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The Pamphlet Collection of Sir Robert Stout: Volume 50

Syllabus of a Course of Twelve Lectures on Building Construction

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Syllabus of a Course of Twelve Lectures on Building Construction

Christchurch: Whitcombe & Tombs, Limited, Printers and Stationers, Cashel Street 1885

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Introductory Lecture.

Part I.—On Technical Education.

Causes which have made technical education a necessity, viz.: I. Introduction of machinery. 2. Sub-division of labour. 3. System of competitive contracts.—Masters indifferent to taking apprentices.—Breaking down of the apprenticeship system as an efficient sole means of training skilled workmen.—Description of the work of the Industrial Society of Mulhouse.—What is the function of the technical school?—The education of the artisan divided under three heads, viz.: 1. Pure science. 2. Applied science. 3. Manipulation of tools.—Pure science distinct from technical teaching.—Manipulation of tools not to be learned from lectures, but by the training of the workshop.—Workmen trained in technical schools only, deficient in practical knowledge of work.—Advantages of apprenticeship.—Suggestions for combining to the greatest advantage class-room teaching and workshop training.—Special course of study recommended for pupils in connection with the building trades.

Part II.—History of Construction.

Two leading forms, viz.: The circle and the rectangle.—The circular-domed hut the original type of domestic habitation throughout Western Europe.—Models of the early house used as cinerary urns of a very early date in Italy and Germany.—Connection of Germanic races with the early dwellers in Troy.—Survival of the domed form in the snow huts of the Esquimaux.—Domed tombs of the early Greeks.—The "sepulchral couch" of Danaë at Mycenæ.—The modem Turkish hut a typical example of rectangular construction.—Flat timber roofs of Persia and Assyria.—Flat stone roofs of Egyptian temples and of cities in the Lejah.—Lycian tombs simply marble copies of rectangular wooden framing.—Domed roofs of Grecian tombs built in horizontal courses; same system employed in Etruscan tombs and in the vaulted roofs of Central America.—Fçades of stone in imitation of upright posts and trellis-work.—Type of early Central American hut, with sloping roof.—Flat roof of Circe's palace mentioned by Homer.—Rectangular types of building in the cliff fortresses of Arizona.—Terraced roofs of the towns of the Pueblo Indians.—Plans of ancient Peruvian cities built under Inca rule.—Marble plan of Rome in the time of Nero.—Arched corridors at Nakhon Wat, in Cambodia, built in horizontal courses.—Indian domes built in horizontal, not radiating, courses.—The true arch brought into general use as a constructive feature by the Romans.—Substitution of the arch for the architrave.—The abandonment of the lintel as a constructive feature, the key to the origin of the arched styles respectively known as Gothic, Lombardic, Moorish, and Saracenic.—Tunnel vaulting.—Intersection of cross vaults.—Twisted groins.—Methods of striking an ellipse not known to the Romans.—Ribbed vaulting: its principles.—Introduction of the equilateral triangle as a canon of proportion.—Scientific construction, as distinguished from mere building, first introduced by the Romans.—Collapse of the constructive art in Britain on the departure of the Romans.—Revival of art in England about the tenth century.—Development of Gothic architecture in the fourteenth and fifteenth centuries.—Collapse of Gothic art with the Reformation.—Revival of classical forms in later times, the architrave again taking the place of the arch as a constructive feature.

Part III.—Comparison of Ancient and Modern Practice.

