The distribution, amount, and composition of the fuels of Ireland having been described so far as information could be obtained upon the subject; it remains to examine the cost at which by their means the more important mechanical operations can be effected.
It is possible that to some, who are already habituated to the consideration of such topics, the details, with the discussion of which the present chapter will be occupied, may appear unnecessary, as such persons, knowing the price of fuel as already given, may follow out from their own experience all the practical consequences of importance to which it leads. But comparatively few persons are in so favourable a position. Misconceptions of very varied, but of serious character are entertained of the degree in which the price of fuel influences the industrial arts, and it is of great importance to remove those erroneous impressions. I shall, therefore, endeavour to exhibit, in as definite a form as the nature of the subject admits, the degree in which the price of fuel is an element in the cost of the final products of manufacture, and to illustrate the mode in which the greatest economy can be secured in its application.
In giving motion to machinery, fuel does not act directly, but through the medium of water, which when heated is converted into vapour, increasing enormously in bulk, and exercising a pressure on the containing vessel which is capable of
p.42overcoming the greatest resistance, provided the heat be supplied to a sufficient extent. It is thus that the steam engine, that wonderful creation of the highest mechanical genius, transfers the power originally resident in the fuel to the most remote elements of a complicated system of machinery. The power transferred is, generally speaking, proportional to the fuel burned, and thus the cost of power identifies itself for the most part with the cost of fuel. It is not my purpose to describe the steam engine. There are published special works in which all the details of its history and construction are given, but in order that the question of fuels may be placed in a proper point of view, it is necessary to notice some of the more important features of its action.
The unit of power assumed in all mechanical questions in these countries is the horse power. The word does not now by any means signify the actual work a horse could do, but is understood to mean a force sufficient to elevate 33,000 lb of water one foot per minute. That is about 884 tons of water raised one foot in an hour. Now as the increase of water in bulk when converted into steam at the ordinary boiling point is just 1700 times, and that its pressure is then 15 lb on each square inch, this force of a horse power will be brought into play when water is vaporized at the rate of 0.54 of a cubic foot per hour; very little more than half a cubic foot. This makes no allowance for loss of fuel, friction of machinery, &c. It is the purely theoretical result, to which all practical results must be applied as to a measure of their economy. We shall now proceed to examine some of the results of practice, pursued,
p.43according to various methods which shall be thereby contrasted.
From an extensive series of trials made by Peelet, Parkes and others, we may deduce the following numbers as expressing the absolute heating power of fuels, and as they will be of frequent reference I shall insert them here.
One pound of each fuel evaporates in pounds of water:
|Best turf coke||12.8|
|Wood not dried||5.2|
The economic value of coal is so well determined by the experience of English engineers, that I shall hereafter assume their results without going into any detail, but as the use of turf is still a subject of doubt and discussion in this country, I shall notice some examples of its present employment, and endeavour to deduce from them its economy. It may be easily understood that the evidence collected is not from England; the superabundance of coal there causes a neglect of all other fuels, and it will hence be necessary for us in this, as in many other instances, to take our examples from countries equally unfortunate with ourselves, where the paucity and dearness of fuel renders its economy important, and where the high state of scientific education renders their results satisfactory and attainable.
The numbers given above, as to the evaporative power of coals, are for the usual bituminous coals, represented in this country by those of the Lough Allen basin which are the least, and those of Tyrone which are the most bituminous. As so much of the coal of Ireland is anthracitous, and as this variety has been but very little employed in practice in England, it will be useful, as more firmly establishing the grounds of future conclusions, to notice what the practical results of its use have been in some cases where accurate numbers have been recorded. Dr. Fyfe in Edinburgh published the results of some experiments which he carried on to compare the evaporative power of the anthracite with that of bituminous coal.
p.44The result was, that with the same furnace 1 lb anthracite evaporated 7.94 lb of water, whilst the coal evaporated 6.62. The composition of the two he found to be:
Dr. Fyfe concluded from his experiments, which were continued for a long time, and were very carefully conducted, that in any fuel the heating power is proportional to the quantity of fixed carbon, that is, pure coke, which the fuel yields. This would make the practical value of anthracite about one and a half times that of ordinary bituminous coal. This, however, can occur only where the volatile parts of the coal are not well burned, as certainly occurred in Dr. Fyfe's experiment.
It has been shewn that average coal will evaporate, when perfectly consumed, and the heat perfectly economized, twelve times its weight of water. The heating effect of anthracite is too local to allow of its being fully utilized if merely burned on an ordinary grate, but if the flaming character be given to it by means of a current of steam in the manner described in page 27, the economy of heat is much increased, although its absolute amount is not altered. In experiments carried on with an anthracite furnace, of which the furnace bars dipped in water troughs, and thus furnished steam to the fuel as patented by Mr. Kymer, it was found that in an engine boiler working under twenty-eight pounds pressure to the square inch, 117 lb of anthracite evaporated 1118 lb of water, that is one pound to nine pounds and a half. It is hence evident that the anthracite is at least fully as effective as the average bituminous coal, and consequently in future it is not necessary to make any distinction between them under this point of view.
