Howard Street Tunnel - Baltimore

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chnhrr
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Howard Street Tunnel - Baltimore

Post by chnhrr » Mon Sep 28, 2009 10:23 pm

I read that the overhead electric system was replaced with a typical third rail, since the original 1895 system was prone to soot build-up from steam locos. The original electric shunting locomotives I assume were then fitted with third rail pick-up shoes.

Were there any subsequent locomotives purchased by the B & O in the 20th century for this third rail operation? How many locomotives did the Howard Street Tunnel System have at the height of the electric service? Where they all the same original type shown?
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BaltOhio
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Re: Howard Street Tunnel - Baltimore

Post by BaltOhio » Tue Sep 29, 2009 6:46 am

Basically there were three generations of tunnel motors, all built by GE:

#1-3 (as pictured), class LE-1, built 1895, retired 1910-16. One (originally #2) was preserved and exhibited at the 1927 Fair of the Iron Horse and scrapped about 1935.

#5-9, class LE-2, built 1903 and (#9) 1906. These were boxcabs with "D" wheel arrangements. #5 retired 1917, others in 1934.

#11-18, class OE-1, 2, 3, 4; built 1910-27. Steeple-cab "B-B" design patterned on the NYC's Detroit River Tunnel motors; retired 1952.

chnhrr
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Re: Howard Street Tunnel - Baltimore

Post by chnhrr » Tue Sep 29, 2009 9:01 pm

Thanks BaltOhio for the informative response on the B & O’s electric locomotives.

Pictured is the original overhead electrification system. Since the line was in between tracks, did this system supply electrical power to two locomotives on the different tracks at the same time or did the system provide the flexibility for power to be designated to either the right or left tracks as needed?

Is there a good book anyone can recommend on the Howard Street Tunnel and Belt System?
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BaltOhio
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Re: Howard Street Tunnel - Baltimore

Post by BaltOhio » Wed Sep 30, 2009 7:26 am

Maybe someone will correct me on this, but from the photos I've seen, it appears that the overhead rail, if you can call it that, was a sort of "I" beam, so that the collector shoes ran on each side of it. This it allowed movement in both directions on a double track.

"Royal Blue Line," by Herbert H. Harwood, Jr., originally published by Greenburg Publishing in 1990 and reprinted in soft over by Johns Hopkins Univ. Press in 2002, has a full chapter on the Baltimore Belt Line and other commentary on the electrification, plus a roster. I think it's still in print.

chnhrr
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Re: Howard Street Tunnel - Baltimore

Post by chnhrr » Wed Sep 30, 2009 9:36 pm

Thanks again BaltOhio. I will look for the recommended book.

I think I’ve come across a photo on what I think is the second generation B&O electrics (LE-2?). It’s strange the B&O initiated railroad electrification in the US in 1895, but decided not to pursue the concept for usage on the mainlines.
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chnhrr
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Re: Howard Street Tunnel - Baltimore

Post by chnhrr » Thu Oct 01, 2009 8:13 pm

Concerning the overhead line, I found a brief description of the system in a publication of the time. I have also included a photograph showing the early form of a pantograph inserted in the overhead line.

“In the Belt Line Tunnel, Baltimore, U.S.A. - the current is conveyed to the motors by an overhead line 17 to 22 ft. above rail level. The conductor consist of on an iron trough formed of two Z-bars and a cover plate, there being a slot of one inch wide between the bars to admit a brass shoe traveling in the conductor, and connecting the locomotive with it. Copper cables are used as feeders, and the current is supplied from generators coupled direct to Allis-Corliss engines.”
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polybalt
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Re: Howard Street Tunnel - Baltimore

Post by polybalt » Fri Oct 02, 2009 5:59 pm

Is there a good book anyone can recommend on the Howard Street Tunnel and Belt System?
William Middleton's book When the Steam Railroads Electrified published by Kalmbach has a chapter on the Howard Street electrification. There are several photos of the system before and after conversion to third rail. It is apparent the the shoe was suspended directly above the third rail, since there is no cover board on top, but two side protection wooden boards that extend a few inches above the third rail height.

Also illustrated is something I never heard of elsewhere. In the 1930's a ganlet track was built down the middle of the tunnel to provide clearance for high and wide freight cars. The third rail shoes (at least on one side of the locomotives??) were mounted on extendable booms, which allowed them to reach over from the gaunlet track to the third rail aligned with the original track along one side of the tunnel. Maybe this was the reason for the boards! Could they have guided the third rail shoe boom when entering and exiting the ganlet?
Peter Schmidt

chnhrr
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Re: Howard Street Tunnel - Baltimore

Post by chnhrr » Sun Oct 04, 2009 9:54 pm

Thanks Peter for that interesting background of the Howard Street Tunnel third rail system. I include a photograph of the last type of electric locomotive used in the tunnel. The picture shows a bit of the third rail but more importantly I think it shows the collector at the front of the truck. This is something the NYC didn’t use. I’m going to the model train show in Timonium Md. this weekend and I will review the unique features mentioned with members of the B&O Railroad Historical Society.

