Sixth annual meeting... October 19 and 20, 1887, The Continental Hotel, Philadelphia, PA. Membership now 153.
Pretty cool to see Frank Julian Sprague aka the "Father of Electric Traction" in attendance and invited to speak...
REPORT OF THE COMMITTEE ON ELECTRICITY AS A MOTIVE POWER.
Mr. Wharton read the report, as follows:
The American Street-railway Association,
Gentlemen:- Since the last annual meeting of this Association, the subject of using electricity as a substitute for horse power on street-railways has received much attention, and great advances have been made in the practical application of it to that purpose, so that it may now be stated broadly there is no longer any doubt or uncertainty that electricity can be successfully and economically employed in a great many places, if not in most places, as a substitute for animal power. Quite a number of electric railways are in operation in the United States, running satisfactorily under all the requirements of public service, so that there is much greater familiarity with, and a more general knowledge of, electricity among railroad men and the public than ever before. There is so much confidence in the practicability of electrical propulsion of cars being well established, that the subject is no longer treated with doubt or disdain; on the contrary, great interest and respectful attention are at once manifested whenever the subject is brought up. Although some parties, interested, perhaps, in pushing forward their own special inventions, may claim too much, the actual facts as presented daily in the regular work of the cars are good enough to warrant this belief and confidence. Electricity in its manifestations, applications and capabilities, has been hitherto a subject the knowledge of which has been confined mainly to scientific circles, but it is evident that the time has come when it will be put in harness in place of the horse to draw cars, and to perform many other duties which a few years ago would have been considered entirely chimerical and visionary. So long as the oxidation of metals or other chemical action was the only available method by which electricity could be produced, the expense attendant upon such means limited its use to a very narrow sphere. Since, however, steam power and water power have been so successfully employed to generate electricity, and to do it so cheaply, the range of its usefulness and application has been wonderfully enlarged, from year to year. It is not intended in this paper to make use of scientific terms, or to discuss the question from any standpoint, but that of practical observation and experience; nor is it intended that any comparisons shall be drawn between electric motors and steam locomotives; but there is a wide field for work in which neither the locomotive nor the horse is able satisfactorily to accomplish the duty called for.
The systems at present in use for electrical propulsion of cars are divided into two classes.
First - That in which the electricity is conducted from one or more active generating sources along a suitable conductor or conductors to be used in the cars with proper return connections; and secondly, that system in which the electrical power is obtained from accumulators or secondary batteries carried along with or within the body of the car. Of the first there are several methods, viz:
That in which the electricity is carried along a conductor above the ground, considerably above the car, either directly over it or towards one side.
That in which the electrical conductor is situated at the side of the railroad and elevated a few feet only above the ground.
That in which the electricity is carried upon the surface, either by a third rail, or other conductor, running on the level of the ground or pavement.
That in which the electricity is carried beneath the surface by a conductor placed within a suitable conduit for its protection, access being had to said conductor through a slot in the top of the conduit, so as to allow of electrical connection with the motor on the car.
The plans of having the conductor along the surface, or at the side of the railroad not much above the surface, have so many evident and practical disadvantages that they need not be taken into consideration in this paper; therefore the question is reduced to the three methods of overhead conduction, underground conduction and storage batteries.
It is evident that better service must be furnished at the same cost, the same service furnished at a cheaper rate, or that both objects combined shall be attained by the use of electricity, before it takes the place claimed for it. The writer believes fully that the last proposition of both better and cheaper service has already been proved by actual service and daily use, but in the nature of things improvements upon the present methods will be discovered, and "the survival of the fittest," which applies as well to mechanical appliances as to animated life, will by its inexorable laws weed out and discard those which are deficient or incompetent. There are so many intelligent, persevering and scientific minds engaged in active experiments and researches into the mysteries of Nature's powers, and more especially those relating to electricity, that discoveries are constantly being made, human knowledge in this age extending more rapidly than at any previous time. The subject is fascinating and the prizes sought after are brilliant and valuable. The increased cheapness in production of electricity, which may fairly be assumed for the future, will, of course, add to the advantages, and enlarge the scope of its use. At present there are many places where electricity can be generated at a nominal cost by the use of water power, and this energy can be carried a number of miles without any loss or leakage of practical consequence. Where this can be done, of course the parties have special advantages. So also there are many towns and cities in coal regions, or natural gas regions, where the same result of cheapness in production can be obtained, although by different means. As a case in point, it may be mentioned that the electrical railway in Scranton, Penn. has its power station located about midway of the route, and immediately at the foot of a large hill or great mass of hundreds of thousands of tons of culm, which is principally composed of the small, fine particles of coal produced in mining, or left after the screening and preparation of the commercial sizes of coal for the market. This has been accumulating for many years, is still accumulating, and has hitherto been considered only an inevitable nuisance, which the mining proprietors would gladly have given away for nothing to get rid of, and not have it occupy their land. The price which the railroad company pays for this culm is but ten cents per ton, and as it only has to be wheeled through the door of the engine house, the whole distance from the culm hill to the furnace under the boilers not being over fifty feet, and as the whole consumption per day is on the average but five tons, or in money value but fifty cents per day, it is evident that the cost of electricity in this case is exceedingly small indeed, that sum being sufficient for the fuel to produce the steam power which generates electricity enough to run four and sometimes