Annealed Glass Insulator for Trolley on St. Louis Railway

[Trade Journal]

Publication: Electrical World and Engineer

New York, NY, United States
vol. 43, no. 1, p. 25-26, col. 1-2

The Arnold Electro-Pneumatic Railway System as

Employed on the Lansing, St. Johns and St. Louis Railway.



As many of your readers know, I have persistently advocated the use of the alternating current directly in the motors for electric railways for several years (see Transactions American Institute of Electrical Engineers' joint meeting with the British Institution of Electrical Engineers, Paris, August 16, 1900; Niagara Falls Convention, August 24, 1901; Great Barrington, Mass., June 19, 1902, and New York, September 26, 1902). By referring to the discussions which took place at these meetings and to the technical papers, it will be found that there were few, if any other advocates, in this country of the alternating-current for railway work until recently, and that those who supported it abroad advocated the use of three-phase currents until within the last few months. Since my announcement of the principles of my system before the Great Barrington Convention, the development of the single-phase alternating-current railway motor has made remarkable strides, both in this country and abroad, and while at that time it had few friends the development has been such since, that it now seems destined to take its place as the leading railway motor, thereby effecting a revolution in electric railway work.

Many of your readers also know that, since announcing the principles of my system before the Great Barrington Convention, I have refrained from giving out any further information regarding it, giving as my reasons therefor my desire to test the system thoroughly before making further public statements regarding it, and then to present a full and complete description of it, together with the results of its operation, in the form of a paper before the American Institute of Electrical Engineers. Consistently pursuing that policy I have conducted my experiments privately and at my own expense, and had so perfected my apparatus that I had hoped to be able to celebrate the incoming of the year 1904 with a public demonstration, over 20 miles of railroad, which would conclusively prove that the single-phase electric railway is not only operative but efficient, and less in first cost and operation than any system now in vogue, not meaning to imply thereby that the system which I have developed was necessarily the only system or the best system, for only time can prove the correctness or incorrectness of such statements, but that it was a system which would successfully do the work, and the system which was first developed and first to be put in actual operation upon the first electric railway in the world, especially built for single-phase alternating-current motor operation.

That I would have made a demonstration on January 1 was a certainty to me until December 18, when I learned by telegraph, while in New York, that the car houses, located at Lansing, Mich., of the road upon which I had been experimenting, were completely consumed by fire at 4 o'clock that morning. The fire apparently originated from a stove in the engine house, and was communicated so rapidly to the car houses that it destroyed a steam locomotive and two new cars built for my system, as well as my experimental locomotive, thus leaving me unable to make the demonstrations as I had planned. In view of the fact, however, that the single-phase electric railway is now receiving so much attention at the hands of engineers and inventors in many parts of the world, and that I believe that the year 1904 will be an epoch-making one, marking the revolution from the direct-current to the alternating motor for railway work, as well as the beginning, on a large scale, of the displacement of the steam locomotive on railways by the use of a substantial form of overhead construction rather than the third rail, and from the further fact that I cannot get another machine ready in the near future, I have concluded that I will give to the technical press a record of my work up to the present time, in order that it, and the system which I have developed, may be properly weighed in comparison with the work and systems of others, leaving the more complete description of the system and the results of its operation to be presented at a later date before the American Institute of Electrical Engineers.

In January, 1900, I rode over the country between Lansing and St. Louis, Mich., a distance of about 6o miles, with a party of gentlemen who desired to build an electric road between these points. This trip resulted in my advising them that the territory was such that I believed the road should he built as economically as possible, and, inasmuch as they desired me to assist financially in its construction, I told them I would do so provided I was allowed to construct the road in accordance with certain ideas that I then had in mind, for by such construction the first cost of the road could be kept sufficiently low to warrant its construction, and that if it were built on any one of the systems, standard at that time, the advisability of building it was questionable. The result was that on April 23, 1900, a contract was entered into wherein I undertook to build and equip the road. Engineers were at once placed in the field to locate it, and after the plans were sufficiently completed the grading, bridging and track work of 20 miles of the road followed, and this much of the road was completed, to such an extent, that steam trains were put in regular operation over it about November 15, 1901.

For financial reasons the completion of the road was delayed, and, in the meantime, the development of my system was taking place and the parts being perfected in different offices and shops.

Since it was my intention to experiment with pressure as high as 15,000 volts on the working conductor, all of the line material had to be specially designed, but the work progressed to such an extent that the overhead and line work of 20 miles of road was practically completed and ready for operation about December 15, 1902, and the power installed, so that experiments began in March, 1903. On June 15, 1903, two trips were made, each about 3 miles long, with my first experimental machine, shown in Fig. 8 of the accompanying description. On the first trip seven persons were carried, and on the second trip thirteen persons were aboard.

The result of the experiments with the first motor proved the correctness of the theory and that the machine would work. Inasmuch as it consisted of but one somewhat crude electropneumatic motor, it was impossible to get full and efficient tests of the system, and it was thought best to conduct no further experiments until a complete new double equipped truck could be perfected. Not being connected with manufacturing establishments I have been compelled to develop this system under trying circumstances, necessitating the construction of parts in different shops and assembling them at far distant points with crude facilities. This fact, combined with the financial difficulties that have arisen, and the necessity of my having to give the main part of my attention to other matters, have been the causes of the delay in completing the road and the system.

