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Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 37.djvu/396

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382
THE POPULAR SCIENCE MONTHLY.

TELPHERAGE IN PRACTICAL USE.
By FREDERIK A. FERNALD.

A VAST field of application which electricity is only just entering upon is the transportation of freight and passengers. The use of electric motors for propelling passenger-cars on street railways may be said to have passed through the experimental stage into the domain of commerce. There are roads, using one or another of four or five different systems, in operation or in process of construction, in all parts of the United States, and new contracts are frequently being announced. Nothing, however, has been accomplished in this country in the direction of carrying freight by electricity. But a system, called "Telpherage," has been worked out in England, which is especially adapted to take the place of horses in carting, as they are already being displaced from the propelling of cars.

Telpherage may be regarded as a development of what is called in England the "wire-rope haulage" system, by which freight is conveyed in buckets suspended by a grip from an elevated wire cable. For distances of a few hundred feet, an inclined cable, down which loaded buckets suspended on traveling wheels move by their own weight, has also been used. The telpher system resulted from a union of the joint inventions of Profs. W. E. Ayrton and John Perry with those of Prof. Fleeming Jenkin. Prof. Jenkin had had in mind for some time the idea of propelling electrically a continuous stream of light trains without attendants along an elevated single rope or rail, which should be also the conductor of the electricity. He had not solved the problem of preventing automatically these trains from running into one another, when he read an account of the plan for dividing electrically the rubbed conductor of electric railways into sections, devised by Profs. Ayrton and Perry, and described by the former in a lecture at the Royal Institution, London, toward the close of 1882. This plan, designed to prevent leakage of electricity, also furnished an absolute block, cutting off the power automatically from any train whenever it approached too close to the one in front of it. At Prof. Jenkin's suggestion, a partnership was entered into by these three gentlemen, and "The Telpherage Company was soon afterward formed, to bring their system into practical use. Experimental work was carried on for over two years on the estate of Mr. Melton R. Pry or, the chairman of the company.

Various details of construction were worked out in these experiments, and at the beginning of 1885 the scheme was sufciently developed to be put in practical operation. Arrangements