Benardos spent his childhood at his parents' estate. The military career, to the chagrin of Nikolai Panteleimonovich, did not attract the boy, but from a young age, Kohl showed a great attraction to various crafts. Blacksmithing and plumbing became the boy's favorite activities. Nikolay spent whole days in small father's workshops serving the needs of the manor. After long months of observation, he himself gradually began to pick up the tools. By the age of fifteen, the young man already mastered the skills of a blacksmith.
At 1862, having received home education according to the customs of those years and having no inclination for military service, the twenty-year-old Nikolai entered the medical faculty of Kiev University. During training for a doctor, the young man made his first known invention, which was a dental filling made of silver. Despite advances in the study of science, medicine Benardos did not like. At 1866, he left the school and enrolled in the Moscow Forest and Agricultural Academy, which opened at 1863, in the field of agricultural sciences.
At 1867 in Paris, the World's Fair began, with which young Benardos became very interested. It should be noted that the capital of France at that time was a major industrial and scientific center that interested the majority of Russian scientists and inventors. That is why Nikolay, being a first-year student, in the spring of 1867 took leave from the academy and went to the exhibition. Detailed information about this visit of Nikolai Nikolayevich Paris, as well as about his subsequent travels to Germany, England and Spain, unfortunately, did not survive. Returning to the academy, Benardos invented and tested a number of his new inventions, which lay in the field of modernization of agricultural tools. For example, he proposed a plow with a rotating blade to reduce friction between the land layer and parts of the plow.
At the end of 1867, Benardos, on the instructions of his mother, first visited the village of Luh. Here he, together with the solution of a number of economic problems, examined, preparing for land surveying, grandfather's forest possessions. Lukh, located in a forested area on the left bank of the river of the same name, Benardos loved. Subsequently, he repeatedly came to this place. In one of such visits in the life of Nikolai Nikolayevich an important event happened - he met the owner of the inn, Anna Alekseevna Lebedeva, and married her to 1868. Later, they had four sons and one daughter. Two boys died in childhood, and the other two grew up, got a good education and became electrical engineers.
The young man never listened to the full course of the Moscow Forest and Agricultural Academy. At 1869, after three years of studying, Benardos decided to devote himself entirely to his beloved work — the invention and design of new things. He decided to settle in the village of Luh. In the forest area, which passed to him from his mother, Nikolai Nikolayevich, twelve kilometers from the village, built a beautiful estate, called “Privolnoe”. The estate had a comfortable and spacious two-story house, a forge, a greenhouse, an orchard, as well as well-equipped wood-working, mechanical and metalworking workshops. It was here that the next few years Benardos developed and created his creations.
In the first years of life, transport and agricultural equipment dominated the estate among Nikolay Nikolayevich's inventions — a reaping machine, modernized plows and seeders, steamer wheels, metal sleepers, and much more. Designed Nikolai Nikolayevich and special equipment for the transport of various weights. The invention received a patent and thanks to the St. Petersburg Agricultural Museum, a number of landowners brought similar devices to their farms, but the projectile was never introduced into industrial production.
Democrat, humanist, and just a big-hearted man, Benardos rendered widespread medical assistance to peasants from neighboring villages, and soon founded a pharmacy and often gave out medicines from it for free. Here he, by the way, came in handy with knowledge acquired during his years of study at the medical faculty of Kiev University. In addition, Nikolai Nikolayevich built in his estate a library and a school in which the children of the peasants could study for free. At that time it was the only educational institution in those places. At his own expense, Benardos bought books, notebooks, as well as everything else needed in the learning process. The restless barin taught local men to turning and plumbing, and those who had stopped drinking during the course of training paid the extra two rubles each. Benardos also took an active part in public activities and in 1870-1873 he was elected to the Kostroma provincial and Yuryevetsky district assemblies.