One of the most eminent mechanical engineers of the present day, Mr. Scott Russell, has given the following as the working conditions of the evaporation of water and generation of power.
One cubic foot of water evaporated per hour, is a horse power.
11 lb of coals evaporate a cubic foot of water.
1 lb of coal evaporates 6.6 lb of water.
Here the quantity of water necessary to generate a horse power of steam, is nearly double the purely theoretical result, and the quantity of coal necessary to evaporate the water is also nearly double that which has been indicated (page 43), as the proper duty of average coal. This enormous difference originates in the peculiar construction of the most usual form of steam boilers, which, having been invented in a country rich in fuel, and where its economy was, then at least, unimportant, produces a waste of the source of power very necessary for us to avoid.
If you enter the engine house of a factory in Lancashire or Lanark, unless it be of quite novel and peculiar construction, you will observe the steam boiler to be of that kind so well named waggon-shaped; under it are situated great fires, the flues from which winding round the boiler pass into a chimney, from the aperture of which are emitted vast volumes of dense black smoke. The fire-man has but two cares, to keep his boiler full of water, and his fire-place full of coals. These he throws in with astonishing good will; they are so cheap. In these waggon boilers the relation which the heated portion of the boiler bears to its entire surface seldom exceeds one-half; and it has been found by Mr. Parkes, from experiments of a very precise character, that with such boilers the highest evaporative effect that can be obtained is 8.86 lb of water for one pound of coals. In those districts where fuel is so cheap, the waste is often even greater; thus Mr. Parkes values the average consumption of the best engines in Manchester at one hundred and a half of coals per horse power per day; that is fourteen pounds per hour. We may consider, therefore, that with the common waggon boiler, and ordinary steam engine, the horse power is represented by a cubic foot of water evaporated per hour, and that this requires the combustion of at least ten pounds of coals.
We in Ireland are not by any means the only people who are
p.46badly off for fuel. In one of the most industrious districts of England, in Cornwall, in the midst of its mineral wealth, there is want of fuel for steam power to drain the mines. The engineers in Cornwall, therefore, could not shovel in coals like their brethren in the North. They had the problem distinctly set before them,how much work can be got out of a bushel of coals? and certainly their results have been surprising. The facts were denied for a long time by the Lancashire engine makers; the reports of duty of the Cornish engines were quoted as a mechanical romance; but that is now all past, and as our condition is nearly the same as that of the Cornish men, I shall describe what they have effected.
In place of the waggon boiler already noticed, there is used a long cylindrical boiler, perforated by one, two, or even three flues; so that although on a greater scale it is not very unlike the tubular boiler of a locomotive engine. Sometimes the fire-place is in the centre flue, at others, under the boiler. The flue passes also round the boiler, so that a far greater surface of water, in proportion to its mass, is presented to the action of the heat than in the waggon form. The result is found to be, that, by Mr. Parkes' trials, one pound of coal in a Cornish boiler will evaporate twelve pounds of water, thus fully giving the result I have taken as the standard. The evaporation of a cubic foot of water from a Cornish boiler, should take 5.2 lb of coal; little more than one-half of what the waggon boiler in average requires, even when well worked. Hence, where fuel is dear there should be no question of waggon boilers. The manufacturer who burns two pounds of coal where one pound should be sufficient, pays twice as much as is necessary for his power, which must of course be deducted from his profits.
But the improvements in the Cornish steam engine are not restricted to a better construction of the boiler. Another is still more remarkable, inasmuch as its principle is much more latent. We have seen that to generate the steam, the elastic force of which represents the horse power, we must evaporate 0.54 cubic foot of water. Now this weighs 33 3/4 lb, and, avoiding minute fractions, we may consider that it might be evaporated
p.47in a Cornish boiler by three pounds of coal. In place of fourteen pounds as given by Parkes, or eleven pounds as taken by Scott Russell, for practice, the theoretical result becomes three pounds. This, however, allows no loss for friction in machinery; no loss of motion in transmission through the parts of the engine; no waste of steam. Yet all these are sources of loss, and nevertheless they are compensated for in the Cornish engine, and a duty or performance obtained in practice, which, when reduced to the horse power, becomes three pounds of coal burned per hour; and even in some instances falls below it, so that the work done with all friction of machinery, is greater than is indicated by theory without loss or friction.
