arrangement works admirably as regards smoothness and safety in running, but the heavy first cost and complication stand in the way of its general adoption. Nevertheless about 60 electric winding engines were at work or under construction in May 1906.
The surface arrangements of a modern deep colliery are of considerable extent and complexity, the central feature being the head gear or pit frame carrying the guide pulleys which lead the winding ropes from the axis of the pit to the drum. This is an upright frame,Surface arrange-
ments. usually made in wrought iron or steel strutted by diagonal thrust beams against the engine-house wall or other solid abutments, the height to the bearings of the guide pulleys being from 80 to 100 ft. or more above the ground level. This great height is necessary to obtain head-room for the cages, the landing platforms being usually placed at some considerable height above the natural surface. The pulleys, which are made as large as possible up to 20 ft. in diameter to diminish the effect of bending strains in the rope by change in direction, have channelled cast iron rims with wrought iron arms, a form combining rigidity with strength, in order to keep down their weight.
To prevent accidents from the breaking of the rope while the cage is travelling in the shaft, or from over-winding when in consequence of the engine not being stopped in time the cage may be drawn up to the head-gear pulleys (both of which are unhappily not uncommon), various forms of safety catches and disconnecting hooks have been adopted. The former contrivances consist essentially of levers or cams with toothed surfaces or gripping shoes mounted upon transverse axes attached to the sides of the cage, whose function is to take hold of the guides and support the cage in the event of its becoming detached from the rope. The opposite axes are connected with springs which are kept in compression by tension of the rope in drawing but come into action when the pull is released, the side axes then biting into wooden guides or gripping those of steel bars or ropes. The use of these contrivances is more common in collieries on the continent of Europe, where in some countries they are obligatory, than in England, where they are not generally popular owing to their uncertainty in action and the constant drag on the guides when the rope slacks.
For the prevention of accidents from over-winding, detaching hooks are used. These consist essentially of links formed of a pair of parallel plates joined by a central bolt forming a scissors joint which is connected by chain links to the cage below and the winding-rope above. The outer sides of the link are shaped with projecting lugs above. When closed by the load the width is sufficient to allow it to enter a funnel-shaped guide on a cross-bar of the frame some distance above the bank level, but on reaching the narrower portion of the guide at the top the plates are forced apart which releases the ropes and brings the lugs into contact with the top of the cross-bar which secures the cage from falling.
Three principal patterns, those of King, Ormerod and Walker, are in use, and they are generally efficient supposing the speed of the cage at arrival is not excessive. To guard against this it is now customary to use some speed-checking appliance, independent of the engine-man, which reduces or entirely cuts off the steam supply when the cage arrives at a particular point near the surface, and applies the brake if the load is travelling too quickly. Maximum speed controllers in connexion with the winding indicator, which do not allow the engine to exceed a fixed rate of speed, are also used in some cases, with recording indicators.
When the cage arrives at the surface, or rather the platform forming the working top above the mouth of the pit, it is received upon the keeps, a pair of hinged gratings which are kept in an inclined position over the pit-top by counter-balance weights, so that they are pushed aside to allowStriking
screening. the cage to pass upwards, but fall back and receive it when the engine is reversed. The tubs are then removed or struck by the landers, who pull them forward on to the platform, which is covered with cast iron plates; at the same time empty ones are pushed in from the opposite side. The cage is then lifted by the engine clear of the keeps, which are opened by a lever worked by hand, and the empty tubs start on the return trip. When the cage has several decks, it is necessary to repeat this operation for each, unless there is a special provision made for loading and discharging the tubs at different levels. An arrangement of this kind for shifting the load from a large cage at one operation was introduced by Fowler at Hucknall, in Leicestershire, where the trains are received into a framework with a number of platforms corresponding to those of the cage, carried on the head of a plunger movable by hydraulic pressure in a vertical cylinder. The empty tubs are carried by a corresponding arrangement on the opposite side. By this means the time of stoppage is reduced to a minimum, 8 seconds for a three-decked cage as against 28 seconds, as the operations of lowering the tubs to the level of the pit-top, discharging, and replacing them are performed during the time that the following load is being drawn up the pit.
In the United Kingdom the drawing of coal is generally confined to the day shift of eight hours, with an output of from 100 to 150 tons per hour, according to the depth, capacity of coal tubs, and facilities for landing and changing tubs. With Fowler’s hydraulic arrangement 2000 tons are raised 600 yds. in eight hours. In the deeper German pits, where great thicknesses of water-bearing strata have to be traversed, the first establishment expenses are so great that in order to increase output the shaft is sometimes provided with a complete double equipment of cages and engines. In such cases the engines may be placed in line on opposite sides of the pit, or at right angles to each other. It is said that the output of single shafts has been raised by this method to 3500 and 4500 tons in the double shift of sixteen hours. It is particularly well suited to mines where groups of seams at different depths are worked simultaneously. Some characteristic figures of the yield for British collieries in 1898 are given below:—
|Albion Colliery, South Wales||551,000 tons in a year for one shaft and one engine.|
|Silksworth Colliery, Northumberland||535,000 tons in a year for shaft 580 yds. deep, two engines.|
|Bolsover Colliery, Derby||598,798 tons in 279 days, shaft 365 yds. deep.|
|Denaby Main Colliery, Yorkshire||629,947 tons in 281 days, maximum per day 2673 tons.|
At Cadeby Main colliery near Doncaster in 1906, 3360 tons were drawn in fourteen hours from one pit 763 yds. deep.
The tub when brought to the surface, after passing over a weigh-bridge where it is weighed and tallied by a weigher specially appointed for the purpose by the men and the owner jointly, is run into a “tippler,” a cage turning about a horizontal axis which discharges the load in the first half of the rotation and brings the tub back to the original position in the second. It is then run back to the pit-bank to be loaded into the cage at the return journey.
Coal as raised from the pit is now generally subjected to some final process of classification and cleaning before being despatched to the consumer. The nature and extent of these operations vary with the character of the coal, which if hard and free from shale partings may be finished by simple screening into large and nut sizes and smaller slack or duff, with a final hand-picking to remove shale and dust from the larger sizes. But when there is much small duff, with intermixed shale, more elaborate sizing and washing plant becomes necessary. Where hand-picking is done, the larger-sized coal, separated by 3-in. bar screens, is spread out on a travelling band, which may be 300 ft. long and from 3 to 5 wide, and carried past a line of pickers stationed along one side, who take out and remove the waste as it passes by, leaving the clean coal on the belt. The smaller duff is separated by vibrating or rotating screens into a great number of sizes, which are cleaned by washing in continuous current or pulsating jigging machines, where the lighter coal rises to the surface and is removed by a stream of water, while the heavier waste falls and is discharged at a lower level, or through a valve at the bottom of the machine. The larger or “nut” sizes, from ¼ in. upwards, are washed on plain sieve plates, but for finer-grained duff the sieve is covered with a bed of broken felspar lumps about 3 in.