It must be said that this activity of Nikolai Nikolayevich was not to the liking of the majority of neighboring landowners. They especially disliked the owner of the Privolnoe fiefdom for speaking at Zemsky assemblies, containing proposals for the development of the health care system, strengthening of sanitary control and the introduction of compulsory general education. In 1873, a dirty incident occurred, which overshadowed the life of the inventor for a long time and greatly undermined his material and moral condition. One local doctor, by the name of Alfereyev, began to dismiss false rumors that Nikolai Nikolayevich was not indifferent to a teacher of the same organized school. Benardos did not call the offender to a duel, but simply picked up and whipped the gossip. For insulting a district doctor Kostroma district court sentenced him to be sent to Siberia. Later, this harsh measure was replaced by deprivation of rights to be in state and public service, and also threw three months of a guardhouse. Before the decision of the judges, Benardos spent over a year in prison. The struggle of Nikolai Nikolaevich for his honor, which lasted eight years (from 1873 to 1881), did not bring success.
After being released from prison, Benardos took up the implementation of the idea that had arisen in 1873, a unique steamer on skating rinks, capable of overcoming shoals and river rapids, as well as bypassing mill dams and other similar obstacles. He worked on this project for about three years, and village blacksmiths helped him. In the spring of 1877, Benardos finally realized his dream - a steamboat-all-terrain vehicle, completely built in his workshops, was ready. He was named in honor of the eldest son of the inventor "Nikolai". To test the model, Benardos undertook a 300 km long trip through Luhu and Klyazma to Gorokhovets. After that, the ship was delivered to St. Petersburg. Despite the successful testing of the first model, the new type of transport did not interest any industrialist and official, and was subsequently dismantled for firewood.
Benardos, however, did not give up. Possessing exceptional talent, he belonged to the breed of Russian inventors who were pioneering new areas in technical fields of knowledge, without receiving any support and sparing neither their own material resources nor forces. Back in 1876, an important event occurred in his life, which had a tremendous impact on subsequent activities. During one of his trips abroad, he met Yablochkov, a renowned Russian electrical engineer. The creative ties that had arisen between them turned into a great friendship, which was especially useful for Nikolai Nikolayevich — through Pavel Nikolayevich he met the famous Russian and foreign electrical engineers of those years. And in the middle of 1870, Benardos made contact with another self-taught engineer Andrei Buksenmeister, who lived near him in Kineshma district and founded a plant for the manufacture of electric arc lamps, coal products and batteries (later Elektrokontakt factory) there. The owner of the plant sent Bengardos electro-coal, electrochemical power sources and other materials necessary for research, and also took part in a number of experiments with batteries.
By the way, in the 1870-1880s in Russia and abroad, due to the rapid development of electrical engineering, engineers and inventors began to show great interest in batteries. They were then used in railway transport, in urban power stations that fed the lighting networks, and in the construction of submarines that had just begun. Nikolai Nikolayevich was carried away by the improvement of batteries and offered several successful designs. In particular, he was the first in the world to apply heat from an electric arc to connect lead plates of batteries. Later, the inventor created a special buffer battery, consisting of batteries of its design and suitable for welding, characterized by inrush current.
At the same time, Benardos caught on a new idea. Even during the construction of the ship he had the opportunity to combine large metal parts. Naturally, this was done by forge welding. But in the inventor's workshops there were no large heating furnaces. And then he decided to warm the edges of the parts - before they fall under the hammer - with a volt arc. Then the researcher found that in some places even before the forging, the metal melted and soldered small areas. With the idea of associating metals with a volt arc in 1879, Nikolai Nikolayevich went to his old friend Yablochkov. Pavel Nikolaevich, immediately realizing how immense the prospects are for a method of welding metals with electricity, immediately took him to his work.