In the ordinary way of working a condensing engine, the steam is let on the piston fully throughout its course, and we may assume the working pressure at fifteen pounds per square inch. This pressure is to be multiplied by the length of the stroke to obtain the effective power. Let us take the stroke at forty-eight inches. The force exerted will therefore be, per square inch,
15 X 48 = 720.
Now an engine of forty-eight inch stroke, and consuming the same quantity of steam, is worked differently in Cornwall. The steam (for example) is generated at a pressure of sixty pounds per square inch; that is of four atmospheres. It is let on the piston until this has moved through one-fourth of its stroke, that is through twelve inches. The valve is then closed, and the steam allowed to move the piston by its own elasticity through the remaining space. The steam hence expands so as finally to fill the whole cylinder, and in so doing gradually lessens its elasticity, so that at the end its pressure is fifteen pounds, the same as it was all through in the first example. Let us calculate what is the difference of result. The working pressure, when the steam enters the cylinder, is sixty pounds, and at that pressure it moves the piston twelve inches. The supply is then cut off; the steam expands to double its volume, and moves the piston through another twelve inches. By expanding, however, it reduces its elasticity to one-half,
p.48that is to thirty pounds; and its mean pressure through this space is to be reckoned at forty-five pounds. Continuing to expand, it moves the piston through another twelve inches, but its pressure is then reduced to twenty pounds, and hence the mean pressure through this portion of its course is twenty-five pounds; and finally, when the piston has been pushed to the end of the cylinder, and the steam quadrupled in volume, its effective pressure is reduced to fifteen pounds to the square inch, and the mean pressure during the last twelve inches of movement has been seventeen pounds and a half. Now let us sum up these results. The piston moved
Which is the measure of the effective power, being two and a half times that given by the same quantity of steam used without the expansive action. These numbers would require small corrections to be made quite accurate; so great a pressure as sixty pounds is also not used in practice, but for the object of popularly illustrating the principle of expansion on which the Cornish engines are worked, it is quite sufficient.
The great economy of fuel which is effected in Cornwall, depends thus on the form of boiler, and on the use made of the steam. These are two points to which our attention must be steadily devoted, for the difference between burning fourteen pounds of coal per hour, and burning three pounds, is all important in industry.
Now it must be remarked here that a fault, to which every steam engine is liable, is most developed in the Cornish engine, that is an inequality in the velocity of the piston. In a common engine, the action of the steam being constant tends to give the piston an accelerated velocity, and in the Cornish engine, the force of the steam being variable, gives a velocity of piston also variable within wide limits. This is partly obviated by the crank and the fly-wheel, the mass of which serves
p.49to regulate the motions, but some disadvantage still remains. It affects the application of the steam engine to many delicate operations, and I shall return specially to the subject when I come to speak of another source of industrial power.
These explanations regarding boilers and steam engines, Cornish and common, being premised, it is now possible to discuss the questionwhat is the expense of steam power in Ireland? The horse power is taken as the unit. The cost of 100 horse power is of course 100 times the cost of one.
I have already noticed the prices of coals in the coal fields of Ireland, but I shall give them here in a tabular form for comparison.
|Large Coal||Small Coal|
|Leinster coal field||11s. 6d.||4s. 0d.|
|Tipperary||12s. 0d.||4s. 0d.|
|Tyrone||12s. 0d.||5s. 0d.|
|Connaught||from 4s. 9d. to 6s. 4d.|
Now for generating heat, a mixture in equal parts of large and small coal may be very conveniently burned. Indeed small coal almost alone might be used, but I do not wish to push an ideal economy so far. In the immediate neighbourhood of the pit mouth, therefore, the cost per ton of fuel adapted to all heating purposes, may be taken as averaging 8s. per ton. In carriage to a distance, it may be assumed that 3d. per ton per mile is a sufficiently high charge, and taking the radius of supply of a pit at twenty miles, the price should be at the extreme limit 8s. + (3d. X 20) = 13s. per ton. Hence the average price of such coal (mixed large and small) in the district should be 10s. 6d. per ton, and I shall take it at 12s. per ton, in order to be on the safe side.
It has been shewn that with the waggon boiler and ordinary condensing engine, the horse power of steam is generated by the combustion of ten pounds of coals per hour. This is 120 lb per working day of twelve hours. Now as one ton (2240 lb) costs 12s., 120 lb will cost 7 3/4d. Thus, in the interior of the country, within the distance of twenty miles from the coal pits, the cost of fuel for steam power may be taken at 7 3/4 per horse power per day.
None of our coal districts come near enough to the coast to meet the competition of British coal. Round the island, therefore, and for some ten or twelve miles inland, and also along the course of the navigable rivers, we must consider steam as generated by the combustion of coal brought from England. From this we may except the upper and middle Shannon, which, however, does not influence the result we seek. The price of English, and especially of the Welch and Scotch flaming coals, which answer excellently for industrial purposes, has lately fallen very much in this country, owing principally to the reduction of freight from the want of other occupation for a great number of ships, in the recent depressed state of trade. The price may rise somewhat, but not materially, and we may consider the average of native coal assumed as 12s., to represent the price at which furnace coals may be laid in on the eastern coast, and some distance up the rivers which open into it. On the western and southern coast, the cost of carriage should be higher, but not materially to affect the price; for in Limerick, which is the only locality where the question becomes important, the concurrence of Arigna coal and the abundance of turf would prevent much alteration. I shall hence take the cost of fuel for a horse power as being the same, 7 3/4d. per working day, burning English coal within range of the coast.
