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Engineers and Mechanics Encyclopedia 1839: Railways: Summers and Ogle

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Messrs. Summer and Ogle had a patent in April, 1830, for a tubular boiler, especially designed for locomotive purposes, which has already been described under our article ‘Boiler’; since that period several steam carriages have, we believe, been constructed by the patentees, in which their tubular boiler has been introduced.

We have never seen any of these machines, except the frame of one that was constructing at the premises of Mr. Hayne, the engineer, which appeared to us to be very ably designed and executed. Three vibrating cylinders were placed upon it at the back, which were to work a three-throw crank on the axis of the running wheels; and as each of these throws were 120 degrees apart, or equidistant in the circle, the conversion of the rectilineal motion into rotatory was effected with great uniformity of force.

Messrs. Summer's and Ogle's carriages were, however, seen in action upon many of our public roads by myriads of people, and the reports of their performances, in the newspapers, were generally of a very flattering description; but sometimes of an opposite character. It was our intention to have inserted some drawings and descriptions of them, which we have been promised, but their non-arrival at the time we are going to press, obliges us to omit them. In lieu of them we shall here insert the inventors' own account of the construction and performance of their carriages, as given in evidence by them before a Committee of the House of Commons in 1831.

" Mr. Nathaniel Ogle examined. - Has (in conjunction with Mr. Summers) combined the greatest heating surface in the least possible space with the strongest mechanical force, so that they work their boiler at 250 lbs. pressure of steam on the inch with perfect safety.

“Their experimental vehicle, weighing about 3 tons, has been propelled from London to Southampton, and on the roads in the vicinity of Melbrook, at various speeds. The greatest velocity obtained over rather a wet road, with patches of gravel upon it, was from 32 to 35 miles an hour, and, on a good road, could have increased that velocity to 40 miles. They have ascended a hill with a soft wet bottom, rising 1 foot in 6, but at rather a slow rate. They have ascended one of the loftiest hills near Southampton, at 16.5 miles an hour. Went from the turnpike-gate at Southampton to the 4-mile stone on the London road, a continued elevation with one very slight descent, at a rate of 24.5 miles an hour, loaded with people.

“Their present experimental boiler contains 250 superficial feet of heating surface in the space of 3 feet 8 inches high, 3 feet long, and 2 feet 4 inches broad, and weighs about 8 cwt. The two cylinders communicate by their pistons, with a crank-axle, to the ends of which either one or both wheels are affixed, as may be required One wheel is found sufficient, excepting under very difficult circumstances, and when the elevation is about 1 in 6, to impel the vehicle forward. Explosion is impossible, because the cylinders of which the boiler is composed are so small as to bear a greater pressure than could be produced by the quantity of fire beneath the boiler; and if any one of these cylinders should be injured, it would become merely a safety-valve to the rest.

“ Have never, even with the greatest pressure, burst, rent, or injured their boilers; and they have not once required cleaning, after having been twelve months in use. Work usually at a pressure of 247 lbs. on the square inch, but they have worked at a greater pressure than that. Always travel with the safety-valve on the left; when the fire is only moderately good, the steam is always blowing off, even up the steepest hills.

“The fuel they use is soft and good coke; and there is no smoke. When going at 10 miles an hour, can stop within a less space than a carriage drawn by horses can. Their present carriage has only three wheels; so that the centre or guiding wheel rolls that portion of the road which has been hitherto cut up by the action of the horses' feet. The front wheel is 4.5 inches broad in the tire; the two hind ones about 3 inches broader, that the carriage can draw double its own weight very well. Has seen nineteen persons upon it when going at the rate before mentioned.

“Thinks the injury done by steam carriages not one-half of that which is caused by horse-drawn carriages. Their wheels are cylindrical, with flat tires, and 5 feet 6 inches in diameter. Have never met with any accident; not one bolt, not one screw, has ever given way during twelve months, and under circumstances which would have destroyed any other carriage. They have, beyond all question, realized the power of propelling vehicles of any weight at any required velocity, and the remaining improvements they are engaged in regard slight details merely. Finds from experience that the larger the cylinder the better."

