Nature has lavished iron and coal on this corner of the world, and the Belgians have made the most of these hidden riches. Everything here breathes industrial power.
The Rue de Belgique opens between the two robust horizontal two-cylinder engines of Messrs. Houget et Cie, which distribute power to all Belgian and Prussian machines.
Most of the Belgian engines are very remarkable for their solidity, their simplicity, their power and the finish of their construction. In addition to the Houget machines, we particularly admired the superb horizontal Woolf machine1 exhibited by Messrs Rens and Colson. Its power is one hundred horsepower, the small cylinder has the same axis as the large one and is placed in front of it.
Mr. Van den Kerklove also presented a horizontal two-cylinder machine, very worthy of interest, but the prize goes to Mr. Carels, whose vertical engine is one of the most original and successful we have seen at the Exhibition.
It consists of two twin Woolf machines with a total force of at least one hundred horsepower; but when more force is required, by means of an additional spool which can be operated by three different eccentrics, the rebound and force can be varied in three proportions. The spools are balanced; the wooden teeth of the flywheel can be changed with the greatest of ease. This excellent machine consumes only one kilogram of coal per horse per hour.
Mr. Carels, who personally manages his workshops and draws up the plans for his machines himself, might have obtained even better than a gold medal: but he employs only three hundred workers, and the jury readily measured the merit of factories by the number of their staff.
In this respect, the Cockerill company could not have been satisfied with its two gold medals, because it gives employment to 7227 people, to whom it distributes 6,660,000 francs each year for their wages.
The 7227 workers are employed by 156 steam engines with a power of 2843 horsepower. With similar means of action the Cockerill company draws each year from its four coal mines 260,000 tons of fuel, of which it consumes 220,000 for its own use, and from its thirty mines 146,000 tons of ore, of which it extracts 50,000 tons of iron.
The Company exhibited a majestic blowing machine1 for the feeding of two blast furnaces; this apparatus consists of a Woolf machine, the piston of which directly moves a colossal double-acting cylindrical bellows, vomiting a veritable hurricane through its wind-carrier; the deep noise of this stormy blast shakes the vast nave of the palace in the distance.
Everything related to the processing and extraction of iron and coal is of interest in the Belgian exhibition. The Belgian manufacturers have sent two twin machines for coal extraction, both with a power of 200 horsepower and a pyramid frame. Each machine consists of two vertical cylinders which are inverted, i.e. the piston rod emerges from the bottom of the cylinder and moves up and down. The flywheel is replaced by a huge double winch, around which two cables are wound in opposite directions, so that one unwinds while the other winds up. Thus, as one cage loaded with coal rises, another empty cage descends, and neither force nor time is lost. As the winch is placed above the shaft, there is no need for a pulley and the system is as simple as possible, which is always excellent. A powerful steam brake stops the rotation of the winch instantly.
Many other ingeniously designed and conscientiously constructed instruments have been mentioned, but we can only mention a remarkable hammer and a hammer-pile, and a very interesting series of looms and machines for spinning, weaving and finishing wool. Belgium has long been famous for its draperies, and has not allowed any of the industries that have ensured its prosperity to decline.
©L'Exposition Universelle de 1867 Illustrée