The New York Subway Part 10

The Interborough Company has provided a guard in the form of a plank 8-1/2 inches wide and 1-1/2 inches thick, which is supported in a horizontal position directly above the rail, as shown in the illustration on page 113. This guard is carried by the contact rail to which it is secured by supports, the construction of which is sufficiently shown in the illustration. This type of guard has been in successful use upon the Wilkesbarre and Hazleton Railway for nearly two years. It practically eliminates the danger from the third rail, even should passengers leave the trains and walk through a section of the tunnel while the rails are charged.

Its adoption necessitates the use of a collecting shoe differing radically from that used upon the Manhattan division and upon the elevated railways employing the third rail system in Chicago, Boston, Brooklyn, and elsewhere. The shoe is shown in the photograph on page 114. The shoe is held in contact with the third rail by gravity reinforced by pressure from two spiral springs. The support for the shoe includes provision for vertical adjustment to compensate for wear of car wheels, etc.



In determining the electrical equipment of the trains, the company has aimed to secure an organization of motors and control apparatus easily adequate to operate trains in both local and express service at the highest speeds compatible with safety to the traveling public. For each of the two classes of service the limiting safe speed is fixed by the distance between stations at which the trains stop, by curves, and by grades. Except in a few places, for example where the East Side branch passes under the Harlem River, the tracks are so nearly level that the consideration of grade does not materially affect determination of the limiting speed. While the majority of the curves are of large radius, the safe limiting speed, particularly for the express service, is necessarily considerably less than it would be on straight tracks.

The average speed of express trains between City Hall and 145th Street on the West Side will approximate 25 miles an hour, including stops.

The maximum speed of trains will be 45 miles per hour. The average speed of local and express trains will exceed the speed made by the trains on any elevated railroad.

To attain these speeds without exceeding maximum safe limiting speeds between stops, the equipment provided will accelerate trains carrying maximum load at a rate of 1.25 miles per hour per second in starting from stations on level track. To obtain the same acceleration by locomotives, a draw-bar pull of 44,000 pounds would be necessary--a pull equivalent to the maximum effect of six steam locomotives such as were used recently upon the Manhattan Elevated Railway in New York, and equivalent to the pull which can be exerted by two passenger locomotives of the latest Pennsylvania Railroad type. Two of these latter would weigh about 250 net tons. By the use of the multiple unit system of electrical control, equivalent results in respect to rate of acceleration and speed are attained, the total addition to train weight aggregating but 55 net tons.

If the locomotive principle of train operation were adopted, therefore, it is obvious that it would be necessary to employ a lower rate of acceleration for express trains. This could be attained without very material sacrifice of average speed, since the average distance between express stations is nearly two miles. In the case of local trains, however, which average nearly three stops per mile, no considerable reduction in the acceleration is possible without a material reduction in average speed. The weight of a local train exceeds the weight of five trail cars, similarly loaded, by 33 net tons, and equivalent adhesion and acceleration would require locomotives having not less than 80 net tons effective upon drivers.

[Sidenote: _Switching_]

The multiple unit system adopted possesses material advantages over a locomotive system in respect to switching at terminals. Some of the express trains in rush hours will comprise eight cars, but at certain times during the day and night when the number of people requiring transportation is less than during the morning and evening, and were locomotives used an enormous amount of switching, coupling and uncoupling would be involved by the comparative frequent changes of train lengths. In an eight-car multiple-unit express train, the first, third, fifth, sixth, and eighth cars will be motor cars, while the second, fourth, and seventh will be trail cars. An eight-car train can be reduced, therefore, to a six-car train by uncoupling two cars from either end, to a five-car train by uncoupling three cars from the rear end, or to a three-car train by uncoupling five cars from either end.

In each case a motor car will remain at each end of the reduced train.

In like manner, a five-car local train may be reduced to three cars, still leaving a motor car at each end by uncoupling two cars from either end, since in the normal five-car local train the first, third, and fifth cars will be motor cars.

[Illustration: 200 H. P. RAILWAY MOTOR]

[Sidenote: _Motors_]

The motors are of the direct current series type and are rated 200 horse power each. They have been especially designed for the subway service in line with specifications prepared by engineers of the Interborough Company, and will operate at an average effective potential of 570 volts. They are supplied by two manufacturers and differ in respect to important features of design and construction, but both are believed to be thoroughly adequate for the intended service.

[Illustration: 200 H. P. RAILWAY MOTOR]

The photographs on this page illustrate motors of each make. The weight of one make complete, with gear and gear case, is 5,900 pounds.

