The Daft Electric Motor on the New York Elevated Railroad

[Trade Journal]

Publication: Electrical World

New York, NY, United States
vol. 6, no. 10, p. 99-100, col. 1-3,1

The Daft Electric Motor on the New York

Elevated Railroad.

It may be safely asserted that no engineering event within the last few years has attracted popular and professional attention more than the present trial of electricity as a motive power on the elevated railways of this city. The daily papers have printed columns regarding the event, and a number of illustrated papers have produced illustrations of the motor which is now upon the tracks.

Before entering into a description of the system, as it is operated, it may be well to recall the events which have led up to the present state of affairs.

The idea of running the elevated railway trains by electricity was broached several years ago, the many strong points in its favor, over steam, being pointed out. Nothing, however, was done in the matter beyond its mere discussion, until the early part of this year, when at a meeting of the various electric motor companies, an attempt was made to consolidate their interests, and to test the motors of the various companies represented. A commission was to be appointed (Sir William Thomson being designated as one of them) to test the motors, and the best system was to be adopted. Several meetings were held, but the scheme finally fell through. This agitation acted as a stimulus, however, for shortly afterward the Daft Company obtained permission to equip a section of the Ninth Avenue Elevated Railway on its system, while the Edison-Field interests were assigned, to the Second Avenue road.

From that time until now, a period of six months, the Daft Company has been busy equipping a central station, building a motor and laying down the central rail required. It must be understood that the latter operation had to be performed during regular traffic hours, with trains passing every five minutes or less.

The road is equipped from the elevated railway station at Fourteenth street, up to Fifty-third street, a distance of two miles, in which a heavy grade is encountered. The central rail, through which the current is led to the motor, is elevated above the outer ones, resting upon the insulator shown in Fig. 3.


Fig. 1. Elevation of Daft Electric Motor "Benjamin Franklin."


The central station, in which the generating dynamos are placed, is situated in Fifteenth street, a distance of about 250 feet west of the tracks, and connected with the latter by a stout conductor. The station contains a Wright steam engine and three generators. In addition, there is a small dynamo which runs the Daft arc lamps, by which the station is lighted at night.

The motor now upon the tracks is named "Benjamin Franklin." It was on the night of Wednesday, the 26th inst., that the first run was made. This, however, was only for the purpose of cleaning the rust from the central rail, which had become heavily coated while lying idle so long. A small independent motor was temporarily fastened to the front of the "Ben Franklin," and a belt led to an emery wheel which, being applied to the track, removed the rust and left a bright surface. We were present upon the occasion and in the cab of the motor when the signal to start was given. The regulator being set at slow speed, the motor started without a tremor. Indeed, so gentle was the start that we hardly knew it had taken place before we found ourselves moving. The track-cleaning process was necessarily a slow one, and the motor was at no time run above "slow speed." On subsequent nights, however, a speed of 20 miles an hour was attained.

Our illustrations show the arrangements of the motor in detail, as it stands on the track, the cab being removed for the s