Skip to Content
ublogo print

University at Buffalo Libraries

Pan-American Exposition of 1901

"Westinghouse Pan-American Exhibits"

[The following text and images are reproduced in full from "Westinghouse Pan-American Exhibits" Western Electrician, v. 29, no. 5, pp. 65-67. No author was cited.]

To celebrate the achievements of a century of progress in the western world is said to be the aim and purpose of the Pan-American Exposition, and although there may have been one or two expositions exceeding it in extent, it is heralded as one of the most effective ever attempted. Worthy of the exposition as a whole are the exhibits of the Westinghouse companies. It was in a broad and liberal spirit that these companies decided to make an exhibit at the Pan-American, for in the city of Buffalo and vicinity the Westinghouse Electric and Manufacturing company alone has over 150,000 horsepower of electrical machinery in operation, including the so 5,000-horsepower generators which this pioneer electric company installed at Niagara Falls, at a time when the largest electrical machine built was about 2,000 horsepower in capacity; it is this installation that has made possible the most brilliantly lighted of expositions and contributed so successfully to its operation.

Thumbnail image - Fig. 1 - General View in the Electricity Building

Westinghouse Pan-American Exhibits - Fig. 1. General View in the Electricity Building. Photo Credit: n/a. Source: "Westinghouse Pan-American Exhibits" Western Electrician, v. 29, no. 5, p. 65.

To the visitor at the Pan-American Exposition the numerous industrial enterprises associated with the name Westinghouse are in the main familiar. Almost every traveler by rail knows that his safety and comfort are in a large measure due to the Westinghouse air brake, which for 30 years has been the standard appliance for arresting the motion of trains. About 1,250,000 of these brakes are now in service throughout the world. Those familiar with engineering affairs are acquainted with the very extended use of the steam and gas engines built by the Westinghouse Machine company. Those who use electrical machinery, whether for lighting, power or traction, know the apparatus built by the Westinghouse Electric and Manufacturing company. Equally well known are Westinghouse, Church, Kerr & Go., whose work practically covers the entire field of engineering as applied to power systems and their application to transportation, lighting and industry; the Union Switch and Signal company, manufacturer of every known variety of automatic and semi-automatic railroad signals, maker of frogs and switches and of mechanical, pneumatic and electrical interlocking mechanisms of all kinds; and the Sawyer-Man Electric company, maker of incandescent lamps, whose product has been on the market for over 20 years. These are the Westinghouse companies that have joined in a common exhibit at the exposition.

Beneath the central dome of the Electricity building and also at the right -and left of the main entrance to the Railway building, occupying in all over 6,000 square feet of space and truly representing the progressive spirit of this century, the exhibits of these companies have been placed.

Thumbnail image - Fig. 2 - View in the Electricity Building

Westinghouse Pan-American Exhibits - Fig. 2 View in the Electricity Building. Photo Credit: n/a. Source: "Westinghouse Pan-American Exhibits" Western Electrician, v. 29, no. 5, p. 66.

Fig. 1 is a general view of the Westinghouse exhibits in the Electricity building, while Fig. 2 on the next page shows another view of this exhibit. The dome of the building is tastefully draped with hanging green and lavender bunting, making a background upon which numerous strings of Nernst lamps are festooned from a large 2,000-candlepower lamp placed in the center. There are over 100 400-candlepower Nernst lamps that contribute to this illumination, which is the first public exhibition of the Nernst lamp in America and a notable introduction of one of the greatest developments that has been made in electric lighting.

The operation of two gas-engine generating sets is one of the features of greatest interest in the Electricity building. The large unit shown in the center of Fig. 1 consists of a 300-horsepower, three-cylinder, four-cycle gas engine, direct-coupled to a 2,200-volt, two-phase, revolving-field alternator. The smaller unit, at the left of the large one in the illustration; is a three-cylinder, four-cycle gas engine, direct-connected to a 125-volt, direct-current generator. The power furnished by the large unit is employed, partly, in supplying current- to 130 Nernst lamps at 220 volts, and partly in operating numerous Westinghouse induction motors applied to stationary service.

The small gas-engine generating set is used for exciting the large alternating-current generator, for lighting the switchboard, and for charging the storage sparking outfits for both gas engines. It is used also for operating the motor-generator outfit and for lighting four large electric signs, two of which are placed over the main entrances of the Electricity building. The switchboard for controlling these generators is equipped with the latest type of measuring instruments, switches, circuit-breakers and auxiliary apparatus. Other standard switchboards for lighting and power service are in place.

A 375-kilowatt alternator, revolving-field type and of 7,200 alternations, is of particular interest, it is seen in the foreground of Fig. 2.

Of transformers there are to be seen a complete set of the company's O. D. transformers, ranging from one-fourth to 50 kilowatts, two sizes of man-hole-type transformers and two 100-kilowatt, self-cooling, oil-insulated transformers. The latter are used to lower the voltage of the 180-kilowatt machine from 2,200 to 110 volts, at which potential they supply the four incandescent signs. These transformers present no radical departure from the excellent type which the Westinghouse company has standardized.

