New Steel Cars for the New York, Westchester, and Boston Railway (1912)

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Electric Railway Journal · Vol. XXXIX, No. 13, March 30, 1912


"Westchester" Cars, Exterior View.

These Cars Have Many Interesting Constructional and Equipment Features, Including Pressed-Steel, Unit-Side Frames to Carry Most of the Weight, Heat Insulation Means, Air-Operated Doors and Straight, Single-Phase, Multiple-Unit Control.

The New York, Westchester & Boston Railway is building a high-speed suburban line through the Bronx and Westchester Counties, from a connection with the West Farms branch of the Interborough Rapid Transit Company's subway system at 180th Street in the Bronx to Mount Vernon, New Rochelle and White Plains. A connection is also being made at West Farms with the six-track Harlem River branch of the New York, New Haven & Hartford Railroad to permit trains to run over that line as far south as 129th Street to the terminal of the Second and Third Avenue Elevated Railroads. This new line will have four tracks as far north as Columbus Avenue, Mount Vernon, where it divides into two double-track lines, one turning east to New Rochelle and the other continuing north to White Plains. The entire line is built on private right-of-way without grade crossings and multiple-unit trains will be operated in local and express service at high speeds. Single-phase alternating current at 11,000 volts on the trolley wire will be used to propel the trains. It is expected that the line will be ready for operation between 180th Street and New Rochelle within a few weeks.

Car Equipment

The initial car equipment of the road will consist of twenty-eight steel passenger coaches and two steel combination passenger and baggage cars. These cars were designed in the office of L. B. Stillwell, consulting electrical engineer for the New York, Westchester & Boston Railway, and have been built by the Pressed Steel Car Company. Pittsburgh. Pa.

The cars are built entirely of steel and have full vestibuled platforms and center side doors. The station platforms will be on a level with the car floors, but to provide for emergencies and also to permit the cars to be used on the Harlem River branch of the New Haven Railroad, which has low station platforms, a flight of three steps is attached under each end platform trap door. The coaches are 70 ft. 4 in. long over platform end sills, 9 ft. 7 3/4 in. wide over posts and 13 ft. 3 1/4 in. high from rail to top of roof. There are thirty-five cross seats and four longitudinal seats flanking the center side doors, giving the cars a seating capacity for seventy-eight passengers. The two combination cars have the same general dimensions, but a compartment 16 ft. 5 in. long is set off at one end for baggage, and 4-ft. 3-in. sliding doors are fitted in each side of this compartment. The passenger compartment of the combination cars has seats for fifty-four passengers.

Side Frame Construction

The side framing is of the pressed-steel unit, aisle frame construction which was illustrated in the Electric Railway Journal of Oct. 7, 1911, page 670. Each unit comprises a main post, 7 ft. 5 in. high, diagonal braces on each side at the bottom and one-half of a Gothic arch on each side at the top of the post, forming the letter board and side plate of the car. The units are pressed and flanged in one piece from 1/4-in. steel plate. Twelve of these units are used on each aisle of the car, the spacing from center to center of the main posts being 5 ft. 5 5/8-in. These pressed units when secured in place form a continuous truss of the height of the car side and combine great strength with moderate weight. The formation of the various members in one unit eliminates many riveted joints. The great strength and rigidity of this side frame construction permits the use of a comparatively light underframe as the center sills are kept in alignment by cross bearers at each main post 5 ft. 5 5/8-in. apart.


Westchester Cars, Half Cross-Section.

An interesting feature of this design is the unusual protection to passengers which is afforded by the strong side frame. The shock-resisting members practically enclose the entire passenger space. The usual construction, which is massive in the underframe, or at most as high as the window sills, offers less resistance to telescoping than the high side frame construction.

The roof is a compound arch type with fixed deck sash and exhaust ventilators.


Westchester Cars, Complete Framing.

