Tuesday, November 1, 2011

James Watt (The inventor of the steam-engine)

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James Watt

James Watt was born in 1736 in a town called Greenock, a sea-port in Scotland.His father was a merchant and also a master-carpenter.He sold ropes and all kinds of screws and nills,tools and many of the instruments used on ships,such as telescopes and compasses.Many ships used to come into Greenock from America,carrying tobacco from Virginia.James's father built the first crane in Greenock for unloading the heavy bales of tobacco. James's father was very good at working with his hands. He had a small workshop in his house where he was always making things. Very early in life James Watt began to learn how to use tools.His father made him a small bench and James spent many happy hours making all kinds of toys and models.He was very clever at using tools.All the men in his father's workshop used to say, "James Watt is a very clever boy. He's got a fortune in his fingers."
Their words were to prove true when James Watt became a famous and rich man later in life. 
 As a child, James Watt was often sick.He used to get very bad headaches and his father did not want to send him to school. So James Watt stayed at home and watched the men at work.He watched his father and learnt a great deal.His mother taught him to read and his father taught him some writing and some mathematics.

Steam-engine of James Watt

In 1763 one of the professors of the University, John Anderson, asked James Watt to repair a steam-engine. This steam-engine was a model and the professor used it for teaching his students. It was a model of a steam-engine that had been invented by a man called Thomas Newcomen, about fifty years before, to work a pump. These pumps were used for pumping water out of mines, especially in coal-mines. Unfortunately they were very large and used a great deal of fuel. They often failed to work. Some months before this the professor had sent his model to London for repairs, but when it came back he found that it still didn’t work. .The professor knew that James Watt was clever at repairing things and sent it to him.

James Watt spent many hours studying the model. James Watt found out how badly designed it was. A lot of heat was wasted in working the pump. As a result the engine used a great deal of fuel and so it was very costly. James Watt thought about this for many weeks. But for two years he could think of no means of improvement until suddenly a solution flashed into his mind. Later on her wrote to a friend and told him how he discovered the answer.
“I had gone for a walk one fine Sunday after-noon. I was walking across the park in Glasgow. I was thinking about the engine and I suddenly discovered the answer.”
His discovery was the separate condenser- the greatest single advancement in the history of steam-engine. James Watt set to work to make a new model, using his own design. He had a number of difficulties, however. It was impossible to find good workmen in Glasgow. James Watt himself was often sick; and he did not have enough money to buy the materials. At last he met a man called Boulton, who had a big factory near Birmingham. When Boulton met James Watt he realized that he had met a genius. Boulton wanted a steam-engine which would produce power whenever he wanted it. He offered James Watt a partnership in 1774. He also agreed to pay for all the materials for the new steam-engine. James Watt settled down in the factory to work on the steam-engine.

At last, in 1776, James Watt had made two steam-engines and sold them to people who owned coal-mines. The steam-engines worked well and everybody was pleased with them. Boulton persuaded James Watt to go t London and apply for a patent for his invention. So that nobody else could manufacture his steam-engines. Although he was not a good businessman and not good at dealing with Government officials, James Watt, with the help of Boulton, at last managed to get a patent for his steam-engine. At that time there were a number of tin mines in Cornwall, a place in south-west England. These mines used Newcomen engines, but when mine-owners heard about James Watt’s new steam-engines they soon ordered them for their mines. Orders for his steam-engines also came from paper mills, flour mills, cotton mills, iron mills and water-mills. By 1800 James Watt & Boulton had sold 700 pumping engines.

James Watt wanted to design an engine which would make a wheel go round and round. After many years work, he managed to do this in 1783. This kind of a steam-engine could drive both stationary and moving machines. James Watt realized that such a steam-engine would be useful for driving machines and it would also be useful for driving vehicles of all kinds from one place to another. James Watt himself never had time or opportunity to design a proper railway engine, but in 1814, five years before James Watt died, a man called George Stephenson designed the first successful steam motor-vehicle, or railway train. This was the Rocket, and in 1829 it made a long journey at fifteen miles an hour. The idea of railways and steam-engines was thought of by James Watt. Some of his models and engines and other inventions are still in the museums today. 

James Watt’s contribution 

James Watt died in 1819. His contribution in the industrial field is very great. His invention made machines work faster and more efficiently as a result of which production of goods by machines increased. His name is remembered today by everyone because when we buy an electric bulb we ask for one of 60 watts or 100 watts. Of course, James Watt had nothing to do with electricity but he had invented a measurement for power. When people wanted a short term for units of electrical power they chose his name.     


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