FROM RULE-OF- THUMB TO SCIENTIFIC ENGINEERING
James B. Francis and The Invention of the Francis Turbine
Edwin T. Lay ton, Jr.
University of Minnesota
James B. Francis (1815-1892) was a British-bom engineer who helped
to shirt engineering in America from a craft to a scientific base. He linked
engineering firmly to experimental inquiry of a scientific nature. He was
associated with America's most important early center of textile manufacturing,
Lowell, Massachusetts. In its carly stages thc factory system relicd mainly upon
watcr power, and COttOn textile manufacturing was at the culling edge or the
Industrial Revolution. Francis was one or the foremost figures in the
development and effective use or water power at Lowell and elsewhere.
This monograph discusses Francis' experimental work which was
devoted to the measurement of the flow of water. Sometimes this was in
connection with power production by turbines, at other times it related to the
canal system which distributed water to the manufacturing companies at Lowell,
and at other times it involved metering the amount of water used by the various
textile factories at Lowell. It was in measuring water that Francis made some or
his most notable (and still useful) contributions to engineering.
The study of hydraulics relies on a collection of algebraic relations
set out at the start of this interesting text. There are used repeatedly
throughout the ensuing discussions of canal design, turbines and
hydraulic experiments. There is also a small problem set at the end of