Charles B. Tuch – U. S. Coast & Geodetic Survey

Private, United States Army

Charles B. Tuch, the designer of the barometer cistern that bears his name, died in Washington, D.C., on August 1, 1941, at the age of 91 and was buried in Arlington National Cemetery with military honors.

During the early years of the Weather Bureau, first under the Signal Corps, in which he enlisted on April 11, 1879, and later under the Department of Agriculture, Mr. Tuch was engaged in the instrument work of the Bureau where his faithful and conscientious services were of the greatest value. He became the head instrument maker and had charge, particularly, of the repair, calibration, and shipping of mercurial barometers, in which he excelled. Prior to about 1890, the only self-recording instrument at any of the field stations was the Gibbon anemometer register. As barographs, thermographs, and other self-recording instruments were introduced later, their card was also assigned to Mr. Tuch.

The two mercurial barometers with which each station has always been equipped were perhaps the most important of all the instruments at the station. Mr. Tuch's chief duties were to maintain the readings of these at the highest possible accuracy. At that time the barometers were of the so-called “Fortin” type, having glass and boxwood cisterns with chamois skin bags permitting of the adjustment of the mercury level. The maintenance of these instruments involved not only the cleaning and frequent renewal of the cisterns, but also the fitting of new glass barometer tubes, which had first to be filled with vacuum-distilled mercury of the highest possible purity. Before issue, each instrument had to be carefully compared, by readings extending over several days, with the primary standards of the Bureau, and its scale adjusted until the correction for instrumental error was found to be no greater than four thousandths of an inch. The experience gained in this work led to the invention of the so-call Tuch barometer cistern, in which the perishable boxwood chamois skin container for the mercury was replaced by a sturdy metal cylinder with mercury-tight plunger toadjust the level of the mercury to the ivory point for a reading.

Mr. Tuch remained connected with the Weather Bureau until 1916.

DATE OF DEATH: 08/01/1941

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