Publication: The Telegrapher
New York, NY, United States
The Insulation of Telegraph Wires.
NEW YORK, August 20.
To THE EDITOR OF THE TELEGRAPHER.
AS AN operator and practical telegrapher for many years past, I have read with great interest the articles in THE TELEGRAPHER, printed from time to time, on the subject of insulation of telegraphic wires. It is certainly a subject of astonishment that, after so many years' experience of the defects of glass insulation, telegraph companies should persist in putting them upon the lines. The only recommendation seems to be that the original cost is less than that of better insulators. The actual cost or expense attending the use of these insulators is, however, as great or greater than that of the Brooks improved insulator, which has been proved to be so much superior. In addition to the original cost of the glass insulator there is the expense attending their constant breakage, and the necessity of replacing them, which, as every telegraph manager knows, is considerable every year. Besides this is the loss of business; arising from the bad working of the wires, and frequently the inability to work them at all in wet weather, which, if it could be accurately ascertained, would no doubt surprise many, even of our best telegraph managers.
The Western Union Company, with ample means at its command to secure the best construction and insulation of its wires, continues to use glass, and that of a form which is probably the worst that has ever been devised for the purpose. The electrician of that company, who has devoted many years to perfecting himself in electrical science and practical telegraphy, cannot reasonably be supposed to favor such a defective system of insulation. The company has manifested a disposition to expend money liberally to perfect its system and the construction of its lines in other directions, but for some reason, which is inexplicable to others, obstinately adheres to glass insulation, ignoring all the improvements which have been made during the past twenty years in this direction.
It is no doubt true that much money has been expended in years past in testing insulators of different patterns and construction, which have generally proved failures, but when an insulator is available, the value and efficiency of which has been so thoroughly demonstrated, What can be the reason which prevents its adoption by the Western Union Company? This is a conundrum which has puzzled us for a long time, and there seems to be no solution of it practicable.
If there are practical or personal objections to using Mr. Brooks' patent, the Kenosha insulator is reported to be a very great improvement on glass, and the price is not expensive. Why not use that, or at least give it a thorough trial?
I have no personal or pecuniary interest in any insulator, but only desire to see one used which shall do away with the defects which are inseparable from glass insulation. This is a most important and vital matter to the telegraph interests of the country, and one which should receive immediate attention on the part of telegraph managers.
The late extensive reduction in the price of telegraph service makes it essential, if the business is to be made to pay, that the lines should be worked to their utmost capacity and with the strictest economy. This cannot be done with the present system of insulation.
I have not in this communication specially referred to the other telegraph companies competing with the Western Union, because experience has shown that they cannot be expected to move in the matter until after the Western Union has done so. Their managers seem incapable of realizing the advantage which they would derive in competing with the Western Union by adopting a proper system of insulation. If the present companies will not act in this matter, it is to be hoped that some new company or combination will come up which shall avail itself of improved and effective insulation, and make its lines at all times available to their fullest capacity.