The Cable Car Home Page - The St. Louis Railroad Co.'s Cable Plant.

This article, from The Street Railway Journal, June, 1891, describes the powerhouses and other features of the Saint Louis Railroad, a major cable car operator in that city.

Fig. 1 -- diagram showing valve gear of dickson engine -- st. louis cable road.

St. Louis is without doubt the most rapid transit -- if I may use the expression -- of the rapid transit cities of the world. We have electric and cable cars seemingly without number. There are a few horse cars left, which, however, by September 1891, will be replaced by speedy electric motors. Our people are so infatuated with rapid transit that hardly a bill brought up before our city fathers for a franchise dates to mention the word "horse" once, for the promoters know by a kind of instinct that horse cars will not be tolerated in St. Louis. Rugged suburbs have been turned into the most picturesque residence sections in America, merely on account of the conveniences afforded by the electric and cable cars.

The cable roads are pioneers in mechanical traction in St. Louis, and to the first road that commenced operations, the old St. Louis Cable & Western, is in a great measure due the perfect rapid transit system we to-day possess. This road took a great amount of traffic away from parallel lines, which caused the latter to introduce rapid transit. But, since the first struggles of the Cable & Western, cable practice has made wonderful strides, particularly in the direction of greater economy in construction. And as the perfect cable road of to-day, we have before us the plant of the St. Louis Railroad Co., commonly called the Broadway line.

For the facts and figures which I am about to give, I am greatly indebted to Captain McCulloch, manager of the syndicate lines.

Fig. 2 -- section of cylinder -- dickson engine.

A brief description of the individual systems of the city will be of interest as an introduction to the more technical discussion of plant and equipment which follows.

To begin with, the Broadway line controls thirteen miles of cable road, single track. This traverses the densest and most thickly populated portion of the city, extending on the north to one square north of East Grand Avenue, and on the south to the south end of South Jefferson Avenue. There is not one complete curve along the entire route, and what curves there are simply exist on account of the street making a short turn occasionally to keep in course with the Mississippi River. From this fact alone the management was most wise in selecting cable for a motive power in place of electricity.

Fig. 3 -- engine and driving machinery -- broadway cable line, st. louis, mo.

The cost of the track was $50,000 per mile, including curves, which, in the aggregate, would be $650,000 for track construction alone. The heaviest material was used in laying the roadbed, including 78 lb. girder rail, 45 lb. Z shaped slot-rail, and 100 lb. curve rail. The yokes are of the same pattern and weight as on the Citizens' road, and weigh from 380 to 500 lbs. each, the latter weight being required for curves. The slot and girder rails were manufactured by the Johnson Co,of Johnstown Penn., and the yokes by the MacMurray & Judge Architectural Iron Co., of St. Louis; Rogers Iron Works of Belleville, Ill.; and New Albany Iron Works Co. of New Albany, Ind. The conduit is of the ordinary dimensions, 35 in. x 20 in. Pulley vaults are placed at intervals of 36 ft., four feet more than on the other roads, and are 24 inches square. A 40 lb. pulley, manufactured by Stiebel, Kisinger, & Stiebel, of Cincinnati, with a removable rim and 3 1/2 in. face is at present used, while the curve pulleys are very much heavier, weighing 100 lbs. each.

Wright & Meysenburg, of St Louis and Chicago, were the contractors for the road-bed and brick foundations for the machinery.

The power plants with which we are most intimately concerned are numbered 1 and 2, situated respectively on Broadway and Salisbury Street, and Broadway and Lami Street. No. 1 is considered the main power house, for here presides the chief engineer and here are situated the offices of the company.

We will take No. 1 power house as our model. No. 2 being an exact duplicate of it. The building itself is very attractive, being built of St. Louis pressed brick and red sandstone. The dimensions of it are: Frontage 94 ft. on Broadway, depth 248 ft. on Salisbury Street. The cost of each of these power houses was $50,000, that is for the buildings alone. The engines are of a unique type, and are the first of their kind introduced into St. Louis. They are Wheelock patent automatic cut-off engines and were manufactured by the Dickson Manufacturing Co. of Scranton, Pa. Similar engines are used for the South Side cable road in Chicago, and have given perfect satisfaction, as they are specially adapted for such varying loads as always occur on cable roads. The dimensions of the cylinders are 36 in. X 72 in. Each engine is of 500 indicated H. P., but, should necessity demand it, 600 H. P. could easily be reached. Only two of the four are run at one time, 1,000 H. P. being amply sufficient to operate the road under the most adverse conditions of travel, the other 1,000 H. P. being held back for reserve. In connection with each engine is used one of Ryan’s lubricators, manufactured by Joseph Ryan of St. Louis.

The driving machinery, situated in the ordinary manner between the two engines, is very heavy, and was built by the Fulton Iron Works of St. Louis, with the exception of the tension carriage and the rope drums which are of the differential ring pattern, and were made by the Walker Manufacturing Co., of Cleveland, O. Two of the drums in each power plant are 16 ft. in diameter, and two of 14 ft. diameter, the former being used for driving the fast rope, the latter the slower one. The cost of the driving machinery and engines was $140,000, a small fortune in itself. Two fly wheels are used instead of one as in the other cable plants of the city, in weight 30 tons each, and having a diameter of 24 ft. The driving gear consists of four drums equipped with wooden noiseless teeth, power being transmittted from one drum to the other by pinion wheels, also equipped with wooden teeth, as shown in Fig. 3. Two cables are operated from each power house, necessitating four drums, and, thus, one toothed drum is provided for propelling each rope drum.

