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Note: This is a sub-section of 1875 Institution of Mechanical Engineers
Visits to Works (Excursions) in the Manchester area
In the afternoon the Members visited the works of Sir Joseph Whitworth and Co., where they witnessed the testing of an experimental cylinder of fluid compressed steel by exploding in it for the forty-ninth time 1.5lb. of gunpowder, the only escape for the gases being through a vent 0.1 inch diameter; after these tests the cylinder although slightly enlarged remained perfectly sound. A specimen of fluid compressed steel was also tested under a tensile strain of 40.8 tons per sq. in., at which strain it was pulled asunder with an elongation of 32.7 per cent. A number of specimens were shown of the various descriptions of engineering work, guns and projectiles, made of the steel, including the large screw-propeller shaft referred to at the meeting. The mould boxes and hydraulic presses employed for compressing the fluid metal were shown, together with the hydraulic forging press taking the place of the steam hammer, and also the hydraulic lifting tackle traversing overhead for handling the casting ladle and the forging work.
The Members visited the Mayfield Print Works and the Broughton Copper Works; and the following Works were also opened to their visit:—
In the evening the Members were entertained at Dinner at the Royal Exchange, by the Society for the Promotion of Scientific Industry. Afterwards the Newspaper Printing Offices were opened to the visit of the Members, and the printing machinery was seen at work.
On Thursday, 29th July, an Excursion was made by the Members by special train to Hyde, Oldham, and Rochdale.
At Hyde Junction, Messrs. Adamson's Engineering Works were visited, where a number of steel and iron boilers were seen in manufacture, with the rivet holes all drilled after the bending and fitting of the plates. The process of flanging the flue plates by rolling was seen, and the welding of boiler flues and shells by means of steam hammers, and the welding of conical tubes in the flues. Various steam engines were in course of construction, including a pair of vertical direct-acting blowing engines with 72 inch blowing cylinders.
In the two adjacent cotton mills of the Newton Moor Cotton Spinning Co. were seen the triple and quadruple horizontal compound engines constructed by Messrs. Adamson for driving the whole of the machinery. The first, erected in 1862, has three cylinders on the same piston-rod, the diameters being 16, 22, and 38 in., and the stroke 6 ft.; the steam enters the first cylinder at a pressure of 80 lb. per sq. in., and the third cylinder at about atmospheric pressure the engine makes 33 rev. per min., and a second similar engine is coupled at right angles, the pair driving about 670 Ind. H. P. The other engine, erected in 1874 and driving about 550 Ind. H. P., has four cylinders, in two pairs coupled at right angles; two cylinders are on each piston-rod, the first two 17 and 22.5in. diameter, and the second two 301 and 42 in.; the stroke is 5 ft., and the engine makes 43 rev. per min.; the initial steam pressure is 96 lb. per sq. in. in the first cylinder, and about 1 lb. in the last, the vacuum in this cylinder being 12 lb. per sq. in.; the steam is superheated in its passage from the second to the third and from the third to the fourth cylinder by means of a casing filled with fresh boiler steam.
Messrs. Bradbury and Co.'s Sewing-Machine Works at Oldham were then visited, where every operation in the manufacture of sewing machines was shown, from the metal casting and the sawing up of the logs of walnut and mahogany, to the silver and nickel plating and ornamenting of the finished machines. The sewing machines are made with the whole of the parts constructed upon the interchangeable system, and exact duplicate work is ensured by a number of special tools.
At Messrs. Platt Bros. and Co.'s Works at Oldham the manufacture was seen of the various descriptions of machinery used in cotton spinning and cotton and woollen manufactures; one room alone in the works contained as many as 300 lathes in full operation, boring, turning, and planishing the various descriptions of work, several of them being 4-spindle lathes, operating simultaneously upon four sets of wheels, pulleys, &c. In the loom-making shop the loom frames are erected and fitted up complete, the woodwork required in their construction being prepared in an adjoining shop.
In the forge, crank shafts up to 1.75in. diameter are shaped hot by three blows of a steam hammer with successive dies; the shafts for the spinning machinery are straightened in a machine having three rollers, between which the shafts are made to traverse. The rolling-mill engine of 100 H. P. drives the roll trains through a leather belt 34 in. wide, made up of three widths. In the moulding and casting shop a large number of moulding machines are employed for producing the great variety of small spur and bevil gearing required in large quantities; the casting ladles and mould boxes are conveyed through the shop by hydraulic cranes.
At these works was seen still in use one of the first steel boilers made in this country; it is constructed of Howell's homogeneous metal, and has now been seventeen years in work, at a pressure of about 70 lb. per sq. in. In the brick-making department the manufacture of dry-clay bricks was seen in full operation with the pair of stamping presses described at a previous meeting (see Proceedings Inst. M. E. 1859 page 42); in continuous working five million bricks are produced per year from each press, and these are wheeled direct from the press into the kiln for burning, no previous drying being required. The Members were invited to refreshments at Messrs. Platt's and Messrs. Bradbury's Works.
At Messrs. Robinson's Wood Machinery Works at Rochdale a great variety of wood-working machines were seen in operation, including the planing and moulding machine and the horizontal single-bladed saw described in the paper read at the meeting, and also the American dovetailing machine described at a former meeting (see Proceedings Inst. 31. E. 1868 page 81). The manufacture on an extensive scale of doors and window frames and other joiners' work was seen; as well as the manufacture of the various wood-working machines, which are here made in large numbers, and fitted up complete with the driving engines ready for use. The Members were entertained at luncheon in the Town Hall, Rochdale, by Mr. John Robinson.
