New Cars for London Underground Railways (1923)

From nycsubway.org

Electric Railway Journal · Vol. 61, No. 18 · May 5, 1923 · pp. 751-754.


[Left] Car 720 - Designed by the Underground Engineering Staff. [Right] Car 820 - The Color Scheme Is Light Blue.

New Cars for London Underground Railways. The Cars Are Particularly Luxurious in Their Furnishings -- Considerable Attention Has Been Given to Reducing Noise and Vibration -- Wheels Are Shrouded and Window Openings Reduced in Size.

On Feb. 3 there was a demonstration run on the Great Northern Piccadilly & Brompton Railway of a train including six new experimental trail cars. The London underground electric railways are being extended, and it is the desire of the management to introduce improved rolling stock, especially for the longer journeys which will soon be possible. Some time ago Lord Ashfield, chairman of the companies, instituted a competition among five car manufacturers for the construction of the best type of electric car to suit the conditions. Orders were placed with six firms for the production of one car each, namely, the Birmingham Railway Carriage & Wagon Company, Cammell, Laird & Company, the Gloucester Railway Carriage & Wagon Company, the Leeds Forge Company, the Metropolitan Carriage, Wagon & Finance Company, and the Glouces- ter Company.

General essential features were specified, but otherwise the builders were given a free hand. An important point specified was that the door dimensions of all the cars should be similar. The arrangement is different from that of the original rolling stock. Some of the existing cars have both end doors and center doors, and some only end doors. The new cars have no end doors nor center doors, but are provided with two double sliding doors on each side, each pair being about one-third of the distance from the end of the train. On starting from a station, all the doors have to be shut before an automatic signal can be given to the operator to start.

Several arrangements have been adopted to reduce noise, which is very pronounced in "tube" tunnels. The wheels have been shrouded by a covering, and the size of the windows has been reduced. It was found that the larger the windows the more the noise. A reduction in sound has also been effected by ventilating the cars from the roof instead of from the windows. The result is that passengers can converse without unduly raising their voices. Graphs were obtained comparing the intensity and fluctuation of noise in an ordinary tube railway car and in one of the new ones, and specimens of these are produced herewith.

The new cars are of steel, and in external appearance and size are similar to the old. Each seats forty-eight passengers. Internally, however, they vary in finish according to the ideas of the builders. The seats, upholstered in moquette, are luxuriously comfortable. The decorations include gray, blue and gold, blue and gray, green and brown, mahogany and maple, and brown and white. The metal fittings are in oxidized silver finish, aluminum, and oxidized copper. In one case the floor, instead of having narrow wood slats, is covered with a non-flammable rubber composition fabric.

The scheme of vertical rods from floor to ceiling for the use of standing passengers tried on a number of previous cars has been abandoned, and a reversion is made to straps to which standing passengers can hold. Most of these loop straps are, however, much improved, so as to be more comfortable to the hand. Concealed lighting is adopted in one car, but as usual in such a case more lamps are required. The new cars are being subjected to severe tests, and these will decide what is to be the new standard car, of which probably about 200 will be required. Some of the essentials of construction of the various cars are as follows:


The body is built of U-section pressed-steel pillars and angle section rails, securely framed together and paneled with cold-rolled close-annealed plates riveted to the framing. The roof is of clerestory type and consists of mild steel plates riveted to light angle carlines, and the whole is secured to cant rails. Frameless windows contain balancing devices and drop 6 inches. Ventilation is by a series of air scoops fitted in the roof; air passes into a channel formed by the clerestory rail and inside panel and is controlled by ornamental grids inside the car. The body of the car is sound insulated by sheet cork secured to the inside panels, while the roof has a double layer of insulating cork. One layer is secured to the roof plates and the other layer to the top of the ceiling panel. The floor consists of successive layers of slag wool, asbestos and cork, with wood slats above. Over the trucks a further layer of asbestos insulation is secured. To overcome the "drum" effect caused by the longitudinal seats which also form wheel boxes, thick "Wadnit" sound insulation is used, secured to the seat plates. The wheels are fitted with wood blocks between spokes to reduce the metallic ring when in motion.

Seats are of Woods' patent wire-woven type, of special light construction, suitably upholstered and covered with moquette. The car interior is decorated with polished mahogany moldings, panels being painted French gray and further relieved on the end and door pocket panels by ornamental festoons. Ceiling panels are of Agasote, with "Adams" treatment in decoration, and painted white. Doors are of a double sliding type, electrically and pneumatically controlled. All main pipe fittings for the door system are located in two of the longitudinal seat boxes.

