Selected Articles From Manufacturer and Builder
1870-1879/Page 2
Collected by Joe Thompson

These articles from Manufacturer and Builder Magazine were published in the 1870s. Photo scans of the articles are available from Making of America at Cornell University. Uncorrected text scans are available from the Library of Congress' American Memory site. I did some cleanup of the text scans. I made a few editorial comments in italics with my initials.

Dummy Locomotives

From Manufacturer and Builder / Volume 9, Issue 4, May 1875

Under the name of dummy locomotives are understood such as are surrounded by a casing so as to hide the boiler and the greater part of the machinery. The finest engines of this class are now being built by the well-known engineering firm of Messrs. Hampson, Whitehill & Co., of 88 Cortlandt street, New York, for the New York Elevated Railroad, running through Greenwich street and Ninth avenue, over which each of these engines draws two or three comfortable cars, giving the best of accommodation to the passengers.

The chief problem in the design of these engines was to make them as powerful as possible for their small size and weight, and that this problem was solved is evident from the successful experience with several of them built by the company at their own works, and which have thus far done satisfactory duty.

While we write, travel on the road is closed, for the introduction of valuable improvements: the gauge, which was 4 feet 10 inches, is being changed to the regular gauge of the New York street-cars -- 4 feet 8 1/2 inches, so that its trains may run on the ordinary street rails, or inversely, ordinary street-cars may be transported over this road. This is accomplished by placing wooden cross-ties over the existing old rails and laying new steel rails on top of these, fixed to them with spikes in the usual way. At the same time, additional trusses and wrought-iron columns add to the strength and stability of the structure. At first the rails were immovably fixed to the cross-ties on top of the columns, and the least settling of the foundations of the latter threw the rails out of line, so that the track soon became zigzag, and the cars subject to so much oscillation as to make it dangerous, notwithstanding the extra wide flange adopted. This however was soon corrected by making the rails adjustable on the columns; but the main trouble by which the first management lost considerable money, (and probably the cause of the breaking of the company financially,) were the costly experimental contrivances intended for the propulsion of the trains. They consisted in an endless wire rope of about a mile long, and of which one-half moved over pulleys between the rails, while the returning half moved through a small tunnel underground, along the base of the columns. This however was soon abandoned as utterly impracticable, and both portions of the rope were made to pass between the track, while at the end of each section it passed through one of the hollow columns underground in the celler (sic - JT) of one of the adjoining buildings, which had been hired to place the stationary engine in, the engineer of which started it at a given signal when a train approached his section. As there were several such stationary engines placed from distance to distance, each requiring attendants, the wastefulness of this plan is evident, and it is surprising that this was not seen at the outset, before this great expense was indulged in. Experience soon showed another very objectionable feature, namely, when a train passed from one section to another, the pull of the wire rope, when this moved faster than the train, often caused such a jerk at the moment it became attached, as to throw the passengers from their seats. We ourselves experienced this on a trial trip to which the editors of the various New York papers were invited, and as the seats are placed lengthwise, the whole editorial corps were thrown in a heap to the rear end of the car. However no one was injured.

Is it any wonder that a number of capitalists, employing advisers who indulged in the execution of such visionary schemes, at last broke down, and saw the road pass out of their hands and into such as had the common sense to employ solid engineering talent? The latter have now made the Greenwich street elevated railroad a success, which is chiefly due to the abandonment of new schemes and the adoption of the system tested by the experience of years -- the simple locomotive pulling a train of cars. The only question was to make one which would answer the purposes and adapted to the peculiar condition of the case.

It is due to the ingenuity of Mr. D. W. Wyman, superintendent of the road, to have designed a successful one, of which we give a sectional view on the opposite page. In the design he has displayed great ingenuity combined with professional knowledge. Their established success has made all other plans or devices for propulsion utterly useless, and they therefore have been definitely abandoned. A number of new engines of the same class have now been contracted for with Messrs. Hampson, Whitehill & Co., as above stated, and as soon as finished and the road is ready to receive them, they will be placed on the improved road, over which, by reason of additional accommodations in switching, etc., the trains will run twice as often as at present.

The main feature in their mechanical construction is a similarity to an engine with six coupled wheels, of which the middle one possesses the crank and is driven by the piston-rod, only that here this wheel is omitted, while axle and crank are retained, possessing the eccentrics and everything except the wheel, while the locomotive stands on the four wheels coupled to this crank and axle. The cylinders, which are 7 inches diameter by 10 inches stroke, are placed inside of the wheels, and just in front of the forward axle, and are so inclined as to raise them high enough for the guides to clear the axle of the forward wheels. The wheels are 23 inches diameter, and are all drivers; the boiler is 36 inches diameter, and has one hundred and forty- two 1 1/4-inch tubes; the entire length over all, including the cab, is 11 feet 6 inches.

