In an exposition where apparatus connected
with electric lighting occupied so important a place as it did in
Philadelphia, it was meet that one to whom that branch of electric
science owes so much should be represented by his work. Few persons
save those immediately interested in the subject were aware how important
a part Edward Weston had played in the electric lighting field until
they examined this exhibit. For Weston, to his credit be it said,
has been content to work silently in his Newark laboratory, and leave
to others the pleasing duty of announcing from time to time the results
of his investigations in the field of applied science. Perhaps no
other man has of late years accomplished so much with so little display
as Edward Weston; and his work, after standing the test of long and
continuous use in the field, has been found to possess even more merit
than he claimed for it when first introduced. The Weston exhibit was
in the northern part of the main hall, and contained that which at
the same time pleased the eye of the casual visitor and attracted
the serious attention of the scientist. Facing the thoroughfare on
the south, a sheet of water fell upon a mass of crystal rocks, concealed
in the crevices of which a score of incandescence lamps lay hid that
threw back with undiminished intensity the dazzling glow of similar
lamps springing from the lilies and ferns growing upon either bank.
Few of the thousands that daily visited the halls of the exposition
had ever seen lights glowing under water before, and the passages
about the Weston exhibit were therefore frequently crowded with admiring
spectators. Even in the arrangement of this waterfall could the careful
and original work of Edward Weston be seen. The fountain in the center
of the great ball was a ponderous affair; in fact, an ordinary spouting
of water illuminated by electric lights in much the same manner as
were those at the Munich and Paris expositions. But the mechanism
which controlled the waterfall of the Weston exhibit was contrived
with such nicety that, even near by, it looked like a huge mirror,
curving outward; for the sheet of water seemed never for an instant
to vary in dimensions, and was never broken. Yet seven hundred gallons
of water fell every minute, coming from a centrifugal pump which in
turn was coupled to a Weston electric motor.
On either side of the waterfall were groups of arc and incandescence
lamps of the Weston type, and which have served to make the name of
the United States Electric Lighting Company so well and favorably
It was a pardonable pride that induced Weston to exhibit these lamps
in all the many varieties, for each type has scored a very decided
success in the field for which it was designed. The arc lights stood
what might be called a competitive examination not long since before
the trustees of the Brooklyn Bridge; all the best known arc lamps
in use being examined at the same time.
In two long rows they now stretch across the East River from New York.
to Brooklyn. The Weston incandescence lamps are made both large and
small, and, as shown in the exhibit glowing from many-colored globes,
are pleasing to the eye, constant, and diffusive. They are improvements
on the Maxim type, which heretofore was used by the United States
Electric Lighting Company. What is most remarkable about these incandescence
lamps is that they have been shown to have an average life of more
than two thousand hours, which, in the dwelling house, where artificial
light is required, on an average, five hours per diem the year round,
would permit of their being left undisturbed and without renewal for
the entire year.
incandescence lamps in the exhibit were from 125 to 130 candle
power, there being about 16 candle power of intensity in an
ordinary five foot gas burner when new, and about eight or
ten when long in use. The circuits of these were so arranged
that they could be fed at long distances from the generators
with the same size conductors as are commonly used in the
arc light system. There is by no means so much loss of current
while in transitu when these large incandescence lights are
used as is the case with the smaller lamps, and the lights
may, at the same time, be more widely distributed. These,
as well as the small incandescence lights, may be used or
turned down without in any way affecting the generating machine
or the other lights, and a corresponding change is immediately
discoverable in the current generated as well as in the power
electric motor, as designed by Weston for use in the shop,
was exhibited both at rest and in motion. For the latter exhibit
the interior of a shop was shown, the tools being operated
by the Weston motor, which ran rapidly, smoothly, and noiselessly.
The electrometer, designed by Weston, while not as a whole
novel, has interesting features, and is especially fitted
for measuring the currents generated by the Weston dynamo.
The system of lamp manufacture designed by Weston was practically
exhibited from the hydrocarbon process for making the filaments
to the treatment of the lamps at the mercury pumps.
One of the most interesting features of the Weston exhibit was what
might not inappropriately be called the historical section, wherein
were contained the various crude devices and mechanisms, the continued
improvement of which finally led to the perfect lamps, switchboards,
and like contrivances. The progress made by the inventor may thus
be traced step by step, difficulty after difficulty is seen to have
been met and mastered, until what seemed but a crude conception, and
gave little hope from a practical standpoint, is observed to have
gradually been reduced to a simple, smooth working, and efficient
part of the Weston exhibit which was designed to represent his system
for central stations naturally attracted much attention. It contained
three engines, together having an accumulated capacity of 250 horse
power. There was a group of dynamos which fed about 1,500 lamps, scattered
throughout the main hall, comprising 65 arc lights, 150 incandescence
lights, each of 125 candle power, and 1,275 lamps of 16 candle power.
