The patentees several times exhibited a carriage similar to the above, in Hyde Park, and, we believe, performed a journey from Southampton to London with it, but we do not recollect the particulars. The scheme is not altogether original. Dr. Franklin employed kites to assist swimmers, and was of opinion thai with such aid a man might swim across the Channel from Dover to Calais. Attempts have also been made before the present to move both boats and cars by the same means; but we believe the present is the first attempt to trim or regulate the position of the kite according to the direction in which the carriage is to move.
In no class of carriages does this country so much excel all other nations as in the stage coaches, which, for beauty, compactness, lightness, strength, and easy draught, are far superior to the public vehicles of any other country. In a nation so eminently commercial, where dispatch and punctuality are of the first necessity in conducting all transactions, every thing which tends to advance the means of communication becomes an object of consideration; and numerous improvements have of late years therefore been introduced in the structure and arrangement of our stage coaches. The engraving in the following page represents a model of an improved stage coach, by Mr. Skinner, for which he was presented with the sum of thirty guineas by the Society of Arts. The lowering of the centre of gravity, by removing the heavy luggage and outside passengers from the roof of the carriage; the convenient accommodation of the latter; the adoption of high fore-wheels to ease the draught; and several minor conveniences; will be found to have been duly attended to, and to be combined in the model of which the following is a description. The engraving gives a perspective view of the vehicle.
The inside and outside passengers are seated on the same level, the floor being as near to the axletree as the play of the springs will admit, a is the door through which the hind passengers get up, the seats being situated as shown at b; c is a seat for the guard, attached to the door a; d d iron bars attached to the top and bottom of the door, and projecting enough to be firmly held by turn buckles e e; the steps g h and i, serve for the front passengers and coachman to ascend by; the passengers step upon the boards j j on either side, and over the side rails into the compartment k; the steps l m n o serve for ascending the hind part of the coach; p p boards on each side over the hind wheels; there are similar ones j j over the front wheels, which have iron rails to hold small luggage. To allow of locking the front wheels, the floor is narrowed in the manner delineated; q is the hind boot; r r 'he front boot; s boxes opening in the floor of the coach; t and v boxes opening in the guard's seat; u a roll of leather to cover the front passengers; it has a slip of iron along its front, which catches on to the hooks w w; it is wound up and held tight by a ratchet wheel and pall x; y the locking pin, which plays through the axletree; the locking plate is under the floor and above the springs.
There are five springs in front, and five at the back; two across each axletree, four across the coach answering to them, and two more, one over each axletree, and rubbing on them. The following engraving represents a stage coach of a very novel appearance, invented by Mr. P. Birt, of the Strand, and distinguished by an improved method of yoking the horses, and also by a drag which can be put into action at pleasure, without any person descending for that purpose. The inside passengers occupy the seats at i n s, which are at a higher level than those for the outside passengers at out. There are three doors, one opening into the inside, behind the seat n, and two opening into the outside at d d. The receptacle for the luggage is at the bottom c c;f is the coachman's seat, where he is provided with the means of putting the drag in action at pleasure, by means of the lever g, the extremity of which is connected by a rope or chain to the skid iron, and the latter is supported by a spring arm j, which is fixed to the axletree or the hind wheels. The usual method of yoking the horses to a coach, is to attach the two ends of the traces to two fixed points on the long front splinterbar.
In this way, if the traces are not exactly of a length, the horse pulls only on one side when going in a straight line, and invariably so when making a curve in the road; the traces are, in consequence, subject to double the strain, and the horses have all the work thrown upon one shoulder, instead of it being equalized on both. To remedy this disadvantage Mr. Birt fixes two bent elastic pieces to the splinter-bar, as shown in Fig. 3, which turn upon central pivots; and the traces being attached to the extremities of these elastic bars, the pull is made from a single point, like that of the leaders in a four-horsed coach. The advantage derived from this alteration is, greater freedom to the action of the horses, and a better direction of their power; the elastic bars likewise prevent a great deal of unpleasant jolting, usually communicated to the carriage by the motion of the horses.