The masonry of the temples of Greece and Egypt, and the ribbed vaulting of the mediæval cathedrals, not surpassed by any work of the present day.—Admirable design and workmanship of the old English timbered roofs, as Westminster Hall, Hampton Court, and Eltham Palace.—Constructive use of iron limited in early times.—Bituminous cement used in the East from the earliest times.—Concreted rubble masonry made with hydraulic lime greatly used by the Romans.—Three distinctive page 4 features of modern constructive science, viz.: 1. The use of cement concrete. 2. The introduction of wrought iron as a material for trussed beams. 3. The adoption of pneumatic apparatus for laying foundations under water.—Introduction of Portland cement; its use and abuse.—Cast iron beams.—Investigations by Mr. E. Hodgkinson and Mr. Fairbairn on the strength of cast and wrought iron.—Building of the Conway and Britannia bridges.—Abandonment of cast iron and introduction of wrought iron as a material for beams.—Differences between English and American practice.—Introduction of pneumatic caissons.—Caisson disease.—Dangers of the pneumatic process at great depths.

Conclusion.—List of subjects to be dealt with in the following twelve Lectures

Lecture I.

On Building Materials.

Sun-dried bricks.—Sod walling.—Cob walls.—Clay chimneys.—Bricks: Composition of brick earth—Mixtures often dsirable—Alumina, sand, fluxes—Refractory clays—Fusible earths—Bricks of two classes, viz.: baked and burnt—Colour—Red, white, and yellow bricks—white bricks a desideratum.—Principal operations: Tempering, moulding, burning.—Hollow beds—Mortar joints, timber bond objectionable.—Building stone.—Masonry of three classes: Ashlar, block-in-course, and rubble.—Use of mortar in bedding.—Masonry without mortar.—Moss used for bedding.—Concrete: Artificial stone—Beton—Lime concrete—Pozzuolana—Caissons lined with waterproof cloth—Differences in concrete—Round pebbles—More sand—Broken pebbles—Broken stone—Ramming essential—Proportion of stone to mortar—Cement—Specification for—Proportion of cement required—Concrete vaulting—Concrete dam at Stony Creek—Extended use of concrete—Tensile strength.—Timber: Hard and soft woods—structure of timber—Strength of beams—Mechanical effect of a given load under varying circumstances—Practical application—Cross-strain—Formula for sectional strength—Experiments should be made on whole timbers—Round versus square piles—Trussed beams.—Iron: Cast iron, wrought iron, steel—Table of comparative compressive and tensile strength—Flanged beams—Formulaæ for strength of cast iron girders—Proportions of flanges reversed in wrought iron girders—Formulæ for strength of wrought iron girders—Difference between wrought iron and steel—Continuous girders not a suitable construction in cast iron—Allowance to be made for contraction and expansion.

Lecture II.


Natural and artificial foundations.—Two leading causes of failure—Treatment of a rock bottom.—Sand a good foundation under certain circumstances.—Foundations of Eddystone, Bell Rock, and Skerryvore lighthouses.—Danger of building on inclined strata.—Expansion of clay soils.—Disintegration of shale when exposed to the air.—Sand piling.—How to fix a gatepost.—Pile driving.—Screw piles.—Iron cylinders.—Hard crust overlying a soft stratum.—Sand.—Peat.—Foundations of buildings in Moorfields, London.—Foundations under Water: Three leading cases—Pile foundations—Timber—Screw piles—Cylinders—Hughes' pneumatic process—Solid foundations—Random work—Concrete in caissons—Masonry in caissons—Caissons laid on the natural bottom—Caissons on Beton foundations—Caissons on pile foundations—Caissons on sand bottom—Caissons with air chambers—St. Louis bridge over the Mississipi—Difficulties encountered at the Alexander II. bridge over the Neva—Indian system of sinking brick cylinders by divers.

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Lecture III.

Advantages of coffer-dams.—Various forms of coffer-dams.—Half-tide dams.—New Eddystone lighthouse.—Rubble coffer-dam.—Coffer-dams of ordinary construction,—Underpinning dam at Trent Bridge.—St. Katherine's Docks dam.—Houses of Parliament dam.—Grimsby Docks dam.—Puddle.—Portable dams.—Pile driving.—Ringing engine.—Crab engine.—Horse power.—Steam power.—Signals requisite.—Endless chain.—Atmospheric engine.—Nasmyth's steam pile-driver.—Calculation of force of blow.—Table of velocities.—Practical deductions.—Ringing and shoeing.—Sheet-pile shoes.—Grooving and tongueing.—Whole balks best.—Desirability of ascertaining nature of ground by boring before commencing pile-driving.

