Publication: The Telegrapher
New York, NY, United States
In another column of this issue we print a chapter on insulators, written by a gentleman who has made the subject a study. We shall, from time to time, print other articles upon this subject, from his and other pens; and we invite contributions upon this subject from any and all of our readers.
Insulation is far from perfect in this country; for nearly every northeast storm renders the majority of the wires running out of this city useless, thereby causing serious delay to business, and a vast amount of vexation to operators.
In England and other foreign countries, more attention is paid to this important branch of telegraphy. Many of the English lines are subterranean, and others are insulated wires bound together into a cable and suspended from iron brackets attached to houses or poles; but in this country the only way in which wires are insulated (and imperfectly at best) is by insulators attached to poles.
There seems to be something peculiar about the atmosphere in the vicinity of New York, for no where else have we heard that wires are rendered so generally useless by a storm. New York city is cursed with a kind of weather peculiar to itself. The air is heavy, sluggish, and depressing, the wind is raw and penetrating, the clouds hand like a pall over the housetops, a fine misty rain falls continuously, alternating with a fog more or less dense. At such times a wire is worked with difficulty to a point a hundred miles from the city, but from that point beyond the wires work comparatively well, yet not as well as we contend a wire should work even during a storm.
North-east storms, as is well-known, always come from the south-west, and we have watched the effect of their progress more or less escape upon any air line; but in these instances, the serious trouble commences only when the storm reaches New York city. Some of our readers will say, "Why, of course you have trouble when it rains all along the line." We reply by asking, Why is it then, that during these storms, Philadelphia works with Washington, New Haven with Boston, Poughkeepsie with Buffalo, comparatively well, while they work with difficulty, with New York. This difficulty is noticeable and invariable. Steps should be taken to remedy this defect. The American Company, during the administration of the late James Eddy, Esq., made an effort to use subterranean wires throughout this city. They petitioned, and we believe obtained the consent of the Common Council of the city to lay their cables, but gave up the enterprise because, (if we remember rightly,) so many gas and water pipes would be encountered, rendering the undertaking very expensive, as the cables tubes would have to be laid beneath these pipes. Within the last year the United States Company have been experimenting with a cable suspended on poles between their main office in this city and where their cable crosses the Hudson river, which, added to the river cable, makes some four or five miles of insulated wire; but this proved too short a distance for a perfect test, and there we believe, with them, the subject rests. A line of four covered wires is now being constructed between this city and Boston, when we hope, the problem of insulating air lines will be solved. It is our opinion, however, that speed will be sacrificed to continuous working; for it is well known that the flow of a current of electricity through a covered wire of great length is sluggish, but this may be peculiar to cables, the outer covering of which is iron wire, causing a secondary current.
"Electron" maintains that perfect insulation at the poles will reduce escapes to an inappreciable extent; but of the correctness of this view we have some doubt.