Against stupidity the very gods themselves contend in vain. — Friedrich Schiller

Twentieth Century Inventions - Charles Gibson




Mechanical Inventions

THE MONOTYPE MACHINE—OFFSET PRESS—AUTOMATIC PRESS—ROTOGRAVURE MACHINE—RE-SHUTTLING LOOMS—AUTOMATIC HIDE-MEASURING MACHINE—BOTTLE-HANDLING MACHINE—MATCH-MAKING MACHINE—ENAMELED-BRICK MACHINE—REINFORCED CONCRETE POLES—CHICKEN FEEDING MACHINE—CIGAR-SMOKING MACHINE—PILL MAKING MACHINE.


The Monotype Machine


To watch a Monotype operator at work does not give one any idea of what he is doing, except that he is operating an enlarged type-writer with 276 keys, and that he is producing a perforated ribbon about four inches wide, which, so far as its appearance goes, might be for some form of piano-player.

The automatic machine, which is to be controlled by this perforated ribbon, is practically a type-foundry, not only capable of casting any letter at will, but able to place the types in position to form words, sentences, and paragraphs, until a whole page or column is quite complete.

While the Monotype consists of two separate machines: (1) the keyboard with punches for preparing the perforated paper, and (2) the casting machine, and while these take the place of the compositor and the type-founder, it would not be correct to describe the one machine as the compositor and the other as the type-founder. The ordinary hand compositor has in the first place to make up his mind what letter he requires, select it from his case, and then place it in his compositor's stick, and so on. The Monotype keyboard, which prepares the perforated paper, is merely equivalent to the man determining which types he requires to form the words and sentences which he desires to set up. In other words, the prepared ribbon is equivalent to the brain of the compositor; it is to control the actual operations which take place in the casting-machine. The prepared paper-ribbon will be understood more easily when we know what it is to control.

The casting-machine has a mould into which a pressure-pump forces up molten type metal. This mould is open at the top, and the metal would overflow unless some lid or cover were clamped down upon it. The cover for the mould is the matrix forming a letter of the alphabet, and when this is clamped automatically upon the open end of the mould, a type is cast. This type is almost instantaneously cooled by cold water circulating around the mould. The mould is fixed in one position, but the matrix-case containing the matrices for the different letters is movable, and, according to the letter required, can be brought at will into position over the mould.

Not only must there be matrices for the twenty-six letters of the alphabet, there must be a complete alphabet of 'lower case' (small letters), small capitals, capitals, italics, italic capitals, punctuation marks, brackets, fractions, figures, and so on. In all there are 225 different matrices, arranged in fifteen rows of fifteen matrices in each, the whole occupying a space of three square inches. Of the 225 matrices, 221 are characters and four are characterless for spaces.

When the desired matrix is to be brought over the mould and clamped down to complete the mould, it is necessary that the matrix-case should be moved automatically a definite distance from right to left, and from back to front. Combinations of these two movements will bring any desired matrix over the mould. To control the positions of the matrix-case it will be necessary to have fourteen stops in the direction from right to left, and fourteen stops in the direction of front to back; the fifteenth position each way, being the limit of the movement, will not require a control stop. And so we find in the machine two sets of small pistons, there being fourteen pistons in each set. Each of these pistons is connected to a separate tube, through which compressed air may be blown in order to force the piston upwards. When air is admitted to a tube, the piston rises and arrests the travel of a rod attached to the matrix-case. One of these sets of rods controls the extent of the right-to-left movement, while the other set controls the movement from back to front. It will be apparent that the perforations of the paper-ribbon are to control the actions of these pistons, by permitting compressed air to pass through into two of the tubes. In so doing the position of the matrix-case is determined, or, in other words, the matrix required for the casting of the desired type is brought over the mould. The striking of the keys on the keyboard thus controls the casting-machine, the medium of communication being the perforated ribbon.

The casting-machine which we have built up in our imagination has only 28 air-tubes and pistons, whereas we find 31 tubes and pistons in the actual machine. The three additional tubes operate small pistons at the centre of the machine, and these control the actions of certain rods, one piston causing the caster to produce the characterless space type, the other two regulating the size of the spaces, and putting the galley motion in action, as will be explained later.

