Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia
- n. Any device or appliance used for the distribution of oil over the surface of the sea for smoothing waves and thus obviating their destructive effect. The first appliance for this purpose, which aimed at economy in the use of oil, was a porous oil-bag attached to a rope, thrown overboard, and towed from the end of a spar or outrigger, the oil slowly filtering through the pores. This has been followed by a variety of inventions, comprising oil-bags placed in water-closet pipes, and devices for distributing oil when towed by a vessel. The oil-distributer of M. Gaston Menier employs a pump discharging water at the water-line, through a series of outboard pipes, the pump also taking oil from a receptacle, and mingling it with the water discharged. The rate of expenditure of oil is indicated by a glass gage, and is regulated by a valve. The oil-distributer of Captain Townsend of the United States Signal Office consists of a hollow metal globe ten inches in diameter, which holds about 1½ gallons of oil, and is kept afloat and held in a nearly fixed position relatively to the surface of the water by an air-chamber. The oil-chamber has an upper and a lower valve, both of which may be adjusted to permit water to flow in through the lower, and the oil displaced by the water to flow out through the upper valve, at a rate controlled by the adjustment. The oil acts mechanically by spreading over the surface of the sea in a tenuous film, which is sufficient to prevent the waves from breaking, and this takes from them their chief power for harm.
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