from Notes From the Field/Washington, D. C.

This article, from The Street Railway Journal, December, 1891, describes the Washington and Georgetown Railroad's Pennsylvania Avenue and 14th Street cable lines.

from Notes From the Field/Washington, D. C.

The work of changing the Pennsylvania Avenue and Fourteenth Street lines of the Washington & Georgetown Railroad Co. to the cable system is progressing rapidly, and the street construction is now nearly completed. The new construction embraces fifteen miles of single track, and when completed the entire system, including the Seventh Street line which has been in operation since May, 1890, will amount to twenty-one miles of single track operated by cable.

The designs adopted by the company for the new construction have many novel features, and the lines have been built regardless of cost in every particular, it may be considered to be the best model of cable railway construction in this country. The Broadway and Third Avenue lines in New York City are more expensive in construction, because of certain expensive features peculiar to the location, but may not be regarded as universal models so much as the Washington construction. Although the lines in Washington have been constructed regardless of cost, yet, it is found that the actual cost has been much less than for many other lines previously constructed, and somewhat less for street construction than the Seventh Street line operated by the same company.

Fig. 1 -- Cable Power Station -- Washington & Georgetown Railway Co.

The power house illustrated in Fig. 1 is a new departure from the ordinary power house construction, and is probably the most expensive structure for the purpose ever erected. The company paid $556,000 for the site, and will also expend an equal amount in the erection of the building and machinery. The location being central and in a populous neighborhood near the avenue, it was deemed best not to put up a building that would be an eyesore as well as an injury to the occupants of surrounding property. Therefore, the company decided to erect a six-story building, and rent the upper floors for light power and manufacturing purposes.

Fig. 2 -- Foundation of Cable Power Plant -- Washington & Georgetown Railway Co.

The building is to be 100 ft. high and is to be provided with power independent of the cable driving plant, The ground plan is 190 X 240 ft., and occupies a whole block extending from Thirteen and a half to Fourteenth Street and from D to E Street. The company's offices will occupy the first two floors front to the right of the entrance. The location being on low ground below the tide-water level of the Potomac River, it was found necessary to strengthen the foundation by driving piles, over 2,100 piles twenty to twenty-five feet long having been used. Upon these the stone foundation and piers are placed as shown in accompanying sketch, Fig. 2, there being twelve piles under each pier, and the wall between the foundations being supported by brick arches as shown. The pier foundations are now all laid and the brick work of the walls is well under way, as are also the smoke stack and the foundations for the engines and the driving machinery.

Fig. 3 -- Rope Drive -- Cable Power Station, Washington & Georgetown Railway Co.

The power equipment will consist of a 250 H. P. Corliss engine to be used for manufacturing purposes, and two engines, 36 x 72 ins., 750 H. P. each, for driving the cables. The engines are to be manufactured by the E. P. Allis Co., of Milwaukee, Wis. The boilers will be eight in number, of the Babcock & Wilcox type, 184 H. P. each, and will carry 120 lbs. steam pressure. The boilers will be the same as those employed on the Seventh Street line, where a battery of three, 136 H. P. each, are installed, only one of which was found necessary to drive the line. The flywheel of the engine is thirty feet in diameter and will weigh 100.000 lbs. The winding drums, illustrated in Fig. 3, are to be driven in a novel manner by rope transmission and will be equipped with the Walker differential rings. The pinion on the main shaft is nine feet eight and a half inches in diameter, from which both cable drums are to be driven by means of grooved sheaves mounted one on each of the winding drum shafts.

This method of drive is after a plan recommended in an editorial in the Street Railway Journal some months since, and was originally designed by the Robert Poole & Son Co. Its success will be watched with a great deal of interest. The plan has been criticised by certain engineers for the reason that it is thought that the two drums cannot be driven from a common pinion at a uniform speed and power by ropes of different lengths. We are of the opinion, however, that the difference will so slight as not to work any injury to the cable. The plant is designed to drive three ropes each at a speed of nine miles per hour.

Fig. 4 -- Cable Tension Apparatus -- Washington & Georgetown Railway Co.

