Publication: Western Electrician
Chicago, IL, United States
Of the National Electric Light Association
With large attendance, valuable and intelligently discussed papers, pleasing social features and the usual throng of enterprising supply men, the eighteenth convention of the National Electric Light association at Cleveland last week has taken rank with the best of its notable predecessors. The Hollenden, which provided hotel accommodations for the electrical men, was severely taxed by reason of the fact that a largely attended convention of another organization was in session at the same time, but it afforded excellent opportunity for displaying exhibits — a fact of which the salesmen took full advantage. The sessions of the association were held in Army and Navy hall and were unusually, well attended, the social features not being allowed to predominate. The hall was attractively decorated with flags and streamers, and the Cleveland electrical men exerted themselves to make the stay of their visitors a pleasant one.
President Francisco called the association to order at 11 o'clock on the morning of Tuesday, February 19th. He introduced the Hon. Robert Blee, mayor of Cleveland, who addressed the delegates.
I hardly think it would be proper for me at this time, as mayor of the city, to give the delegates full freedom of the city, as I have found from personal observation that they have already taken it. As mayor, however, I greet you, and extend to you a very cordial welcome to this, our beautiful Forest City. We have here a very large manufacturing city and a convention city. We have to-day with us the superintendents of the schools of the United States in convention assembled, and, taking them together with the electrical gentlemen and their ladles who are here present, we may have our hands full, but we will try to entertain you the best we can. The city is yours, and as mayor of the city I extend to you its full freedom; and will turn you over to my friends Brush, Andrews, Wason and others of the local electrical gentlemen here, who, I have no doubt, will treat you very kindly during your sojourn in our city. If they fail in their attempt, if you will then call on the mayor, I will try my hand at it.
I trust that your deliberations may be harmonious, and that you may figure out a plan whereby you can light the entire business portion of our beautiful city with electricity at reasonable rates.
I am informed that the next governor of Ohio, who is an able after-breakfast speaker, is to follow me, and I now resign in his favor, after extending to you again a most hearty welcome and the entire freedom of our city during your stay here.
The president then introduced James M. Hoyt, a prominent attorney of Northern Ohio, who greatly entertained the delegates.
MR. HOYT'S SPEECH.
The Honorable Mayor Blee is right in saying I am an after-breakfast speaker, for I never remember to have made a speech before breakfast in my lifetime. I understand that the reason that this association has been a little slow in gathering this morning is because there has been heretofore some doubt in the minds of some of you as to whether or not electricity is a fluid, and that you have tarried in the barroom of the Hollenden, I understand, experimenting. It is with great pleasure that I arise to add what emphasis I may to the hearty welcome extended to you by His Honor.
It is time for this association to meet here in Cleveland, for while Franklin of Philadelphia first harnessed the lightning, and Morse of New York made a winged messenger of it, and Bell of Washington endowed it with the power of speech so clear and penetrating that not distance, but only the telephone girl, could render it inaudible, and while Edison of Menlo Park made a mock echo of it, it was Brush of Cleveland who has made illumination of it, the beams of which are even now penetrating into the remotest corners of the earth; and while I talk the electric light is piercing the fog of London, shining on the boulevards of Paris and Vienna, glistening on the icy surface of the Neva and rending apart the mantle of darkness and throwing a kindly light over the horrors of the battlefields in distant Asia. It was at the commencement of the electrical world, as it were, that a citizen of Cleveland said, "Let there be light;" and there was light.