In the central counties, where the vast tubaries of the limestone plain supply abundance of fuel, the cost of it will vary very much according to its mode of preparation. I shall put out of question here the compound fuels proposed by Mr. Williams, and even compressed peat; not that I am insensible of their value, but that I am anxious to place the question of cost on the basis most easily realized. I suppose, therefore, that the turf has been only well dried. In this case its heating power, when perfectly dry, is one-half that of coal. But under ordinary circumstances it retains so much moisture, that it may be practically taken at somewhat more than two-fifths. That this result is founded on sufficient data may be judged from the following evidence.
I have been favoured with returns of the work and consumption of a condensing engine of thirty-four horse power, which
p.51is employed to grind corn in one of our central counties, and under the boiler of which the turf of the vicinity is burned. The result is found to be, that in twelve hours there are consumed fifty boxes of 280 lb each; that is, thirty-four pounds of turf per horse power per hour. Now as we may consider a cubic foot (62.5 lb) of water evaporated per hour as the measure of a horse power, it results that the turf in this instance does not evaporate quite twice its weight of water. In fact it is used damp; it is badly managed in the furnace, and I notice it only as an instance of what we shall require to correct. In this mill the box of turf costs 6d., which is just 4s. per ton. The cost of fuel is 9d. per horse power for the day of twelve hours. This we shall hereafter find to be excessive.
Mr. Purdy, by whose exertions our mineral industry has been so materially benefited, has furnished me with a note of the performance of turf under a steam engine erected for draining a lead mine at Derrynoos in Armagh, formerly worked by the Mining Company of Ireland. The district is very unfavourably circumstanced as to fuel. Coal, whether from Coal-Island or Newry, could arrive only after a land carriage, which alone costs 10s. per ton. The turf was black mountain turf, giving much ash; its cost, reduced to weight, was 6s. 10½d. per ton. In this the locality was exceptional. The work of the turf was compared with the work of average Cardiff coals in the same engine and under the same circumstances.
1 lb coal raised 365,591 lb water one foot high.
1 lb turf raised 121,489 lb water one foot high.
Reduced to the bushel (94 lb) it becomes:
A bushel of coals raised 34,365,554 lb water one foot high.
A bushel of turf raised 11,419,966 lb water one foot high.
Hence the effect of the turf is one-third of that of average coal. This was inferior turf, and yet the effect is much greater than in the former case, where much better turf was used.
The engine burned per horse power per hour, twenty-four pounds of turf, and for the day of twelve hours the cost of fuel per horse power was 10½
Now it must not be forgotten, first, that the fire-places of
p.52those engines were not constructed for turf but for coal, and that consequently they could not burn turf in a suitable manner; and second, that the turf is prepared without suitable desiccation. Hence the proportionally great, cost of power.
The high price of fuel in Cornwall has led not only to the wonderful economy produced by the principle of expansion, but also to endeavours to replace the imported coal by the native turf of that district. Mr. Wickstead has given an account of an engine with which comparative trials of those fuels were made. The engine, working five horse power, consumed in twenty-four hours three bushels and one-third of coal (310 lb). In the same time and doing the same work it burned three cubic feet of turf which cost 8½d. I think that in the volume of the turf an error has crept into Mr. Wickstead's paper, which prevents my estimating the weight of turf consumed, but the cost enables us to judge. At 10s. per ton the coals should cost 17d., and hence the turf did the same work for just half that price.
This result was so decisive, that Mr. Grout, on one of whose engines the trial was made, is getting the fire-places of all his engine boilers altered, that turf may be exclusively burned in them.
Mr. Burstall of Bristol has published the results of his use of turf with a high pressure engine. The steam was of thirty pounds pressure, and there were consumed seventy-four pounds of turf (which he describes as bad) per hour. The quantity of water evaporated from the boiler per hour was in average 360 lb. The turf consequently evaporated nearly five times its weight of water. This result approximates to what theory leads us to expect, but the turf certainly was not bad, although it is so described by Mr. Burstall.
In the factory of Gamier at Beauvais, the turf of Breles is burned under a twenty horse power high pressure engine. This turf is black; contains 7 per cent. of ashes, and gives 40 per cent. of coke. The turf necessary was double the weight of the coal previously employed. Its cost was one-fourth.
The following results, as to the comparative effective power of turf and coal, are derived from the working of the Lansdowne,
p.53one of the steamers of the Inland Navigation Company which ply upon the Shannon with goods and passengers. They have been kindly placed in my hands for my present object, by Mr. C. W. Williams. Before the use of turf was introduced, there was burned in a week, which comprises forty-nine hours of work, twenty-four tons of coal, which costing in average at Killaloe, 15s. per ton, amount to £18 or 7s. 5d. per hour. To do the same work at present, burning nothing but turf, there are consumed per week 315 boxes of turf, which at 7d. per box costs £9 12s. 7d., or 3s. 11d. per hour of work,but a shade more than half the cost with coal. The engines of the Lansdowne are condensing, of thirty-eight inches and a half diameter, and three feet and a half stroke. The usual velocity is twenty-five strokes per minute.
