I have made some very careful observations on the cable tramway in Philadelphia, which is quite an extensive system. I have never been able to ascertain the exact amount of waste in pulling the cable itself; but I have it on the authority of certain technical papers that there is a waste of about eighty per cent. I do not intend to depreciate cable or any other tramways, but there is a difficulty about introducing cable tramways. It is necessary to dig up the streets and interfere with the roadways. I have been told that the cable arrangements in Philadelphia cost $100,000 a mile, and that the cable road in San Francisco cost more than that. One of the directors of the cable company in Philadelphia told me that if he had seen the battery system before the introduction of the cable, he would probably have made up his mind in favor of the former. The wear and tear in the case of the storage system is also considerable. There is a waste of energy in the dynamo; secondly, in the accumulator charged by that dynamo; thirdly, in the motor which is driven by the accumulator; and fourthly, in the gearing that reduces the speed of the motor to the speed required by the car axles.

It would be difficult to make a motor run at the rate of eighty revolutions per minute, which is the number of revolutions of the street car axle when running at the rate of ten miles an hour. Take all these wastes, and you find in practice that you do not utilize more than 40 per cent. of the energy given by the steam engine. But this is quite sufficient to make this system much cheaper than horse traction.

It is well known that we can discharge the storage battery ad libitum at the rate of 2 amperes or 200 amperes. I can get out of a storage battery almost any horse power I like for a short space of time. I have not the least objection to the direct system. But when you come to run twenty or thirty or fifty cars on one line, you will require very large conductors or dangerously high electromotive force. The overhead system is applicable to its own particular purposes. Where there are only five or ten, or even twenty, cars running on one line, and that line runs through a suburb or a part of a city where there are not many houses, that system is to be preferred. The objection to the overhead system is not so much the want of beauty, but the want of practicability. You have to put your posts very high indeed, so as to let great wagon loads of hay and all sorts of things pass underneath. Most of the trouble comes in winter, and when it is snowing hard a great many difficulties arise. As regards the loss, suppose that the resistance of the overhead lines is one ohm. To draw one car it will take an average of 20 amperes, and the only loss will be 20 multiplied by 20, that is, 400 watts through line resistance. But if there are ten cars on that line, you get 40,000 watts loss of energy, unless you increase the conductor in proportion to the number of cars.

If you do that, you get an enormous conductor, and have a sort of elevated railroad instead of a telegraph wire, as most people imagine an overhead conductor to be.

The current required to run a street car is about thirty amperes, and an electromotive force of about 180 volts. If cars are run in connection with an incandescent light station, we can arrange our apparatus so that we can use an E.M.F. say of 110 volts, and then we can put in a smaller number of cells with a larger capacity that will give a corresponding horse power. We can charge such larger cells with 50 or 60 amperes instead of thirty.

In regard to arc lighting machinery, the arc lighting dynamo should not be used to charge the accumulators. They can be used, but they require such constant attention as to make them impracticable. We can only use shunt-wound dynamos conveniently for that purpose.

In regard to using two motors on a car, there are several advantages in it. I use two motors on all my cars in Europe, and always have done so from the beginning. One of the advantages is that in case of an accident to one motor the other will bring the car home; secondly, with two motors we can vary the speed without changing the E.M.F. of the battery. If I want very much power, I put two motors in parallel, getting four times the power that I do with one machine, and an intermediate power of two motors.

There is another advantage of having two motors, and that is that we can use two driving axles instead of one, and we can go up grades with almost double the facility that way, because the adhesion would be double. These are the main advantages arising from the use of two or more motors.

Mr. Mailloux asked if I would give my experience in regard to the mechanical transmission between the motor and the car axle. I have used almost everything that was known at the time, but in order to give you a full and detailed account of the various modes of transmission which I have used I should have to give you figures to bear out certain experiments. I should only be able to do that in a lecture of at least five hours' duration, so I hope that you will kindly excuse me on that point.

With regard to the durability of plates, I have taken into consideration fifteen hours a day. In regard to the application of electrical brakes, I will say that that was one of the first ideas that entered my head when I began to use electric motors, and other people had that idea long before me. I have used an electric brake, using the motor itself as a brake - that is, as the car runs down a grade by momentum, it generates a current, but this current cannot be used for recharging a battery. It is utter nonsense to talk about that unless we have a steady grade four or five miles long. The advantages are very small indeed, and the complications which would be introduced by employing automatic cut-outs, governors, and so on, would counterbalance anything that might be gained. As regards going up an incline, of course stopping and starting again has to be done often, and anybody who at any time works cars by electricity, whether they have storage batteries or not, has to allow for sufficient motive power to overcome all the difficulties that any line might present.

One of the great mistakes which some of the pioneers in this direction made was that they did not put sufficient power upon the cars. You always ought to put on the cars power capable of exerting perhaps 20 to 40 per cent. more than is necessary in the ordinary street service, so that in case of the road being snowed up, or in the case of any other accident which is liable to occur, you ought to have plenty of power to get out of the scrape.


From a paper read before the National Electric Light Association, New York, August, 1887.