Page images




I presume to address the Association on the subject of Carding, not from any consciousness of having a surplus of knowledge to dispose of, nor because I can offer anything new, anything original; or because I can impart instruction. Whatever suggestions may have value, belong to friends, — some present here, who will doubtless recognize their several contri

[ocr errors]


I come before you because the Board of Government of the Association called on me; and I consented to answer the call, even to my own discredit and the absorption of my little leisure, rather than, by a refusal, to add discouragement or labor to the Board in their early efforts to make our meetings tuseful. In an association for mutual benefit, I deem it every man's duty to serve in his turn, and as he has opportunity. In the present case, I am sure that the poverty of my contribution will render the attempt to contribute less formidable to the rest. The most I hope is, that I shall provoke a very thorough discussion of the subject, in its details.

Of the members of the Association who have answered the Secretary's call for statistics, about troo-fifths return their yarn as prepared by single-carding, about three-fifths by double carding. Should answers come from all the mills in New Eng: land, small and great, I suppose the greater number would return single carding. I suppose, also, that the mills with large capitals, successful, and with a surplus of profits undivided, are almost wholly using the systemi of double carding; or are making arrangements to introduce it. The current is strongly in that direction; not, I think, because carding as such is better


done, but because the cotton is more mixed; and “doubling” is greatly multiplied.

We come, then, to ask – What is the true object of carding?

To answer this question dogmatically, and at once, we may say, it is to put cotton into an even, uniform riband, or sliver, free from all foreign substances, with its fibres parallel to each other, and in a condition to be reduced in size, until capable of being spun into a required size or number of yarn. Whatever effects this, fulfils the purpose of carding.

Let us see how a course, apparently so simple, is followed by different parties.

And here I beg the privilege of rambling a little, gleaning here and there an idea tending to show that various considerations guide our manufacturers, besides the simple purpose

of carding well; and, moreover, that the standard of good carding is about as uncertain as the standard weight by which some of our ancestors bought tobacco of the Indians; the buyer's own interest, in the shape of his own hand on the weight side of the balance, settling any preponderance against him. Perhaps by this course we may reach some facts that will embolden us to “decide when doctors (of cotton) disagree.”

A respectable manufacturing company in New England, of about 10,000 spindles, making No. 25 yarn, cards all its cotton on twelve Gambrel cards, 3 feet wide, 3 feet diameter of cylinder; say 830 spindles to one card. The agent, so far from being conscious or suspicious of making bad yarı, declares the carding and the yarn “ splendid.” His goods sell: the company makes money.

Another respectable company in New England, of about 20,000 spindles, making No. 14 yarn, cards its cotton on 340 cards, 3 feet wide, 3 feet diameter of cylinder; say 56 spindles to one card. The agent knows he cards well and makes good yarn. His goods sell. This company makes money.

Between these extremes, - and I believe there are cases more extreme than these, — all numbers of cards and spindles, all kinds of cards, and all sorts of carding, are working together, according to the design, the skill, the caprice, the extent of room or the extent of capital of the several parties using the combinations; the number of the yarn or the quality of the goods by no means always appearing to be the basis on which

[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]

their several systems were arranged. Indeed, a manufacturer of goods made of No. 14 yarn thought it more important to have a complete system of double carding on No. 14, than on higher numbers, because competition on goods of that number was more active, and the public know that class of goods better than others, and exact a more perfect fabric. Competition, and desire for profit, compel all to present a saleable article; while the means to get at this result are quite various.

In mills of large capital, influences of many kinds, exerted by various parties, constrain the managers to great expenditures for frequent costly changes of machines and modes of operation, to the throwing out of much still serviceable and valuable machinery. Thus large sums of accumulated profits are sunk; which, being charged off in their accounts, do not require subsequent profits to be rated on the extended capital actually involved in the concern; the stockholders, during the continuance of the company, receiving but small average returns. While the owner of a humble mill of, say, fifty looms, “the despised and rejected” machinery of its more imposing neighbors, builds up a handsome private fortune in manufacturing the same article

in competition.

I submit this to be like the barefooted boy, with torn hat and little if any trowsers, catching the best trout with a bent pin, while the well appointed cockney, with magnificent rod and line and flies, whips the brook in vain.

Skill and good work get tangled up in financial considerations; and so I beg to dwell a little on this view of the subject.