The box of turf contains twenty cubic feet; not very closely packed. It weighs about three cwt. and a half; so that the ton weight of turf costs about 3s. 6d. The weight of 315 boxes is hence fifty-five tons and a quarter, and the practical value of the turf is to that of the coal as 24 to 55 1/4, or as 43 to 100. Almost exactly the same as calculated in page 36, from the average composition of good turf. It is interesting to consider the influence which the substitution of turf for coal in the Shannon steamers has on the population residing near its banks. In the year 1839, there was no turf burned, and the coals consumed on board the Company's boats amounted to 3108 tons. In 1843 there were burned but 724 tons of coal, although the amount of trade was much increased. The quantity of turf consumed was upwards of 7000 tons, which at 3s. 6d. per ton gives an expenditure of more than £1200 distributed in wages of labour, by which almost the entire cost of the turf is made up. The equivalent quantity of coals would have cost above £1800, so that at the same time the Company saved £600 a year.
Those remarkable facts are well exhibited in a letter written by Mr. Williams to the Board of Admiralty, which is subjoined, as it illustrates some additional circumstances. Mr. Williams' estimate of the saving is greater than mine, for in the preceding analysis of the results, I have taken coal at a lower price than is assumed in his letter. The reason is, that it has
p.54fallen since those results were obtained, and I have calculated from what the price is, whereas he calculated from what it was at the time quoted.
Admiralty,12th July, 1843.
Sir,My Lords Commissioners of the Admiralty having received a proposition to cut peat at the Falkland Islands, for the service of such of H. M. steam vessels as may proceed to the Pacific, I am commanded by my Lords to request that you will favour my Lords with some information as to the proportionate duration of turf to coal in the Dublin Steam Packet Company's boats, which ply up the Shannon from Limerick.
I am Sir,Sidney Herbert.
Your most humble Servant,
To the Secretary of the
Dublin Steam Packet Company, Eden Quay, Dublin.
6, Princes-street, Cavendish-square,July 21st, 1843.
Sir,I have had the honour to receive your letter of the 12th Inst., addressed to the Secretary of the City of Dublin Steam Packet Company, inquiring, for the information of the Lords Commissioners of the Admiralty, the proportionate duration of turf to coal in the Company's boats which ply up the Shannon from Limerick, to which I beg to give the following reply derived from experience of the boats on that river.
1. The Lansdowne, a steamer with two engines, 38½ inch cylinders, at 3ft. 6in. stroke, consumed upon an average 120 tons of coal per month, running daily (except Sunday) a distance of forty-six miles, at 18s. per ton, covering expenses,
£108 0 0.
The same duty is done with 1419 boxes of turf of twenty cubic feet, about 250 ton weight, at 7d. per box,
£41 7 9.
Difference in the cost of the fuel per month, £66 12 3.
2. The difference in weight is, therefore, as two of turf to one of coal, and on the Shannon the difference in price is less than one-half that of coal.
3. Its proportionate duration may be estimated by the quantity required, compared with coal, to perform the same duty, that being double its weight its duration in the furnace is half that of coal.
4. From recent experiments with turf in the experimental boiler in the Company's yard at Liverpool, it is found, that turf can only be profitably used when it is of the quality that is obtained in good seasons. If bad or damp its evaporative power is reduced one-third and more. To improve the evaporative power of this fuel, however, results have shewn, that an addition of 40 per cent. of a preparation of turf by an improved method which I have been engaged upon for some years, will render it cheaper than coal used with bad turf, or than coal burned alone; and that the same percentage of this prepared fuel added to good turf, greatly increases its evaporative power with a very trifling addition to the cost.
From these facts it is evident that turf may be used advantageously in localities where it abounds, and where there is an absence of coal. Care, however, must be taken that the furnace bars are lowered, not only to admit a greater bulk of fuel, but also to prevent too great a volume of air passing in the ash-pit, and then through the bars. I may add also that in burning turf it is highly essential that air be admitted in the air chamber behind the bridge, in consequence of the rapidity with which the gases from this kind of fuel fly off. If it be excluded there upon the common furnace principle, the weight and bulk of fuel will be increased, the evaporative power reduced, and the cost proportionably greater.
It will give me much pleasure to furnish you with any further information in my power.
I have the honour to be, Sir,C. W. Williams.
Your obedient, humble Servant,
To Sidney Herbert, Esq.,
I have already noticed, that from my own inquiries the best turf may be had in the turf districts for 3s. 6d. per ton, and as it is a fuel that will never be drawn far for any industrial use, we may take 4s. per ton as the practical value of turf well dried within the range of the central counties. At this price, and allowing to it 44 per cent. of the calorific effect of coal, the horse power should cost 6d. per day, that is one-fourth cheaper than coal. Mr. Williams, using the same sort of fuel as is employed at the corn mill noticed page 51, and paying 6d. per box, but drying it well, found that with a large working waggon boiler, there were 3.87 lb of water evaporated per pound of turf, and that it cost 3s. 7d. to evaporate 100 cubic feet of water. Now this is at the rate of 5 1/4d. per horse power per working day. When the turf was burned in the furnace without Mr. Williams' peculiar method of effecting perfect combustion, the cost per horse power was 6 1/4d., coinciding with the result which I have derived from other sources.