Cross Bearers and Bolsters

The cross bearers and bolsters are of the built-up type and are formed of pressed diaphragms and cover plates. The diaphragms are all perforated to remove unnecessary metal and to provide openings for air-brake pipes and control conduit. Suitable diagonal bracing has been provided to insure the rigidity of the underframe.


The underframe is composed of 7-in. and 8-in. rolled-steel channel sills and pressed cross members. The two center sills are provided with a top cover plate and are supported every 5 ft. 5 5/8-in. by cross bearers secured to the side frames. The comparatively shallow center sill construction employed leaves the under side of the body clear for application of the electrical equipment. The shock-resisting power of the center sills is ample, as they are supported by the high side frames, as above described.

Sheathing, Roof and Floor

The outside of the car below the windows is sheathed with 1/16-in. steel plate. The posts above the window sills are not sheathed. The roof is formed of steel sheets about 2 ft. 8 in. wide, which are continuous from one side of the car to the other. The sheets are lapped over the carlines, riveted and then welded by the oxy-acetylene process to form a watertight joint. The floor is 1 1/4-in. monolith laid on Keystone corrugated sheets.


Westchester Cars, Side Framing andr Underframing.

Heat Insulation

Special provision has been made to insulate the interior of the car against extremes of outside temperature. The entire roof and the space below the windows between the side frames and the outside sheathing is filled with a 1/4-in. layer of special insulating material made by Samuel Cabot (Inc.), Boston, Mass. This is a modified form of "Cabot's quilt," which is used in large quantities for insulating buildings against heat and cold. The insulating material is faced and bound with fireproof burlap. The entire interior of the car above the floor is lined with fire-resisting Agasote and the underside of the floor is faced with 1/4-in. sheets of Agasote heat insulation covered with No. 24 galvanized steel sheet.

Heating and Ventilation

Fifteen of the cars are each equipped with twelve ventilators furnished by the Gold Car Heating Company, New York; the other fifteen are each equipped with nine Garland ventilators made by Burton W. Mudge & Company, Chicago. A Globe ventilator is used for the saloons in all cars. Both types of ventilators are mounted in the sloping sides of the upper deck. Consolidated Car Heating Company's electric heaters with titling heat deflectors are mounted under the seats. The heater circuits will be controlled by thermostatic switches, which will maintain an approximately constant temperature in the car.


The end platforms are 4 ft. 6 1/2-in. long and are completely enclosed with sliding end and side doors. Each side door has an opening of 39 inches and the space above the step is closed by an O. M. Edwards Company's steel trap door. The end and center side doors are operated pneumatically, the control being by means of electric switches in the vestibules. The door operating mechanism was furnished by the Consolidated Car Heating Company. In the ends of the platforms are two fixed circular windows, 20 in. in diameter. Below the window on the right side are mounted the master controller and brake valve, which are enclosed by a folding cab door when not in use. On the left-hand side is an H.R. ratchet brake handle. The destination and marker lamps are mounted in the end of the platform just above the lookout windows, while the incandescent headlight is placed in the center of the platform hood, just above the vestibule diaphragm faceplate.

Draft Gear

The couplers and draft gear on these cars conform to the standard equipment of the heaviest steam railroad passenger cars. Pullman type diaphragm vestibules are used in connection with a three-stem coupler and platform buffer. The coupler is of the Buhoup three-stem type made by the McConway & Torley Company, and has M. C. B. standard contour with a 10 in. knuckle. I It is attached through a pivot pin to a Forsyth friction draft gear consisting of twenty eight plates with a capacity of 175,000 lb., carried in a steel housing riveted to the center sills just back of the end sill. The buffer plate, on a level with the platform floor, is backed up by a Forsyth buffing device, mounted between the center sills. This gear comprises two large helical springs and friction spring leaves, with a capacity of 250,000 lb., so that the total draft gear capacity is 425,000 lb. when completely closed.


Westchester Cars, Coupler and Draft Rigging.


The exterior of the car is painted standard New Haven green, while the interior is finished in white enamel paint to afford maximum reflection of light.


