On 28th April, 1880 he submitted his first water closet related patent application No. 1880/1745 for “Regulating the Supply of Water to Water Closets and Lavatories and other Situations where Intermittent Supplies are required”. It appears that this application was successful and was sealed on 28th October, 1880.
The invention related to cisterns, known at the time as “water waste preventer flushing cisterns” and popularised by Thomas Crapper, whose cistern used a siphon flushing action and became the standard in British cisterns.
Thomas Messenger’s invention involved taking a standard cistern and fitting it with a supply pipe provided with a ball and float valve as was normal at the time. It was arranged such that when the level of the water in the cistern fell a fresh supply was admitted, which was cut-off when the ball reached the predetermined height. Thomas Messenger then fitted a siphon pipe to the cistern, arranged such that the shorter leg reaches down to the bottom of the cistern and the longer leg passes through the side or bottom of the cistern and connected to the cistern input pipe. The bend of the siphon was arranged such that the water level in the cistern did not quite reach it. An iron plate was then hinged at one end of the inside of the cistern and the other connected by a series of levers, wires and cranks to a handle. In operation, the cistern was filled as normal so that the level of the water rested just below the bend in the siphon. When required the handle was raised it forced the level of water slightly above the level of the bend in the siphon whilst at the same time the water rose in the siphon and once filled escaped down the longer leg until the cistern was empty. The raised iron plate prevented a fresh supply of water entering the cistern until the handle was lowered, thus preventing undue waste.
The following is an extract from the patent application: –
My Invention relates to that class of cisterns known as water waste preventer flushing cisterns, in which a certain regulated quantity of water is supplied and discharged for flushing purposes at each use of the water closet.
In order to put my Invention in operation I take a vessel or cistern of cast or wrought iron, lead, zinc, copper, or any other suitable material.
This cistern is fitted with a syphon made in one or more parts, the shorter leg of which is open near the bottom of the cistern, so that when the syphon is put in operation each time the closet is used it discharges nearly the whole contents of the cistern. The longer leg of the syphon descends, and is joined on to the closet basin or other apparatus required to be flushed or filled with water. Inside the cistern is fixed a plate hinged at one end, which when raised by means of a lever and rod or chain or wire raises the level of the water in the cistern and so charges the syphon, the contents of which are immediately discharged into the basin or other vessel below.
The cistern arranged as described is fitted with a self-acting ball cock of the ordinary well known kind connected to a supply pipe, so that when the contents are discharged the cistern is refilled through the ball cock to a level somewhat below the bend of the syphon.
Should the operator hold the hinged plate or its equivalent in a raised position for any length of time after the water is discharged, the water is prevented from running in through the ball cock by an adjustable stud or catch pin fixed to the lifting rod, and arranged so that when raised it keeps the bal1 cock closed unti1 the charging hinged plate is allowed to fall into its place, and waste of water from this cause is thus prevented. Should the operator allow the charging p1ate to fall immediately after lifting it (which would set the syphon in operation), I provide the cistern with a vessel which serves as a self-acting balance weight, to which chains or wires are attached, which by means of wheels or levers are connected with the ball of the ball cock, in such manner that as long as there is water sufficient in such vessel to overcome the weight of the ball the latter is prevented from descending, and the water is excluded from the cistern.
The interval of time during which the ball is so held may be made to depend upon the size of a small hole at the bottom of the vessel through which the water gradually escapes. The vessel being open at the top becomes filled every time the cistern is filled, and contains sufficient water to overcome the weight of the ball and keep the ball cock closed, so that when the water is discharged from the cistern the water cannot flow from the ball cock and pass through the syphon during the operation, thus preventing waste of water if the operator should allow the charging or hinged plate to fall immediately after lifting it, and setting the syphon in operation. From these two causes the operator has no power to waste the water.
In cases where it is required that flushing cisterns should be so constructed as to contain and discharge a given quantity of water for each flush, the quantity of water so discharged can be so adjusted by raising or lowering the syphon as may be required.