So far we have followed the general principle of the casting, but the types arc all made in the one mould, and this might seem to necessitate the shanks of the types being all the same thickness. If such were the case the letter 'i' would occupy the same space as the letter 'm,' and the resultant printing would be similar to what we get from a type-writer, producing the letter 'i' surrounded by too much empty space, while two 'm's' when placed together in a word always seem overcrowded.

This difficulty is overcome in the casting-machine by the width of the mould being adjusted or 'justified' automatically for each letter. This is done by the movement of a wedge. The entrance of the thick end of the wedge will make the mould narrow enough to suit the letter 'i.' When the wedge is partly withdrawn the mould will increase in width suitable for the letter 'o,' and so on till the small end of the wedge leaves the mould at its widest for the capital letter 'W.'

We have seen how the matrix-case is brought into position so that the desired matrix is over the top of the mould. The matrix is held down on to the mould by means of a conical-pointed steel pin, which descends into a cone-hole on the free end of each matrix. At each stroke of the machine this steel pin descends and engages with whichever matrix has been brought beneath it, and thus clamps it securely to the top of the mould. At the same time the wedge has adjusted the width of the mould opening, and the pump forces the molten metal into the mould against the matrix.

The type-metal is composed of certain proportions of tin, antimony, and lead, and is kept in a molten condition (about 680) by means of two Bunsen burners. The well and delivery channel of the high-pressure pump are immersed in the molten metal. A device is provided for cutting off the jet of metal at the foot of the type, and then conveying the new type to a channel into which it is ejected. Each succeeding type pushes the others onward in this channel leading to the galley, until all the type and spaces required to fill a line are complete.

It is evident that the length of the line must be controlled by the perforations of the paper-ribbon, otherwise the casting-machine would continue making an endless regiment of type. When the line has been completed, type by type, it is brought down to the galley by means of special air-tubes and pistons, which operate the mechanism for this purpose. The line is pushed into the galley, passing under a gate which descends as soon as delivery is completed, thus shutting the line of type in the galley, the mechanism being restored to its original position as soon as this work is finished. Each succeeding line pushes the previously cast lines forward in the galley, until the galley (representing a page or a column) is full. It is then removed and an empty galley is placed in position.

We have left out of account the size of the spaces between the words. The hand compositor adjusts his spaces so that the type exactly fills his 'stick,' but how is the Mono-type to do this? The operator at the keyboard, which prepares the perforated paper-ribbon, will, of course, depress a space-key between each word, and the machine will ring a warning-bell before it has reached the very end of the line, but what is he to do with the remaining space? It is only the space of a few letters, but it would look very ugly to leave a series of ragged spaces at the ends of the lines. The remaining space must be distributed over the spaces between the words. This is what is called 'justification' of the line.

When the operator has completed the line as far as he can go, he depresses a special 'justifying' key, which causes a drum or cylinder to revolve a certain distance, according to the space used by the letters and spaces already included in the line. A small indicator points to two figures upon the justification scale-drum and indicates to the operator which two of a special set of thirty keys he must depress. The two holes thus punched at the end of each line are the first to operate in the control of the casting-machine, as the paper-ribbon is fed in backwards. These two perforations control the die-case and the justification wedges which determine the size of the spaces to be cast between the words.

It will be understood that when the key-board operator has depressed a key and thus made two perforations simultaneously, the paper-ribbon moves forward one-eighth of an inch. Therefore when the prepared paper-ribbon moves forward (or, rather, backwards) through the casting-machine, only two holes will be presented at each stroke, thus casting one letter at a time.

When the proof-reader corrects a printed sheet produced by the type, the corrections which he has marked are made just as easily as in hand-set type, for each letter and space is separate.

The keyboard operator can prepare his perforated paper-ribbon in about one-seventh of the time that the hand compositor can set his type, while the automatic caster goes steadily on casting and setting at the rate of 7000 to 10,000 types per hour. This means that while one hand compositor working alone could set one and a half columns of a news-paper in a day, the Monotype could set about ten columns in the same time. The Monotype caster will, of course, require an attendant, but one man may conveniently watch two casting machines.

