Scientific American Supplement, No. 497, July 11, 1885

Produced by Josephine Paolucci, Don Kretz, Juliet Sutherland
and PG Distributed Proofreaders


NEW YORK, JULY 11, 1885

Scientific American Supplement. Vol. XX, No. 497.

Scientific American established 1845

Scientific American Supplement, $5 a year.

Scientific American and Supplement, $7 a year.

The Acids of Wool Oil
The New Absorbent for Oxygen
Depositing Nickel upon Zinc.–By H.B. SLATER
II.ENGINEERING AND MECHANICS.–Foundations in Quicksand, Lift Bridge over the Ourcq Canal.–3 figures
St. Petersburg a Seaport.–A canal cut from Cronstadt to St. Petersburg.–Opening of same by the Emperor and Empress.–With full page engraving
The New French Dispatch Boat Milan.–With engraving
The Launching and Docking of Ships Sidewise.–4 figures
Improved High Speed Engine.–12 figures
The National Transit Co.’s Pipe Lines for the Transportation of Oil to the Seaboard.–With map and diagram
The Fuel of the Future.–History of natural gas.–Relation to petroleum.–Duration of gas, etc.–With table of analyses Closing Leakages for Packing.–Use of asbestos in stuffing boxes
III.TECHNOLOGY.–Luminous Paint.–Processes of manufacture Boxwood and its Substitutes.–Preparation of same for market, etc.–A paper written by J.A. JACKSON for the International Forestry Exhibition
IV.ARCHÆOLOGY.–An Assyrian Bass-Relief 2,700 years old
V.NATURAL HISTORY.-The Flight of the Buzzard.–By R.A. PROCTOR
VI.BOTANY, ETC.–Convallaria.–A stemless perennial.–By OTTO A. WALL, M.D.–Several figures
VII.MEDICINE, HYGIENE, ETC.–Gaiffe’s New Medical Galvanometer.–1 figure
The Suspension of Life in Plants and Animals
VIII.MISCELLANEOUS.–Composite Portraits.–6 illustrations Hand-Craft and Rede-Craft.–A plea for the first named.–By D.G. GILMAN


Foundations in quicksand often have to be built in places where least expected, and sometimes the writer has been able to conveniently span the vein with an arch and avoid trouble; but where it cannot be conveniently arched over, it will be necessary to sheath pile for a trench and lay in broad sections of concrete until the space is crossed, the sheath piling being drawn and reset in sections as fast as the trenches are leveled up. The piling is left in permanently if it is not wanted again for use.

Sometimes these bottoms are too soft to be treated in this manner; in that case boxes or caissons are formed, loaded with stone and sunk into place with pig iron until the weight they are to carry is approximated. When settled, the weights are removed and building begins.

Foundations on shifting sand are met with in banks of streams, which swell and become rapids as each winter breaks up. This kind is most troublesome and dangerous to rest upon if not properly treated.

Retaining walls are frequently built season after season, and as regularly become undermined by the scouring of the water. Regular docking with piles and timbers is resorted to, but it is so expensive for small works that it is not often tried.

Foundations are formed often with rock well planted out; and again success has attended the use of bags of sand where rough rock was not convenient or too expensive.

In such cases it is well to try a mattress foundation, which may be formed of brushwood and small saplings with butts from ½ inch to 2½ inches in diameter, compressed into bundles from 8 to 12 inches diameter, and from 12 to 16 feet long, and well tied with ropes every four feet. Other bundles, from 4 to 6 inches diameter and 16 feet long, are used as binders, and these bundles are now cross-woven and make a good network, the long parts protruding and making whip ends. One or more sets of netting are used as necessity seems to require. This kind of foundation may be filled in with a concrete of hydraulic cement and sand, and the walls built on them with usual footings, and it is very durable, suiting the purpose as well as anything we have seen or heard of.–Inland Architect.


This bridge, which was inaugurated in 1868, was constructed under the direction of Mr. Mantion, then engineer-in-chief of the Belt Railway. Fig. 1 shows the bridge raised.

The solution adopted in this case was the only feasible one that presented itself, in view of the slight difference between the level of the railway tracks and the maximum plane of the canal water. This circumstance did not even permit of a thought of an ordinary revolving bridge, since this, on a space of 10 inches being reserved between the level of the water and the bottom of the bridge, and on giving the latter a minimum thickness of 33 inches up to the level of the rails, would have required the introduction into the profile of the railroad of approaches of at least one-quarter inch gradient, that would have interfered with operations at the station close by.