Lecture IV.


Walling, what is included in the term?—Two leading considerations.—-Solid materials classed under three heads.—Cementitious material.—Lime mortar.—Hydraulic limes.—Cements.—Summary of qualities of above.—Use and abuse of cement.—Cement mortar to be used when backing stonework.—How to build a Wall: Footings—Difference of level—Bond—Varieties of English and Flemish bond—Facings—Three principles to be kept in view—Uniformity of construction—Bond timber—Hoop iron bond—Distribution of the load—Tile floors—Arrangement of openings—Cast iron lintels—Wood bricks—Stone work to be built solid—Different rates of expansion—Mortar beds—Cornices.—Retaining Walls: Two kinds of failure—Failure of retaining-wall at Birmingham, Bristol, and Thames Junction Railway—Failure of Hunt's bank wall—Failures in tunnel walls—Provision for back drainage—Precautions against sliding of courses—Toe of wall to be protected—Expansion of London clay—Gonerby tunnel—Consideration of best section—Amount and direction of thrust—Minimum thrust—Maximum thrust—Resistance of the wall.—Breast walls—Harbour walls.—Four direct actions to be resisted: I. Direct blow from the sea. 2. Action from within the wall; monolithic work; failure of Wick pier. 3. Vertical rise of waves; Stonehaven; Eddystone lighthouse. 4. Vertical downward force.—Reservoir walls.

Lecture V.


Definition of an arch.—Definition of terms.—Curve of equilibrium.—Equilibrated arch with convex voussoirs.—Curve of equilibrium a catenary—Two modes of proceeding in designing an arch—Gothic vaulting.—Curve of arch governed by circumstances of locality.—Practical method of equilibrating an arch.—Minimum thickness of arch stones.—Depth of voussoirs must be as the pressure on them.—Brick arches—Arched beams of wood and iron.—Laminated beams.—Wrought iron beams.—Skew arches.—Centreing.—Three principal points for consideration.—Centres on piles.—Roman centreing.—Striking arrangements.—Abutments.—Wing walls.—Vaulting: Cylindrical vaults—Horizontal domes—Arch little used before the Roman age—Plain ribbed vaulting—Lierne vaulting—Fan vaulting—Germany and the Netherlands—Abandonment of ribbed vaulting—Works on stone-cutting.—Piers: Size of columns—Crushing strength.—Weak ground.—Hollow piers—Tunnel observatories.

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Lecture VI.


Lectures, text-books, and class lessons, their separate uses.—Difference between a beam and an arch.—Untrussed beams of great size formerly used in roofing.—Means of stiffening a long purlin.—Trussed bressummers.—Under-trussed bridge beams.—Smite bridge.—Failure of Avon bridge.—Falls bridge, Melbourne.—Double-trussed beams.—Queen-truss bridges.—Standard N.Z. bridge designs.—American bridges.—Utica and Syracuse Railway—Bridges in Otira Gorge.—Example of Howe truss.—Boiler plate girders.—English practice.—American practice.—General remarks on bridge-building.—Fink truss.—Bollman truss.—Howe truss.—Murphy-Whipple truss.—Post truss.—Warren girder.—Linville truss.—Lattice girders.—Comparison of trusses.—Bowstring girders.—Inverted bowstring girder.—Double bowstring.—Saltash bridge.—Calculation of strains.

Lecture VII.


