bar at the bottom, which are kept straight by a stretching weight of from 30 cwt. to 4 tons attached to the lower bar. In some cases four guides are used—two to each of the long sides of the cage; but a more general arrangement is to have three—two on one side, and the third in an intermediate position on the opposite side. Many colliery managers, however, prefer to have only two opposite guides, as being safer. The cage is connected by tubular clips, made in two pieces and bolted together, which slide over the ropes. In addition to this it is necessary to have an extra system of fixed guides at the surface and at the bottom, where it is necessary to keep the cage steady during the operations of loading and landing, there being a much greater amount of oscillation during the passage of the cage than with fixed guides. For the same reason it is necessary to give a considerable clearance between the two lines of guides, which are kept from 15 to 18 in. apart, to prevent the possibility of the two cages striking each other in passing. With proper precautions, however, wire guides are perfectly safe for use at the highest travelling speed.
The cage is connected with the drawing-rope by short lengths of chain from the corners, known as tackling chains, gathered into a central ring to which the rope is attached. Round steel wire-ropes, about 2 in. in diameter, are now commonly used; but in very deep pits they areRopes and chains. sometimes tapered in section to reduce the dead weight lifted. Flat ropes of steel or iron wire were and are still used to a great extent, but round ones are now generally preferred. In Belgium and the north of France flat ropes of aloe fibre (Manila hemp or plantain fibre) are in high repute, being considered preferable by many colliery managers to wire, in spite of their great weight. A rope of this class for a pit 1200 metres deep, tapered from 15.6 in. to 9 in. in breadth and from 2 in. to 11 in. in thickness, weighed 14.3 tons, and another at Anzin, intended to lift a gross load of 15 tons from 750 metres, is 221 in. broad and 3 in. thick at the drum end, and weighs 18 tons. Tapered round ropes, although mechanically preferable, are not advantageous in practice, as the wear being greater at the cage end than on the drum it is necessary to cut off portions of the former at intervals. Ultimately also the ropes should be reversed in position, and this can only be done with a rope of uniform section.
The engines used for winding or hoisting in collieries are usually direct-acting with a pair of horizontal cylinders coupled directly to the drum shaft. Steam at high pressure exhausting into the atmosphere is still commonly used, but the great power required for raising heavy loads fromWinding engines. deep pits at high speeds has brought the question of fuel economy into prominence, and more economical types of the two-cylinder tandem compound class with high initial steam pressure, superheating and condensing, have come in to some extent where the amount of work to be done is sufficient to justify their high initial cost. One of the earliest examples was erected at Llanbradack in South Wales in 1894, and they have been somewhat extensively used in Westphalia and the north of France. In a later example at the Bargold pit of the Powell Duffryn Steam Coal Company a mixed arrangement is adopted with horizontal high-pressure and vertical low-pressure cylinders. This engine draws a net load of 55 tons of coal from a depth of 625 yds. in 45 seconds, the gross weight of the four trams, cage and chains, and rope, with the coal, being 20 tons 12 cwt. The work of the winding engine, being essentially of an intermittent character, can only be done with condensation when a central condenser keeping a constant vacuum is used, and even with this the rush of steam during winding may be a cause of disturbance. This difficulty may be overcome by using Rateau’s arrangement of a low-pressure turbine between the engine and the condenser. The accumulator, which is similar in principle to the thermal storage system of Druitt Halpin, is a closed vessel completely filled with water, which condenses the excess of steam during the winding period, and becoming superheated maintains the supply to the turbine when the main engine is standing. The power so developed is generally utilized in the production of electricity, for which there is an abundant use about large collieries.
The drum, when round ropes are used, is a plain broad cylinder, with flanged rims, and cased with soft wood packing, upon which the rope is coiled; the breadth is made sufficient to take the whole length of the rope at two laps. One drum is usually fixed to the shaft, while the other is loose, with a screw link or other means of coupling, in order to be able to adjust the two ropes to exactly the same length, so that one cage may be at the surface when the other is at the bottom, without having to pay out or take up any slack rope by the engine.
For flat ropes the drum or bobbin consists of a solid disk, of the width of the rope fixed upon the shaft, with numerous parallel pairs of arms or horns, arranged radially on both sides, the space between being just sufficient to allow the rope to enter and coil regularly upon the preceding lap. This method has the advantage of equalizing the work of the engine throughout the journey, for when the load is greatest, with the full cage at the bottom and the whole length of rope out, the duty required in the first revolution of the engine is measured by the length of the smallest circumference; while the assistance derived from gravitating action of the descending cage in the same period is equal to the weight of the falling mass through a height corresponding to the length of the largest lap, and so on, the speed being increased as the weight diminishes, and vice versa. The same thing can be effected in a more perfect manner by the use of spiral or scroll drums, in which the rope is made to coil in a spiral groove upon the surface of the drum, which is formed by the frusta of two obtuse cones placed with their smaller diameters outwards. This plan, though mechanically a very good one, has certain defects, especially in the possibility of danger resulting from the rope slipping sideways, if the grooves in the bed are not perfectly true. The great size and weight of such drums are also disadvantages, as giving rather unmanageable dimensions in a very deep pit. In some cases, therefore, a combined form is adopted, the body of the drum being cylindrical, and a width equal to three or four laps conical on either side.
Counterbalance chains for the winding engines are used in the collieries of the Midland districts of England. In this method a third drum is used to receive a heavy flat link chain, shorter than the main drawing-ropes, the end of which hangs down a special or balance pit. At starting, when the full load is to be lifted, the balance chain uncoils, and continues to do so until the desired equilibrium between the working loads is attained, when it is coiled up again in the reverse direction, to be again given out on the return trip.
In Koepe’s method the drum is replaced by a disk with a grooved rim for the rope, which passes from the top of one cage over the guide pulley, round the disk, and back over the second guide to the second cage, and a tail rope, passing round a pulley at the bottom of the shaft, connects the bottoms of the cages, so that the dead weight of cage, tubs and rope is completely counterbalanced at all positions of the cages, and the work of the engine is confined to the useful weight of coal raised. Motion is communicated to the rope by frictional contact with the drum, which is covered through about one-half of the circumference. This system has been used in Nottinghamshire, and at Sneyd, in North Staffordshire. In Belgium it was tried in a pit 940 metres deep, where it has been replaced by flat hempen ropes, and is now restricted to shallower workings. In Westphalia it is applied in about thirty different pits to a maximum depth of 761 metres.
A novelty in winding arrangements is the substitution of the electromotor for the steam engine, which has been effected in a few instances. In one of the best-known examples, the Zollern colliery in Westphalia, the Koepe system is used, the winding disk being driven by two motors of 1200 H.P. each on the same shaft. Motion is obtained from a continuous-current generator driven by an alternating motor with a very heavy fly-wheel, a combination known as the Ilgner transformer, which runs continuously with a constant draught on the generating station, the extremely variable demand of the winding engine during the acceleration period being met by the energy stored in the fly-wheel, which runs at a very high speed. This