The New York Subway Part 6

Just above the hoppers on the economizer floor the coal downtakes are provided with valves and chutes to feed the coal, either into the hopper or into the distributing flight conveyor alongside of it. These distributing conveyors, one corresponding with each row of downtakes, permits the feeding of coal from any bunker or bunkers to all the boilers when desired. They are the ordinary type of flight conveyor, capable of running in either direction and provided with gates in the bottom of the trough for feeding into the several above mentioned hoppers. In order to eliminate the stresses that would develop in a conveyor of the full length of the building, the conveyors are of half the entire length, with electric driving engines in the center of each continuous line. The installation of this conveyor system, in connection with the coal downtakes, makes it possible to carry a high-grade coal in some of the bunkers for use during periods of heavy load and a cheaper grade in other bunkers for the periods of light load.

To provide means for shutting off the coal supply to each boiler, a small hopper is placed just over each boiler, and the downtake feeding into it is provided with a gate at its lower end. Two vertical downtakes extend down from the boiler hopper to the boiler room floor or to the stokers, as the case may be, and they are hinged just below the boiler hopper to allow their being drawn up out of the way when necessary to inspect the boiler tubes.


Wherever the direction of flow of the coal is changed, poke holes are provided in the downtakes to enable the firemen to break any arching tendency of the coal in the downtakes. All parts of the downtakes are of cast iron, except the vertical parts in front of the boilers, which are of wrought-iron pipe. These vertical downtakes are 10 inches in inside diameter, while all others are 14 inches in inside diameter.

[Sidenote: _Main Boiler Room_]

The main boiler room is designed to receive ultimately seventy-two safety water tube three drum boilers, each having 6,008 square feet of effective heating surface, by which the aggregate heating surface of the boiler room will be 432,576 square feet.

There are fifty-two boilers erected in pairs, or batteries, and between each battery is a passageway five feet wide. The boilers are designed for a working steam pressure of 225 pounds per square inch and for a hydraulic test pressure of 300 pounds per square inch. Each boiler is provided with twenty-one vertical water tube sections, and each section is fourteen tubes high. The tubes are of lap welded, charcoal iron, 4 inches in diameter and 18 feet long. The drums are 42 inches in diameter and 23 feet and 10 inches long. All parts are of open-hearth steel; the shell plates are 9/16 of an inch thick and the drum head plates 11/16 inch, and in this respect the thickness of material employed is slightly in excess of standard practice. Another advance on standard practice is in the riveting of the circular seams, these being lap-jointed and double riveted. All longitudinal seams are butt-strapped, inside and outside, and secured by six rows of rivets.

Manholes are only provided for the front heads, and each front head is provided with a special heavy bronze pad, for making connection to the stop and check feed water valve.


The setting of the boiler embodies several special features which are new in boiler erection. The boilers are set higher up from the floor than in standard practice, the center of the drums being 19 feet above the floor line. This feature provides a higher combustion chamber, for either hand-fired grates or automatic stokers; and for inclined grate stokers the fire is carried well up above the supporting girders under the side walls, so that these girders will not be heated by proximity to the fire.

As regards the masonry setting, practically the entire inside surface exposed to the hot gases is lined with a high grade of fire brick. The back of the setting, where the rear cleaning is done, is provided with a sliding floor plate, which is used when the upper tubes are being cleaned. There is also a door at the floor line and another at a higher level for light and ventilation when cleaning. Over the tubes arrangements have been made for the reception of superheating apparatus without changing the brickwork. Where the brick walls are constructed, at each side of the building columns at the front, cast-iron plates are erected to a height of 8 feet on each side of the column. An air space is provided between each cast-iron plate and the column, which is accessible for cleaning from the boiler front; the object of the plates and air space being to prevent the transmission of heat to the steel columns.

