At the annual convention of the Master Car Builders' -Association, which opened at Niagara Falls, June 8, there was quite an excited discussion relative to car couplers. It will be remembered that the Executive Committee of the Association conducted, in September last, a series of tests of car couplers at Buffalo, as a result of which twelve special styles of couplers were recommended for further trial in actual service, out of forty-two ..that were then experimented with. [For particulars of these trials, with illustrations of the couplers experimented with, see Scientific American Supplement, No. 510.] Of the twelve then selected for subsequent service tests, only seven were, ever dug cost three—not to the man who dug it out It is but one who finds it, and he gets rich. But the . by the committee's report at this last meeting, recom-others who are hunting, tlie others :who are wearing mended “as most worthy of trial” in a large way hereout their hands and' eyes in fruitless search, are spend- ' after, to '' demonstrate their ultimate worth,” five styles ing their dollars. It was not the man who undertook of coupler formerly recommended being thus inferen- tial Ami oil in Kttobmg, but the lJUt.u Who struck it, that made a fortune. The world profited by the industry of the searchers for gold, and the world reaps a benefit from the flnd of the finder. That they got rich affects not the question. That grand impulse of selfishness which God has placed in every man for his protection. as a stimulus for his ambition and energy, which makes anxiety to be rich, is the mainspring which has led to all the inventions of this world which are worth talking about. Why is it we outdistance any nation of the earth? It is because we have the best patent laws and patent organization on the face of the earth. Why is it that these very systems denounced as monopolies are utilized by every one of us, except that they bring but good? Take this telephone. How many use it, simply to save the expense of servants ? The gentleman from Indiana [Mr. Holman] said when printing was invented, there was no patent office. When the Patent Office was established, the printing press then in existence compared as poorly with the Hoe power press of to-day as a chip on the ocean comtin,lly condemned. The committee gave no reasons, when questioned, for their action in this particular, further than that the service trials were as yet very incomplete, an admission which different members of the convention thought should have prevented the committee from making a report discriminating against the five styles of coupler that were dropped ; and this impression seemed to be so general that the whole car coupler-question is yet concededly an open one. The trials of couplers are to be further continued by the committee, but new consideration will be given by these examiners only to such couplers as may be indorsed by five members of the Association. The committee express doubt “as to whether there is to-day available' any automatic coupler which a railroad company would be justified in applying to itB cars,” as other companies would still use different couplers, and the danger to ,train men would thereby be increased rather than diminished. It is - rather recommended that “ the safest course for railroad com-spanies to pursue is the conservative one of retaining 'tie old general style of coupling,” while the energies of the Association should be devoted to adopting and June 26, 1886. J 401 getting into practice “ uniformity in style and construction of drawheads and deadwoods." The report of the committee caused a most animated debate, from which it was plain that the question of obtaining a satisfactory safety car coupler is still one of the most important that railroad men have to deal with. There is not any particular style of coupling that has yet received more than a sort of negative recommendation, but the lines are pretty clearly laid down that new couplers shall be calculated to couple readily with such other styles as are at present in most general use. The field for further competition is therefore still wide open, and inventors are urgently invited to occupy it until they succeed in working out the difficult problem, and constructing a device which will cOllllnand approval. The demand for such improvement is now felt to be the more urgent, inasmuch as New York State requires an approved safety coupler on all cars built after July 1, while. in Massachusetts and Michigan similar laws are already in operation, and public opinion seems to insist upon such legisla< tion in most of the other States. The master car builders and the railroads would be only too happy to comply with such laws, if they could find a coupler which would adequately answer the practical requirements of the railway business of the country ; but until they are satisfied that such a style of coupler has been found, the Association think a waiting policy is the best one for the companies, in the hope that American inventive genius will yet furnish a satisfactory way out of their difficulties.
This article was originally published with the title "Car Builders Perplexed About Car Couplers"