The car is lighted by forty-five 40-watt tungsten lamps mounted on the lower deck and distributed so that a lamp is directly above each seat. These lamps will be wired in multiple on a 110-volt circuit fed from a tap on the main transformer. There are also ten 10-watt tungsten lamps connected to the 32-volt battery circuit.


The estimated weight of a car completely equipped for service is 120,000 lb. A car of similar design equipped as a trailer coach, without center doors and seating eighty-eight passengers, would weigh approximately 80,000 lb., as considerable material entering into the construction of a motor car is required by the support of control apparatus and could be omitted on cars used as coaches only.


The motor and trailer trucks which are used under these cars are similar in design, but the trailer trucks have smaller wheels and axles and a different arrangement of brake rigging from that on the motor trucks. The truck side frames are of the arch-bar type with cast-steel pedestals enclosing triple-coil journal-box springs. A Z-bar is used for the top arch-bar, while the inverted arch-bar is a heavy angle which is securely riveted on the back of the top flange of the arch-bar over the journal boxes. The transoms are pressed-steel channels and are attached to the side frames by large cast-steel gussets. A pressed-steel, box-type bolster 14 in. wide is used resting on quadruple elliptic springs.

Each motor truck is fitted with eight brakeshoes, two shoes being applied to each wheel. The purpose of this clasp brake design is to reduce the pressure per brakeshoe to reasonable limits when an emergency application of the air brake is made. It also minimizes the heating effect on the brakeshoes, as the regular schedule in which these cars will be used involves frequent station stops from high speeds. A short brake rod with a clevis and roller connects the cylinder lever to a radius bar. The latter is supported at each end by rocking levers which tend to move by gravity into a position to release the brake-shoes when the pull from the air brake cylinder is released. From each end of the radius bar a rod extends toward the transoms and is attached in the center of a short horizontal floating lever. The inner end of this lever is fastened to the top of a live brake lever, carrying a shoe bearing on the inside of one wheel. A pair of rods straddling the wheel connect the bottom of this live lever to the bottom of the dead lever which is hung from the truck end frame. Means are provided for adjusting the length of these bottom connections as the shoes and wheels wear. The outer end of the horizontal floating lever is connected by a rod to the end of a centrally pivoted lever of the same length on the other side of the bolster. The inner end of this pivoted lever is fastened to the live brake lever of the other wheel. The arrangement of levers on each side of the truck is the same, but the two sides operate independently of each other except for the single connection through the radius bar. The trailer truck brakes are of the inside hung type with a top brake beam connecting the two live levers. The braking pressure supplied on the trailer truck wheels being much less than that applied on the motor truck wheels makes four brakeshoes sufficient.

Air and Hand Brakes

The brake equipment of these cars represents a radical departure from previous equipments. Present-day conditions of operation of electric trains as exemplified on the New York, Westchester & Boston have made necessary the development of brake apparatus of greater power and efficiency than that formerly used in steam or electric service, Three important factors entered into the problem of designing suitable brake equipment for these cars, namely: (1) A total weight of 120,000 lb. without passenger load, which exceeds the braking power capacity of the largest practicable size of single brake cylinder; (2) High schedule speed, making necessary high braking power in emergency applications and emphasizing the importance of obtaining maximum braking power in the cylinders immediately following the movement of the motorman's brake valve; (3) The gradual but continued introduction of factors which tend to reduce brake efficiency, such as heavier foundation brake rigging, excessive false travel, stronger release springs, greater leakage from larger cylinders and a reduced coefficient of friction between the brakeshoe and the wheel, as affected by speed, time of stop and intensity of brakeshoe pressure per square inch of surface.

In order to meet these conditions it was evident to the engineers of the Westinghouse Air Brake Company that the fundamental functions of the ordinary quick-action, automatic air brake would have to be supplemented by a number of novel additional functions, some of which could be secured only by the addition of electric control to the pneumatic portion of the brake apparatus. The brake equipment as applied consists of a combination of the most improved form of pneumatic service and emergency brake with control of both service and emergency operation.

