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Originally appearing in Volume V07, Page 54 of the 1911 Encyclopedia Britannica.
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CONVEYORS. " Conveyor " (for derivation see CONVEYANCE) is a term generally applied to mechanical devices designed for the purpose of moving material in a horizontal or slightly in. dined direction; in this article, however, are included a variety of appliances for moving materials in horizontal, vertical and combined horizontal and vertical directions. The material so handled may be conveyed in a practically uninterrupted stream, as in the case of worms, bands and pushplate conveyors, or elevators carrying grain or coal, &c.; or it may be conveyed from one point to another, intermittently, that is to say in a succession of separate loads, as happens with single bucket elevators, furnace hoists, rope and chain haulage, and also in the case of ropeways and aerial cableways. Some of these devices are of great antiquity, others are of quite modern origin. The principles of their construction are simple and easy of understanding, but by variations in the details of their construction the engineer has adapted these few appliances to the most varied work. At one end of the scale they may be used for such light duties as conveying the goods purchased by a customer to the packers and bringing them back made up into a parcel or for taking his money to the cashier and returning the change. At the other they are adopted for handling large quantities of heavy material at a minimum expenditure of human labour. Coal, for instance, a more or less friable substance, the value of which is seriously diminished by fracture, may be mechanically handled with a minimum risk of breakage. The difficult problem of handling the contents of gas retorts and coke ovens, and of simultaneously quenching and conveying the glowing material, has been solved. Perhaps an even more astonishing piece of work is the manipulation of the iron from the blast furnace; for instance, liquid metal is drawn from a furnace into pouring pots which in their turn discharge it to and distribute it over a pig-iron casting machine, which is practically a conveyor for liquid metal, consisting of a strand of moving moulds from which the solidified pigs, after cooling in water, are automatically removed after reaching the loading terminal over the railway trucks. Certain types of conveyors may be made to combine efficiently, with their primary work of transport, complex sorting, sifting, drying and weighing operations. Worm Conveyors.—The worm conveyor, also known as the Archimedean screw, is doubtless the most ancient form of conveyor. It consists of a continuous or broken blade screw set on a spindle. This spindle is made to revolve in a suitable trough, and as it revolves any material put in is propelled by the screw from one end of the trough to the other. Such conveyors have been used in flour-mills for centuries. The writer has seen in an East Anglian mill which was over 250 years old disused screw conveyors, probably as old as the mill, consisting of spindles of octagonal shape, made of not too hard wood, around which a broken blade screw was formed by the insertion at regular intervals of small blades of hard wood (fig. 1). Modern worm conveyors usually consist of a spindle formed of a length of wrought iron piping, to which is fitted either a broken or continuous worm. In the former case (fig. 2) the worm is composed of a series of blades or paddles arranged like a spiral round the spindle; each blade is fixed, by means of its shank, in a transverse hole in the spindle, and the shank is held in position by being tapped and fitted with a nut. In this way is formed, out of separate blades, a practically complete screw, technically known I The illustrations in this article are taken, by kind permission, from the Proceedings of the Institution of Civil a " paddle worm." The lengths or sections of the worm run to about 8 ft., the various lengths being coupled by turned gudgeons, which also serve as journals for the bearings. In the so-called continuous worm conveyors the screw is formed of a continuous sheet-iron spiral (fig. 3). Sometimes a narrow groove is cut in spiral form on the spindle, and in this groove the sheet-iron spiral is secured. The spiral or anti friction conveyor (fig. 4) was introduced about 1887. In this case a narrow spiral, which passes con-centrically round the spindle, with a space between both, is fixed to it at set intervals by small blades, each of which is itself fixed by its shank and a nut to the spindle. The spiral may be made of almost any section, from a round bar about z in. in diameter to L or T section, but is preferably a flat bar. Worms are fitted into wooden or iron troughs leaving a clearance of to 4 in. The spindle must be supported at suitable intervals by bearings, preferably of the bush type. A continuous worm, being more rigid than a paddle worm, needs fewer supports. The lid of the worm trough should be loose, not screwed on, because in case of an accumulation of feed through a choke in a delivery spout the paddles of a paddle worm would be broken, or a continuous worm stripped, unless the material could throw off the lid and relieve the worm. The ratios of the pitch of the worm to the diameter must be regulated by the nature of the material to be conveyed, and will vary from one-third to a pitch equal to, or even exceeding, the diameter. The greater the pitch the larger the capacity, but also the greater the driving power required, at the same speed, For handling materials of greater specific gravity, such as cement, &c., it is advisable to use a smaller pitch than for substances of lower specific gravity, such as grain. The capacity of a continuous worm exceeds that of either a paddle or spiral conveyor of the same diameter, pitch and speed. As regards the relative efficiency of paddle and spiral conveyors a series of careful tests made by the writer indicated that, run at a slow speed the paddle worm, but at a high speed the spiral worm, has the greater efficiency. There is of course a speed at which the efficiency of both types is about equal, and that is at 150 revolutions per minute for conveyors 4 to 6 in. in diameter. The power necessary to drive worm conveyors under normal conditions is very considerable; a continuous worm of 18 to 20 in. diameter running at 6o revolutions per minute will convey 5o tons of grain per hour over a distance of a hundred feet at an expenditure of 182 to 19 H.P. A material like cement would require rather more power because of the greater friction of the cement against the blades and the trough. Delivery from a worm conveyor can be effected at any desired point, all that is necessary being to cut an outlet, which should preferably he as wide as the diameter of the worm, because the worm delivers only on its leading side, and is practically empty on the other side, so that a smaller outlet might only give exit to