Selected Articles about the Third Avenue Railway.

These articles, from The Street Railway Journal, describe aspects of Manhattan's Third Avenue Railway.

from Equipment Notes.

The Street Railway Journal, July, 1891

The Pennsylvania Iron Works Co. of Philadelphia, have recently received the contract for two cable stations for the Third Avenue Railway Co., of New York City, one at Sixty-fifth Street and Third Avenue, containing four engines of 1,500 H. P. each, and another at Bayard Street and the Bowery, containing two engines of 1,500 H. P. each. There will be thirty-two boilers at Sixty-fifth Street station, and sixteen at the Bowery station. The company report business as excellent and a large demand for the apparatus supplied by them.

Go to top of page.


The Street Railway Journal, January, 1892

The Laclede Car Co., of St. Louis, are, at present, building some handsome cars for the Walnut Hills Electric Railway. The large order which this company received from the Third Avenue (New York) cable road for 375 cars is to be executed between now and midsummer. The first delivery of cars to the railway company is to be made in April and the last in July. The sample car sent to New York has been satisfactory to the Third Avenue management in every respect; 200 of the cars are to be closed, twenty-two feet in length, and mounted on four wheels, and the remaining 175 open but mounted on two four wheel bogie tracks.

Go to top of page.

Wire Rope Dressing.

The Street Railway Journal, January, 1892

Cable railway managers who find it difficult to procure a satisfactory dressing for wire ropes will do well to follow the practice of the Third Avenue Railway Co., of New York. We are informed by Mr. F. L. Hart, mechanical engineer, that for the last six months they have been using for cable dressing on the Tenth Avenue and 125th Street cable lines a tar made by the Improved Pine Product Co., whose offices are at 5 and 7 White street, New York. This is distilled tar, free from moisture and acid and can be used pure without a mixture of lime or oil, and applied direct to the cable without being heated. The price per barrel is the same as for ordinary tar, and since the line began using it it requires about twelve bar rels and two weeks' time to fill a cable, where formerly 11 required thirty barrels and an application during five or six weeks to get a rope in proper condition, and the action of the rope upon the driving drums is more satisfactory.

Go to top of page.

Downtown Power Station of the Third Avenue Road, New York.

The Street Railway Journal, February, 1892

Downtown Power Station

The downtown power station of the Third Avenue Railway Co., illustrated herewith, will be located on the Bowery, corner of Bayard Street. Several buildings have been torn down to afford a site for the new structure, and workmen are now engaged in excavations for the foundations. The structure, as designed, will be of brick and granite, nine stories in height, and the upper stories will be rented for business purposes. The basement is thirtysix feet below the street, will be occupied by the cable site winding machinery which was fully illustrated in our September issue. The engines, shafting and winding drums will occupy the west section. On the east side of the basement will be located the vaults for the coal storage and the tension runs.

The street floor will be utilized on the Elizabeth Street side for the sixteen boilers necessary to run the plant, the Bowery side of the floor being turned into a storeroom and repair shop. The building will have six elevators and be fitted throughout with electric lights. It will be completed in July and will cost $650,000. The architect of the building is Albert Wagner, of 67 University Place, New York, who states that the building, in arrangement and in point of equipment, will be the most complete power station in the country.

Go to top of page.

New Grip Cars for the Third Avenue (N. Y.) Cable Railway.

The Street Railway Journal, February, 1892

Images of the two sample cars appeared in the next issue: Third Avenue Cable Cars. March, 1892.

Two grip cars, one open, the other closed, samples of the large order which is being filled by the Laclede Car Co., of St. Louis, for the Third Avenue (N. Y.) cable railway, have been delivered during the last month to the railway company and are very handsome specimens of the car builder's art. The open car, No. 201, is thirty-eight feet eight inches overall, with four-foot platforms at each end, and has a seating capacity for forty-eight people and is mounted on two McGuire four wheel trucks. The car has a centre aisle, twenty-four reversible seats covered with rattan, and furnished by Hale & Kilburn, of Philadelphia, Pa., with a seating capacity of two each. The ceiling is of birdseye maple and the ventilator windows of stained glass. The interior of the car is supplied with bronze fittings and mountings; and the whole is lighted by three five burner chandeliers, burning Pintsch gas and supplied by the Safety Car Heating & Lighting Co., of New York. Four auxiliary oil lamps for emergencies are also carried, besides a headlight. The exterior of the car is very handsome, the centre panel of the body being painted a bright red with silver ornamentation and gold lettering. The lower part of the body is painted white. The dashboards are the same shade of red as the upper part of the body and bear the number of the car painted in silver. Handsome awnings, in addition to the regular storm curtains, extend the entire length of the car, and are arranged so as to shield the eyes of the passengers from the sun in summer, thus completing the car equipment.

The closed car, No. 1, has a twenty-two foot body, is thirty feet over all, and is equally handsome, the interior being fitted up in mahogany and having a birdseye maple ceiling like the open car. The four-wheel truck is the Baltimore with Third Avenue standard axle boxes, oil and dust tight, designed by W. S. G. Baker, of Baltimore. The doors have birdseye maple panels. The car is lighted with three chandeliers, burning Pintsch gas and supplied by the Safety Car Heating & Lighting Co. Dark red plush seats, four oil lamps for emergencies and bronze trimmings complete the interior equipment of the car. There are seven windows on each side of French plate. The shutters are of mahogany with bass wood blinds. The exterior of the car is painted in a way similar to the open car.

Each car is also supplied with safety extension gates manufactured by the Pitt Iron Works, 53 Reade St., New York.

Go to top of page.

Car Heating by Steam.

The Street Railway Journal, February, 1892

The success attained in heating steam railway cars by steam, and its wide adoption by many of the leading transportation companies, has attracted the attention of many street railway managers, and has called forth a number of devices in which steam as a heating agent is made applicable to the conditions presented in street railway service. In connection with their new cable cars, described on another page, the Third Avenue Railway Co. of New York are making practical test of the desirability of heating cars by steam. One of the systems being tried with a view of adoption that owned by the Gold Car Heating Co. of New York City, and the same, with the exception of a few minor changes, as that adopted upon many prominent steam railways, among which are the Delaware, Lackawanna & Western Railroad, the Manhattan Elevated Railroad of New York and the Suburban Rapid Transit (elevated) of New York.

In the system, being installed on the car of the Third Avenue Railroad Co., two large pipes, five inches in diameter, are carried under the seats of the car and are connected by cross pipes of smaller diameter at each end. Within each large pipe is a hermetically closed cylinder filled to seven-eighths of its capacity with brine. This cylinder is sufficiently smaller and shorter than the pipe to admit of variations in the size of each through expansion and contraction. Gas burners, consuming about ten cubic feet of gas per hour each, are located at the centre of the car, one under each longitudinal pipe. These burners are supplied with gas from reservoirs under the car, which also supply gas for illumination. Some time before leaving the car house the steam couplings of the car pipes are connected with stationary steam boilers, so that the pipe system is charged with steam, the interior cylinders containing brine acting as reservoirs for the heat. While the car is in operation it is found that by lighting the burners under each pipe, sufficient heat is produced to keep the car warm indefinitely. The pipes are bent at the centre so that the condensed steam in running to the lowest point will be directly above the burner.