On returning to Manchester in the evening the Members visited the New Town Hall works in progress and partly completed, containing all the municipal offices, including those of the Corporation Water works and Gas works, and extending over an area of 359 ft. length and 326 ft. width.
On Friday, 30th July, an Excursion was made by the Members by special train to visit Messrs. Beyer Peacock and Co.'s Locomotive Works, and the Locomotive Works and Steel Works of the Manchester Sheffield and Lincolnshire Railway at Gorton; also the Manchester Corporation Water Works at Woodhead and Hadfield.
At Messrs. Beyer Peacock and Co.'s Locomotive Works the whole of the shops are on the ground floor, and are so laid out that the main portion of the work may pass forwards in its successive stages from one shop to the next, with the least possible expenditure of labour in shifting it from place to place; branches from a railway siding are also laid into every part of the works. In the machine shops the shafting is driven by a number of independent pairs of engines of locomotive construction, fixed vertically against the walls. A large number of locomotives were seen in various stages of construction.
At the Manchester Sheffield and Lincolnshire Railway Works, the locomotive, carriage, and wagon shops were seen; and the Bessemer steel works, where the special heating furnaces were seen, constructed with a forced draught obtained by steam jets.
The Members then visited the Manchester Corporation Water Works storage reservoirs in Longdendale; a description of these works was given at a former meeting of the Institution by the Engineer-in-Chief, Mr. Bateman (see Proceedings Inst. M. E. 1866 page 245). The area of drainage ground from which the water supply is obtained is 19,300 acres or 30 square miles, and the area of the storage reservoirs 600 acres, with a total capacity of 4,590 million gallons.
The Woodhead reservoir, which is situated 18 miles east of Manchester, near Crowden Station, is the most distant, and is at a height of 780 ft. above sea level; its area is 135 acres, and the greatest depth of water 72 ft., the storage capacity being 1,235 million gallons. The embankment forming this reservoir is 90 ft. high from the bottom of the puddle wall, and the wall was carried down into ground that was believed to be impervious to water; but after the filling of the reservoir this was found not to be the case, a gradual leakage of water making its way underneath the bottom of the puddle wall, thereby endangering the safety of the bank when the reservoir was filled more than 55 ft. deep.
In order to secure the top water capacity it became necessary therefore to construct a fresh embankment immediately outside the original one, carrying the new puddle wall down 50 ft. deeper through the debris of the millstone grit into the solid shale beneath; so that the total height of the new bank, now nearly completed, is from 140 to 160 ft., the puddle wall being concreted to a thickness varying from 23 ft. to 7 ft. The water is discharged from this reservoir into the next below by pipes 48 in. square laid through a tunnel driven in the solid hill at the end of the embankment. The sluices closing the pipes are worked by a turbine of 12 in. diameter situated at the bottom of a well 141 ft. deep, the head of water being 85 ft.
The Torside reservoir, which is the largest of the reservoirs and the next in succession, has a capacity of 1,474 million gallons, its area being 160 acres and the maximum depth of water 84 ft. Across the Crowden Brook flowing into this reservoir is constructed one of the separating weirs for separating the pure water from the turbid or flood water by a self-acting process (see Plate 86, 1866); a raised lip with accurately levelled edge is fixed along the top of the weir, and the pure water flowing over this edge with a slow velocity falls direct through a narrow slot beneath into a conduit leading to the storage reservoir or direct to Manchester; but in the case of turbid flood water, the stream having a higher velocity clears the aperture of the slot, and falls down over the outside of the weir, instead of into the pure-water conduit.
Lower down Crowden Brook is an embankment where the spring water is separated from the flood water by means of sluices worked by hand, and is turned either into the Torside storage reservoir, or into the Vale House or the Bottoms compensation reservoir, as circumstances may necessitate. At the Rhodes Wood reservoir, which is situated next below the Torside, it has been found necessary to erect a massive masonry abutment at the north end of the embankment, for supporting a land-slip still in progress at that point, and also for conveying the flood water into the new watercourse. From this reservoir the water is conveyed away by a covered conduit for the supply of Manchester, the distance being about 13 miles.
The Vale House and Bottoms reservoirs, which are next below the Rhodes Wood, store the compensation water for the supply of mill owners having water rights lower down the valley. At the Bottoms reservoir each of the 36 in. discharge valves is worked by a hydraulic cylinder supplied with water under a pressure of about 70 ft.; and immediately below the embankment is the very complete arrangement for discharging the compensation water to mill owners, by which the quantity supplied can at any time be tested (see Plates 92 to 94, 1866). The compensation water is discharged at a constant rate through apertures in a gauge plate; and at any time the discharge can be turned into a square measuring basin, whereby the actual quantity discharged during a given interval is ascertained by absolute measurement.
At the Arnfield and Hollingworth reservoirs, nearer to Manchester, into which the water supply from the Rhodes Wood reservoir is delivered, are two large aerating fountains, each throwing a 9 in. jet to a height of about 40 ft. under pressure from these reservoirs. The Members were invited to luncheon at Tintwistle near the Bottoms reservoir, by the Manchester Local Committee and friends; and returned in the evening by special train to Manchester.