The Science Notebook
Gilbert Glass Blowing - Part IV

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NOTE:  This book was published in as a manual to accompany the Gilbert Glassblowing Set as part of the "Boy Engineering" Series.  the exact copyright date is unknown, although based on information from "The Internet Archive" it is believed that this publication is in the public domain.  Many today would not consider glassblowing to be a safe activity for young people.    Therefore, this book is probably best appreciated for its historical value rather than as a source for current information and good experiments.  If you try anything here, please understand that you do so at your own risk.  See our Terms of Use.

Pages 36 - 46


he can see you. He will beg to be allowed to try, and finally you let him, with the same laughable results.

Repeat with other friends.

Experiment 44. To make an engineer's level.

You can make one form of engineer's level (Fig. 61) as follows: Take a full length of No. 6 tubing, bend it up 4 inches at each end, smooth the ends, attach it to a small board, rest the board on a one-legged table, and you have a serviceable level (Fig. 62).

Fill the tube with water, shove the pointed end of the leg into the ground and sight along the outside of the upright tubes at the level of the water surfaces. The line along which you sight is exactly horizontal, because the water surfaces are at exactly the same level.

Experiment 45. To use the engineer's level.

An engineer's level is used to find the difference in level of two or more points (Fig. 63).

To practice using your level, find the difference in level of two points 100 feet apart on a road, sidewalk, or railroad.

To do this, you


must first make what is called a leveling rod. Find a piece of wood about one or two inches square and six or more feet long, mark on it feet and inches, beginning at the bottom end, and your leveling rod is complete.

Now to find the difference in level of two points 100 feet apart, scratch a line or insert a small stake at one point, then pace off 100 feet and mark the second point. Now set up your level between the two points, ask a friend to hold the rod on the ground and upright, at the first point, sight along the water levels at the rod, and ask your friend to move his finger, or a white card, up and down until it is exactly in your line of sight. Now ask your friend to tell you exactly where his finger or card is and record this height. Let us suppose that it is 4 feet 6 inches above the ground. Now leave the level exactly where it is, ask your friend to hold the rod upright at the second point, and again sight along the water levels at the rod. Let us suppose that his finger or card is now exactly 3 feet above the ground.

The difference in level at the two points is 4 feet 6 inches minus 3 feet or 1 foot 6 inches. That is, the second point is 1 1/2 feet above the first point or the grade is 1.5 feet in 100, or 1.5 per cent.

You can now mark a third point 100 feet beyond the second point, set up your level between the second point and third point, place the rod at the second point, then at the third point, and find their difference in level as above. If the third point is 1 foot above the second, the total rise in the 200 feet is 2 l/2 feet; if, however, it is 1 foot below the second, the rise is 1 1/2 minus 1 or 1/2 foot in the 200 feet.

You can repeat this with as many points as you please.


Experiment 46. To make a spirit level.

The spirit level (Fig. 64) is simply a curved glass tube filled with alcohol except for the bubble and closed at both ends. The curve of the tube is part of a circle.

Make a spirit level as follows: Take a piece of No. 4 tube about 7 inches long, heat a space about 3 inches long in the lamp flame, turn constantly, and when soft remove from the flame, hold both ends and allow the center to sink into a slight curve (1, Fig. 65). 7.

Let the tube cool, mark the center of the curve with ink, and make marks 2 inches from the center on each side.

Hold the tube crosswise in the lamp flame, heat at one mark, draw down the tube and close it (2).

In a similar manner draw down the tube at the other mark but do not close it (3).

Let the tube cool and fill it with alcohol to the level shown in 4. To do this easily make the pipette (5), suck alcohol
into it within about 1 inch of the top, put your finger over the top, insert the lower end of the pipette to the bottom of 4, and remove your finger.


Heat the small part of 4, without heating the alcohol, and close the tube (6). Now attach the level to a smooth board as 2 or 3, Fig. 66, mark the center of the bubble, and your spirit level is ready for use.

Experiment 47. To make a fountain-pen filler.

Attach a rubber coupling to the large end of one of your No. 4 nozzles, close the other end of the coupling with a glass plug, and your fountain-pen filler is made (Fig. 67).

To make the plug, close one end of a piece of No. 4 tubing, allow it to cool, cut off to a length of 1 inch and smooth the rough edges. Insert the closed end of this plug into the rubber coupling.

Practice using the filler by drawing up and shooting out water.

Experiment 48. To make a syringe.

Take a half length of No. 6 tube and smooth both ends in the lamp flame or blowpipe flame.

Now to make a plunger: Cut an 8 1/2-inch length of No. 2. smooth one end, close the other end and blow a slight bulb. When cold, wet the closed end and insert it into a small wet rubber coupling.

Note: Always grasp a tube near the end when you insert it


into a coupling or stopper, because if you hold it too far back you may break it. Insert it with a twisting motion, after wetting the end and the inside of the coupling or stopper.

Wet the inside of the large tube, wet the plunger and rub it on a cake of soap to make it slippery, then try it in the large tube. If the plunger is too large, stretch the coupling lengthwise  if it is too small, crowd the coupling together lengthwise. If the bulb is too large or too small, dry it, heat in the blowpipe flame until it shrinks, and blow another.

When the plunger is made, attach a No. 4 nozzle to the No. 6 tube with a large coupling, arrange as in Fig. 68, and your syringe is made.

Fill the large tube with water and see how long a stream you can make.

Experiment 49. To make another syringe.