For street cars which are not lighted by gas and in which, consequently, it might be found inconvenient to carry a reservoir of gas, it is found that sufficient heat is stored from the first charging of boilers to keep the car warm for at least three hours.

As will be seen, this method of heating cars has a number of important advantages; the heaters take up no valuable space in the cars, and require no fuel or attention ; the heat is a pleasant hot water heat and is radiated equally the entire length of the car. There is no smoke, dust or unpleasantness, and in wet weather the floor of the car is always dry. The cost of heating a car by this system, if a gas burner is used, is reckoned at twenty-five cents per day. If the cars are charged from central stations, which is the best plan when trips made are not more than three hours, the cost is only about ten cents per day. The manufacturers are also fitting with their system one of the new Pullman double deck cars and will furnish further particulars on request.

Go to top of page.

Third Avenue Cable Cars.

The Street Railway Journal, March, 1892

closed car

We take pleasure in presenting in this issue views of the two grip cars built by the Laclede Car Co., of St. Louis for the Third Avenue Railway Co., of New York, and which wre fully described in our last issue. The cars immediately impres the observer with their durable and handsome appearance and reflect great credit on their manufactureres. Of the entire order of 375 card, 200 will be closed and 175 open.

open car

Go to top of page.

from Equipment Notes.

The Street Railway Journal, March, 1892

The Laclede Car Co., of St. Louis, are, at present, building some handsome cars for the Walnut Hills Electric Railway. The large order which this company received from the Third Avenue (New York) cable road for 375 cars is to be executed between now and midsummer. The first delivery of cars to the railway company is to be made in April and the last in July. The sample car sent to New York has been satisfactory to the Third Avenue management in every respect; 200 of the cars are to be closed, twenty-two feet in length, and mounted on four wheels, and the remaining 175 open but mounted on two four wheel bogie tracks.

Go to top of page.

from Personal.

The Street Railway Journal, April, 1892

Mr. Edward J. Robinson, general manager of the Laclede Car Co., St. Louis, has been spending some days in New York. He reports business in good condition. The cars for the Third Avenue (N. Y.) road have been approved, and some of them will be ready for early summer delivery.

Go to top of page.


The Street Railway Journal, April, 1892

The Laclede Car Co., of St. Louis, have their various departments full of material for the Third Avenue (N. Y.) cable cars. The joinery shop presented a busy scene recently. Sixty car ventilators were being erected for the above cars, and In the mill material was being cut into an almost endless number of shapes, to be sent to the erecting shop, for entering into the erection of eighty cars. The 200 closed cars for this company are to be built first, because the road will not be in operation before the beginning of next winter, and the open cars will not be needed until the summer of 1893. Among the orders the company have on their books and are now completing, a number of sixteen foot cars for the Colerain Avenue, East End and Browne Street electric railways of Cincinnati, which make eight orders the works have received from that city lately, several twenty-two foot cars for Duluth, Minn., and cars of various sizes for Covington, Ky., Twin City, Mo., Waxahatchie, Tex., Watertown, Wis., and the Perry Manufacturing Co., Ltd., also the first car for the Pendleton, Mount Lookout, & East Walnut Hills Railway Co., a new line to start up in Cincinnati. The works have been equipped with electric lights recently, and a night force will be put on.

Go to top of page.

Cable Construction, Third Avenue, New York.

The Street Railway Journal, May, 1892

power plant

With the advent of spring, work has been resumed on the Third Avenue (N. Y.) cable construction, and the new contractor, Mr. Thomas E. Crimmins, of New York, is pushing the work with a vigor that insures its completion before another winter. The portion of the line which was left open during the winter by the former contractor has been closed, and the horse cars are now running over the new construction from the Harlem River to Sixth Street. The new work is being advanced on the Bowery below Sixth Street and will continue to the terminal near the Post Office. The new construction differs somewhat in detail from that previously finished. In place of a concrete pedestal provided for the yokes a continuous concrete foundation is laid six inches thick which is brought to a perfect grade, and on this the yokes are placed, increasing somewhat the facility of adjusting yokes and rails.

In excavating the pits for the terminal sheaves at Sixth Street where the two divisions of the line meet, it has been found necessary to deepen the foundation piers of the elevated railway posts. Three posts on each side are being shored up, and the foundations increased to a depth of about fourteen feet. The preliminary work on the Bowery consists in changing the sewer manholes, which are about 125 ft. apart, and come directly in the line of the downtown track. The brick work of the manhole is being removed down to the line of the sewer and an arched transverse chamber is constructed of sufficient length to bring the manhole outside the tracks. This work requires an excavation at each manhole of about twelve feet in depth.

The work of excavating for the foundation of the Bayard Street power station is progressing rapidly, and is one of the most-interesting, as it is also one of the most expensive, features connected with the cable enterprise. The present status of the work is clearly illustrated in the accompanying engraving which gives a good idea of the difficulties which beset the work. The earth formation being quicksand, it is found necessary to excavate to a depth of nearly thirty feet, and in order to preserve the adjacent streets and buildings it has been found necessary to shore up the bank with very heavy timbers. About one-third of the foundation walls are already in place, and the work of excavating and extension of the walls is shown in the engraving. One of the most interesting features in connection with the excavation is the placing of new foundations under three of the posts of the elevated road. The new brick piers, which are also shown in the illustration, are forty-five feet in depth, the foundation being ten feet below the water line. DeGenovese & Towle are the contractors for the excavation and foundation, and T. P. Galligan & Son have charge of the work of shoring the banks. The contractors have adopted a novel plan for assisting the horses to haul the loaded wagons up the incline. A half inch wire rope is provided, which is attached to the end of the wagon tongue, and being led around the stationary sheave at the head of the grade is operated by means of a stationary engine and reel. The wagons are loaded by means of a dump bucket and swing derrick, as shown in the illustration.

The work of tearing out the interior of the Sixty-fifth Street stable preparatory to the erection of the power plant is now under way. The original court is being enlarged by taking portion of the stalls from each side, but the exterior will remain intact. It is the purpose of the company, however, after the power plant is completed, to replace the remaining portion of the stable with a more ornamental structure. When completed this will probably be the largest cable power station in the world, as it is to be equipped with four 1,500 H. P engines.

The work of excavating for the pulley vaults in front of the Sixty-fifth Street station has not yet been commenced. In the construction of this vault it will also be necessary to place new foundations under six of the elevated railway posts.

The Laclede Car Co., of St. Louis, who have the contract for 200 closed cars, have twenty-six of the cars completed and are rapidly progressing the work on the others. These cars were illustrated in our March issue, but those recently constructed are more highly") finished than the sample car which we illustrated.

Go to top of page.

from Equipment Notes.

The Street Railway Journal, Septebmer, 1892

The Genett Air Brake Co., New York and Chicago, are meeting with a large call for their air brakes for street railway cars, which we described in our last issue. The reliability and prompt action of these brakes fits them especially for electric and cable cars where the brake is not sufficiently powerful. The Genett Air Brake Co. have already equipped a number of cars in several leading cities, and find that wherever they have installed their appliance it has given the best of satisfaction. They believe it will not be long before their brakes will be considered indispensable on every electric or cable railway which runs in crowded streets or elsewhere where quick stops have to be made. Among the lines upon which this company have already installed their brakes, are the 125th Street branch of the Third Avenue Railway Co., New York, operating by cable; the Denver, Colo., Electric Railway and the Central Electric Railway, of Paterson, N. J.