A little while ago I visited a distant city with a party of gentlemen. We found it necessary to go from one side of the city to the other, and we took a street car to transport us. There were three cars in the train, and as we were nearing the end of our journey we went up quite a steep hill. One of the gentlemen with us, who had been looking around him with interest, said: "Gentlemen, the future of electricity no man can foretell or fathom. It is perfectly marvelous what electricity has done. Think of it drawing three loaded cars up this hill! I do not know how much we all weigh, but think of the enormous weight, and we are carried directly up a hill." There was a pause, when the critic of our party said: "Look out of the window; this is a cable road." Although my friend used an unfortunate illustration, the fact remains — what the future of electrical development is to be no man tell. The possibilities are simply incomprehensible; Certainly fifty years ago, if anyone had foretold the telephone, the phonograph or electric light, I feel sure that the scientists of that time would have said to him, "That is simply impossible; it runs counter to the fundamental laws of nature." The idea of talking easily, without trouble, between Cleveland and New York; the idea of having a dead friend's voice reproduced; the idea of having this subtle and inexplicable substance, or fluid, or movement in the ether, or whatever you may decide to define it, light a large city, seemed ridiculous; and yet at the same time only a few years have rolled away and all of these results have been accomplished. In doing this, no law of Nature has been broken; it has been simply the result of a knowledge on the part of the men who have made these applications of the forces of Nature; of the laws of Nature of which they were ignorant before. As I stand here and consider all the development that has already been made in electrical science, I must say there is a solemnity about it; and it ill becomes a scientist of this age, with the record of these tremendous achievements before him, to throw any doubt upon any mystery, whether it be physical, religions or spiritual.
I want to say again, as one of the representatives of the city of Cleveland, that we welcome you warmly and with open arms. We are delighted to have the city selected as a place of gathering for the representative men of this country, and there is no class more representative than the members of the National Electric Light association. We are beginning to become a convention city. Cleveland is becoming the place where men who meet together for the purpose of exchanging ideas find a congenial locality for assembling, and we trust that you will find Cleveland congenial. We welcome this association with heartiness, and we hope you will come again. We certainly extend to you the warmest hospitality of which the descendants of the pioneers of the Western Reserve are capable. We thank you for your attendance, and I thank you for your attention.
The president then introduced Charles F. Brush of Cleveland, who was greeted with great applause.
ADDRESS OF CHARLES F. BRUSH.
A few days ago I was asked to make some remarks on this occasion concerning the early history of electric lighting, strictly from my own standpoint. Now, as most of you are aware, I retired from the electrical business several years ago to give my competitors a chance on the field. I therefore objected that this ancient history was forgotten and buried, and I pleaded that I could not spare time to take it up again and polish up the bones, and arrange them in sequence and articulate them, and make the whole thing presentable. However, I really cannot afford to let you go, now that you are here, and I will say a few words.
I will begin by calling your attention to the fact that dynamo-electric machines for electro-plating antedated by a considerable period the use of such machines for lighting purposes. This is interesting from a historical standpoint, because when I invented compound field winding for constant potential, now so generally used in lighting and power transmission, I applied it first to plating machines. That, I believe, is not generally known, and may therefore be interesting. Some of you will remember that all of the early Brush arc lighting machines were single lighters. Two of these machines were exhibited in the summer of 1877 at the Franklin Institute in Philadelphia. My two friends at the left (Messrs. Houston and Kennelly) will remember all about it. It was soon after that when we sold a single lighting machine to Dr. Longworth of Cincinnati. This was one of the very first, if not the first, sale of a Brush arc lighting machine. It was late in 1877, or the very beginning of 1878; and the doctor paid for it — paid cash for it, like a little man. I hear these things are done differently now. At any rate, I went down to Cincinnati to show the doctor how to run that machine, and one evening while I was there he exhibited the light from the balcony of the building in which he lived, on one of the principal streets. It was a 4,000 candle light, and of course it attracted a large crowd of the natives, and every man in that crowd was ready and willing and anxious to tell his neighbors all about it. I mingled in the crowd for a time to hear the comments. I found one man who had collected quite an audience about him. He called attention to the solenoid at the top of the lamp. He said, "That is the can that holds the oil," and speaking of the side rod of the lamp, " That is the tube which conducts the oil from the can to the burner." He did not say anything about electricity at all — a little oversight that was not noticed by his hearers, and it was all right.
