It was not until that important little contrivance, called the water lute or air-trap was invented, (which we have described under the last-mentioned designation) that private dwellings could be even partially secured against the annoyance of unpleasant effluvia; but however excellent may be the principle of this invention, by neglect or gross mismanagement, its application was rendered a greater evil than a benefit, until the late ingenious Mr Bramah devised the apparatus, now termed a water-closet. Succeeding ingenious men materially improved it, and have given to it a variety of forms and modifications. Out of the many presented to our notice, we have selected three for description in this place, which appear to us to be deserving of public patronage. The first we shall mention is the patent self-acting water-closet, invented by Mr. J. Downes, of High Holborn. It is put into operation by the removal of the person's weight from the seat, so as to he entirely self-acting, and independent of the usual attention of letting on the water.
a in the foregoing engraving represents the water cistern, placed as usual at a sufficient elevation above the closet to give the water an impetus; h is the service box, for regulating the supply; water enters it by the valve e, and air by the pipe d; e is a small lever by which a communication between the valve e and the machinery is effected, as may be seen by the wires extending from one end of it down the pipe d, and from the other to the cranks o o o; f is the pipe by which the water is supplied to the basin g; i is a pushing rod attached to the seat, which is hinged at the back to a projection from the axis of a long lever k, so that when a person's weight is placed upon the seat, the left hand end of the lever is pushed down till the pendant link at b catches the hooked end of a one-armed lever as represented in the figure. Now it will be observed that when the person's weight is removed from the seat, the balance weight k will descend and raise the link b, and with it the hooked lever which is attached by a looped connecting link, to a toothed sector movable on an axis which is connected to, and turns back the soil pan, when the water is let on by the elevation of the lever.
When the upper lever rises to its greatest elevation, the pendant link b slips off the hooked end of the lower lever, which then, by a counterpoise attached to the toothed sector, is brought back to its stationary position, at the same time shutting the valve c, and returning the soil pan to take in the bottom of the basin. The quantity of water contained in the service box, when its valve is shut, descends into the basin and fills up the soil pan and the lower part of the basin, thus preventing any escape of effluvia from the soil pipes. The use of the fly wheel, which is put in motion by the toothed sector acting on a small pinion fixed on its axis, is to prevent by its inertia the water from being too suddenly shut off when the lower lever is liberated.
This closet, though somewhat complicated in appearance, is really simple in its action, and, as manufactured by the patentee, not very liable to derangement.
Beacham's patent water-closet, is of the portable kind. It represents, in its external appearance, an ornamental piece of cabinet-work. Our drawing and description has of course only reference to the interior. The construction is seen by the annexed diagram. a is the basin, b the trap or valve at the bottom, c a piece of brass affixed to the bottom of the valve, acting as a lever for opening or shutting the same, its fulcrum being on a fixed axis in two upright brass stems, one of which is shown at d. The latter are affixed to the metallic casing which encloses the basin, and thus forms a supporting frame-work for this part of the apparatus. The lower ends of the stem d form two circular checks e, for enclosing a convoluted spring of a cylindrical form, like the usual door spring; but instead of steel, it is made of tough hammer-hardened brass, which possesses, when coiled up, considerable elasticity, and is not destroyed or injured like steel by rapid corrosion. To the spring is attached a stem, carrying an anti-friction roller, which presses against c with the requisite force to keep the valve b shut; this force may at any time be regulated in a minute, by means of a screw on the opposite side of the barrel or spring; if turned with a screw-driver in one direction, the force of the spring is increased, and if in the reverse direction, it is relaxed; and it is fixed to the required degree by the pall falling into the teeth of the ratchet-wheel, shown in the centre of e.
The method of working the valve by the action of this spring, is the essential and valuable part of the invention, and it is that on which the claim of patent-right depends. The little roller, it will be observed, does not act upon a horizontal -plain surface, nor against an Inclined plane, but it runs upon the curved or convex surface at the end of the piece b; the effect of which is, that when the trap or valve is opened by the weight of the contents of the basin, or by water from the pump, the force of the spring gently relaxes, instead of increasing, permitting it to open wide, and be thoroughly cleaned; and the valve, as it returns, being operated upon by the increasing force of the spring, is thereby shut up very closely. This mode of regulating the pressure is ingenious, and produces that uniformity and certainty of effect so much desired; without which, indeed, a machine of the kind is a nuisance instead of a convenience. The dotted lines show the manner in which the apparatus is dropped into a pail. The double rim of the latter is made to contain a little water, forming a little canal all round, and the projecting rim of the former being immersed in it, an air-tight joint is thus produced, which prevents the escape of effluvia.
Another very ingenious contrivance adapted to be used in a house, but especially calculated for ship-board, was invented by Mr. Downton, Black wall; the soil being forced out of it by means of an air-pump, so that its perfect operation may be ensured in any situation, above as well as below the surface of the water.
A is the basin; B the arr-pump, on the raising of the piston of which by means of the lever shown, the soil is drawn into it from A through the bent Tube; on depressing the piston in B, the valve at the bottom of it closet, and a valve at C opens, through which the soil is driven, and along the pipe D to the required distance, the soil being prevented from returning by the closing of the valve at C. In the upper part of the bason there is a small pipe leading into the upper part of the cylinder, where a valve opens inwards; consequently, in depressing the piston, the foul air is drawn from the bason into the cylinder, and on raising the piston, the foul air is forced out of the cylinder by the large bent tube shown, into the discharge-pipe D. To the pump lever the usual cranks are connected for turning on and off the clean water, supplied by the small pipe which is shown bent round the cylinder.