N&W icons: the singularly N&W 440-volt line on poles -- and the preceding photo of RS11s on a coal train

nw-mailing-list at nwhs.org nw-mailing-list at nwhs.org
Wed Aug 2 11:42:56 EDT 2006

Thank You, Gordon, and since You talked to a couple of fine retired N&W Signalmen about this, there seems to me to be no reason NOT to believe this explanation. I thought this "expert" approach would work -- usually does...Thanks again, Lloyd Lewis....Now about that b&w photo of the several ALCo RS-11s up front on the coal train that preceded this question....Anyone know the location??

To: nw-mailing-list at nwhs.orgDate: Tue, 1 Aug 2006 21:17:18 -0400From: nw-mailing-list at nwhs.orgSubject: Re: N&W icons: the singularly N&W 440-volt line on poles

I talked with a couple of retired N & W Signal Department people about this subject to be certain that my feeble memory was correct.
The offset bracket on the top of signal line poles is called a "bayonet." It carries a "ground" or "static" line that is grounded at every fourth or so poles by a wire that runs from the static line down the pole to a stake in the ground. The purpose of the static line is to provide a low resistance path to ground for lightening strikes. The purpose of the offset in the bayonet is to accommodate the insulator and one wire of a three-phase, 4400-volt signal power circuit on top of the pole. The two other wires of the three-phase circuit are carried on insulators at either end of a cross arm below. Gordon Hamilton

----- Original Message -----
From: nw-mailing-list at nwhs.org
To: N&W Mailing List
Sent: Monday, July 31, 2006 10:36 PM
Subject: RE: N&W icons: the singularly N&W 440-volt line on poles
Wrote Lloyd Lewis: My Dad, who was The Virginian Railway's last Supervisor of Telegraph & Signals, told me this extra wire on the N&W's pole line above all the other numerous lines and crossarms was the perch upon which rested a special N&W-only 440-volt line....
Abram Burnett:
Doesn't add up for me, Lloyd.
1.) Where's the other side of the circuit (the "neutral" or "return" wire) ?
2.) 440 isn't enough juice to go very far. I haven't done the calculations, but I'll bet you'd see a 50% line drop in voltage over a hundred miles.
3.) Other railroads, and mebbe even the N&W, were hanging 4,400 volts on poles and using it to light stations and drive AC signal systems, as early as 1911-1913.
4.) CTC code line is almost invariably shielded (insulated) because of its critical importance.
I hope one of the museums can get a couple of N&W poles, crossarms and wire, and two of those distinctive angle brackets!
-- abram burnett
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