An additional feature of the boiler setting consists in the employment of a soot hopper, back of each bridge wall, by which the soot can be discharged into ash cars in the basement. The main ash hoppers are constructed of 1/2-inch steel plate, the design being a double inverted pyramid with an ash gate at each inverted apex. The hoppers are well provided with stiffening angles and tees, and the capacity of each is about 80 cubic feet.

In front of all the boilers is a continuous platform of open-work cast-iron plates, laid on steel beams, the level of the platform being 8 feet above the main floor. The platform connects across the firing area, opposite the walk between the batteries, and at these points this platform is carried between the boiler settings. At the rear of the northerly row of boilers the platform runs along the partition wall, between the boiler house and operating room and at intervals doorways are provided which open into the pump area. The level of the platform is even with that of the main operating room floor, so that it may be freely used by the water tenders and by the operating engineers without being obstructed by the firemen or their tools. The platform in front of the boilers will also be used for cleaning purposes, and, in this respect, it will do away with the unsightly and objectionable scaffolds usually employed for this work. The water tenders will also be brought nearer to the water columns than when operating on the main floor. The feed-water valves will be regulated from the platform, as well as the speed of the boiler-feed pumps.

Following European practice, each boiler is provided with two water columns, one on each outside drum, and each boiler will have one steam gauge above the platform for the water tenders and one below the platform for the firemen. The stop and check valves on each boiler drum have been made specially heavy for the requirements of this power house, and this special increase of weight has been applied to all the several minor boiler fittings.

Hand-fired grates of the shaking pattern have been furnished for thirty-six boilers, and for each of these grates a special lower front has been constructed. These fronts are of sheet steel, and the coal passes down to the floor through two steel buckstays which have been enlarged for the purpose. There are three firing doors and the sill of each door is 36 inches above the floor. The gate area of the hand-fired grates is 100 square feet, being 8 feet deep by 12 feet 6 inches wide.

The twelve boilers, which will receive coal from the coal bunker located between the fourth and fifth chimneys, have been furnished with automatic stokers.

It is proposed to employ superheaters to the entire boiler plant.

The boiler-room ceiling has been made especially high, and in this respect the room differs from most power houses of similar construction. The distance from the floor to the ceiling is 35 feet, and from the floor plates over the boilers to the ceiling is 13 feet.

Over each boiler is an opening to the economizer floor above, covered with an iron grating. The height of the room, as well as the feature of these openings, and the stairway wells and with the large extent of window opening in the south wall, will make the room light and especially well ventilated. Under these conditions the intense heat usually encountered over boilers will largely be obviated.

In addition to making provisions for the air to escape from the upper part of the boiler room, arrangements have been provided for allowing the air to enter at the bottom. This inflow of air will take place through the southerly row of basement windows, which extend above the boiler room floor, and through the wrought-iron open-work floor construction extending along in the rear of the northerly row of boilers.

A noteworthy feature of the boiler room is the 10-ton hand-power crane, which travels along in the central aisle through the entire length of the structure. This crane is used for erection and for heavy repair, and its use has greatly assisted the speedy assembling of the boiler plant.

[Sidenote: _Blowers and Air Ducts_]

In order to burn the finer grades of anthracite coal in sufficient quantities to obtain boiler rating with the hand-fired grates, and in order to secure a large excess over boiler rating with other coals, a system of blowers and air ducts has been provided in the basement under the boilers. One blower is selected for every three boilers, with arrangements for supplying all six boilers from one blower.

The blowers are 11 feet high above the floor and 5 feet 6 inches wide at the floor line. Each blower is direct-connected to a two crank 7-1/2 x 13 x 6-1/2-inch upright, automatic, compound, steam engine of the self-enclosed type, and is to provide a sufficient amount of air to burn 10,000 pounds of combustible per hour with 2 inches of water pressure in the ash pits.

[Sidenote: _Smoke Flues and Economizers_]

The smoke flue and economizer construction throughout the building is of uniform design, or, in other words, the smoke flue and economizer system for one chimney is identical with that for every other chimney.