The Yablochkov Electrotechnical Plant was founded under the partnership “Yablochkov-Inventor and Co.”. The management gave Benardos complete freedom to carry out the necessary experiments related to the use of heat electric arc. It is important to note that the inventor was actively involved in the distribution in the country of a new at the time electric way of lighting. On the instructions of the plant, he traveled to the Transcaspian region, and for the Yablochkov candle he developed a candlestick with automatic current switching, invented an arc lamp, machines for braiding wires and for insulating cables, various switches and rheostats (including water).
At 1881, Nikolay Nikolayevich as an employee of the Yablochkov partnership went to the International Electric Exhibition in Paris. There, being engaged in the preparation of the exposition of the exhibition, Benardos got into an experimental electrical engineering laboratory operating under the journal Elektricen. Her co-director was a Russian citizen and comrade Benardos of St. Petersburg, physicist Nikolai Kabat. In this laboratory, Nikolai Nikolayevich, after conducting a series of experiments with lighting technology, began to improve batteries and soon invented completely new corrugated models for which, due to lack of money, he did not take a patent. Out of spiritual generosity, Benardos gave his idea to Kabat, who subsequently gained about a million francs on it.
Research on the soldering of metals with the help of a voltaic arc, started by the inventor in his estate and continued in St. Petersburg, was completed by Nikolay Nikolayevich abroad. Already in 1882 in Kabat’s workshop, a tireless researcher for the first time demonstrated a new method of electric welding. By the way, the inventor called the ancient Roman god of fire "electrohephaestus" in honor of the method of "connecting and separating metals by the action of electric current". Foreigners flocking to Kabat’s laboratory to take a look at the “electrohephaesté” promised the inventor millions, because thanks to the new method it was possible not only to solder, but also to cut metals, and also to make holes in it with different diameters. From the audience, wishing to see how Benardos cuts thick rails, there was no end. The invention of Benardos was awarded a gold medal and became the main exhibit of the international electrotechnical exhibition in Paris.
At 1884, Benardos returned to St. Petersburg and enthusiastically continued to improve the method of electric arc welding, foreseeing his brilliant future. By this time, Nikolai Nikolayevich was already well known in the scientific community - both in Russia and abroad - as an expert in the field of battery engineering. Back at 1882, he was invited to Barcelona to participate in the construction of a battery power station. The Russian inventor installed a battery of his own design there, using electric arc welding with a carbon electrode to connect the lead plates.
It should be noted that immediately (in 1881 year!) Benardos could not patent his invented “electrohephaest.” The main reason was the lack of the necessary funds from the engineer. The financial position of the inventor by that time was worse than ever. In 1884, due to the non-payment of debts with a hammer, the estate built by him went with love. Earlier, Nikolai Nikolayevich’s inherited forests in Yuryevetsky district were sold. For the rest of the money only in 1885, Benardos was able to send an application for a patent on his way of electric arc welding. And only in December 1886, six years after its discovery, Nikolai Nikolayevich was granted the privilege number 11982 for the “Method of separation and connection of metals by the action of electric current” for a period of ten years. The essence of the invention in the description of the privilege was stated as follows: “The subject matter of the invention ... is based on the formation of a volt arc between the place of metal processing constituting one electrode and the handle containing another electrode supplied to this place ... With this method, works can be performed: connection and separation of parts, cutting of metals into parts, production of holes and cavities, drilling, fusing. The voltaic arc appears in the place where one of the above works is performed, the approach of coal or other conducting substance to the part being processed, and this coal will be a negative or positive pole, and the other part will be the part being processed. Coals or coal substitutes may have different forms. "
At the same time, Nikolai Nikolayevich met a wealthy merchant Olshevsky, the owner of apartment houses in St. Petersburg and Warsaw. Since Benardos had enough money only for patenting his invention in Russia, the merchant offered his financing, but with the condition that he, Olszewski, would be the co-owner of the patents. Benardos agreed, and subsequently (in 1885-1887) obtained patents for his invention in France, Great Britain, Belgium, Italy, Germany, Norway, Sweden, Spain, Denmark, USA, Switzerland and Austria-Hungary. In all (except Russian) patents, Olszewski was listed as a co-owner of the invention.
