Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 10.djvu/492

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should issue from the cylinder under the least possible pressure, in order that refrigeration may he reduced to a minimum; for it is known that the expansion of gas is accompanied by a loss of heat which increases with the pressure. This condition was satisfied by causing the air to act under restraint; that is, by allowing the compressed air coming from the reservoir to enter during only a part of the course of the piston. But the admission of the air ought to vary if it is desired to obtain the same final effect, since the pressure in the reservoir diminishes continuously; and as the apparatus which regulates the admission was arranged to correspond only to determined fractions, but not to vary in a continuous manner, it followed that there was a greater expenditure of air than was necessary, and consequently a diminution in the length of the course over which the locomotive could run.

On the other hand, it is necessary that the air should arrive in the distributing apparatus with the least possible pressure, for it is in this apparatus, in the slide-valve, that the greatest losses take place, and these losses increase in proportion to the pressure. No means could, however, be thought of for diminishing the pressure in the reservoirs, which would have reduced considerably the work which the machines were capable of doing, unless by augmenting considerably the volume of the reservoirs, the dimensions of which were already unusually large.

At this stage M. Ribourt, the engineer of the tunnel, devised an arrangement which allows the compressed gas to flow at a fixed pressure, whatever may be the pressure in the reservoir. The gas in escaping from the reservoir enters a cylinder B (Fig. 1), over a certain extent of the walls of which are openings m m, that communicate with another cylinder C, which surrounds it to the same extent, and which is connected with the slide-valve by which the air is distributed, or, more generally, with the space in which this air is to be utilized. On one side moves a piston E, which shuts the cylinder and hinders the escape of the air. This piston carries externally a shaft F, which supports externally a spiral spring H, the force of which is regulated by means of a screw. Internally it is connected by another shaft L with a second piston N, which bears a cylinder M, movable in the interior of the principal pump, and forming thus a sort of internal sheath. This sheath presents openings n n, which may coincide exactly with those already referred to, and in that case the gas passes without difficulty from the reservoir at the point where it is to be employed. But if the sheath is displaced, the openings no longer correspond, there is resistance to the passage, and consequently diminution of the quantity of gas which flows out, and hence lowering of pressure in the exterior cylinder. By making the position of the sheath to vary continuously we may make the pressure of exit constant, notwithstanding the continuous variation at entry. But the