On Thursday evening, Nov. 22d, the usual weekly meeting of the Polytechnic Association was held at its room in the Cooper Institute, this city ; Professor Mason presiding. MISCELLANEOUS BUSINESS. Stoneware Post Butt.Mr. James Holland exhibited and explained an invention for securing wood that is planted in the groundas fence posts, telegraph poles, &c. from decay. It consists of a stoneware covering f.)i- the end of the post, which is to be set in the earth so that its top shall be about an ineh above the surface. The post is then placed in it, und the space around the post thoroughly filled with pitch. The m ateri al is composed of fire clay and sand (any kind of pottery clay will answer), dried, and then burned in a kiln until perfectly dry and hard. Not being porous, it excludes all moisture from the wood, and thus obviates the cause of decay. Mr. Dibben inquired whether the dwelling of the wood upon the absorption' of moisture would not split the butt; and remarked that it is a common practice to split stones by drill ing holes, driving in wooden plugs, and then wetting them. Mr. Holland said that for that purpose a porous wood such as willowwould be used. There would be no danger of these being rotten from th at ca use. The President i nquired what was to prevent the pole from rotting off just at the surface, immediately above the stone. Mr. Holland said that the pitch w ould be a sufficient protection there. The President inquired why, then, the pitch would not be a sufficient protection undergrou^^cj- Mr. Garvey said that the stone covering was to keep the pitch from seal ing off when the wood is swelled by moisture. The 1I"oo d must be thoroughly paint ed abo\'e the ground. Mr. Dibben inquired whether the inventor would be willing to put one into a pail of water with the wood unpainted. Mr. HollamlYes, sir ; I have done it before. witnesses. Mr. Garvey suggested that Mr. Holland furnish specimens for trial by Mr. Dibten's test. Holland agreed to do so. Gold Washe,-.s.Mr. Bruce exhibited a beautiful spe-men of quartz gold, sent from California by the last mail. The Presi dent cxhi b ited a specimen of gold gath ered from tailings which had been rejected as utterly incapable of yielding anything valuable. Upon running ten bushels through a new machine, a quantity of gold worth 9J cents to the bushel was separated. Two m en with five of these machines would obtain a clear profit of about $25 per day. It is done, as usua!, by the ,aid of mercury. Mr. Wood saiu that a friend of liis expected far greater profits from a machine which he had invented, without using any m ercury a t all. Mr. Di bben said that it had been found that tailings, after atmospheric exposure for some years, would be so changed that they could be worked profitably. The President cited the case of a man who had earned $3,000 in Californiu in a single year by working old tailings by the old methods. P^sonal Explanation.Mr. Seely offered a resolution with reference to remarks which he considered as im-plicnting the integrity either of an officer or member of the association. The regular subject" Sewing Machines "was then introduced. DISCUSSION. Mr. Babcock said that the sewing machine had been called the miracle of the present age. Twenty years ago, the practicability of sewing seams by machinery was considered as out of the question. At th; present time, tens of thousands of sewing machines are in daily operation, sewing i-apidly and with perfect success. This has, of course, occasioned. a considerable degree of suffering and want, by depriving the por, !leamstrC81 of her fo^CT tneaas of support ; but the amount of cuf- 375 ring has been smaller than would have been expected from the introduction of so large a number of machines. And, ill the end, we have every reason to suppose that it will be of advantage to the poor. While it will reduce the cost of manufacturing clothing, it will raise the price of labor, in the same manner that cotton machinery has raised the price of labor of cotton operatives. When the first spinning jenny was invented, a riotous mob destroyed it because it would destroy their 1 abor ; but the descendants of that mob are enjoying the benefits of the invention in an increased price ot labor and a decreased cost of the necessaries of life. This great boon of society is the result of a large number of inventive minds. The name of Howe, Hunt, Wilson, Singer, and hundreds of others, will be handed down to posterity and be revere nced by them as the introducers of this great improvement. Dr. -(a surgeon) remarked that the sewing machine needle, with the eye at the poi nt, was first employed in surgery for taking up and tying arteries. Mr. Johnson suggested that it would be well to commence with the historical bearings of the subject. Mr. Dibbcn said that old machines could be found which made the same show as many of the modern ones, but not for the same purpose or with the same practical effect. The locks ti tch was made by machinery long before Howe made it ; but it was made for ornamental purposes. And H owe has gained, before the highest tribunals of this country and of England, the sure credit that he was the first inventor of a practical apparat us for sewing seams by a sewing machine. In 1850, the inventive talent of the United States began to ruminate whether they could not improve upon Mr. Howe's sewing machine. Mr. Bartholf made a machine