At 1885 in St. Petersburg, Nikolai Nikolayevich, together with a number of capital owners, formed the Elektrogefest partnership, which had the world's first demonstration workshop for welding. Prominent foreign experts began to come to Russia to get acquainted with the “electrohephest” and the possibility of its use. Russian electrical engineer Dmitry Lachinov, who was present at 1887 on the experiences of Benardos with other representatives of science and technology, said: “The very experience of an unprepared viewer makes an extraordinary impression. When soldering iron sheets butt-master, folding them together, he takes a soldering iron in his hand and touches the seam. At the same moment, a bluish volt arc is pulled out of the coal with an explosion and, guided by the master's hand, begins to lick the spike line. The place she touched instantly melts, scattering sparks and shining a dazzling light. Liquid iron flows into the well between the sheets, connecting them. The master leads along the seam, which sprinkles pre-fine sand, designed to dissolve the scale ... Sheets can be soldered at an angle and overlap, along and across the tube to solder. Everything said about iron, applicable to iron and steel ... Technicians and scientists were extremely interested in the invention and after the experiments they had a long discussion about what they had seen ... The applications of the “electrohephaestis” are diverse. For the first time, this method is suggested for the production of soldered steam boilers instead of riveted, for their repair in place, for the connection of ship parts to each other, for the manufacture of machine tools and the tools themselves ... Another prominent scientist from Germany, acquainted with the invention of Benardos, wrote in an article published in Electricity: “Through careful experiments, scientific considerations and persistent, long-term work, Mr. Benardos turned the processing of metals by electrical method into a coherent system that ensures its multilateral use in practice and in many cases it is intended to replace other ways of metal processing ... In this way, it is possible to produce works on metals that have until now been considered as non-feasible. This question has been developed by the inventor so that it can already be put into practice. ”
In Russia, the Benardos method was first used in the 1887-1888 years on the Oryol-Vitebsk railway. In Roslavl workshops, "electrohephest" was used to correct wagon and locomotive wheels, grilles and frames. One of the engineers wrote: “Corrections in a new way are made so quickly that the wheel park is practically freed from the damaged parts of locomotives ... Not a single wheel is fixed any other way ... Welding of steam locomotives became a specialty of electrical faults.” For five years, the method of the Russian inventor spread throughout the country and began to be widely used in the railway workshops of Rostov-on-Don and Voronezh, at the Gzhuzhon plants in Moscow, Lessner in St. Petersburg, Kolomenskoye in Golutvin, on Nevsky Machine Building. Abroad, by the middle of the 1890s, new process technology was introduced at hundreds of factories in the USA and in Western Europe, and electric welding was started to be used not only for repair work, but also mainly for the technological process in the production of new metal products.
Benardos himself continued to improve his offspring. He developed and tried carbon electrodes of various combinations and forms. For the first time, Nikolay Nikolayevich used an electromagnet for fixing welded products in the required position. And in order to prevent the arc from being thrown to one side during the welding process, the inventor created a magnetic field around the arc, using a series of conductor turns as an electromagnet, through which current was applied to the electrode. Subsequently, this method of controlling the arc was widely used by Americans. In an effort to create a protective environment in the welding zone and increase the heating area, Benardos tested gas jet welding. However, this method has found application only after half a century and is currently used in various branches of technology. Wanting to automate the process, Nikolai Nikolayevich invented a whole range of systems of automatic devices for working with carbon electrodes. Similar devices became prototypes of current automatic welding machines. At the fourth electric exhibition, organized by the Russian Technical Society at 1892 in St. Petersburg, Nikolai Nikolayevich demonstrated a huge amount of new products and accessories for electric welding. In addition to arc welding, Benardos introduced the participants to five drawings of devices for resistance electric welding.
