Visit to Schenectady, visitors see heavy insulator production

[Trade Journal]

Publication: The Electrical Engineer

New York, NY, United States
vol. 22, no. 433, p. 184,185, col. 1,1-2




The Association of Edison Electric Illuminating Companies concluded its convention proceedings, held at the Oriental Hotel, Manhattan Beach, by a trip on a special train to the works of the General Electric Company, at Schenectady, N. Y. The train left the Grand Central station at 9:35 a. m., ran on the schedule of the Empire State Express, and reached Schenectady at 1:40 p. m., when it was switched into the yards of the company. A large number of the delegates accepted the invitation and the few who excused themselves on account of the heat, had reason to regret their decision, the weather being much cooler and more bearable on the train than at the beach.

On the arrival of the delegates at Schenectady, they were received by Mr. E. W. Rice, Jr., third vice president; G. L. Emmons, superintendent of the works; A. L. Rohrer, and a corps of engineers. The delegates first visited that part of the factory devoted to the manufacture of the smaller classes of supplies, such as sockets, cut-outs, switches, lightning arresters, commutators, etc., etc. The switchboard department next occupied their attention, and considerable admiration was expressed at its magnitude and the intricate and beautiful work in process of completion. Adjoining this, search lights are manufactured, and some idea was gathered of the extent of the business in this direction by the number of projectors under construction and test. A climb to the projector testing platform gave the delegates a splendid bird's-eye view of the entire works lying on the banks of the Mohawk River, covering 43.21 acres, 76 buildings in all with a floor space of 681,553 square feet, in which all the machinery is driven by electricity.

A glance was given into the brass punching shop, the store house and the porcelain works, where all the porcelain bases for sockets, switches, cut-outs, small cleats, etc., as well as the heavy insulators for long distance transmission work are made. These are tested to 50,000 volts alternating before shipment.

The visitors were then conducted to the main factory and passing by the big foundry, entered the shop devoted to the manufacture of heavy dynamos. Here they saw generators of all sizes from the small 3/4 kilowatt to the great 1,500 kilowatt in all steps of manufacture. Already under way were the three-phase dynamos to be used in the transmission of power to Salt Lake City from a point 36 miles distant, similar in character to those now generating current at the Big Cottonwood Stairs for transmission to the same city: Rotary converters for the conversion of power, for Buffalo, transmitted from Niagara Falls, monocyclic generators, railway generators, direct current lighting generators, induction motors of all sizes, small direct connected sets for marine work, etc., etc.

Considerable attention was given to the new testing shop, just completed, in which apparatus of the character mentioned above was undergoing careful test under the eyes of a body of bright active young men. The next shop visited was the wire and cable shop, containing on the ground floor the rubber manipulating stranding, insulating and vulcanizing machinery, and on the upper floor the braiding machinery and the printing office. A sniff was given to the compound shop where the insulating compound is put on the wires, but the delegates refrained from entering.

Passing the power house, in which all the boilers, steam engines and working generators are confined the visitors reached the buiiding in which the Siemens cables are manufactured, and were shown the operation of the great lead presses. Here too, they saw the manufacture of the armature coils and commutator leads, on forms, ready for placing In complete shape on the cores in the adjoining room..

At the far end of the ground is building No. 20, in which the armature laminations are punched and toothed. Here the striking features of the monocyclic system are demonstrated in an experimental plant The current at 1,000 volts is taken from a monocyclic generator and raised to 21,000 volts in two 35 kilowatt oil insulated transformers. At this pressure it passes to a line about 3,100 feet long, which terminates at the punch house in two similar step-down transformers which reduce the pressure to 110 volts. At this pressure it is turned into the induction motors which drive all the punch presses, and into arc and incandescent lamps.

The visitors were then treated by Mr. Steinmetz to an experiment with very high voltage currents. This consisted In producing an arc at 150,000 volts between terminals about 15 inches apart. Four large oil insulators were used to bring the current up to the required pressure. The arc which was formed appeared as a beautiful undulating pink flash which hung waving in the air for about ten seconds, and was then drawn upwards to vanish as soon as its length had reached four feet or more. Various pressures were used from 70,000 volts up, between varying distances, the effect being always the production of the beautiful evanescent arc.

The next building visited contained the 30-ton electric locomotive now being overhauled and put into condition for use on a branch of the New York, New Haven and Hartford Railway. In view of the fact that the Pennsylvania Company have practically abandoned for the time their experiments with other systems of electric traction, the fact that the N. Y., N. H. & H. R. R. people, who are doing so much to introduce electric traction on their lines, continue to adopt the methods and apparatus of the General Electric Company is Interesting.

A visit to the show room of the supply department, containing samples of the new long-burning arc lamps, and improved double carbon lamps, concluded the tour through the works.

The visitors re-embarked on the special train at 5:40 p. m., and reached New York at 9:40 p. m.

The trip was made under the care of Mr. S. Dana Greene, assistant general manager and manager of the lighting department, to whose genial courtesy and urbanity is entirely due the pleasure which each visitor experienced and acknowledged.

It may be mentioned as an evidence of the pains taken to render the trip through the Schenectady works complete, as well as interesting, that each of the guides was furnished with an elaborate miniature blue print marking the itinerary from shop to shop, the arrow heads indicating the routes in and out. This systematic method enabled the visitors to cover a large extent of territory and yet to pause as long as they chose at any point where special features demanded study.


Keywords:General Electric Company
Researcher notes: 
Supplemental information: 
Researcher:Bob Stahr
Date completed:April 20, 2011 by: Bob Stahr;