These early single light machines were quickly followed by two and four-light machines; that is to say, machines adapted to furnish two or four separate, distinct currents, each adapted to run a single arc light. Several of these machines were sold during the season of 1878, for lighting stores and shops. Among others, Mr. Wanamaker of Philadelphia bought a number to light his store. One of the earliest of these four-light machines was exhibited at the works of the Union Steel Screw company in this city to a number of invited guests. One gentleman on that occasion looked the whole apparatus over very carefully, perhaps a half hour, sized it up, and then, pointing to the line wire, he said to me, "How large is the hole in that wire that the electricity flows through?" Another gentlemen connected with the screw company observed the machine running for perhaps five minutes in complete silence. Then he had fully digested the whole thing and was ready to tell me all about it. He said; "The electricity in that thing is generated by that revolving business, there, rubbing the air up against these iron blades (meaning the magnets), just as you get sparks when you rub a cat's back." I raised the objection that while that was a good theory, it did not fully meet the facts, but he would not hear anything from me. He said: "The whole thing is plain. If you should run that machine in a vaccum [sic] vacuum where there is no air, you could not get any electricity." His ignorance was so blissful that I thought it would be folly to enlighten him, and did not try to do it.
The year of which I am speaking — 1878 — was memorable in the history of electrical lighting. It was during that year that I had the great pleasure and good fortune to invent and develop and commercially introduce the modern series arc lamp, with the shunt coil. It was this invention — I am sure you will all agree with me — which first made arc lighting from central stations commercially possible, and I think it may justly be considered as marking the birth of the electric lighting industry of the world to-day.
One of the first instances — I think quite the first instance — of the use of arc lighting for purely commercial purposes, was in our little public square in this city. Twelve lights were carefully installed in the park on high, ornamental poles. The lamps used were of the ordinary so-called 2,000 candle power. In this connection, it will be remembered that a professor in New York once said he imagined the electrical companies arrived at the 2,000 candle power by measuring it north, south, east and west, giving 500 each way, and added them all together. That measurement was taken in the interest of the gas company, as I have learned. While we were installing this plant in the public square a great deal of interest was manifested in the installation by the public, and, on the occasion of starting the lights, our little park was packed from side to side, and it was evident that many of the people expected a blinding glare of light, as evidenced by the fact that many of them had provided themselves with colored spectacles or smoked glass. Of course there was a general feeling of disappointment at first in this respect, although everyone was ready to admit that he could read with perfect ease in any part of the square. After a few weeks, when the novelty had worn off, and the people had got tired of staring at the arc and had time to see how nicely the little park was lighted, the general verdict was that those electric lights in the park were a pretty good thing after all; and that is the general verdict everywhere.
Of course, we had lots of trouble in the early days with carbons. The history of the carbon business is peculiar. Our first carbons were crooked, of course, and were soft, and had high electrical resistance, and burnt out rapidly, and were very expensive. To decrease the electrical resistance and prolong the life of the carbons, we electroplated them with copper, which is still done. This little scheme of covering the carbons with just enough, and not too much copper, was the only easy invention that it was my good fortune to make, and it paid fairly well, considering the effort involved, which was mighty small. It yielded, if I remember, something like $150,000 in cash on royalties before the bottom fell out of the carbon business. They were sold at the rate of $240 a thousand. I say at the rate of $240 a thousand, because nobody ever thought of ordering a thousand carbons at once. They could not use them up in a generation. Fifty or a hundred was considered a fair order. As the business increased a little, we were able to reduce the price of the carbons, and we did reduce it one step to $150 a thousand. It was at a loss for a time, but, then, we held our own, and afterward made a little money. We subsequently reduced them from $150 to $62.50, on the theory that cheaper carbons would stimulate the growth of the electric light industry, and our theory was proven correct. Their use was stimulated, and the business increased enormously, so that while we lost money on the carbons for a good while, at that price, later we made a handsome profit at that price. Others seemed to grasp the situation about that time, and competition sprung up, and it knocked the profits of the carbon business all to pieces. I presume now you can get your carbons for next to nothing a thousand, with "a beautiful chromo in each box," and I have no doubt if you insisted, you could get a nice gold frame for each of the chromos. This is a pointer for you.
As to electrical lighting at the present day, most of you know more about it than I do, for I have been accumulating rust for several years, and I will not attempt to tell you anything about it, but will simply, thank you for your attention.