a portion of the feed, unless it was on the leading side. A special form of worm conveyor is the tubular (fig. 5), which consists of an iron tube with a continuous spiral fitted to its inner periphery, or of iron or wooden tubes of square sections fitted with fixed baffle plates inside. In working it revolves bodily on suitable rollers. This type is more costly than the ordinary worm conveyors, and also requires more power. Its efficiency is, moreover, easily impaired if run at too high a speed, because the centrifugal force asserts itself and counteracts the propulsion, which in this case is effected by gravity. Some experiments made in 1868 by George Fosbery Lyster, engineer of the Liverpool docks, gave convincing results (see Proc. Inst. Mech. Eng., August 1869). The tubular worm conveyor is suitable where a granular material has to be moved over a comparatively short distance, say from one building to another on the same level, and where no bridge is available for the installation of any other kind of conveyor. Conveyors of this type have, however, come into use for conveying hard and cutting substances over consider-able lengths. Ordinary worm conveyors are practically debarred from use for such substances on account of the short life of the intermediate bearings, which are not necessary with externally supported tubular worms. To sum up, worm conveyors are of the simplest construction and of small prime cost. The terminals again are much less expensive than those of most other kinds of conveyors. When the distance to be traversed by the material is short, the worm conveyor has this advantage, that it is cheaper than other kinds of conveyors. If it be desired not only to convey but also to mix two or more materials, such as cement and sand in a dry state, or poultry food, this appliance is thoroughly well adapted for the work. On the other hand, there is .a grinding action exercised on any material conveyed, and when hard or cutting sub-stances are handled the wear and tear on the conveyor blades, trough and bearings is very great, and the power absorbed by a worm conveyor is a sensible item. Band Conveyors.—The inventor of band conveyors for the handling of grain and minerals was G. F. Lyster, who, as already mentioned, in 1868 carried out exhaustive experiments at the Liverpool docks, where he established the band conveyor as a grain-handler. For granaries the band conveyor is an ideal appliance. Its capacity is great, and it can be run at relatively high speeds with a moderate expenditure of power. The band conveyor of to-day is an endless belt of canvas or more often india-rubber with insertion, and when fitted with the usual receiving and delivery appliances can be used to handle grain from or into granaries and also to feed bins or sections of a ware-house. The endless bands run over terminal pulleys, and are also supported on their way by a series of guide rollers, which are in greater number on the loaded than on the empty strand. The band is usually run quite flat, except that at the point or points where the grain is fed on it is slightly hollowed for a few feet, by means of two curving rolls which are set obliquely so asto make it trough-shaped. The supporting or guide rollers are 4 in. to 6 in. in diameter, and are sometimes made of wood, but more often consist of steel tubes to which spindles with conical end gudgeons are secured. The gudgeons generally run in suitable bush-bearings, which should be well lubricated. Band conveyors should be driven on the delivery and not the receiving terminal, as the tight side of the band is the flattest. The guide rollers, for ordinary grain conveyors, are fitted to the upper or working side of the. band at intervals of about 6 ft., and at distances of 12 ft. on the lower or return strand. In cases where both strands of the band are used for carrying grain, the lower strand must be supported by as many rollers as the upper. Under such conditions, terminal pulleys must be of larger diameter than usual, the object being to throw the two strands farther apart, so as to give sufficient space between the two strands to spout the feed in and out again at the other end. The two strands can be run any distance apart by the use of two additional pulleys for the terminals. This arrangement would be in place where it was desired, as it might be, to run one strand of the band along the top floor of the granary to distribute, while the other strand travelled along the ground-floor or basement to withdraw, the grain. Band conveyors are kept tight, when the band is not very long, by a tightening gear, similar to that used on elevators, and consisting of two screws which push or better pull the two pedestals of one terminal pulley farther away from the other terminal. If the band is of such length that an adjustment of 4 to 5 ft. on the tightening gear is not sufficient, it is advisable to use In place of screws a tightening pulley, over which the belt passes, but which is itself held in tension by weights. The choice of the exact tightening gear will depend on various considerations, the length of the belt, the type of throw-off carriage used, and the quality of the belt all being factors to be considered. The throw-off carriage (fig. 6), which serves to withdraw material from the band at any desired point, is a simple but ingenious appliance consisting essentially of guide pulleys which by raising one part of the band and lowering the other have the effect of causing the grain to quit the surface of the band at the point where it is deflected upwards. The grain is thus cast clear of the band, and into the air, being caught as it falls in a hopper and spouted in any desired direction. Throw-off carriages differ in certain details, but the principle is the same. For feeding a band conveyor it is important to give the material a horizontal velocity, approaching that of the band. The grain should therefore be fed through a spout rather less in breadth than half of the width of the band, and set at an incline of 42i° to the horizontal. Band conveyors run at a speed of 40o to 60o ft. per minute, according to the nature of the material; oats, for instance, would be liable to be blown off the band at a speed in excess of 500, which would be suitable for wheat. Nuts, maize and the heavier seeds could be carried at 600. The power consumption by a grain-laden band compares favourably with any other form of conveyor. An 18-in. band Too ft. in length running 500 ft. per minute would carry 50 tons per hour at an expenditure of only 4.5 H.P. While the band conveyor is an ideal conveyor in warehouses and mills, it is also capable of rendering good service in handling such heavy materials as coal and minerals. Of course for such purposes the band and its fittings must be of much more substantial construction. The central portions of the band carrying the load, being subjected to great wear and tear, are often made ELEVATION
End of Article: CONVEYORS

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