[X001M2AO], Letter from Wilson Stout Howell to Chester Electric Light and Power Co, December 29th, 1888


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[X001M2AO], Letter from Wilson Stout Howell to Chester Electric Light and Power Co, December 29th, 1888

Editor's Notes

[15-page MS report] I beg to submit to you the following report of the condition of your station, showing the faults which existed the alterations which have been completed and proper remedies for other faults which have not been attended to. ##The first and most noticable fault which existed last October was extreme variations of pressure. I found the pressure as high as 121 volts on lamps of 106 +107 volts an increase of 14 or 15 volts above normal which is more than sufficient to double the candle power of every lamp, and which was the cause of the heavy lamp breakage at that time. The effect of such high pressure is a rapid deterioration of the carbon filiment accomplanied by the blacking of the globe. The straining of the carbon reduces the initial light this is farther reduced by the blackened globe, so that while the first effect of high pressure is to make a splendid light then subsequent result is a poor, yellow light accompanied by very short life of lamps. The reason for such exteme high pressure at the lamps was, the total unavailability of the indicators used and the bad condition of the equalizers. The indicators excepting the two used on #6 feeder were of an old pattern (which had been condemned before your station was built) intended for isolated plants and should not have been used in any station, not one of these indicators was indicating correctly. They would vary five or six volts during an evenings run, so bad were they that no dependence could be placed upon them and they were condemned and replaced by comparative indicators. The comparative system gave us three indications of press and showed us that we had some serious faults in the equalizers. One by one we removed the equalizers and found them all in a very dirty condition, all were oily and dusty, some had beeen wetted, pitch had dripped from the roof upon others. ##Examination of each equalizer as it came out, before taking it apart to clean it, showed that some of them had become enitrely useless by a disarrangement of the park, others had become loose on the shaft and would not tern, all were wood burned so that they could not be easily operated some had gotten out of adjustment so that the stop, which controlls the range of the instrument did not check the hand wheel at the proper point but allowed it to work the equalizer backwards, producing jumps in the light. One equalizer was so badly disarranged that it opened the circuit and had but one position in which it performed the functions of a regulator. Every equalizer was overhauled, cleaned up and properly adjusted since which there has been no difficulty in keeping all indicators on zero and maintaining a constant light. It is necessary that the indicators and equalizers should be inspected and kept in good working order, otherwise you are liable to have complaints of bad service. The work of changing form the old to the new system of indication of pressure involved the running of a new set of insultated copper pressure wires to the end of #2 feeder cor. Of Market St. + PWR + BRR. Swing to a general mixing up the numbers of the feedres I got these wires in wrong and found it necesssary to trace out every feeder and pressure wire and givethem all new numbers before we could get our connections straight. I found that but one feeder was given the same number at all points this was #6 the last feeder installed. The feeder now known as #1 was called #1 at the point where it is connected to the bus, #4 where it was connected to equalizer #4 at indicator and #3 at its end where it joined the mains. All the others except #6 had two or three different numbers so that when a feeder was spoken of by numbers no one knew which feeder it was. The list of feeders showing their numbers also told where they terminated only two of the numbers were correct and in but three cases was the location of the finder end stated correctly. Every feeder now has a definate number, this number is plainly painted on the equalizer indicator equalizer wheel at junction with bus and where feeder and pressure wires leave the cupola as well as in the loft above engine room to facilitate tracing out. The location of each feeder end is also plaining marked upon the map of lines in directors room, so that there need newer by any confusion of numbers or location of feeder so long as every change is carefully noted on map. The current is fed into the network of mains at six points, as follows [details about numbered feeders & locations] ## Your lamp breakage was increased by serving some six or more customers off the feeder, the feeders are supplied with current from the bus at a much higher pressure than the lamps are made for. Your lamps are made for 110 to 112 volts your current is delivered to the mains at 114 volts while the pressure at full load, on the bus is 134 volts and at this pressure the current is distributed into the station end of the feeders and drops to 114 volts at the other end of the feeders where they join the mains a drop of 20 volts if a customer is connected on a feeder one half its length from the station he will have 124 volts pressure on his lamps during veavy loads and if he is connected on the feeder one