President Francisco then delivered the annual address.
PRESIDENT FRANCISCO'S ADDRESS.
By the ceaseless revolutions of the wheel of time we have arrived at another epoch in our association, and meet to-day to celebrate our tenth anniversary and place a record upon the tenth page of our history.
Mr. Brush, being the inventor of the double arc lamp now in use, and the Brush Electric company of Cleveland the first manufacturer of the same, it seems eminently proper that the National Electric Light association should celebrate
the present anniversary at the home of one of the pioneers in the field of electricity. We know that the people of the Forest City were noted for their culture, conservatism, industry and wealth, and the large number gathered here to-day afford sufficient proof of the wisdom of holding the eighteenth convention in this city.
Ten years ago a few men gathered in Chicago for the organization of a National Electric Light association. How momentous the evolutions of science and what gigantic strides have been made in electric lighting during the short cycle of time that has since elapsed!
At the beginning of the present decade the association was represented by a few courageous men who believed in future enlargement and success, and the results far exceed the wildest dreams of any one of that group. To-day we are an association whose members are numbered by hundreds; who represent the entire continent, from the Atlantic to the Golden Gate, and from the Gulf of Mexico to the queen's dominions on the north. We have even invaded those dominions and appropriated one of her most loyal and enterprising subjects to serve as our second vice-president, beside reaching across three thousand miles of ocean and securing the most talented of England's scientists. In addition to this we have gained two faithful allies, the ladies and the press, the two powers that control the world. Such is our record of membership.
The financial progress is a marvel, even in this nineteenth century. The first arc lamps used required a separate circuit and a dynamo for each. After a while dynamos were constructed to run two lamps, and when the time came that they could run four lamps from a single dynamo it was considered a wonderful achievement. At the present time many stations are using as many as 120 arc lights on a single dynamo. With a nucleus of about 100 central stations in existence ten years ago, we have to-day 2,500 such stations, representing, assets of over $300,000,000, not including 7,500 isolated plants valued at $260,000,000 more. Ten years ago the total number of arc lamps could be counted in a moment's time; now they are like Father Abraham's army, "five hundred thousand strong."
The first central station for incandescent lighting was established in the fall of 1882. The building was frame, one story, 15 by 18 feet, with a capacity of about 250 lights. Volt and ammeters were not in use, and the lamps were regulated by their appearance and the judgment of the station engineer. In case of trouble with the lights, the station was shut down and all hands turned out to hunt and repair damages. While this was going on customers mused in the dark over the wonderful mysteries of electricity. That blessed time, with its indulgent customers, has passed into oblivion, and now the electric light manager has reason to think many times when accidents occur that Hades has been removed to his special locality, and very near his station. To-day we have single stations furnishing 150,000 lamps, and it would be almost as difficult to count the incandescent lights in use |is to number the stars in the sky.
In 1884 an experimental street railway was started in this city, using one car. To-day there are nearly 1,000 electric railways in operation, with 10,000 miles of track, and assets amounting to $600,000,000. Thus it will be seen that electrical industries have caused an investment of over $1,000,000,000, not including the millions invested in telegraph, telephone, mining, etc. If the employes of these industries could be called together they would dwarf the largest armies of the world.
When this association was organized not an educational institution of high grade had a course of study in electrical engineering, giving practical knowledge of electricity. To-day there are over fifty such institutions preparing the best young men of the nation to do scientific and practical work. American genius has proved of incalculable value to man-kind and leads the world in electrical achievements. The members of this association should see to it that those who have developed this science occupy their rightful places of honor, and receive acknowledgment for the wealth that their inventions have created. The benefits of their services are for all time, for future generations will continue the course we have begun, while human energy and force will go on forever.
A recent craze has been developed for municipal ownership, and some aldermen of various municipalities have heard a rumor that there is one instance where something was created from nothing. Therefore they believe that electric lights can and ought to be produced in the same way, especially if there is a prospect that the benefits to be derived from this style of production are to revert to themselves. This subject should have the careful consideration of the members of this convention.
