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(1) The Principles. LEVELLING 18 the art of finding how much one point is higher or lower than another; i. e., how much one of the points is above or below a level line or surface which passes through the other point.

A level or horizontal line is one which is perpendicular to the direction of gravity, as indicated by a plumb-line or similar means. It is therefore parallel to the surface of standing water.

A level or horizontal surface is defined in the same way. It will be determined by two level lines which intersect each other.*

Levelling may be named Vertical Surveying, or Up-and-down Surveying; the subject of the preceding pages being Horizontal Surveying, or Right-and-left and Fore-and-aft Surveying.

All the methods of Horizontal Surveying may be used in Vertical Surveying. The one which will be briefly sketched here corresponds precisely to the method of "Surveying by offsets," founded on the Second Method, Art. (6), "Rectangular Co-ordinates," and fully explained in Arts. (114), &c.

The operations of levelling by this method consist, firstly, in obtaining a level line or plane; and, secondly, in measuring how far below it or above it (usually the former) are the two points whose relative heights are required.

(2) The Instruments. A level line may be obtained by the following simple instrument, called a "Plumb-line level." Fasten together two pieces of wood at right angles to each other, so as to make a T, and draw a line on the upright one so as to be exactly perpendicular to the top edge of the other. Suspend a plumb-line as in the figure. Fix the T against a staff stuck in the ground, by a screw through the middle of the crosspiece. Turn the T till the plumb-line exactly covers the line which was drawn.

Fig. 415.

Then will the upper edge of the cross-piece be a level line, and the eye can sight across it, and note how far above or below any other point this level line, prolonged, would strike. It will be easier to look across sights fixed on each end of the cross-piece, making them of horsehair stretched across a piece of wire, bent into three sides of a square, and stuck into each end of the cross-piece; taking care that the hairs are at exactly equal heights above the upper edge of the cross-piece.

* Certain small corrections, to be hereafter explained, will be ignored for the present, and we will consider level lines as straight lines, and level surfaces as planes.

A modification of this is to fasten a common carpenter's square in a slit in the top of a staff, by means of a screw, and then tie a plumb-line at the angle so that it may hang beside one arm. When it has been brought to do so, by turning the square, then the other arm will be level.

Another simple instrument depends upon the vrinciple that "water always finds its level," corresponding to the second part of our definition of a level line. If a tube be bent up at each end, and nearly filled with water, the surface of the water in one end will always be at the same height as that in the other, however the position

Fig. 417.

Fig. 416.

of the tube may vary. On this truth depends the "Water-level." It may be easily constructed with a tube of tin, lead, copper, &c., by bending up, at right angles, an inch or two of each end, and supporting the tube, if too flexible, on a wooden bar. In these ends cement (with putty, twine dipped in white-lead, &c.), thin phials, with their bottoms broken off,' so as to leave a free communication between them. Fill the tube and

the phials, nearly to their top, with colored water. Blue vitriol, or cochineal, may be used for coloring it. Cork their mouths, and fit the instrument, by a steady but flexible joint, to a tripod. Figures of joints are given on page 134, and of tripods on page 133.

To use it, set it in the desired spot, place the tube by eye nearly level, remove the corks, and the surfaces of the water in the two phials will come to the same level. Stand about a yard behind the nearest phial, and let one eye, the other being closed, glance along the right-hand side of one phial and the left-hand side of the other. Raise or lower the head till the two surfaces seem to coincide, and this line of sight, prolonged, will give the level line desired. Sights of equal height, floating on the water, and rising above the tops of the phials, would give a better-defined line.

The "Spirit-level" consists essentially of a curved glass tube nearly filled with alcohol, but with a bubble of air left within, which always seeks the highest spot in the tube, and will therefore by its movements indicate any change in

Fig. 415.

the position of the tube. Whenever the bubble, by raising or lowering one end, has been brought to stand between two marks on the tube, or, in case of expan sion or contraction, to extend an equal distance on either side of them, the bottom of the block (if the tube be in one), or sights at each end of the tube, previously properly adjusted, will be on the same level line. It may be placed on a board fixed to the top of a staff or tripod.

When, instead of the sights, a telescope is made parallel to the level, and vari ous contrivances to increase its delicacy and accuracy are added, the instrument becomes the Engineer's spirit-level

Fig. 419.

(3) The Practice. By whichever of these various means a level line has been obtained, the subsequent operations in making use of it are identical. Since the "water-level" is easily made and tolerably accurate, we will suppose it to be employed. Let A and B, Fig. 419, represent the two points, the difference of the heights of which is required. Set the instrument on any spot from which both the points can be seen, and at such a height that the level line will pass above the highest one. At A let an assistant hold a rod graduated into feet, tenths, &c. Turn the instrument towards the staff, sight along the level line, and note what division on the staff it strikes. Then send the staff



to B, direct the instrument to it, and note the height observed at that point. If the level line, prolonged by the eye, passes 2 feet above A and 6 feet above R, the difference of their heights is 4 feet. The absolute height of the level line itself is a matter of indifference. The rod may carry a target or plate of iron, clasped to it so as to slide up and down, and be fixed, at will. This target may be variously painted, most simply with its upper half red and its lower half white. The horizontal line dividing the colors is the line sighted to, the target being moved up or down till the line of sight strikes it. A hole in the middle of the target shows what division on the rod coincides with the horizontal line, when it has been brought to the right height.