with a pointed needle and a shuttle running in a circle of about a foot diameter, with a reciprocating needle. Mr. Singer began in the Bowery, with two or three machines ; Mr. Wilson, of the firm of Wheeler & Wilson, brought out several new ones ; and Mr. Grover, of Boston, invented a different kind for different work. The first good show of practical sewing machines was made at the Crystal Palace Exhibition and World's Fair in New York. At first, there was a hue and cry that the work ripped, and was inferior to handwork. But now the poorest sewing machine work is equal to the best handwork. The President inquired whether all the subsequeni machines worked under Mr. Howe's patent. Mr. Dibben replied that, in this country, they are all amenable to Mr. Howe, although some of the manufacturers of t he cheap machines shirked the ..ayment to him of his paten t fee. The President inquired what inventor, flext to Mr. Hoive had devised an improvement especially important to the 11 nal result. Mr. DibbenThe next p..-actical men to whom the public owe their gratitude were Mr. A. B. 'Vilson, Mr. Grover and Mi. I. M. Singer. I'here three men have done the most. The President inqui red what was the-first im portant tmprovement.upon Mr. Howe's machine. Mr. Wood (to whom Mr. Dibhen yielded the floor) considered the rotary hook and feed, invented by A. B. Wilson, as the first. The invention of Mr. Howe consisted, not in a needle, but in the formation of a seam by the union of two threads, by the combined action of an eye -poi nted needle and a s huttle or other attendant apparatus. Althougli previous machines put threa.tls into cloth, it was not in the form of seams, but for other purposes ; and they had no apparatus for holdin g the cloth. In Mr. Howe's apparatus, the needle was placed in an arm which m oved horizon tally, and the cloth was suspended from what was called the baster plate. The needle, with the thread through the CJe near the point, was passed through the cloth. A loop was formed, and a shuttle upon the other side, containing another thread, was passed through that loop. The needle was withdrawn, and the threads were interlocked. That was the way in which Mr. Howe formed t he stitch. fhe PresidentDid Mr. Howe accomnlish the lockstitch ? Mr. WoodHe did. The PresidentThat was the main point to ^acm-plish, " o0\? Mr. WoodIt was. His feeding apparatus consisted of a rack upon the machine with pins resting upon it, upon which was suspended the cloth. The cloth was carried forward at each stitch. The objection was that you could only sew straight seams, in the line of the baster plate. The next step in the improvement of the sewing machine, I think, was putting the cloth upon a table, and moving it by an endless feed ; for, with the baster plate feed, the work was carried along as in a sawmill, and, when one straight edge was sewed, was replaced to be carried along again. Mr. Wilson's feed consists of a feed bar, slotted at some length, with a tongue playing in the slot, with points at the end of the tongue for holding the cloth ; the whole is moved by proper mechanism below, so thai, as the cloth lies beneath the needle, these teeth are raised and punctuate t'he cloth, then carry it forward to the proper length of a stitch ; and then, as the needle penetrates the cloth, the points drop, leaving the cloth free, excepting as held by the needle, while the feed bar moves back ready for another sti tch. This is called the reciprocating or four-motion feed. Mr. Wilson's earlier invention was the two-motion feed, which was objectionable because it always held the cloth so that it eould not ba turn ed to sew c urved seams. With the intermittent action of the fourmotion feed, the cloth may be turned upon the needle, while the feed bar is moving back. S0 that a skillful operative may write his own name with the seam. The President said that the invention of the feed seemed to him to be due to a boy in Rhode Island, who was tending looms in a cotton mill, and made a similar contrivance to enable him to read to better advantage while at his work. Mr. Wood remarked that it was very unfortunate for the opponents of Messrs. Wilsen and Howe that they had not known of this boy, The next important point in this machine is the rotary hook. In Mr.. Howe's in-vention the shuttle was used. Tile shuttle must be moved forward two inches a evet-y s^^A, lItoppd, moved back, and stopped agam.. In I!Owing 600 stitches a minute, the shuttle must be JIlovlid 3,400 Inches each minute, and be started 1,200 times and stopped 1,200 times. Of course, the power lost Ii-om the momentum was very considerable. Mr. Wilson attempted to produce a.machine in which the shuttle should move in a eircle, and the result was, first, the rotary shuttle machine; and finally, the rotary hook machine. The needle descends through the cloth. can-ying with it a loop of thread which is opened by the hook, and, after being carried arountl the bobbin, placed loosely within it and containing the under thread, is thrown off. The thread being then drawn up, forms a lockstitch. By the introduction of the rotary motion instead of the reciprocating shuttle, power is economized, less cumbersome machinery is required, greater speed is attained, and there is less noise. About three yards of thread areirequired for a yard of seam. Prior to Mr. Wil son, no attempt had been made to introduce the sewing machine