In order to appreciate the ingenuity of the invention it is worth while summing up the actions of the caster in making a single type.

  1. The perforated paper-ribbon is fed forward one-eighth of an inch. This is accomplished by means of special perforations made in the edges of the paper before it is used in the keyboard machine.
  2. The die-case is moved into the proper position to bring the desired matrix over the mould.
  3. The matrix is centred by the coning-pin
  4. The mould-blade opens out the amount necessary to enable the particular type to be cast its proper width set-wise.
  5. The matrix is clamped to the top of the mould.
  6. The pump injects the molten metal and the type is cast.
  7. The matrix is lifted off the mould.
  8. The mould jet-blade guillotines the jet off the foot of the type.
  9. The carrier throws the jet back into the casting-pot.
  10. The type is ejected into the carrier.
  11. The type is carried away from the mould.
  12. The type is pushed out of the carrier into the channel leading to the galley.

We may think of the separate actions of pistons, rods, etc., required to bring about each of these twelve distinct operations, and then picture all this being done by the casting-machine, not only once in every second of time, but nearly three times per second.

As the casting-machine produces a new type for each letter, there are no printer' s errors due to wrongly distributed type, and there are no badly-formed letters due to worn type. However, the many commercial advantages claimed for this ingenious invention do not come within our present interests.


Offset Printing Press


The 'Offset Press' in lithography is an adaptation of a press designed for printing designs on tin boxes. The general principle is that a greasy image is prepared by drawing, or by photography, on a thin sheet of zinc, which has been prepared previously with a grained surface so that it will retain moisture, just as is done by the ordinary lithographic stone.

This zinc plate is fixed upon a cylinder in the printing press, which has damping and inking rollers as usual. The new feature is the method of impression, which is not taken direct on to the paper. The zinc plate prints on to the surface of a rubber-covered cylinder, and the paper is fed in between this and another rubber-covered cylinder, the impression being transferred to the paper by the inked rubber surface. This method of printing from a rubber-covered cylinder does away with the necessity of using a highly-polished paper for lithographic printing; practically no paper is too rough to print even half-tone pictures.

As the motion is rotary, instead of reciprocating, the speed can be increased enormously, at the same time dispensing with the bang and clatter of the ordinary litho-press. The speed has been increased still further by making the machine entirely automatic, in the following manner.


Automatic Printing Press


Until the invention of the Offset Press, it was considered necessary to have a to-and-fro motion when printing individual sheets of paper. The rotary machines of the nineteenth century were of use only when printing a continuous reel of paper.

The Harris Automatic Press not only takes entire charge of the feeding of individual sheets of paper, but it will stop printing the moment the stock of paper is exhausted, and it will refuse to pass two sheets at a time. When once set up ready for printing, any intelligent boy may attend to the machine, which is quite capable of taking care of itself so long as it has a stock of paper within its reach.

The automatic throw-off comes into action before the printing cylinder comes to the point of applying the impression. If no sheet of paper intervened between the printing and the impression cylinder, the latter would receive the ink. This is obviated by the impression throw-off placing the cylinders out of contact. It would not be sufficient merely to switch off the driving power, for the rotary machine has some momentum, causing the cylinders to rotate for several revolutions. If the machine should feed forward accidentally two sheets of paper sticking together, the throw-off comes into action in a very simple manner. A micrometer gauge, which is set to the thickness of the paper being printed, prevents the two sheets from passing to the cylinders, and the absence of paper calls the throw-off into action.

The printing type must, of course, fit around the paper cylinder, and this is done usually by means of stereotype and electrotype plates. These may be cast or made in the flat and then curved to fit the cylinder by means of a bending machine.

These automatic presses are not confined to simple work, but will print in one or two colours at a time. They will undertake all the work required in making manifold impression books, numbering, perforating, scoring or slitting, and cross-perforating, all at one operation. This is quite impossible on flat-bed presses.