In each case, the system is symmetrically arranged about its respective chimney, as can be seen by reference to the plans.

The twelve boilers for each chimney are each provided with two round smoke uptakes, which carry the products of combustion upward to the main smoke flue system on the economizer floor. A main smoke flue is provided for each group of three boilers, and each pair of main smoke flues join together on the center line of the chimney, where in each case one common flue carries the gases into the side of the chimney.

The two common flues last mentioned enter at opposite sides of the chimney. The main flues are arranged and fitted with dampers, so that the gases can pass directly to the chimney, or else they can be diverted through the economizers and thence reach the chimney.

The uptakes from each boiler are constructed of 3/8-inch plate and each is lined with radial hollow brick 4 inches thick. Each is provided with a damper which operates on a shaft turning in roller bearings. The uptakes rest on iron beams at the bottom, and at the top, where they join the main flue, means are provided to take up expansion and contraction.

The main flue, which rests on the economizer floor, is what might be called a steel box, constructed of 3/8-inch plate, 6 feet 4 inches wide and 13 feet high. The bottom is lined with brick laid flat and the sides with brick walls 8 inches thick, and the top is formed of brick arches sprung between.

[Sidenote: _Steam Piping_]

The sectional plan adopted for the power house has made a uniform and simple arrangement of steam piping possible, with the piping for each section, except that of the turbine bay, identical with that for every other section. Starting with the six boilers for one main engine, the steam piping may be described as follows: A cross-over pipe is erected on each boiler, by means of which and a combination of valves and fittings the steam may be passed through the superheater. In the delivery from each boiler there is a quick-closing 9-inch valve, which can be closed from the boiler room floor by hand or from a distant point individually or in groups of six. Risers with 9-inch wrought-iron goose necks connect each boiler to the steam main, where 9-inch angle valves are inserted in each boiler connection. These valves can be closed from the platform over the boilers, and are grouped three over one set of three boilers and three over the opposite set.

The main from the six boilers is carried directly across the boiler house in a straight line to a point in the pipe area where it rises to connect to the two 14-inch steam downtakes to the engine throttles. At this point the steam can also be led downward to a manifold to which the compensating tie lines are connected. These compensating lines are run lengthwise through the power house for the purpose of joining the systems together, as desired. The two downtakes to the engine throttles drop to the basement, where each, through a goose neck, delivers into a receiver and separating tank and from the tank through a second goose neck into the corresponding throttle.

A quick-closing valve appears at the point where the 17-inch pipe divides into the two 14-inch downtakes and a similar valve is provided at the point where the main connects to the manifold. The first valve will close the steam to the engine and the second will control the flow of steam to and from the manifold. These valves can be operated by hand from a platform located on the wall inside the engine room, or they can be closed from a distant point by hydraulic apparatus. In the event of accident the piping to any engine can be quickly cut out or that system of piping can quickly be disconnected from the compensating system.

The pipe area containing, as mentioned, the various valves described, together with the manifolds and compensating pipes, is divided by means of cross-walls into sections corresponding to each pair of main engines. Each section is thus separated from those adjoining, so that any escape of steam in one section can be localized and, by means of the quick-closing valves, the piping for the corresponding pair of main engines can be disconnected from the rest of the power house.


All cast iron used in the fittings is called air-furnace iron, which is a semi-steel and tougher than ordinary iron. All line and bent pipe is of wrought iron, and the flanges are loose and made of wrought steel. The shell of the pipe is bent over the face of the flange. All the joints in the main steam line, above 2-1/2 inches in size, are ground joints, metal to metal, no gaskets being used.

Unlike the flanges ordinarily used in this country, special extra strong proportions have been adopted, and it may be said that all flanges and bolts used are 50 per cent. heavier than the so-called extra heavy proportions used in this country.

