Details of Railway Accidents in the Ottawa Area

1892, January 14 - Ottawa Electric Railway Installs Electric Heating on Streetcars

Ottawa Journal 14 January 1892

The First in all British America to Substitute Electricity for Coal - How it is Done - The Temperature Regulated.

The Ottawa Electric Railway company put car No. 23 on the Rideau Street and C.P.R. route this afternoon fully equipped with electric heaters - the first adoption of electricity for heating purposes in Canada.
An inspection of the car shows that the heaters are made of corrugated cast-iron, something like gridirons in appearance, and are placed out of sight beneath the seats of the car.
The wooden panels underneath the seats are removed and fine wire netting inserted in the openings through which the heat is evenly distributed. Between the upper and lower parts of the heaters wire of a high electrical resistance is embedded in cement, and the heat is produced by the passage of the electric current through the wires, which in turn impart the heat to the cost iron. The same current is used that operates the motor of the cars. A "switch" is placed conveniently in the car by which the conductor turns on and off the current as may be required.
The switch admits of regulation of temperature to any degree consistent with comfort. An impression prevails amongst some people not acquainted with the system that the dresses of ladies riding in the car are liable to be burned from the heaters. This impression is erroneous for the reason that the heaters are too far back and are protected by a fine wire netting, which prevents outside material touching the heaters at all. The heaters are called the Burton heaters, and are only in use in St. Lewis.
The fitting up of car 23 was under the immediate supervision of electrical superintendent J.C. Mullen. It is likely that other cars will shortly be fitted up in the same way as No. 23. The same power that drives the car and lights it also heats it.

Ottawa Journal 14 February 1892

Good Prospects of the Extension of the System to Private Houses, Stores and Offices - How Icy Water is Creating Heat.

Despite reports to the contrary, electric heaters are to be placed on all the electric cars and the apparatus is now being prepared under the direction of Mr. T. Ahearn at the car sheds on Albert st. The new mode of heating will, it is expected, be fully introduced before the end of the present winter. Car No. 23, it will be remembered, was recently equipped with an electric heating outfit but it was only worked for a few days as it did not turn out successful, the heat radiating power not proving up to the mark. But Mr. Ahearn has made several changes in the apparatus and with larger resistance wire used it is said the electric heaters will have greater heating capacity than coal stoves, with the additional advantage that it can be raised or lowered at will. The improvements in the system are the invention of Mr. Ahearn himself, who has made electric heating a study for the last ten years.
Mr. Soper, seen on the subject, said he believes the defects in the heating apparatus in car 23 had been successfully gotten over, and that in future there would be no difficulty in heating all cars by electricity.
Will the improved apparatus solve the problem of electric heating for private houses, stores and so forth?
"No, not yet, because, while it may be successfully used on the cars there would be still mechanical difficulties to be overcome in its applications to house heating, just as there were obstacles to be encountered and conquered when electric lighting was first introduced, making it too expensive and too troublesome for general purposes until specially adapted to other forms.
"But, said Mr. Soper, "the time is coming, and it is not far away when the remaining problems will be fully solved and electric heating general, and Ottawa the first city to use it."
"Is it not the extra amount of power, and consequent cost that makes the heating expensive now?"
"No as a matter of fact the extra amount of power consumed by an electric stove as compared with the lighting, is not very material, (though of course, an item), as it is not from the wire that the heating actually comes but from the radiating qualities of the material used around the wires, and into which the heat is infused the same as from the iron of a stove is heated by the fire inside.
"One of the objects of electricians in this connection, " he continued, " will be to secure a substance that will consume the least power and give out the most heat."
"Will electricity be applicable for other household purposes than mere heating?"
"Yes, all kinds of cooking will be done by it, and without the dust and smoke of a coal stove, and the smell of a coal oil stove, as satisfactorily as gas, and in course of time cheaper than them all."
Tell us something about the modus operandi of electric heating.
"Well," said Mr. Soper," the renowned Tyndall, you know, called heat 'a mode of motion'  and proceeded to show in his interesting scientific manner how molecular disturbance, or in other words the imperceptible moving about and rubbing against each other of the minute particles of matter in the universe produce heat, and that in no other way can it be produced; even the rays of the sun itself being without heat until they come in contact with and produce disturbance or motion in the atmosphere surrounding the earth's surface."
Give us a practical illustration in this case of the electric heating. How it [sic] the heat produced? How is it transmitted ? and why, if it really is heat, does it not heat the wires upon which it is conveyed?
"These, " replied Mr Soper, "are questions that almost everyone accustomed to the well-known modern methods of heating would naturally ask, and in these days of hard common sense the questioner will require a common sense answer. To simplify point you to the roaring rush of water as it leaps from the dark ledge of the picturesque Chaudiere Falls to be dashed into spray many feet below, and say 'that fall of water is your answer'  would not satisfy you; and yet, in an undeveloped manner, it would be a correct reply. Electric heating, then, as far as Ottawa is concerned, is the falling water of the Ottawa river converted into another form.
As is well known, the electric lighting and the electric railway stations at the Chaudiere are operated by the water powers there located, and as electric heating, as adapted in electric car No. 23, is produced from the same dynamos that operate the motors in the cars, it will simplify the description to begin at the water in the river, and follow it in it's various forms from its cold wintery bed under thick sheets of ice until by the magic of electricity it is disseminated in waves of cheerful heat throughout the car.
"First then, the weight Or fall of the water causes the water wheels to revolve, they in turn are connected with the immense generating dynamos, the armatures of which revolving in front of the pole pieces produce currents of electricity to be transmitted along the copper wires throughout the city, down the trolley poles to the motors underneath the cars, thence to the rails and back again to the dynamos. So far the effect has been magnetic and electric, that is the pole pieces of the motors have become magnetized in unison with those of the dynamos at the powerhouse, and have by the power of magnetic attraction caused the armatures of the motors to revolve. But no heat has been produced. Why? Because the heavy copper wires carrying the electric current from the powerhouse to the cars have been good conductors. In other words the wires have offered an easy path for the electric current to traverse; there has been little or no disturbance in the molecular composition and therefore there has been no heat produced.
"From the same wires, however, or from the same 'electric circuit' as they are called, two other wires are looped off after the circuit enters the car via the trolley pole, and are connected with the electric heater which is nothing more nor less than a coil of wire having a poorer conductivity than the heavy copper wires. The coil of wire composing the heater is a special and peculiar alloy and is one of the poorest conductors among the metals. The electric current endeavors to force its way through this wire, and in doing so creates a disturbance of its molecules, imperceptible, of course, but nevertheless a rubbing and pushing against each other, a motion - result, heat. More rapidly than can be described, the icy water of the Chaudierer has been actually transformed into heat, and at a distance of miles.
"What are the possibilities of electric heating?" you may well ask. That, like electric lighting and electric power, it is destined to make a large and ever widening field for itself there can be little doubt. It's convenience, cleanliness and adaptability as compared with any other known means of heating, apparent at a glance, and with the almost unlimited water power of the Chaudiere at its door Ottawa will know no doubt lead the van in practical everyday heating of houses by electricity as it has in every other branch of electrical progress.

Ottawa Free Press 8 September 1892

Mr. T. Ahearn has just completed arrangements with the president of the Railway Equipment company of Chicago by which the latter will have the sole right to manufacture and sell all the Ahearn electrical heating apparatus in the United States.  The company has hitherto been the only one to handle electric heaters for cars thus far in the States.

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