Edison: His Life and Inventions - Vol. 2

By Frank Lewis Dyer; Thomas Commerford Martin | Go to book overview

XIX
Edison'S POURED CEMENT HOUSE

THE inventions that have been thus far described fall into two classes--first, those that were fundamental in the great arts and industries which have been founded and established upon them, and, second, those that have entered into and enlarged other arts that were previously in existence. On coming to consider the subject now under discussion, however, we find ourselves, at this writing, on the threshold of an entirely new and undeveloped art of such boundless possibilities that its ultimate extent can only be a matter of conjecture.

Edison's concrete house, however, involves two main considerations, first of which was the conception or creation of the idea--vast and comprehensive--of providing imperishable and sanitary homes for the wage-earner by molding an entire house in one piece in a single operation, so to speak, and so simply that extensive groups of such dwellings could be constructed rapidly and at very reasonable cost. With this idea suggested, one might suppose that it would be a simple matter to make molds and pour in a concrete mixture. Not so, however. And here the second consideration presents itself. An ordinary cement mixture is composed of crushed stone, sand, cement, and water. If such a mixture be poured into deep molds the heavy stone and sand settle to the bottom. Should the mixture be poured into a horizontal mold, like the floor of a house, the stone and sand settle, forming an ununiform mass. It was at this point that invention commenced, in order to produce a concrete mixture which would overcome this crucial difficulty. Edison, with characteristic thoroughness, took up a line of investigation, and after a prolonged series of experiments succeeded in inventing a mixture that upon hardening re

-937-

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