of pure water absolutely requi compounded." But I was never able to site in families is but small, the greater indicate in what manner that force could part of what is received being used for be applied mechanically. It has long domestic purposes, as cooking, washing, &c. been employed for murderous purposes But would our cookery be less agreeable and overwhelming cruelty in a horizontal for being assisted by water purified from all the extraneous inatter, which, owing

direction, but there appears to be no reato various causes, will inevitably become

son why its agency now should be so li. mited. A worthy friend of mine has, in



469 fact, been lately engaged with good pro Hour.

Thermometer. mise of success in trying to apply its force

65 vertically to the purpose of lifting great


65 weights in a perpendicular direction, so


65 that a power may be obtained from the fall

65 of these weights to actuate machinery-an


65 2

65 ingenious device, which I think might be employed to effect one great desideratum,

Dr. Payerne states that the only inconthe condensation of air. Here we have

venience he felt was a slight stunning the rudiments of a powerful method of

sensation on first descending in the bell, impelling vessels independent of steam,

and on emerging from it, occasioned, no and quite as easily applicable. Let praca

doubt, by the sudden transition from one tical men therefore commence a series

degree of temperature and pressure to of experiments on this principle-found

another. ed on the expansive force to be obtained

Patents for the invention are now in by the combination of sulphur and salt

the course of being applied for, and until petre; and I have no doubt, that these

they are secured, it is not to be expected would lead to the safe and easy employ

that any public disclosure of the means ment of the powers of gunpowder in con

made use of by Dr. Payerne will be densing air, which might be ejected on

made. machinery capable of impelling any ves

To demonstrate in the mean while the sel in perfect subjection to the will of the practical value of the invention by a still operator.

severer proof than any to which it has I am, Sir, your obedient servant, been yet subjected, Dr. Payerne has made G. CUMBERLAND, sen.

an offer to the Lords of the Admiralty Bristol, May 24, 1842.

to go down to any depth, in any place P.S. I some time ago communicated

they may select, and to remain constant. to a man of genius connected with our

ly submerged for the space of twentyMint, a plan for condensing air by means

four hours. We think it probable their of an instrument used in coining, but

lordships may hesitate to be consenting that would be attended with manual la.

parties to an experiment, so certain under bour.

any circumstances to be of a very trying description (for nature must require the repose of sleep under water as well as

above,) and which, for any thing yet known DR. PAYERNE's SUB-AQUEOUS EXPERI• to the public, may be full of danger; but

we may at least confidently reckon on Dr. Payerne repeated on Wednesday

their affording Dr. Payerne every facility last at the Polytechnic Institution (for and assistance within reasonable and the third time) his experiment of living prudent limits, for testing the working under water without any communication capabilities of his system. with the upper air. He descended in the bell precisely at eleven o'clock, and remained there without any other supply of VOLTAIC ELECTRICITY-EXTRAORDINARY vital air than that which he was able to

EXPERIMENTS ON THE SERPENTINE manufacture for himself (the how is the puzzling question) for three hours. The

We had the pleasure of being present temperature of the Hall at the time of Dr. P.'s descent was 74° Fahr., and a thermo

on Thursday last (the 3rd inst.) at some meter which he took down with him, and

experiments made on the Serpentine

River by Messrs. Wright and Bain, alcxamined every quarter of an hour exhibited the following changes.

ready so well known to the public for

their electrical clocks, which were proHour.

ductive of results of a singularly novel 11

67 }


and interesting character. An impres}


sion has generally prevailed that an elec66

tric current could not be transmitted by 12

wires to any considerable distance, unless 65

protected by tubing or some other cover65

ing from wet, owing to the supposed





tendency of water or moisture to inter the water, and left quite bare and unproruptor destroy the current; and so strong tected. The success of the operation has this impression been, that the chief was perfect. difficulty, as well with those who have 2. A single wire was then laid along busied themselves with the application of one bank of the river from the bridge, electricity to telegraphic purposes (Messrs. to near the south east end, a distance of Cook and Wheatstone, for example, hi about half a mile, with both ends dipping therto the most successful experimenters in the water. The rest of the galvanic in this line,) as with those willing to circuit was supposed to be completed by ayail themselves of it, has been the great the water, that is to say, it was preexpense of providing such tubing dicated that the water, indifferent conamounting to from 2501. to 3001. per ductor as it has been hitherto considered mile. Messrs. Wright and Bain having to be, would of itself serve the purpose recently turned their attention to the sub of the second wire—the immense bulk ject of electro-telegraphic communication, and extent of the body of water potwithbegan very philosophically with question- standing. Bold as this hypothesis was, ing the truth of this assumption of the we had the pleasure of witnessing its non-conductible or dispersive properties complete verification. The current was of water and moisture; and have ended transmitted through the partly liquid and with proving, beyond all dispute, that it partly metallic circuit thus formed, with is altogether fallacious!

Another re the same instantaneousness as if it had markable instance this of the serious prac consisted entirely of metal; reversed, tical blundering into which the vicious too, at pleasure; and this, times without habit of taking things for granted, is number. Passing an electric current apt to betray even the most learned of through such small jars of water as one men. As in the infancy of the railway is accustomed to see used in galvanie system, nobody imagined that smooth batteries is a comprehensible enough perwheels would ever run on smooth rails, formance; but to transmit in an instant, and nobody thought of trying whether the product of a tiny pocket apparatus they would or no; so in ihe infancy of through a jar half a mile long, a quarter electro-telegraphic communication, every of a mile broad, and containing many one has been subscribing to the absolute million millions of gallons, is, it must necessity of protecting the wires from be confessed, a thing passing all comcontact with moisture, and many have been prehension. We can but record the fact the ingenious devices and contrivances and wonder. for the purpose, whereas, the first per 3. A wire-single wire as in the last sons who try to do without any such pro case, was finally laid with one end in the tection, find to their agreeable surprise river, and the other in a well about 300 that nothing is less needed !

yards from it. The electric current was The fact, that water, in its natural passed through this circuit, with the same state, possesses in a high degree the pro- facility and success as in the other experiperty of transmitting the electric cur ments. Here there was a triune circuit rent (as well as when in the acidulated formed, consisting of the wire, water, state, in which it is used in voltaic bat and earth. teries,) was first distinctly ascertained by What the limits are to this conducting some experiments made by Messrs. Wright and Bain, at the Polytechnic In

power of water, or whether there are any stitution. But desirous of proving it on

limits at all, remains yet to be ascertained. a larger scale than that Institution ad All that Messrs. Wright and Bain seek mitted of, they applied for, and obtained to deduce from their experiments at permission from the Duke of Sussex, the Ranger of Hyde Park, to make the ex

present is, the important fact that the wires periments on the Serpentine River, to

of electro telegraphs do not, as has been which we before alluded, and which we imagined, require to be insulated from shall now proceed briefly to describe. damp, and that the expense of enclosing

1. An electric current was first transmitted from a sinall Grove's battery

them in pipes, need therefore be no longer across the river from bank to bank,

an obstacle to their general introduction. through two copper wires immersed in

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