The Cable Car Home Page Selected Articles From Manufacturer and Builder

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Selected Articles From and Builder

1885-1889/Page 2

Collected by Joe

These articles from and Builder Magazine were in the late 1880s, the high of the cable railway era. scans of the articles are available Making of America at Cornell Uncorrected text scans are from the Library of Congress’ Memory site. I did some of the text scans.

I made a few comments in italics with my

The Bentley-Knight Electric Railway

From Manufacturer and Builder / 21, Issue 1, January 1889

pioneered conduit electrification.

The and apparatus of the Bentley-Knight Electric Company has lately attracted general attention from the performance of several important of city railway that been equipped therewith, and of its growing popularity, as well as of the fact that the plan several special features of merit, we have availed of the opportunity to print a description of it, suitable illustrations.

For city railways, the Bentley-Knight company a conduit system. The plant for service consists of a power engines, boilers, and dynamo.electric a conduit running along the length of the line, containing the which convey the electric to the motors; and banging connections which pass through the slot, and, sliding the conductors, maintain unbroken between the motors and the source of The electric conductors are accessible to regular employees, furnished special tools.

The current even on roads of the heaviest capacity, cannot injure life or property. The direction and of each car are controlled at will either end. The driver can slowly, almost imperceptibly, required, and take any desired to recover lost time.

In where heavy work be required of the motors, or where strains of any kind must be the Bentley-Knight company supplies equipped with double each motor driving one independently. For all ordinary work, one motor is employed, mounted one axle of the car. The method of suspension employed by this in the construction of its single-motor trucks a very large part of the weight to be moved upon the axle, thus securing at all ample tractive adhesion.

Each car is entirely independent of any and any car, dynamo or engine may down without interrupting A car disabled through accident, can be to the depot by the succeeding one, or its may be thrown out of the conduit at any point on the and the car run off to one side of the track. Any engine or at the power-station may be cut out for any reason, and at any time. The of the motors, and the expansibility of the motor render the system wholly of horses or other reserve.

The consumed is proportioned to the number of operated; and, apart interest on the plant, one car may be run with as great economy as twenty. All are of the most substantial and enduring

The motor and mechanism of a car operate and are entirely concealed from beneath the bottom of the car. gearing is used throughout for power from the motor to the car experience having shown to be the most reliable system.

The important mechanical elements of and operation of the system will appear further on in connection the description of the sectional views of truck and conduit.

For suburban or for small cities and towns the traffic will not justify the for the more costly conduit the Bentley-Knight company furnishes its conductor system, which is and, at the same time, The elevated conductors can be either off from poles or hung wires crossing the street at any hight (sic — JT) the roadway. Electrical connection the motor on the car and the elevated conductors is by means of a trolly or contact-brush and a conductor.

The elasticity of the elevated conductor is very great, and it can be most adapted to the needs of any road. It can be used in connection with the system, and is especially valuable as an method of equipping suburban of city lines, as the successful of the company has fully demonstrated.

The elements of the construction and operation of the system will appear in follows:

Referring to the sectional Figs. 1 and 2 represent the construction of the new and type of motor and mechanism for cars, as constructed hy the Bentley-Knight Railway Co. as well as the conduit, connecting plows and plow-guides in the conduit line lately for the West End Street Railway of Boston, through Boylston and streets, starting from the and running alongside the public and which was opened for traffic on New day. Single motor of the same type will be used on the line now being through Fulton street, New in the construction of the much-delayed North and River Railway line; and motor trucks are now being for Boston, for the operation of the rapid line to Brookline.

Fig. 1 an end view of the motor truck and and of the conduit and plow of the yoke; Fig. 2 gives a view of the truck and mechanism from the of the truck, showing the plow in section.

The conduit differs any form heretofore made or in that the conductors for both are carried in conduits laid in the between the two tracks of a street instead of being laid the rails of each individual The peculiar advantage of this is that an existing street can be equipped with an electric plant without any interference the operation of the line by horses the period of construction, and that the work can also be done in any way changing the present road-bed, it may be constructed. A further and decided is that a single catch-pit and connection at a given point to drain both conduits.

It is also a fact that the between tracks places the steels where they least interfere with or be objectionable on account of their horses to slip. The center of the also, is the cleanest point of the the highest, and therefore the best while in all cases the wear and on pavement, etc. is much there than in any part of the surface.