five cars, carrying at times seventy-five passengers each, over a railroad track about four and a half miles in length, having long grades, a number of which are five or six feet to the hundred, and the steepest of which is seven and a quarter feet per hundred. The tractive power required upon some of these grades is still further increased by curves or switches occurring upon them. It may be well to mention some other points about this railroad in Scranton, which has been running about one year, with great success, and exhibits in many respects a favorable example of an electrical railway with overhead conductors. The cars have four wheels; two of them are open cars, each carrying one motor of twenty horse power. The motor is placed in the body of the car midway of its length, and all four of the wheels are driving-wheels, the connections between the motor and the wheel axles being made by means of chains and sprocket wheels. Three of the cars are closed cars, each with one motor of fifteen horse power, which is placed on a closed platform at the forward end of the car. In these the forward wheels only are driving-wheels, and their connection with the motor is made in the same way as on the open cars, with chains and sprocket wheels. The Company will shortly place four more cars upon the line, each with a motor of twenty-five horse power. These larger cars are intended not only to propel themselves, but to be able each to haul in addition two other cars loaded with passengers up all the grades. The running time of the round trip on the main line, being in all eight miles, is one hour, which includes all stoppages and the waiting at each end of the route, so that the average speed attained is more than eight miles per hour. There is no difficulty in going much faster; in fact the men in control of the cars have to be watched to prevent their running at excessively high speed, particularly on the return trip to the city, where the grades allow the car to be run for the most of the distance by gravity alone. At the generating station there are two stationary engines of 100 horse power each, two dynamos of 100 horse power each, and four boilers of 100 horse power each. Only one engine and dynamo, however, and two of the boilers, are in use at one time. The railway company expects also to furnish in the future electricity for the lighting of the town of Dunmore, situated at one end of the line, by which the income of the Company will be materially increased. The duplicate engine and dynamo and the duplicate set of two boilers, are for the purpose of providing against contingencies of accident to those in use, and also to allow of alternations in service, thus giving opportunities of frequent examination and inspection. Upon this railway, as before stated, the overhead system of conduction is employed, having flexible connection between the motor on the car and the carrier traversing the conductor, which is a solid copper wire of five-sixteenths of an inch diameter, suspended on a part of the route from transverse wires attached to wooden poles placed on both sides of the street, about one hundred feet apart lineally, about twenty feet high, and about six inches in diameter at the surface of the ground, and on the rest of the line suspended from arms projecting sideways from wooden poles at the side of the railway, about twenty feet above the ground. The line is a single track railroad, with several turnouts or passing places, at which points the electric overhead conductor branches off over the side track also; and an ingenious system is in use by which the carrier, running upon the overhead wire, with two grooved wheels of about two and a half inches diameter, automatically shifts the connections at the points of divergence from the main line, so that the carrier always follows that one of the overhead conductors which is above the track upon which the car is traveling. It is contemplated, however, to use two separate and independent overhead conducting wires throughout the whole length of the route, so as to avoid the possibility of any difficulty with the carriers at the points of intersection at the turnouts, although this has not happened often. The return current of electricity is taken by the rails. The electrical current has a tension of about six hundred volts, which, while sufficient to give a shock, could not produce any dangerous effect on man in case the current should by any means be diverted. Part of the road is laid with tram rails and the rest with T rails, and a part is paved and the rest unpaved, so that these different conditions in connection with the many grades and the curves and turnouts, give ample opportunity to thoroughly test the working of the system. Although the overhead wires in this case do not present any more unsightly appearance than the numerous telegraph cables and wires to which we are so accustomed, it is, however, evident that the use of the overhead system will be prohibited in most cities and towns, especially since the general determination to place all electrical wires in cities underground. The noise of the carriers running on the conductors is not much, although it can be readily noticed, but the noise produced by the motors and the chain and sprocket connections is quite considerable. This latter could be entirely avoided by the use of a noiseless motor and a better method of connection, of which motors and connections there are several kinds easily obtainable. Noiseless, efficient and durable electric motors suitable for use on cars can be had in which the weight per horse power does not exceed sixty pounds.
In a paper of the length to which this must necessarily be limited, it will be impossible to do much more than treat of the subject in a general manner, but it can be stated specifically and certainly that electric railways with overhead conduction have demonstrated beyond a doubt their capability to propel a few cars, even if heavily loaded, at less cost and much greater speed than could be obtainable on railways operated by horse-power. This is true in places where the coal required must be bought at usual rates, and the exceptional advantage of fuel at merely nominal cost does not exist as at Scranton, and likewise at Wilkes-Barre, where an electrical railway is under construction, upon which the cost of coal used will not exceed sixty or seventy cents per day for five cars.
In the case of electrical railways with underground conduction, the effort has been made to give all the advantages of the overhead system, and at the same time remove the objection which in most places is absolutely prohibitive of having the conductors and poles or other supports obstructing the streets. In doing this, however, great difficulties arise, some of them of a very serious character. The costly conduit with the needful arrangements for drainage and for cleaning out, together with the increased care necessary to provide against the considerable loss or leakage of electricity, which, nevertheless, generally takes place in spite of all precautions, detract greatly from the apparent advantages of the plan. Many inventions have been patented, and numberless devices contrived to overcome the many objections of this method, but there is great room for doubt whether practical success has yet been obtained.