By the way, at the fourth Electric Exhibition Benardos was surprised to find out that his competitor had appeared - the inventor of a method of welding metals, a certain mining engineer from the Urals, Nikolay Slavyanov. It should be noted that Nikolai Gavrilovich used metal fusible rods as an electrode when treating metals with a volt arc. Benardos in the text of the privilege only indicated the possibility of using any conductive materials, including metals, however, most of the work carried out with carbon electrodes. There was no limit to Benardos' outrage - Nikolai Gavrilovich also had a patent for his method of "electric casting of metals." Nikolai Nikolayevich believed that the Slavs had only improved his invention. Among other things, at the exhibition, the stands of these two prominent Russian inventors were located opposite each other. And visitors of the exhibition, of course, were confused - who is the first and the real inventor of metal soldering with a volt arc?
11 May 1892 "for the successful use of the arc" in the electric welding invented by him Nikolai Nikolayevich was awarded the highest technical award from the Russian Technical Society - a gold medal. It seemed that this day would be the day of the inventor's triumph, however, exactly such a gold medal was awarded to the mining engineer Slavyanov. Reception by inventors of high awards resulted in their long quarrel, which ended with the transfer of the case to the court. There was appointed a technical examination. As experts, by the way, the most prominent scientists of Russia - the physicist chemist Nikolai Kurnakov and the physicist Orest Khvolson spoke. The experts (and then the court) determined the complete independence of the “electric casting” of Slavyanov from Benardos’s “electrohephaestis”. Despite the official confirmation of the principal novelty of the invention of Nikolai Gavrilovich in comparison with the “electrohephaestics”, the privilege granted to the Ural inventor was clearly stipulated that its operation could not prevent the use of the Benardos method. Expert Orest Chvolson in his closing remarks said: “Kohl raised the question of the abolition of the privilege of Slavyanov, with the same reason you can cancel the privilege of Benardos. Why argue about priorities, if Vasily Petrov (a famous Russian experimental physicist) started talking about the possibility of using the heat of the volt arc first ... ". It should be noted that, despite the decision of the judges to approve both inventors in authorship, until the end of their lives, each of them remained with his opinion.
To 1889, the enterprising members of the board of Elektrogefest finally took possession of the patent right to an outstanding Russian invention, thus depriving Benardos of the opportunity to continue work on the improvement of electric arc welding. However, Nikolay Nikolayevich could not invent, and continued to be engaged in inventions in other spheres. He came up with a method of coating copper iron ships and device drawings for this were also presented to them at the fourth Electrical Exhibition. In addition, in the same year, he developed a rotary propeller, batteries that have plates of spongy lead, an electromoil and much more. He also drafted a rolling steamer (in 1890) and the supply of electric power to St. Petersburg for traffic and lighting (in 1892). The first project contained a description of a modernized, long-built and abandoned steamship with special wheels-rollers, which allowed him to go ashore and bypass the places inconvenient for shipping along the laid rail tracks. This, according to the inventor, avoided the construction of locks. By the way, the idea of avoiding locks was later embodied in the lifting and transport facilities, which allowed the vessels to be raised and transported by rail from one river to another. The second project was based on the construction of a hydroelectric power station on the Neva River near the Ivanovo thresholds, together with a power line to the city. Benardos wrote: “take tens of thousands of forces from the river to extract electric current and send it to St. Petersburg”.
