This section is from "Scientific American Supplement Volumes 275, 286, 288, 299, 303, 312, 315, 324, 344 and 358". Also available from Amazon: Scientific American Reference Book.
By Ogden N. Rood, Professor of Physics in Columbia College.
In the July number of this Journal for 1880, I gave a short account of certain changes in the Sprengel-pump by means of which far better vacua could be obtained than had been previously possible. For example, the highest vacuum at that time known had been reached by Mr. Crookes, and was about 1/17,000,000, while with my arrangement vacua of 1/100,000,000 were easily reached. In a notice that appeared in Nature for August, 1880, p. 375, it was stated that my improvements were not new, but had already been made in England four years previously. I have been unable to obtain a printed account of the English improvements, and am willing to assume that they are identical with my own; but on the other hand, as for four years no particular result seems to have followed their introduction in England, I am reluctantly forced to the conclusion that their inventor and his customers, for that period of time, have remained quite in ignorance of the proper mode of utilizing them. Since then I have pushed the matter still farther, and have succeeded in obtaining with my apparatus vacua as high as 1/390,000,000 without finding that the limit of its action had been reached. The pump is simple in construction, inexpensive, and, as I have proved by a large number of experiments, certain in action and easy of use; stopcocks and grease are dispensed with, and when the presence of a stopcock is really desirable its place is supplied by a movable column of mercury.
An ordinary inverted bell-glass with a diameter of 100 mm. and a total height of 205 mm. forms the reservoir; its mouth is closed by a well-fitting cork through which passes the glass tube that forms one termination of the pump. The cork around tube and up to the edge of the former is painted with a flexible cement. The tube projects 40 mm. into the mercury and passes through a little watch-glass-shaped piece of sheet-iron, W, figure 1, which prevents the small air bubbles that creep upward along the tube from reaching its open end; the little cup is firmly cemented in its place. The flow of the mercury is regulated by the steel rod and cylinder, CR, Figure 1. The bottom of the steel cylinder is filled out with a circular piece of pure India-rubber, properly cemented; this soon fits itself to the use required and answers admirably. The pressure of the cylinder on the end of the tube is regulated by the lever, S, Figure 1; this is attached to a circular board which again is firmly fastened over the open end of the bell-glass. It will be noticed that on turning the milled head, S, the motion of the steel cylinder is not directly vertical, but that it tends to describe a circle with c as a center; the necessary play of the cylinder is, however, so small, that practically the experimenter does not become aware of this theoretical defect, so that the arrangement really gives entire satisfaction, and after it has been in use for a few days accurately controls the flow of the mercury. The glass cylinder is held in position, but not supported, by two wooden adjustable clamps, a a, Figure 2. The weight of the cylinder and mercury is supported by a shelf, S, Figure 2, on which rests the cork of the cylinder; in this way all danger of a very disagreeable accident is avoided.
MODIFIED FORM OF SPRENGEL PUMP.