Neither by overhead nor underground conduction have more than a few cars as yet been moved simultaneously upon railways, although many ingenious arrangements are offered by various parties, who confidently assert they can run any required number of cars. This, however, yet remains to be proved. Both plans also are open to another serious objection in the entire stoppage of travel on the whole line in case of breakage or derangement of any part of the conducting apparatus or the generating machinery. In this respect they are under the same disability that the cable system of car traction is hampered with. Possibly by suitable arrangements of duplicate engines, boilers and dynamos, duplicate conductors, and auxiliary, sectional, or relay systems of conduction, this disability, threatening as it appears to be, may be so reduced as to be of no great detriment. This, however, also remains to be demonstrated. Taken altogether, underground conduction does not compare favorably with overhead conduction up to this time. One great trouble with the latter plan, however, is that although it can be used to great advantage and economy on lines running a few cars in towns, or in suburban districts outlying large cities, it will probably never be allowed by the municipal authorities in large cities, which, of course, are the very places where the advantages of electrical propulsion are needed the most. To move a large number of cars, as for instance upon the Third avenue or Broadway lines in New York city, the electrical conductor, whether overhead or underground, must be of great size if the current is of low tension; while on the other hand, if a small or moderate sized conductor be used, the current must then be of dangerously high tension, and, of course, it would then be very difficult to avoid great loss of electricity from leakage.
There remains to be considered the accumulator or secondary battery system. In this each car carries its own supply of energy, and is entirely independent of any method of continuous electrical conduction. No change of track or roadway is required, nor any costly conduit or unsightly poles or other supports, while the cars can run anywhere that a car can be taken by horses. These points are of immense advantage, and are the chief merits advanced by its advocates, independent of its economy over horse power.
In practice, cars of the size of the usual two-horse cars are provided with about 80 accumulators, weighing when filled with fluid and ready for use about 40 pounds each. These cells are placed under the seats, one-half being on each side of the car. Their combined weight is 3,200 pounds, and the weight of two motors each of 5 horse power should not, together with their connections to the car axles, exceed 800 pounds, so that the additional weight imposed upon the car is, say 4,200 pounds, which allows 200 pounds for the apparatus to control the current and for other electrical appliances. This added weight if placed upon a four-wheel car may be of disadvantage to the car or to the track. If this should be the case, the difficulty is removed by the use of eight wheels on two swinging trucks, which support the car much better, and distribute the weight upon the track. Both these kinds of storage battery cars are in service with entire success. The charging of the cells is done by a dynamo driven by steam power or any other desirable means, and it takes four hours to charge cells which are able to perform four hours'work. To remove from the car the cells which have done their work and to replace them by freshly charged cells, takes no more time than the time required to change horses. It requires 10 horse power exerted for four hours to charge the batteries or cells of each car, so that 40 horse power hours are needed to accomplish it.
The cost of running large stationary steam engines of say 200 to 400 horse power constructed with the modern improved cut-off appliances and other economical devices, has been found, after extensive investigations, not to exceed two-thirds of one cent per horse power hour.
This allowance is a liberal one, and is above rather than below the actual average cost, including fuel at average market prices, attendance, repairs to engine and boilers, oil, etc. We will, however, take it at one cent per horse power hour. Forty horse power hours at 1 cent cost 40 cents, which is the cost of four hours' car service, and as the day's work of a car should be taken as 16 hours we have as the whole cost of a day's supply of electricity four times 40 cents, or $1.60. Since four teams of two horses are required to draw a car for 16 hours, and as one additional horse per car is the usual allowance for sick or disabled horses, 9 horses per car are needed for a day's work, which at 50 cents per horse for feed, bedding, attendance, shoeing, etc., is $4.50, as against $1.60 for the storage battery electricity. Making extraordinary allowance for possible errors in this comparison, the difference is still astonishing to those who have not looked into the matter critically. With motors properly constructed a speed of eight or nine miles per hour is readily accomplished, in fact eight miles per hour may be taken as the speed at which such motors will work to the best advantage and return the greatest percentage of mechanical efficiency. As the requirements of street car service demand variable rates of speed, as for instance, in crowded streets, behind other vehicles, or in turning curves and entering switches, it is necessary to go slowly and cautiously, and the weight of the load carried at different times will vary from an almost empty car to one overloaded. These conditions, together with increased power needed to ascend grades and to start loaded cars, especially on up grades, call for electric motors which will under such greatly varying circumstances respond at all times almost equally well.
There are motors which, while engaged in performing an equable work and running at an equable speed, for both of which purposes the motor was specially made, will return 90 or possibly 95 per cent. of efficiency, while the same motor, when run at some different speed or under some different load, may return but 30 or 35 per cent., so that the average performance of such motors in street car service would probably give only 50 per cent. return of efficiency. Motors can, however, be obtained which will, under all the variations of street car work, constantly return 75 per cent. of efficiency.