Your committee on data has worked energetically, and I think its report will prove of great practical value to all our members. The papers to be read and topics for discussion embody the live issues of the day, and I trust will be carefully and thoroughly discussed, as in this way the practical knowledge and experience of men who have devoted their lives to the business are furnished to every member of the association, and in many cases may enable them to avoid the shoals and quicksands that have wrecked many electrical enterprises.
The membership and financial condition of the association never were in as nourishing a condition as at the present time, and your secretary deserves credit for his able and energetic work.
There is another subject that should receive immediate attention; that is, so amending the constitution as to arrange the time of the annual meeting at a more convenient, as well as a more seasonable, time of the year. Other rules relating to various plans of doing business should be changed to apply to our present style of work.
Among the subjects that have had the attention of the National Electric Light association since it was organized, none has called for more investigation and discussion than underground wires. I trust we shall have an able analysis of the subject at this convention, as it is a question of vast importance to many companies, and one upon which no company can afford the chance of a failure caused by improper construction or useless experiments.
The relations between central station companies and manufacturers have been discussed by this association at every convention. The time has arrived when the plan adopted by manufacturers for destroying the business of the local company, by establishing competing plants in places where there is only business sufficient for one, must be abandoned. This has been done with the intention of compelling the local company to either buy them off, or see their own business ruined. The infamous scheme of forcing a sale of apparatus for a city plant by representing to city officials that the price charged by local companies is far in excess of the cost if the city owned its own plant, needs the searchlight of electricity thrown upon it by this association. This is a question of vital importance to every central station in the United States, for sooner or later its own business will be attacked, and it may be through the influence of the very manufacturer whose apparatus they are using.
During the past ten years many who have met with us and taken an active part in the development of electricity have crossed the river that leads to the far-off shores of eternity, there to await the coming of their fellow workers. They have won release from their labors, while to us remain —
Pain of pleasures not yet won,
Pain of toiling not yet done.
Nelson W. Perry read his paper on "The Storage of Energy Essential to Economy of Working in Central Stations." This evoked a lively discussion of the storage battery question.
The paper on "A New Method of Measuring Ilumination," by E. J. Houston and A. E. Kennelly, was read by Prof. Houston. It was discussed by Messrs. Haskins, Ayer and the authors.
A letter of invitation from the Cleveland Electric Railway company was read, extending to the delegates the courtesies of the company in the way of free transportation during their stay in the city.
The Cleveland Telephone company tendered to the delegates the free use of its local and long-distance lines to New York, Chicago and other cities.
Letters and telegrams expressing regret at the inability of the writers to be present were read from the following named gentlemen: Howard W. Sexton, Charles W. Price, Silvanus P. Thompson, Marsden J. Perry, Nikola Tesla, William McKinley, George W. Westinghouse, Jr., and C. A. Coffin.
The first business transacted was the reading of the report of the finance committee; The report showed that the receipts during the fiscal year had been $5,998.69, and the expenses $5,449.95, leaving a balance of $548.74. Mr. Seely, chairman of the committee, reported that there were no liabilities against the association.
Quite a commotion was created by the effort made by John I. Beggs of the Cincinnati Edison company to secure a reduction in the membership fee from $25 to $10. Mr. Beggs thought the expenses of the association might be reduced by cutting down the secretary's salary. This argument was vigorously combatted by several members, who pointed out the value and importance of the secretary's duties. Supprise [sic] Surprise was also expressed at Mr. Beggs' sudden interest in the affairs of the society, as, it was alleged, he had been dropped for non-payment of dues and only recently reinstated. Mr. Beggs' opponents also raised the point that he was devoted to the Edison interests, which had been inimical to the association until it was discovered that opposition to it was futile. Mr. Beggs replied that he had only the best interests of the association at heart and the discussion became animated. Consideration of the whole matter was finally deferred until the executive session.
W. E. Harrington's paper on "The Correct Method of Protecting Electric Circuits" was read. As there was no discussion on this paper, the paper by C. N. Black on "Large Arc Dynamos" was then given. Mr. Black's paper was discussed by S. M. Hamill, Prof. Elihu Thomson, Calvert Townley, I. R. Prentiss and T. Carpenter Smith.