Go to top of page.

from Equipment Notes.

The Street Railway Journal, Decebmer, 1892

The Safety Car Heating & Lighting Co., of 160 Broadway, New York, has received the contract for the equipment by its system of the new cable cars on the Third Avenue Railway. The Pintsch system is now in use on over sixty railroads and over 4,000 cars in this country, and in 47,000 cars in all parts of the world. The company has had a great success in installing its system, and has received from exhibition authorities in all parts of the world medals and diplomas testifying to the superiority of the system.

Go to top of page.

Cable Construction on Third Avenue.

The Street Railway Journal, April, 1893

Fig. 1

The accompanying engravings (Figs. 1 and 2) show two interesting pieces of cable construction supplied by the Jonson Engineeing & Foundry Company, of New York, for the cable line of the Third Avenue Railway Company, of New York. Fig. 1 shows an elevating sheave belonging to the cable crossing at the intersection of 125th Street and Third Avenue, where the main line of the Third Avenue Railway crosses the 125th Street line. Here the cables of the Third Avenue line are depressed, being carried under those of the 125th Street road. The construction at this point is quite complicated and involves deep vaults for the depression machinery as well as an ingenious device for picking up automatically the cables of the Third Avenue line after they have been dropped.

Fig. 2

Fig. 2 is a view of the crossover on the main line of the Third Avenue Railway, at the intersection of 6th Street and the Bowery, also supplied by the Jonson Engineering & Foundry Company. The engraving shows very clearly the style of track construction adopted, as well as the location of the cable railway directly under the elevated tracks. These manufacturers, it is interesting to note, have been identified with cable railway building since the introduction of cable railways in New York City, having built a portion of the Tenth Avenue line and the entire road through 125th Street from river to river. This contract was for the entire work ready for operation, and included the furnishing of all iron work, excavation, erection, cementing, paving, bridging the tracks of the Harlem Railroad at Fourth Avenue, and tunneling under the tracks of the New York Central & Hudson River Railroad at Twelfth Avenue. The contract was awarded on April 1 and was completed on December 1, following. During the past year the company has done a large amount of work for the Third Avenue Railway Company. A view of the machine shop of this company is presented in Fig. 3, while a description of their new railway crossing gate and other appliances will be found in another column.

Fig. 3

Go to top of page.

Connelly Gas Motor.

The Street Railway Journal, December, 1893

Connelly Gas Motor

The Connelly gas motor was an internal combustion-powered locomotive that burned naphtha. The image is from the book Street Railways: Their Construction, Operation and Maintenance by Charles Bryant Fairchild, 1892.

A Connelly gas motor has been installed on the Newark (N. J.) Passenger Railway. The Connelly Company has also built a motor for switching purposes for the Third Avenue Railway Company, of New York. This motor will be used in the new car houses of the company at Third Avenue and 65th Street.

Go to top of page.

Starting the Cable Cars on Third Avenue, New York.

The Street Railway Journal, January, 1894

First Car

The formal opening of the cable service on a portion of the Third Avenue surface road took place on the afternoon of December 4, when ten of the new cable cars were started from the Harlem station at 130th Street, carrying the officers and directors of the Third Avenue Railroad Company and a large number of invited guests, including the city officials, officers of other New York roads and representatives of the daily and technical press. The cars were in charge of experienced conductors and gripmen in new uniforms of gray material, who had been trained in their duties on the cars of the 125th Street and Tenth Avenue cable lines.

The run was made without a hitch to 6th Street in about an hour, and the avenue for the entire distance presented a holiday appearance, as from many of the principal buildings flags were flying, while the sidewalks, and in some cases the streets even to the line of the track, were thronged with eager sightseers, and from the hundreds of windows of the flats and apartment houses along the route men and women leaned forth to shout their welcome to the handsome new cable cars. At 6th Street the cars were switched to the up track and returned to 65th Street station, where the first car containing the officials of the company was photographed (Fig. 1), when the guests alighted and repaired to the power station, where an elaborate lunch was served, enlivened with music by the military band from the Hebrew Orphan Asylum. After lunch an opportunity was given for all to inspect the driving machinery, some of the auxiliary engines and the overhead electric crane being started up for the pleasure of the company. Two hours were thus spent in social intercourse, and many were the congratulations tendered to the officers of the road and the principal contractors on the completion and success of this important enterprise.

Ten of the cable cars were put in service on December 5. being sandwiched with the horse cars, and the number has been increased from day to day, so that when we go to press forty cars are regularly running, and in a few days more all the horse cars above 6th Street will have been superseded by the cable cars to the number of 180. As soon as the horse cars are out of the way, the ropes will be speeded up to the regulation speed of nine miles per hour, and a headway of three-quarters of a minute will be established. The southern section of the line, from 6th Street to Ann Street near the Post Office, will, it is expected, be in full operation during the present month.

The columns of the Street Railway Journal during the last three years have contained numerous illustrations and descriptive articles of the progress of the work, the machinery and rolling stock of this interesting line, but in this connection it will not be amiss to give a brief review of the work and note the difficulties that have been encountered, that all may fully appreciate the courage, foresight and patience that have been exercised by the officers of the company in inaugurating and bringing to a successful completion the cable enterprise.


That portion of the equipment which will be of most interest to the general public, will, of course, be the cars. These consist of a winter and a summer equipment, and are claimed by the managers of the Third Avenue Company to be as good as money can buy. The cars were built by the Laclede Car Company, of St. Louis, Mo., and are finished in the highest style of the car builders' art. The bodies of the closed cars are twenty-two feet long and each car is thirty feet long over all, with the hoods supported by means of pipe posts. The interior finish is of mahogany, with ceilings of birdseye maple, and door panels of the same material. The seat cushions are of dark red plush. The Pintsch gas system of lighting is employed, and there are three domes in the ceilings in which are placed handsome four-burner chandeliers enclosed in glass globes and supported by bronze brackets. The cars are so brilliantly lighted that there is no difficulty in reading a paper in any part. Four oil lamps, for emergencies, complete the interior equipment of the car. The deck lights are in two tiers, the lower or stationary portion being of stained glass composed of small triangular pieces set in lead, while the upper or ventilator portion is glazed with delicately colored cathedral glass. There are seven windows of French plate glass on each side, and shutters of mahogany with basswood slats. The exterior of the car is strikingly handsome, the main panels and dashboards being painted in bright red with silver ornaments and gold lettering, while the lower panel is in white. The hand rails and metal trimmings are of bronze, while the iron platform gates are of the folding type, and painted red.

The grips and brakes are operated by straight levers from either end of the car. The life guards consist of V shaped fenders faced with rubber, with a wire screen on both sides of the trucks. The trucks were designed and manufactured by the Baltimore Car Wheel Works, and have the Third Avenue standard, oiltight axle boxes.