If the height of another point, C, Fig. 420, not visible from the first station, be required, set the instrument so as to see B and C, and proceed exactly as with A

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and B. If C be 1 foot below B, as in the figure, it will be 5 feet below A. It it were found to be 7 feet above B, it would be 3 feet above A. The comparative height of a series of any number of points, can thus be found in reference to any one of them.

The beginner in the practice of levelling may advantageously make in his note book a sketch of the heights noted, and of the distances, putting down each as t is observed, and imitating, as nearly as his accuracy of eye will permit, their pro

portional dimensions. But when the observations are numerous, they should be kept in a tabular form, such as that which is given below. The names of the points, or "Stations," whose heights are demanded, are placed in the first column; and their heights, as finally ascertained, in reference to the first point, in the last column. The heights above the starting point are marked +, and those below it are marked - The back-sight to any station is placed on the line below the point to which it refers. When a back-sight exceeds a fore-sight, their difference is placed in the column of "Rise;" when it is less, their difference is a "Fall.” The following table represents the same observations as the last figure, and their careful comparison will explain any obscurities in either.

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The above table shows that B is 4 feet below A; that C is 5 feet below A; that E is 1 foot above A; and so on. To test the calculations, add up the back-sights and fore-sights. The difference of the sums should equal the last "total height." Another form of the levelling field-book is presented below. It refers to the same stations and levels, noted in the previous form, and shown in Fig. 420.

Stations. Distances. Back-sights. It. Inst. above Datum. Fore-sights. Total Heights.

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In the above form it will be seen that a new column is introduced, containing the Height of the Instrument (i. e., of its line of sight), not above the ground where it stands, but above the Datum, or starting-point, of the levels. The former columns of "Rise" and "Fall" are omitted. The above notes are taken thus: The height of the starting-point or "Datum," at A, is 0.00. The instrument being set up and levelled, the rod is held at A. The back-sight upon it is 2.00; there fore the height of the instrument is also 2.00. The rod is next held at B. The fore-sight to it is 6.00. That point is therefore 6.00 below the instrument, or 2.00-6.004.00 below the datum. The instrument is now moved, and again set up, and the back-sight to B, being 3.00, the Ht. Inst. is 4.00 +3.00=


In the figure, the limits of the page have made it necessary to contract the horizontal distanom to one-tenth of their proper proportional size.

and so on the Ht. Inst. being always obtained by adding the back-sight to the height of the peg on which the rod is held, and the height of the next peg being obtained by subtracting the fore-sight to the rod held on that peg, from the Ht. Inst

The level lines given by these instruments are all lines of apparent level, and not of true level, which should curve with the surface of the earth. These level lines strike too high; but the difference is very small in sights of ordinary length, being only one-eighth of an inch for a sight of one-eighth of a mile, and diminishing as the square of the distance; and it may be completely compensated by setting the instrument midway between the points whose difference of level is desired; a precaution which should always be taken, when possible.

It may be required to show on paper the ups and downs of the line which has been levelled; and to represent, to any desired scale, the heights and distances of the various points of a line, its ascents and descents, as seen in a side-view. This is called a "Profile." It is made thus. Any point on the paper being assumed for the first station, a horizontal line is drawn through it; the distance to the next station is measured along it, to the required scale; at the termination of this distance a vertical line is drawn; and the given height of the second station above or below the first is set off on this vertical line. The point thus fixed determines the second station, and a line joining it to the first station represents the slope of the ground between the two. The process is repeated for the next station, &c.

But the rises and falls of a line are always very small in proportion to the dis tances passed over; even mountains being merely as the roughnesses of the rind of an orange. If the distances and the heights were represented on a profile to the same scale, the latter would be hardly visible. To make them more apparent it is usual to "exaggerate the vertical scale" ten-fold, or more; i. e., to make the representation of a foot of height ten times as great as that of a foot of length, as in Fig. 420, in which one inch represents one hundred feet for the distances, and ten feet for the heights.

The preceding Introduction to Levelling has been made as brief as possible, but by any of the simple instruments described in it, and either of its tabular forms, any person can determine with sufficient precision whether a distant spring is higher or lower than his house, and how much; as well as how deep it would be necessary to cut into any intervening hill to bring the water. He may in like manner ascertain whether a swamp can be drained into a neighboring brook; and can cut the necessary ditches at any given slope of so many inches to the rod, &c., having thus found a level line; or he can obtain any other desired information which depends on the relative heights of two points.

To explain the peculiarities of the more elaborate levelling instruments, the precautions necessary in their use, the prevention and correction of errors, the overcoming of difficulties, and the various complicated details of their applications, would require a great number of pages. This will therefore be reserved for an. other volume, as announced in the Preface.

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