"Carrying coals to Newcastle," the oft quoted comparison, fittingly indicates the position I place myself in when attempting to address members of this Institute on the subject of machine designing.

Philadelphia, the birthplace of the great and nearly all the good work in this, the noblest of all industrial arts, needs no help or praise at my hands, but I hope her sons may be prevailed upon to do in their right way what I shall try to do roughly - that is, formulate some rules or establish principles by which we, who are not endowed with genius, may so gauge our work as to avoid doing that which is truly bad. No great author was ever made by studying grammar, rhetoric, language, history, or by imitating some other author, however great.

Neither has there ever been any great poet or artist produced by training. But there are many writers who are not great authors, many rhymsters who are not poets, and many painters who are not artists; and while training will not make great men of them, it will help them to avoid doing that which is absolutely bad, and so may it not be with machine designing? If there are among you some who have a genius for it, what I shall have to say will do you no good, for genius needs no rules, no laws, no help, no training, and the sooner you let what I have to say pass from your minds, the better. Rules only hamper the man of genius; but for us, who either from choice or necessity work away at machine designing without the gift, cannot some simple ruling facts be determined and rules formulated or principles laid down by which we can determine what is really good, and what bad? One of the most important and one of the first things in the construction of a building is the foundation, and the laws which govern its construction can be stated in a breath, and ought to be understood by every one.

Assuming the ground upon which a building is to be built to be of uniform density, the width of the foundation should be in proportion to the load, the foundation should taper equally on each side, and the center of the foundation should be under the center of pressure. In other words, it is as fatal to success to have too much foundation under the light load as it is too little under a heavy one.

Cannot we analyze causes and effects, cost and requirements, so as to formulate some simple laws similar to the above by which we shall be able to determine what is a good and what a bad arrangement of machinery, foundation, framing or supports? A vast amount of work is expended to make machines true, and the machines, or a large majority of them, are expected to produce true work of some kind in turn. Then, if this be admitted, cannot the following law be established, that every machine should be so designed and constructed that when once made true it will so remain, regardless of wear and all external influences to which it is liable to be subjected? One tool maker says that it is right, and another that it cannot be done. No matter whether it can or cannot, is it not the thing wanted, and if so, is it not an object worth striving for? One tool maker says that all machine tools, engines, and machinery should set on solid stone foundations. Should they?

They do not always, for in substantial Philadelphia some machine tools used by machine builders stand upon second floors, or, perhaps, higher up. And of these machine tools none, or few at least, except those mounted upon a single pedestal, are free from detrimental torsion where the floor upon which they rest is distorted by unequal loading. But, to first consider those of such magnitude as to render it absolutely necessary to erect them - not rest them - on masonry, is due consideration always taken to arrange an unequal foundation to support the unequal loads? - and they cannot be expected to remain true if not. When one has the good fortune to have a machine to design of such extent that the masonry becomes the main part of it, what part of the glory does he give to the mason? Is the masonry part of it always satisfactory, and is not this resorting to the mason for a frame rather than a support adopted on smaller machines than is necessary? Is it necessary even in a planing machine of forty feet length of bed and a thirty foot table? Could not the bed be cast in three pieces, the center a rectangular box, 5 or 6 or 7 feet square, 20 feet long, with internal end flanges, ways planed on its upper surface, and ends squared off, a monster, perhaps, but if our civil engineers wanted such a casting for a bridge, they'd get it.

Add to this central section two bevel pieces of half the length, and set the whole down through the floor where your masonry would have been and rest the whole on two cross walls, and you would have a structure that if once made true would remain so regardless of external influences. Cost? Yes; and so do Frodsham watches - more than "Waterbury."

It may be claimed, in fact, I have seen lathes resting on six and eight feet, engines on ten, and a planing machine on a dozen. Do they remain true? Sometimes they do, and many times they do not. Is the principle right? Not when it can be avoided; and when it cannot be avoided, the true principle of foundation building should be employed.... A strange example of depending on the stone foundation for not simply support, but to resist strain, may be found in the machines used for beveling the edges of boiler plate. Not so particularly strange that the first one might have, like Topsy, "growed," but strange because each builder copies the original. You will remember it, a complete machine set upon a stone foundation, to straighten and hold a plate, and another complete machine set down by the side of it and bolted to the same stone to plane off the edge; a lot of wasted material and a lot of wasted genius, it always seems to me. Going around Robin Hood's barn is the old comparison. Why not hook the tool carriage on the side of the clamping structure, and thus dispense with one of the frames altogether?