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Wonders of World Engineering

Part 37

Part 37 of Wonders of World Engineering was published on Tuesday 9th November 1937, price 7d.


Part 37 includes a photogravure supplement showing some of the dams built by the US Reclamations Bureau. This section illustrates the article on Desert Reclamation in the West.


The Cover

The cover this week shows the spillway section of the dam of the Croton Reservoir, near New York. This reservoir stores the water of the Croton River which, before the dam was built in 1906, flowed into the Hudson River. Water from the reservoir is conveyed to New York City by an aqueduct about thirty-three miles long, with a capacity of 300,000,000 gallons a day. In Great Britain and in many other countries, when a dam is built across a river, provision is generally made to allow a certain proportion of the water to flow down the bed of the dammed stream. This is known as compensation water. In this instance, however, no compensation water is needed and the Water Department of New York City has planned to draw off the water which flows down the spillway of the Croton Dam. An additional aqueduct is being built to take this extra supply of water to New York City. When this is completed the only water which will flow down the spillway will be flood water.

the spillway section of the dam of the Croton Reservoir, near New York


Contents of Part 37


Story of Tyre Production (Part 2)

The Uses of Compressed Air

Desert Reclamation in the West

Desert Reclamation in the West (photogravure supplement)

Electrical Research Work

White Sea-Baltic Canal (Part 1)







Story of Tyre Production (Part 2)


L H Thomas describes the manufacture of pneumatic tyres. The article is concluded from

part 36 and is the twelfth article in the series on the Romance of Industry.

(Pages 1049-1052)



The Uses of Compressed Air


Apart from its use in motor ships and on railways, compressed air is an excellent source of power for rock drills, riveting hammers and other engineering implements. It is easily produced and distributed, and is perfectly safe in mines or other dangerous situations. Various forms of power and power transmission are available to the modern engineer. Steam, electricity and hydraulic power immediately come to mind, but there is another source of power - compressed air - which often escapes attention in spite of its common applications.

Compressed air is used extensively in almost every branch of engineering and industry. Its advantages are well demonstrated by the remarkable progress that has been made in the last fifty years with rock-drilling appliances. Compressed air is used in motorships, which require it for starting purposes and for various auxiliary engines. Naval torpedoes are worked entirely by compressed-air engines, and this source of power is indispensable in tunnelling under water. The principles and numerous applications of compressed air are described in this this chapter by Edwin Judd.

(Pages 1053-1058)


A Rotary Compressor on Test

ROTARY COMPRESSOR ON TEST in the maker’s works. This installation supplies 2,471 cubic feet of air a minute at a pressure of 50 lb per sq in. The rotor of the compressor revolves at a speed of 485 revolutions a minute, but speeds of nearly 3,000 revolutions a minute are attained in some compressors.

(Page 1053)


Desert Reclamation in the West  

Photogravure Supplement - 2


TWO SPILLWAYS, one on either side of the dam, release the overflow waters from the reservoir created by the Roosevelt Dam, across the Salt River, Arizona. The spillways have a normal capacity of 113,000 feet a second, and are each 200 feet long. The dam is of rubble masonry with coursed rubble faces, laid in Portland cement mortar. It has a length of 1,125 feet at the crest and a width of 158 feet at the base, with a height of 280 feet.

(Pages 1062-63)


Masticating Mill

MASTICATING MILL in which raw rubber is worked between large steel rollers until it is reduced to a soft and plastic condition. In the state in which the rubber is seen below the roller, it is possible to mix it with various chemical agents which give it the properties required for the several uses to which it may be put.

(Page 1049)


Desert Reclamation in the West


Photogravure Supplement


CONCRETE MIXING PLANT on the site of the Grand Coulee Dam, ninety-two miles west of Spokane, in the State of Washington. The first pouring of concrete was made in December 1935, and pouring was continued at an average rate of 5,714 cubic yards a day. The dm is by far the greatest of all concrete structures. It is designed to raise the upstream level of the Columbia River by 355 feet, thus creating a reservoir with a surface area of 128 square miles.