While the brakes are controlled electrically in normal operations. the pneumatic control is held in reserve without its efficiency being in any way impaired by the electric operation. The use of the Westinghouse governor synchronizing system ensures an equal division of the work of furnishing compressed air for braking and other purposes among all the air compressors in the train.

The brake equipment, designated as Schedule A.M.C.E., comprises two brake cylinders, a supplementary reservoir, a control valve and the brake valve, in addition to the usual cut-out cocks, hose couplings, etc. One brake cylinder, 14 in, x 12 in., is connected through suitable foundation brake leverage to the motor truck brakes, and the other cylinder, 12 in. x 12 in., is connected to the trailer truck brakes, The brake cylinders are mounted close to the trucks at each end of the car so as to reduce the length of the brake rods to a minimum. The brake levers at the two ends of the car are not connected together but are moved independently by the separate cylinders to which they are attached.

Both brake cylinders operate during service applications, the maximum pressure being limited to 50 lb. on a full service application with a brake-pipe pressure of 70 lb. When an emergency application is made, however, full main reservoir pressure (90 lb. to 100 lb., according to whether the governor is just about to cut in or cut out) is admitted in the shortest practicable time to both the brake cylinders, thus giving the necessary increased braking power for emergency applications by approximately doubling the service application pressure and so obtaining twice as much braking power in emergency applications as the maximum possible in service.

A single control valve performs automatically all the functions of the improved types of triple valves and, in addition, provides for maintaining the pressure in both brake cylinders constant against leakage, for producing full emergency pressure at any time irrespective of the pressure which may be in the brake cylinders, and for obtaining maximum braking power more quickly than ever before. The control valve operates alike in response to either electric or pneumatic service and emergency applications.

The brake valve consists of a pneumatic portion controlling the pneumatic operation of the brakes and an electric portion which is added to provide for the electric control of the brake system. The distinction between the two systems lies in the manner in which the brake pipe reduction is made. In the electric control the brake pipe reduction is made locally by the service application magnet valve on each car, while in pneumatic operation the brake pipe reduction is made through the brake valve. The brake valve has the same position of the handle for either electric or pneumatic service and emergency operation, the various positions being release, holding, handle off, lap, service, and emergency. In case the electrical features should be rendered inoperative through loss of current, breakdown or for any other cause the brakes can be operated pneumatically, and will so operate automatically, whether the motorman is aware of the failure of electric control or not.

Hand Brake

The ratchet hand brake at each end of the car is connected to the live cylinder at the same end through a shaft with differential pulleys over which run chains attached to the hand brake rod and an extension of the live cylinder lever. In this way the leverage of the hand brake is very largely increased.

Motor Equipment and Weight Details

Each of the cars is equipped with two Westinghouse No. 409 six-pole, single-phase motors. The motors will be operated with forced draft ventilation, and under these conditions each motor has an hourly rating of 175 hp. and a continuous rating of 145 hp. These motors are sufficiently powerful to develop an acceleration of 1 m.p.h. per second on straight and level track.

The armature windings are provided with short-circuited auxiliary coils adapted for use on alternating current only. These armatures are interchangeable with those recently ordered by the New York, New Haven, and Hartford R.R. for the new twin motors of the electric locomotives.

The air for forced ventilation of the motors and transformer is supplied by a motor-driven blower. The air is taken in through openings in the side of the car to ensure its being as free from dust as possible. The car center sill is utilized as a duct to take the air from the blower to the motors and a bellows connection of heavy canvas is used to carry the air from the center sill to the interior of the motors.

The weights of the various parts of the electrical equipment are as follows.

1 air blast transformer5,300 lbs.
2 pantograph trolleys at 750 lb. each1,500 lbs.
1 switch group1,250 lbs.
1 blower outfit complete650 lbs.
Other electrical equipment, including cables2,550 lbs.
2 motors at 6,600 lbs. Each, including gear and gear cases13,200 lbs.
Total, motors and control24,450 lbs.