The total length of rope passing over the drums of both power houses is 79,688 ft. Each rope has its own number. No. 1 is 11,080 ft. in length ; No. 2, 28,256 ; No. 3, 19,862; No.4, 20,490. Those at present in use were made by the Broderick & Bascom Rope Co. of St. Louis, who also received the contract for the duplicate cables now held in reserve. This well known firm deserves the greatest credit for the ropes furnished the Broadway line, because, as the writer was told and also observed, the ropes are comparatively new, considering the great exposure and wear and tear to which they have already been subjected. The long hallway provided for the tension carriages allows the latter to have good play, being 176 ft. in length, and 36 ft. in width. The ordinary tension carriage is used, with the heavy chain attachments and weight of scrap iron. The tension placed on each cable is 3,500 lbs.

In the engine room is also situated the power plant for lighting the buildings wrth electricity. Power house No. 1 is equipped with one 50 H. P. Ideal engine operating one Thomson-Houston generator, capable of supplying 400 incandescent lights, while the plant in No. 2 consists of one 25 H. P. Ideal engine, operating one Thomson-Houston generator, capable of supplying 200 lights. The steam piping outfit in both power houses, from the boilers to the engines, is overhead.

The boiler room is very light and airy, being 30 ft. in height with skylights and transoms, admitting pure air and good light. The boiler room, including the coal house, is 216 ft. long and 40 ft. wide. At each power plant there are two boilers of 500 H. P. capacity each,and of the famous Hazelton tripod pattern, manufactured by the Hazelton Tripod Boiler Co., of Chicago, Ill. These boilers have already been described in the columns of the STREET RAILWAY JOURNAL. Those in use at the Broadway plants are in dimensions 42 ft. 9 in. X 50 in. These figures merely represent the shells and do not include the outside brickwork. Each boiler is surmounted by a smoke stack, built of fine St. Louis pressed brick, 100 ft. in height from the ground.

The Roney stoker is used in connection with the boilers, and each stoker is operated by a Kriebel engine of 5 H. P., manufactured by the Rice & Whitacre Manufacturing Co., of Chicago, Ill. The manner of handling the coal is simply perfect. It is brought in wagons to the coal house and there shoveled into elevators. It is then lifted by the latter to the top of the building, then sent down through chutes to the Roney stokers. The elevators are operated by a Lloyd & Sterrett engine with the aid of rope traction, ropes being used in place of belts. The water used in the boilers is supplied by water tanks at the top of the boiler room, which are constantly replenished by the city mains. The boiler room in each power house is supplied with three No. 7 Hooker pumps. The boilers cost $15,000 each, including the great amount of brickwork that surrounds then.

The rolling stock is of three patterns, grip, closed and open cars, and was manufactured by the Brownell Car Co., of St. Louis, and in style and finish do credit to this well known firm. The grip cars are of the centre aisle pattern, are 20 ft. in length and will seat 22 passengers. The closed trail cars are 24 ft. over all, 16 ft. bodies, and will seat 22 passengers. The open trail cars are 26 ft. in length and will seat 45 passengers. The company now have in operation 80 grip cars, 120 closed and 120 open, trail cars. For such a large amount of rolling stock three large two story car houses have been provided, one of which is located on South Broadway and the other two at power house No. 2 at the north end. The main car house, situated at Broadway and Salisbury Street. is 300 ft. in length and 128 ft. in width. The dimensions of the other two car houses the writer was unable to obtain.

The style of grip used is of the bottom pattern and was manufactured by the McMurray-Judge Architectural Iron Co. of St. Louis. There are at present on hand 100 grips, two for each grip car. This type is used because it is necessary to drop the rope so many times. The gripman has to drop the rope fourteen times on one round trip, twice at five cable road crossings, including Lemp's brewery-cable road crossing, and twice at each of the two power houses. Steel dies are used at present in the grips in preference to babbitt metal, the preference, it is said, being due to the great lasting qualities of the former. In putting up the buildings for the power plants and the car houses no architect was employed. The buildings were erected by R. W. Morrison & Co. Mr. W. Bartlett is the companies' chief engineer.

The offices of the company, which are situated over the main car house at Broadway and Salisbury Street are magnificently fitted up. The floors and baseboards are finished in polished oak, varnished. The desks and office furniture are also of oak to match, making a light, airy appearance prevalent. Handsome electroliers adorn the ceilings, and steam radiators of neat design furnish warmth and comfort. Back of the offices and between the latter and the car storage room is situated a large and commodious amusement room for the employes, also lighted by electricity and heated with steam. Toilet and storage rooms are located on the same floor.

As a kind of résumé of what has been said, it will be seen that in equipping this road everything has been done on a magnificent and liberal scale. Considering the fact that the total cost of equipment was something near $1,800,000 we can infer and rightly too, that no expense has been spared to equip the road with the best of everything and the result is that St. Louis to-day possesses, beyond question, the finest cable plant in the United States, and -- if I may say so -- in the world. And when the reports are handed in to the city officials recording the number of passengers carried and trips made in the year 1891, we will, undoubtedly, find that the Broadway line has increased at least fifty per cent. St. Louis people know what rapid transit is, and they know how to appreciate it. G.

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