As will also be from the sectional cuts, an novel form of yoke has employed to support the slot The latter rest in a seat for them on either side of the and are held in position by two bolts on side of each yoke. yoke casting has in its either extremity, a box, which box and protects, not only the nuts of the which hold the slot in position, and which enable the of the slot to be regulated at will, but contains the extremities of the insulator from which are bracketed the along the line. The insulators are of heavy, glazed porcelain, seated into the holders, the brackets which support the are in turn seated into the themselves.

These yokes at intervals of every four The boxes above described are with iron caps, being removable, afford access to the conductors and interior of the The slot rails employed are the ever used in conduit

The conductors come in lengths of 24 and at one end of each length of conductors, is an expansion and contraction joint to for variations in temperature.

As will be connection between the conductors and the on the car is maintained by means of a contact at the lower extremity of which, shoes are pivoted, which along the upper surface of the The plow heads are held in which extend across the width of the car and permit the plows to freely and to follow any variations in the of the conduit slot. When a car from down to up track, it be readily seen that the plows must occupy a on the up track, opposite to that they occupied on the down and must keep up electrical while taking the switch.

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The mechanical construction shown is of the truck latest build, in all possible care has been to secure strength, solidity and The motors, and all transmitting mechanism, been condensed to the last point, thereby securing additional room between the car and the street surface.

Each truck is provided with plow guides and plows, insure perfection of electrical and prevent any flashing at the contact, giving a double security possible accident.

The three of conduit on the above pattern have been just for the West End road by the Bentley-Knight were opened on New Year’s day and the cars provided by the Sprague and equipped with the necessary connections by the Bentley-Knight Company, operated successfully over the line of conduit and also the overhead line at the extremity of the section which has been by the Sprague Company. Thee of the Sprague cars used, not permit of the use of the double plow, trucks constructed under the system use, and some is thereby occasioned. But it is a noticeable that the conduit laid in was put into operation the day after its and that no errors, either or electrical, were found to with its work.

Those who may be directly in the introduction of the most plans for operating city rairvays, will find the estimates, of the comparative cost of and operation, of the three systems horse traction, electric and cable traction instructive. The are given on the authority of the Bentley-Knight The estimates in the table, based on New prices, are for a road 5 miles double track, operatiumg 40 average speed, 6 miles an headway, 2 1/2 minutes; maximum 5 feet in 100; 16 full hours per day.

As a matter of general interest, we several views exhibiting the of the several forms of motor introduced in various localities by the company. Fig. 3, for example, the double-motor car, now in use on the Observatory Passenger Railway, of Allegheny where at the puesent time are six of them employed, and which, December, 1887, to the present, been doing what is to be the heaviest duty ever by a self-propelled motor of any kind extraneous aid. They regularly carried loads of pounds up a grade of 295 feet in feet, in which the maximum was 12 1/2 per cent.

This line is of interest, since in its construction and nearly every possible to be met in street railway work has met and overcome.

The line is about miles in length. For one-fourth of distance the electric conductors are in a sub-surface conduit. For the remainder of the the conductors are elevated above the being bracketed off from erected along one side of the

The conduit branches from to single track, and at the present of the line (between the City of Allegheny and the new Carnegie Free there is a conduit cross-over from down to up track. At points along the conduit the conduit cuts through other street railway belonging to other companies. On the conductor section the line is track, with seven Double conductors are used both conduit and elevated sections, neither the rails nor any of the conduit itself being as a part of the electiic circuit. the entire line is built on

Nowhere throughout the whole is there a space 50 feet where a car will stand the brakes being applied.

4 is a view of the car using the elevated and shows very clearly the occupied beneath the car body by the standard single-motor truck.

Fig. 5 is interesting from a standpoint, though it must be that in this field of progress, history is not long in made. It is a view of the Bentley-Knight line at Cleveland, operated the winter of 1884-1885.

This is to have been the first line ever laid, and the then running upon it the first electric street ever run on the direct system now in use. The length of the road was 2 1/2 and it had a number of mechanical defects of that experience developed, and have been corrected in constructions. Nevertheless, in respect of the element, it demonstrated in practice the of street-car lines propelled by agency.

The picture shows the rude wooden conduit at a where the line had to be carried the rails of the Cleveland Pittsburg One of the most serious problems to be in conduit lines.

The success the electric system of street is meeting in the United States, as is by their rapid introduction, is a fact even in this day of progress in electrical application of description; and to this progress the herein described, by reason, of its meritorious features, has contributed The Bentley-Knight Electric Railway has recently erected a large and factory, for the manufacture of everything to electric railway construction and plants. The factory is situated at 25 and 27 avenue, New York city.


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