The durability of storage batteries is a point which those interested in other systems are very prone to doubt, but it has been proved in actual use in cars that they will continue in good serviceable condition for eighteen months or two years. Makers of these batteries offer to guarantee them good for two years of street car service. The lead lined wooden containing boxes will last for many years; the negative plates are good for more than two years; while the positive plates are certainly good for eighteen months, if not more.
The plates being of lead and lead oxide are still of value when they become unserviceable, for the metal can be recast into new plates, and the lead can be recovered from the oxide. The first cost of storage battery cars and the engine and dynamos is at present prices considerably more than the first cost of cars provided with suitable complement of horses and harness; but when the saving in first cost obtained by dispensing with the ground and the stables required for horses is taken into account, the balance will in many cases be in favor of storage battery cars. This is, of course, applicable more particularly to large cities where ground is very valuable. By methods now being introduced into the manufacture of storage batteries, their production will shortly be made at a reduced cost, and their durability increased at the same time.
It should be remembered that the increased speed at which electric cars can travel is so much greater than horses could draw them, that two cars can readily do the work of three horse cars, especially as the electric cars require no time for resting at the ends of the route; but although they can easily do this, so much increase of speed would not be allowed or be practicable through the streets of most cities or towns. It could be done with safety and advantage through wide streets or avenues and in suburban districts. It will, however, be perfectly safe to say that three electric cars can do the work of four horse cars, and if desired they can at the same time be of greater capacity than horse cars, for while the horses can do no more, no such difficulty exists with electricity. Without referring to the excessive first cost required for the expensive cable traction system, and comparing the first cost of the entire plant and equipment needed for a storage battery electric railway, on which three cars will perform the service of four horse cars, with the first cost of the entire plant and equipment of a railway using horse power, it will be found that the advantage will in most cases be in favor of storage electricity. Let us now compare the operating expenses:
Running expenses of four two-horse cars for one year, to wit:
Conductors, 365 days, at $3.00 each car
per day of 16 hours.....................................$4,380.00
Drivers,........"................. 2.50...."............... 3,650.00
36 horses,......".......... 50 cents each
......................................................per day 6,570.00
One year's deterioration and repair
of four cars at $200 each.................................. 800.00
...........".....of 36 horses, at $40 each.............. 1,440.00
Running expenses of three storage battery cars for one year, to wit:
Conductors, 365 days, at $3.00 each car
per day of 16 hours.......................................$3,285 00
Drivers,................"......... 2.50....".................. 2,737.50
Electricity,............."......... 2.00...."............./.... 2,190.00
One year's deterioration and repair
of three cars, including dynamos, storage
batteries and motors, at $1,600 each................ 4,800.00
This leaves a balance to the credit of the storage battery cars of $3,827.50.
The fact of each storage battery car carrying within itself its own energy gives to the individual cars an independence of action, which neither the cable traction plan, nor the overhead or underground system of electrical propulsion possesses, for all of these depend upon central sources of power, which may at any time be interrupted, so that breakage or accident to any part involves the stoppage of the whole line.
In a sanitary and cleanly point of view, the withdrawal of the car horses from our streets would be of great benefit, and this would be accomplished without having, as in the case of the cable railway, an open drain, which, although supposed to be kept clean, in fact nearly always contains a deposit of street refuse to a greater or less extent.
The leakage of electricity in storage batteries, charged but not in use, need not be taken into account for any length of time that cars would probably stand idle. In fact the leakage from batteries in good condition would not exceed ten per cent. in three months.
The percentage of mechanical energy given by the steam engine which is recovered in actual work under the variable conditions of street car service on the driving axles, with storage battery cars properly equipped, is at least forty per cent., and with electricity by direct conduction at least fifty per cent. In cable traction, after deducting the power needed to move the cable and to revolve the wheels guiding and carrying the cable, not over twenty-five per cent, is left for drawing the cars, and on some cable railways even less.
The increased speed so easily and advantageously obtained on electric railways, as a class, not only enables three cars to do the work of at least four horse cars, and effect the great annual saving shown above, but it has a tendency to invite travel and thereby increase receipts, also to give street-railways the opportunity to extend their lines advantageously further into outlying districts, and to compete on better terms with elevated roads and steam railroads than would be possible with horse power.
The rapid deterioration and destruction of street car horses shows the exacting and terrible nature of their work, although it is for only four hours per day. Their powers are already overtaxed, and they can do nothing more either in speed or in load carried.
Electric cars by dispensing with horses allow more room in the streets for other vehicles, and this advantage in crowded streets is of moment. Take for instance Washington street, Boston, or Broadway, New York, and it will be readily seen that this relief to the clogged traffic would be great.
Electric cars can go backward or forward with equal facility; they are under perfect control, can stop and start more quickly than horse cars, and in case of delay can make up lost time. They never get sick with epizooty or other disease, and during strikes or other periods of enforced idleness, do not require to be fed. On down grades they will run by gravity without the expenditure of other force, and on level or nearly level stretches, a very little electric energy continues their motion when once they are started.