The open cars are forty feet over all, with a four foot platform at each end, and have a seating capacity for forty-eight persons. These are mounted on double trucks of the McGuire type. The open car has a center aisle and twenty-four reversible seats, with rattan coverings, of the Hale & Kilburn type. The ceilings are of birdseye maple, and the deck lights are of stained glass, and all the interior mountings are of bronze. The exterior is painted red, with silver ornamentation and gold lettering. In addition to the regular storm curtains, adjustable awnings extend the entire length of the car, which may be let down to shield the passengers from the sun's rays.

The grips on the closed cars are mounted on the trucks beneath the center of the car, and are connected, by means of rods, with the platform levers (Fig. 2). The grip, which is of the movable lower jaw type, takes the rope on either side, and is of the same pattern as used on the 125th Street and Tenth Avenue line, which was designed by Mr. Robertson, the superintendent, but differs from them by having a triangularly shaped trip on on each end in place of the vertical spools formerly employed. It is claimed that a grip with a movable lower jaw is easier on the rope, and in case of a defective rope, is less liable to foul with the grip. It is possible also, when necessary, to lessen the hold on the rope on the curves, since the upper jaw takes the side strain against the curve guard. The new grips are also provided with a tripping device which was designed by the superintendent of the company, and is employed as a protection against cutting the rope. This device consists of a joint or clutch which devides the connecting rod leading from the grip to the lever, and which is operated by means of a lever chain and a depending trip or finger and a connecting chain (Fig. 3). The trip is sprung by coming in contact with a toe or projection coming up through a surface plate beside the slot rail. The toe is supported by a rocking lever placed diagonally under the surface, and provided at its outer end with a projection beside the track rail in position to be depressed by the tongue of the wheel flange, which raises the other end and lifts the operating toe above the surface. In case the gripman fails to release the rope on approaching a crossing or other points where it is necessary to trip the rope, the finger springs the trip which allows the rod to part, when the lower jaw falls by its own weight, releasing its hold on the rope. At the next pick-up it is necessary for the gripman to stop and readjust the trip, which is done through a trap door in the floor. In case the rope has been released by the gripman, the connecting chain is slack and does not operate the joint.


The Third Avenue line extends from Ann Street, near the Post Office, along Park Row, the Bowery and Third Avenue to 130th Street, near the Harlem River, a distance of nearly eight miles, and while there are no corners turned there are twenty-eight deflections in the line where it was necessary to employ curve pulleys, the principal one being a compound curve, 500 ft. in length, at Chatham Square, with radii varying from 280 to 500 ft. The lower end of the line terminates in two balloon loops,one beside the main line encircling the Franklin Statue at Printing House Square, and the other at Ann Street, which has a radius of forty-one feet, the entrance and exit radius being fifty-one and forty-one feet, respectively. The rope is carried around the loop by sixty-two horizontal pulleys thirty-three and five-eighths inches in diameter. At the Harlem terminal the loop turns into 129th Street, where it divides into twenty-six parallel tracks which lead over pits in the car barn and emerge at 130 Street, where they converge and return to Third Avenue. The cables do not round the barn loops, but pass around the terminal sheaves in the vault just north of 130th Street, and a Connelly gas motor is employed at this loop for hauling the cars to and from the barn. There are no less than thirty-five separate track crossings on the line, the one at 125th Street being a cable crossing (Fig. 4), and there are eight points where the other roads switch off from the Third Avenue line, and nine crossover switches. The switches are so constructed that the cable cars continue on the main track and ride over the switches, while the horse cars of other lines switch off as required. At the cable crossings where it is necessary to drop the rope, and at the power stations, automatic lifting devices are employed, which bring the rope into position to be taken by the grips. These are also supplemented by hand lifts in the event of the others failing.

The street construction of this, in some respects, the most important cable ever built, has many peculiar features. In the first place, it is operated by a duplicate, and in one division by a triplicate set of ropes. The two ropes are so mounted that they can be operated together or singly, and either one may be stopped or started at the will of the engineer. The line is operated in three divisions requiring seven ropes, having an aggregate length of 193,295 ft. The Harlem division extends from 130th Street to the main power station at 65th Street and the ropes on this division are 36,600 ft. in length. The second division extends from 65th Street to 6th Street near the Cooper Union, and on these two divisions the ropes are operated from the 65th Street station, at a speed of nine miles per hour. The City Hall, or southern division, extends from 6th Street to the Post Office terminal. There are three ropes which are operated from the Bayard Street station. Two of them are mounted in the conduit in the ordinary manner, and are run at a speed of seven miles per hour, while the third has a speed of only five miles, but which is taken up south of Bayard Street, on the down trip, and carries the cars down through Chatham Square, Park Row and around the loop, back to the Times Building; then one of the fast speed ropes is taken up and employed to 6th Street (Fig. 5). One of the fast ropes down to the terminal vault at the loop, and the slow rope from the Times Building up to Bayard Street are carried in a blind conduit outside of the last ropes.

The object of the slow speed is to avoid slipping the rope on the up grade on Park Row on account of the traffic at that point going slow speed, and also to avoid accidents on the loop. Neither of the ropes, however, is led around the second loop at Printing House Square. This is to be used only in case of a blockade, when the cars will be transferred by horse power.

The conduit on the tangent construction is twenty-four inches deep and fifteen inches wide, while the slot rails are arched and have an unusual spread at the base, the object being to allow the grip jaws to ride well up to the surface of the street, and thus avoid the necessity of a deep conduit which would interfere with a greater number of gas and water mains. Two styles of yokes are employed, weighing respectively, 475 lbs. on the tangents and 500 lbs. on the curves. The tangent yokes on that portion of the line constructed by the first contractor rest on concrete piers 12 X 12 ins. and five feet in length, the base extending forty-six inches below the surface of the street; but on the later construction a continuous bed of concrete, six inches in depth was employed, and in this the yokes rest, being spaced five feet apart. The track rails and slot rails are firmly bolted to the yokes with broken joints, the joints of the track rails being suspended and those of the slot rails supported by the yoke. Both rails are braced at the yokes and intermediately by peculiarly formed steel tie rods with double bolts through the slot rails, the object being to prevent any possibility of the rail tilting. The slot rails are slightly adjustable, a small space between the rail and the base being filled with a bituminous concrete, which can be melted out when it is necessary to open the slot, in case it should be closed by frost pressure, or surface traffic. No bolts or nuts were allowed to project into the conduit.

The track rails are of the semi grooved type, weighing eighty pounds per yard, and are seven inches in depth, this type of rail being required by the Railroad Commissioners of the State. The joints are connected by heavy, six-bolt fishplates, with nut lock washers, and the draining of the rail groove is provided for by the employment of drainage plates connected to the nearest manhole at the foot of each grade. The total weight of the metal per lineal foot of single tangent track on the tangents, is 210 lbs., but on the curves and at the crossovers a much greater weight is employed per foot.

