The Bay Counties Power Company Transmission Line and Telephone Service

[Trade Journal]

Publication: The Journal of Electricity, Power and Gas

San Francisco, CA, United States
vol. 11, no. 7, p. 168-173, col. 1-2




AS short a time as five years ago 5000 or 10,000 volts was considered very high potential and twenty miles almost the limiting distance of transmission and telephone service over wires strung on the power line was not always of the best. In the construction of the telephone line the matter of insulation was not considered of very great importance. Porcelain knobs or pony insulators were considered sufficient and good enough for all practical purposes. The transposition of the wires to neutralize inductance from the power wires was considered to he of great importance, and every one had his own method. Transpositions were put in every five, ten, or twenty poles, but with no regard to the current on the power line, whether two or three phase, or whether the power line was spiraled or not.

The inductance on the telephone wires is the result of the magnetic field surrounding the power wires and as the receiver of a telephone is a very sensitive current detector, whose operation depends upon most minute current impulses, it is seen at once that electrical engineers have a delicate problem before them.


Six Thousand Horsepower in Two Units.


It is not the object of this paper to lay down definite rules for constructing telephone lines on power lines, but to mention some of the experiences encountered, with the hope of bringing out a discussion on the subject and of getting others started on a line of investigation which will assist in overcoming the difficulties encountered in one of the most important adjuncts to the successful transmission of power over long distances. In this paper, therefore, the experiences related will be restricted to a few lines which have come under my personal supervision and construction. The first case is a line of about eight miles in length, constructed some five years ago, of No. 10 iron wire strung on brackets one above the other on the same side of the poles, about 6 feet below two two-phase four-wire circuits, carrying a potential of 5000 volts. The telephone wires were transposed every five poles and the power circuits were spiraled with reference to mutual inductance between the circuits. The telephones were of the series type with low resistance bells, in fact, the system presented a good example of what should be avoided in telephone line construction . Placing t h e wires one above the other on the same side of the pole makes it almost impossible to balance the electromotive forces of inductance against o n e an other by the transposition of the wires. The series instrument also makes it difficult to balance the line if a number of phones are on the same line. This line gave service but of a very unsatisfactory nature.


A Double Poleline Extends From Colgate to Oakland, A Distance of 142 Miles.


The next line, which was constructed some three years ago, is nineteen miles in length and consists of two wires of about No. 12 gauge, strung on the two pole pins of a six-pin crossarm 5 feet below two two-phase circuits, carrying a potential of 16,000 volts. The insulators are double-petticoat deep-groove glass, with transpositions every tenth pole, the poles being set forty-four poles to the mile. Locke one-piece transposition insulators were used, and after the line was completed it was found that the teamster who distributed the insulators was not educated to the importance of transpositions at regular intervals, and had dropped a pair of transposition insulators when-ever he happened to think of them. The linemen came along and cut in transpositions wherever they found the insulators for that purpose.


Piedmont Substation of the Oakland Transit Company.


Another amusing, as well as interesting incident occurred in the construction of this line. At a point six miles from the power house the wire was looped around the transposition insulators, leaving an open circuit in the line with two short circuited loops. It had been arranged that in case it was found impossible to communicate over the metallic circuit that both wires should be connected to one binding post and the other to ground. With the latter condition a communication was held with a party on the Sunset line. The Sunset line, however, paralleled the lower end of the line for twelve miles, but the open circuit was bridged by the power wires so that it was a case of induction from the Sunset line to the power wires (which were not carrying current at the time), and then by a second induction back on the upper end of the telephone line. The open circuit was located the following clay and the error in the transpositions corrected.


Through Oaklan A Single Pole Line Carries Both the Bay Counties' Lines.


The power circuits, in this instance, consisted of two four-wire two-phase circuits for a distance of seven miles, one circuit having a half turn at the three and one-half mile point and the other going straight through for the whole nineteen miles. This telephone line gave good service, although there was a constant hum which, however, was not sufficient to interfere with the working of the line. The power line has since been extended so that the two four-wire circuits now run the full length of the nineteen miles. In extending the second line the power wires were spiralled at three points with a quarter turn in opposite directions, so as to give four divisions in the twelve miles of three miles each. This was done to reduce the inductance on the Sunset line, which was strung on the six-pin arm of this line alongside of the private line. The Sunset line was originally transposed every ten poles, intermediate to the transpositions of the private line; but as considerable trouble had been experienced on this telephone line it was finally transposed every other pole. The most benefit, however, was derived on this line when the power wires were spiralled.






This experience seems to demonstrate that the proper spiralling of the power wires is of more importance than the transposition of the telephone wires. So that in planning the construction of the telephone line for the sixty mile line from the power house to Sacramento, it was decided to try an experiment on entirely new lines. The power wires were arranged to form two circuits on the six points of a hexagon with 2-foot sides, or two interlaced triangles of 42-inch sides. This undoubtedly gives a perfect arrangement for neutrality of field, but each circuit was given one-third of a turn in opposite directions at every mile so that each circuit made one-third of a revolution at each mile ill reference to earth, and two-thirds of a turn in reference to each other. The telephone line was carried through on the two pole pins of a six-pin arm 5 feet below the power wires, and without a transposition, for the entire length. No transpositions were considered necessary for the reason that the power wires were spiralled and the inductance should neutralize itself on any paralleled circuit, provided t