The electricity, beside running the motors, will supply the car with incandescent electric lights, actuate an electric signal gong, and operate electric bells for the use of the conductor and passengers in stopping or starting the car. It is usual to have the regular hand brake for stopping the cars, but the motors can be instantly reversed by electricity, if desired. This method, however, should only be employed when it is necessary to stop the car very quickly to avoid accident or for some other imperative reason. By this means the car can be stopped in much less distance than is possible by the hand brake, which of course operates with the same efficiency whether upon electric cars or horse cars.
It has been questioned whether in Winter, when the tracks are liable to be obstructed with snow or ice, the electric cars will be able to propel themselves, owing to the fact that they obtain their power of propulsion from the adhesion of the wheels upon the rails, so that if the wheels are prevented from reaching the track, there would be a great liability of their slipping and turning around without giving any forward motion to the car itself. In answer to this, it may be stated that during last Winter on the electric railway in Scranton, having the overhead conduction system, and from experiments made in Philadelphia with a storage battery car, it was found that there was no unusual difficulty presented in snow storms, the wheels owing to the added weight, settling more readily through the snow and thus reaching the rails. Upon roads properly equipped with snow plows, or snow sweepers with revolving brushes, propelled by powerful electric motors, the clearing of snow from the tracks would no doubt be much more efficient than horse power could effect. Street car electric motors of 50 H. P., or more if required, can be as easily made and are as easily controlled as motors of 5 or 10 H. P., so that electricity has ample ability to keep the tracks clear from accumulations of snow. As with locomotives, sand boxes should be placed upon electric cars, so that if any slipping of the wheels should be observed, either from the greasy, slippery condition of the track, sometimes seen in damp weather when the streets are not properly cleaned, or from snow or ice upon the track, the driver, by opening a suitable valve, can let out a little sand upon the rail and at once overcome the difficulty.
It is sometimes asked why two motors of 5 H. P. each should be needed upon a car usually drawn by two horses. In explanation of this, it may be stated that a car horse can, and very often does, exert for a short time in starting a car or upon steep grades, a force of 5 or even more horse power. A mechanical horse power is the measure of the moderate duty which a horse can constantly and regularly exert day after day in a regular day's work without injury, but car horses are constantly temporarily called upon to exert unusual and unreasonable power, which is the reason they are so rapidly destroyed in street car service. It is evident, therefore, that the electric motors must be able, when called upon, to exert the same power that the horses under pressure can be made to perform temporarily, so that a maximum of 5 horse power in each of the two motors will develop only such force as the requirements of street car service are constantly demanding during short periods of time.
It is not intended in this report to indicate that cable railways for use on steep hills or high grades will be superseded by electric railways, for the latter are limited to such grades as the adhesion of their wheels upon the rails will enable them to surmount, just as in the case of the steam locomotive, so that there is a suitable and proper sphere of usefulness for cable railways in the many places for which they are particularly adapted.
It has been proposed to increase the tractive power of electric cars upon inclines by causing magnetic attraction to be developed between the wheels and the rails, and also by the use of other devices. All these methods present complications which, probably, will more than outweigh the advantages sought to be attained.
In developing the best construction and management of electric cars and railways, careful attention to details, some of which at first sight may appear trivial, should be exercised, in order to obtain the best results, no matter which of the three plans be adopted. It should, however, be said that in practice at the present time, the running of electric cars requires no more intelligence or skill than the running of horse cars, and also that the electric current with continuous conduction on lines using a few cars, need not be of such tension as to endanger human life, 500 volts being sufficient. With the storage battery system, the tension of the current is so low, 160 volts being sufficient, that no shock whatever could be experienced by a man offering to take through his body the whole current required to propel the car, as the resistance of the human body is too great for a current of that tension to pass. This has been repeatedly done, some of the people stating they felt nothing at all, and the others no more than a slight tingling sensation.
The term "storage batteries" so generally in use, is apt to give a wrong impression, no electricity whatever being stored or contained within them, for in charging the batteries a chemical action is forced to take place, and when this chemical action is allowed to reverse itself, electricity is generated thereby. The car motor immediately uses this, and when the motor is stopped, the chemical action, and, therefore, the generation of electricity ceases.
In this report care has been taken not to refer by name to any patented inventions, or to recommend any particular make of electrical appliances. As to these matters, those proposing to use electricity, whether by overhead or underground conduction, or by storage batteries, should, of course, be careful to select such methods as are the most reliable, efficient and durable, and to deal with parties not only responsible as to the validity of their patents, but capable of doing what they undertake to perform.
Any one who peruses the railway journals and notices the number of electric railways now in operation, and the still greater number of those in course of actual construction or projected, has cause for surprise if he has not closely been following the course of events.
That electricity by some of the present methods of its use, or by better ones yet to be invented, will entirely supersede the use of horses and cable traction upon all street-railways, excepting under the special conditions for which cable traction is occasionaly applicable, is a question that admits of very little doubt.
WM. WHARTON, Jr.,
DISCUSSION ENSUING ON ELECTRICITY AS A MOTIVE POWER.
The President: I want to state to you that the paper just read by Mr. Wharton will be printed in full in the Annual Report. The paper is open for any suggestion, or argument, or discussion that may be proper. Mr. Wharton is at my side and will be glad to answer any question that you may wish to ask him.