A new double-motor equipment, in the form of a locomotive, was finally built and brought to perfect working condition on the evening of December 17, and it was this locomotive with the necessary instruments for testing purposes that was destroyed by fire the following morning. Since it is going to be impracticable for me to get a new one constructed for some time, I have thought best to state the facts as outlined above, and give to the technical press a description of the apparatus and the road, reluctantly omitting the records of operation and the tests which I had hoped to have accompany any future statements I made, but which, through "the irony of fate," must now be left for the future. Below will be found some particulars of the road and system:




The Lansing, St. Johns & St. Louis Railway was originally projected to extend from Lansing, the capital of Michigan, northward through St. Johns, Alma and St. Louis, a distance of about 6o miles, but up to the present time only that portion, extending from Lansing to St. Johns, a distance of 20 miles, has been constructed.

This road was built in accordance with steam railroad practice, with easy grades and curves, so that steam locomotives could be operated over it until such time as electrical equipment could be put upon it; the idea being to complete the road in such a manner that it could be utilized for both freight and passenger service, and thus secure all the business available from the territory through which it passes.

The road is equipped with 67-lb. T-rail, laid on ties spaced 2 ft. apart between centres, and as alternating high-tension current was to be used but one of these rails was bonded with 38-in. 0000 bonds, extending entirely around the splicebars.

Since it was impossible to secure rails from the rail manufacturers in time, rails and splice bars were secured from one of the leading steam railways, and this necessitated the adoption of a supported joint and a long bond, as there was not room under the splice bars for concealed bonds.

The road as at present constructed between Lansing and St. John has no grades exceeding 1 per cent, and no curves exceeding 7 degs., except in the cities themselves, where the terminals of the road run over the streets and make such curves as ordinary street cars make, the minimum radius being 50 ft. At each city a terminal was planned so that all freight would be diverted to connecting steam roads, thus making it unnecessary for the freight service to pass over the city streets or curves.

At the Lansing end it was necessary to pass over the steam railway tracks of the Pere Marquette Railroad, and this necessitated the construction of a bridge with pile approaches. The grade, as approached from the Lansing end, being 4 per cent for a distance of about 700 ft., and after passing over the bridge the descending grade is 2.3 per cent for about 500 ft. At the St. Johns end there is a grade on the principal street of the town averaging about 2 per cent for about 1,500 ft.




Considerable care was taken in planning a suitable insulator for carrying the trolley wire, and Fig. 1 shows the construction of the annealed glass insulator used.


Fig. 1 - Special Insulator Used.


Fig. 2 shows a typical arrangement of the straight line overhead construction, and it will he noticed that wood is used for the pole, cross-arm and braces, and that the insulator is supported by means of a short span wire from iron brackets secured to the wooden cross-arm. This construction insured a high insulation at a low first cost, the entire line having been constructed for but a slightly increased expense over the cost of standard construction, and at the same time so built that in case of failure of the alternating-motor system the standard direct-current motor system could be put into service without changing any parts. Even holes for the pins for carrying the extra feeders which would be required were provided, as shown.


Fig. 2 - Typical Straight Line Overhead Construction.


It will thus be seen that the line and track work were constructed in such a manner that no expense was incurred for any parts which would not be required for standard construction in case it became necessary to ultimately adopt the standard direct-current motor system; the entire idea in the construction of the road being to save first cost and to invest all that was invested in such a manner that all material purchased would be utilized in case either system were adopted, and should the alternating system prove successful the additional investment for a direct-current motor system need not then be incurred.

The working conductor was placed 22 ft. above the top of the rails in order that trainmen, when standing upon the tops of the freight cars going over the road, could not come in contact with the working conductor.

It was planned to operate the entire road from a single 00 trolley wire, and with one rail bonded as hereinbefore mentioned; this amount of copper being sufficient to operate four 40-ton cars at an average speed of 30 m. p. h., with power house located I% miles from one end of the line, and operating with from 6,000 volts to 10,000 volts on the working conductor.

The power house is located at one end of the line, owing to the electric company, from which power is purchased by the railroad, having a water power at this point. Current is transmitted to the nearest end of the line over two No. 3 wires. The power is furnished from a 300-kw rotary converter, generating at 380 volts at 25 cycles, the energy from which is stepped up to the working pressure of the line. It was the intention, after experimenting a sufficient length of time to determine the best voltage for the working conductor to have the generators for the permanent plant constructed so as to generate at this determined voltage, and it was for this reason that a temporary rotary converter was first installed to conduct the experiments with.

During the preliminary experimental period upon the apparatus, hereinafter described, all power was transmitted from the above-mentioned power house to a point about 2 miles distant, where were located the car houses in which the preliminary experiments were made.

The conditions under which the first application of the system took place having thus been set forth, it may be well, in order to get clearly before the reader, the principles on which the system is based, to quote here the statements made by myself before the Great Barrington Convention on June 19, 1902, as follows:

"he principles underlying the system I advocate, and which I call an electro-pneumatic system, are as follows:

"1. A single-phase or multi-phase motor, mounted directly upon the car, designed for the average power required by the car, and running continuously at a constant speed and a constant load, and, therefore, at maximum efficiency.


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[not finished]

Keywords:Glass Insulator : St. Louis : U-212 : Glass-Unknown
Researcher notes:The glass insulator used is not known. It is similar to porcelain style U-212.
Supplemental information: 
Researcher:Elton Gish
Date completed:November 28, 2009 by: Elton Gish;