The conduit walls are eight inches in thickness on the sides and ten inches at the bottom, and are composed of concrete made from the best Burnham and Gillham Portland cement, the entire quantity of cement consumed being 46,000 bbls. The details of construction, as followed by the first contractor, included a steam crusher mounted on a car and operated by a portable engine, which was run along ahead of the work on the old tracks, and in which a part of the old paving blocks, which consisted principally of trap rock formation, were crushed, and employed as material for the concrete; a mechanical concrete mixture was also employed. On the later construction, however, the broken stone was purchased and delivered at the cross streets, where the materials were mixed on platforms by hand and delivered to the trench by carts and wheelbarrows, when it was tamped in place, wooden forms being provided to shape the conduit, and also for manhole foundations. The pulley vaults are spaced thirty-five feet apart, and are constructed of brick and cement. Where the tracks are close together a single vault connects both conduits, with a manhole between the tracks. The double pulley vaults are five feet two and a half inches deep, four feet wide, and the manhole covers are 2 ft. 6 ins. x 2 ft. 6 ins. Where the tracks are separated, as on a portion of the Bowery between 6th Street and Grand Street, each track is provided with pulley vaults, and the manholes are located outside the rails. The carrying pulleys are sixteen inches in diameter, and are mounted in bracket frames bolted to the yokes. The curve pulleys are thirty-three and five-eighths inches in diameter, and are placed four feet three inches apart, and are of the spiral groove type, similar to those employed on the old lines of the company. These, as well as the deflecting pulleys, are mounted in gimbal bearings, which permit of adjustment in any direction. By means of the spiral groove pulleys, the two ropes are carried around the same curves without interfering with each other. A brick subway, four feet wide and five feet eleven inches in depth, is provided at the inside of the curves, which provides a passageway for the inspection of the curve pulleys. This subway is supported by I beams and T rails, above which the paving and manhole covers are placed. A pipe subway is also located between the conduits for the entire length of the line, in which the conductors for the electric signals are placed, there being a complete signaling system, with signal boxes located opposite the manhole covers at every second block, which can be opened by keys carried by the conductors, so that communication can be had with the power station, in case it becomes necessary to stop the ropes.

The surface of the street is paved with granite blocks, resting on a concrete foundation, the vertical joints of which, between the rails and track, are grouted with concrete which was applied in a liquid form, while the balance of the surface is grouted with gravel and asphalt cement. Some idea of the excessive street traffic to which the construction is subjected can be formed from the fact that the granite paving on some portions of the Bowery was nearly worn out before the cars were running.


There are two brick power stations from which the seven ropes are driven; one is located at 65th Street and roofed over for the protection of the machinery, but will probably be completed in the near future.

The power equipment of the main station consists of thirty-two tubular boilers of 125 H. P. each, arranged in four batteries, two on each side of the passageway, which opens on 65th and 66th Streets. The base of the smokestack is located between the two batteries on the east side, and two large iron flues lead into it from the two opposite batteries. The coal bunkers, which have a capacity of 6,000 tons, are located on the floors over the boiler rooms, and the coal is delivered at each furnace door by means of chutes, in which it is automatically weighed. There are four feedwaters of 1,000 H. P. each, and two duplex pumps. The water and steam connections of the four batteries and boilers are so arranged that they can be worked independently or together, so that either battery will supply steam to any of the four engines. The engines are four in number and of 1,500 H. P. each, and are of the Corliss type. Two of these are coupled to the ends of the main shaft by a crank disk, and have flywheels twenty-two feet in diameter. The two others are coupled to auxiliary shafts, which are on the same line, in the rear of the main shaft, fifty-six feet distant, to which the power of each is transmitted by means of twenty-two cotton ropes working over a pair of grooved pulleys twenty-two feet in diameter.

The main shaft is 154 ft. in length and twenty inches in diameter in swell, with bearings 18 X 30 ins., and is divided by five plate couplings. There are four nine-foot rope pinions mounted loose on the main shaft, each having twenty two grooves, and these are provided with plate clutches of the Walker type by means of which they are coupled to the main shaft, the clutches being operated by means of a lever provided with a hand wheel and operated by a rack and pinion. The power is transmitted from the pinions by means of cotton ropes to corresponding pulleys thirty-two feet in diameter, each mounted on the same shaft with the first winding drum in each pair, the shaft being fifty feet distant from the main shaft, and which is coupled to the shaft of the second drum by a train of cut gear, so that both winding drums are driven. The winding drums are fifteen feet in diameter, mounted overhanging, and have solid, removable rims, so that, with the engines running at seventy-five revolutions, the cables are driven at a speed of nine miles an hour. The tension runs are 255 ft. in length, and, being located between the winding drums and the street, the rope, after being led over the sheave of the tension carriage, returns to a twenty foot stationary sheave located in front of the winders, from which it is led out to the main vault. In addition to the power described, there is a pair of small vertical engines for driving each of the four pairs of winding drums at slow speed for rope inspection or when it is necessary to turn down the grooves. These are located in front of the drums, on each side of the building, and communicate their power by a train of gears meshing with the coupling gears.

All the bearings for the winding machinery rest on heavy cast iron bed frames, which in turn are securely anchored to the foundations which, as well as the foundations for the engines, are built of brick laid in the best Portland cement. The engine room is provided with the traveling electric crane built by Wm. Sellers & Company, 134 ft. 9 ins. in length, and of thirty tons capacity. The crane, as well as the lighting circuit is supplied with current from an isolated plant.

The power equipment of the Bayard Street station consists of sixteen boilers and two engines, and winding drums for three ropes, like parts in each case being duplicates of those employed in the 65th Street station, and described above.

The tension runs, however, are located between the winders, thus avoiding the necessity of an extra guide pulley, which is employed in the other stations. The engines and winding machinery are located on the west side of the basement, which is thirty-six feet below the surface of the street, and the coal bunkers and tension run are on the west side of the same floor. The boilers, however, are located on the first floor on the Elizabeth Street side, and a portion of this floor will be occupied as the repair shop. The engine equipment of both stations aggregates 9,000 H. P.

Fig 2

Fig 3

Fig 4


The work, as a whole, challenges the admiration of engineers and mechanics, and is a monument to the skill, ingenuity and courage of nearly all who have had a hand in its construction, but that portion of the work which has most taxed the ingenuity of the superintendent, engineers and contractors, but which does not show on the surface, has been the removing of the substructures in the street, renewing foundations to a number of elevated railway posts, and excavating for power house foundations in treacherous quicksand formation, also the placing of temporary tracks and providing for street traffic and the traffic on their car lines.