Chuck Crawford
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BaltOhio
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Re: Howard Street Tunnel - Baltimore

Post by BaltOhio » Mon Oct 05, 2009 7:23 am

As an aside, one might wonder what happened to Nos. 4 and 10 in my roster shown several posts up. They existed all right, but it was not a tunnel motors. No. 4 was a microscopic two-axle trolley motor with a wood boxcab that ran from a conventional 600-volt d.c. streetcar overhead and switched freight cars at B&O's isolated street trackage in the Fell's Point section of Baltimore. It was replaced in 1910 by a slightly larger steel 2-axle boxcab numbered 10 -- the other number missing from my roster. After being replaced by a rubber-tired street tractor, #10 went to the B&O Museum, followed later by the tractor.

chnhrr
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Re: Howard Street Tunnel - Baltimore

Post by chnhrr » Mon Oct 05, 2009 10:38 pm

Hi BaltOhio

I noticed in the first picture I posted that behind (left side) Locomotive No. 1 there appears the nose of a smaller unit. It looks very similar to a switcher you would see on Midwest traction. I don’t if this is one of the motors in question.

Chuck Crawford

BaltOhio
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Re: Howard Street Tunnel - Baltimore

Post by BaltOhio » Tue Oct 06, 2009 9:54 am

chnhrr wrote:
I noticed in the first picture I posted that behind (left side) Locomotive No. 1 there appears the nose of a smaller unit. It looks very similar to a switcher you would see on Midwest traction. I don’t if this is one of the motors in question.
No, that's the rear of a steam switcher's slopeback tender. The two street motors were plain four-wheel boxcabs.

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Re: Howard Street Tunnel - Baltimore

Post by polybalt » Tue Oct 06, 2009 7:41 pm

It was replaced in 1910 by a slightly larger steel 2-axle boxcab numbered 10 -- the other number missing from my roster. After being replaced by a rubber-tired street tractor, #10 went to the B&O Museum, followed later by the tractor.
As i understand it, the reason for discontinuing the electric locomotive service on Fells Point ( ie. #10) was that the adjacent streetcar line, which provided the power to the B&O, was abandoned and there was no easy way to get 600v. DC!
Peter Schmidt

ExCon90
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Re: Howard Street Tunnel - Baltimore

Post by ExCon90 » Thu Dec 17, 2009 3:37 pm

Were there any block signals within the tunnel when it opened, or did a single block on each track extend the full length of the tunnel? If there were intermediate signals, were they color light, replicating the conventional night aspects of semaphores, this being long before the introduction of color-position lights?

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Re: Howard Street Tunnel - Baltimore

Post by mmi16 » Sat Feb 04, 2012 6:57 pm

ExCon90 wrote:Were there any block signals within the tunnel when it opened, or did a single block on each track extend the full length of the tunnel? If there were intermediate signals, were they color light, replicating the conventional night aspects of semaphores, this being long before the introduction of color-position lights?
With the tunnel only being 1.7 miles long there never have been signals inside the tunnel. There are signals governing entrance to the tunnel at both ends of the tunnel.

The electric motors only handled trains in the Timetable specified Eastward direction, as that direction is upgrade and steam locomotives would have to actively work the power. Westbound trains could have their locomotives 'drift' and thus not generate enough CO to overcome the crews and passengers. The arrival of diesel-electric locomotives on all trains passing through the tunnel (including yard jobs) spelled the end of the electric motors.
Never too old to have a happy childhood!

R,N, Nelson
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Re: Howard Street Tunnel - Baltimore

Post by R,N, Nelson » Sun Feb 05, 2012 6:28 pm

The third rail was not of the standard design one finds today, in fact, it was not a rail at all. It was a U-shaped metal trough and the the shoe simply rode in it or should I say, slid in it. When it rained, the water collected would make the shoe ride up and loose contact. In winter weather, if ice or snow, a switcher was added to assist.

A short coming of the original overhead system was not only soot buildup, but an oxidation caused by the exhaust gasses of the locomotives.

As to why they didn't consider electrifying more of the main line, they did, in 1906, between Baltimore and Washington but nothing came of it.

Norman

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