From all these examples, it may be decisively concluded, that in Ireland the horse power per day of steam costs in fuel:
Using coals whether British or native, 7 3/4d.
Using turf properly dried, 6d.
Using turf in Mr. Williams' mode, 5 1/4d.
This is when the waggon boiler and the ordinary non-expansive engine are employed.
Now without entering into details which any person can deduce from what has been already said, I may lay down the distinct principle, that using the Cornish system, both as to boiler and mode of using the steam, the fuel per horse power is reduced to one-half. Therefore the cost in Ireland becomes:
With coals for 12 hours, 37/8d.
With turf for 12 hours, 3d.
That is to say that any mechanical operation, grinding or sawing, or weaving, spinning, or threshing, or any other, which requires the same labour as to raise 1000 tons of water ten feet high, can be effected in almost any part of Ireland by the consumption of a quantity of coals, costing 3 3/4d., or by turf, costing 3d.
How utterly unimportant is the cost of fuel in these mechanical operations.
It may be said, however, that small as this cost is when so described, it becomes very serious when taken for a year of 300 working days, and for an 100 horse engine. It is then found, in fact, that the fuel at 37/8d. per horse power per day, costs £484 7s. 6d. per year, and for the other estimates in proportion. So that in England where fuel is very abundant and cheap, the horse power is had for half the money; and thus in the article of coals a difference of £500 a year may exist, ruinous to the manufacturer in Ireland. It is necessary to examine how far this can operate.
In some parts of Lancashire, coals are sold at the pit mouth for 3s. 10d. or 4s. per ton. About Bury they are from 5s. to 5s. 3d. In the north of Lancashire they are from 6s. 3d. to 8s. From personal inquiries I am informed that furnace coal is never had in Manchester under 8s., and Dr. Ure, in his Philosophy of Manufactures, states facts from whence it results, that he assumes the cost of coal in Manchester to be 12s. 4d. per ton.
Mr. Henwood, who has calculated the total quantity of coals raised in Lancashire and their price, gives us the resulting average cost per ton 10s. 10d.
We may take Lancashire as the example of the other manufacturing parts of England. In none is coal materially cheaper, and we shall certainly not be far wrong if we assume as the average price of coal in English industry, two-thirds of what we have assumed for the cost in Ireland, that is two-thirds of 12s., or 8s. per ton.
But in order to estimate the cost of a horse power per day, we must see what is done in England. The cheapness of fuel there leads to an excessive waste of it, so that hitherto only in Cornwall was economy attended to; and even now improvement in that respect is but slowly taking place. According to Dr. Ure the consumption of coal in Manchester is twelve pounds per hour; according to Mr. Parkes it is fourteen pounds per hour. Mr. Fairbairn, in his Report on the Bann Reservoirs, also considers twelve pounds as the usual consumption.
p.58Mr. Scott Russell's estimate for standard performance is eleven pounds. Now taking as an average twelve pounds, the horse power costs per working day, 61/8d. We have seen that by ordinary attention with the waggon boiler, ten pounds per hour suffices, and this in Ireland costs 7 3/4d. The difference in favour of England from the cheap fuel is therefore but 1 5/8d., being nearly balanced by the waste which the idea of cheapness encourages.
If the Cornish system be employed, and that both English and Irish be anxious to save fuel, the result is also nearly to equalize, as the saving of money is more on the Irish side than on the English. Thus five pounds of coal per hour per horse power are burned; this costs for twelve hours in England 2½d.; in Ireland it should cost 3 3/4d.; the difference is 1 1/4d. But this economy will not be practised in England. It is not important enough to make them change their system, but it is highly important to us, we have still our industrial system to organize, and there is no principle more essential to our future prosperity, than a clear and profound perception of the means of economising fuel.
Mr. Baynes of Blackburn, whose locality is, however, very favourably circumstanced for fuel, considers that at 6s. per ton for coal, the horse power costs per week 2s. 4d., including warming the mill. This is at the rate of twelve pounds per hour. But it is a mill of the largest size, and is admirably managed. I shall refer to its details again. The daily cost per horse power with him is but 4½d.
It must be recollected, however, that it is not steam power that is to be sold, it is but an agent in subsequent operations of which the final product is to be brought to market. The true question is, whether the greater cost of steam power in Ireland than in England seriously affects the manufactures in which it is employed. I shall proceed to exhibit to you some facts which will throw light upon that point.
Mr. Baines of Leeds in his excellent history of the cotton manufacture, gives an analysis of the elements of its value for the year 1833, which has been allowed by all judges to be correct, and although the absolute value of the manufacture may
p.59have altered since, we may safely assume that its elements remain in the same proportion to each other. His numbers are:
The value of the cotton wool employed was altogether £8,244,693.
