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Gregory M.,Newcomen Society
International Journal for the History of Engineering and Technology | Year: 2014

The industrialization of the cloth production into large factories came in the eighteenth century. However, making cloth into clothes remained a hand operation until the mid-nineteenth century. The invention of the sewing machine evolved from significant technical innovation by many workers, producing stitches that could not be made by hand. Alongside innovation in business practices such as the Patent Combination, Hire Purchase and Part Exchange, the sewing machine industry inaugurated major advances in 'interchangeable manufacture'. To produce the millions of cheap machines, each containing many small precision parts, required its own machine tool revolution. © The Newcomen Society for the Study of the History of Engineering & Technology 2014.


Holden R.N.,Newcomen Society
International Journal for the History of Engineering and Technology | Year: 2014

In mechanizing spinning, productivity gains arose by enabling multiple threads to be spun at a time. A re-reading of Edmund Cartwright's original power loom patent of 1785 shows that, contrary to the story he later told, he was seeking to do the same in weaving by weaving multiple webs at one time. This attempt failed and future efforts to mechanize weaving focused on mechanizing the traditional horizontal loom, with productivity increases coming through increasing speeds and enabling one person to manage more than one loom. To achieve this required the solution of a number of non-trivial engineering problems and it was not until around 1860 that the power loom could be used to weave the full range of cloths produced by the Lancashire cotton industry. Key people in this development were William Horrocks of Stockport, Richard Roberts of Manchester and the Blackburn engineers of the 1840s. © The Newcomen Society for the Study of the History of Engineering & Technology 2014.


Bunch A.W.,Newcomen Society
International Journal for the History of Engineering and Technology | Year: 2014

Cordite was the main propellant used for ballistic weaponry at the start of the twentieth century. The Royal Navy required high quality specific types of this propellant in order for its ordnance to operate most effectively. Acetone was needed as a gelatinizing agent to incorporate the chemical components during cordite manufacture. At the start of World War I the United Kingdom's reserve of acetone was very limited. Traditionally, acetone was obtained from wood distillation. An alternative method for making acetone was essential. Chaim Weitzmann (the first President of Israel) was instrumental in formulating a bacterial process that could make a significant contribution to the supply of acetone needed to keep the guns firing. Many problems relating to the efficiency and scale of production had to be overcome. Holton Heath in Dorset became the site where the process became one of the first examples of biotechnology working at an industrially useful scale. © The Newcomen Society for the Study of the History of Engineering & Technology 2014.


Grudgings S.,Newcomen Society
International Journal for the History of Engineering and Technology | Year: 2012

John Wise of Hawkesbury in Warwickshire was involved with erecting a number of Newcomen Engines in Warwickshire, Bristol, London and Cornwall between the 1720s and the 1770s. Probably because of the wide geographical distribution of his work, the importance of Wise's contribution to early steam engine development has not received the attention it warrants and this article attempts to redress this. The author's assertion that Wise was an important figure in the construction of early engines is reinforced by the fact that he took out what is understood to be the first patent for improvements to atmospheric engines as early as 1740. This paper attempts to draw together what is known of Wise and his work from a range of primary and secondary sources as a basis for further research. The catalyst for this account was Peter Tymków alerting South Gloucestershire Mines Research Group (SGMRG) to Wise's work on the Chelsea Waterworks' (CWW) Newcomen Engine and providing the details from their Court of Directors' Minutes of Wise's previously unreported work in Bristol. © The Newcomen Society for the Study of the History of Engineering and Technology 2012.


Starr F.,Newcomen Society
International Journal for the History of Engineering and Technology | Year: 2012

At a very early stage in the development of the internal combustion (IC) engine, poppet valves became the standard way of controlling the flow of the fuel/air mixture into the cylinder and the flow of exhaust gases out. Of the two valves, inlet and exhaust, the latter is more susceptible to failure. Exhaust valves are affected by creep, high temperature fatigue, and valve 'burning' from corrosion by the exhaust environment. As engine outputs increased, valve temperatures also increased and changes to fuel specification worsened the risk of corrosion. Initially, valve reliability was compromised by the limited range of alloys that were available, but the lack of scientific understanding of alloys also hindered development. After 1910, the mass-production automobile stimulated the need for better design and materials. Key advances were made in WWI when the Royal Aircraft Establishment investigated the first stainless steels for valves and the technique of cooling hollow valves using a sealed-in fluid. During and after WWI, work by Ricardo and others began to reveal the importance of octane rating, and towards the end of the 1920s fuels incorporating tetraethyl lead began to be utilized in American Naval aircraft, but this was the exception. In the automobile industry in the 1920s, much work was done on valve design. In this period both aircraft and automobile engines used Silchrome, a martensitic stainless steel containing silicon as well chromium, as the standard exhaust valve alloy. Silchrome had reasonable high-temperature strength and good resistance to the type of high-temperature corrosion from the unleaded fuels then in common use. © The Newcomen Society for the Study of the History of Engineering & Technology 2012.

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