was M. Schneider , proprietor of the great ironworks at Creuzot, in France. We had supplied him with various machine tools, and he was so pleased with their action that the next time he came to England he called at our office at Patricroft. M. Bourdon, his mechanical manager, accompanied him.

I happened to be absent on a journey at the time; but my partner, Mr. Gaskell, was present. After showing them over the works, as an act of courtesy he brought them my Scheme Book and allowed them to examine it. He pointed out the drawing of my steam hammer, and told them the purpose for which it was intended. They were impressed with its simplicity and apparent practical utility, -- so much so, that M. Bourdon took careful notes and sketches of the constructive details of the hammer.

I was informed on my return of the visit of MM. Schneider and Bourdon, but the circumstance of their having inspected the designs in my Scheme Book, and especially my original design of the steam hammer, was regarded by my partner as too ordinary and trivial an incident of their visit to be mentioned to me. The exhibition of my mechanical designs to visitors at the Foundry was a matter of almost daily occurrence. I was, therefore, in entire ignorance of the fact that these foreign visitors had taken with them to France a copy of the plan and details of my steam hammer.

It was not until my visit to France in April 1842 that the upshot of their visit was brought under my notice in an extraordinary manner. I was requested by M. Bouchier, Minister of Marine, to visit the French dockyards and arsenals for the purpose of conferring with the director of each with reference to the supply of various machine tools for the proper equipment of the marine engine factories in connection with the Royal Dockyards. In order to render this journey more effective and instructive, I visited most of the French engineering establishments which had been supplied with machine tools by our firm. Amongst these was of course the famous firm of Schneider, whose works at Creuzot lay not far out of the way of my return journey accordingly made my way thither, and found M. Bourdon at his post, though M. Schneider was absent.

M. Bourdon received me with much cordiality. As he spoke English with fluency I was fortunate in finding him present, in order to show me over the works; on entering which, one of the things that particularly struck me was the excellence of a large wrought-iron marine engine single crank, forged with a remarkable degree of exactness in its general form. I observed also that the large eye of the crank had been punched and drifted with extraordinary smoothness and truth. I inquired of M. Bourdon "how that crank had been forged?" His immediate reply was, "It was forged by your steam hammer!"

Great was my surprise and pleasure at hearing this statement. I asked him how he had come to be acquainted with my steam hammer? He then narrated the circumstance of his visit to the Bridgewater Foundry during my absence. He told me of my partner having exhibited to him the original design, and how much he was struck by its simplicity and probable efficiency; that he had taken careful note and sketches on the spot; that among the first things he did after his return to Creuzot was to put in hand the necessary work for the erection of a steam hammer; and that the results had in all respects realised the high expectations he had formed of it.

M. Bourdon conducted me to the forge department of the works, that I might, as he said, "see my own child;" and there it was, in truth -- a thumping child of my brain. Until then it had only existed in my scheme book; and yet it had often and often been before my mind's eye in full action. On inspecting the steam hammer I found that Bourdon had omitted some important details, which had led to a few mishaps, especially with respect to the frequent breaking of the piston-rod at its junction with the hammer block. He had effected this, in the usual way, by means of a cutter wedge through the rod; but he told me that it often broke through the severe jar during the action of the hammer. I sketched for him, then and there, in full size on a board, the elastic packing under the end of the piston-rod, which acted, as I told him, like the cartilage between the bones of the vertebrae, preventing the destructive effects of violent jars. I also communicated to him a few other important details, which he had missed in his hasty inspection of my design. Indeed, I felt great pleasure in doing so, as I found Bourdon to be a most intelligent mechanic, and thoroughly able to appreciate the practical value of the information I communicated to him. He expressed

  By PanEris using Melati.

Previous chapter/page Back Home Email this Search Discuss Bookmark Next chapter/page
Copyright: All texts on Bibliomania are © Bibliomania.com Ltd, and may not be reproduced in any form without our written permission. See our FAQ for more details.