A communication from the ladies of Cleveland extending an invitation to the visitors and their ladies to attend the exhibition of paintings in the Garfield building was read, and the invitation was duly accepted with thanks. Resolutions endorsing the Southern States Cotton Exposition and urging a representative electrical exhibit were passed.
The topic, "How to Light Large Cities," was first taken up. It was discussed briefly by C. H. Wilmerding of Chicago and George A. Redman of Rochester, as follows:
MR. WILMERDING: The cost of lighting in Chicago, according to Professor Barrett's figures of a year ago, if I remember rightly, was $96.25 per lamp. This figure, it was stated, included nothing of interest, depreciation, insurance, taxes, etc,, or what in a lighting company would be called general expenses. In other words it might be said to include simply labor and material. The cost per lamp installed was something in excess of $500, which, at six per cent. interest on the original investment, would amount to $30 per lamp, and a fair depreciation might be six per cent., which would add another $30 or a total of $60 to the cost — in other words, about $156 per lamp per annum. We are furnishing a few lamps to the city at $137.50 per annum, so that as a matter of fact we are supplying lights at a lower cost to the city than they can make it themselves. On that basis it seems reasonable to suppose that large cities should be lighted by private corporations rather than by the city itself. There is no question that in every municipal organization in this country the cost of carrying on what may be considered a commercial or private business is much greater than where it is carried on by a private corporation, where all expenses are carefully considered.
MR. REDMAN: I think the best answer I can give to this question is to give a description of the city lighting by the two companies with which I am connected. The city of Rochester, with a population of 165,000, has 2,010 arc lights on the streets — 1,109 of the Brush company and 901 of the Rochester company. In the center of the city we have one street 7,940 feet in length, with no wooden poles and no overhead construction except the trolley wire. That street is lighted with 76 pairs of eight ampere lamps, on the Edison system, which give general satisfaction. They are so popular that the cry is for lighting the entire city on that system.
Dr. Louis Bell then read his paper on "The Monocyclic System." The new system was criticized by John F. Kelly of Pittsfield, Mass., and Charles F. Scott of Pittsburg and approved by Charles P. Steinmetz of Schenectady, N. Y. and Prof. Elihu Thomson of Lynn, Mass.
A. J. Wurts of Pittsburg gave some "Practical Demonstrations of Protecting Lines from Lightning," which were well attended and received with much approval. The operation of the Wurts lightning arrester was clearly shown by practical experiments.
The president called the meeting to order at ten o'clock sharp, and stated that the paper of Dr. Bell was open for further discussion. W. K. Gardener of Pittsfield, Mass., made a few remarks on the subject.
President Francisco then called for the report of the committee on data, which was read and discussed at some length.
Mr. Ayer presented a resolution, which was adopted, to the effect that the committee be directed to send out, as soon as possible after the adjournment of the meeting, blanks upon which records of central stations may be kept, with full instructions how to make the returns. The president called upon those managers of central stations present who would keep these records and make returns, to signify the fact. Some thirty gentlemen indicated their willingness to do so. Mr. Hadley suggested to the committee that one item of information called for would be the evaporation of water. There are many stations not in a position to know how to get at this information. He thought that the committee should collect information on this point. On motion of Mr. Ayer a vote of thanks was tendered to the committee on data.
The meeting then adjourned to executive session. At this session the report of the committee on relations between manufacturing and central station companies was fully considered, and the following named delegates were appointed a special committee in connection therewith: A. J. DeCamp, John I. Beggs, E. A. Armstrong, T. Carpenter Smith, F. Gilbert.
Messrs. Seely, Armstrong and Colburn were appointed a committee to nominate officers for the ensuing year.
Messrs. Ayer, Nicholls and Burleigh were named as the committee on resolutions.
The constitution was amended, providing for the holding of one meeting in each year, in May or June. A motion was carried recommending that the next meeting be held in New York city.