Rotogravure Printing


The invention of the half-tone process, and even the three-colour process of printing, belong to last century. The printing from these is dependent upon raised dots taking the ink and impressing it upon a smooth-faced paper. If illustrations are required to be printed along with the text (except by the off-set press), it is necessary to have the whole book printed upon a glossy paper, as the tiny dots cannot print upon a rough surface. When illustrations are wanted on rough paper, they are made by the photogravure process. In this case the ink is not received in a layer of uniform thickness on raised dots as with the half-tone block, but is received in depressions of various depths on the surface of the printing-plate. These depressions or etchings depend upon the various depths of shadow required in the impression.

We are not concerned with the preparation of these printing surfaces, as they are not of this century, but until recently the printing of photogravures was done by hand-presses, the printer covering the plate with ink, scraping off the surface ink and leaving the sunken images filled with ink, then pressing the rough paper firmly against this inked plate so that the ink is transferred from the depressions to the paper. The metal plate is really a mould, and the illustration is a casting of ink obtained from the mould. Apart from one firm who had a secret process, all photogravure printing was necessarily slow and expensive.

The action of the 'Rotogravure' quick-printing machine is very similar to that of an ordinary calico or silk printing machine, in which the colour-box puts the colouring material upon the engraved roller to fill the hollows, and then the excess is scraped off by a long flexible knife, leaving the surface perfectly clean. The Rotogravure machine works in the same fashion, but with printing ink, and the machine may be coupled up to an ordinary newspaper machine, so that the paper runs through both machines unbroken. Some of the Continental daily newspapers are now being illustrated in this fashion. The machine may be used by itself for the production of fine art illustrations.

The machine prints on an endless web of paper, fed from a reel. After leaving the reel, the paper passes over the first engraved roller, and then over a steam-drum which dries the ink. Then the paper passes on to the second engraved roller. The paper is pressed against the etched copper roller, by means of a rubber-surfaced drum, and may be printed on both sides on its way through the machine. The second printing is dried by means of an electric radiator and blowers, after which the paper passes through rotary knives which divide the paper into sheets. The product of the machine is 6000 copies of each subject of an eight-page sheet in an hour-48,000 individual illustrations per hour.

In connection with rapid printing, it is interesting to note that the Public Printer, of the United States Government Printery, invented a machine, in 1910, capable of printing more than half a million post cards per hour, the actual speed being 144 per second. The cards are cut automatically by the machine, and then dropped in eight stacks, until there are twenty-five post cards in each pile. The eight stacks then move forward and are bound automatically with a paper band, and the finished packets are dropped into a box.


Re-Shuttling Looms


The power-loom, invented in 1785, had become during the nineteenth century so reliable an automaton, that one might have supposed no further important invention could be made in connection with it.

The power-loom not only replaced the movements of the hand-loom weaver's legs and arms by revolving tappets or eccentrics, but the loom would stop automatically when the weft (shuttle thread) became broken or was exhausted. It stopped also when a shuttle stuck in its way across the loom. The girl 'weaver' was in reality an attendant to keep the machine to its work. One weaver could attend to several looms, as she had only to put in a full shuttle when the loom stopped for lack of thread, and then restart the loom. The loom required no attention in this direction until it stopped automatically, but the weaver had to keep a lookout for any broken warp threads, and stop the loom while she mended these. It might seem that these duties would always require the human operator, but recent inventions have put all these responsibilities on the loom itself, with the exception of the actual mending of the warp ends.

One of these modern looms will not only stop when its weft thread is broken or exhausted, but it will throw out the empty shuttle, replace it with a full one, and restart the loom, the whole operation taking only a few seconds. Not only is this loons quite independent of the weaver watching its shuttles, but it must also look after its own warp, in so far that it must not go on weaving while any warp threads remain broken. The principal duty of the twentieth century weaver is to mend the broken warp ends when the loom stops for that purpose. One of her minor duties is to see that the loom has a store of full shuttles in its magazine.

We picture the loom at work, throwing its shuttle from side to side; it keeps running so long as the weft and the warp are perfect. The moment the weft thread breaks, the loom stops, its re-shuttling apparatus is called into play, and off it goes again with a full shuttle. Even more interesting is the means by which the loom can tell that its shuttle is nearing a state of emptiness, so that the shuttle may be changed before the loose end is thrown and woven into the cloth. This is accomplished by a weft-feeler motion.