Besides, in the case of a revolving bridge, since the bottom of the latter would be but ten inches above the water level, and the rollers would have to be of larger diameter than that, it would have been necessary to suppose the roller channel placed beneath the level of the water, and it would consequently have been necessary to isolate this channel from the canal by a tight wall. The least fissure in the latter would have inundated the channel.

As the Ourcq Canal had no regular period of closing, it was necessary to construct the bridge without hinderance to navigation. The idea of altering the canal’s course could not be thought of, for the proximity of the fortifications and of the bridge over the military road was opposed to it. Moreover, the canal administration insisted upon a free width of 26 feet, which is that of the sluices of the St. Denis Canal, and which would have led to the projection of a revolving bridge of 28 feet actual opening in order to permit of building foundations with caissons in such a way as to leave a passageway of 26 feet during operations.

For these reasons it was decided to construct a metallic bridge that should be lifted by means of counterpoises and balanced after the manner of gasometers.

The free width secured to navigation is 28 feet. The bridge is usually kept raised to a height of 16 feet above the level of the water in order to allow boats to pass (Fig. 2). In this position it is balanced by four counterpoises suspended from the extremities of chains that pass over pulleys. These counterpoises are of cast iron, and weigh, altogether, 44,000 pounds–the weight of the bridge to be balanced, say 11,000 pounds per counterpoise. Moreover, each of the four chains is prolonged beneath the corresponding counterpoise by a chain of the same weight, called a compensating chain.

The pulleys, B and C, that support the suspension chains have projections in their channels which engage with the links and thus prevent the chains from slipping. They are mounted at the extremity of four latticed girders that likewise carry girder pulleys, D. The pulleys that are situated at the side of the bridge are provided laterally with a conical toothing which gears with a pinion connected with the maneuvering apparatus.

The two pinions of the same side of the bridge are keyed to a longitudinal shaft which is set in motion at one point of its length by a system of gearings. The winch upon which is exerted the stress that is to effect the lifting or the descent of the bridge is fixed upon the shaft of the pinion of the said gearing, which is also provided with a flywheel, c. The longitudinal shafts are connected by a transverse one. e, which renders the two motions interdependent. This transverse shaft is provided with collars, against which bear stiff rods that give it the aspect of an elongated spindle, and that permit it to resist twisting stresses.

The windlasses that lift the bridge are actuated by manual power. Two men (or even one) suffice to do the maneuvering.

This entire collection of pulleys and mechanism is established upon two brick foot bridges between which the bridge moves. These arched bridges offer no obstruction to navigation. Moreover, they always allow free passage to foot passengers, whatever be the position of the bridge. They are provided with four vertical apertures to the right of the suspension chains, in order to allow of the passage of the latter. The girders that support the pulleys rest at one extremity upon the upper part of the bridges, and at the other upon solid brick pillars with stone caps.

Finally, in order to render the descent of the bridge easier, there are added to it two water tanks that are filled from the station reservoir when the bridge is in its upper position, and that empty themselves automatically as soon as it reaches the level of the railroad tracks.

A very simple system of fastening has been devised for keeping the bridge in a stationary position when raised. When it reaches the end of its upward travel, four bolts engage with an aperture in the suspension rod and prevent it from descending. These bolts are set in motion by two connecting rods carried by a longitudinal shaft and maneuvered by a lever at the end of the windlass.

At the lower part the bridge rests upon iron plates set into sills. It is guided in its descent longitudinally by iron plates that have an inclination which is reproduced at the extremities of the bridge girders, and transversely by two inclined angle irons into which fit the external edges of the bottoms of the extreme girders.



The total weight of the bridge is, as we have said, 44,000 pounds, which is much less than would have been that of a revolving bridge of the same span. The maneuvering of the bridge is performed with the greatest ease and requires about two minutes.

This system has been in operation at the market station of La Vilette since the year 1868, and has required but insignificant repairs. We think the adoption of it might be recommended for all cases in which a slight difference between the level of a railroad and that of a water course would not permit of the establishment of a revolving bridge.–Le Genie Civil.

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