IEEE Power & Energy Magazine - July/August 2014 - 87

Since not all of the available space in
Substation 1T was required for the installation of the solid-state rectifiers, at
least one of the 4,000-kW traction rotaries has been saved in place for posterity.

carried out with the assistance of engineers
from the General Electric Company.

The New Substations
The cavernous space occupied by the former steam plant beneath Grand Central
Terminal was functionally divided in two.
The eastern half was devoted to the installation of 600-V rotary converters to supply dc traction power to the third rails and
was designated Substation 1T. The western half was devoted to 250-V rotaries for
dc lighting and general power in the terminal and was designated Substation 1L.
Substation 1T contained five rotary
converters, three of which had been
moved down from 50th Street, including one fairly new 4,000-kW converter.
The other two were 4,000-kW machines
constructed by General Electric for this
new facility, and the total capacity provided was 16,500 kW (see Figures 5-8).
Similarly, Substation 1L contained
five converters, four of these being
1,500-kW machines from 50th Street,
plus one new 2,000-kW machine, for a
total of 8,000 kW.
To the north of this space, another substation (designated "1B") had been in operation since before 1927 to also provide
250-V dc power, not only for the terminal
but for the Graybar Building above it and
for the Commodore Hotel as well. This installation consisted of four 2,000-kW rotaries plus an adjacent battery room.

Epilogue
In 1989, Robert Walker very kindly
arranged for the author to tour the substation areas beneath the terminal. The last
of the Substation 1T rotary converters had
just been shut down a few weeks prior
to this. Three more traction rotaries were
still in place, and two of these were in the
process of being dismantled. Only two or
three of the original five rotaries had been
operational in the years prior to this, which
had led to necessary overloading of the
machines during morning and evening
rush hours when the heavier train traffic
required additional third-rail power.
All of the Substation 1L rotaries had
been replaced by a series of 660-V solidstate rectifier units to supply third-rail
power since, by this time, there was no
july/august 2014

Acknowledgments

figure 7. Main positive dc breakers
on the Substation 1T switchboard
(photo courtesy of Gerald Weinstein,
photographer).

longer any need for 250-V dc lighting and
power. In Substation 1B, only one of the
original rotaries was still in place, and it
had been out of operation for some time.
The fifth traction rotary had experienced a spectacular demise in March
1988. It failed catastrophically and threw
hot metallic shrapnel around the substation. Fortunately, there were no injuries,
but the New York City Fire Department
was kept busy for a while putting out
small fires caused by flying debris. This
event served to hasten the process of
bringing the three new 3,300-kW solidstate traction rectifier units online.

figure 8. The 250-V dc lighting and
power feeder board in Substation 1L
(photo courtesy of Gerald Weinstein,
photographer).

The author is indebted to Gerald
Weinstein, CEO of General Tools &
Instruments in Manhattan, for providing photographs and other information regarding Substation 1T; to
Chris Hunter and staff of the Museum
of Innovation and Science (MiSci)
Archives in Schenectady, New York,
for early photographs; and to Robert Walker for additional information
regarding operation in later years.

For Further Reading
J. J. Cunningham and J. L. Sprague,
"A Frank Sprague triumph: The electrification of Grand Central Terminal,"
IEEE Power Energy Mag., vol. 11,
no. 1, pp. 58-76, Jan.-Feb. 2013.
Unpublished and undated writeup (author unknown) on the electrical
history of Grand Central by the New
York Central Railroad, obtained from
Robert Walker in 1989.
A. W. Robins and the New York
Transit Museum, Grand Central Terminal: 100 Years of a New York Landmark. New York: Stewart, Tabori &
Chang, 2013.
"The heating and lighting equipment of the Grand Central Station,"
Elect. World, vol. 32, no. 14, pp. 339-
340, Oct. 1, 1898.
"New terminal for New York central lines," Elect. World, vol. 60, no. 25,
pp. 1309-1318, Dec. 21, 1912.
"Electrification by G.E.," Bulletin
116 of the Central Electric Railfans'
Association, Chicago, 1976. (Reprint
of a 1929 publication by permission of
the General Electric Company.)
"Power and heat for the Grand
Central Terminal area," Railway Age,
pp. 632-634, Mar. 15, 1930.
F. B. Freeman, "Moving a substation underground," Scientific American,
vol. 142, no. 6, pp. 458-459, June 1, 1930.
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