The diameter of the winding drums and of the main shaft,and other dimensions are clearly shown in the illustration. The ropes are to be led out on the Fourteenth Street side of the building, and thence into the avenue. Both west bound cables run through the regular conduit to near Fifteenth Street, where the Georgetown rope will be led to a pit and again join the conduit around the corner of Fifteenth Street, whence they will be led along Fifteenth Street in front of the Treasury Building to the corner of New York Avenue and Fourteenth Street, where they separate, one going to Georgetown, the other out New York Avenue to Fourteenth Street, thence out Fourteenth Street. A novel feature of the transmitting machinery consists in a method of applying the tension to the rope, Fig. 4. The plan itself is not new, it having been in use for some time in the power house of the 125th Street and Tenth Avenue cable line, New York City, and illustrated in the September, 1890, issue of the Street Railway Journal, but the method of application is quite different from that previously employed, and consists in suspending the weights from jointed bars anchored to oscillating shafts, one stationary and the other mounted upon a small iron truck to which the tension carriage proper is anchored by wire rope. This same method has been adopted at the power house of the Seventh Street line, it having been substituted for the double carriage arrangement that was formerly employed, and it is found to work very satisfactorily indeed, as it has obviated almost entirely the surging of the cars upon the line which was an objectionable feature in the operation of this road The line being almost straight, the tendency of the car to surge is greater than where there are curves to help balance the rope. The device is the invention of Mr. W. B. Upton, of Kansas City, who is chief engineer for the Washington & Georgetown company. The other features that recommend this design are that it is convenient for handling and is safe in operation, and there are no chains or ropes to wear out, as is the case where pulleys are employed to support the weight, neither are there releasing sprngs to break. The weight is automatically gauged to suit the conditions of traffic.

Fig. 5 -- Cable Construction -- Washington & Georgetown Railway Co.

The character of the street construction is illustrated in Figs. 5 and 6, and is about the same as that employed in the Seventh Street line. The conduit is thirty-eight inches deep from the top of the slot rail. The yoke weighs 345 lbs. The rails are of the English grooved girder pattern, and weigh eighty lbs. per yard. The slot rails are of the Z type, and weigh sixty-three lbs. per yard. The contract for furnishing all the rails has been let to the Johnson Co. of Johnstown, Pa.

Fig. 6 -- Cable Construction -- Washington & Georgetown Railway Co.

The concrete employed in the conduit construction was mixed in the following proportions: One barrel best imported Portland cement, thirteen cubic feet sand and twenty-two cubic feet broken stone. The concrete base for asphalt pavement on top of the conduit is made of native cement. Both lines have a large number of curves, there being thirty-four single curves on the avenue line, and twenty-two single curves on the Fourteenth Street line, none of them, however, less than sixty foot radius. There will be about 4,000 ft. of curve construction, (single track) which will require over 700 curve pulleys. The curve pulleys are to be twenty-three inches in diameter and will be mounted four feet six inches centre to centre on the smaller radius curves and at varying distances at the larger curves. The pattern of carrying pulley has not yet been decided upon. The chilled pulleys that have been employed on the Seventh Street line will not be used on the new lines. These pulleys consist of a chilled cast rim and cast hub with wrought iron spokes. When properly constructed these pulleys operate very satisfactorily, but are not durable, from the fact that they work loose on the spindle, and being chilled cannot be turned out and re-fitted.

One of the most interesting features connected with the new construction is the systematic and rapid manner in which the work has been pushed along. The method of operation is characteristic of the contractor, Mr. E. Saxton, who has probably built as many miles of cable road as any other contractor in the country, and who was awarded the contract without competition. The entire excavation per foot of double track, including nine inches for the pavement, was only 1.15 cubic yards of earth. The street construction is now nearly done, with the exception of a few of the curves and some of the termnal pulleys. In placing the pit pulleys at the corner of Pennsylvania Avenue and Fifteenth Street, it was necessary to move about 136 ft. of a six foot brick sewer which was twelve feet below the surface.

The greater portion of the surface of the new line is paved with asphaltum, and the rail is placed flush with the street surface, so that a buggy can drive in any direction over the rails without any perceptible jar. The pulley vault covers are nearly eighteen inches square and are corrugated in squares. The conduit being deep no supplemental drain pipe is required, as the bottoms of the pulley vaults are uniform with the bottom of the conduit from which connection is made with the sewers at suitable intervals. The line is to be operated by grip cars and trailers about the same as employed on the Seventh Street line. There are to be seventy open grip cars, the contract for which has been let to the John Stevenson Co., Lt'd., of New York. There will also be sixty closed coaches and 120 open cars, the contracts for which have not yet been let.

The plans for the road were designed in Kansas City by W. B. Upton, the mechanical engineer, under approval of Daniel Bontecou, consulting engineer to the company and the work was executed under the direction of David S. Carll, the resident engineer. The buildings were planned by Architect W. C. Root, of Kansas City.

Fig. 7 -- Car Barn -- Washington & Georgetown Railway Co.

In conversation with Mr. Henry Hurt, president of the road, he stated that the success of the Seventh Street cable line had met the expectations of the company, and in answer to a question asked as to what success the electric lines in his neighborhood were having, replied that he did not know, that his people having adopted the cable as their motive power, it was unnecessary to spend time investigating any other system. In connection with the cable equipment the company are engaged in erecting two car houses, one at the Navy Yard and the other at Mount Pleasant. The former is illustrated in Fig. 7, and is 100 x 283 ft., and has storage room for 150 cars. The Mount Pleasant car house is 140 X 290 ft. and will accommodate 300 cars. These are both being built in a very substantial manner and are pleasing in architectural effect. The use of the large building now occupied by the company in Georgetown will be continued for a car house and office purposes.

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