The total value of the manufactured cotton goods was £31,338,693.
The capital employed in the manufacture was £34,000,000.
This branch of industry supported altogether 1,500,000 persons. The number of operatives receiving wages was 487,000.
The amount paid in wages to those operatives was £10,419,000.
The power employed was 44,000 horse consisting of
Steam power 33,000 horse power.
Water power 11,000 ditto.
From these data the elements of cost may be calculated.
For the cost of power:
Suppose the whole 44,000 horse, all steam power, and each burning twelve pounds of coals per hour. Then in a year of 300 working days of twelve hours, the total coals consumed is 636,900 tons, and at the average of 8s. per ton this costs £339,680. Hence the elements of cost of the manufactured cotton are,
Cotton wool, . . . £8,244,693 or per cent. 26.27
Wages, . . . £10,419,000 or per cent. 33.16
Interest on capital, . . . £3,400,000 or per cent. 10.84
Coals, . . . £339,680 or per cent. 1.08
Rent, taxes, insurance, other charges and profit, £339,6808,935,320 or per cent. 28.65
Total £31,338,693 or per cent. 100.00
As so much of the capital of mechanical industry is invested in machinery, not merely liable to rapid injury and wear, but also constantly thrown out of use by the pressure of new improvements, I have considered 10 per cent. of interest on it to be fairly allowable. We may also deduce from these numbers, that in 1833, Mr. Barnes assumed the average rate of wages
p.60in the cotton manufacture to be 6s. 6d. per week. These results are, however, but collateral. What we have now to do with is the fact, that in manufacturing cotton by steam power, the cost of fuel is scarcely more than one part in 100 of the value of the manufactured article. Wages make up 33 per cent., a third of the entire; the raw material a fourth of the entire; rent and taxes also a large proportion. Now in Ireland wages are lower, rent is lower, taxes are lower, and there is a difficulty about coals, of which the increased cost is not more than a half per cent., which may be obviated by attention to economy, or which is neutralized by a difference of average wages of 1d. per week.
I shall notice some other examples, but without entering into so much detail.
An eminent woollen manufacturer, one to whom industry both in England and Ireland is under great obligations, favoured me with the following statement.
Coals at his factory in Leeds cost 3s. 4d. per ton. A forty horse power engine burns three tons per day, which costs £200 per year. The wear of engine, oil, and engineer's salary are £310, making total expense of power £510. The wages paid are £14,000 per year, and the total value of the produce £50,000.
In Dublin coals are four times as dear, but the other charges of the engine being the same, the total cost of power for a similar factory is £1310. The total cost of power in Leeds is thus 1.2 per cent. of the value of the product, and in Dublin 2.62. The difference is more than balanced by the wages in Dublin. In Leeds wages forms 28 per cent. of the value of the produce.
In the Irish railway report, Messrs. Mullholland of Belfast give an account of their excellent flax mill, one of the largest factories we possess in Ireland.
The engines are (nominal) 100 horse power. They consume weekly 90 tons of coals. There are employed 800 persons who receive weekly £200 in wages. The coals include a supply of Cannell coal for gas works on the establishment. But although thus placing the result in the most unfavourable
p.61view for my argument, I shall charge the entire as the source of power. The price of coals in Belfast at the time was 13s. per ton.
The cost of coal for the year was £3042. The sum paid in wages £10,400. The value of the manufactured produce £80,000. The coals for power and gas make 3.8 per cent.; the wages paid are 13 per cent. of the price of the products.
Change this factory to England, the average price of coal being 8s. Its cost becomes 2.3 per cent.; saving 1.5. The average rate of wages from 5s. at Belfast, becomes at least 6s. 6d., and makes up 16.9 per cent., losing 3.9 per cent.; £22 10s. per week saved in coals, and £60 per week lost in wages. Such should be Mr. Mullholland's great factory in England. The disproportion is, I am satisfied, much greater in fact, as perhaps not two-thirds of the coals should be really charged to the steam engines, unless they do a great deal of night work.
Since 1833, when Mr. Barnes' estimate was formed, wages have risen in England, as we find that Mr. Symons in his excellent work, Arts and Artizans at Home and Abroad, concludes the average of Lancashire to be 10s. 6d. This was in 1839. Now Mr. Farey, describing the organization of a cotton mill, states that a factory employing 750 persons will be driven by an engine of 100 horse power.
The wages per week in such a factory, taking Mr. Symons' average, are £393 15s.
The engine requires fuel, which at 8s. per ton, costs £19 per week. At 12s. per ton it costs £28 10s. Thus a difference of one-fortieth in the average rate of wages compensates for whatever difference can arise in the cost of fuel from the prices in Ireland and in Lancashire.
I have already noticed the cost of fuel in Mr. Baynes' mill at Blackburn, which is £26 15s. per week, for an engine working 233 horse power. I shall enumerate the machinery driven by this engine in order that it may be seen to be a factory of the largest size.