Three great classes, viz.: flat, arched, and ridged.—Flat roofs: Eastern types—Stone roofs of the Lejah—Roofs of Egyptian temples—Flat timber roofs of Assyria and Persia—Present construction of flat roofs in India—Tile terrace roofs much used in London—This principle might be greatly extended—Flat terraced roofs of Ycatan—How to lay a lead flat.—Arched roofs: Early British huts—Esquimaux huts—Lycian tombs—Bhuddist caves—Modern Bengal roofs—Roman vaulted roofs—Domes—Church at Mousta, Malta—Indian system of bracketing—Indian horizontal domes—Principles of Indian dome-vaulting—System of construction—Dome decoration—Vaulted corridors in Cambodia.—Ridged roofs: Stone ridged roofs—Gothic roofs—Principles of Gothic timber roofs—Hampton Court, Westminster Hall, Eltham Palace—Timber roofs on the principle of the arch—Philibert de I'Orme, Halle au Blé, Paris—Pantheon Bazaar—Emy's laminated rib—King's Cross Station roof, Gt. Northern Railway.

Lecture VIII.

Trussed roofs.—Collar roofs.—King-post truss.—King and queen-post truss.—Iron trussed roofs.—Various examples.—Mansard roof.—Morality of "la Mansarde."—Roof of Houses of Parliament—Charing Cross Station roof.—Albert Hall roof.—Vienna Exhibition dome.—Arched iron roofs.—Difference between stone arches, trussed bridges, and roofs.—Crystal Palace roof.—Derby Market Hall roof.—St. Pancras Station, Midland Railway.—Covering Materials: Thatch: danger from birds—Boarded roofs—Weather boarding—Upright boarding—Painting to be done when dry—Stone should be dry before being oiled.—Tarring bridge planking—Cementitious coverings—Expansion and contraction to be provided for—Cement unsuitable—Asphalte and tar concrete recommended—Hydraulic mortar—Felt—Metallic coverings: lead, tin, zinc, copper, galvanised corrugated iron.—Tiling—Definitions—Principles of tiling and slating—Shingles—Sandstone slabs—Structure of slate—Origin of cleavage—Curved tiles—Greek form—Roman form—Pan-tiling—Hips and ridges—Valleys and gutters—Practical suggestions.

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Lecture IX.


Floors difficult to classify.—Different kinds of flooring.—Different purposes of flooring.—Fire-proof floors.—Danger of ironwork in fireproof construction.—Floors divided into three classes, viz.: dwelling, warehouse, and factory floors.—Specialities of flooring.—Paving included under road-making.—Dwelling-house floors: Basement floor—Concrete floors—Cement floors—Floors above the ground line—Floors classed as single, double, and double framed—Single flooring—Double flooring—Binding joists—Bridging joists—Ceiling joists—Double-framed flooring—Plaster floors—Hearths—Concrete arches—Tile floors.—Warehouse floors: Fireproof floors—New warehouses at Marseilles—Roads in Melbourne parks—St. Pancras Station, Midland Railway.—Factory Floors: Three leading considerations.—Paving: Laying out roads—Difference between town and country—Paving classed under three heads, viz.: Pervious, impervious, and partly pervious—Two other modes of classification, viz.: Homogenous and with a permanent foundation covered by a crust to be renewed from time to time—Camber unsuited for tramways—Telford and Macadam—Bituminous Macadam—Canterbury streets—Shingle roads—Stone and wood pavements—Comparative cost of stone paving and Macadam—Noise of stone pavements—Wood paving in Chicago—Side channels—Duncdin side channels—Expense and annoyance caused by breaking up of street pavement—Remedy for same—Practical suggestions.

Lecture X.