It should be noted that Benardos' passion for invention was as unrestrained as other people had a passion for cards, wine or women. Without receiving material support, he spent all the work, as a rule, at his own expense, having spent all his fortune by the end of his life. With the same excitement, Nikolai Nikolayevich worked on ridiculous trifles and on ambitious projects, and the range of his design ideas covered such industries as military, transport, agriculture, engine manufacturing, and household appliances. Among other things, Benardos invented an ice cream maker, a tin can, a drawing board with the option of pulling paper, a steam pan, a bike with an explosive engine, a washbasin tap, a screw cap, a kerosene samovar, an acid dispenser, a hanging digital lock, a comb for animals , digging machine and more from the list of two hundred items. In 1890, Benardos launched the project “Carriage, Repair and Raising the Tsar Bell”. In it, the inventor proposed to weld a huge piece that had fallen off from the bell with the help of his “electrohephaest”, and then, after plunging the bell onto a special platform, to deliver it to Sparrow Hills. There, the Tsar Bell with the help of hydraulic jacks was to be raised to the Tsar Bell Tower, for the construction of which Nikolai Nikolayevich had a separate project. The great inventor was a great patriot. His inventions in military affairs — an electric gun, a self-moving land mine, a gun capable of throwing ropes at a ship in distress, costal bullets — Benardos offered the state for free, pointing out that the goal of all his works “is to take care of the people’s work and the well-being of the Motherland”. Sadly, almost nothing of dozens of his plans, with the exception of the “electrohephaestics” and a number of inventions, has not been applied in practice. Probably because the designer’s thoughts, like a hydroelectric station on the Neva or moving platforms for transporting pedestrians through the streets, seemed to others to be fantastic at that time. Meanwhile, among the inventions of Benardos there is a brake for railways, water skiing, a reaping machine, and a washer-squeezer ...
However, the favorite brainchild of the ingenious inventor continued to be electric welding, to which his thought repeatedly returned. In 1891, Benardos developed a “cupola electric soldering, electrolysis and electrowelding of metals” method. And the latest invention in this area, patented in 1896, was “glowing and hydroelectric smelting of metals”, based on the fact that one of the electrodes was already a jet of liquid aqueous solution. As a solution, Nikolai Nikolaevich used acidified water, solutions of alkalis and salts.
In 1897, Benardos' opponent Nikolay Slavyanov died. It is unlikely that the engineer received this message with joy. In one these inventors were similar to each other - Nikolai Gavrilovich left this world, not leaving a penny to his family, and Nikolai Nikolayevich went to the same, perfectly understanding this. In 1898, he moved to Kiev province in the city of Fastow - he could not afford to live in the northern capital. With the latest money at 1899, Benardos patented a new method for making the spongy lead needed for battery plates. And in 1900, he received the privilege of making harrows by stamping from a sheet. At 1893, Benardos became a full member of the Russian Technical Society, and at 1899, the St. Petersburg Electrotechnical Institute awarded Nikolai Nikolayevich - who did not complete the course of a higher technical school - the title of honorary electrical engineer. Surprisingly, despite the universal recognition surrounding the inventor, he barely made ends meet. After much hesitation in 1902, the modest designer decided to ask the council of the Russian Technical Society for a lifetime pension.
The monument is dedicated to the discoverer of electric arc welding of metal, an outstanding Russian inventor Nikolai Benardos to his 170 anniversary. Sculpture cooked from old water pipes Ivanovo plumber Vladimir Volkov
Life unrest and anxiety affected the health of the inventor. Especially it began to pass at the end of the 1890s. Long-term work with lead batteries affected this - experiments led to the poisoning of Nikolai Nikolayevich's body. At the beginning of the new century, Benardos’s condition deteriorated completely. For a long time he lay in a Moscow hospital, then for almost a year he lived and was treated by his eldest son Nicholas. By the way, while being treated at the start of 1902, Benardos took part in the work of the second All-Russian Electrotechnical Congress, at which he was elected honorary chairman. However, the treatment could no longer save Nikolai Nikolayevich’s impaired health. Aged and weakened, he returned to Fastow, and on September 21 1905 passed away at a local poorhouse. At that time, the first revolution was raging in the country, and not a single periodical responded to the death of the brilliant Russian inventor.
Based on the materials of Andrei Chekanov’s books “Nikolay Nikolayevich Benardos” and Sergey Istomin “The Most Famous Inventors of Russia”.