[D8732ABP], Letter from William J Jenks to John H Vail, November 12th, 1887

Item

Abstract

"What is to be said in answer to such letters as the enclosed from the Tacoma Co.? Every agent and all our Municipal stations show the same anxiety. A letter a few days ago from S. Z. Mitchell, our only energetic agent in the far West, says: -- "Are we going to sit still and be called "old fashioned," fossils," &c., and let the other fellows get a lot of the very best paying business? The T. & H. agent (Sparling, the father of Mitchell's partner0 "says he has just sold 1300 Westinghouse lights in Spokane Falls, to the company opposing the Spokane Edison Co." ## You will remember the contract taken by the United States Company for Portland, Oregon, where our Municipal system was thrown aside because we could not furnish interior lighting, controllable at the lamp, from the same wires used for the streets. The plant thus gained by them was installed as a two-wire, 5 lamps in series, It has recently been increased from 500 to 2000 lamps, of which 900 are inside the walls of buildings. ## Evidently there is an enormous pressure everywhere for a system to cover distances. You desired me some time ago, to condier superintending the construction of a "Five-Wire" system in Greenwich. Before the time comes for action I wish to carefully review the subject with Mr. Edison. From him I received my first conceptions of Three-Wire distribution and Municipal control, and it is possible I may get some of my doubts on this five wire plan cleared up. But I have talked carefully with the best inspectors, central station managers and specialists we have today, and I find them all of one mind in deploring its complications. ## I do not hesitate to say I shrink from carrying out your plans as proposed. ## I am not afraid to attack any problem if I can do it under cover, but I have stood between the company and the public through the experiments, interruptions and anxieties of the first underground three-wire and the first Municipal plants, and I respectfully enter my protest against being instructed to make a trial of this 5-wire idea in the eyes of an expectant public and under the merciless criticism of our competitors. ## And I suggest that in some favored locality, as at the Machine Works (where power, dynamos and all other facilities can be secured, and every phase of distribution and regualtion watched and studied under a comfortable roof and in privacy) we place a trial plant, say 1000 lights which will give us actual working conditions and get to the bottom of this thing before we offer it for sale. Let us "try our horses before we trot them out." Enslosure: D8732ABQ

Recipient

Date

1887-11-12

Decade

1880-1889

Type

Identifier

D8732ABP

Folder Set

D8732

Title

[D8732ABP], Letter from William J Jenks to John H Vail, November 12th, 1887

Microfilm ID

119:849

Publisher

Thomas A. Edison Papers, School of Arts and Sciences, Rutgers University