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589
COAL

explosion if ignited by a blown-out shot; but such cases are likely to be exceptional.

4. The inflammability of coal dust varies with different coals, but none can be said to be entirely free from risk.

5. There is no probability of a dangerous explosion being produced by the ignition of coal dust by a naked light or ordinary flame.

Danger arising from coal dust is best guarded against by systematically sprinkling or watering the main roads leading from the working faces to the shaft, where the dust falling from the trams in transit is liable to accumulate. This may be done by water-carts or hose and jet, but preferably by finely divided water and compressed air distributed from a network of pipes carried through the workings. This is now generally done, and in some countries is compulsory, when the rocks are deficient in natural moisture. In one instance the quantity of water required to keep down the dust in a mine raising 850 tons of coal in a single shift was 28.8 tons, apart from that required by the jets and motors. The distributing network extended to more than 30 m. of pipes, varying from 3½ in. to 1 in. in diameter.

In all British coal-mines, when gas in dangerous quantities has appeared within three months, and in all places that are dry and dusty, blasting is prohibited, except with “permitted” explosives, whose composition and properties have been examined at the testing station at Safety explosives.the Royal Arsenal, Woolwich. A list of those sanctioned is published by the Home Office. They are mostly distinguished by special trade names, and are mainly of two classes—those containing ammonium nitrate and nitrobenzene or nitronaphthalene, and those containing nitroglycerin and nitrocellulose, which are essentially weak dynamites. The safety property attributed to them is due to the depression of the temperature of the flame or products of explosion to a point below that necessary to ignite fire-damp or coal dust in air from a blown-out shot. New explosives that are found to be satisfactory when tested are added to the list from time to time, the composition being stated in all cases.

Methods for enabling miners to penetrate into workings where the atmosphere is totally irrespirable have come into use for saving life after explosions and for repairing shafts and pit-work under water. The aerophore of A. Aerophores. Galibert was in its earlier form a bag of about 12 cub. ft. capacity containing air at a little above atmospheric pressure; it was carried on the back like a knapsack and supplied the means of respiration. The air was continually returned and circulated until it was too much contaminated with carbonic acid to be further used, a condition which limited the use of the apparatus to a very short period. A more extended application of the same principle was made in the apparatus of L. Denayrouze by which the air, contained in cylinders at a pressure of 300 to 350 ℔ per sq. in., was supplied for respiration through a reducing valve which brought it down nearly to atmospheric pressure. This apparatus was, however, very heavy and became unmanageable when more than an hour’s supply was required. The newer forms are based upon the principle, first enunciated by Professor Theodor Schwann in 1854, of carrying compressed oxygen instead of air, and returning the products of respiration through a regenerator containing absorptive media for carbonic acid and water, the purified current being returned to the mouth with an addition of fresh oxygen. The best-known apparatus of this class is that developed by G. A. Meyer at the Shamrock colliery in Westphalia, where a body of men are kept in systematic training for its use at a special rescue station. This corps rendered invaluable service at the exploring and rescue operations after the explosion at Courrières in March 1906, the most disastrous mining accident on record, when 1100 miners were killed. A somewhat similar apparatus called the “weg,” after the initials of the inventor, is due to W. E. Garforth of Wakefield. In another form of apparatus advantage is taken of the property possessed by sodium-potassium peroxide of giving off oxygen when damped; the residue of caustic soda and potash yielded by the reaction is used to absorb the carbonic acid of the expired air. Experiments have also been made with a device in which the air-supply is obtained by the evaporation of liquid air absorbed in asbestos.

Underground fires are not uncommon accidents in coal-mines. In the thick coal workings in South Staffordshire the slack left behind in the sides of work is especially liable to fire from so-called spontaneous combustion, due to the rapid oxidization that is set up when finely divided coal is brought in contact with air. The best remedy in such cases is to prevent the air from gaining access to the coal by building a wall round the burning portion, which can in this way be isolated from the remainder of the working, and the fire prevented from spreading, even if it cannot be extinguished. When the coal is fired by the blast of an explosion it is often necessary to isolate the mine completely by stopping up the mouths of the pits with earth, or in extreme cases it must be flooded with water or carbonic acid before the fire can be brought under. There have been several instances of this being done in the fiery pits in the Barnsley district, notably at the great explosion at the Oaks colliery in 1866, when 360 lives were lost.

The drawing or winding of the coal from the pit bottom to the surface is one of the most important operationsMethods of winding. in coal mining, and probably the department in which mechanical appliances have been brought to the highest state of development.

The different elements making up the drawing arrangements of a colliery are—(1) the cage, (2) the shaft or pit fittings, (3) the drawing-rope, (4) the engine and (5) the surface arrangements. The cage, as its name implies, consists Cage.of one or more platforms connected by an open framework of vertical bars of wrought iron or steel, with a top bar to which the drawing-rope is attached. It is customary to have a curved sheet iron roof or bonnet when the cage is used for raising or lowering the miners, to protect them from injury by falling materials. The number of platforms or decks varies considerably; in small mines only a single one may be used, but in the larger modern pits two-, three- or even four-decked cages are used. The use of several decks is necessary in old pits of small section, where only a single tram can be carried on each. In the large shafts of the Northern and Wigan districts the cages are made about 8 ft. long and 3½ ft. broad, being sufficient to carry two large trams on one deck. These are received upon a railway made of two strips of angle iron of the proper gauge for the wheels, and are locked fast by a latch falling over their ends. At Cadeby Main with four-decked cages the capacity is eight 10-cwt. tubs or 4 tons of coal.

The guides or conductors in the pit may be constructed of wood, in which case rectangular fir beams, about 3 by 4 in., are used, attached at intervals of a few feet to buntons or cross-beams built into the lining of the pit. Two guides are required for each cage; they may be placed opposite to each other, either on the long or short sides—the latter being preferable. The cage is guided by shoes of wrought iron, a few inches long and bell-mouthed at the ends, attached to the horizontal bars of the framing, which pass loosely over the guides on three sides, but in most new pits rail guides of heavy section are used. They are applied on one side of the cage only, forming a complete vertical railway, carried by iron cross sleepers, with proper seats for the rails instead of wooden buntons; the cage is guided by curved shoes of a proper section to cover the heads of the rails. Rigid guides connected with the walling of the pit are probably the best and safest, but they have the disadvantage of being liable to distortion, in case of the pit altering its form, owing to irregular movements of the ground, or other causes. Wooden guides being of considerable size, block up a certain portion of the area of the pit, and thus offer an impediment to the ventilation, especially in upcast shafts, where the high temperature, when furnace ventilation is used, is also against their use. In the Lancashire and the Midland districts wire-rope guides have been introduced to a very considerable extent, with a view of meeting the above objections. These are simply wire-ropes, from ¾ to 1½ in. in diameter, hanging from a cross-bar connected with the pit-head framing at the surface, and attached to a similar