The New York Subway Part 9

From the power house to the subway at 58th Street and Broadway two lines of conduit, each comprising thirty-two ducts, have been constructed. These conduits are located on opposite sides of the street. The arrangement of ducts is 8 x 4, as shown in the section on page 96.

[Illustration: EXTERIOR OF SUB-STATION NO. 11]

The location and arrangement of ducts along the line of the subway are illustrated in photographs on pages 98 and 99, which show respectively a section of ducts on one side of the subway, between passenger stations, and a section of ducts and one side of the subway, beneath the platform of a passenger station. From City Hall to 96th Street (except through the Park Avenue Tunnel) sixty-four ducts are provided on each side of the subway. North of 96th Street sixty-four ducts are provided for the West-side lines and an equal number for the East-side lines. Between passenger stations these ducts help to form the side walls of the subway, and are arranged thirty-two ducts high and two ducts wide. Beneath the platform of passenger stations the arrangement is somewhat varied because of local obstructions, such as pipes, sewers, etc., of which it was necessary to take account in the construction of the stations. The plan shown on page 98, however, is typical.

The necessity of passing the cables from the 32 x 2 arrangement of ducts along the side of the tunnel to 8 x 8 and 16 x 4 arrangements of ducts beneath the passenger platforms involves serious difficulties in the proper support and protection of cables in manholes at the ends of the station platforms. In order to minimize the risk of interruption of service due to possible damage to a considerable number of cables in one of these manholes, resulting from short circuit in a single cable, all cables except at the joints are covered with two layers of asbestos aggregating a full 1/4-inch in thickness. This asbestos is specially prepared and is applied by wrapping the cable with two strips each 3 inches in width, the outer strip covering the line of junction between adjacent spirals of the inner strip, the whole when in place being impregnated with a solution of silicate of soda. The joints themselves are covered with two layers of asbestos held in place by steel tape applied spirally. To distribute the strains upon the cables in manholes, radical supports of various curvatures, and made of malleable cast iron, are used. The photograph on page 100 illustrates the arrangement of cables in one of these manholes.


In order to further diminish the risk of interruption of the service due to failure of power supply, each sub-station south of 96th Street receives its alternating current from the power house through cables carried on opposite sides of the subway. To protect the lead sheaths of the cables against damage by electrolysis, rubber insulating pieces 1/6 of an inch in thickness are placed between the sheaths and the iron bracket supports in the manholes.

[Sidenote: _Cable Conveying Energy from Power House to Sub-Stations_]

The cables used for conveying energy from the power house to the several sub-stations aggregate approximately 150 miles in length. The cable used for this purpose comprises three stranded copper conductors each of which contains nineteen wires, and the diameter of the stranded conductor thus formed is 2/5 of an inch. Paper insulation is employed and the triple cable is enclosed in a lead sheath 9/64 of an inch thick. Each conductor is separated from its neighbors and from the lead sheath by insulation of treated paper 7/16 of an inch in thickness. The outside diameter of the cables is 2-5/8 inches, and the weight 8-1/2 pounds per lineal foot. In the factories the cable as manufactured was cut into lengths corresponding to the distance between manholes, and each length subjected to severe tests including application to the insulation of an alternating current potential of 30,000 volts for a period of thirty minutes. These cables were installed under the supervision of the Interborough Company's engineers, and after jointing, each complete cable from power house to sub-station was tested by applying an alternating potential of 30,000 volts for thirty minutes between each conductor and its neighbors, and between each conductor and the lead sheath. The photographs on page 98 illustrates the construction of this cable.

[Sidenote: _Sub-Station_]

The tri-phase alternating current generated at the power house is conveyed through the high potential cable system to eight sub-stations containing the necessary transforming and converting machinery. These sub-stations are designed and located as follows:


Sub-station No. 11--29-33 City Hall Place.

Sub-station No. 12--108-110 East 19th Street.

Sub-station No. 13--225-227 West 53d Street.

Sub-station No. 14--264-266 West 96th Street.

Sub-station No. 15--606-608 West 143d Street.

Sub-station No. 16--73-77 West 132d Street.

Sub-station No. 17--Hillside Avenue, 301 feet West of Eleventh Avenue.

Sub-station No. 18--South side of Fox Street (Simpson Street), 60 feet north of Westchester Avenue.



The converter unit selected to receive the alternating current and deliver direct current to the track, etc., has an output of 1,500 kilowatts with ability to carry 50 per cent. overload for three hours.