L. B. Marks' paper on "Arc Carbons and the Rating of Arc Lamps" was read by the author and discussed by E. F. Peck of Brooklyn, Prof. B. F. Thomas of Columbus, James I. Ayer of New York, E. A. Armstrong of Camden, N. J., and Others.
RULES FOR SAFE WIRING.
The report of the committee on rules for safe wiring — W. J. Hammer, J. I. Ayer and H. M. Smith — was then presented, as follows:
At the last meeting of the association the rules were carefully revised, and in the opinion of your committee but slight changes could be desired. Recent work of your committee indicates that in the near future joint meetings will be held with committees of the underwriters. Street Railway association, telephone and other interests, which will be productive of much good, and will enable a very satisfactory report to be made at the next meeting. In view of the above your committee recommends that the present rules be approved and continued.
MR. WOODBURY, Boston: This subject is one of infinite detail, which must necessarily be carried out in the hands of the committees, who can give long and detailed attention to the several matters that are brought up, reaching out into every application of electricity. The rules pertain to every element of application of electrical apparatus, no less indeed to the harmless telephone wires than to the apparatus producing the infinitely greater currents. It is here that the interest of makers of apparatus, operators of plants, the owners of property and the patrons of all electric companies concentrate, and therefore it goes without saying that there is every reason why there should be a unification of rules for a unity of purpose. These interests have naturally different relation to these rules. While in the initial steps in the construction and operation of apparatus the members of this association have the fundamental relation to these rules, yet their subsequent action in regard to their application is not so general.
President Francisco said that certain members desired to hear the experience of central station managers with reference to the Welsbach burner.
WELSBACH BURNER DISCUSSION.
MR. GARDENER: In the city of Pittsfield there are at the present time about two hundred and fifty of these burners in use. I understand that more have been ordered, but the agent has not been able to supply them. A dentist in North Adams was operating upon a patient under the light of a Welsbach burner, when the lamp exploded and embedded pieces of glass in his cranium. I immediately investigated the subject and found that he was no longer using it. We had a customer who was using our lights in his store and workshop; and he substituted the burner in his store but not in the workshop, the reason being that the hammering of his workmen on the benches caused a vibration, which would gradually shake the mantle to pieces.
MR. EDGAR, Boston; We have had as much experience as any other city, but to sum up a long story, I will say that the burner is gradually disappearing. I put one in my house two years ago. At first it saved considerable gas and gave a beautiful light, and the first outfit of mantles lasted over two years. Since that time the mantles have gone to pieces very fast, and my gas bills are larger than they ever were with the old burner; and I do not think we are using any more light. We have just completed a contract with a large store, which is going to take out the Welsbach and put in our lights. We have a letter from a drug store, stating in emphatic terms what the proprietor thinks of the Welsbach. Often when his store door opens the mantle breaks from the draft of cold air. We are naturally prejudiced against the burner and want to see the thing disappear; but leaving that out of consideration, I should say the burner is losing ground in Boston within the last six months.
MR. CAIRNES: In Memphis, we became very much alarmed. They displaced probably fifteen hundred to two thousand lights in from thirty to sixty days, and no amount of argument could stop the stem of popular favor in the direction of the Welsbach; and we sat down and mused over the possibilities of an assignment in the near future. That was about a year ago. I presume we have back from fifty to sixty per cent. of the patrons we lost by the burner, and I have assurances that we will get back as much as twenty-five or thirty per cent. more within the next two months. They have lost ground in Memphis as rapidly as they came in favor.
MR. BURLEIGH: For what reason have they lost favor?
MR. CAIRNES: The fact that the longer they are used the more objectionable the light produced becomes; and in like proportion the greater amount of gas is consumed as the burner begins to be used.
MR. SEELY: I do not think it is a very serious menace to the electric light business where people are at all discriminating as to the character of light they get. In smaller towns people are not as discriminating as they are in larger cities. It seems to me that one of the things the local companies want to do is maintain better service themselves. One of the reasons that encourage the use of the Welsbach burner is that in some places the service of the electric light companies is irregular.
