Distributing machine

A machine for performing automatically the operation of type distributing. At the present time there are, we believe, only two descriptions in use in this country—Mackie’s and Hattersley’s. An illustration of the latter is annexed.

Drawing of Hattersley’s distributing matcine

It may be described briefly as being the exact reverse of the composing machine (q.v.) The matter is placed in a galley, whence it enters, in long lines, upon a bridge. The operator, reading the matter as it approaches a certain point, touches the keyboard, and the letter which answers to the key pressed instantly is conveyed to a receptacle appropriated to that partiular letter. By means of this instrument one operator can supply set-up or “classed type” sufficient for two composing machines. By a modification it may be used for distributing into the ordinary cases.

A column of type, having been slid into the galley, it is placed in the machine. By the aid of a simple apparatus several lines are formed into one, there being no handling of the type, which is conveniently under the types of the operator, who, reading the matter, presses the corresponding keys, and the mechanism in connection therewith causes different characters to descent from a given point to their respective receivers. The arrangement is such that the different keys may be pressed in rapid succession, without waiting the arrival of each character in its own receiver; as, although several types may be on the passage simultaneously, self-acting mechanism directs each into its particular receiver.

The machine works ordinary type, no special nicking being required, from Long Primer to Ruby inclusive. In conjunction with Hattersley’s Composing Machine, the Distributor occupies a space about that taken up by one ordinary double frame. Its price is about £100.

Mr. Mackie, proprietor of the Warrington Guardian and other newspapers, has invented several Distributing Machines. Some years ago, he publicly exhibited one in Manchester, which was examined and well spoken of by the trade.

It consisted of a comb formed of steel needles, which entered notches in the type. All the a’s were notched the 1-32 of an inch from the face of the letter, and on its back; the b’s 2-32, the c’s 3-32, and so on, thirty letters being thus classed on the back, and thirty (caps., &c.) on the front. On a row of 240 letters being laid before the comb, the points of the needles entered the notches in the a’s; a forward motion was then given to the comb of which, of course, carried with it all the a’s. The motion forward was just enough to draw out the a’s, but the motion backwards was 1-32 of an inch more, so that the comb fixed upon the b’s net time, and so on while a letter lasted, each time retreating 1-32 of an inch further than before.

The caps., &c., notched on the front (printers’ nick side), presenting no notch to the needles, were left, and, when sufficiently numerous, were reversed and distributed by themselves. The difficulty Mr. Mackie met with from types wanting to go, through the friction of the comb and of their fellows, when their turn had not arrived, delayed and tried him for a long time. At length, he found a remedy in a row of horizontal retarding needles, placed opposite the type, and working rather stiff between brasses. When a type was positively siezed by a needle dropping into its notch, the forward force of the comb was enough to push the retarding needle out of the way, but not the case of mere friction. In fact, “the weakest went to the wall.”

The a’s, b’s, c’s, &c., as drawn out, were dropt over a ledge into a box with the necessary divisions, which travelled at a corresponding speed to the machine. The speed of this Distributor is purely a question of size of comb. Thirty-two backward and forward motions of the comb are easily made in a minute, and those motions distribute all the lower-case, however numerous; as if all the type be say, a’s all are taken at once; if all z’s, none are taken until the thirty-second turn. If distributing for hand-setting were necessary, this kind of machine could distribute 20,000 to 30,000 an hour. We may add that the cost of notching the type is not over threepence per pound.

A second Distributor of Mr. Mackie’s, not yet shown to the public, is intended to distribute type on the flat ready for his composing machine. It also requires the type to be notched; but up to the present time (1869) constant accuracy has not been secured, owing to inferior workmanship. A third distributor, by Mr. Mackie, dispenses with notched type, and distributes the common letter by merely altering his Composing Machine (q.v.). The twenty “pockets” in it are removed, save one. In that the type to be distributed is placed, and every “pickpocket” as it passes by, takes the bottom type and deposits it at that part of the ring which is opposite to the brass shelf to which it belongs. Upon that shelf a “pusher” at once pushes it out of the way of the next comers. Mr. Mackie expects that this will supersede his notched type one, notches, of course, being an objection.

Another Distributing Machine has lately been patented by Mr. Kasternbein, in Paris, which has been pronounced there as a decided success. It is connected with a Composing Machine by the same inventor; but we will only here allude to the distributing part, as is given in the prospectus.

The matter for distribution is placed in a frame, secured by a rule and ratchet slide. The last line is raised by a T slide, which pushes it into a passage, where the line advances towards the left hand by pressing a lever actuated by the motion of the finger keys. A mirror is placed in position over the lines to enable the operator to read them quickly as they advance, whereupon he depresses the corresponding finger-key to cause the following action to take place:—The rod of the finger-key causes a bell crank to turn, which, moving back the slide, uncovers the aperture of the vertical or inclined passage, corresponding with the said finger-key, at the same time, a small lug, fixed on a rod, causes the lever to turn, which moves a small wedge-shaped door by means of levers. This door opens he passage and allows the type to fall, which falling is effected at the same time as the above operation, by the following mechanism:—The tail of each finger-key in being raised causes a transfer bar to be raised vertically, which itself causes the levers to oscillate. These levers, in turning, also turn a spindle and arm, which causes the slide to move forward by means of the lever; the slide, in being thus moved forward, places the extreme left-hand type over the opening of the passage and causes it to fall into the same. The slide, which has receded, allows the type to fall into the fixed type box corresponding therewith.

All of the above movements are effected instantaneously and simultaneously as soon as the workman, after reading the letter of the last type, depresses the corresponding finger-key. This having been done, the workman releases the finger-key, which allows of the backward motion of the slide into its original position, whereby the sorted type is caused to pass into its respective boxes. There are as many type boxes as letters and characters, that is to say, ninety-six, corresponding with the same number of moveable type boxes, which are removed as soon as they are full. Each passage corresponds with two fixed type boxes, one to the right and one to the left.

A flap door establishes a communication between said passage and either the right-hand or left-hand box, according as it is turned over to the side or the other—such motion of the flap being effected by the workman by means of a pedal and levers. For this purpose the types are divided into two classes—one comprising the letters much in use, while the other includes those little used, and one of each class is marked upon each of the finger-keys; and these pairs of letters are so arranged in connection with the passages and the type boxes that for sorting a much-used letter into its type box he operator has only to depress the finger-key; while for sorting the less-used letters the operator has to depress both the finger-key and the pedal. The second case into the left-hand box. For increasing at will the size of the upper orifice of the passage two finger-keys are arranged to regulate the same by means of the spring levers.

Distributing machine

A machine for performing automatically the operation of type distributing.

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