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to storms, etc. This desirable result can be obtained before ginning, cheaper and far better than ever afterward. No better skill is required to reach this result than should be
practically applied to the ginning process; and after this process, then the gin could and would properly perform its own proper task satisfactorily in removing the seed from the staple. One of my associates, an experienced planter of Washington County, Texas, after much and patient experimenting, has succeeded in inventing and perfecting a machine which practically and completely performs this task of cotton cleaning. He has named it after himself, the "Ralston Cotton Cleaner.” It separates and throws out branches, bulls, burrs (and the presence of that evil, the burr, is as great an obstacle in connection with cotton, as you gentlemen who have woollen mills know that it is in connection with wool), and blows out the sand and dirt. A few of these machines are built and running in Texas and other points of the Southwest, and I invite your attention to the product of them, samples of which I have here, as also the product of the same seed-cotton from the same pile identically, that only passed through the gin without being cleaned by the machine before ginning.
A great fault in ginning much cotton arises from too great haste to gin the cotton while wet or damp. This invariably naps and breaks much of the staple. It is very expensive, the way they handle their cotton throughout the entire South. It lies in bins, similar to those used by charcoal burners in New England for storing their charcoal. It lies there exposed to the weather. In the south western section of the country, you can see these bins where the cotton lies without any covering, even during terrible storms. The cotton that lies next the ground is put in and ginned; and then they tell you that its imperfections are all the fault of the gin. They take no trouble whatever to pick out those dirty portions of the cotton.
Every planter that has any experience will tell you that the seed-cotton should be dry enough before ginning to crack so as to be readily heard when stepped on by a person of average weight. But notwithstanding this, many bales of the crop first gathered are brought to the gin so green and damp, that the seed can be flattened between the thumb and finger, and the whole is hurried through the gin; the result of which is napped and
gin-cut cotton, which largely increases the consumers' waste account. The same faulty result is equally true of any cotton which is decidedly damp when ginned. Again, many gins are too frequently overdriven in speed, and thus
produce more broken or gin-cut staple. Not that the gin will not gin the cotton as well while running at a high rate of speed, but the evil is due to irregularity in feeding a steady and full supply to the machines while doing so much additional work. Any such irregularity, either in feeding too much or too little, breaks the roll, and then the cotton and seed, that constitute the roll, are acted upon like the log by the circular saw, and all that comes in contact with the teeth of the gin-saws or circles of teeth, like those of the needle-gin, is torn into sawdust and sucked through the gin and disseminated among the cotton in the lint-room. The roll in the gin is a peculiar thing. It lies in front and revolves constantly before these saws, and travels as fast as the saws do. The moment that breaks, it cuts the cotton that is in there all to pieces; it cuts it all up. Automatic feeders, taking their motion from the gin-belt, that increase or decrease the supply fed, relatively as the gin runs faster or slower, effectually remedy this evil, and they should be generally adopted, as they not only remedy this fault, but they do the work more cheaply than by band. Still there are but few in use, compared with the great number of gins running.
Another, and decidedly a bad fault, is the setting of the gins close up against the partition dividing them from the gauze
You will understand that this heavy material - the deleterious substances, like the sand and these woody substances which are ground up and passed through the gin — fall just
outside the partition. Still further on the lighter portions fall. The latter cotton is actually beautiful in many of these ginneries. That on the outer side would be adapted to very fine sheeting. That immediately adjoining the partition would hardly be fit to make a very coarse sheeting or bagging. This was not the case even twenty years since, but is now quite general. The trunks of the gins, leading from them into the lint-rooms, are seldom over a foot long. Trunks with slatted bottoms and tight sand-boxes, like openers, and several feet long, would
up many of these undesirable substances, and should be used generally. Longer gauze-rooms, so that the cotton could
be blown further by the gin, and the cotton thus blown be separated into two or three portions, as the quality varied according to its distance from the gin, and then packed into separate bales, are strongly to be urged upon the planters to be used. Under the present plan, very many of them are so short and small that the dust and sand are blown all about the room, and are thus continually distributed throughout the cotton. I have been frequently asked my opinion about condensers, in connection with the gin, and I have invariably opposed them for general use, as like the small gauze-rooms, they carry into the cotton all these useless and deleterious substances, and should only be used when the cotton is very clean indeed. These improvements are all needed, and another still greater would be, either an increase of labor, or some machine that would practically take its place, in gathering rapidly the remaining part of the crop after frost has matured it.
Some machine for preventing these difficulties is very much needed. If some Yankee genius could invent a machine to gather that cotton rapidly, he would make money for the United States and for the world, and very much of it, too.
