No engineer conversant with the scientific principles of the steam engine denies that the indicator is of immense value. It is to be deplored that the use of this instrument cannot "fee more general. The comprehension of its principles is within the reach of almost any engineer in charge of stationary or other engines. Why is it that this instrument, so well calculated to add to the perfection of the steam engine, is, among those directly connected with the running of engines, so little known ? It is not on account of the difficulty of understanding a card when taken, much less is it the difficulty of attaching the indicator to the engine that hinders its general introduction, but it is the price that is charged or an indicator. Few engineers can afford to pay one hundred dollars for an instrument, and the owners of steam engines are loth to pay. the price for a thing, the utility of which they think is at the best but doubtful. The indicator very often is the means of showing the imminent petfil at which the engine is wording, and this is particularly true where two engines are connected together, for a derangement of one engine affects the other in the highest degree. If the demand for instruments was greater the present styles could be made much cheaper, but, on account of the high prices, the demand is so small that it does not jfay to get up machinery for their special construction. The only way we see out of the dilemma is to design a style of instrument which will not be so costly in its construction, arid, at the same time, will be ascertain and as accurate in its action. This no doubt presents many difficulties—some persons may say that they are insurmountable, but I scarcely think so, the thing is possible arid will be accomplished by some enterprising person. The indicator in the hands of the great body of engineers will tend towards a better understanding of the action of the steam and will promote inquiries into the more difficult and complex principles of the steam engine, which will be as beneficial to the owners of the engines as to the engineers themselves. Coal would be saved, and many a break down could be avoided if the engineer in charge had a clear knowledge of those parts of his engine mot immediately within his reach. ENGINEEB.
This article was originally published with the title "The Indicator" in Scientific American 20, 24, 376 (June 1869)