[LB021475], Letter from Alfred Ord Tate to Thomas Alva Edison, March 28th, 1886


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[LB021475], Letter from Alfred Ord Tate to Thomas Alva Edison, March 28th, 1886

Editor's Notes

As you were informed in a telegram sent you yesterday by Mr. Insull, I have tested the circuits running out from Baltimore, which the B&O people desire to phonoplex. In place of the line from Baltimore to Harper's Ferry referred to in my last letter, the Baltimore officials desired to substitute one running from Baltimore to Hagerstown, Md: 106 miles, nineteen offices in all{underlined in original}, five of which are to be phonoplexes. They also wish to attach the phone system to a wire from Baltimore to Harrisburg, PA: via York, PA: 85 miles--three offices in all (Baltimore, York, Harrisburg) and each phonoplexes. Both these circuits I tested last week for induction, thoroughly, but beyond the discharge from the magnets (relays) in each line itself, there was absolutely nothing to interfere with our instruments, and in neither case will it apparently be necessary for us to condense outside or companion wires, unless it be that some trouble in this way may be developed after we get our condensers in on phonoplex wires. ##The size of wire is #8. Relays of uniform resistance--150 Ohms. Conditions existing with relation to line #10--Baltimore to Hagerstown-- ##Baltimore to Relay Station (10 miles) 25 wires including 3 quads and {--} duplexes. ##Relay to Washington Jct. (59 3/4 miles) 10 wires and one signal wire--including 2 quads and 3 duplexes. ##Wash. Jct. To {------} (latter is job for Hagerstown) 19 wires including 3 quads and 5 duplexes. ##Circuit to Harrisburg Line #42, three companion wires simple, Morse instruments. Our circuits in the city here are running all right. No trouble with anything, except what annoyance is caused by the constant change of battery and that is something I should like to overcome. ##On one of the Baltimore circuits, I am going to test a storage battery. Five cells of {-----} charging two lead plates--one coated with peroxide of lead--and both immersed in diluted sulph{uric} acid thus: {diagram included in original}. Where this battery discharges, we not only get the force of the current from the secondary, but also that of the primary--while the internal resistance of the secondary is very small. It seems to me that this will prove to be exactly what we want. It simply has to be kept filled and will run a long time without any attention whatever. The B&O officials all say that if we get constant battery power, the system is perfect{underlined in original}, but the constant attention{?} which the batteries at present require is a disadvantage--and will be ever more apparent when we set our instruments in "away"{?} offices. If this storage battery works all right, it will cheapen somewhat the cost of maintenance--also first cash, because as it now is, we have to furnish duplicate sets of cells, whereas if we can use the secondary, we will furnish it along, as gravity cells are always available in Battery Rooms of Telegraph or Railway Companies. ##The addition which I had to make to the diaphragm of the phone to stop the swinging of the weight is a great improvement, and I have applied it to all phones in use in the city. ##Mr. Bossart told me the other day that he had made arrangements with the Manager of the Pacific {-----} Telegraph Co. (Lines. St. Louis to Kansas City--through Omaha--2500 miles of wires) to send four sets of phone instruments out to them, to be applied by themselves in their own lines on 30 days trial, and if not satisfactory instruments, to be returned--and he (Mr. Bossart) had instructed Mr. Tomlinson to draw up a new agreement. ##I knew nothing whatever of the arrangement until it had gone this far, when I objected to it on the ground that the fact of allowing the Pacific Montreal{?} people to test the system without our supervising{?} the practical working, was wholly inconsistent with your employment of Mr. Bossart and myself as experts. The circuits in the city here have required the constant attention of {--} Mr. Bossart or myself ever since you left in order to educate those who work there in the adjustment of magnets, {-----}, condensers and care of batteries. In view of this, and of my belief from conversations with you that such arrangement would be discordant with your {----}, I objected to the agreement. ##Mr. Bossart said he wished to do nothing you did not approve of, but thought the phone should receive a fair test because the Manager was a personal friend of his and would exercise great care in making the trial. While he would no doubt do this, I think it would be very unwise to risk the reputation of the system throughout the West by allowing people unacquainted with it to install it and decide as to its merits. Mr. Bossart says therefore that he has arranged that if they do not succeed in making satisfactory tests, an expert is to be sent from here to practically illustrate it. ##I will have the agreement sent to you for approval before any instruments are shipped. ##With Mr. Insull, I called upon Mr. Wiman today. He has been in Canada and seen the phone working there, and is pleased with it. He did not remember having received any proposition from you regarding royalty so we did not remind him, but offered the system for $50.00 per circuit in Canada{underlined in original}, and he wrote of{?} Mr. Dwight, {------} upon the very liberal terms we proposed. He says Mr. Dwight wants more circuits and mentioned particularly only one from Chatham to {-----}, a distance of 45 miles. We will hear from Mr. Dwight very shortly. ##Our Canadian operator reports two condensers destroyed by lightning the other day. They were on the G.T.R.{?} wires in Toronto, at the Union Station. ##I will have the circuit between Baltimore and Harrisburg running by the end of this week and the other sometime next week. All material from {----} is on the spot. Mr. Bossart leaves tonight for Harrisburg and I for Baltimore. I will write you fully upon futher {--------}.




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