The average area of a city lot is 25 x 100 feet, and a sub-station site comprising two adjacent lots of this approximate size permits the installation of a maximum of eight 1,500 kilowatts converters with necessary transformers, switchboard and other auxiliary apparatus. In designing the sub-stations, a type of building with a central air-well was selected. The typical organization of apparatus is illustrated in the ground plan and vertical section on pages 101, 102 and 103 and provides, as shown, for two lines of converters, the three transformers which supply each converter being located between it and the adjacent side wall. The switchboard is located at the rear of the station. The central shaft affords excellent light and ventilation for the operating room. The steel work of the sub-stations is designed with a view to the addition of two storage battery floors, should it be decided at some future time that the addition of such an auxiliary is advisable.

[Illustration: CONTACT RAIL BANDS]

The necessary equipment of the sub-stations implies sites approximately 50 x 100 feet in dimensions; and sub-stations Nos. 14, 15, 17, and 18 are practically all this size. Sub-stations Nos. 11 and 16 are 100 feet in length, but the lots acquired in these instances being of unusual width, these sub-stations are approximately 60 feet wide. Sub-station No. 12, on account of limited ground space, is but 48 feet wide and 92 feet long. In each of the sub-stations, except No.

13, foundations are provided for eight converters; sub-station No. 13 contains foundations for the ultimate installation of ten converters.


The function of the electrical apparatus in sub-stations, as has been stated, is the conversion of the high potential alternating current energy delivered from the power house through the tri-phase cables into direct current adapted to operate the motors with which the rolling stock is equipped. This apparatus comprises transformers, converters, and certain minor auxiliaries. The transformers, which are arranged in groups of three, receive the tri-phase alternating current at a potential approximating 10,500 volts, and deliver equivalent energy (less the loss of about 2 per cent. in the transformation) to the converters at a potential of about 390 volts. The converters receiving this energy from their respective groups of transformers in turn deliver it (less a loss approximating 4 per cent. at full load) in the form of direct current at a potential of 625 volts to the bus bars of the direct current switchboards, from which it is conveyed by insulated cables to the contact rails. The photograph on page 102 is a general view of the interior of one of the sub-stations. The exterior of sub-stations Nos. 11 and 18 are shown on page 107.


The illustration on page 108 is from a photograph taken on one of the switchboard galleries. In the sub-stations, as in the power house, the high potential alternating current circuits are opened and closed by oil switches, which are electrically operated by motors, these in turn being controlled by 110 volt direct current circuits. Diagramatic bench boards are used, as at the power house, but in the sub-stations they are of course relatively small and free from complication.

The instrument board is supported by iron columns and is carried at a sufficient height above the bench board to enable the operator, while facing the bench board and the instruments, to look out over the floor of the sub-station without turning his head. The switches of the direct current circuits are hand-operated and are located upon boards at the right and left of the control board.

A novel and important feature introduced (it is believed for the first time) in these sub-stations, is the location in separate brick compartments of the automatic circuit breakers in the direct current feeder circuits. These circuit breaker compartments are shown in the photograph on page 93, and are in a line facing the boards which carry the direct feeder switches, each circuit breaker being located in a compartment directly opposite the panel which carries the switch belonging to the corresponding circuit. This plan will effectually prevent damage to other parts of the switchboard equipment when circuit-breakers open automatically under conditions of short-circuit.

It also tends to eliminate risk to the operator, and, therefore, to increase his confidence and accuracy in manipulating the hand-operated switches.


The three conductor cables which convey tri-phase currents from the power house are carried through tile ducts from the manholes located in the street directly in front of each sub-station to the back of the station where the end of the cable is connected directly beneath its oil switch. The three conductors, now well separated, extend vertically to the fixed terminals of the switch. In each sub-station but one set of high-potential alternating current bus bars is installed and between each incoming cable and these bus bars is connected an oil switch. In like manner, between each converter unit and the bus bars an oil switch is connected into the high potential circuit. The bus bars are so arranged that they may be divided into any number of sections not exceeding the number of converter units, by means of movable links which, in their normal condition, constitute a part of the bus bars.

Each of the oil switches between incoming circuits and bus bars is arranged for automatic operation and is equipped with a reversed current relay, which, in the case of a short-circuit in its alternating current feeder cable opens the switch and so disconnects the cable from the sub-station without interference with the operation of the other cables or the converting machinery.


