A peek inside East Cambridge Viaduct's Tower

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Re: A peek inside East Cambridge Viaduct's Tower

Postby 3rdrail » Tue Nov 30, 2010 10:04 am

Thanks Mike ! When the drawbridge was functional, the tracks fit in together in sort of a "V" formation as I recall at the break of the draw. As you indicate, there must have been a lock and signal interchange that was either on or off depending on whether or not the tracks were connected (draw at rest) or not (draw raised). Those days are a thing of the past as now it's all unbroken rail.
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Re: A peek inside East Cambridge Viaduct's Tower

Postby 3rdrail » Mon Apr 04, 2011 3:39 pm

J.F. White Construction removed a drawbridge streetcar bumper at the ECV eleven days ago (3/24/11). Don't know where it is now. (see vintage photo on previous page, 13th post down) The bridge in non-functional now, with unbroken rail accross the drawbridge.
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Re: A peek inside East Cambridge Viaduct's Tower

Postby BostonUrbEx » Mon Apr 04, 2011 4:58 pm

So there was still a break in the rails until this month?

And where was this bumper hiding out? Wasn't on the tracks still, I assume. Inside the structure somewhere?
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Re: A peek inside East Cambridge Viaduct's Tower

Postby 3rdrail » Mon Apr 04, 2011 6:43 pm

No, the rail has been unbroken for a while, Urbey. It hasn't been a drawbridge in some time. When there was a joint there, it looked like this: > The bumper retracted in between the gauge and has been there until the 24th. The bumper was an emergency stop for streetcars not heeding the flashing lights, etc. prior to entering the draw. It was part of the sequence of an opening when the drawbridge was functioning as a drawbridge.
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Re: A peek inside East Cambridge Viaduct's Tower

Postby BostonUrbEx » Mon Apr 04, 2011 6:47 pm

I understand what it was for, but was it actually still installed on the tracks? Or was it dissembled in shoved inside somewhere? I'd have imagined it being removed from the tracks long before. :o
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Re: A peek inside East Cambridge Viaduct's Tower

Postby 3rdrail » Mon Apr 04, 2011 6:53 pm

I believe that the bumper has been in place the whole time up until now.
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Re: A peek inside East Cambridge Viaduct's Tower

Postby DavidBOC » Mon Dec 12, 2011 2:25 am

It was stated above that: "theres no point in someone tall enough to justify opening the viaduct to pass it only to be stopped by Longfellow. (There really isn't anything in the area between Craigie and Longfellow where a tall ship would visit)'

there was until fairly recently a reason for vessels to pass. Until, i believe, the early 80's regular trips by tugs with oil barges that transit Craigie Bridge which would then enter the canal in East Cambridge/Kendall Square to deliver oil to the electric plant then owned by Cambridge Electric Light Co. The barges would be low but the pilot house and mast of a tug would be higher than the opening under the Longfellow Bridge. I lived at 100 Memorial Drive from 1960 until 1976 and my mom lived there until '94. I can recall hearing the tug whistle as it approached the drawbridge on Memorial Drive just east of Longfellow. In the '60s the canal extended all the way to Boston Woven Hose Co. (now the "Kendall Square" complex). Also along the canal were an tank farm, ESSO I think, and an asphalt plant that also got deliveries by canal. The tank farm burned down (quite spectacularly) in the '60's. Co-located with the electric light co. was Cambridge Steam Company that provided steam to MIT and many industrial building in the area. The building Iived in had no boilers and heat was provided by the steam lines.

There was also a reference above to the Harvard Bridge not being a drawbridge. Actually not now but when it was built it had a draw span as tugs and barges would bring coal to both a Harvard powerhouse and to the former Cambridge Electric Blackstone St plant. The Blackstone Street plant was closed by the electric company and bought by Harvard as it provides steam to most of the Harvard campus. The Cottage Farm Bridge (now called the BU Bridge) never had a draw span but i would guess the tugs might have been able to go under it.
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Re: A peek inside East Cambridge Viaduct's Tower

Postby TrainManTy » Mon Dec 12, 2011 9:59 am

3rdrail wrote:I believe that the bumper has been in place the whole time up until now.

Really? Before the station closed I used to commute to and from Science Park 1-3 times a week, and never saw the bumper. It must have folded away to a pretty low profile position to be invisible from the platforms.
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Re: A peek inside East Cambridge Viaduct's Tower

Postby jaymac » Mon Dec 12, 2011 12:01 pm

Just guessing, but it would be easy enough to have had the bumper between the rails and actuated by the bridge mechanism. When the bridge was built, there were still masted ships in coastal service. Their sails would be furled for auxiliary power or tugs, and if square-rigged, the masts hauled off-square to not foul the structure.
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Re: A peek inside East Cambridge Viaduct's Tower

Postby 3rdrail » Mon Dec 12, 2011 5:21 pm

jaymac wrote:Just guessing, but it would be easy enough to have had the bumper between the rails and actuated by the bridge mechanism.