This Association, by its influence and advice, might reach the minds of many of the leading planters on these important points, and induce them to use and make some of these desirable improvements, which would soon be copied by the smaller ones, if practicable. And certainly the consumers have it in their power to urge upon their buying agents to discard as much as possible purchases of these low cottons containing so much Southern real estate at from eight to twelve cents per pound.
Feeling that this Association, so highly appreciative of what is needed in procuring a clean and desirable staple, could have a powerful influence in inducing the cotton-growers to produce such a desirable article, instead of the damaged and dirty article so much of which now comes to market, my associates requested me to appear before you and solicit any and all the influence and assistance that you can extend to us toward furthering this desirable end. At any rate, the cotton producers of the South who are now marketing annually so much of their soil at high figures as almost seemingly to warrant a suspicion of intentional fraud, should be reached by making them understand from you, the consumers, joined by the voice of the European consumers, that it will pay them better, in the long run, to make clean cotton, than dirty, trashy cotton. Impress upon the planting interest, that if the gathering of so many and much of these deleterious matters is a necessity in order to secure their crops, that they should use some intermediate agent, either machine or hand labor, to remove these substances before the cotton is ginned, and thus allow the cotton-gins to escape the many pretended faults that are now pinned upon them unreasonably. Under the old system of labor, crude machines, like whippers, and the younger portion of the hands, were employed to remove these useless substances before ginning; but now, in the changed condition of labor, this has become quite impracticable, and, if done at all, or to any considerable extent, it must be by machinery. If manufacturers could associate and put up works at a few central points in the South to produce their own clean cotton, it would not only be a very profitable business, but thus start the idea that the preparation of the staple should be an independent business from its production. I have no doubt it would exert a strong influence on the planters generally, and much might be gained thereby for all the consumers' interest. way can I illustrate better to you, gentlemen, the management of the gin in the South generally, than by saying, that it is necessary to throw off the belt (generally an 8-inch wide one), to stop the machine, where other than horse-power is used, and then, by crying out" whoa !” No doubt this plan has so generally obtained from the almost universal use of horse-power in past time for ginning purposes. One of my associates has recently applied a clutch and loose pulley to several gins operated by steam-power, and from the attention and approbation it is meeting with the planters, I think it may rapidly be adopted. This will show you somewhat the disposition of the planters to adopt any little improvement in the working of their gins.
Recently, in passing through the different mills in this Stato and Rhode Island, and seeing your machinery, a Southern friend of mine got the idea that a clutch and loose pulley could be applied to and put upon a gin as well as upon anything else. The people in the South are very much interested in the contrivances embodied in your machinery, and thought it a very
interesting thing that a clutch should be made to stop a gin, instead of saying " whoa !”
But they should hear the united voices of the cotton consumers of the world protesting against this constant damage and loss they are sustaining through their dirty, trashy cotton; and the planters should be urged to try to remedy as much as possible these faults, by adopting such means as are most practicable to prevent it. Your buying agents might do much to help remove these faults, by discriminating strongly against this dirty and trashy cotton. One of the great difficulties to overcome is to make the planters generally believe that their crops, made dirty and slovenly, will not net them so much as if they were made with care and turned out clean. Many of them now believe the reverse, and until convinced to the contrary, will continue to follow on in this way. It is not possible to make them believe that they could make just as much money if they tried to sell the cotton alone, free from all this soil.
Curiosity led me to carefully gather and weigh the cotton from the opened bolls with their seed attached. I tried it in most of the different States, and found that it took the cotton and seed from 96 to 103 of these bolls to weigh a pound, generally approximating 100 bolls to the pound, and 100 pounds of this clean-picked seed-cotton to make 31 pounds of staple; thus requiring about 170,000 bolls to make a 500-pound bale. Ten days and more are generally required by an average hand to pick the cotton for one bale of average grade and the poorer qualities. To pick it clean from all these impurities, it will take three or four days more. Thus you can see the immense amount of hand-labor required to gather this immense crop. It is a process that makes very sore fingers. I thought I would attempt it once, and I was very glad when I got a hundred pounds picked and could quit. Even in a rough manner, is it any wonder, then, that the planter expects the gin to do the rest? That some mechanical device that will enable the crop to be made clean, even if gathered roughly and slovenly, is very desirable, no one can doubt. To accomplish this was the desire for many years of my associate, Mr. Ralston, the inventor of our machinery; and we feel certain that our machines will produce this result whenever they are used, and well-ginned, clean cotton once again become easier to find in the market.