Steam is taken from a valve placed on top of the dome, from which a pipe passes forward to a throttle- valve placed over the front end of the boiler. From this a steam-pipe passes down each side of the boiler to the steam-chests, which are on top of the cylinders. The valve-motion is of the ordinary shifting-link type. The exhaust-pipe has two branches, one leading into the smoke-stack directly, the other passing through the tank and then upwards through the roof of the cab. A small saddle-tank is placed over the barrel of the boiler. The frames are bar-frames like ordinary engine frames, and are well braced together. The whole engine is covered over with a cab or housing, provided with windows all round, and a door at each side of the foot-plate.

These engines weigh about 8,000 pounds, ready for work; their ordinary train consists of two passenger cars weighing 11,000 pounds each, and each capable of seating forty-eight passengers; but three cars are frequently hauled. The length of the road is very nearly four miles; in that distance there are seven stops, and the run is made in twenty minutes. A day's work is about ten round trips, or eighty-two miles.

One curious test of the simplicity and good workmanship of an engine is found in the small amount of lubricating material needed. It is evident that a complicated machine, or one badly built, needs extra greasing to make it work; but when we state the fact that each of these engines can run six days, or nearly 500 miles on one single gallon of lubricating oil, it puts their excellence in a clear light. In regard to the consumption of coal, this was found, by conscientious measurement, to he 6 pounds per mile run, deduced from the fact that every ton of anthracite coal was sufficient to run the trains 333 miles.

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Success of Steam Street-Cars

From Manufacturer and Builder / Volume 9, Issue 4, April 1877

The problem of using steam as a motor on street railways seems likely to be solved in Philadelphia, the first city in the country to introduce horse-cars. Mr. John S. Morton, of the West Philadelphia Passenger Railway Company (Market street line), has for many months been making experiments with a view to superseding horse power with steam; but, though a number of steam-cars of different patents were successively tried, none were pronounced satisfactory. However, seven more steam-cars, six manufactured in Troy, N. Y., and one in Philadelphia at the Baldwin Locomotive Works, were placed on the road, and in a trial trip, participated in by the officers of various street-railway companies, a number of business men and members of the press, it was found that so nearly perfect had the steam vehicles been made that very little improvement could possibly be suggested.

No difficulty was experienced in any part of the route except when ascending the heavy grades near the Market street bridge. Here one or two of the Troy cars were stopped for a few moments by the muddy condition of the track, but it was explained that this would not have happened had not the sand carried been carelessly placed in the box without sifting, thus clogging up one sand-pipe. This omission was rectified, and the cars mounted the grade with ease.

It was noticed during the trip that the engines were perfectly noiseless, and but little steam escaped, most of this amount coming out beneath the body of the car. The boiler, which is very small, is placed in front of the car, and encased with walnut. The machinery is very compact, and the parts are so arranged that the entire power of the engine can be concentrated on the brakes. This places the car under such complete control that while going at a high rate of speed it can be stopped much quicker than the ordinary horse-car. It was frequently remarked during the trip that the most high spirited horses were not in the least affected by the new steam cars, and that with few exceptions the only animals frightened were cart and dray horses, that no one would suppose could be startled by anything short of a cannonade or an earthquake. None of these animals became unmanageable, and before the seven cars had passed quieted down to their normal plodding condition.

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The Steam Street Cars in Paris

From Manufacturer and Builder / Volume 9, Issue 7, July 1877

The steam street cars in Paris are reported to be unqualifiedly successful, although they run along the grandest boulevard in the city, and through some of the busiest streets, turning sharp angles and climbing and descending perceptible grades. The engines draw crowded cars from the Arc de Triomphe to the Bastile, a distance of seven miles, at a speed of eight miles an hour, and no one has yet been hurt, nor are horses frightened by the sight of the engines. The latter are like the dummies on Market street, Philadelphia, noiseless and smokeless, and steam-power is said to have proved much more economical than horse-power.