As already mentioned, the means of stopping the loom automatically when a weft thread breaks is an old invention. In this case the weft thread, while being tightly stretched across the web by the shuttle, serves to hold out of action a trigger which a lever is seeking to pull, at each stroke of the lay (the going part which carries the reed and the shuttle). So long as the weft is present to keep this light trigger out of the way, the loom runs on, but when the weft is absent or broken, the trigger is pulled by the moving lever and the handle of the loom is thrown to the 'off' position, bringing the driving belt on to the loose pulley. In the new loom this action not only stops the loom but also sets the re-shuttling apparatus in motion. In addition to this, there is now the weft-feeler motion, to which reference has already been made.

This weft-feeler motion consists of a simple combination of levers, culminating at the one end in a flat metal finger which feels the yarn in the shuttle at each forward stroke of the lay. The yarn is wound upon a wooden pirn which has an open slot cut through it, while the shuttle has a corresponding slot cut in its side. If the pirn were empty, the metal finger would enter the slot at each stroke, but the yarn, being wound upon the pirn, covers the slot and prevents the metal finger entering it, the feeler being pushed back against a light spring. At each backward push, the feeler lifts a light trigger out of the way of a moving lever which is seeking to engage with it. When only a few turns of the weft remain upon the pirn, the feeler does succeed in entering the slot, and the feeler failing to push the trigger out of the way of the moving lever, the loom is stopped automatically. At the same moment the re-shuttling motion is called into play, exchanging the almost empty shuttle for a full one.

As the re-shuttling motion is to be operated while the loom is at rest, it is necessary to drive its mechanism from the loose pulley, on which the loom belt runs while the loom is off. For this purpose the loose pulley carries with it on the crank-shaft a sleeve with a toothed wheel, which by intermediate gearing carries the power to the re-shuttling apparatus. In some of the latest models, the clutch for this motion runs in an enclosed oil bath, and receives its power by means of a chain driven from the loose pulley. This clutch causes the tappets or eccentrics to make one revolution, and operate the levers of the re-shuttling motion, and then disengage the clutch by restarting the loom.

There are four of these tappets, the relative positions of which are fixed, so that each comes into play at the required time. The first operation necessary is to open the shuttle box to permit of the empty shuttle being pushed out. The box is opened by raising its front, so that the duty of the first tappet is a simple one: a vertical rod is pushed upwards and the box front, being attached to the upper end of this rod, slides upwards, leaving an open space opposite the shuttle. As soon as the box is completely open, the second tappet comes into play, its duty being to operate the pushing out lever.

A motion of this kind is better not to be a positive motion, as it would not do to force the shuttle out against any obstruction. To prevent any such accident, the whorl (friction roller) of the operating lever rests upon the highest point of the pushing tappet and is held there against the pulp of a strong spiral spring. When the tappet is revolved, the lever is pulled by the spring, and the pushing out lever ejects the empty shuttle through the open front of the shuttle box. Should there be any obstruction, the spiral spring would not force the shuttle unduly, the energy would be dissipated in the spiral spring. As soon as the shuttle is ejected, the pushing lever returns to its normal position, leaving the box empty.

Meantime the third tappet has commenced to fulfil its duty of inserting a full shuttle. There is a magazine of full shuttles lying one on the top of the other, the bottom one resting upon two metal fingers. When these fingers are drawn away from beneath the magazine, a metal shelf or tray takes up its position, so that when the supporting fingers have been withdrawn, the pile of shuttles falls on to this tray, but only the bottom shuttle is free to be drawn away by the supporting tray, when it moves towards the shuttle box of the loom. As the tray moves away, the two metal fingers take up their normal position again and support the remaining pile of shuttles in the magazine. When the full shuttle has been carried forward and placed in the shuttle box, the carrier or tray returns to its normal position just in front of the magazine. While these different operations have been proceeding, the first tappet has continued to keep the shuttle box open, but now this tappet allows the vertical rod to drop down, carrying the box front with it. The loom is ready for weaving once more. A fourth tappet, with a very sudden rise upon it, now comes into action, and this pushes the handle of the loom to the 'on' position, causing the loom belt to be pushed over from the loose to the fast pulley.