The circuits from the dynamos and from the outside lines were all
brought to a switchboard, by means of which the dynamos were coupled
together as desired. By this any of the outside circuits could be
coupled up or coupled to any of the dynamos, and rapidly changed from
one battery of dynamos to another; the others meantime not being appreciably
affected. By means of the Weston switchboard the dynamos could be
connected with either of the three engines. The wires leading to the
switchboard were carefully protected, as in the large central stations
which have been established in New York City and elsewhere by the
United States Electric Lighting Company, which, as said before, uses
the Weston patents. Any combination can be made by means of this switchboard
with any combinations of machines, and by means of cables the circuits
are connected with the machines. A plug on either end of the cables
serves, the one end to connect with the circuits, the other with the
machines. In order to prevent lightning from reaching the dynamos
during thunder storms, lightning arresters are affixed to each circuit.
From the switchboard the circuits are extended, and so arranged that
the lamps may be adjusted to each circuit. It does not injure the
outside circuit when these lamps are either placed in position or
removed. All the lamps are tested upon the circuit upon which they
are to be used before being regularly adjusted on the line.
The types of dynamo machines exhibited for the arc and incandescence
systems, as devised by Weston, do not materially differ, save in the
winding of the armature and field coils, these being somewhat modified
in order to produce the different kinds of currents that are demanded.
The current generated by these machines does not pulsate, but, on
the contrary, is continuous, which, besides giving a very steady light,
is less dangerous than that of the pulsating type.
In the Weston arc lamps exhibited, the arc or distance between the
carbons is short, being one thirty-second of an inch in length or
thereabouts. There is a palpable advantage in this, for it permits
a given number of lamps to be worked with a current the tension of
which is correspondingly low.
The large incandescence lamps shown in such profusion in the Weston
exhibit, were really the only lamps in the Exposition which showed
a new and important departure in this type of illumination, although
there were those of the smaller description which exhibited marked
improvement when considered from an economical standpoint. The big
lamp can be used in multiple arc or multiple series at points far
removed from the generator.
In the Weston dynamo the current generated has an E.M.F. of 1,500
volts In the two great incandescence machines exhibited the E.M.F.
was shown to be of 160 volts, the small lamp machines having an E.M.F.
of 120 volts or thereabouts. The field magnet of the Weston machine
resembles the letter C, having the poles in the center; the magnets
are wound in shunt circuit, and are oblong in section.
The armature, which revolves between the poles, is composed of a core
of iron disks strung like beads upon the shaft, being insulated the
one from the other by disks of paper. The type of cylinder thus constructed
may be said to be a modification of that employed in the Siemens machine.
There are numerous coils, which serve to equalize the current generated,
and brass bearings serve to insulate the shaft from the magnet.
In the automatic rheostat exhibited in connection with the arc lights,
a magnet wound in shunt circuit attracts an armature connected with
ratchet wheels. When, by reason of the turning off of lights, the
current shows too great intensity, the armature acts, rotates the
wheel, and this leads to more resistance being thrown into the field
circuit. The field magnets, as a consequence, exert less magnetism;
a smaller current results, and the power which has been driving the
machine may be reduced. The resistance is released by an opposite
process, and the full power of the shunt circuit may be thrown upon
The incandescence system of lighting must be able, if it would be
generally employed, to compete with gas in cost. Hence it may not
prove uninteresting, having described the Weston incandescence light,
to explain what it has accomplished when practically compared in cost
with gas by persons having no interest in either the one or the other.
A large manufacturing firm of Olneyville, R.I., recently tested two
Weston dynamo machines, one of one hundred lights capacity and the
other of fifty lights. The test was made during an entire year, from
April 15, 1883, to April 15, 1884 - 3,397 hours, an average of 11
hours each working day; the object being to discover whether incandescence
lighting or gas was the cheapest. The following figures were given
by the firm as the result of their experience:
lamps in the two circuits
lamps broken in 3,400 hours
life of lamps
cost of operating for the entire year was as follows:
broken, at $1.50 each
brushes, oil, and other supplies
6 per cent, on $4,100
compare this with what they had previously paid for gas as
gas, 170 seven-foot burners 3,397 hours,
4,042,430 feet of gas, at $2.00 per M
where they say gas may be had for $1.75
per M., this cost would have been reduced to $7,074.26
shows, as they say, that their Weston incandescence lamps cost them
only one-fourth cent per lamp per hour, which is equivalent to gas
at 37 cents per thousand feet.