The speed was fixed at 4 meters per second (which corresponds with a speed of nearly 9 miles per hour) for 1,000 revolutions of the dynamo; and it was regulated by cutting a certain number of the accumulators out of circuit, instead of by the device of inserting resistances, which cause a waste of energy. By breaking the circuit entirely the motive power ceased, and the vehicle might either be stopped by the brakes or allowed to run forward by gravity, if the road were sufficiently inclined. The reversal of the motor was effected by means of a lever which reversed the position of the brushes of the dynamo.
The dynamo could be set in motion, and the carriage worked from either end, as desired. The handle to effect this was movable, and as there was only one handle, and this one was in charge of the conductor, he used it at either end as required.
It should be mentioned that the car was lighted at night by two incandescent lamps, which absorbed 1.5 amperes each; and the brakes also were worked by the accumulators.
The weight of the tram-car was 5,654 lb.; the weight of the accumulators was 2,460 lb.; the weight of the machinery, including dynamo, 1,232 lb. The car contained room for fourteen persons inside and twenty outside. Under the conditions of the competition the car was required to draw a second car occasionally.
The jury made special observations upon the work required to move the car between the 20th September and 15th October, 1885. Seals were attached to the accumulators. Moreover, from the 27th of September, after each charge, seals were placed on the belts from the steam-engine to prevent any movement of the Gramme machine, so that there could be no charges put into the accumulators beyond those measured by the jury.
The instruments used for measuring were Ayrton's amperemeter and Deprez's voltmeter, which had been tested in the exhibition by the Commission for Experiments on Electrical Instruments, under the presidency of Professor Rousseau. Besides this, Siemens' electro-dynamometer and Ayrton's voltmeter were used to check the results; but there was no practical difference discovered. During the period of charging the accumulators, the intensity of the current and the electromotive force was measured every quarter of an hour, and thence the energy stored up in the battery was deduced. It may be mentioned that the charge in the accumulators, when the experiments were commenced, was equal in amount to that at their termination.
An experiment was made on 21st October to ascertain, as a practical question, what was the work absorbed by the Gramme machine in charging the accumulators. The work transmitted from the steam-engine was measured every quarter of an hour by a Siemens dynamometer; at the same time the intensity of the electromotive force given out by the machine, as well as the number of the revolutions it was making, was noted. It resulted that for a mean development of 4 mechanical horse power, the dynamometer gave into the accumulators to be stored up 2.28 electrical horse power, or 57 per cent. The intensity varied between 25.03 and 23.51 amperes during the whole time of charging. Of this amount stored up in the accumulators a further loss took place in working the motor; so that from 30 to 40 per cent. of the work originally given out by the steam-engine must be taken as the utmost useful effect on the rail.
It was estimated that to draw the carriage on the level 0.714 horse power was required, or if a second carriage was attached, 0.848 horse power would draw the two together. This would mean that, say, 2 horse power on the fixed engine would be employed to create the electricity for producing the energy required to draw the carriage on the level.
The electric tram-car was quite equal in speed to those driven by steam or compressed air, and was characterized by its noiselessness and by the care with which it was manipulated.
Assuming the car, by itself, cost the same as an ordinary tram-car, the extra cost relatively to other systems was stated as being according to the following figures, viz.: the Gramme machine cost £48, the motor £208, and the accumulators 2.25 francs per kilogramme (10d. per pound). To these must be added the cost of erection, and of switches for manipulating the current; as well as the proportion of the cost of a fixed engine to create the electricity.
Having thus given a general description of the various motors which were presented for competition, I will now give a brief summary of some of the principal particulars obtained during the competition. In the first place, it may be mentioned that the jury consisted of the following:
M. Hubert, Ingénieur en Chef, Inspecteur de Direction à l'administration des chemins de fer de l'Etat Belge.
M. Beliard, Ingénieur des Arts et Manufactures, délégué par le Gouvernenent Français.
MM. Douglas Galton, Capitaine du Génie, délégué par le Gouvernement Anglais; Gunther, Ingénieur, Commissaire Général de la Section allemande à l'Exposition d'Anvers; Huberti, Ingénieur à l'administration des chemins de fer de l'Etat Belge, Professeur à l'Université de Bruxelles; Dery, Ingénieur Chef de service à l'administration des chemins de fer de l'Etat Belge.
M. Dupuich, Ingénieur Chef du service du matérial et de la traction à la Société Générale des chemins de fer économiques.
M. Belleroche, Ingénieur en Chef, à la traction et au matérial des chemins de fer du Grand Central.
MM. Vincotte, Ingénieur, Directeur de l'Association pour la surveillance des machines à vapeur; Laurent, Ingénieur des mines et de l'Institut électro-technique de l'Université de Liége.