[Sidenote: _Water Piping_]

The feed water will enter the building at three points, the largest water service being 12 inches in diameter, which enters the structure at its southeast corner. The water first passes through fish traps and thence through meters, and from them to the main reservoir tanks, arranged along the center of the boiler house basement. The water is allowed to flow into each tank by means of an automatic float valve.

The water will be partly heated in these reservoir tanks by means of hot water discharged from high-pressure steam traps. In this way the heat contained in the drainage from the high-pressure steam is, for the most part, returned to the boilers. From the reservoir tanks the water is conducted to the feed-water pumps, by which it is discharged through feed-water heaters where it is further heated by the exhaust steam from the condensing and feed-water pumps. From the feed-water heaters the water will be carried direct to the boilers; or through the economizer system to be further heated by the waste gases from the boilers.


Like the steam-pipe system, the feed-water piping is laid out on the sectional plan, the piping for the several sections being identical, except for the connections from the street service to the reservoir tanks. The feed-water piping is constructed wholly of cast iron, except the piping above the floor line to the boilers, which is of extra heavy semi-annealed brass with extra heavy cast-iron fittings.

[Sidenote: _Engine and Turbine Equipment_]

The engine and turbine equipment under contract embraces nine 8,000 to 11,000 horse power main engines, direct-connected to 5,000 kilowatt generators, three steam turbines, direct-connected to 1,875 kilowatt lighting generators and two 400 horse power engines, direct-connected to 250 kilowatt exciter generators.

[Sidenote: _Main Engines_]

The main engines are similar in type to those installed in the 74th Street power house of the Manhattan Division of the Interborough Rapid Transit Company, i. e., each consists of two component compound engines, both connected to a common shaft, with the generator placed between the two component engines. The type of engine is now well known and will not be described in detail, but as a comparison of various dimensions and features of the Manhattan and Rapid Transit engines may be of interest, the accompanying tabulation is submitted:

Manhattan. Rapid Transit.

Diameter of high-pressure cylinders, inches, 44 42 Diameter of low-pressure cylinders, inches, 88 86 Stroke, inches, 60 60 Speed, revolutions per minute, 75 75 Steam pressure at throttle, pounds, 150 175 Indicated horse power at best efficiency, 7,500 7,500 Diameter of low-pressure piston rods, inches, 8 10 Diameter of high-pressure piston rods, inches, 8 10 Diameter of crank pin, inches, 18 20 Length of crank pin, inches, 18 18

Double Ported Single Ported Type of Low-Pressure Valves. Corliss Corliss Type of High-Pressure Valves. Corliss Poppet Type

Diameter of shaft in journals, inches, 34 34 Length of journals, inches, 60 60 Diameter of shaft in hub of revolving element, inches 37-1/16 37-1/16

The guarantees under which the main engines are being furnished, and which will govern their acceptance by the purchaser, are in substance as follows: First. The engine will be capable of operating continuously when indicating 11,000 horse power with 175 lbs. of steam pressure, a speed of 75 revolutions and a 26-inch vacuum without normal wear, jar, noise, or other objectionable results. Second. It will be suitably proportioned to withstand in a serviceable manner all sudden fluctuations of load as are usual and incidental to the generation of electrical energy for railway purposes. Third. It will be capable of operating with an atmospheric exhaust with two pounds back pressure at the low pressure cylinders, and when so operating, will fulfill all the operating requirements, except as to economy and capacity. Fourth. It will be proportioned so that when occasion shall require it can be operated with a steam pressure at the throttles of 200 pounds above atmospheric pressure under the before mentioned conditions of the speed and vacuum. Fifth. It will be proportioned so that it can be operated with steam pressure at the throttle of 200 pounds above atmospheric pressure under the before mentioned condition as to speed when exhausting in the atmosphere. Sixth. The engine will operate successfully with a steam pressure at the throttle of 175 pounds above atmosphere, should the temperature of the steam be maintained at the throttle at from 450 to 500 degrees Fahr. Seventh.

Chapter end

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