MR.. PECK: Our station in Brooklyn is almost entirely given to arc lighting. I noticed some four months ago
that about twenty-five large stores used the Welsbach burner. I noticed the same stores a week or two since and discovered that ten out of the twenty-five have gone back either to simple gas or the incandescent light.
MR. ARMSTRONG: This is very encouraging to us. The fact of the matter is that electric light is a luxurious light; and it will compete, perhaps, with gas in larger quantities, but it will not with the small consumer. That is the thing we must face. The practical difficulty is that it does not pay us to supply very small consumers; it does not pay for the installation, the meter and all that. I am pleased to hear from Memphis and Boston as to what has been the history of this thing; but so far as our incandescent business is concerned it has been and is now a very serious problem. We lost during the last quarter seventy-five customers, and we do not see any cessation to it. I hope to report by next year that the number has been diminished in accordance with the statement made from other cities.
MR. STETSON: I know a town a little north of Boston where I heard the manager say if he could have seen the Welsbach burner before he bought his electric light plant — he manages both wings of the service — he never would have troubled himself about the electric plant, and is only hoping that the municipal authorities would come along and buy his plant. You cannot compete with gas in small towns
cities the incandescent lamp can hold its own. I find the greatest annoyance in our community to come from the multiplication of the oil wagons. The Standard Oil company has put up a very large tank holding thousands of barrels of oil, and they run out wagons just as the milk peddler does; and as our cities in the East are largely composed of people working in factories, there is no hope of our trying to get anything out of them with the electric light. If we could only increase our product we could decrease the cost; but there is no hope of this in those communities.
A. J. CORRIVEAU, Montreal: I do not think there ought to be much alarm felt about this Welsbach burner, or what we call in Montreal the oil light. I do not think there is a city in America which is provided with so many of these burners as Montreal at the present time. They have had them about a year and a half, and several thousands of them are in use, but 1 am pleased to state that to my personal knowledge eight or ten large stores have gone back to the electric light, and the reason is that they are completely displeased with the burner on account of the breakages of the mantle and the bad color of the light; and I believe it will only be a short time before this will be general.
THE PRESIDENT: We had a customer who put in the Welsbach, and after using them a month returned to the electric light. I asked the reason, and he said, "I had about two hundred of those burners and I wanted to sell them; but I do not propose to lose on my own light the profit that I made on those burners."
The committee on resolutions offered the following:
Resolved, That the thanks of the association are hereby tendered to Mrs. Sidney Short and the ladies of the local committee; to Mr. Wason and the gentlemen of the reception committee; to the Cleveland Telephone company and the Long-distance Telephone company; to the Cleveland under twenty-five thousand inhabitants. In the larger City Railway company, the Cleveland Electric Railway company and the gentlemen of the local press.
Resolved, That the many courtesies extended to the visiting members of the convention have been fully appreciated, and the result has been that this Cleveland meeting will be remembered as one of the most pleasant, from a social standpoint, and also one of the most interesting and instructive in the history of the association.
The resolutions were unanimously adopted.
The committee on nominations presented the names of the following gentlemen:
President — C. H. Wilmerding, Chicago.
First vice-president — Frederic Nicholls, Toronto.
Second vice-president — E. F. Peck, Brooklyn, N. Y.
Executive committee — E. H. Davis, Williamsport, Pa. (one year); W. R. Gardner, Pittsfield, Mass.; George A. Redman, Rochester, N. Y., and J. J. Burleigh, Camden,
The gentlemen were duly balloted for and elected. The retiring president said: "In resigning my duties as president of the association, which office I have filled during the last year, I wish to tender to the members for the sincere and generous support I have received my heartiest thanks. I have been courteously treated in all the dealings I have had with the members and been assisted in many ways, which has been duly appreciated. I expect as a private to do all that I can for the association; and I think it is unnecessary to say that you will find me first, last and all the time assisting the central station managers in all departments."
Mr. Armstrong moved that the next annual meeting of the association be held in the month of May or June, as selected by the executive committee, in the year 1896. This motion was carried.
On motion the association then adjourned.