A Successful Trial
A very successful trial of an electric tram
motor was made yesterday afternoon (Friday, 1st June, 1888) on
the tram line between Sydney and Botany. The system of which the
capabilities were demonstrated is that patented by M. Julien,
the right of using which in Australia and New Zealand has been
purchased by Mr. E. Pritchard, who is well known in connection
with the construction of the main trunk sewer to Bondi, as well
as in relation to railway works.
The trial was witnessed by between 200 and
300 gentlemen, who were conveyed to and from Botany by a special
tram. Amongst the spectators were Mr. W. Clarke, Minister of
Justice; Mr. Cowdery, Engineer for Existing Lines; Mr. E. C.
Cracknell, Superintendent of Telegraphs, and a very large number
of members of both branches of the Legislature. The vehicle used
was one specially constructed at the establishment of Elwell-Parker,
the electrical engineers, in Wolverhampton, England, and it was
built in accordance with the principle laid down by the inventor
of the system exhibited.
The vehicle resembled in appearance an
unusually large omnibus, and reminded those who have visited
Adelaide of the tramcars used in that city. The car, which is a
car and motor combined, was of a larger pattern than those
employed at Rio Janeiro, New York, Philadelphia, and Brussels,
in all of which cities the Julien system is in operation. In
those cities the cars used seat 35 persons, whereas that shown
yesterday seats 50 persons, 26 on the upper deck (which is
uncovered), and 24 inside.
Undue haste had been shown in the
construction of the car and the consequence was that it did not
present that finished appearance looked for in regard to new
vehicles, and some defects had arisen in course of construction
which contributed to make the trial a very severe one. One fault
which was very noticeable was the unnecessarily substantial
character of the car, which was much stronger and much heavier
than was absolutely necessary. The car was said to be heavier
comparatively than those now used in connection with steam
traction. It weighs when empty 5 tons, and when full from 8¼ to
The motive-power is stored in lockers,
situated underneath the seats, and access is gained to these by
hinged panels over the wheels. The motor consists of 8 trays of
accumulators, each tray holding 15 cells. One charging of the
car is sufficient for 80 miles or 7 hours actual running, and a
similar time is occupied in storing a fresh supply of
electricity. The storage of electricity is accomplished in a
shed in which are employed a 10 hp. boiler and engine and one of
the Elwell-Parker dynamos. To take out the exhausted cells and
substitute newly charged ones occupies only about five minutes.
The electric tram-motor seen yesterday is designated a 20 hp.
When in perfect working order, and that was
not claimed to have been the case yesterday, it is capable of
running at a rate of about 15 miles an hour. The maximum reached
yesterday was about 10 miles per hour. The car is capable of
running up a gradient of 1 in 10, but it is not considered
desirable to run it on a steeper gradient than 1 in 15.
The car was at Botany and taken on several
spins by the electrical engineer, Mr. Bullimore, who pointed out
to the passengers various peculiarities in construction, and
showed that he had an intimate acquaintance not only with the
electrical but with all the other systems of tramways; so much
so that he was able to point out the various respects in which
other systems failed to come up to the requirements of a perfect
A strong case was made out in favour of the
Julien system, on the ground that it could be applied to almost
any description of car, and especially those in use on the
Sydney tramways, that it would put an end to shrieking whistles,
abolish all smoke and smut, and enable the car to which it was
applied to travel almost noiselessly.
After several spins had been taken with the
car at Botany it was duly freighted, and sped off to the city on
the Government tramline. This route is said to afford the most
severe test that could possibly be applied to any tram
conveyance, and those of the citizens who remember incidents
which frequently happened in connection with the establishment
of the tram system between the city and Botany will not be
inclined to deny that that line affords more than one severe
test. The gradient from Liverpool Street to Belmore Park is 1 in
18, and is said to be the steepest on the whole of the Sydney
tramways. The Barrackhill at Paddington is generally regarded as
one of the most difficult for a tram to surmount, but that is
only 1 in 22. In running from the terminus at Botany to King
Street in Sydney, the electric motor occupied 35 minutes, and
the journey was not only a novel but a very pleasant one.
A noteworthy improvement that would be
effected by the general adoption of some such car as that used
yesterday would be in respect to the seating of the passengers.
In the cars now in use, passengers who may sit vis-à-vis are
almost of necessity brought so close to each other as to produce
anything but a pleasant sensation. In the vehicle used yesterday
the seats are placed longitudinally, and a sufficient space
intervenes to allow of a conductor passing along the centre of
the car without incommoding the passengers.
The question of the cost of working was
discussed, but no definite information was forthcoming upon this
point, beyond the fact that in England it had been found to be
equal to about 6d. per tram mile. Manual labour is used in
connection with the recharging of the cells, and to the English
estimate of 6d. per tram mile would have to be added the
difference in the value of labour as between England and New
There were only two weaknesses noticed at
yesterday’s trial, and these would have escaped observation had
it not been for the presence of some gentlemen whose special
training in electrical science had led them to look for a
perfect electrical machine. Both of these weaknesses, it was
pointed out, are capable of improvement. One was the large
amount of care seemingly required to always ensure a speedy
application of the brake, and the other was a slight grating
noise, resembling the escape of steam, and at the same time
suggestive of the sound caused by the application of a brake to
a heavy vehicle descending a steep incline, the first fault is
susceptible of improvement, so that the car can be brought to a
stand within its own length, and the second can be remedied by
the substitution of an electrical brake for the ordinary chain
brake now in use.
Whilst the car was under examination at
Botany, refreshments were partaken of. A little later Mr. O. R.
Dibbs, M.L.A., referred to the enterprise shown by Mr.
Pritchard, and the gratification which the visitors had
experienced at inspecting the vehicle. He felt convinced that
electricity was the motor of the future. He was sure that the
visitors thanked Mr. Pritchard for the entertainment he had
given them. At the call of Mr. Dibbs, three cheers were given
for Mr. Pritchard. The compliment was duly acknowledged.