third of its length from the station his lamps will get a pressure of 127 volts less the drop on services and house wiring. Under such condition lamps of 110 and 112 volts would not give satisfactory life while lamps of 106 + 107 volts as formerly used by you could not be expected to live more than three or four hundred hours. ###It is my belief that with you pressure held constant at 114 or 115 during the heavy loads and dropped to 112 or 113 during the light loads that your life of lamps well average fully 1200 hours and probably 1500 hours. A noticable reduction of the cost of lamp renewals has already been made and will continue as long as your regulation is faithfully performed. The cost of lamp renewals will not be reduced to a minimum until all the overstrained lamps which were in use prior to Nov. 1st. have been renewed. These lamps are still coming in and can be told by the marks on the plaster bottoms, all the old lamps are marked 106 or 107 and the new one 110 or 112 or 114. ###Some stations of same average output as chester station keep their average cost of lamps renewals below $45 per month, while furnishing a thoroughly good light. The secret of such small lamp cost is that all customers of 100 candles power or over are wired with three wire services and the pointers of the pressure indicators are kept on zero. ###It is a good investment to pay a boy $20 or $25 per month to operate the regulators and equalizers even if he will save no more than his pay amounts to because a constant steady light is more salable than a varying a fluctuating light, besides if the light is allowed for a few moments to rise to 20 or 22 candles power consumers will complain when it is brought down to 16 or 18 while a square 16 or 18 candles power will always satisfy if not allowed to get above that point. A constant light is necessary adopt a standard and stick to it. A constant light of 16 candles power will give for better satisfaction than a light averaging 20 candles power which seldom gets below 18 and frequently up to 30. The quality of the light is more often a source of complaint than the quality. I have talked enough to Mr. Denis about the danger of fire from equalizers to assume that the necessary precautions of automatic sprinkles and an automatic alarm will be adopted. I apprehand no trouble from that source except in cases of a bad cross on the line which would take enough current to burn out the coils of the equalizers which were in circuit. In case of short circuits or crosses which hold on long enough to bring the lights down the equalizers on that side of the system should be turned as far around as the stop in the direction which makes the indicator pointers go high, and kept there till the cross burns off or lets go. Turning all equalizers high will help you burn off a cross which might hold on till shaken out if equalizers were in circuit. The main on 3rd street between Edgement Ave. and Penn ST. is a small wire (#7) asd this wire should serve as a bridge or balancing wire between #1 and #6 feeders it would be an improvement to remove the #7 wire and replace it with a larger, not smaller than #2 B.M.G. and as much larger as you care to put up. This wire will serve as a main and as a bridge its first effect will be to add load to #6 feeder (which is now so lightly loaded as to be difficult to control) and relive #1 feeder which is now carrying a heavy load. ###New changing switch boards have been put on all the 125 volt dynamos to take the place of the old dynamos changing switches which were to small to carry the current of a #16 dynamo without heating badly. This change has simiplified the handling of dynamos and removed a source of trouble and danger. As originally wired up the magnets of one dynamos of each pair were removed in order that the wiring of the dynamos-changing switches should be symetrical. This is a bad practice followed by some constructors which causes much trouble to stations operators when they install a new pair of dynamos without knowing that the polarity of their dynamos does not correspond. In order to prevent such trouble I changed back the magnets of all dynamos so that the bottom brush is positve on every on every machine, just as it came from the manufactured. ###The bases or frames of dynamos #2, #3, #4, + #5 are grounded, the frames of #1 + #6 are very slightly grounded, although none of the armature of field magnet circuits of dynamos show any sign of ground by listing with magnets. The base of all dynamos should be very carefully insulated from the earth and kept so, for it any of the dynamos wires become grounded on the base the grounding of the base or frame of the dynamos complets the circuit to grounds on the distributing system, and causes trouble. Grounds on the bases of dynamos offer a path for lightning, and should be removed as soon as is convenient the sooner it is done the safer the dynamos will be. The wires which connect the magnet circuits of the dynamos to the regulators were secured by wooden cleats to rafters in loft above engine room and had become moistened by conducted steam or leakage from the roof so that there was danger of their parting and opening the fuild-magnet circuit on some dynamos. To prevent this I caused new wires to be installed, fastened entirely on porcelain knots. Your pressure wires will require attention of the same kind soon. ###The commutators of your dynamos should be run much better thant hey are. Instead of cutting