Mr. Frayser, of Memphis: I did not exactly understand whether the motor is put on with the usual mechanism, and how much room it will take up, and how heavy it is.
Mr. Wharton: As stated in this paper, the extra weight carried in an electric car is thirty-two hundred pounds of storage batteries. We allow eight hundred pounds for two motors, and two hundred pounds for other electrical appliances; that makes four thousand two hundred pounds. The cells are placed under the seats, and are consequently entirely out of the way.
Mr. Clark, of Cincinnati: I would like to inquire what these operating expenses are made of; I think you had either $1,400 or $1,600.
Mr. Wharton: You mean the deterioration?
Mr. Clark: Yes; I understand you put it in the operating expenses.
Mr. Wharton: The deterioration of the storage batteries and dynamos and motors, and the deterioration of the car itself (two hundred dollars per year, as in the case of horse cars), as nearly as I can make it, is sixteen hundred dollars per year per car.
Mr. Clark: You think that all the deterioration would be covered by sixteen hundred dollars?
Mr. Wharton: I have, in every instance, so far as my judgment would allow me to do it, put everything rather to the disadvantage of the electric cars. I believe that my statements are all understatements, so far as any credit is given to the storage batteries; in other words, I have put the year's deterioration and repair of three cars, including dynamos, storage batteries and motors at sixteen hundred dollars each, amounting to forty-eight hundred dollars, which, I believe, from observation and experience, is overstated and will not be so much; but as to dividing it and telling you exactly how much belongs to the motor; how much to the batteries, and how much to each particular wheel of the whole appliance, I cannot tell you that. I am giving you, as the result of my best judgment, that the sum total is within the amount stated.
Mr. Winfield Smith, of Milwaukee: I would like to inquire what is the estimated price of coal to be used for the generation of electricity. There is a very great difference between the price of coal in my part of the country and the price of coal in Philadelphia, and I do not know what the increase of fuel expenses might be.
Mr. Wharton: In regard to that, I would say, of course, in treating of the subject in the general way in which these matters must be treated, I cannot take the various prices at which coal is sold in every city throughout the country. I have to take what I suppose to be a fair average. In Scranton, where you can get it at ten cents a ton, the case would be quite different from another place where, possibly, you would have to pay ten dollars a ton. I have to take a general average. I take Philadelphia, New York or Boston, and use for my estimate the average price there of coal of the inferior character, which is good enough for our boilers; because if they can burn culm at the mines, they can certainly use it anywhere else. In fact they are now beginning to transport that culm, hitherto considered a nuisance and valueless, but which, by the way, consists for the greater part of the very best particles of coal, the softer and finer and better particles broken off in the course of preparation and mining. They are beginning to use it quite extensively in places removed fifty or a hundred miles from the culm deposit. It could be used just as well two hundred miles or more away, although the cost would, of course, be increased by reason of the extra transportation. I have assumed that the price of coal, of the character indicated, in New York, Philadelphia or Boston, ought not to exceed three dollars, or three dollars and a half per ton.
Mr. Clark: While I cannot give much information as to the storage battery system (to the development of which so much attention is being given), I have looked somewhat into the subject of the overhead system. I do not know of any practical underground system, as yet. In Montgomery, Alabama, they are operating fourteen miles of road and ten cars by electricity on the overhead system. They run this plant with two engines of seventy-five horse power each, capable of running up to a hundred horse power, and use a ton and a half of coal a day in operating. In Lima, Ohio, they are operating five cars with seven barrels of oil a day, at thirty cents a barrel. If I am rightly informed, oil at sixty and a half cents a barrel is equivalent to coal at two dollars and a half per ton. In Mansfield, Ohio, they are operating a road by electricity. Both in Mansfield and Lima they are taking eight per cent. grades.
Mr. Moss, of Sandusky: I would like to ask Mr. Wharton the size of the cars that he uses, whether fourteen feet or sixteen feet, and then to suggest that in all the correspondence and talk that I have had with storage battery people, so far, they always talk to me about using a fifteen horse power motor. Mr. Wharton talks of a ten horse power motor; that is, two five horse power. I would like some explanation of the difference.
Mr. Wharton: I do not know anything about what other people may say, of course. I know that two motors of five horse power each ought to be sufficient, but there is great confusion among electrical experts as to just what is wanted, and just how to do the thing which is wanted. With an average car of sixteen feet, inside measurement, the average two-horse car, in other words, and a street-railway with no excessive grades, and with motors properly constructed (understand I do not mean motors, which, when you want the most efficiency, will give the least; into which when you are going around a curve or going up a grade or starting you will have to pour electricity like water into a colander; that will fill up finally after you pour enough water into it, an enormous amount being wasted; I do not mean that kind of motors, but motors which will stand up under the adverse conditions of starting a car, or starting when pulling another car, and will give you as much percentage return of efficiency under such circumstances as if developing only one or two horse power), I mean good motors, properly constructed, with everything as it ought to be; of this kind, two motors, five horse power each, ought to be and are enough, under the usual and ordinary exigencies of street car traffic, to propel the car filled with passengers.