But suppose the weaver has omitted to keep the magazine filled with shuttles and only an empty tray reaches the shuttle box; in this case the loom will refuse to start. The same holds good if for any reason the full shuttle fails to enter the box properly. As one gentleman, who had an intimate knowledge of looms, remarked, 'This is the loom with the brains.' And yet the object is attained in a very simple manner. So long as there is a shuttle in proper position in the shuttle box, the shuttle presses against a swell spring which keeps a trigger out of the way of a catching lever. But if there is no shuttle in position in the box, this swell spring gets forward and allows the trigger to engage with the catching lever, and this in turn prevents the starting lever pushing the loom handle over to the 'on' position.

As the re-shuttling loom is able to take so much responsibility upon itself, it requires very little attention from the weaver, who may take charge of as many as twenty looms. She cannot undertake to look out for broken warp ends in all these, so it becomes necessary that the loom accepts this duty also. There are many mechanical warp-stop motions. In one of the latest inventions, each warp thread supports a very light and thin piece of flat steel, about 31 inches in length. These are so light that there is very little friction on the warp threads upon which they hang stride-legs. So long as all the warp threads are whole, all the units of this regiment of 'droppers' are held up in position, but the moment any one thread breaks its dropper falls, and its lower end engages with a rocking lever which is making a to and fro motion at each stroke of the loom. So long as this to and fro motion is free, the loom runs on, but the moment any dropper obstructs the rocking motion the loom is stopped automatically, the loom handle being knocked over to the 'off' position. The loom having come to a standstill, the weaver can see at a glance along the regiment of droppers which particular warp end has broken.

There is another automatic loom which, instead of changing an empty shuttle for a full one, throws out the empty pirn and replaces it by a full one, while the shuttle remains in the loom, and while the loom continues working at full pace. The claims as to merits and demerits made by the rival inventors do not concern us here; both inventions are most ingenious.

It might seem a practical impossibility to change the pirn in the shuttle of a loom while making, say, 180 picks per minute. We may picture the loom throwing the shuttle across the web three times in every second. The shuttle has only one-third part of a second in which to leave the one box, cross the loom, and take up its position in the other box. It has only time to be shot into and out of the box, and yet during the fraction of a second in which it is at rest, the change of pirn must take place.

Instead of a magazine of shuttles we have in the present invention a 'battery' of full pirns. These are held horizontally between two large metal flanges, and when the full charge of twenty-five pirns is in position, they form as it were the circumference of a drum. This battery of pirns is fixed at one side of the loom immediately in front of the shuttle box. The position of the battery is such that when the forward stroke of the lay brings the shuttle box beneath the battery, a full pirn is held immediately over the empty pirn in the shuttle. When the re-filling motion is brought into play by failure of the weft (by means similar to that already described), a pushing lever or 'transfer hammer' forces a full pirn out of the battery and into the shuttle exactly on the top of the empty pirn. The blow and length of stroke are just sufficient to knock the empty pirn out through the bottom of the shuttle box and to cause the full pirn to click into position in the shuttle. In these shuttles the pirns are merely held in position by flat metal springs pressing on a special circular base on each pirn.

Taking a full shuttle in one's hands, by way of experiment, and placing a second pirn over the one already in the shuttle, it is possible with a sudden downward thrust of the upper pirn to force the lower pirn out through the bottom of the shuttle while the upper one clicks into its place; the loom does the same thing automatically while in motion. Of course the weaver has to charge the battery with full pirns, but this she can do in two to three minutes, and the loom when charged can run for two and a half hours without any further attention so far as the weft is concerned.

As evidence of the reliability of such automatic mechanism it may be mentioned that while the weavers are absent during meal hours the looms continue weaving on their own account. In many factories, with the ordinary looms, it is a source of worry to see that all weavers are clear of the looms during meal hours, for no worker may mend a broken end or replace an empty shuttle at these times. With these automatic looms the weavers may leave them at work when they go home for breakfast, and about seventy percent of the looms will be found to be at work on the weaver's return an hour later. Those looms that have stopped will be waiting for some warp threads to be mended.