and sparking they should run perfectly smooth and glassy and with an almost imperceptable spark at full load. Sparking causes roughness and roughness increases sparking. Since I have been in Chester you have had a great number of short-circuits on the line some were due to storms of wind but the majority were caused by the handling of the conductors, in repairing of the line, and in putting up new or taking down old wire. I am convinced that your linemen do not thoroughly appreciate the importance of keeping wires clear and the damage done to commutators and brushes (and to lamps burning at the time) by by even a momentary contact of wires of opposite polarity. The crosses on the line have been so frequent that the commentators of the two #12 dynamos, which run all day, are in bad shape, especially #6 the positive machine. In changing from one pair of dynamos to another or in adding dynamos when load is coming on the pressure generally rises quite high, momentarally sometimes it falls slightly. This is because the two dynamos which are to be coupled in multiple are not both at the same "pressure" when the switch is closed the loaded machine generally being of lower pressure. A dynamo galvanometer is used by many stations to show when the two dynamos are at the same pressure at which time if the dynamos are coupled no change can be noticed on the lights and but a very slight change is noticable on the indicators when the manipulations is skillful. ###A very useful and important addition could be made to your station by placing an ampere meter on the two outside wires of each feeder. They would show you at all times the load on each feeder and how that load was balanced and would aid greatly in locating crosses or heavy grounds. ###The loss on your feeders at full load is about 14% and on the mains about 1% to 1-1/2%. That means that to increase your economy you must invest in copper. As your load increases so will your loss increase. If you furnish a steady constant light of good color your load certainly will increase before next winter by which time your regulation and distribution should be so much improved that you can use a lamp of higher economy thereby reducing the loss on your feeders even with an increased load. ###The worst fault existing in your station today is the racing of the engines. All the engines have raced more or less, since I have been Chester, but the engine marked is a cronic racer. Hardly a day passes during which the speed of that engine is uniform for its entire run. When she raced the best remedy seems to be to shut her down or change the load over to a large engine. The effect of racing engine is very bad on lamps and provoking to consumers it runs the pressure up very high and suddenly cuts it down, again it goes up with a run and drops as before, this is repeated for some time until the engineer on duty succeeds in controlling the engine. Your greatest want is a good superintendent who understands the Edison System, not a high priced, kid glove man, but a man aof a good common school education, good common sense, and fair executive ability. Such a man with some experience in running an Edison Station could improve your service, get more work and better work out of your men, and save much which now goes to waste. The two plain facts are that your station wants a boss on hand from 12 to 18 hours every day and that boss must understand the principals of the system.####The best part of your house lighting is hardly touched I refer to the lighting of dwellings. Dwellings use light on an average till ten o'clock and are willing to pay fair bills. New Brunswick, NJ with barely 20,000 population has over 135 dwellings lighted with Edison lamps. That station started four days later than the Chester station, in March 1886. the same station is running about 25 arc lamps although it has none of the city lighting. The subject of dwelling house lighting brings up the meter question, I don't think the former can be made a very marked success with out the later. Dwelling to be lighted successfully should have lamps everywhere celler to garret, closets and porches, then the convenience of the lgiht fastens your customer. The contract system inclines consumers to decrease the number and size of lamps installed and limits the advantages of dwelling house lighting.####The Edison meter is a decided success and I believe that with ability behind it, in the person of a superintendent, your plant would require another enlargement within a year. ####I leave your plant in a good shape generally, your lines are in much better, shape than they were lastd October and are gradually being straightened out, much work remains to be done on them and will indoubtedly be done properly by the lineman in charge. ###Your means of indicating the pressure on the mains is the best obtainable and is in good working order. Your apparatus for regulating the pressure is well adopted to its work butu requires watching. All that remains to be done to secure good service to all consumers is to keep the pressure constant at all timesand especially to watch the indicators carefully during the time when the load is coming on or going off and to regulate so as to keep the pointer of each indicator on zero all the time. I shall gladly furnish any additional information within my power upon application. COMPLETED FORM WITH STATISTICS & BASIC ORGANIZATIONAL INFO FOLLOWS




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