[Sidenote: _Direct Current Distribution from Sub-Stations_]

The organization of electrical conductors provided to convey direct current from the sub-stations to the moving trains can be described most conveniently by beginning with the contact, or so-called third rail. South of 96th Street the average distance between sub-stations approximates 12,000 feet, and north of 96th Street the average distance is about 15,000 feet. Each track, of course, is provided with a contact rail. There are four tracks and consequently four contact rails from City Hall to 96th Street, three from 96th Street to 145th Street on the West Side, two from 145th Street to Dyckman Street, and three from Dyckman Street to the northern terminal of the West Side extension of the system. From 96th Street, the East Side has two tracks and two contact rails to Mott Avenue, and from that point to the terminal at 182d Street three tracks and three contact rails.


Contact rails south of Reade Street are supplied from sub-station No.

11; from Reade Street to 19th Street they are supplied from sub-stations Nos. 11 and 12; from 19th Street they are supplied from sub-stations Nos. 12 and 13; from the point last named to 96th Street they are supplied from sub-stations Nos. 13 and 14; from 96th Street to 143d Street, on the West Side, they are supplied from sub-stations Nos. 14 and 15; from 143d Street to Dyckman Street they are supplied from sub-stations Nos. 15 and 17; and from that point to the terminal they are supplied from sub-station No. 17. On the East Side branch contact rails from 96th Street to 132d Street are supplied from sub-stations Nos. 14 and 16; from 132d to 165th Street they are supplied from sub-stations Nos. 16 and 18; and from 165th Street to 182d Street they are supplied from sub-station No. 18.

Each contact rail is insulated from all contact rails belonging to adjacent tracks. This is done in order that in case of derailment or other accident necessitating interruption of service on a given track, trains may be operated upon the other tracks having their separate and independent channels of electrical supply. To make this clear, we may consider that section of the subway which lies between Reade Street and 19th Street. This section is equipped with four tracks, and the contact rail for each track, together with the direct current feeders which supply it from sub-stations Nos. 11 and 12, are electrically insulated from all other circuits. Of each pair of track rails one is used for the automatic block signaling system, and, therefore, is not used as a part of the negative or return side of the direct current system. The other four track rails, however, are bonded, and together with the negative feeders constitute the track return or negative side of the direct current system.

The diagram on page 109 illustrates the connections of the contact rails, track rails and the positive and negative feeders. All negative as well as positive feeders are cables of 2,000,000 c. m. section and lead sheathed. In emergency, as, for example, in the case of the destruction of a number of the cables in a manhole, they are, therefore, interchangeable. The connections are such as to minimize "track drop," as will be evident upon examination of the diagram. The electrical separation of the several contact rails and the positive feeders connected thereto secures a further important advantage in permitting the use at sub-stations of direct-current circuit-breakers of moderate size and capacity, which can be set to open automatically at much lower currents than would be practicable were all contact rails electrically connected, thus reducing the limiting current and consequently the intensity of the arcs which might occur in the subway in case of short-circuit between contact rail and earth.

The contact rail itself is of special soft steel, to secure high conductivity. Its composition, as shown by tests, is as follows: Carbon, .08 to .15; silicon, .05; phosphorus, .10; manganese, .50 to .70; and sulphur, .05. Its resistance is not more than eight times the resistance of pure copper of equal cross-section. The section chosen weighs 75 pounds per yard. The length used in general is 60 feet, but in some cases 40 feet lengths are substituted. The contact rails are bounded by four bonds, aggregating 1,200,000 c. m. section. The bonds are of flexible copper and their terminals are riveted to the steel by hydraulic presses, producing a pressure of 35 tons. The bonds when in use are covered by special malleable iron fish-plates which insure alignment of rail. Each length of rail is anchored at its middle point and a small clearance is allowed between ends of adjacent rails for expansion and contraction, which in the subway, owing to the relatively small change of temperature, will be reduced to a minimum.

The photographs on pages 110 and 111 illustrate the method of bonding the rail, and show the bonded joint completed by the addition of the fish-plates.

The contact rail is carried upon block insulators supported upon malleable iron castings. Castings of the same material are used to secure the contact rail in position upon the insulators. A photograph of the insulator with its castings is shown on page 113.

[Sidenote: _Track Bonding_]

The track rails are 33 feet long, of Standard American Society Civil Engineers' section, weighing 100 pounds a yard. As has been stated, one rail in each track is used for signal purposes and the other is utilized as a part of the negative return of the power system.

Adjacent rails to be used for the latter purpose are bonded with two copper bonds having an aggregate section of 400,000 c. m. These bonds are firmly riveted into the web of the rail by screw bonding presses.

They are covered by splice bars, designed to leave sufficient clearance for the bond.

The return rails are cross-sectioned at frequent intervals for the purpose of equalizing currents which traverse them.

[Sidenote: _Contact Rail Guard and Collector Shoe_]

Chapter end

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