Publication: The Telegrapher
New York, NY, United States
Insulation of Telegraph Lines.
THE communication of HOOSIER, which we print this week, makes some suggestions in regard to tests of the relative merits of different styles of insulators, which are worthy the attention of those who are interested in this subject, and are engaged in making such tests. The subject is one of so much importance that it should he treated without prejudice, and the tests should be made with a desire to arrive at definite and certain conclusions, rather than for the purpose of inducing the managers and contractors of telegraph lines to patronize one or the other of the numerous insulators presented.
That the insulators generally used in this country are radically defective and insufficient cannot be reasonably questioned. Defective insulation is one of the principal banes of American telegraph lines, and we shall rejoice when our telegraph managers can be induced to substitute an improved system of insulation for that now used. It is a disgrace to American telegraphy that the lines in this country should be cursed with insulation which prevents their being worked to the best advantage.
We have on this subject very decided convictions, which we have long held, and which we have as yet seen no reason to change. We have no interest in any insulator, and no prejudice per se against any. All that we desire is that the best available system of insulation shall be adopted. For more than a quarter of a century we have gone on repeating the errors of the past, and to-day a large percentage of the lines on this continent are constructed, as regards insulation, no better, or very little better than those which were first built. It is true that many kinds of insulators have been tried, and most of them have proved inferior and unworthy of adoption, and very properly have been cast aside. Of all the different insulators yet used here but two have proved worthy of adoption. The best of these is undoubtedly the BROOKS, and it is singular that it has not been more generally adopted. One reason, and perhaps the principal one for this, has been and is its originally high cost. Its advantages, however, counterbalance this to a considerable extent, and when taken into consideration should obviate this objection.
The new insulator, known as the Kenosha insulator, is also said to have given very excellent results, and is cheaper than the BROOKS. We understand that they are being extensively used on the Middle (General STAGER'S) Division of the Western Union lines, and on the lines of the Northwestern Telegraph Company. If all that is claimed for this insulator can be substantiated, it will no doubt prove a very useful and valuable invention.
What we want is an honest, thorough and prolonged test of the merits of these insulators, and the columns of THE TELEGRAPHER are at the service of the proprietors or advocates of those or any other insulators, to inform the parties interested of the results of such tests. Let each stand upon its merits, and may the best insulator win. But give us fair and reliable tests, not such as are frequently furnished, which are a delusion and a snare.
If, as our correspondent supposes, the insulator discussion is to be revived, let it be more decisive than any which has yet taken place, and let us strive to get at final results, which shall leave no excuse for telegraph managers in the future duplicating the errors of the past.
We have advocated the adoption of the BROOKS insulator because we honestly believed it was the best, all things considered. We believe it to be so yet; but, upon this, as upon all other telegraphic questions, we are open to conviction, and if it can be shown that we are wrong, we are willing to acknowledge the fact. What we desire is to arrive at the truth in this matter, and, as an independent telegraph journal, we are working for what we regard as the best and permanent interest of the telegraphic fraternity, telegraph companies and the public.
Of the invention of telegraph insulators there seems to be no end, Almost every telegraph manager and superintendent has his pet insulator, and too frequently the interests of the lines under their charge are subordinated to their interests in the adoption and use of some special insulation.
The only recommendation of glass insulation is its low original cost; but if correct account was kept of the expense of replacing them when broken, the delay of business from the defective insulation, and the loss of business from their frequent failure, we are confident that they would be found to be the most costly insulators used. European countries are ahead of us in this matter of insulation, which is there regarded as a vital point, and one to which much study and research has been devoted. In the close competition for telegraph business, an the constant and material reduction of charges for telegraph service which has already taken place, and which will doubtless be increased in the future, it is of the first importance that the strictest economy in working telegraph lines should be used, if it is desired that they shall prove remunerative. The wasteful and inefficient management which has characterized the past cannot be continued, and in nothing is a reform so much needed and so urgent as in the insulation of the wires. The compensation of employes cannot be materially reduced, if it is desired to retain in the service a remarkable degree of talent, and the standard is now altogether too low. True economy consists in developing and maintaining the capacity of lines and apparatus to the fullest extent, and this cannot be done with defective insulation.