and to attach to the top of it a suitable weight which is lowered as the barometric pressure increases. One of the best methods of neutralizing the effects of variations of barometric pressure is to enclose the whole clock in an air-tight case, which may either be a large glass cylinder or a square case with a stout plate-glass front. This renders it independent of outside variations, whether of temperature or pressure, and keeps the density of the air inside the case uniform. If the case could be completely, or almost completely, exhausted of air, and kept so exhausted, of course the pendulum would experience the minimum of resistance and would have to be lengthened a little. But in practice it is impossible to secure the maintenance of a good vacuum without sealing up the case in such a way as to render repairs very difficult, and this plan is therefore rarely resorted to. What is usually done is to put the clock in a metal case covered with a thick sheet of plate glass bedded in india-rubber strips, and held down by an iron flanged lid or frame firmly fixed by means of small bolts. An air-pump is attached to the case, a turn-off tap being inserted, and by a few strokes the pressure of the air inside the case can be lowered to (say) 29 in., or a little below the usual barometric height at the place where the clock is. The difference of pressure being small, the tendency of air from outside to leak in is also small, and if the workmanship is good the inside pressure will remain unaltered for many days. In any case the difference produced by leakage will be small, and will not greatly affect the going of the clock. With care, and a daily or weekly touch of the pump, the pressure inside can be kept practically constant, and hence the atmospheric error will be eliminated. The cover has also incidentally the effect of keeping damp and fumes from the clock and thus preserving it from rust, especially if a vessel with quicklime or some hygroscopic material be put in the case.
Cases have considerable effect on the air, which moves with a pendulum and is flung off from it at each vibration; the going rate of a chronometer can be altered by removing the case. It is therefore desirable that cases enclosing pendulums should be roomy. Many people prefer to omit the air-tight case, and to keep a record of barometric, thermometric and hygrometric changes, applying corrections based on these to the times shown by the clock.
It was formerly usual to suspend pendulums by means of a single spring about ½ in. wide riveted with chops of metal. The upper chop had a pin driven through it, which rested in grooves so as to allow the pendulum to hang vertically. The Suspension of pendulums.best modern pendulums are now made with two parallel springs put a little less than an inch apart. The edges of the chops where the springs enter are slightly rounded so as to avoid too sharp bending of the springs. Suspension of pendulums on knife edges was tried by B. L. Vulliamy and others, but did not prove a success.
It was once thought that lenticular pendulum bobs resisted the air less than those of other shapes, but it was forgotten that their large surface offered more “skin friction.” They are now no longer used, nor are spheres on account of difficulty of construction. A cylinder is the best form of bob; it is sometimes rounded at the top and bottom.
Escapements.—The term escapement is applied to any arrangement by which, as the wheels rotate, periodic impulses are given to the pendulum, while at the same time the motion of the wheels is arrested until the vibration of the pendulum has been completed. It thus serves as a mechanism for both counting and impelling. Since the vibrations of a pendulum through small arcs are performed in times independent of the length of the arc, it follows that if a pendulum hanging at rest receive an impulse it will swing out and in again, and the time of its excursion outwards and of its return will remain the same whatever (within limits) be the arc of the swing, and whatever be the impulse given to it. If the impulse is big, it starts with a high velocity, but makes a larger excursion outwards, and the distance it has to travel counteracts its increase of speed, so that its time remains the same. Hence a pendulum, if free to swing outwards and in again, without impediment, will adapt the length of its swing to the impulse it has received, and any interference with it, as by the locking or unlocking of the escapement, will be far less deleterious to its isochronism when such interference occurs at the middle of its path rather than at the ends. It follows that the best escapement will be one which gives an impulse to the pendulum for a short period at the lowest point of its path, and then leaves it quite free to move as it chooses until the time comes for the next impulse.
But a pendulum is not quite truly isochronous, and has its time slightly affected by an increase of its arc; it is therefore desirable that the impulses given to it shall always be equal. If the escapement forms the termination of a clock-train impelled by a weight, the driving force of the escapement is apt to vary according to the friction of the wheels, while every change in temperature causes a difference in the thickness of the oil. It is therefore desirable, if possible, to secure uniformity of impulse—say, by causing the train of wheels to lift up a certain specified weight, and let it drop on the pendulum at regular intervals, or by some equivalent method.
The two requirements above stated have given rise respectively to what are known as detached escapements, and remontoires, which will be described presently. In the first place, however, it is desirable to describe the principal forms of escapement in ordinary use.
|Fig. 8.—Anchor or Recoil Escapement.|
|Fig. 9.—Dead Escapement.|
The balance escapement, which has been already mentioned, was in use before the days of pendulums. It was to a Balance escapement.balance escapement that Huygens applied the pendulum, by removing the weight from one arm and increasing the length of the other arm.
Very shortly afterwards R. Hooke invented the anchor or recoil escapement. This is represented in fig. 8, where a tooth of the escape-wheel is just escaping from the right pallet, and another tooth at the same time falls upon the left-hand pallet at Anchor escapement.some distance from its point. As the pendulum moves on in the same direction, the tooth slides farther up the pallet, thus producing a recoil, as in the crown-wheel escapement. The acting faces of the pallets should be convex. For when they are flat, and of course still more when they are concave, the points of the teeth always wear a hole in the pallets at the extremity of their usual swing, and the motion is obviously easier and therefore better when the pallets are made convex; in fact, they then approach more nearly to the “dead” escapement, which will be described presently. The effect of some escapements is not only to counteract the circular error, or the natural increase of the time of a pendulum as the arc increases, but to over-balance it by an error of the contrary kind. The recoil escapement does so; for it is almost invariably found that whatever may be the shape of these pallets, the clock loses as the arc of the pendulum falls off, and vice versa. It is unfortunately impossible so to arrange the pallets that the circular error may be thus exactly neutralized, because the escapement error depends, in a manner reducible to no law, upon variations in friction of the pallets themselves and of the clock train, which produce different effects; and the result is that it is impossible to obtain very accurate time-keeping from any clock of this construction. The point in which the anchor escapement was superior to all that had gone before, was that it would work well with a small arc of swing of the pendulum. The balance escapement, even when adapted to a pendulum, necessitated a swing of some 20°, and hence the circular error, that is to say, the deviation of the path from a true cycloid, was considerable. But with an anchor escapement the pendulum swing need be only 3° or 4°. On the other hand, it violates the conditions above laid down for a perfect escapement, inasmuch as the pendulum is never free, but at the end of its swing is still operated on by the escapement, which it causes to recoil.
To get rid of this defect the dead escapement, or, as the French call it, l’échappement à repos, was invented by G. Graham. It is represented in fig. 9. It will be observed that the teeth of the scape-wheel have their points set the opposite way Dead escape-
ments.to those of the recoil escapement. The tooth B is here represented in the act of dropping on to the right-hand pallet as the