Leaving the reservoir, the mercury enters the vacuum-bulb, B, Figure 2, where it parts with most of its air and moisture; this bulb also serves to catch the air that creeps into the pump from the reservoir, even when there is no flow of mercury; its diameter is 27 mm. The shape and inclination of the tube attached to this bulb is by no means a matter of indifference; accordingly Figure 3 is a separate drawing of it; the tube should be so bent that a horizontal line drawn from the proper level of the mercury in the bulb passes through the point, o, where the drops of mercury break off. The length of the tube, EC, should be 150 mm., that of the tube, ED, 45 mm.; the bore of this tube is about the same as that of the fall-tube.

Fall-Tube And Bends

The bore of the fall-tube in the pump now used by me is 1.78 mm.; its length above the bends (U, Figure 2) is 310 mm.; below the bends the length is 815 mm. The bends constitute a fluid valve that prevents the air from returning into the pump; beside this, the play of the mercury in them greatly facilitates the passage of the air downward. The top of the mercury column representing the existing barometric pressure should be about 25 mm. below the bends when the pump is in action. This is easily regulated by an adjustable shelf, which is also employed to fill the bends with mercury when a measurement is taken or when the pump is at rest. On the shelf is a tube, 160 mm. high and 20 mm. in diameter, into which the end of the fall-tube dips; its side has a circular perforation into which fits a small cork with a little tube bent at right angles. With the hard end of a file and a few drops of turpentine the perforation can be easily made and shaped in a few minutes. By revolving the little bent tube through 180° the flow of the mercury can be temporarily suspended when it is desirable to change the vessel that catches it.


For the purpose of measuring the vacua I have used an arrangement similar to McLeod's gauge, Figure 4; it has, however, some peculiarities. The tube destined to contain the compressed air has a diameter of 1.35 mm. as ascertained by a compound microscope; it is not fused at its upper extremity, but closed by a fine glass rod that fits into it as accurately as may be, the end of the rod being ground flat and true. This rod is introduced into the tube, and while the latter is gently heated a very small portion of the cement described below is allowed to enter by capillary attraction, but not to extend beyond the end of the rod, the operation being watched by a lens. The rod is used for the purpose of obtaining the compressed air in the form of a cylinder, and also to allow cleansing of the tube when necessary. The capacity of the gauge-sphere was obtained by filling it with mercury; its external diameter was sixty millimeters; for measuring very high vacua this is somewhat small and makes the probable errors rather large; I would advise the use of a gauge-sphere of about twice as great capacity. The tube, CB, Figure 4, has the same bore as the measuring tube in order to avoid corrections for capillarity. The tube of the gauge, CD, is not connected with an India-rubber tube, as is usual, but dips into mercury contained in a cylinder 340 mm. high, 58 mm. in diameter, which can be raised and lowered at pleasure. This is best accomplished by the use of a set of boxes of various thicknesses, made for the purpose and supplemented by several sheets of cardboard and even of writing-paper. These have been found to answer well and enable the experimenter to graduate with a nicety the pressure to which the gas is exposed during measurement. By employing a cylinder filled with mercury instead of the usual caoutchouc tubing small bubbles of air are prevented from entering the gauge along with the mercury. An adjustable brace or support is used which prevents accident to the cylinder when the pump is inclined for the purpose of pumping out the vacuum-bulb. The maximum pressure that can be employed in the gauge used by me is 100 mm.

All the tubing of the pump is supported at a distance of about 55 mm. from the wood-work; this is effected by the use of simple adjustable supports and adjustable clamps; the latter have proved a great convenience. The object is to gain the ability to heat with a Bunsen burner all parts of the pump without burning the wood-work. Where glass and wood necessarily come in contact the wood is protected by metal or simply painted with a saturated solution of alum. The glass portions of the pump I have contrived to anneal completely by the simple means mentioned below. If the glass is not annealed it is certain to crack when subjected to heat, thus causing vexation and loss of time. The mercury was purified by the same method that was used by W. Siemens (Pogg. Annalen, vol. ex., p. 20), that is, by a little strong sulphuric acid to which a few drops of nitric acid had been added; it was dried by pouring it repeatedly from one hot dry vessel to another, by filtering it while quite warm, the drying being completed finally by the action of the pump itself. All the measurements were made by a fine cathetometer which was constructed for me by William Grunow; see this Journal, Jan., 1874, p. 23. It was provided with a well-corrected object-glass having a focal length of 200 mm. and as used by me gave a magnifying power of 16 diameters.