Although the conduit, as before noted, is only twenty-four inches deep, it was necessary to excavate for the entire width of both tracks, in most cases to a depth of forty-one inches, and at pulley vaults, which are five feet ten inches deep, a still deeper excavation was necessary. The pulley vaults are spaced thirty-five feet apart, with a manhole between the tracks where the tracks run near together, but where the tracks are spread to a considerable distance, manholes are provided for each track. The pulley vaults are drained by eight inch pipes, and are trapped where connections are made with the sewer. On some parts of the line both tracks were constructed at the same time, all the dirt from the excavation being carted into the side streets. In some sections it was necessary to blast a channel through solid rock. Besides the cross mains of gas and water pipes frequently met with, there were encountered at the curve on the Bowery, near 5th Street, a nest of five large gas and water mains, which crossed the line diagonally and continued parallel to it for several hundred feet. These all had to be lowered, the gas mains renewed and the water mains placed in a brick subway with I beam support, and of sufficient size to allow of access to the mains for the entire distance. Below this point, on the Bowery, a large number of sewer manholes, which are about 125 ft. apart, and which came directly in the line of the west track, had to be changed. This work consists in removing the brickwork of the old shaft down to the line of the sewer, a distance of about twelve feet, and building arched transverse chambers of brick of sufficient length to bring the manhole outside of the tracks, and then rebuilding the shaft, it being necessary to shore up the sides of the excavation as the formation for most of the way was sand. The terminal and interior vaults are five in number, and each required special construction. The vault for the northern terminal at 130th Street, is sunk below the level of high water in the Harlem River, and is divided by a large sewer which had to be preserved intact. The pulley vault in front of the 65th Street station is 146 X 60 ft. and 20 ft. in depth, and in it are mounted eight fifteen foot deflecting sheaves. There are also two secondary vaults near by for the elevating sheaves. In excavating for this vault a thirty inch water main was encountered, which it was necessary to sink twelve feet below its original level for a distance of 450 ft., and enclose it in a special tunnel, so that it can be inspected. New brick foundations to the depth of twenty-four feet had to be placed under six of the elevated posts, and on the west side these foundations are arched over a trunk sewer. It was also necessary to construct a special sewer along 65th Street, for a distance of about two blocks, in order to provide drainage for the vault. In excavating for the 6th Street pit, where are located the terminal sheaves, between the two lower sections, three of the foundations of elevated posts were increased to a depth of fourteen feet, it being necessary, of course, to shore up the structure while the new foundations were being placed.

In excavating for the pit or vault on the Bowery, in front of the Bayard Street station, five sixteen inch, two twelve inch and one eight inch gas mains were encountered, also a twenty inch water main, an electric subway, several six inch pneumatic tubes and a large sewer, all of which had to be changed without interfering with the gas or water service in the neighboring buildings. Besides this, the foundations of three of the elevated posts were renewed with brick to the depth of forty-five feet, the foundation being ten feet below water line, the formation being quicksand. The excavation for the Bayard Street station, however, was one of the most interesting and most expensive features of the entire cable construction. This excavation, which was in quicksand, was made to the depth of forty-two feet, and, being below the water line, it was necessary to pump out the seepage water and shore up the banks with heavy timbers to protect the walls of neighboring buildings and the lines of the neighboring streets.

Novel methods were adopted by the contractors for conducting the work on lower Park Row, in order to interfere as little as possible with the street traffic. This street is comparatively narrow from Chatham Square to the Bridge terminal, and is traveled by numerous lines of street cars and numberless trucks and wagons. An attempt was made to divert the traffic into Centre Street, but this street soon became congested, and frequent blockades occurred, so that the traffic returned to Park Row, which necessitated the bridging over of the trench with planking, on which new tracks were placed, while the excavation and placing of the yokes and concrete was carried on underneath the temporary bridge which was only a few inches above the street level. The same method was adopted in constructing the loop and the terminal pit near the Post Office, and in the case of the pit, air for the support of the workmen was forced into the excavation by means of fan blowers operated by hand power. These efforts of the contractors to prevent the blockade of street traffic are commendable, and the methods adopted reflect credit upon the engineers in charge of the work.

Fig 5

Fig 6


On July 3, 1853, the first horse car was run on the Third Avenue Railroad. This road then consisted of a double track line extending from 23d and Chatham Streets, opposite Tryon Row, north as far as 61st Street. Shortly after this date, the road was extended to 86th Street, and on July 4, 1859, it was extended as a double track to 69th Street, and a single track line opened through to Harlem. A second track was, however, soon after laid on the Harlem section. At the time of the extension of the line there were very few buildings above 61st Street. The 125th Street branch was opened on October 15, 1870, and was operated by one horse cars, and on August 31, 1885, the Tenth Avenue cable line was opened to the public, and afterwards, December 1, 1886, cable power superseded the horses on the 125th Street line.

As early as September 12, 1887, two years after the completion of the cable construction on 125th Street and Tenth Avenue, the directors of the Third Avenue Railroad Company decided to cable the main line. The credit for bringing about this action is largely due to the late Lewis Lyon, then president of the company, who was an enthusiastic believer in cable traction. Steps were at once taken to get the consent of the property owners along the route, and no opposition was met with on the part of the property holders to the enterprise. The company, claiming that its franchise allowed of the employment of mechanical traction, did not make application to the Board of Aldermen for permission to install the cable system, but did apply to the State Railway Commissioners and to the Street Commissioner of the city, for permission to tear up the streets and proceed with the construction. The consent of the Railroad Commissioners was obtained on October 2, 1889, but the Street Commissioner refused the application, when a mandamus was asked for from one of the city courts compelling the commissioner to accede to the request. The court having rendered an adverse decision, the case was taken to the Court of Appeals, at Albany, and on June 17, 1890, a decision was rendered in favor of the company, and soon after an order issued requiring the commissioner to grant the necessary permit, which he did on June 24, 1890. Following this action a chief engineer was engaged and the preliminary work was begun. Before any of the contracts were let, however, the president of the road, in company with a number of directors composing an inspection committee, made a tour of the principal cable cities for the purpose of selecting the best methods of construction. After much deliberation the American or duplicate system, which is practically the same as that employed on the 125th Street and Tenth Avenue lines, was decided upon, and a number of manufacturers of engines and machinery were invited to submit for approval plans and specifications for the full equipment of the two power stations. Finally, in October, 1890, contracts were placed with Wm. Wharton, Jr., & Company, Philadelphia, for the entire construction of the line outside the power stations, including the ropes, for the sum of $t,600,000 or about $100,000 per mile of single track. The contract was also closed with the Pennsylvania Iron Works Company, of Philadelphia, for the complete equipment of the power stations after designs made by the manager of the contracting company. The actual work of reconstruction began about 4 P. M., on March 30, 1891, when the first paving block was removed from its bed near the intersection of 124th Street and Third Avenue, and this block has been carefully preserved as a memento of the occasion. The work was pushed vigorously from this time to December, 1891, about five and a half miles of regular construction being completed, when the contractors for certain reasons abandoned the contract, after which the work was divided up, and separate contracts were made for the iron and steel, excavating, castings, etc. The street construction was undertaken by Thomas E. Crimmins, for a percentage on the actual expenditures. Work was renewed by the new contractor in February, 1892, and pushed to a successful completion, as noted above, but the cost per mile has doubtless exceeded the original estimate to a considerable extent.

The official staff of the Third Avenue Railroad Company, whose portraits are given in this connection, from photographs taken especially for the Street Railway Journal by Ehrlich, of New York, is composed as follows: Albert J. Elias, president; Henry Hart, vice-president; Alfred Lazarus, secretary; John Beaver, treasurer; John H. Robertson, superintendent; Edward Lauterbach, attorney, with R. P. Tomasseck as chief engineer of construction; C. G. Bliss, mechanical engineer, and John Brolles, assistant secretary.

j h robertson a j elias henry hart

j beaver a lazarus

wl elkins jr

grist, moore

rp tomasseck j brolles cg bliss

The board of directors is composed as follows: Henry Hart, William Remsen, Silvanus S. Riker, Robert George Remsen, Robert W. Tailer, John E. Parsons, Edward Lauterbach, Albert S. Rosenbaum, Simon M. Ehrlich, Abraham Ayres, William H. Webb, Emanuel Lehmann and Albert J. Elias.

