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Engineers and Mechanics Encyclopedia 1839: Railways: William H. Church

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The locomotive steam carriage, contrived by Dr. W. H. Church, of Birmingham, now comes under our observation. His first patent for locomotion is dated the 9th February, 1832; in this the principal novelties claimed are as follows:-

First, the frame-work, which is not to be mortised together in the usual way, but united together by L, T, flat, and other shaped iron plates or bars, bolted on each side of the wood work, to obtain strength. This frame-work, well trussed and braced, encloses a space between a hind and fore body of the carriage, and of the same height as the latter, and is to contain the engine, boiler, &c. The boiler consists of a series of vertical tubes, placed side by side, into each of which is introduced a pipe that passes through, and is secured at the bottom of the boiler tube; the interior pipe constitutes the flue; each of them first passes up through a boiler tube, and is then bent syphon-wise, and passed down another till it reaches as low, or lower, than the bottom of the fire-place, whence it passes off into a general flue in communication with an exhausting apparatus. Some other complications of tubes form a part of the arrangement, which our limits forbid us to describe.

Two fans are employed one to blow in air, and the other to draw it out; they are worked as usual by straps from the crank shaft. The wheels of the carriage are constructed with the view of rendering them to a certain degree elastic, in two different ways; first, the felloes are made of several successive layers of broad wooden hoop; and there are covered with a thin iron tire, having lateral straps to bind the hoops together; second, these binding-straps are connected by hinge joints, to a kind of flat steel springs, somewhat curved, which form the spokes of the wheels These spring spokes are intended to obviate the necessity, a great measure, of the ordinary springs, and the elasticity of the periphery is designed that the yielding of the circle shall prevent the wheel from turning without propelling!

Dr. Church, however, proposes, in addition to spring felloes, spring spokes, and the ordinary springs, to employ air springs, and for that purpose provides two or more cylinders, made fast to the body of the carriage, in a vertical position, closed at top, and furnished with a piston, with packing similar to the cap-leather packing of the hydraulic press: this piston is kept covered with oil, to preserve it in good order, and a piston-rod connects it with the supporting frame of the carriage. Motion is communicated by two steam cylinders made to oscillate, being suspended on the ends of the eduction and induction pipes over the crank shaft. The crank shaft and driving-wheel axle are connected together by means of chains passing about pitched pulleys; and there are two pairs of these pulleys, of different sizes with respect to each other, by which the power may be varied, by shifting the motion from one pair to the other, by means of clutch boxes.

Several successive patents have been taken by Dr. Church for improvements connected with locomotive carriages; but we regret to state that we have hitherto met with nothing in his arrangements which the eulogies of the press led us to hope for; but, on the contrary, most of the contrivances appear to us to be rather retrogressions than improvements in practical science. The very stale and unprofitable idea of propelling upon spheroidal wheels (made so by compression), and thus converting, in effect, a hard level surface into a constant hill, we should never have suspected to emanate from the mature and philosophic mind of the patentee.

It has been stated in the public papers, that Dr. Church's carriage has recently been tried in the streets of Birmingham, and that it performed very steadily; how far the arrangements in that carriage correspond with the description contained its the patents, we are not informed; but we suspect there must have been a radical refocus to enable the machine to work at all. A beautiful print of Dr. Church's carriage was published in Birmingham by an artist mimed Lane, a copy of which is given in the Mechanics' Magazine, No. 533.

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