It's a progressive preventative measure that any hardware, particularly within the gauge, that is obsolete and unused gets removed. There is no reason to have anything there which could potentially foul the track on a right of way that is no longer a draw bridge. Remember, the ECV is elevated and subject to high winds, especially during a noreaster or hurricaine, so why take the chance ?
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Re: A peek inside East Cambridge Viaduct's Tower

Postby F-line to Dudley via Park » Tue Dec 13, 2011 2:29 pm

DavidBOC wrote:It was stated above that: "theres no point in someone tall enough to justify opening the viaduct to pass it only to be stopped by Longfellow. (There really isn't anything in the area between Craigie and Longfellow where a tall ship would visit)'

there was until fairly recently a reason for vessels to pass. Until, i believe, the early 80's regular trips by tugs with oil barges that transit Craigie Bridge which would then enter the canal in East Cambridge/Kendall Square to deliver oil to the electric plant then owned by Cambridge Electric Light Co. The barges would be low but the pilot house and mast of a tug would be higher than the opening under the Longfellow Bridge. I lived at 100 Memorial Drive from 1960 until 1976 and my mom lived there until '94. I can recall hearing the tug whistle as it approached the drawbridge on Memorial Drive just east of Longfellow. In the '60s the canal extended all the way to Boston Woven Hose Co. (now the "Kendall Square" complex). Also along the canal were an tank farm, ESSO I think, and an asphalt plant that also got deliveries by canal. The tank farm burned down (quite spectacularly) in the '60's. Co-located with the electric light co. was Cambridge Steam Company that provided steam to MIT and many industrial building in the area. The building Iived in had no boilers and heat was provided by the steam lines.

There was also a reference above to the Harvard Bridge not being a drawbridge. Actually not now but when it was built it had a draw span as tugs and barges would bring coal to both a Harvard powerhouse and to the former Cambridge Electric Blackstone St plant. The Blackstone Street plant was closed by the electric company and bought by Harvard as it provides steam to most of the Harvard campus. The Cottage Farm Bridge (now called the BU Bridge) never had a draw span but i would guess the tugs might have been able to go under it.


Both the old pre-BU Bridge span and the old B&A bridge had draws. But that was before the River St. bridge was built so taller ships could go all the way to the Western Ave. bridge and the power plant. BU Bridge never had to accommodate anything large because by that point the current B&A bridge was built, and is the lowest-clearance span on the river other than Craigie.

Harvard Bridge lost its draw span during the 1990 rebuild, but it was inoperative for many years before that. Oddly, the westbound (but not eastbound) Memorial Drive draw to the canal got redone fresh and new in the late-90's. But I've never seen them raised.
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Re: A peek inside East Cambridge Viaduct's Tower

Postby joe-f302 » Sun Aug 18, 2013 5:27 pm

Hi,

I'm new to this forum, so please enlighten me if anything needs improvement in my reply.

The wooden box with two levers is a "home made" control device, made with parts from a pre 1915 Union Switch and Signal interlocking machine.

FIrst, notice the levers on the front have modified knobs. They originally had thumb levers that lifted a dog that would have engaged the notches in the arch 1/3 of the way up and just behind the lever. Next on the shaft are 4 electrical contacts. as the shaft rotates, metal bands affixed to the insulating cylinder on the shaft will make contact with the stationary pieces on either side. So far all that has been described is a rotary switch with 4 contacts.

Now for the interesting part of this unit. On the back end of each shaft are 2 bails which rotate with the shaft. These bails have notches on them, and to move full stoke, an electromagnet (located below the portion seen) must be energized. So in order to turn the lever, certain conditions elsewhere in the system must be met to give permission to turn the lever.

I have almost no knowledge of the operation of the viaduct bridge. Having said this, one possible use of this device would be control gates for a draw bridge. FIrst the lever would be moved part way and one contact would give an electrical signal to lower a gate. Once the gate was all the way down, the electromagnet would energize and allow the lever to be moved full stroke, closing another contact giving an electrical signal to provide "permission" to raise the bridge.

There is a youtube video on a "US&S model 14" interlocking machine. It will show may of the same components this device is made from, although it is a newer version and the contacts are driven by bevel gears on a vertical shaft.

If you have any more info on the sequence of operation of the viaduct control tower, it may be possible to figure out how this fit in.

Regards, Joe F.
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