Mr. Cleminshaw, of Troy: Why do you not use one ten in place of two five horse power motors?
Mr. Wharton: In answer to that, there is a great deal to be said on both sides; but I believe that two motors of five horse power each are better than one of ten horse power, for the reason that you have a much better chance for combination in adjusting the current, where electricity is used with two motors than with only one; but, on the other hand, if you have two machines, you have two machines to keep in order, and you have double the chance of breaking down; although, as an offset to that again, you have two motors, either one of which will, probably, under favorable conditions, be able to get you home to the station. There are certain advantages on either side of the question. In regard to having two motors, you can apply one motor to each axle, so as to make all four of the wheels driving wheels. If you take one motor, you are reduced to the necessity of either having but two driving wheels on one axle, or to having some connection between the driving pair of wheels and the other pair, which otherwise would not be driving wheels. When you go into that question, you have complications.
The whole subject is one which must be carefully studied, and by experience developed. There are people who will send out circulars, and possibly you have received some, who say that the thing is now ready, everything is all ready to go right ahead. I tell you there are numberless little things, little details, all of which must be attended to. The several methods of application must be tested in order to discover which is the best method, so that I am not in a position now to state that this is the best, or that that is the best. I simply can indicate what I think is likely to be the best, and point out the advantages and disadvantages of each, because there is not one that is all good, nor one that is all bad. I believe, however, that two motors, each attached to its own driving axle, are more satisfactory than one motor.
Mr. Fitch, of Gloucester: I would like to ask the power of the motors used upon the car that we inspected last night upon the street. I noticed that it moved very powerfully and gracefully around curves.
Mr. Wharton: The motor on that car is able to develop eleven horse power; and there is no doubt whatever that we sometimes get more power out of it.
Mr. Moss: In New York, yesterday, I was told that it took, thirteen hours to store what I understood to be a fifteen horse power battery; and you speak of storing the battery in four hours.
Mr. Wharton: I do not like to be brought in this personal relation to the matter. I deprecate it, because I want to treat the thing in a general way; but since it has been brought right down to asking me pointed questions, I will state, as a fact, that we do charge our batteries in four hours. I do not know what other people do. I know they sometimes do a great many things that I think are useless; but if it takes them thirteen hours to charge batteries that will run four hours, they are behind the times. We charge, and anybody who has the proper arrangements can charge, what is used in four hours in the same length of time. I have not heard anybody until to-day doubt it, or make the assertion that it required any more time. I can assure you it does not take any longer time.
Mr. Moss: I asked it simply as a question.
Mr. Wharton: It is absolutely a fact; it does not take more than four hours.
Mr. Richards, of Boston: I have listened with great interest to this report of Mr. Wharton's, and to my mind it is one of the most exhaustive reports on the subject, in the light of the present day, in the light of our present progress in this matter, that could have been written; because it embodies the results of Mr. Wharton's practical experience in experimenting with this unknown power. I believe, Mr. President, that it is well known in this Convention that I have always been one of the strongest, and I may say, earliest, advocates of this system. I do not propose myself to sit here and ask Brother Wharton why this is the case, or why that is the case. I do not think we should seek further knowledge in this matter now, beyond the mere curiosity, the interested curiosity, we may feel, all of us, to know that he has arrived at a point now where he has demonstrated that a car can be run and propelled through the streets of Philadelphia by electricity. That should be enough at this time; and to know that in his judgment a car can be so propelled at a cost much less than animal power. I am so much delighted and pleased with what Mr. Wharton has done, that in the light of that fact, and knowing that we possess an actual electric motor that can be practically applied, we must be content and will be content to await further developments; and it seems better for this Convention, to my mind, to stop and pause a moment, and reflect where we are now; to take an observation from this large vessel on this great sea of discovery, to properly appreciate where we are now. Last night, Mr. President, I was invited by the gentleman to take a ride around the streets and over the car tracks of this city in an electric car. What does that mean? It means that we came down to the door of this hotel in a vehicle, which to the eye possessed and assumed nothing different from the ordinary horse car that was passing every minute in front of my eyes in the street. He invited in as many as there were - as many as could ride and be accommodated, and then we took that ride through the streets and over the railroad tracks of Philadelphia. Let us pause there! Let us rejoice there, and let us find that measure of satisfaction which the very announcement brings. I was invited to take my good wife and daughter with me; and I should have been more proud than I ever was, if I had ridden around on a dump cart, with them with me, so long as it was propelled by electricity, and animal power was not to be seen and was not exerted. Now, sir, where are we in this matter; what progress have we made, and where are we tending? If we could say or had to say this: if we had an electric car, if that car was supplied with motors or storage batteries or equivalent devices (I do not care much about scientific terms), if we could do all that, then we could displace horses, and all these innumerable and pleasant results would follow. Now let us consider the fact for a moment that that if is not in the way. The thing is here to-day; the child is born. Now let us lead it on. As I stated three years ago, in New York, the child is born and here. Let us lead it on and rejoice in the fact that it is here!