The present-day loom is an automaton performing actions which once required human brains and hands to perform. What the position of the weaving loom will be by the end of the twentieth century it is impossible to foresee.


Automatic Hide-Measuring Machine


The buyers and sellers of hides in the great boot-making industry have appreciated the invention of a mechanical means of measuring hides. To buy and sell by weight was not a satisfactory method, as the real value depends largely on the surface area. Until recently the buyer had to depend upon his own judgment as to the relative value of the hides, so far as the area measurement was concerned.

The automatic hide-measurer will calculate the exact measurement in square inches of a hundred hides before an expert civil engineer could have surveyed half a dozen of them. Not only does this automaton add together the square inches contained in the back, the forelegs, the neck, the belly, and the hind-legs, but if there are any holes it does not include the missing portion in the total measurement.

The general appearance is that of a long mangling machine. The attendant places a hide on the table and feeds it in between two long rollers. The under one is a continuous cylinder, but the upper one is composed of a regiment of individual wheels, set close together. The under roller is driven by power, and as it revolves it conveys motion to each of the long row of wheels resting upon it; they revolve because of their contact with the under roller. Each wheel has an axle of its own which is supported by a forked lever, and the balance is such that a weight keeps the wheel pressing against the under roller. But anything passed through between the under roller and the wheel lifts the wheel and its supporting lever upward. Each wheel has on one end of its axle a toothed pinion, which revolves freely when the wheel is down upon the bare under roller, but when the wheel is raised, this pinion engages its teeth with the teeth of a quadrant suspended above it. So long as the wheel is kept up by the hide, this quadrant is moved forward; it is practically the sector of what would be a large toothed wheel. If the pinion and a large wheel were engaging for long, there would be a complete revolution of both. The quadrant, however, is never required to describe more than a small arc of the circle. When the quadrant moves, it pulls down one part of an arrangement of multiple levers. Each wheel and quadrant can pull independently at these levers, and the total haulage is added together in the movement of one long lever which is geared to the indicator of a large dial.

If all the wheels were to move their quadrants a certain very short distance, the indicator would point to one square inch. If only half the number of quadrants were moved, they would require to travel twice as far to indicate a square inch, and so on.

Let us suppose that an irregularly shaped hide is being run through between the roller and the wheels. The attendant may place it broadwise or lengthwise, it will make no difference. Only when a wheel is raised by the hide beneath it will it operate the multiplied lever arrangement. While a foreleg passes under one of the wheels it registers, then it disengages from its quadrant while no leather passes, but registers again the moment a bit of the irregularly shaped belly passes beneath it. When a hole passes beneath a wheel, it leaves the registering alone until it is raised once more by the hide.

While a wheel disengages with its quadrant it must retain its pull upon the multiple levers, or the measurement would not be cumulative, and the indicator would fall to zero when the hide had passed. As a quadrant is stepped forward, a pawl and ratchet retains it at each step, so that when the hide has passed out from the rollers, the quadrants all remain in the positions to which they have been moved, and the indicator stands opposite the figure on the dial which represents the total area of the hide. The attendant chalks a note of the square inches upon the back of the hide, pulls a lever which releases the quadrants, and with them the whole multiple lever arrangement, whereupon the machine is back to zero, and ready for the next hide. Some machines of this class can measure from 3000 to 4000 skins per working day.


Subindustrial Inventions


Many volumes might be written upon the subject of new Industrial Inventions, but to describe many pieces of complicated machinery would require a multitude of diagrams and details which would not be of general interest. It may be of interest to note a few of the legion of automata which are cropping up almost daily.

One combined machine handles bottles in quite a remarkable fashion, taking in the plain bottles (already filled and corked) at one end of the machine and handing them out at the other end capsuled, tin-foiled, labeled, wrapped in tissue, and counted. The first part of the machine attends to the capsuling and the application of a piece of tinfoil around the neck. Then the bottles pass on automatically to the second part of the machine which labels them, and if desired, it will apply a neck label, a body label, and a duty strip. The final section of the machine not only wraps the bottle in a tissue paper, twisting it around the neck, but will also print the label if desired. It also registers the number of bottles which it handles.