"Mr. W. Alltoft Summers, engineer, examined. - Has superintended the building of two steam vehicles; the lightest of the two weighed about 2 tons 10 cwt. Travelled in it when there were ten persons upon it, at the average rate of about 9 miles an hour, from Cable-street, Wellclose-square, London, to within two and a half miles of Basingstoke, when the crank shaft broke, and the carriage was put into a barge and sent back to town.

“This is not the carnage, however, to which the previous evidence of Mr. Ogle refers, nor is it upon the same principle, except that the boiler with which it was furnished has been transferred to the vehicle described by Mr. Ogle. When going to Basingstoke, tried to increase the speed, but were unable to do it, because the size of the engines would not consume the quantity of steam generated. There were three cylinders, each 4 inches in diameter, and the stroke of the piston in each was 12 inches; in the carriage described by Mr. Ogle, the cylinders are 7.5 inches each, the diameter and the stroke of each is 18 inches. Has travelled in this new carriage 15 miles per hour, with nineteen persons on the carriage. Has no doubt of its being able to carry 3 tons at the rate of 10 miles an hour, exclusive of its own weight; and, after certain improvements which they have in view are completed, feels assured that much greater weights may be carried at that rate.

“Has never tested this by experiment, but grounds his opinion on having seen the steam blowing offs at both safety valves with tremendous violence when travelling at the rate of upwards of 30 miles per hour. Has continued travelling at the rate of 30 miles an hour 4.5 miles very frequently, and could have continued longer had they not required a fresh supply of water, the tank not being quite large enough. Since the last improvement in the furnace, they have never found any difficulty, when the fire is in good order, in travelling over the worst and most hilly roads. On arriving at the brow of a hill, they throttle or wire-draw the steam, in order to check the velocity of the engines; and when they find the hill is so steep that the carriage would run faster than they wish, they attach two drags to the hind wheels, and with the foot they press on one drag, or both, as may be required, and by that means regulate the velocity of the carriage. The drag does not, however, prevent the wheel revolving; it consists of a kind of iron band, or strap, which goes round a portion of the tire of the wheel, and the power of breaking is multiplied by levers to a very great extent.

“Were the carriage to go at the rate of 5 miles an hour only, instead of 10, it would be able to carry a much greater weight than 3 tons; cannot exactly say how much. Has used water of every description but has never found the boiler in the least encrusted. Every time, after arriving at a journey's end, they open a cock communicating at the bottom of the boiler, and perhaps it may be that they do not give the extraneous matter time enough to rest. Proved the boiler before it was put into the steam carriage at 364 lbs. on the square inch; it will support 740 lbs. Work usually at a pressure of from 240 to 260, which they find more economical than any other.

“The surface of iron exposed to the fire and heated air is 245 superficial feet; the weight of the boiler is 8 cwt. 2 qrs. The iron is about one-tenth of an inch thick. Thin boilers last longer in proportion than thick ones, because the heat passes sooner through into the water, and has not time to act upon the iron.

“The passengers are placed in front and the middle of the vehicle; the boiler entirely behind the body of the carriage and the passengers. Has never had any accident from horses being alarmed; the noise is not so great as that of a vehicle drawn by horses. Considers the mode they have adopted of disposing of the waste steam preferable to that of Mr. Stephenson. Instead of blowing it into the chimney, in order to cause a draft, they have a fan or blower, which is driven by the engines when in operation, and this gives intensity of heat in the furnace. The waste steam from the engine goes into a double casing round the furnace; they admit a small portion underneath the fire-bars of the grate, and allow the remainder to expand itself into the double casing, after which it comes over the top of the fire and escapes in the form of invisible vapour. Finds this better than throwing the steam direct into the chimney to produce a draft; because where this is done, the aperture must be so much diminished that the waste steam is choked in escaping from the engines, and produces a greater loss of power than is required for working the fan.

“Finds that, when travelling on a paved road, and that of a rough description, they do not consume more than the fourth of the steam they do on a soft gravelly road. The steepest hill they have ever ascended was 1 foot in 6; that was the hill at Shirley, for a distance of about 200 yards. Both the wheels were in gear at the time, and there was not the slightest symptom of their slipping. Ascended it at a velocity of nearly 5 miles an hour, with fourteen or fifteen persons on the carriage. Can stop the vehicle within a distance of 12 feet . . . . The engine is calculated at 20-horse power."

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