When competition or loss of popnlarity leaves our goods unsold, we become inquisitive; and if vigor and enterprise be left in us, we hant up our failings and apply remedies. We are apt to run in ruts year after year; and if we meet with success enough to lull anxiety and to suppress critical investigation, no stimulant from outside urging us to improvement, we rest satisfied, and resist the inward suggestions that changes and additions would do our work better.

On the other hand, in consequence of the highly suggestive and inventive talent of New England, there is, I think, a tendency to change unnecessarily, and to multiply machinery and operations beyond the requirements of the yarn, or the fabric into which our yarn is woven. Whether we are unduly

influenced, in this regard, by the pertenacity of inventors, patentees, dealers in patented articles, or parties interested to keep machine shops running, or the pride of our help and overseers in making a good show and using nice appliances, it is scarcely proper to spend time now in inquiring. Suffice it to say, that complicated machines, and complicated processes for doing simple things, are fair objects of opposition. My own instincts and experience lead me to prefer the simple to the complex; to make each machine do the special work for which it is adapted; and so, thus far, have I preferred the theory of single carding to that of double carding, and do not hurry to change.

I acknowledge, in the outset, that the breakers, in a system of double carding, by running a large number of ends, mix the cotton well, and furnish an even lap to the finisher cards. Sixty slivers to one lap ought certainly to insure good mixing; and even if two or three or inore be broken off, the balance would mix the cotton well and distribute well their individual inequalities.

But the preparation of the cotton, before coming to the cards, has an important bearing on the question of what cards should be required to do, and of what cotton should or should not suffer, in the process of carding.

The sand, dirt, rotten and matted cotton, seeds, abortive or unripe seeds, leaf and other foreign substances baled up

with cotton, - seemingly more freely of late years than formerly,are very improper substances to be brought in contact with sharp and well leveled card clothing; and hence there is need of very effective means for opening and cleaning. We ought to use abundant whipping, beating and fanning, knocking out and blowing out all that is not cotton; and so whips and beaters and cocks-spur teeth, with good exhausting fans, are articles to be multiplied. A repetition of these processes works, I believe, less injury to the staple than the laceration and filing down, from repeated contact with sharp pointed card teeth.

Throwing up cotton, from thirty to fifty bales, into one bing, by faithful handling, mixes the various qualities and staples well; and the room for doing this, and the help required, can be much more cheaply furnished than the room and help required for a set of cards to do your mixing in. Then each sub


sequent process through whipper, or mixer, or willow, or Van Winkle, and Kitson's or Sargent's opener, and Kitson's or Whitin's pickers, mixes the cotton well enough.

In one of our large mills a shrewd hand,-he seemed to me to have some head; called, however a hand, who looked after the first mixing of the cotton and passing it through openers, pickers, &c., to a lap, lately told me, that now that the mill was running double carding it didn't matter much about his mixing, or what kind of a lap he furnished; no fault was found now; the great number of breaker card ends running to the lapwinder, did his business for him. “When we run single carding," said he, “they kept me on my taps all the time." I think " thereby hangs a tale."

openers and pickers ought to furnish to the cards a lap not only well mixed, but of uniform weight to the running yard, quite destitute of sand, dust, seeds, the large pieces of unripe seeds, nubs, pods, and leaves, and nearly destitute of even small bits and nits; for as long as a bit of leaf or other substance has a specific gravity greater than the fibre of cotton to which it is attached, speeded-up beaters will knock it off. And I believe that beaters, set at the proper distance from the feed rolls required by the length of the staple, injure the cotton less, by whatever breakage of the staple may be caused, than the smoothing of the fibre in the cards, or repeated stretching at the drawing heads.

The lap, before it comes to the cards, should, I repeat, approach perfect freedom from foreign substances, and be of uniform thickness and weight. The cards, then, will not be required unduly to clean cotton, nor do any hard office unsuited to their character and construction. They will perform their · legitimate work; which appears to be a separation of the fibres of cotton from intimate adhesion to each other, from entanglements

, knots and curls, and a distribution of them into an even sheet

, of slightly adherent fibres, “taking each other by the beard,” or by their natural angles or spirals, and getting them ready to be laid out parallel by the railway head and drawing frames

. The fibres are not permanently straightened by the cards; or, if they be temporarily drawn straight between the tops and cylinder

, the doffer and comb render them in a sheet, not one fibre of which is seen to be straight, but curved, rather,

« PreviousContinue »