The corresponding weight of the other is 5,750 pounds. The ratio of gear reduction used with one motor is 19 to 63, and with the other motor 20 to 63.

[Illustration: 200 H. P. RAILWAY MOTOR]

[Sidenote: _Motor Control_]

By the system of motor control adopted for the trains, the power delivered to the various motors throughout the train is simultaneously controlled and regulated by the motorman at the head of the train.

This is accomplished by means of a system of electric circuits comprising essentially a small drum controller and an organization of actuating circuits conveying small currents which energize electric magnets placed beneath the cars, and so open and close the main power circuits which supply energy to the motors. A controller is mounted upon the platform at each end of each motor car, and the entire train may be operated from any one of the points, the motorman normally taking his post on the front platform of the first car. The switches which open and close the power circuits through motors and rheostats are called contactors, each comprising a magnetic blow-out switch and the electro magnet which controls the movements of the switch. By these contactors the usual series-multiple control of direct-current motors is effected. The primary or control circuits regulate the movement, not only of the contactors but also of the reverser, by means of which the direction of the current supplied to motors may be reversed at the will of the motorman.


The photograph on this page shows the complete control wiring and motor equipment of a motor car as seen beneath the car. In wiring the cars unusual precautions have been adopted to guard against risk of fire. As elsewhere described in this publication, the floors of all motor cars are protected by sheet steel and a material composed of asbestos and silicate of soda, which possesses great heat-resisting properties. In addition to this, all of the important power wires beneath the car are placed in conduits of fireproof material, of which asbestos is the principal constituent. Furthermore, the vulcanized rubber insulation of the wires themselves is covered with a special braid of asbestos, and in order to diminish the amount of combustible insulating material, the highest grade of vulcanized rubber has been used, and the thickness of the insulation correspondingly reduced. It is confidently believed that the woodwork of the car body proper cannot be seriously endangered by an accident to the electric apparatus beneath the car. Insulation is necessarily combustible, and in burning evolves much smoke; occasional accidents to the apparatus, notwithstanding every possible precaution, will sometimes happen; and in the subway the flash even of an absolutely insignificant fuse may be clearly visible and cause alarm. The public traveling in the subway should remember that even very severe short-circuits and extremely bright flashes beneath the car involve absolutely no danger to passengers who remain inside the car.

The photograph on page 120 illustrates the control wiring of the new steel motorcars. The method of assembling the apparatus differs materially from that adopted in wiring the outfit of cars first ordered, and, as the result of greater compactness which has been attained, the aggregate length of the wiring has been reduced one-third.

The quality and thickness of the insulation is the same as in the case of the earlier cars, but the use of asbestos conduits is abandoned and iron pipe substituted. In every respect it is believed that the design and workmanship employed in mounting and wiring the motors and control equipments under these steel cars is unequaled elsewhere in similar work up to the present time.


The motors and car wiring are protected by a carefully planned system of fuses, the function of which is to melt and open the circuits, so cutting off power in case of failure of insulation.

Express trains and local trains alike are provided with a bus line, which interconnects the electrical supply to all cars and prevents interruption of the delivery of current to motors in case the collector shoes attached to any given car should momentarily fail to make contact with the third rail. At certain cross-overs this operates to prevent extinguishing the lamps in successive cars as the train passes from one track to another. The controller is so constructed that when the train is in motion the motorman is compelled to keep his hand upon it, otherwise the power is automatically cut off and the brakes are applied. This important safety device, which, in case a motorman be suddenly incapacitated at his post, will promptly stop the train, is a recent invention and is first introduced in practical service upon trains of the Interborough Company.

[Sidenote: _Heating and Lighting_]

All cars are heated and lighted by electricity. The heaters are placed beneath the seats, and special precautions have been taken to insure uniform distribution of the heat. The wiring for heaters and lights has been practically safe-guarded to avoid, so far as possible, all risk of short-circuit or fire, the wire used for the heater circuits being carried upon porcelain insulators from all woodwork by large clearances, while the wiring for lights is carried in metallic conduit. All lamp sockets are specially designed to prevent possibility of fire and are separated from the woodwork of the car by air spaces and by asbestos.

[Illustration: (FIRE ALARM)]

The interior of each car is lighted by twenty-six 10-candle power lamps, in addition to four lamps provided for platforms and markers.

The lamps for lighting the interior are carefully located, with a view to securing uniform and effective illumination.



