[X120CAR], Letter from Frank Julian Sprague to Edward Hibberd Johnson, April 22nd, 1889


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[X120CAR], Letter from Frank Julian Sprague to Edward Hibberd Johnson, April 22nd, 1889

Editor's Notes

I returned from Atlantic City Saturday night. I was unable to do anything, except make an inspection, on account of botht he line and macines.##We now have under orders, over three hundred machines. We have in sight, probably one hundred and fify more. These machines ought to be delivered at the rate of four or five a day. This necessitates rapid work, qiuick inspection, and the absolute certainty that parts which are intended to be duplicates, shall in fact be so. The testing and shipment of these machines must be an addition to the regular inspection of other work, and that which belongs to the Edison Machine Works as well.##To avoid many of the troubles which we have had in the past, perfect interchangibility of like parts must, as I say, be had; the machine must be perfectly finished and if for any reason a machine is shipped with any part missing the missing part which follows must be sure to go into its place without further fitting. It is also important that machines shall be complete in every detail when shipped to avoid the expenses consequent upon delays after the machines are received. It is then vital that eveyr machine shall be personally inspected by a man who can give his entire time to this business for the present, which man shall be both a thorough mechanic and familiar with actual difficulties met out on the road.##As an example of the conditions which are met outside I cite Atlantic City. The work there has been put in by contract. We have a good man there, Mr. Mason, who is more of an electrician than hye is a mechanic. There is not a machine shop in town, and consequently no place do anything which requires the use of tools.##Last week tow machines were sent there by express. The first assembled while I was in Schenectady, the other immediately after I left. The condition in which both machines arrived illustrates the necessity of having at Schenectady the character of man of whom I speak, and the impossibility of leaving to the general direction of the Machine Works the inspection and shipment of these railroad machines. The second machine came with the attached inspector's certificate and a letter from Mr. Crosby, but was deficient as follows:--##Neither check-nuts or nu-checks on main split geats: These nut-checks are in stock, have been approved by Mr. Kruesi, and personal attention of everybody has been called to them. They are essential.##The intermediate counter shaft was lacking the following:-- 2 gear feathers, 2 rings, 2 cotter-pins, and no hole was at either end of the shaft for these pins. There are no proper facilities in Atlantic City for doing any of this work.##No armature terminals on either machine.##No axle-keys. There seems to have been a question as to whether the truck-builders or ourselvs should furnish these; they have not been furnished by anybody.##No suspension-bolt or Spring. These were designed fo for suspending bracke and can not well be used on the special trucks on which all of our present work goes. A much simpler arrangement can be bought int eh open market.##No inclosing shell for the intermediate counter shaft.##Bracket that was dadly fitted.##It hardly seems to me that even hurried shipments are necessarily accompanied by so many omissions, and certainly not for the farce of an inspector's certificate which does not certify. I recommend not only that a thorough mechanic and a man who has had a practical experience on the road be detailed for the express purpose of following the shipment of these particular machines but that he be requreid to check off from a printed list every piece which belongs to and goes into a shipment.##Since you are going to Schenectady and can see for yourself how essential these details are and how they can be provided for, I have deemed it advisable to write thus fully.
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Thomas A. Edison Papers, School of Arts and Sciences, Rutgers University
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