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Gilbert Road Depot Buildings

From Manufacturer and Builder / Volume 10, Issue 3, March 1878

The Gilbert Elevated Railroad Company have just closed a contract for the construction of fifteen elegant iron depot buildings, to be built immediately on the line of their track from the Battery to Central Park. A large quantity of ornamental work is involved, as appears from an examination of the architectural plans. The total contract price exceeds $200, 000. The buildings measure 46x22 feet, or if the balconies are included 46x38. The plans exhibited by J. F. Cropsey, architect and artist, are especially intended for the intersection of Fourteenth street and Sixth avenue, covering almost the entire available space at the point designated, but they are modified somewhat to suit the various localities. They exhibit a central section, wing pavilions to the right and left, and a train platform in front extending 126 feet. At all the principal points of travel the buildings are double, to accommodate both tracks, namely, Rector street, Park Place, Chambers street, West Broadway, Franklin, Grand, and Bleecker streets, Jefferson Market, Fourteenth, Twenty-third Thirty-third, Forty-second, Fiftieth, and Fifty-seventh streets. The ascent is made by a flight of 30 steps, covered by pavilion roofs, so arranged that persons can step from a carriage upon a stone platform beneath the shelter of the building. The style is spoken of as the modernized Gothic, the light iron balcony in front being a distinguishing feature, and ornamental work being freely used on all prominent points. Internally the finish will be in light and dark woods, and the two waiting rooms will have ceilings about 15 feet in height, beneath timbered roofs; altogether, the architectural effect is good, but will hardly silence those who protest against the "disfigurement."

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Street Cars Run by Motive Power

From Manufacturer and Builder / Volume 10, Issue 5, May 1878

The Second Avenue Railroad of New York city, has one of the Pneumatic Tramway Engine Company's cars. Upon each platform is a steel lever, by means of which the car can be started, stopped or its direction reversed. The car is of the same general model as that of ordinary street cars. It has six tubular air receivers situated under the floor of the car. The air is compressed by an engine which is standing at the side of the depot, and is introduced by a rubber hose into these receivers. That air passes through an engine situated between the axles, and propels the car.

The car lately ran from 63d to 95th street and back in about 20 minutes, with two or three stoppages. It is claimed for the car thus inspected that it can be stopped more readily than the horse cars, and that its rate of speed can be increased to 30 miles per hour, while it can make 9 miles per hour and still not appear to go faster than the horse cars. The car which was run is only a model, and it takes about four hours to charge its receivers with air, but machinery has been ordered which will perform the work in less than a minute.

One of these air engines, it is said, can easily draw a whole train of ordinary street cars. A company composed of 25 capitalists has been formed to manufacture cars upon the above model. It has already received an order for five from the Second Avenue Company. These will be used on the upper part of the Second Avenue route.

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The Noise on the Elevated Railroad

From Manufacturer and Builder / Volume 10, Issue 8, August 1878

The complaints of the occupants of residences and stores along Sixth avenue against the noise produced by the trains moving along the Elevated Railroad, remind us very forcibly of the complaints of the inhabitants of a growing town when the main thoroughfare was paved for the first time. Not accustomed to the noise made by horses and vehicles on cobble-stones and remembering their noiselessness when moving on dusty country roads, they declared paved streets a nuisance, as they could not hear their conversation while a wagon was passing. The fact is, that if one walks down West Broadway during the busy hours of the day, when wagons are passing and re-passing by the hundred, their noise is so great as almost to drown that produced by the trains passing overhead; but the residents there are accustomed to it, and consider it a necessary evil to which they have to submit for the sake of the public good.

In the meantime, it cannot be denied that the trains on the Metropolitan Elevated Railroad in Sixth avenue are much more noisy than is necessary -- far more so than the trains on the New York Elevated Railroad on Ninth avenue. The cause of this is twofold; in the first place it was constructed with great dispatch, and many parts in contact were found to he loose and rattling; in the second place, the design is very defective so far as regards the judicious distrihution of material -- there is too much of this altogether, except in the columns supporting the upper structure. The design of the latter we consider, in this respect, so defective as to he no credit to Dr. Gilbert, its projector, no matter what his friends may think of it. It has a double disadvantage; first, that of greater cost and waste of material; second, by creating a large mass of vibrating body, which increases the sonorous vihration of a passing train, as the sounding-board of a piano increases the sonorous vibration of a string. It is well known that the same string, when placed on an old-fashioned small piano, will not produce one-tenth of the volume of sound it is capable of when placed on a modern grand piano.

In order to illustrate this principle more forcibly, let us imagine that a sheet-iron floor was placed under the sleepers over the whole extent of the Metropolitan Elevated Railroad; there is no doubt that in that case the vibration of all that sheet-iron, started by every passing train, and propagated up and down the road, would increase the noise produced by every train to that of loud thunder -- so loud that it would drown the noise of the most noisy wagons, which is not the case now. Any one can satisfy himself of the fact that this mass of iron increases the noise, by watching the trains passing through Amity, Third, and Murray streets. In these streets the compound cross-beams supporting the track are not constructed on the truss principle, as is the case on other parts of the road, but are made of iron plates, set on edge, and the result is more noise in those streets than in other parts of the road.

