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COAL

double line of way, but the latter is more generally advantageous. The rope, which is guided upon sheaves between the rails, is taken twice round the head pulley. It is also customary to use a stretching pulley to keep the rope strained when the pull of the load diminishes. This is done by passing a loop at the upper end round a pulley mounted in a travelling frame, to which is attached a weight of about 15 cwt. hanging by a chain. This weight pulls directly against the rope; so if the latter slacks, the weight pulls out the pulley frame and tightens it up again. The tubs are usually formed into sets of from 2 to 12, the front one being coupled up by a short length of chain to a clamping hook formed of two jaws moulded to the curve of the rope which are attached by the “run rider,” as the driver accompanying the train is called. This system in many respects resembles the tail rope, but has the advantage of working with one-third less length of rope for the same length of way.

The endless rope system overhead is substantially similar to the endless chain. The wagons are attached at intervals by short lengths of chain lapped twice round the rope and hooked into one of the links, or in some cases the chains are hooked into hempen loops on the main rope. In mines that are worked from the outcrop by adits or day levels traction by locomotives driven by steam, compressed air or electricity is used to some extent. The most numerous applications are in America.

One of the most important branches of colliery work is the management of the ventilation, involving as it does the supply of fresh air to the men working in the pit, as well as the removal of inflammable gases that may be given Ventilation. off by the coal. This is effected by carrying through the workings a large volume of air which is kept continually moving in the same direction, descending from the surface by one or more pits known as intake or downcast pits, and leaving the mine by a return or upcast pit. Such a circulation of air can only be effected by mechanical means when the workings are of any extent, the methods actually adopted being—(1) The rarefaction of the air in the upcast pit by a furnace placed at the bottom; and (2) Exhaustion by machinery at the surface. The former plan, being the older, has been most largely used, but is becoming replaced by some form of machine.

The usual form of ventilating furnace is a plain fire grate placed under an arch, and communicating with the upcast shaft by an inclined drift. It is separated from the coal by a narrow passage walled and arched in brickwork on both-sides. The size of the grate varies with the requirements of the ventilation, but from 6 to 10 ft. broad and from 6 to 8 ft. long are usual dimensions. The fire should be kept as thin and bright as possible, to reduce the amount of smoke in the upcast. When the mine is free from gas, the furnace may be worked by the return air, but it is better to take fresh air directly from the downcast by a scale, or split, from the main current. The return air from fiery workings is never allowed to approach the furnace, but is carried into the upcast by a special channel, called a dumb drift, some distance above the furnace drift, so as not to come in contact with the products of combustion until they have been cooled below the igniting point of fire-damp. Where the upcast pit is used for drawing coal, it is usual to discharge the smoke and gases through a short lateral drift near the surface into a tall chimney, so as to keep the pit-top as clear as possible for working. Otherwise the chimney is built directly over the mouth of the pit.

Mechanical ventilation may be effected either by direct exhaustion or centrifugal displacement of the air to be removed. In the first method reciprocating bells, or piston machines, or rotary machines of varying capacity like gas-works exhausters, are employed. They were formerly used on a very large scale in Belgium and South Wales, but the great weight of the moving parts makes it impossible to drive them at the high speed called for by modern requirements, so that centrifugal fans are now generally adopted instead. An early and very successful machine of this class, the Guibal fan, is represented in fig. 12. The fan has eight arms, framed together of wrought iron bars, with diagonal struts, so as to obtain rigidity with comparative lightness, carrying flat close-boarded blades at their extremities. It revolves with the smallest possible clearance in a chamber of masonry, one of the side walls being perforated by a large round hole, through which the air from the mine is admitted to the centre of the fan. The lower quadrant of the casing is enlarged spirally, so as to leave a narrow rectangular opening at the bottom, through which the air is discharged into a chimney of gradually increasing section carried to a height of about 25 ft. The size of the discharge aperture can be varied by means of a flexible wooden shutter sliding in a groove in a cast iron plate, curved to the slope of the casing. By the use of the spiral guide casing and the chimney the velocity of the effluent air is gradually reduced up to the point of final discharge into the atmosphere, whereby a greater useful effect is realized than is the case when the air streams freely from the circumference with a velocity equal to that of the rotating fan. The power is applied by steam acting directly on a crank at one end of the axle, and the diameter of the fan may be 40 ft. or more.

EB1911 - Coal Fig. 12.—Guibal Fan.jpg
Fig. 12.—Guibal Fan.

The Waddle fan, represented in fig. 13, is an example of another class of centrifugal ventilator, in which a close casing is not used, the air exhausted being discharged from the circumference directly into the atmosphere. It consists of a hollow sheet iron drum formed by two conoidal tubes, united together by numerous guide blades, dividing it up into a series of rectangular tubes of diminishing section, attached to a horizontal axle by cast iron bosses and wrought iron arms. The tubes at their smallest part are connected to a cast iron ring, 10 ft. in diameter, but at their outer circumference they are only 2 ft. apart. The extreme diameter is 25 ft.

EB1911 - Coal Fig. 13.—Waddle Fan.jpg
Fig. 13.—Waddle Fan.

By the adoption of more refined methods of construction, especially in the shape of the intake and discharge passages for the air and the forms of the fan blades, the efficiency of the ventilating fan has been greatly increased so that the dimensions can be much reduced and a higher rate of speed adopted. Notable examples are found in the Rateau, Ser and Capell fans, and where an electric generating station is available electric motors can be advantageously used instead of steam.

The quantity of air required for a large colliery depends upon the number of men employed, as for actual respiration from