Coincidentally, this is also my 100th post.
I wish everyone a happy and prosperous new year.
Merry Christmas, everyone. Peace on Earth and goodwill to men (women, and children).
I took this photo of Powell Street cable car 9 at Hyde and Beach on 08-December-2003.
Yesterday morning it was raining as I rode the DX into the city. The bus I usually ride in the morning takes Ninth Street. When we turned onto Mission, the driver said "Looks like there's a fire up ahead." We could see several sets of flashing lights. She turned down Eighth to Folsom and then back up Seventh. We had a bad time turning back onto Mission from Seventh. The fire was between Seventh and Eighth, on the south side of the street.
I learned later that it was the Knights of the Red Branch building which was burning.
At lunchtime, I walked in the light rain to the Borders by the ball park to get gift cards for the members of my team. Then I handed out my Christmas cards.
When I left work to catch the bus home, a lady at the stop said that Mission was still closed and the building was still burning. This was a DX that takes Sixth Street, so we didn't have to detour, but traffic was terrible. The DPT people were turning traffic off of Mission onto Sixth rather than Seventh, I suppose because Sixth has two-way traffic.
This morning when the alarm went off, KCBS said Mission was still closed. The fire had burned all night. I surmised that the fire department was afraid the building was going to collapse. The Chronicle website confirmed that it is going to have to be demolished. This morning the driver went down Folsom to Sixth and over to Mission. That worked much better.
Today I spent the day building a new desktop at work. My old one died two weeks ago and I have been using my laptop, which is not as good ergonomically. I didn't finish installing everything I need, but I made a good start.
At lunchtime, I went to Patrick's Office Supplies and See's Candy to buy stocking stuffers.
When I left to come home, I caught a Tenth Street DX. The driver turned on Sixth and went over to Howard, then straight out Howard to Tenth. Traffic was terrible on 101.
I took the photo at the Linda Mar Park and Ride lot on 07-August-2007. It shows Gillig Phantom 40-foot low floor bus number 316.
Walter Rice, whom I am proud to have called a friend, passed away this week.
He was what used to be called a man of parts. Walter, a native of San Francisco, was a PhD, Associate Dean and Professor Emeritus of Economics at Cal Poly San Luis Obispo, a historian who has written on many topics related to transit and railways, a die-hard fan of the San Francisco Giants, and a keeper of goats. This list covers only a small part of his accomplishments.
I remember him as a gentleman, a man of great vitality, a good guy who took an interest in people of all sorts, a family man, and a person who lived to share his great knowledge with others. Walter and his wife Laurie were kind hosts to the many visitors who turned up at their home, including me and my family.
I was honored that he made so many contributions to my cable car website (http://www.cable-car-guy.com/). I highly recommend his interview with Mrs Barbara Kahn Gardner, the daughter of Samuel Kahn, President of San Francisco's Market Street Railway, the chronology, his articles about the Manx Electric Railway, the Isle of Man Railway, and the Great Orme Tramway, and the many pieces of information and images that Walter allowed me to use.
I also recommend his many books and magazine articles. Here are a few books that come to mind:
I firmly believe that Walter had a long list of questions ready for when he would meet Andrew Hallidie, Henry Root, James W Harris, and Frank J Sprague. Charles Smallwood probably introduced them. Many people will miss Walter. We are lucky to have known him.
This blog is named after a series of articles written by Doctor P. H. Van der Weyde and published in Manufacturer and Builder Magazine in 1889 and 1890. The more I learn about Doctor P. H. Van der Weyde -- I'll share more about him in future posts -- the more I like him. Here is an article he wrote about attempts to use compressed air to drive transit vehicles. In this period, people know that horse-powered railways were inefficient, but cable traction was expensive, steam power was not suitable for urban areas, and electric traction was still being developed.
Lately an important problem has again been brought to public notice -- namely, the propulsion of street cars by means of compressed air, carried on the car itself.
The solution of the problem requires the execution of two kinds of contrivances -- first, a reservoir strong enough to withstand considerable pressure, and, secondly, a motor machine to be put in operation by this pressure. The reservoir is by preference made in the form of cylinders, of say one or two feet in diameter, so that they can be placed under the seats of the car, and of a length sufficient to utilize all the space afforded. The motor is best placed under the floor of the car, now a common method in the electric trolley cars, while the regulating devices are on both platforms where the motorman performs his duty.
It is evident that this system offers peculiar advantages, especially by reason of its apparent simplicity. The cylinders containing the compressed air -- the motive power -- are charged at the station and need no further attention, as is the case with locomotive boilers, where the chances of safety depend on the engineer and stoker. All the heavy machinery used for the production of the primary power is stationary, and no power is wasted to move it about as in the case of the locomotive, the only weight to be transported is the motor and the cylinders containing the compressed air. Summing up the advantages, they are:
1. No dead weight of coal or fuel on board.
2. No dead weight of water, boiler, furnace, and other material which has to he stabled, the real primary motor, which is a stationary structure of large dimensions, and therefore economical, as the economy increases at a very large ratio as the engines are increased in size.
3. The compression of air is going on continually in the reservoirs, and is always connected with the gauges, so as to insure safety.
The first application of this principle was seen some six or eight years ago at the Harlem station of the Second Avenue Railroad. It was intended for the propulsion of trains, and the compressed air reservoirs consisted of two huge cylinders placed horizontally, with a space between, through which the engineer could see the forward track while standing on the motor, and having the train of cars behind.
A few years later I saw some interesting experiments of thie same character at the Delamater works, where pipes were laid to quite a distance from the works, and at which pipes the cylinders could take up new supplies of compressed air without going back to the supply station.
A syndicate has been formed to introduce this system of street transportation, so that we will have another additional method in practice.