Next we call attention to the design of that part of the New York Elevated Railroad which runs through Third avenue. It is most admirable; the heavy crossbeams are entirely dispensed with, as the trusses supporting the tracks stand on the columns directly, while the two tracks are connected in order to aid in securing their position, which were made very light, as they have absolutely no weight to carry. This gives the Third avenue section a graceful appearance, which compares very favoiably with the clumsiness of the Sixth avenue railroad, while at the same time it is equally strong, and we prophecy that this Third avenue section, when in operation, will give less reason for complaint than any other. In fact, this was partially proved when the first trip was made recently over the road. An engine and one car from the old section of the road running through Greenwich street and Ninth avenue was placed on the track, and a trip made from Whitehall to Fifty-ninth street, the entire length of the road. The noise made by the train was so slight as to be scarcely perceptible amidst the racket from the numerous cars and general traffic constantly moving along the Bowery and Third avenue. After the new cars have been running awhile and the track becomes thoroughly settled, the noise will be materially lessened, and we think will not he easily distinguishable amidst the general uproar.

Various attempts are now being made by the directors of the Metropolitan Elevated Railroad to diminish the noise, and these attempts will no doubt be successful to some small extent. Some of the experiments are simply absurd -- such as hanging beneath the cars a kinnd of drapery of flannel, covering all the wheels and nearly touching the track. This was based on two erroneous theories; one that the noise made by the wheels was propagated only through the air; and, second, that a flannel drapery would intercept a strong sound. But the rolling of the wheels vibrates the track and the whole structure on which it rests, and it is this large vibrating surface which sets the surrounding air in vibration. Hence there is no hope of making the trains on the elevated road less noisy than steam trains on a surface road; while running at a moderate velocity the noise is moderate, but as soon as the velocity is increased the noise becomes greater, and this at an increasing ratio, perhaps governed by the law of the squares of cubes of the velocities. That which at a slow velocity is an almost noiseless rolling, becomes at high velocities a rapid hammering of the wheels on the rails, and so long as iron upon iron or steel is used, it will always be very noisy. The only remedy would be to use wooden rails, or rubber wheels, or covering them with some equivalent substance; but this is hardly practicable on account of the enormous wear and tear to which they are subject.

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Abatement of the Elevated Railroad Noises

From Manufacturer and Builder / Volume 11, Issue 5, May 1879

The old proverb, that "necessity is the mother of invention," has again been verified in the recent improvements made and now being introduced in the locomotives of the Metropolitan Elevated Railroad, with the purpose of abating the noise, against which there has been so much complaint.

It appears that most all the inventors who have exercised their genius in this direction, have confined themselves to attempts to deaden the rumbling noise made by the wheels, while in fact this was only one of the nuisances, and not the worst. The fitful, irregular puffing and snorting of the exhaust steam, especially strong when the train is starting from a station, and the loud hissing noise which accompanies every application of the brakes, as well as the noise made by the escaping steam when the safety valve is suddenly opened, are nuisances which, by those living near the stations, are declared to be far more disagreeable. After a close investigation and experiments for several months, it has been ascertained that there exists an English patent which appears to overcome some of these annoyances.

The Metropolitan Elevated Railroad has recently purchased the right of using this patent. The hissing noise is caused by the sudden escape of steam from the brake ejector when the engineer applies the brakes to stop the train. Hitherto the difficulty has been to apply a deadener to the top of the escape pipe which would effectually stop the noise, and at the same time permit the steam to escape freely. The improvement consists of a cylindrical chamber, with wire gratings at each end, the cylinder being filled with small glass beads about an eighth of an inch in diameter, and a hole in the center. Little wooden blocks had been tried as deadeners in the place of these beads, and it was found that the constant action of the steam made tine wood pulpy and destroyed its efficiency. The beads, howver, being very hard, are not affected by the steam, and being very small the steam, in passing around and through them, is subdivided into such small parts as to utterly break its power for producing noise, which it must produce when it comes out with a rush under a pressure of 120 pouuds to the square inch. The top of the cylinders above the roof of the cab, so that the steam, after passing through the beads, filters out into the atmosphere. According to a careful count, the number of beads required for each cylinder is about seventy-five thousand. It is feared that the company has got up a perfect "corner" in beads, as the number already purchased is about eight hundred thousand. Several millions more will be required to apply the improvement to all the engines.

The noise of the safety valves only occurs when the steam attains such a high pressure that it is necessary to allow it to escape to prevent the boiler from exploding. The valves automatically give an exit to the surplus steam, and this is also conducted through a pipe to the glass bead deadener, and must filter through the tiny spaces left by the glass beads and the holes in their center; in this way the noise is almost completely overcome.

