[X001M2AD], Letter from Wilson Stout Howell to John H Vail, January 11th, 1888


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[X001M2AD], Letter from Wilson Stout Howell to John H Vail, January 11th, 1888

Editor's Notes

I have arrived here this morning from Johnstown, Penns., and submit to you this report of the condition of that station. ## Owing to their pocket indicator being out of adjustment I could make no reading of pressure; but, juding from appearances the lamps are burning high, especially on their principal feeder (No. 2) which I judged to be higher than the others, and probably five volts above normal with no attempt at CONSTANT regulation, that work being done by the engineers in the usual irregular manner. The pressure indicators are affected by the magnets of dynamos No. 5 and No. 6. which makes false indication. I would recommend that their old style, two lamp volt indicators be replaced by comparative instruments, that a regulator boy or operator by employed to keep pressure constant, that a regulator boy or operator be employed to keep pressure constant, and that magnetic shields by used to protect indicators from outside influences. Their pocket volt indicators should be sent to Lamp Factory, for standarization. I am informed it has been taken apart frequently. The irregularities of pressure are increased by faults of equalizers, that on No. 2 feeder being insufficient in capacity and of too high resistance, causing EXTREME JUMPS in regulation, while the equalizers on the Woodvale feeder are of too low resistance, the pressure remaining high on indicators in station with all resistance in circuit. Part of the fault of equalizer on No. 2 feeder is probably due to higher pressure on that feeder cuasing it to carry more than its proportion of load. I would recommend that (if reinforcement of mains does not achieve desired results), No. 2 equalizers by altered to suit its work and that the Woodvale feeder equalizers be increased in resistance on the first steps. At points on mains midway between feeders lamps burn LOW. I have recommended that more copper be added to reinforce mains at weak points. Street lamps burn low when pressure in station is lowered, that is, when the pressure at the dynamo and 'bus is highest the street lamp feeders are run with about one sixth of the equalizer resistance in circuit but when load goes off and although the equalizer is cut out the lamps burn very dull. The fault is due to too much resistance in street system feeders. To improve street lighting I proposed: First: Keep up station pressure all night. This is objectionable as it heats dynamos and is bad economy. Second: Increase size of conductors, but that demands investment. Third: Use lower volt lamps, Fourth: Use NEW lamps, which because it requires less current will relieve the conductors. Fifth: Remove about one half present street system conductors and use balance to operate Edison Municipal System. As the Johnstown Company has a long term contract on street lighting this letter recommendation seems to me preferable. The station apparatus is in good shape. Some minor points are not fully up to most recent practice. The safety catches on the street system feeders, where joined to 'bus in station are placed beyond reach far up on the wall, and in such a position that they cannot be reached when engine No. 1 is running. The main and balance ampere meters are on opposite side of building from indicators. I have strongly recommended the placing of an ampere motor on each side of each feeder so that balance can be observed and corrected for each center of distribution. This Company should be supplied with list of relative sizes of plugs and house wires. One dynamo of each pair is so connected that it was necessary at start to reverse the polarity of field magnets. This proved of considerable disadvantage in starting the second pair of No. 30 dynamos, with which the station was subsequently increased. The entire mechanical force of the Company have labored at a serious disadvantage because of a total lack of instruction in operating the station, especially the electrical portions, and had they hired a low grade of men they would have been in the hospital long ago. As it is they require coaching and instruction. The brushes and commutators are run badly, commutators badly cut and out of true, brushes spark continuously, life of brushes very short. (See monthly reports) $44.00 per month. I have advised that all commutators be turned down with a sharp tool (shaped on point like a letter V.) taking a very light cut, finishing with sand paper and block of wood. Could they have procured tools I would have seen this work done before I left. Lack of discipline in the past has interfered somewhat with harmony of operations. All of which is most respectfully submitted.





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