Mr Elias succeeded to the presidency after the death of Mr. Lewis Lyon, October 29, 1891, under whose administration the cable scheme was inaugurated. Having previously held the office of vice-president, Mr. Elias was already familiar with the details of the business, and has been the mainspring of the executive organization which has brought the enterprise so near to a successful completion.

To the vice-president, Henry Hart, however, is due the principal credit for having backed the undertaking with the funds with which the expenses of the reconstruction have been met, and, although the cost has largely exceeded the original estimates, his faith in the ultimate success of the line as a business venture has emboldened him to invest his money freely, and thus prominently identify himself with the history of the road.

The secretary and treasurer, Messrs. Lazarus and Beaver, although they have been excessively burdened by the increased labors and responsibilities incident to the reconstruction of the line, have zealously and ably performed the duties, and justly take great pride in their share of the work. Both these gentlemen have long been identified with the affairs of the Third Avenue Railroad Company, the former having served in the present capacity since 1884, and the latter since 1864, at which time he was appointed a receiver, and served in that capacity until 1884 when he was appointed to the position of treasurer which he now holds.

Upon the superintendent, John H. Robertson, has rested the principal burden of personal responsility for the success of the enterprise. His duties have included, not only the details of keeping the line in operation under the most unfavorable circumstances, but also the details of reconstruction, as he has served virtually as consulting engineer, and necessarily passed upon all the designs, including the plans for the power houses and their equipment, the cars, grips and street construction. He also originated many of the devices employed for facilitating the labors of construction, and patented a number of the safety devices adopted by the company, including the grip trips, tilting sheaves and car trucks. When the multitudinous duties he has been called upon to perform are considered, it is a wonder he has held up so well; nor could he had it not been for his vigorous constitution and the confidence and support freely accorded him and his superior officers, and by the fidelity of his assistants and employes. Mr. Robertson has been identified with the Third Avenue Railroad Company since 1867, and was made master mechanic and superintendent of the repair shop in 1874, and seven years later assumed the position of superintendent of the entire system. He is regarded by all who know him as one of the best all around railroad men in the country, and his many friends hope that on the completion of the cable lines his duties may be less arduous, and that he may long continue in the supervision of the operating affairs of the company as a reward to his devotion and loyalty during the trying period now, fortunately, nearly closed.

We have spoken above of the difficulties encountered in the early history of the cable scheme, in obtaining consent from the city authorities to substitute mechanical traction on the Third Avenue line. The details included suits in a number of courts, and finally the Court of Appeals, the outcome of which reflects great credit upon the legal ability and perseverance of Edward Lauterbach, counsel for the company. Many other legal problems have also been encountered as the work has progressed, all of which have been ably solved by the counsellor, who is also a member of the board of directors. The chief engineer, R. P. Tomasseck, succeeded to the position in August last, on the resignation of A. H. Lighthall, the former incumbent. Mr. Tomasseck had previously held the position of first assistant engineer and chief of the drafting room and hence was familiar with all the details of construction. He has ably performed the work of redesigning and constructing some of the principal crossings and crossovers.

C. G. Bliss has charge of the three power stations from which the cable lines are operated, and has also assisted in placing the machinery in the new plants. He has had considerable experience in cable railway work, having previously been employed on the lines of the West Chicago Railway Company and those of the Cleveland City Cable Railway.


As noted above, Thomas E. Crimmins succeeded Wm. Wharton, Jr. & Company, as contractor for the street construction,and under his supervision the work has been successfully prosecuted, notwithstanding the unforeseen difficulties met with. Great credit is due to the contractor for the methods employed, which resulted in little obstruction to public traffic.

The Pennsylvania Iron Works Company, of which W. L. Elkins, Jr., is president and B. W. Grist, general manager, were the contractors for the entire power equipment of both stations. The original designs were produced by Mr. Grist, and the machinery has been erected by E. A. Moore, constructing superintendent of the company. The successful completion and operation of these enormous plants reflect great credit upon the builders, and will stand as a monument to the genius and energy of the individuals composing the company. (See portraits on another page.)

The Jonson Engineering & Foundry Company, of New York, has also done a large amount of work in connection with the street construction and in designing and building some of the operating mechanism. Following the failure of the first contractors, a number of the large sections of the unfinished work were awarded to this firm, and all the special and difficult work, including the double cable crossing at 125th Street (Fig. 4) with the accompanying rope release and pick-up mechanism and the large summit and depression sheaves; also the 6th Street vault work and a number of street railway crossings on the Bowery. The works which are located at 118th Street and Harlem River, are virtually the repair shops of the Third Avenue Railway Company, and to them come a great deal of the detail work, such as building and repair of grips, manufacture of the grip trips above described, fitting pulley frames, bearings and brackets and an endless amount of small work. This firm were the principal contractors for the construction of the Tenth Avenue cable line, and sole contractors for the 125th Street cable road, which they built within eight months. The entire period during which they have been patronized by the Third Avenue Railway is an evidence of the confidence that the excellence of the work has inspired.

The cars were built by the Laclede Car Company, of St. Louis.

Albert Wagner, of New York, was architect of the buildings for the power stations.

The buildings were erected by Isaac A. Hopper, contractor and builder, of New York.

The excavation for the power stations was conducted by the contracting firm of D. E. Genovese & Towle, of New York, in connection with which the work of shoring up the banks and the walls of the old 65th Street station was done by T. P. Galligan & Son.

The ropes were all purchased from the John A. Roebling's Sons Company, of Trenton, N. J.

Go to top of page.

Mail Car For Third Avenue.

The Street Railway Journal, August, 1895

The officials of the Third Avenue Railway Company have designed for use on their line a mail car which has met the approval of the Post Office authorities. An equipment of nine or ten will probably be built and in operation by October 1. The cars differ materially from any which have been in use on other lines, and were designed especially for this service. They have twenty foot bodies and are seven feet six inches wide over all.

The outside panels are vertical, the car being finished like a steam car with sides sheathed. This gives the maximum amount of floor room inside the car, an important feature. There are three large window sashes and a sliding door on each side, the ends of the cars being panelled. Sorting tables and racks are provided at each end of the car, with pouch racks at the sides. There is accommodation for four or five men in each car.

It is the intention to operate the car as a trail car and carry mail between the main post office and the various sub-stations on Third Avenue, relieving the carriers. The cars will be lighted by gas and heated probably by steam.

Go to top of page.

Vertical Wheel For Cable Grips.

The Street Railway Journal, August, 1895

The Third Avenue Railway Company of New York has recently ordered from the J. G. Brill Company, sixty short open grip cars for use on its main line next winter. These cars will be used as smokers and will each draw two sixteen foot trail cars. They have a capacity for seating twenty-five passengers.

A novel feature of these grip cars is the use of a vertical wheel for operating the grip, instead of the lever used on the other grip cars of this line or the horizontal wheel employed on other railways. It was designed by Superintendent Robertson, is in form like a pilot wheel and operates the grip by means of a worm. This gives a slow put-on, with no dog necessary, and at the same time a quick release. The brake is operated by a two-handed lever upon a shaft concentric with the grip wheel shaft. The friction brake, which is used, can be set in a quarter turn of the double lever handle.

