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Engineers and Mechanics Encyclopedia 1839: Railways: Henry Booth

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Every circumstance relating to locomotion on railways having become of importance, nothing escapes investigation, nor attempts at melioration. Amongst the many apparently trivial matters to which attention is necessary to enable a locomotive machine to work well, is that of the lubricating substance.

The sagacity of Henry Booth, of Liverpool, has led him to effect an improvement in this respect, for which he obtained a patent on the 14th of April, 1835; which he has denominated "The Patent Axle Grease, and Lubricating Fluid." These, according to the specification, are chemical compounds of oil, tallow, or other grease, and water, effected by means of the admixture of soda or other alkaline substance, in such proportions, that the compounds shall not be of a caustic or corrosive nature, when applied to iron or steel, but of an unctuous greasy quality, easily fusible with heat, and suitable for greasing the axle-bearings of carriage wheels, or the axles, spindles, and bearings of machinery in general.

The proportions of the ingredients, and mode of compounding them, are stated to be as follow:-

“For the axletrees of carriage wheels, a solution of the common washing soda of the shops, in the proportion of half a pound of the salt, to a gallon of pure water; to one gallon of this solution, add three pounds of good clean tallow, and six pounds of palm oil. Or instead of the mixture of palm oil and tallow, add ten pounds of palm oil, or eight pounds of firsts tallow. The tallow and palm oil, or either of them, and the solution as described, must be located together, in some convenient vessel, to about 200 degrees or 210 degrees, and then the whole mass must be well stirred or mixed together, and continually agitated, until the composition be cooled down to 60 degrees or 70 degrees and have obtained the consistency of butter, in which state it is ready for use.

The patent lubricating fluid, for rubbing the parts of machinery in general, is thus made: to one gallon of the aforesaid solution of soda in water, add of rape oil, one quarter of a pound. Heat them together to about 210 degrees, and then let the fluid composition be well stirred about and agitated without intermission, until cooled down to 60 or 70 degrees when it will be of the consistence of cream. If it be desired thicker, a little addition of tallow or palm oil renders it so.


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To obviate that lateral and serpentine motion of railway carriages, arising from the ordinary construction of the "buffing apparatus," we have already, a few pages back, described the invention of Mr. Bergin. Another invention, designed to effect the same object, has been recently introduced by the intelligent Mr. Henry Booth, of Liverpool, for which that gentleman obtained letters patent dated the 23d of January, 1836.

Fig. 1, shows the mode in which railway carriages have usually been attached to each other by a simple chain, the buffers of one carriage not coming in contact with those of another, but each carriage being allowed, when moving onwards, a lateral oscillating motion.

Figs. 2 and 3, show Mr. Booth's method of connecting them; a is the connecting chain attached to the draw-bar of each carriage, and consists of a double working screw (working within two long links or shackles), the sockets of which are spirally threaded to receive the screw bolts, which are fastened together by a pin and cotter, so that by tussling the arm or lever Z of the said screws, the connecting apparatus is lengthened or shortened at pleasure, to the extent of the long links or shackles above alluded to, in which they work.

This screw-chain being placed on the hooks, or turned up ends of the carriage draw-bars d, the buffers b of each adjoining carriage being first brought close, or nearly close together, the lever Z is turned round a few times till the draw-bars d are drawn an inch or two beyond their shoulders, on the face of the carriage frame e, stretching the draw-springs, to which the draw bars are attached, to the extent of a fourth or fifth part of their elasticity; and by that degree of force attaching the buffers of the adjoining carriages together, and giving by this means, Mr. Booth states, "to a train of carriages, a combined steadiness and smoothness of motion at rapid speeds, which they have not when the buffers of each carriage are separate from those of the adjoining carriage."

w is a weight to keep the lever in a vertical position, and prevent the unscrewing of the chain when in action. The patentee does not claim under this patent the parts described, separately considered; but he claims their combination and joint action, and "the consequent close but elastic attachment of the carriages to each other, which constitutes my improvement applicable to railway carriages."

The same patent includes a very pretty and useful contrivance of this original-minded inventor, which is thus described by him:-

"And my improvement applicable to the locomotive engines which draw the railway carriages, I declare to be a new mode of checking the speed of the engine, or stopping it altogether, which is effected by introducing a throttle valve, slide, or damper, into the exhausting steam pipe of the engine commonly called the blast pipe, which is usually placed in the chimney in front of the engine, and which throttle valve may be most conveniently introduced when the two exhausting pipes are united into one below the place where the pipe is contracted in area for the purpose of producing a blast to the furnace. From the throttle valve must proceed a rod or long handle extending, through the chimney to the back part of the boiler, so as to lie within convenient reach of the engine-man, who, by moving the said handle, can close the slide or throttle valve, either partially, or altogether, as may be required. And the throttle valve need not be altogether steam-tight, but should be made to work freely in its place. The engine-man, when he wishes to stop or slacken the speed of the engine, closes or contracts his throttle valve without shutting off the steam in its passage from the boiler to the engine. The pistons, by that means, are speedily, but not suddenly or violently checked, and the driving wheels of the engine no longer revolving, or revolving very slowly, the engine is soon brought to a stand. Now I do not claim, as new, any particular kind of throttle valve, which may be left to the judgment of the engineer, provided it be so constructed that, when open, the strain may be not contracted, but may allow the steam to escape freely, as if no valve or damper were introduced. But I claim the introduction of a throttle valve or damper into the exhausting steam-pipe of a locomotive engine, by closing or contracting which, the engine-man can check or stop his engines at pleasure."

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