In the initial preparation of plans, and more than a year before the accident which occurred in the subway system of Paris in August, 1903, the engineers of the Interborough Company realized the importance of maintaining lights in the subway independent of any temporary interruption of the power used for lighting the cars, and, in preparing their plans, they provided for lighting the subway throughout its length from a source independent of the main power supply. For this purpose three 1,250-kilowatt alternators direct-driven by steam turbines are installed in the power house, from which point a system of primary cables, transformers and secondary conductors convey current to the incandescent lamps used solely to light the subway. The alternators are of the three-phase type, making 1,200 revolutions per minute and delivering current at a frequency of 60 cycles per second at a potential of 11,000 volts. In the boiler plant and system of steam piping installed in connection with these turbine-driven units, provision is made for separation of the steam supply from the general supply for the 5,000 kilowatt units and for furnishing the steam for the turbine units through either of two alternative lines of pipe.

The 11,000-volt primary current is conveyed through paper insulated lead-sheathed cables to transformers, located in fireproof compartments adjacent to the platforms of the passenger stations.

These transformers deliver current to two separate systems of secondary wiring, one of which is supplied at a potential of 120 volts and the other at 600 volts.

The general lighting of the passenger station platforms is effected by incandescent lamps supplied from the 120-volt secondary wiring circuits, while the lighting of the subway sections between adjacent stations is accomplished by incandescent lamps connected in series groups of five each and connected to the 600-volt lighting circuits.

Recognizing the fact that in view of the precautions taken it is probable that interruptions of the alternating current lighting service will be infrequent, the possibility of such interruption is nevertheless provided for by installing upon the stairways leading to passenger station platforms, at the ticket booths and over the tracks in front of the platforms, a number of lamps which are connected to the contact rail circuit. This will provide light sufficient to enable passengers to see stairways and the edges of the station platforms in case of temporary failure of the general lighting system.

The general illumination of the passenger stations is effected by means of 32 c. p. incandescent lamps, placed in recessed domes in the ceiling. These are reinforced by 14 c. p. and 32 c. p. lamps, carried by brackets of ornate design where the construction of the station does not conveniently permit the use of ceiling lights. The lamps are enclosed in sand-blasted glass globes, and excellent distribution is secured by the use of reflectors.

The illustration on page 122 is produced from a photograph of the interior of one of the transformer cupboards and shows the transformer in place with the end bell of the high potential cable and the primary switchboard containing switches and enclosed fuses. The illustration on page 123 shows one of the secondary distributing switchboards which are located immediately behind the ticket booths, where they are under the control of the ticket seller.


In lighting the subway between passenger stations, it is desirable, on the one hand, to provide sufficient light for track inspection and to permit employees passing along the subway to see their way clearly and avoid obstructions; but, on the other hand, the lighting must not be so brilliant as to interfere with easy sight and recognition of the red, yellow, and green signal lamps of the block signal system. It is necessary also that the lights for general illumination be so placed that their rays shall not fall directly upon the eyes of approaching motormen at the head of trains nor annoy passengers who may be reading their papers inside the cars. The conditions imposed by these considerations are met in the four-track sections of the subway by placing a row of incandescent lamps between the north-bound local and express tracks and a similar row between the southbound local and express tracks. The lamps are carried upon brackets supported upon the iron columns of the subway structure, successive lamps in each row being 60 feet apart. They are located a few inches above the tops of the car windows and with reference to the direction of approaching trains the lamps in each row are carried upon the far side of the iron columns, by which expedient the eyes of the approaching motormen are sufficiently protected against their direct rays.

[Sidenote: _Lighting of the Power House_]

For the general illumination of the engine room, clusters of Nernst lamps are supported from the roof trusses and a row of single lamps of the same type is carried on the lower gallery about 25 feet from the floor. This is the first power house in America to be illuminated by these lamps. The quality of the light is unsurpassed and the general effect of the illumination most satisfactory and agreeable to the eye. In addition to the Nernst lamps, 16 c. p. incandescent lamps are placed upon the engines and along the galleries in places not conveniently reached by the general illumination. The basement also is lighted by incandescent lamps.


For the boiler room, a row of Nernst lamps in front of the batteries of boilers is provided, and, in addition to these, incandescent lamps are used in the passageways around the boilers, at gauges and at water columns. The basement of the boiler room, the pump room, the economizer floor, coal bunkers, and coal conveyers are lighted by incandescent lamps, while arc lamps are used around the coal tower and dock. The lights on the engines and those at gauge glasses and water columns and at the pumps are supplied by direct current from the 250-volt circuits. All other incandescent lamps and the Nernst lamps are supplied through transformers from the 60-cycle lighting system.

Chapter end

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