The annexed engraving represents a four-wheeled carriage, invented by Mr. Fig. 1.
Fuller, of Bath, so constructed as to prevent the upsetting by those irregularities in the road which are sufficient to overturn carriages of the usual construction, and, at the same time, to lessen considerably the unpleasant jolting motion arising from the same cause. The construction may be described as follows: - Immediately over the axles of the fore wheels is placed a bar c c (which the inventor calls the bed of the axle); this bar is attached to the axle by the springs h h. On this bar is placed the locking wheel a a, which turns on the pivot b, and is supported on the bar and frame-work as shown in Fig. 2. To the locking wheel is firmly fixed the horizontal bar d d, at right angles to the axle-bed, when the carriage is going straight forward. The ends of this cross-bar are turned and fitted into the plummer block c c, which are attached by means of the connecting pieces f f and g g, to the fore part of the carriage as represented in Fig. 1. This permits the axle of the fore wheels, with the locking wheel, to take an inclined position, while the body of the carriage remains level; and it will be seen from the carriage represented in Fig. 1, (which is a front view,) that the axle of the fore wheels p q, with the locking wheel and its attachments, is inclined considerably by the wheel q passing over an elevation in the road, while the body of the carriage remains horizontal, and its weight is equally supported by both the wheels, instead of being all thrown on the lower wheel, as would be the case were it not permitted to turn on the pivots of the bar d.
The other parts of the carriage are not different from those in common use, and therefore need not be particularly described, o o are the hind wheels; 11 part of the seats; k the dashing-iron and leather, and m the foot-board.
The engraving on the following page represents a method of firmly fixing the poles to carriages, and, when required, of readily releasing them, great inconvenience being frequently experienced from the poles sticking fast in wet weather when fitted on the common plan, and being also subject to premature destruction in those parts, a is the pole of the carriage; b the splinter bar; c c the fetchels; d part of the wooden axletree. An iron frame e e is fixed between the fetchels; in the front of this iron frame there is a proper aperture to receive the tapered part of the carriage pole, and another at the back, of less dimensions, to receive the extreme end, which is shod with an iron bolt for that purpose; this bolt or pin is fixed on to the extremity of the pole by two long straps, which clasp the top and the bottom, and have bolts passing through both. When the pole is inserted into its place, it is secured there by turning the screw f, which forces two iron wedges into recesses made in the frame, from whence they cannot be withdrawn, or the pole detached, but by turning the pole the reverse way.
A patent was obtained in 1825 by Mr. Corbet, of Glasgow, for an improvement upon the steps of carriages; which is applicable to coaches generally, but is peculiarly adapted to such, the proprietors of which do not employ a footman to open and shut the door and steps, as the act of opening the door causes the steps to open out, and that of shutting it shuts the steps up again. For this reason the invention may be found of great convenience to medical and other professional gentlemen. In the above engraving, Fig. 1 is intended to represent the back view of a coach, on one side of which the steps and door are both open, and on the other side are both shut. Fig. 2 gives a side view of the steps, only on a larger scale, and will, we trust, enable the reader to understand their construction. At a is the coach body; b a part of the coach door open; c is a bent iron fixed to the bottom of the door, connected to a curved rod d, at the extremity of which is a joint e attaching it to the lever f, which moves upon a fulcrum in the middle; at g is another joint, by which and are intermediate rod it is attached to one of the horns of the crank h; the other horn of this crank is connected by a joint to the long curved lever i i, which gives motion to the short levers k 1c, and these last being in one piece with the steps 11, they move together.
The long curved bar o, (of which there are two, one on each side of the steps,) and its short branch n are fixtures, being bolted to the body of the carriage p p. The reader having noticed the train and con nexion of the levers just mentioned, will readily perceive that the act of shutting the door of the carriage will cause the lever f to assume another angle, by which the crank h, and consequently the bar i i, will be thrown into the position shown by the dotted lines; and that it necessarily follows the steps will be forced into the situation shown by the dotted lines at f f.