Mr. Baynes does not give the number of persons employed in his mill, but from its size it cannot possibly be under 800. Taking Mr. Symons' estimate of wages, 10s. 6d., the amount paid weekly in such a mill is £420, the cost of coals for power being £26 15s. In Ireland the coals might cost half as much more, but by how much less might the wages be.
In concluding this department of my subject, in which I have probably wearied many of my readers by those columns of figures and per cents., I shall subjoin some numerical illustrations taken from Mr. Symons' work already noticed. They exhibit, on the authority of eminent English manufacturers, the numerical proportions of outlay in factories such as now occupy us.
The cost of erecting a power loom factory of 500 looms, calculated to weave good calico, should be about £18,000.
Its annual produce should be 150,000 pieces of twenty-four yards at 6s., £45,000, which cost as under:
Probable expense of a spinning cotton mill, with hand-mules to produce No. 40, would be £23,000. With self-actors £2000 more.
The produce annually, taking the present prices of cotton, should be £25,000.
Cost of which as follows:
Now what is to be considered in these estimates is the fact, that coals, or even steam power altogether, is not an important item, but is only inserted along with oil and tallow, gas, repairs, &c, all of which together amount in the first instance to 4½ per cent., and in the second to 7.2 per cent. of the value of the products.
In order to exhibit the proportion which the cost of fuel bears to the other elements of manufacture in Ireland, as well as in the sister kingdom, I have been favoured with the following return from a factory for spinning and weaving cottons, which is situated near one of the large cities on the eastern coast, and uses coals and cotton both imported from England.
The value of cotton as bought in Liverpool for a year, was £11,177 9s. 6d. The freight and other expenses of carriage to Ireland was £332 5s. The average number of hands employed was 273, and the total amount of wages paid in the year was £4832 8s. The coals consumed were 1669 tons; of these about one-fifth was for heating and drying purposes, but as this use, although not for steam power, is still for the manufacture, there need not be any distinction drawn. The coals cost rather under 12s. per ton, but that sum may be taken, and hence there was paid for the coals £901. The total value of the manufactured article was £24,099 17s.
Now from these data it follows:
The average rate of wages paid is found to be 6s. 9d. per week. The average in Lancashire is 10s. 6d. How much more important does this difference appear to be than that of fuel. It is, however, not possible to compare them directly. It is a topic which will require some explanation in a future chapter.
Besides the two steam engines of twenty-five horse nominal power, there is on this concern a breast wheel which is employed whenever water is available. It is but small, and could not in any sensible degree modify the above result. I have, therefore, not taken it at all into account.
From all that has been described, I conclude that there is no locality in Ireland where fuel for industrial purposes may not be had, either native or imported; and that the cost of that fuel may not exceed, by more than half, the average cost of fuel in the manufacturing districts of England, and certainly need never be the double. That the cost of fuel to generate steam power bears so small a proportion to the value of the produce of mechanical industry, as to be totally unimportant, in comparison with money-wages and raw material, regarding which this country labours certainly under no natural disadvantage, and that finally by attention to the mode of burning fuel and using steam, the difference in price of coal may even in itself be compensated for, and other specially favourable circumstances may be rendered available to the success of industry in Ireland.
I have noticed at such length the question of the cost of fuel and of steam power, not from my own opinion of its ultimate importance, but that we might at once break down that barrier to all active exertion, which indolent ignorance constantly retreats behind. The cry of, what can we do; consider England's coal mines, is answered by showing that we
p.65have available fuel enough. The lament that coals are so dear with us and so cheap in England, is, I trust, set at rest by the evidence of how little influential the price of fuel is. However, there are other sources of power besides coals; there are other motive powers than steam. Of the 83,000 horse power employed to give motion to mills in England, 21,000, even in the coal districts, are not moved by fire but by water. The force of gravity in falling water can spin and weave as well as the elasticity of steam; and in this power we are not deficient. It is necessary to study its circumstances in detail, and I shall, therefore, next proceed to discuss the condition of Ireland with regard to water power.
In finally passing from the subject of fuel and steam power, I shall subjoin for convenience of reference, a tabular comparison of the peculiarities of the ordinary and of the Cornish steam boilers, taken from Mr. Scott Russell's work on the steam engine:
|Conditions||Ordinary Standard||Cornish Boiler|
|Area of fire in square feet||1||2|
|Area of heating surface in do.||15||60 to 70|
|Circuit of heat||60 ft.||150 ft.|
|Fuel per horse power per hour||10 lb||5 1/4 lb|
|Fuel consumed per hr. per ft. of grate||10 ft.||2 5/8 lb|
|Water evaporated by each lb. of coal||6 lb.||114/5 lb|
To the statement made in this chapter of the cost of power from various sources, it may be added that practical mechanists and engineers habitually value the cost of steam power on the east of Ireland within a range of seven or eight miles from the coast, at one shilling per horse power per day, which includes wages, interest, repairs, and every other expenditure as well as fuel. This estimate fully agrees with that of the cost of fuel deduced from my own results.