into the family. But wi th Mr. Wilson's introduction a new era dawned. Mr. Wood proceeded to describe the Wheeler & Wilson sewing machine. He said that, although the stitch was the same as that made by the shuttle, yet as the shuttle throws the thread a little zigzag, while the rotary hook makes a straight seam, a person conversant with the subject could tell at a glance whether work is done upon a Wheeler & Wilson OT upon a Singer machine. The sewing machine has revolutionized thirty-seven branches of sewing ; even harness work can be done with it. The President inquired what further inventions had been made wh ich were embraced in the best approved sewing machines. Mr. Wood replied that there were several llUndred others, which the time would not allow him to specify, such as binding gages, hemming gages, hemmers, markers, and other appliances to adapt the machine to the various kinds of work. Another improvement consists in the use of a glass foot, so that the operator can see the work as it is sewed. The tension of the under thread in Wheeler & Wilson's machine is regulated by the action of the rotary hook upon the bobbin ; that of the upper thread is regulated by a vola nte spring. Mr. Johnson inquired in what relation the late Walter ^rat to sewing machines- Mr. WoodIt is understood that he is not entitled to the first iota of credit as an inventor of a sewing machine ; that his experiments were never considered by him as of any value, and had passed entirely from his memory, and were only resurrected by persons interelit-ed in defeating Mr. Howe. Mr. Haskell exhibited specimens of work done with the double lockstitch of Grover & Baker, for comparison. The Grover & Baker stitch was elastic, and less liable to rip in washing or in wear. Indeed, the stitch was so securely locked that even if every third stitch were cut, the work would not i ip. It was unnecessary to fasten off the ends of the sc. :n, for the same reason. Mr. Haskell proceeded to explain the opera tion of the machine. The stitch is formed by passing an eye-poi nted needle down through the cleth, forming a loop, carrying the under thread ; and the loop formed by under thread is cntered by the vertical needle as it comes down again. The stitches are, therefore, doubly locked together. The ten si on is su produced as to obviate the necessi ty of rewinding the thread. One-third more thread is required for the under thread with this stitch than with the shuttle stitch. Mr. Orr said that a mere ^ild could manage the Grover & Baker m achine, whereas some skill is required to regulate the tension of the shuttle stitch to cause the under thread tfl be drawn into the cloth. While the sti tch ot the Grover & Baker machine will not ravel out itself, yet it is easy to take out the work as rapidly as it is put in. Dr. Gardner suggested that it would be well to con-si der th e question whether sewin g machines did more good or more harm ; and if it was decided that their influence was beneficial, then there would be the proper order for the discussion which fI them was tho best. The President said that he had decided upon the IJI" posite eourse. Whell. the qH66tion of thll-it- atility como up, he would have some ^remarks to Jlfika. On motion of Mr. Hendriok, the subjjo w-as cmt. tinned for the next meeting. New Sijets.The "Eleckic Telegrapla," IId pecially the " Ocean Telegraph," WIIS pro^^^ by ML Dibben. The " Natural HistOl'y of the ^^^iean eoal Fields," was proposed by the President. On motion, the association adjourned CORRECTIONCALORIC ENGINES.Mr. Seely said, in the last debate upon this subject before the Polytechnic Association (October 31). that, although the difference of specific heat between air and water here had been overlooked by one of the schemes proposed by him at the previous meeting, yet he was prepared to show that this fact would no( be fatal to it. A GREAT SUCCESS.In the month of July last, we procured a patent for E. Clemo, a chemist residing at Toronto, C. W., for an improved process for making paper. The Galt ^^er says that after vainly endeavoring to get paper manufacturers to make use of the discovery, George Brown, Esq., of the Toronto G/o6e, was informed of it, and being convinced of its immense value, became a partner, and patented it in England, France, the United States and Canada. Mr. Brown has recently visited New York about the matter. He was met here by a number of American capitalists prominent among whom was Cyrus W. Field, of Atlantic Telegraph notorietyand it is said an arrangement has been effected by which Messrs. Brown & Clemo are to receive some $800,000 ! The statement is quite cu rrent in Toronto, and has caused a most lively sensation. AY WANTED FOR ETHER.A communication was received from Messrs. B. & S. D. Cozzens, counsel of Dr. William G. Morton, asking the board for compensation for the use of ether in surgical operations. The patent expired on the 12th ult., and the Commissioner of Patents refused to renew it in consequence of the refusal of Dr. Jackson to join with Dr. Mo^^on in asking for a renewal. Dr. Morton therefore asks for compensation from the board for the past use of the discovery, which he claims to have been used in the instilution under their charge.
This article was originally published with the title "The Polytechnic Association of the American Institute" in Scientific American 3, 24new, 374-375 (December 1860)