Another ingenious machine accepts solid blocks of pine-wood at one end and at the other end fills empty boxes with finished matches, closes the boxes, and seals them up in packets, each containing one dozen boxes. This machine first cuts forty-eight match sticks at a single stroke, then places the sticks in rows of holes in a travelling band, and as this moves forward it dips the free ends of the matches into the igniting composition. The endless band carries them to and fro in the machine until they are dry, and then empties the finished matches into travelling receptacles, each holding sufficient matches to fill one box. These receptacles are brought in turn opposite the open boxes, and when the matches have been transferred to the boxes they are closed automatically. The boxes then move forward to a machine which picks them up, a dozen at a time, places them on a printed wrapper, and pastes and folds this round them in so human a fashion as to be almost uncanny. One of these ingenious match-making machines turns out 144,000 boxes of matches per day.

Another machine of gigantic proportions accepts the raw materials for the manufacture of concrete and enamel, and it makes automatically immense quantities of concrete bricks, each with an enameled surface. The machine is fed at one point with the concrete materials, and at another with the enameling material. The concrete is received in a series of hoppers which weigh out the exact quantity required for a single brick or tile. Each hopper then pours its contents into a mould. The enameling material is dealt with in a somewhat similar fashion, and is added to these moulds when they reach that section of the machine. The materials are then united with a pressure of 3,200,000 pounds, which brings about a perfect cohesion, after which the moulds eject the completed bricks, at a rate of almost 700 per minute.

A few years ago a Swiss engineer invented a machine for making reinforced concrete poles, dispensing with the setting of the material in moulds. The concrete mixture is used almost dry and requires considerable pressure to cause it to cohere. The mixture is carried in a hopper over the pole-making machine, in which is held a long core of sheet iron, around which is the metal skeleton for the reinforcement. This consists of steel wires or rods of small section held in position by a series of constructional gauge rings.

The concrete mixture is fed on to a conveyer band, on which lies a webbing or bandage. As the machine wraps this webbing of concrete around the core it applies a pressure of 5000 pounds. The hopper of the machine and the bandaging apparatus slide along the core, wrapping the bandage over the core in a spiral form, and at the same time removing the gauge rings, and applying, as a further reinforcement, a wire in the form of a long spiral embedded in the pole. When the pole has set, the sheet iron core can be reduced in diameter by means of a screw, so that the core may be withdrawn. Finally the bandage of webbing is removed.

Among the multitude of inventions is a chicken-feeding machine (forcible feeding), by means of which one man may feed 300 chickens twice a day, with a patent liquid food. A suction pump, worked by a foot-pedal, forces the food through a tube (ten inches long) through the chicken's mouth into its crop. When the crop is full the flow of food stops instantly, and no possible injury can be done to the chicken.

Another invention is a machine for smoking cigars—not that there is any scarcity of smokers, but in order to test the filler, binder, and wrapper which go to make up a cigar. The cigars are held in the ends of glass tubes, which are connected to a series of flasks. An aspirator and siphon, by means of moving water, suck in the smoke at regular intervals, about the rate at which a man smokes. Comparisons are made in this way between different deliveries of tobacco and different makes of cigars.

Another machine manufactures one million pills per day of ten hours. There are really two machines combined, a ball-making machine, and a pill-machine. The ingredients are mixed in a hopper, which presses the mixture through a nozzle, where it is cut into lengths. As these fall into a guide-receiver they are subjected to a shower of sifted flour and then placed on a rolling belt. The balls formed by this means, are then conveyed automatically by a lift to the pill-machine, and dropped into the receiving funnel of the 'automata.' Here the ball becomes elongated into a strip or pipe, by being rolled many times about its own diameter. It then drops on to revolving cutters, where it is instantly divided into pieces of accurate weight by measurement. Finally these individual pieces fall on to a chute, which conveys them to the pill-rounding belts. When once drawn in between the rolling belts, they advance, many hundreds side by side, and go whirling through the 'automatic globular perfects.' They pass at last through a separator, by which the good pills are retained and the tailings rejected.