Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 10.djvu/490

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474
THE POPULAR SCIENCE MONTHLY.

of the galleries prevents effectual ventilation. The high price of horses and the large number required prevent their use. The idea suggested itself of making use for St. Gothard of machines moved by compressed air, which would have many advantages. First, it is well known that compressed air is used to work the perforating machines used in boring the tunnel; then, by the employment of compressed-air locomotives, ventilation of the galleries would be produced, as these machines would allow only pure air to escape; and then these motors would be more powerful than horses, and effect more rapidly the clearing away of the débris.

PSM V10 D490 Compressed air generator.jpg
Fig. 1.

A first attempt was made in which two ordinary locomotives were employed, one at each side of the tunnel; the boilers, in which, of course, there was no water, were filled with condensed air under a pressure of four atmospheres. This air played the part usually done by steam, passed into slide-valves, entered the cylinders alternately on each face of the pistons, which it set in motion, and then escaped into the atmosphere.

It is easily seen that, if compressed air were to be employed, it would be indispensable to have a very considerable quantity of it; the boiler of a locomotive, sufficient when it is worked by means of steam constantly produced under the action of heat, was too small to contain a quantity of air sufficient for use without being filled. This led to adding to each locomotive a special reservoir for compressed air; each locomotive was accompanied, as a kind of tender, by a long sheet-iron cylinder, eight metres long and one and a half metre diameter, supported toward its extremities by two trucks, which, on starting, were filled with condensed air, and which communicated by a tube with the distributing apparatus of the cylinders. The locomotive then worked as before, except that compressed air came from the reservoirs instead of from the boiler. The two locomotives, the Reuss and the Tessin, worked economically for about two years, in spite of the awkwardness of the long cylinders that accompanied them. We can give some interesting figures resulting from the mean of a certain number of observations. At departure the pressure in