To facilitate the lifting of the hinged charging plate I prefer to construct air ducts or passages at the back of the radius plate, the air being admitted through the same to the underside of the charging plate; or I fix air ducts to the charging plate itself carried above the water line, or both methods may be adopted. If desired a case made of iron or other material may be used outside and in combination with the cistern, leaving a space between the cistern and case, which space may be filled with non-conducting material to prevent freezing.
If desired a cover may be fixed to either the cistern or the case, but I prefer to apply it to the cistern only.
My Invention may be very advantageously used for self-acting closets to be worked either by seat or door in the well-known usual ways. In the accompanying Drawing, which is in illustration of my Invention, Figure 1 is a sectional elevation of a water waste preventer flushing cistern according to my Invention, and Figure 2 is a plan of the same. A is the vessel or cistern fitted with a syphon B, the longer leg C of which descends to the closet basin or other apparatus which it is required should be flushed or filled. Inside the cistern is fitted the hinged charging plate D, which being actuated by the lever and rod E, E, raises the water in the cistern A from the water line N to O, and immediately charges with water the syphon B. The cistern is fitted with an ordinary self-acting ball cock F, which when the contents of the cistern are discharged allows it to become refilled to within about half an inch of the bend in the syphon B.
Should the charging plate D be held any length of time after the water is discharged, the water is prevented from running in by fixing an adjustable stud or catch pin P upon the lifting rod E, and handle R (or its equivalent), thus keeping the ball cock closed until charging plate D is allowed to fall into its place. And should the charging plate D be allowed to fall immediately after lifting it, which would set the syphon B in operation, the cistern A is provided with a vessel G serving as a self-acting balance weight, to which are attached chains or wires, which by means of a wheel or lever communicate with ball H, and as long as there is water sufficient in the vessel G to overcome the weight of the ball H the water is prevented from entering the cistern. The vessel G being open above becomes filled every time the cistern A is filled, and contains sufficient water to more than balance the ball H and to keep it closed, so that when the water is discharged from the cistern A the water cannot flow from the ball cock and through the syphon B and C.
In order that the flushing cistern may contain and discharge a given variable quantity of water for each flush, the height of the syphon B may be made variable, so that it can be raised or lowered as desired. To facilitate the lifting or action of the charging plate D I construct air ducts at the back of the radius plate K, the air being admitted through the same to the under-side of the charging plate D. Or I fix air ducts to the charging plate itself, which are carried above the water line. Or a weight S may be used to bring the charging plate back into its place.
If desired a case made of iron or other material, as L, may be used in combination with the cistern proper, leaving a space between the cistern and case to be filled with non-conducting material to prevent freezing, and a cover, as shown at M, may be fixed to either cistern or case.
Having now described my Invention and the manner in which it which it is to be performed, I claim,-
The combination of the adjustable syphon, the hinged charging plate, and the ball cock, all substantially as and for the purposes described and shewn in the Drawing.
Also the water vessel serving as a balance weight to the ball cock, and having a discharge opening below, substantially as and for the purpose described and shewn.
Also the exterior casing or jacket in combination with the cistern containing the syphon and hinged plate, substantially as and for the purpose described and shewn.
Also the adjustable stud or pin acting upon the ball cock when the hinged% plate is raised, and keeping the ball cock closed, substantially as described.
Also the method of arranging air ducts for the admission of air below the charging plate, substantially as and for the purpose described and shewn.
Also the general arrangement of the apparatus, substantially as and for the purposes described and shewn in the Drawing.
This invention which went into production was probably not a total commercial success. John Perkins, his old partner, became sole agent for the device. He advertised the product specifically to architects and builders, describing the apparatus as “MESSENGER’S PATENT WATER WASTE PREVENTER FLUSHING CISTERN for Water Closets, &c., …… no Valve being required, thus preventing a great waste of water and the constant annoyance of the Valve getting out of order”.
H. Wills’s Loughborough Almanac, Diary, Trade and Street Directory, 1881. ↑