The motion required to operate the grip being up-and-down, and from the shoulders, is thought to be a more natural movement than that required to turn a horizontal wheel, and is better liked by the gripmen.

Go to top of page.

New Cable Mail Cars for Third Avenue.

The Street Railway Journal, November, 1895

Fig. 1

On the first of October eight new mail cars for the Third Avenue line in New York City went into service. These cars are of a design presented to the United States Post-office department by John H. Robertson, superintendent of the Third Avenue Railroad Company, and were built by the J. G. Brill Company. Our illustrations show an exterior view of one of these cars, taken while waiting at the upper end of the line, an interior view, and a plan of the car. The bodies measure twenty feet in length and are twenty-eight feet six inches over all, and are seven feet six inches wide. There are two doors four feet wide, diagonally opposite each other and three windows on each side. The cars are lettered instead of numbered. The ends of the cars are without windows, that space being taken up by the pigeon holes, 380 in number. The platform is occupied only by the brakeman or conductor. These cars are built without grips and are drawn by passenger grip cars.

The interior, as will be seen by a glance at the plan and inside view, is a miniature railway post-office. At each end of the car is a wide assorting table, and on one side is an opening and stamping table, while the opposite side is occupied by a pouch rack, accommodating eight mail bags, and a space for empty pouches. The windows are fitted with brass screens to prevent mail being blown through open windows and for the purpose of safety. The lighting is by Pintsch gas, three large burners with reflectors being employed. Four gas reservoirs are supported under the center of the car, as will be seen from the perspective view. The cars are heated by steam, the boiler for which can be seen under the platforms with pipes entering the end of the car.

The cars are carried on Peckham trucks and are remarkable for the ease with which they ride and their steadiness of motion. On the trial trip, although just lightly loaded, they were extremely easy even when passing the crossovers at a high rate of speed.

The method in which Mr. Robertson submitted his design to the post-office authorities was unique, and well worthy of attention. By means of a platform elevated on horses at the proper height for a car floor, and a framework of light lathes and scantling, he built what might be called an outline or framework of the car of full size. This enabled the postal authorities to inspect and to a certain extent try the convenience of arrangement of the car. As the tables and passageways were all before them, the location of all the pigeonholes could be seen and the convenience of the arrangement tested. The cost of constructing this full sized model was no greater than that of making a small one to scale, while its advantages were manifestly superior.

Upon the occasion of their maiden trip on Sept. 28, a large company of newspaper men, postal officials and guests from New York City made a trip from Sixth Street to 125th Street and Columbus Avenue in the new cars. The four cars which were used on this occasion attracted great attention and there were crowds along the line during the whole trip. At the Colonial Hotel, 125th Street, refreshments were provided, and the guests of the evening were most hospitably entertained, the hosts being the Third Avenue Railroad Company. Among the invited guests were the postmasters of New York and Brooklyn, some prominent municipal officers, representatives of the Street Railway Journal and other papers.

The service of the new cars is an especially interesting one for New York City, this being the first attempt of the kind made to facilitate the postal service on the island. The success of similar undertakings in other cities, and the enterprise of the Third Avenue Railroad Company in introducing anything that is new and useful, led to the scheme in this case. The service, according to the schedule printed in advance, consists of sixty-eight trips; the first one starting at 1 o'clock in the morning and the last one at 11 P. M. During the period from 5 o'clock in the morning until half-past 8 at night, the cars leave the General Post Office and the upper end of the line at half hour intervals. The present service is so timed as to give nearly twenty minutes' wait for each car at each terminus. The upper end of the road at present is at 187th Street and Amsterdam Avenue.

Fig. 2

Fig. 3

Go to top of page.

Vertical Wheel For Cable Grips.

The Street Railway Journal, December, 1895

Fig. 1/2

The text refers to Figures 3 and 4, but they appear to have been omitted from the magazine.

Reference has been made in former issues to the use of a vertical wheel for operating the cable grips and brakes on the Third Avenue Railway Company of New York. This has been in use for only a short time, but Superintendent Robinson of the company speaks of it with the highest favor, and it is more popular with the men than either levers or horizontal wheels. We give on this page working drawings of the grip, showing the method of construction. Fig. 1 is a front elevation, the casing for enclosing the worm gear being shown in section. Fig. 2 is a view in side elevation, the casing being shown in section. Fig. 3 is a top plan view, the casing being shown in section, and Fig. 4 is a partial rear view.

The vertical shaft for winding up and unwinding the connection which closes and opens the grip is formed in sections. The lower section, A, carries a winding pulley with an annular portion on which a clutch, a, slides, for the purpose of locking the shaft section A and releasing it from the upper shaft section. The upper portion is provided with a worm wheel, which engages a worm operated by the vertical grip operating wheel B. Concentric with this operating grip shaft is a brake operating shaft with a pair of oppositely disposed handles, c. These occupy a position in front of and in proximity to the grip wheel, so that the hand of the operator will be in position to grasp one or the other of the handles c of the brake the moment the grip wheel, B, is released.

The brake operating shaft is removably secured in position by means of a latch, D, pivoted to the rear of the casing, and adapted at its free end to rest, under the influence of gravity, in the annular groove formed in the rear projecting end of the brake shaft. When locked in position, the brake shaft with the handles c thereon also lock the grip operating wheel, B, in position on its shaft. When the latch, D, is thrown back and the brake shaft released, the wheel B may be removed simultaneously with the removal of the brake shaft for adjustment on the standard at the opposite end of the car. This can only be done, however, when the brakes are " off."

The connection between the brake shaft and the brake operating lever, E, is made by a toothed segment carried by the shaft in engagement with a curved rack at the upper end of the brake operating lever, E. The brake may be held on by means of a gravity pawl, f, pivoted to the casing in position to swing into engagement with a ratchet toothed wheel carried by the shaft. It is, however, the ordinary practice, when the car is in motion, to throw the pawl, c, out of engagement with the ratchet and depend upon the operator for putting the brake on and off as needed.

In order to provide for the prompt release of the grip, without reversing the wheel, B, there is a clutch operating lever, F, fulcrumed on the standard and connected by a bar,/, with the short arm of an operating lever, the handle of which is within convenient reach of the operator as he stands at the wheel. This operating lever is normally in a position to hold the clutch, o, locked to the upper section of the shaft A, by means of a spring catch, but whenever it is desired to release the grip, without touching the wheel, the lever may be thrown to the left, as in Fig. 1, thereby permitting the lower shaft section, A, to unwind at pleasure and release the grip, while the brake may be put on by operating the handle c.

In order to further insure the release of the grip at times when its release is imperative, as for example in approaching a switch, the connecting bar f is extended downwardly into position to engage a bevel faced abutment near the rails, not shown, the effect of which will be to crowd /off to one side, thereby sliding the con nection between f and F along the curved slot f1, thereby rocking the lever F in a direction to slide the clutch out of engagement with the upper shaft section.

The worm gear has proved very effective and satisfactory for operating the grip, as it readily retains its position without any locking device. The grip shown is manufactured by the Jonson Engineering & Foundry Company.

Go to top of page.

Home/ What/ How/ Where & When/ Who/ Why
Chronology/ Miscellany/ Links/ Map/ Bibliography

Copyright 2012 by Joe Thompson. All rights reserved.

Last updated 01-October-2012