One of the most novel attractions in the Electricity building is a high-voltage sign, seen at the right in Fig. 2. It consists of two large glass plates covered on the back with metal foil, with the name "Westinghouse" in the center. An alternating current having a maximum pressure of 40,000 volts is applied between the foil on the back and the metal letters on the front. As the potential is raised a fringe of violet light appears about the letters, which, gradually increasing in intensity, culminates in a myriad-branched lightning discharge that plays continuously over the surface of the plate and is accompanied by a continuous noise not unlike thunder.

Among the railway motors included in the railway exhibit are a Westinghouse 56 motor for heavy suburban and interurban service, a 50-C for heavy railway service, and a 69 motor for city and suburban service. These motors are split horizontally with their suspension on the lower half of the field. The pole faces are smooth and unbroken, and the armature possesses a ventilated winding. The 50-C motor is provided with a special cradle suspension from the car axle, thus removing the not inconsiderable weight of the motors from the car truck. This arrangement minimizes the wear of the rails, increases the life of the wheels, and, what is most important, makes an easy-riding car.

There are also several type-C induction motors adaptable where constant speed is required, and a number of variable-speed type F motors. These latter are provided with collector rings, which serve to carry the induced currents of the secondary to an adjustable external resistance, whose operation controls the speed of the motor.

The company also exhibits a complete line of detail apparatus, including meters, lightning arresters, fuse blocks, switches, circuit-breakers, etc. Included in this comprehensive and interesting exhibit are two large revolving photograph stands containing a great number of pictures which illustrate engineering work of importance, as well as various electrical and mechanical installations of the several companies.


Westinghouse Pan-American Exhibits - Fig. 3. High-speed Air-brake Equipment. Photo Credit: n/a. Source: "Westinghouse Pan-American Exhibits" Western Electrician, v. 29, no. 5, p. 67.

Passing now to the Railway exhibits' building, which is properly defined as containing all flanged-wheel exhibits, one finds in the southeast end of this building the exhibit of the Westinghouse Air Brake company. A rack (Fig. 3) representing a six-car train, including the locomotive, is equipped with the high-speed brake. This installation of an apparatus now coming into general use shows the proper method of application and operation. An attendant is present who operates it and fully explains its merits. Each part is duplicated and cut in sections, and connected in tandem to its relative parts, so as to show every feature of its application. One of the interesting features of this arrangement is the 9½-inch air pump top-head, cut in section and working in unison with the top-head on an operating pump, showing in detail the movement of the very simple valve motion of this device.

The air is supplied by four motor-driven duplex air compressors, which are also a part of this exhibit. These compressors are especially adapted to supply compressed air for air brakes on electric motor vehicles, as well as for various other industrial uses. A complete equipment of both the straight-air and the storage system of air brakes for electric cars is so arranged on the platform as to show their application to the car.

The American automatic slack adjuster, in addition to being shown in connection with the six-car, high-speed brake train, is attached to the cylinder on a neatly designed model truck; likewise a model locomotive train with three pairs of drivers connected, and a complete equipment for a passenger car. These models are so designated as to show the proper method of applying this device to the standard equipment, and its operation in automatically regulating the brake-piston travel.

The Westinghouse friction draft gear, suitably mounted on full-size models of draft rigging which show its application to different forms of cars, both of the wooden and the pressed-steel type, is on exhibition. There are also on view complete full-size apparatus cut to show in detail the mechanical construction. This simple but effective attachment for the draft gear of cars is said to be one of the most valuable inventions of the present time. The rapid increase in the size of cars, trains and motive power has increased the breakage of draft gear to an enormous degree. Many attempts have been made to lessen the large shocks incidental to the operation of heavy cars and locomotives, but at the present time none have as successfully met these requirements as the Westinghouse friction type, which enables an engineer to handle a heavy freight or -ore train with perfect security and with the maximum power of his engine. The gradual absorbing of the shocks and the practical freedom from spring reaction which the Westinghouse friction draft rigging gives, makes it nearly impossible, even in severe service, to break a train in two or to break its draft gear. The great saving power of this device is at once apparent, when it is recollected that from 30 to 70 percent of all crippled cars owe their condition to defective draft rigging.

The necessity of using some sort of power brake to control railway cars operating in urban and interurban service, suggested itself immediately that electric traction- became practicable. The Westinghouse electric brake and car-heating apparatus, shown in full operation at the exhibit, is said to approximate more nearly the ideal brake for electric cars than any other appliance heretofore invented. The apparatus consists of two elements, a brake and a car heater. The brake may be installed and used independently of the heater, but the operation of the heater is dependent upon the use of the brake, the produced heat being derived from energy that would otherwise be wasted. This combination of a magnetic track brake with a wheel brake of maximum power produces a braking effect greatly in excess of any heretofore attained. Moreover, cars equipped with the complete apparatus are heated without using the line current, and therefore without cost for the electrical energy employed in heating.