Control System

The control equipment offers a striking example of the extreme simplicity of the single-phase multiple-unit control equipment when it is operated on alternating current only. There is a high-tension line switch for cutting off power from the primary winding of the transformer, a reverser for controlling the direction of motion of the car, and seven switches for speed control in starting.

The acceleration is controlled by an automatic relay, and there are three running positions as well as three intermediate positions with resistance in circuit. In the three running positions, the motors are connected without resistance to three different taps on the transformer. This makes it possible to run the equipment at any one of the three different speeds, instead of the two continuous running speeds, series and parallel, which are provided on direct current equipment. The cast-grid starting resistances are made up in a single frame weighing about 300 lb.

The master controller is provided with three notches. If the handle is placed at the first notch it causes the unit switches to close which connect the motors to the lowest voltage tap of the transformer. if the handle is placed at the second notch other unit switches will close which connect the motors to the middle voltage tap of the transformer, and when the handle is placed at the third notch still other switches will close to connect the motors to the highest voltage tap of the transformer or full-speed running position. if the handle is moved immediately to the first, second or third position the unit switches will close automatically under the direction of the limit switch until the first, second or third running position is reached. The master controllers are provided with an automatic release or "deadman's handle" for cutting off the current to the motors and automatically applying the brakes.

The unit switches are of the pneumatically operated type and are of ample capacity for the heavy currents which they are required to handle. The pneumatic cylinders furnish ample power for closing and opening, and the apparatus is so designed as to be easily accessible for inspection and maintenance. The reverser is of the drum type and has a continuous carrying capacity of 500 amp.

An over-speed relay is provided to prevent the cars from exceeding a speed of 57 m.p.h., which was determined as a suitable maximum speed for the service. The over-speed relay consists of two coils, one connected in series with one of the motors, and the other connected in shunt across the same armature. The speed of a motor depends upon the current and also upon the voltage, so that a motor may operate at a given speed either by carrying a small current at low voltage or by carrying a large current at a higher voltage. The magnetic effect of the two coils of the over-speed relay is so arranged that the action of the voltage coil tends to oppose that of the current coil. Consequently, when a certain definite relation between the current and voltage is exceeded the control circuits of certain switches are opened and power is cut off from the car. These switches cannot be closed again until the handle of the master controller has been returned to the "off" position.

The power for operating the magnet valves of the switches is obtained front a motor-generator set in connection with a 32-volt storage battery. The motor-generator runs continuously and supplies not only the current for the control apparatus but also current for operating the electric brakes, the valve magnets for the door-operating devices and ten emergency lamps. The battery is kept fully charged and only comes into service in case the power goes off the line, thereby stopping the motor-generator set.

A line relay is provided and so connected that in case the power supply is interrupted all of the unit switches open. When the power is restored the switches automatically close under the action of the limit switch in the same manner as if the master controller has been turned to the "off" position and then notched up to the running position. The control equipment is provided with cut-outs so that either one of the two motors may be cut out of service and the car operated by the remaining motor.

A high-tension oil switch is provided which has an automatic tripping arrangement somewhat similar to the over-load tripping device used on all Westinghouse direct-current, unit-switch equipments, but in this case there is provided a special dash pot or time-element device which resists a sudden pull but yields when the pull is continued. This device permits the circuit breaker to be set at a low tripping value as a protection against moderate short-circuits and at the same time prevents the tripping of the circuit breaker due to momentary heavy surges of current which may occur when the control circuit is interrupted as in passing section insulators.

Two pantograph trolleys are provided, located above the center of each truck. These pantographs may be raised or lowered by means of air cylinders which are controlled by electropneumatic valves operated from push buttons at the master controller. Either one of the pantographs can be used to supply current to a car, and the two pantographs are provided so that there will always be one spare pantograph available.


Westchester Cars, Interior View.

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