In regard to the puffing of the exhaust steam, Mr. Baird, the Chief Engineer of the road, and Mr. Allen Stirling, have patented an improvement in the chimney of the locomotive which completely does away with puffing and snorting. It consists of an expansion chamber and an annular nozzle placed in the chimney, the effect of which is to produce a regular noiseless exhaust instead of an intermittent and sonorous one. The steam from the cylinders, instead of passing directly through the nozzles, is discharged into a chamber which is about ten times the capacity of the cylinder. Thus allows the steam to expand in volume, and vastly reduces its pressure; after expanding, the steam passes through the annular nozzle, which produces a much better draught than those hitherto used on locomotives. This nozzle encircles the smoke pipe in a way similar to that of an ordinary ejector; instead of having great volumes of steam escaping suddenly and intermittently, and with much noise, there is a continuous issue; the noise is so reduced that the puffing, if it may be called so any longer, cannot be heard a distance of over ten feet.

In addition to the great reduction of the noise, this improvement materially increases the working power of the engine, relieving the pistons from all back pressure. Engineers all agree that this is quite a novel feature in locomotive engineering. The steam being exhausted from the cylinders through a 5-inch pipe into so large a receiving chamber the immediate effect is to do away with much of the back pressure against the piston, thus allowing the engine to work with better power and produce more revolutions of the wheel with precisely the same pressure of steam. It is expected that it will enable the company to increase their speed at least 20 per cent. The engineer of engine No. 13, which is fitted with this improvement, declares that he can made (make - JT) the run (allowing the same time for stops) in 18 minutes instead of 20, which is the present running time from Rector street to Central Park.

An additional advantage is, as might be expected, a saving in fuel amounting to about 25 per cent. The coal remains in the same position in which it has been placed by the fireman, and is not jerked from the back to the front of the furnace by the violent pulsations of these blasts of steam; in most of the old engines, although the firemen place the coal at the back of the furnace, yet when the engine reaches the other terminus the coal is at the front, choking up the flues and interfering materially with the regular combustion of the coal. The fireman is then compelled to pull it back again, and this process has to be repeated at every terminus, causing a waste of fuel as well as frequent loss of time. In the improved engines this difficulty is entirely overcome, as the mild and uniform current of steam causes a steady, gentle draught, and so permits the coal to remain without disturbance where it was placed, so that it burns away like the coal in a stove, makes no clinkers, and the fires need be cleaned only once in 24 hours instead of four or five times a day.

One of the most important incidental advantages is that this arrangement does away with the ejection of sparks. The effect of the violent blasts of steam in ordinary locomotives is to stir up the fires, draw the smallest particles of coal through the flues, and eject, in the shape of infinitesimal sparks, through the chimney. In the improved engines the exhaust steam passes out in such a gentle and uniform steam that the fire is never stirred and the smallest particles remain on it without being drawn into the flues.

The improvements above mentioned are now being applied to the engines in succession, and the difference is evident to anyone; those known as Nos. 4, 5, 6, 7, 8 and 37 have become noiseless, and form a strong contrast with the others, which puff and snort as usual.

In regard to deadening the noise, the loudest being half way between stations, and made by the rolling of the wheels and vibration of the structure when the trains have attained a certain velocity, there is a patented invention of a Mrs. Walton, consisting of a soft, elastic support under the rails; but it turns out that there are now eleven claimants to the priority of this invention, and under these circumstances the companies' action in accepting it has been delayed until it is settled who is entitled to the priority. This appears to constitute a case where the patent laws retard the introduction of an invention. It may be said that the companies might as well introduce it and afterward pay the one who proves his title; but it must be remembered that the companies would then be at the mercy of that one, and nobody will accept anything before knowing what will have to be paid for it.

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Compressed Air Locomotives in New York City

From Manufacturer and Builder / Volume 11, Issue 11, November 1879

The Third avenue horse railroad has now in operation one small locomotive, which is used instead of a span of horses to propel one of their ordinary cars. The machinery is partially on the front platform and partially below the bottom of the car and under the side seats, which will accommodate about half the number of passengers that the car will hold. The propelling power is compressed air, which is stored up at the depot up-town by a stationary engine, and tapped by the car from its reservoir at every trip, the capacity of the reservoir in the car being sufficient to contain compressed air enough for a down and up trip.

It appears to give satisfaction so far, and if this continues, it will afford great relief to the horses, which, when used on street cars, suffer much from the continual stopping and starting connected with this mode of travel. The Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals will, we hope, encourage this new enterprise.

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Selected Articles From Manufacturer and Builder (1870-1879)/Page 1

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