(Page 1061)


Electrical Research Work


The Electricity Department of the National Physical Laboratory investigates a wide range of subjects, from the testing of small electric lamps to the effects of lightning on the overhead wires of the Grid. Its work is of incalculable importance to the electrical engineer. Howard Barry contributes another chapter dealing with the National Physical Laboratory at Tedington, Middlesex.

 (Pages 1070-1074)


Impulse Generator at the National Physical Laboratory


IMPULSE GENERATOR at the National Physical Laboratory. This apparatus, which is capable of developing 1,500,000 volts, consists of a huge bank of condensers which are charged in parallel and discharged in series.


(Page 1070)


White Sea-Baltic Canal (Part 1)


Lakes, rivers and canals have been linked by the Soviet Government to form a navigable waterway between Leningrad on the Baltic, and Soroka on the White Sea. The engineering works were carried out in severe conditions, with an unusual form of labour. This chapter is by Sidney Howard and is concluded in part 38.

(Pages 1075-1076)


Desert Reclamation in the West


Photogravure Supplement - 3


GIANT COFFERDAM of sheet steel piling being built to divert the Columbia River and allow work to proceed on the foundations of the Grand Coulee Dam, Washington. Three cofferdams in all were built, having a height of 125 feet and a total length of about 5,000 feet. The Grand Coulee dam is designed to reclaim more than one million acres of virtually desert land and to provide for the generation of electrical energy amounting to 2,700,000 horse-power.


(Page 1064)


Desert Reclamation in the West


More than one hundred dams have been built by the Reclamations Bureau of the United States Government in the Western States. These structures have irrigated and made productive millions of acres of barren waste. This chapter descrbes the large-scale engineering works which the Federal Government of the United States is sponsoring in the Western States.

The Federal Government is conducting great engineering enterprises in all parts of the United States, including the work of the Tennessee Valley Authority, which was described in a chapter in Part 32.


The object of the works in the Western States is the reclamation of the huge tracts of desert land which have so far defied full settlement and cultivation. Technically this region is not all desert, but water is scarce, the soil is dry and temperatures are high. By large-scale irrigation the American engineers are creating a vast new country which will be able to support millions of people. So far the United States Government has spent more than £50,000,000 on irrigation works in the Western States, not including the money spent on the Boulder Dam, nor the cost of building the Grand Coulee Dam - an even bigger structure across the Columbia River, in the State of Washington. Work on this dam was begun in December 1935, and when it is finished the structure will contain three times as much concrete as the Boulder Dam.

A number of dams have been built on the Colorado River and on the Salt River, Arizona. Perhaps the best known of these is the Roosevelt Dam, which has formed a lake with a surface area of twenty-five and a half square miles. Idaho, Nevada, Wyoming, Utah and New Mexico all have their water conservation schemes, which will be described this chapter next week by Harold Shepstone. This is the eighth article in the series Triumphs of Irrigation.

 (Pages 1059-1069)


The Elephant Butte Dam

ELEPHANT BUTTE DAM was built across the Rio Grande, Mexico, in 1915, and was at that time the largest structure of its kind. The dam is 1,200 feet long, with a maximum height of 300 feet. The reservoir created by the dam is forty-five miles long and serves to reclaim nearly 200,000 acres of fertile land from the desert.

(Page 1059)


The Weir of Shavansk Dam

THE WEIR OF SHAVANSK DAM, one of the fifteen dams built to control the waters along the line of the White Sea-Baltic Canal. Great difficulty was experienced by the engineers responsible for the foundations of the dam. The weir is faced with timber, and the huge volume of water pours over it so smoothly that the water appears to be almost motionless.

(Page 1075)

MASTICATING MILL in which raw rubber is worked between large steel rollersA Rotary Compressor on TestThe Elephant Butte DamCONCRETE MIXING PLANT on the site of the Grand Coulee DamGIANT COFFERDAM of sheet steel piling being built to divert the Columbia River


A Million Volts Spark


A MILLION-VOLTS SPARK produced in the high-voltage laboratory at the National Physical Laboratory. Three transformers, each capable of giving 375,000 volts, can be connected in series for tests of insulating materials at extremely high voltages.


(Page 1071)

Impulse Generator at the National Physical LaboratoryThe Weir of Shavansk Dam