Westinghouse Pan-American Exhibits - Fig. 4. Car Equipped with Electric Brake and Heater System. Photo Credit: n/a. Source: "Westinghouse Pan-American Exhibits" Western Electrician, v. 29, no. 5, p. 66.

This system is shown in operation in two exhibits. A standard single-truck electric car (Fig. 4) 15 in constant service on a track extending from the main exhibit in the Railway exhibits' building to a point east of the building, some 250 feet. This car is equipped with the electric brake and car heater complete, and is in charge of a regular street-car motor-man, who is in readiness at any time to demonstrate the operation of the system to those interested. When in action, powerful magnets force the brake-friction shoes upon the rails and set up a strong magnetic attraction between the shoes and the rails, while at the same time the drag or back action of these magnet shoes throws in action a system of levers that apply to the wheels brake shoes of the regular type. The current for exciting the magnets is supplied by the motor, which, through the proper wiring of the controllers, is at this time operated as a generator. With this electric-brake system, it is impossible to skid the wheels, and any degree of braking power is secured from the slightest effect up to a braking effect exceeding the weight of the equipment. The car shown in the illustration is equipped for a double-trolley overhead return, but the system is also adaptable for a single-trolley ground return.

A double truck of the maximum-traction type equipped with two 40-horsepower motors and with the electric brake, is operated on a short section of track by a stationary controller. This equipment shows the enormous braking power of the apparatus and the absolute freedom from skidding of the wheels. The smooth action of this brake is one of its chief features, there being no shock or sudden jolts during its application.

The Westinghouse automatic air and steam coupler, as its name indicates, is so designed that the air and steam pipes usually carried underneath the cars are coupled automatically whenever the cars themselves are coupled, and with even greater certainty, there being no locks, catches or other parts, which require manipulation by the train men. In coupling it is only necessary to push the cars together, and when uncoupling to pull them apart. This device permits cars to be coupled or uncoupled with the maximum rapidity and certainty, and makes it unnecessary for trainmen to go between the cars. Arrangements are provided for opening and closing from the side of the car or the platform, the cocks in the train pipes.

A pictorial representation of the development of the power brake from the earliest forms of hand brakes is an interesting feature of the Westinghouse Air Brake company's exhibit. These pictures, some of them of almost full size, are arranged chronologically, so that the progress made by each improvement is readily seen and the complete advance in the art of braking railway vehicles from the most primitive to the most modern methods is clearly shown. Some of these pictures are seen in Fig. 3.

Westinghouse Pan-American Exhibits - Fig. 5. Switch, Signal and Air-brake Exhibits. Photo Credit: n/a. Source: "Westinghouse Pan-American Exhibits" Western Electrician, v. 29, no. 5, p. 66.

The space occupied by the Union Switch and Signal company is located just west of the Westinghouse Air Brake company's exhibit. It contains three of the most important signaling systems owned and manufactured by the company--the Westinghouse electro-pneumatic interlocking and signaling system, the wireless system of automatic electric block signaling and the high-speed electric train staff system.

The electropneumatic exhibit is, located at the west end of the space, and consists of a two-lever section of the latest pattern, electropneumatic interlocking machine; a double-arm iron-post signal, a dwarf signal and a switch-and-lock movement operating a single switch point complete, with detector bar, rocker shaft, electric switch, valve cylinder, etc. These appliances are connected and working. They represent a part of the signaling required for a single-track, main-line turn-out. Sections of some of the principal parts are also displayed. Fig. 5 shows this end of the exhibit, the total length of the exhibit area being 200 feet.

Westinghouse Pan-American Exhibits - Fig. 6. Switch and Signal Exhibit. Photo Credit: n/a. Source: "Westinghouse Pan-American Exhibits" Western Electrician, v. 29, no. 5, p. 66.

The working of the wireless system of automatic electric block signaling is shown (Fig. 6) on a model track, 50 feet long, divided into two blocks and representing one line of a double-track railway with a side track connected at both ends for returning the model engine or car without running against traffic. The switch at the west end is also equipped -with a switch instrument and indicators to illustrate the protection provided against misplaced switches, or trains from sidings entering on or fouling the main track.

Two of the Union Switch and Signal company's latest types of electric, style B semaphore signals--a single and double-arm-are operated automatically from the model track, and the complete exhibit shows plainly the working of automatic home and distant block signals under the wireless systems.

Several of the separate appliances used in this and other systems are on view, including semaphore mechanisms and motors, battery chutes, relay boxes, cranks, wheels, jars, etc.

Two of the high-speed electric train staff instruments, connected and working, show the practicability of operating trains on single-track railroads by means of this system, and without the use of train orders.

Photographs and drawings of various appliances and plants built and installed by the Union Switch Signal company, together with a view of the company's new and greatly enlarged works at Swissvale, Pa., are also a part of the exhibit.