Heat a piece of No. 6 in the blowpipe flame at a length of 7 1/2 inches and draw it out into a nozzle; smooth the other end in the lamp flame. Use the same plunger as in Experiment 48, and your syringe is made (Fig. 69). Try it out with water.

Experiment 50. To make a third syringe.

Heat a piece of No. 6 tube in the blowpipe flame at a length of 7 1/2 inches, draw it out, and close the end, then smooth the other end.


Now to make a plunger: Heat a piece of No. 2 tube 8 1/2 inches from one end in the lamp flame, draw it out into a nozzle, and break it off, leaving a small hole at the end of the nozzle. Smooth the other end in the lamp flame, flare it out slightly, allow it to cool, dip it into water and insert it into a small wet coupling.

Now fill the large tube with water and insert the coupling plunger (Fig. 70). Do you get a fine long stream?

Experiment 51. To make a diablo whistle.

Use the No. 6 tube and the No. 2 plunger from Experiment 48, arrange as in Fig. 71, blow across the top, and move the plunger up and down. Do you get a most diabolical sound?

The sound is produced by the vibration of the air column between the top of the tube and the top of the plunger. Do you find that the pitch of the note is higher the shorter the air column?

Experiment 52. Fun with the diablo whistle.

Start with the air column long and blow the note, shorten it a little and blow the next note, continue, and try the diablo whistle


to blow the eight notes of an octave.

Try to play a tune.

Try to make the most weird sound you can.

Experiment 53. To join two tubes end to end.

Take a piece of No. 2 tube about 7 inches long, close one end, smooth the other, and when cool cut the tube at the middle.

Now join these two pieces as follows: Hold the ends opposite each other near the top of the lamp flame (Fig.72),. rotate constantly, and when nearly red hot bring the ends accurately together in the flame, press together slightly, draw out slightly, and remove from the flame.

The ends are now stuck together, but the glass is in a slight lump around the joint and if allowed to cool will crack very easily. It is necessary to work the glass back and forth to get rid of the lump


and to make the glass uniform on both sides of the joint. Do this as follows: Heat one third of the joint in the blowpipe flame (Fig. 73), and when red hot blow a slight bulge. Now turn the joint one third, heat the next third red hot and blow a slight bulge. Repeat with the remaining third.

Now heat the first third again until it is red hot and shrinks, then blow a slight bulge again. Repeat this with the other two thirds.

Repeat this whole operation a third time and blow just enough to leave the joint the same size as the remainder of the tube or a little larger.

This heating and blowing has worked the joint back and forth until the glass is fairly uniform. It makes a strong joint.

Cut off the closed end and smooth the edge.

Repeat with a piece of No. 4 tube,


Experiment 54. To join tubes of different sizes.

Take a piece of No. 4 tubing about 3 inches long and close one end.

Take a piece of No, 6 tubing, attach a handle to one end, heat the No. 6 tube in the blowpipe flame about 1 inch from this end and draw it down to smaller size.

Break the small part at a point where it is about the size of the No. 4 tube. If the hole is too large, heat the edge until it is a little too small and flare it out with the flaring tool. If the hole is too small, heat the edge and flare it out.

Now heat the ends of both tubes (Fig. 74), and join them as described in the last experiment.


Repeat the operation of heating and blowing at least three times.

Join a No. 4 and a No. 2 tube in the same way.

Experiment 55. To make a large hole.

Take a piece of No. 4 tube about 6 inches long, close one end, smooth the other, and allow it to cool.

Now to make a large hole in the side of this tube, proceed as follows: Heat in the blowpipe flame the point at which you wish to make the hole, and blow a slight bulge (1, Fig. 75). Then heat the top of this bulge until it is red hot over an area about equal to the size of the hole you wish to make, and blow hard to make a thin bubble (2, Fig. 75). Break away the thin glass of the bubble, smooth the edges, and the hole is made. The edge of this hole will project beyond the side of the tube (3, Fig. 75). If you wish to make the edge even with the side of the tube, heat it in the blowpipe flame until it shrinks back level with the tube.

Experiment 56. To make a tee.

Take a piece of No. 4 tube about 6 inches long, close one end, smooth the other, and allow it to cool. Take another piece 3 inches long, close one end, and allow it to cool.

Now make a hole in the side of the first tube at a point 5 inches from tne closed end. Do this as described in the last experiment but leave the hole projecting beyond the side of the tube (1, Fig. 76).


Now heat the edge of the hole and the end of the short piece in the lamp flame, and make a joint (2, Fig. 76) exactly as described in Experiment 53. Be particular to heat and blow all around the joint at least three times to make the glass uniform, and on the last blowing leave the joint a little larger than the tube. Cut off the closed ends, make the arms equal in length, smooth the ends, and your tee is made (3, Fig. 76).

Your first attempt may not be beautiful, but if you will repeat the heating and gentle blowing often enough, the joint will be strong, which is the main point.

Repeat until you can make a tee easily. Make a tee with No. 2 tubing.

Your flame is hardly large enough to make a tee with No. 6 tubing.

Experiment 57. A three-armed siphon.

Make a three-armed siphon as shown in Fig. 77. Put two arms in tumblers filled with water, suck air out of the third arm until the water runs, and then put it in an empty tumbler.

Stand the three tumblers on the table. Does the water run until the levels are the same?

Put one tumbler on a book. Does the water run into the other two tumblers until the levels are the same?

Return the one tumbler to the table and put the other two on

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