A page from my grandfathers diary and the transcription of a few entries.
MONDAY, FEB. 7, 1927 Two pieces of 10516 Dudley section rail were received today from the N.Y.C. Rails were rolled by the Lackawanna plant of the Bethlehem Steel Company in 1924, heat #22075. These rails broke in service due to transverse fissure. Rail #18 is 14½ feet long. Rail #19 is 15½ feet long.
I ordered the 2000 amp generator and have a promise of delivery for Thursday.
WEDNESDAY, FEB. 9, 1927 The 2000 ampere generator arrived this P.M. and a space was cleared in the pit for the rail test setup.
THURSDAY, FE8. 10, 1927 The generator was unpacked and taken to the pit. It is being directly connected to a 10 HP motor. The speed of the motor will have to he reduced to a pretty low value, I believe.
FRIDAY, FEB. 11, 1927 The setup is now completed and the rails will be cleaned Monday ready for a lest.
MONDAY, FEB. 14, 1927 The rails have been cleaned and mounted for test. I hare located a galvanometer with a scale giving one scale division for each .02 millivolts.
TUESDAY, FF.B. 15, 1921 Received a 15 foot piece of rail today from the D.L.&W., 105 lbs. This rail shows a large transverse fissure at the end where it is broken ...
WEDNESDAY, FEB. 16, 1927 I ran through a test on the two N.Y.C. rails today. The normal drop with 1900 amperes was about 18 divisions on the meter, or .36 millivolts. The one rail was okay, but rail #18 has a spot where the voltage jumped to .56 millivolts. This is an increase of about 55% in the unit IR drop.
THE PASSAGE BELOW WAS WRITTEN BY MY GRANDFATHER FOR THE SPERRY REVIEW IN THE FALL OF 1958. IT DISCRIBES THE EVENTS MENTIONED IN THE DIARY ENTRIES ABOVE. THE ISSUE CELEBRATED THE 30TH ANNIVERSARY OF THE DEVELOPMENT OF THE RAIL TEST UNIT.
31 years ago last February 16th, two rails which had broken in service with transverse fissures were set up in the Sperry laboratory and subjected to a test that has since become commonplace.
On that memorable Wednesday, two pieces of rail were placed on saw horses. Their running surfaces were then carefully sanded to insure good contact. Heavy copper cables from an electric generator were bolted to the ends of rail #19 and a current of 1900 amperes was applied to it.
A galvanometer was placed on a stool nearby. This rather crude potential contactor was applied to the railhead's surface at its very end and gradually moved along toward the opposite end.
This was to be first trial of Dr. E. A. Sperry’s potential drop test an a full-sized rail!
The meter reading at the rail's end was high as was to be expected. But it dropped down to a value of 18 divisions within about 9 inches and remained at that figure until we approached the opposite end. Repeated passes over the rail gave the same results.
Following these tests, rail #18 was energized with 1900 amperes and the potential contactor was applied to the bolt hole end of the rail. A unit potential of 18 divisions was observed as in the previous rail. The test proceeded slowly along the rail inch by inch. Ten feet were covered without change in the meter reading. There began to be increasing misgivings on the part of the investigator. Then at 10 feet 7 inches I stopped a moment to catch my breath. For at that point the needle of the galvanometer had jumped to 28 divisions!
For the first time in history, an internal transverse fissure had been accurately located and its approximate size indicated. In that moment, the detection of internal transverse fissures left the realm of wishes , hopes and dreams and had become at long last a reality. We finally knew that fissures could be found; their location could be determined accurately - that they could be measured and their growth studied.
From 1927 to the present day, the hand-test method has been the only means for determining the presence or absence of internal transverse defects - and their approximate size. It is used by all detector cars in this country, regardless of type. Without the hand-test method detector cars might indicate for removal more good rails than bad!