This section is from the book "The Boy Mechanic Vol. 1", by Popular Mechanics Co.. Also available from Amazon: 700 Things for Boys to Do.

Unusual interest is being displayed in ballooning, and as it is fast becoming the favorite sport many persons would like to know how to construct a miniature balloon for making experiments. The following table will give the size, as well as the capacity and lifting power of pilot balloons:

Diameter. Cap. in Cu. Ft Lifting Power.

24 lb.

5 ft. | 65 | 4 lb. |

6 ft. | 113 | 7 lb. |

7 ft. | 179 | 11 lb. |

8 ft. | 268 | 17 lb. |

9 ft. | 381 | |

10 ft | 523 | 33 lb. |

11 ft. | 697 | 44 lb. |

12 ft. | 905 | 57 lb. |

The material must be cut in suitable shaped gores or segments. In this article we shall confine ourselves to a 10-ft. balloon. If the balloon is 10 ft. in diameter, then the circumference will be approximately 3-1/7 times the diameter, or 31 ft. 5 in. We now take one-half this length to make the length of the gore, which is 15 ft. 7-1/2 in. Get a piece of paper 15 ft. 7-1/2 in. long and 3 ft. wide from which to cut a pattern, Fig. 1. A line, AB, is drawn lengthwise and exactly in the middle of the paper, and a line, CD, is drawn at right angles to AB and in the middle of the paper lengthways. The intersecting point of AB and CD is used for a center to ascribe a circle whose diameter is the same as the width of the paper, or 3 ft. Divide one-quarter of the circle into 10 equal parts and also divide one-half of the line AB in 10 equal parts. Perpendicular lines are drawn parallel with the line CD intersecting the division points made on the one-half line AB. Horizontal and parallel lines with AB are drawn intersecting the division points made on the one-quarter circle and intersecting the perpendicular line drawn parallel with CD. A line is now drawn from B to E and from E to F, and so on, until all the intersecting lines are touched and the point C is reached. This will form the proper curve to cut the pattern. The paper is now folded on the line AB and then on the line CD, keeping the marked part on the outside. The pattern is now cut, cutting all four quarters at the same time, on the curved line from B to C. When the paper is unfolded you will have a pattern as shown in Fig. 2. This pattern is used to mark the cloth, and after marked is cut the same shape and size.

Illustration: Pattern for Cutting the Segments

The cloth segments are sewed together, using a fine needle and No. 70 thread, making a double seam as shown in Fig. 3. When all seams are completed you will have a bag the shape shown in Fig. 4. A small portion of one end or a seam must be left open for inflating. A small tube made from the cloth and sewed into one end will make a better place for inflating and to tie up tightly.

It is now necessary to varnish the bag in order to make it retain the gas. Procure 1 gal. of the very best heavy body, boiled linseed oil and immerse the bag in it. The surplus oil is squeezed out by running the bag through an ordinary clothes wringer several times. The bag is now placed in the sun for a thorough drying. Put the remaining oil in a kettle with 1/8 lb. of beeswax and boil well together. This solution is afterward diluted with turpentine so it will work well. When the bag is dry apply this mixture by rubbing it on the bag with a piece of flannel. Repeat this operation four times, being sure of a thorough drying in the sun each time. For indoor coating and drying use a small amount of plumbic oxide. This will dry rapidly in the and will not make the oil hard.

Illustration: Sewing Segments Together

Fill the bag with air by using a pair of bellows and leave it over night. This test will show if the bag is airtight. If it is not tight then the bag needs another rubbing. The next operation is to fill the bag with gas.

Hydrogen gas is made from iron and sulphuric acid. The amounts necessary for a 10ft. balloon are 125 lb. of iron borings and 125 lb. of sulphuric acid. 1 lb. of iron, 1 lb. of sulphuric acid and 4 lb. of water will make 4 cu. ft. of gas in one hour. Secure two empty barrels of about 52 gal. capacity and connect , as shown in Fig. 5, with 3/4-in. pipe. In the barrel, A, place the iron borings and fill one-half full of clear water. Fill the other barrel, B, with water 2 in. above the level of the water in barrel A. This is to give a water pressure head against foaming when the generator is in action. About 15 lb. of lime should be well mixed with the water in the barrel B. All joints must be sealed with plaster of Paris. Pour in one-half of the acid into the barrel, A, with the iron borings. The barrels are kept tight while the generation is going on with the exception of the outlet, C, to the bag. When the action is stopped in the generator barrel,

Illustration: Fig. 5 - The Hydrogen Generator

A, let the solution run out and fill again as before with water and acid on the iron borings. The outlet, C, should be always connected with the bag while the generator is in action. The 3/4-in. pipe extending down into the cooling tank, B, should not enter into the water over 8 in. When filled with gas the balloon is ready for a flight at the will of the operator.

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