Now, why go into a carping criticism of Mr. Wharton, about this motor or that motor, or this, that or the other? Sufficient let it be to say he has got what he has - what he has produced here before you; and which he has done at his own individual expense and by his own individual exertions. I think you will all agree with me, gentlemen, that such is the progress in the application of electricity - something about which we know nothing, something which we have only just harnessed - when we see before our eyes a practical electrical car, into which we can go and ride all around the city, that it is not for us to-day to care whether there are two motors or whether there is one? No gentleman will care about those things who has got on that car and rode around in it as I did last night. As I understand, Mr. Wharton is going to invite you to ride on that car again to-day. When you are on it, think where you are, and what is being done. Ask yourself what is propelling it; no compressed air, no steam, nothing of that kind, nothing that you can see or ever heard of, but something coming out of the clouds where the angels dwell, and which they send down to us, and which is going to propel our cars through the streets. Just think of it! That is the way I feel about it.
This gentleman's (Mr. Wharton's) modesty is only equaled by his electrical success. You are asking him what he knows nothing about; but we know that he has harnessed it. We have got it here to-day, and it is the greatest blessing that railroad men ever received at God's hands. Compare it with the cable, if you will. Your common sense will soon show you the difference between a car containing its own motive power, and one that must be dragged along the street; and there is no money to be spent on your tracks. Compare it with animal power, or power inanimate, any that you will, or that you happen to have, and you will be convinced of the superiority of electricity. Horses are liable to sickness, to be disabled. A thousand things may happen to horses. I notice that nothing has been said of an expenditure which amounts to nearly one-half of the cost of the horses, and that is the cost of the ground upon which to build a stable for the horses, and the cost of the stable itself. What does it cost to care for horses? It takes three or four hundred brawny Irishmen to take care of the four thousand horses belonging to the Company which I represent, and they are ready to "strike" at any time. It takes about four hundred thousand dollars worth of feed to keep these horses in condition to do their work. Each horse is to us a motor. The horse is what we use to propel and drag our cars. We place him on this side and feed him with four hundred thousand dollars of provender. On the other side, we place our motor and feed that with electricity. What is the cost of electricity? It costs only that which is necessary to produce it. I am told by a scientific man that a five hundred horse power engine, running twenty-four hours steadily, will produce enough electricity to run my cars. On this side I say, I feed my motor with electricity, with what it costs to run five hundred horse power, and on the other side I feed my horses with all the oats and corn lean haul in Boston. Why, I have been figuring steadily for two or three hours, since I went around the streets on that motor, to see if I can find what the difference is between the cost of shoeing my horses, and what it would take to run the machinery to supply the electricity for my cars, and I believe the difference is not very great. Does not your common sense hold you back from asking such questions as these, and compel you to be silent in the presence of such great facts? Call this enthusiasm, if you please; call it ignorance, if you will; if you will show me that I am wrong, I will pay for the champagne. In this presence, I say to the members of this Convention who are here to discuss matters which are to us of the utmost importance, I say, let us rather come together and raise our hands in joyful acclamation that something of this kind has been discovered and is here to-day; and do not stop to discuss theories as to whether it is two motors or one, or whether you have sprocket wheels, or I do not know what all in it as well. You have the fact before you. You can ride around in the car to-day, as I did last night, and find it a leviathan in power and a little mussel or fish in management. You can run up and bump a car in front of it and you would not break an egg-shell; you can start it so that you can stand with a cup of water in each hand - I have not seen any gentlemen here with cups of water in their hands [laughter] - and not upset it when you stop or start, or you can do as Mr. Wharton did with me, endeavor to frighten me to death. You can run it off the track on to your beautifully paved streets here (the cussedest ones I ever saw, if you can call great boulders paving [laughter]); you can run it off the track with all four wheels on the pavement, with forty or fifty passengers in it. What do you think of that? There is a power so gentle in it that you can run, as I told you, so nicely up to the other fellow in front, that he will not know you have touched him, and at the same time you have a strength in it sufficient to run your car on the pavements, and almost enough to drive it through the Rocky Mountains.
Excuse me, Mr. Chairman, for taking up so much time. I am not enthusiastic nor full [laughter]; but I want to make a suggestion, and that is this, that we invite this pleasant little gentleman at your side, sir, to bring out his goods and show them, and he asks us to get on his car and ride around, and then all of you want to crawl under it on your stomachs and see what he has there. But if you are as pleased with it, as I am, you will want to ask no questions except one: what is the price and how soon are you going to make them?
INVITATION FROM THE ELECTRIC CAR COMPANY OF AMERICA, AND WILLIAM WHARTON, Jr., & CO., INCORPORATED.
The Secretary read the following letter:
Philadelphia, October, 19, 1887.
William J. Richardson, Esq., Secretary, American Street-Railway Association,
Dear Sir:- On behalf of the Electric Car Company of America, and also of William Wharton, Jr., & Co., Incorporated, I hereby extend to the members of the American Street-Railway Association an invitation to visit the works of the two companies on Friday morning, the 21st inst., or at any other time that may best suit their convenience.
WILLIAM WHARTON, Jr
Mr. Littell: I move that the invitation be accepted.
Mr. Hood, of Camden: I move to amend, with thanks.
Mr. Cleminshaw: The hour is not mentioned.
The President: We will fix upon that hereafter.