The PRR's electrification transmission design

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The PRR's electrification transmission design

Postby TheOneKEA » Fri Jan 23, 2015 9:44 am

I recently acquired a copy of "Under Pennsy Wires" by Paul Carleton and read with great interest pages 32 through 37, which described the design and implementation of the PRR electrification's generation and transmission system. One of the most interesting topics described in the book is that the PRR's transmission design used very few sets of 132kV circuit breakers, and that the only locations with such breakers were Zoo, Hackensack and Perryville substations. The book states that the transmission design chosen by the PRR and/or Westinghouse restricted the use of these breakers, and that this was considered a feature of the system because it allowed for all of the generating sources to be connected in parallel and ensured continuity of supply to the step-down transformers for the 11kV catenary.

The Wikipedia article on the PRR's electrification system as used by Amtrak states that the lack of circuit breakers (now rated at 138kV) is a serious problem because it prevents the system from autonomously reconfiguring itself if there is a transmission fault. Are there any online resources or other books that go into more detail about the PRR's transmission design and why they accepted the risk of a low number of circuit breakers? Also, do those resources explain why no additional circuit breakers have ever been added by any of the transmission system's owners or operators? I would be curious to know if this design was deemed acceptable in the 1930s because no one else had ever tried to build such a system, and therefore the PRR and Westinghouse had to go first and learn "on the job".
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Re: The PRR's electrification transmission design

Postby motor » Sat Jan 31, 2015 2:44 pm

I was always less interested in AC, DC, voltage levels, circuit breakers, etc., on the PCC than in the catenary poles (why did Pennsy use tubular poles between Philly and Wilmington and Philly to Paoli, but use girders in the rest of the electrified territory?). :-) I was always fascinated by them. I'd draw them on the blackboard in the cellar of my grandparents' rowhouse (that house has followed them into eternity) on Chester's west end, 3 or 4 blocks from Highland Ave. station.

Those catenary poles, plus the erector set power transmission towers along the Delaware River, fit right into Delaware County's gritty industrial landscape.

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Re: The PRR's electrification transmission design

Postby edbear » Sat Jan 31, 2015 7:40 pm

Regarding the tubular poles to Paoli and Wilmington. Could it be that some of the Philadelphia commuter services had been electrified some years before the NY=Washington route was converted to electric operation.
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Re: The PRR's electrification transmission design

Postby TheOneKEA » Sun Feb 01, 2015 9:12 am

edbear wrote:Regarding the tubular poles to Paoli and Wilmington. Could it be that some of the Philadelphia commuter services had been electrified some years before the NY=Washington route was converted to electric operation.


That is exactly the case. The first PRR electrification was completed in 1915 between Philadelphia's Broad Stret station and Paoli. The electrification was extended to Wilmington in the late 1920s. http://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Amtrak's ... wer_system has a historical timeline.
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