Important to understand the history of the subject.—May be considered historically, constructively, or materialistically.—Timber Bridges: Piling not understood at Babylon—Pons Sublicius at Rome—Cæsar's timber bridge on the Rhine—Trojans' bridge over the Danube—Romans good carpenters—Roman stone bridges built on framed centreing—Early British timber bridge over the Thames—Swiss timber bridges with elaborate systems of trussing—Schafthausen and Wittingen—American timber arched bridges—Schuylkill bridge—Laminated arch bridges—Danger of fire—Indian system of bracketting—Bridge over the Chundra, in the Himalayas—American trussed timber bridges—Examples of the Howe truss—Height of piers—McCallum truss—Objections to timber bridges—Timber construction specially applicable to bridges over Canterbury rivers.—Stone Bridges: The Romans great bridge builders—Italy has taken the lead in bridge building in modern times—Bridge building at a low ebb in England until the last century—Sketch of the rise of modern bridge building in England—Rubble arches—Pon-y-tu-Prydd bridge—Claix bridge over the Dac, built in sections—Comparison of bridges built in ashlar masonry and in concrete—St. Lucens, built of masonry, cost. £140 per foot run.; Vevey, built of concrete, cost £26 per foot run.—Suggestions for concrete bridge building—Stone bridges in Cambodia built on the Eastern system of bracketting.

Lecture XI.

Classification of Iron Bridges.—Cast iron arches: Coalbrook Dale bridge, 1779—Sunderland bridge, 1796—Telford's bridge over the Severn—Southwark bridge—Provision for expansion—Severn Valley bridge—Trent bridge, near Nottingham—American cast iron tubular arched bridges—Aqueduct bridge at Washington—Cast page 8 iron arched bridge at Philadelphia.—Cast iron girder bridges: Much used from 1845 to 1850.—Wrought iron boiler-plate girders.—Wrought iron arches: New Westminster bridge—Victoria bridge; difference in principle of construction in the first and second portions of this bridge—St. Louis bridge, built 1874 with arched steel tubes—Erection of the St. Louis bridge without scaffolding—Saltash bridge over the Tamar, 1859—Wylam bridge, 1876, built with the roadway suspended from curved trusses.—American trussed bridges: Leading principles of construction—Cincinatti bridge over the Ohio, 515 feet span—Description of mode of erection—Kentucky River bridge, three spans of 375 feet each, built without scaffolding—Mode of erection.—Suspension bridges: Different systems of construction—English and American practice.

Lecture XII.

Concluding Summary.

Special types of construction.—Difference of pressures on tunnel and bridge arches.—Tunnel inverts.—Side walls.—Slow setting cement to be used for tunnel arches.—Shingle concrete may be substituted in some cases for brickwork.—Tunnelling in Japan under rivers.—Harbour walls should meet the sea obliquely.—Advantage and disadvantage of parapets.—Effect of form of section on the rising wave.—Jetty Floors: Lifting action of the sea—Oamaru jetty.—Towers: Factory chimneys and lighthouse towers—Factory chimneys, two considerations: design and construction—Calculation of draft—How to build a wash-house chimney—Practical rules for apportioning height and sectional area—Foundations—Fire-brick lining—Chimney at Invercargill gasworks—Force of the wind—Bursting action of hurricanes—Particulars of celebrated chimneys—Lighthouse towers—Different from chimneys in conditions of stability—Combined action of wind and sea—Form of tower now recognised as the best—Defects of old Eddystone tower—Wolf Rock lighthouse—New Eddystone lighthouse—Cost per cubic foot of old and new Eddystone towers—Suggestions for substituting concrete for masonry in future work.

General considerations.—When designing, consider both the nature of the material and the mode of execution.—Study ornamented construction rather than constructed ornament.—Guard against inequality of settlement—Make full provision for contraction and expansion.—Design foundations with reference to the nature of the ground and the weight of the proposed structure.—Have a clear idea where to use lime mortar and where cement.—Suggestions for building concrete arches.—Extended use of cement concrete.—Caution to be used in selecting building stone from the older rocks.—Iron bark piles and wrought iron girders recommended for New Zealand bridge construction.—False bearings to be avoided.—Short bearings recommended in floor construction.—Advantages of flat roofs in towns.—Importance of husbanding our natural resources.—Destruction of native timber.—Wrought iron in trusses or arches the future material for bridges of large span.—Importance of native manufacture of cement.—Concluding remarks: The desirability of establishing technical schools to supplement the training of the workshop.

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