The underframe is of light rolled sections for solebars and longitudinals, bolsters and headstocks being pressings. Truck frames are of mild steel plates and angles, and bolsters and spring planks of pressings. Bolster springs are of double elliptic type, and side-bearing springs of a laminated type with auxiliary springs pf rubber. The truck brake rigging is arranged for all wheels to be braked on both sides, and the type of rigging permits of automatic slack adjusters being used, and for the brakeshoes to be worn out without the necessity of hand adjustment. Exteriors are painted in vermillion, black and cream, in accordance with the specification as in the case of the other vehicles. All fittings have oxidized silver finish.


Only marketable materials are used, but the advisability of using high tensile steel in future is considered further to lighten the structure. Truck wheel bases have been increased from 5 ft. to 6 ft., giving steadier running. There are three systems of springs between axle truck boxes and car body; anti-vibration packings are inserted between bolsters and truck center bearings. To obtain noiseless running all play in moving parts has been reduced, and "Ferodo" wearing surfaces have been introduced in the brake rigging and elsewhere. The floor consists of steel dovetail sheeting, with an upper layer of floorboards, the space between being filled with a granulated cork composition. The sides and roof are insulated with three-ply "Salamander" hair felt between inside and outside linings. This insulation is rendered fire-resisting. Canvas is applied to the inside paneling and seat plates to prevent "drumming." Each truck is shrouded in a leather covering reaching down to within a few inches of the rail.

Structural work is of the lightest possible description consistent with strength. Unit principles in design have been adopted to avoid multiplicity of details and fittings. The center roof plates are flanged dh trap outer edges to avoid the necessity for roof purline. Aluminum is used wherever practicable for the construction and for interior fittings. Panel plates are flanged on their edges to obtain stiffness without the need for providing additional stiffeners. Outside moldings and joints have been avoided wherever possible. The framing and paneling of side doors is entirely of aluminum.

Seats and seat backs are fitted with coil spring cushions. The ventilation includes balanced-side sliding windows, sliding glass panels in end doors, and louver type ventilators in the clerestory, operated by cam action. Outside ventilators of special type, combining intake and exhaust action in either direction of travel, are used. This type of outside ventilator has not previously been employed, but has been the subject of exhaustive tests and trials. Doors have soft rubber flexible edges to give the required resiliency and to obtain a weather joint, while at the same time preventing risk of injury should a passenger's hand or a portion of his clothing be trapped between the two doors when closing. To maintain the door tracks free from obstruction, a track cleaner is fitted to each side door.

Diffused lighting is a feature of this car. The main lights are placed in troughs, housed inside the deck rails and glazed on the underside with semi-transparent glass mounted in hinged frames. These troughs are utilized as longitudinal roof members. The underframe embodies two strong central girders, which take up the principal draw and buffing shocks and form the load-carrying members, so that the side doorway openings do not cut into the main underframe members, as would be the case if the solebars carried the load. Floor and side loads are transmitted to center girders by braced crossbars. Over the truck the seat front plates serve as the central girders. The interior decoration is in blufe with gold finish.


Trucks are of Gibbins' spring frame type, giving easy riding, as the load is taken direct on the springs from the main frame; the weight of the body is taken on roller side bearings, and not on the center bearing, thus eliminating side roll, while the fact that there is no clearance between axle boxes and bolster to be taken up, as on the ordinary truck, gives smooth starting and stopping. The weight is also considerably reduced.

The car body is insulated by "Wadnit" rammed between exterior and interior panels, the former being lined with canvas. Windows are of frameless type, fitted with spring balances and arranged to fall 6 in. Spring roller curtains can be fitted to all windows if required, one being supplied. The curtain roller is out of sight, being attached to the top light mold and easily removed. Twelve ventilators are fitted in the monitor, of pivoted vane type, exhausting the air automatically in both directions. Hit-and-miss covers are provided to regulate the exhaust.

Seats are of "Peters" type, covered in moquette. One cross seat has been fitted with "Woods" woven wire for comparison. The double side doors are of mahogany, sheathed with aluminum and operated by air engines. All doors are fitted with rubber edges, forming a flexible and watertight joint. The interior finish is of Agasote panels. No cornice moldings are used, and the molds employed are of light and plain type so as not to harbor dust. Hand grips of special type in polished mahogany are suspended from the roof. The color scheme is light blue. Metallic fittings are silver oxidized.


Truck frames are of pressed steel, giving ample strength without excessive weight. The bolster suspension is designed to prevent excessive lateral movement on curves. The springing is arranged to reduce unsprung weight, to obtain resilience without undue vertical movement, and to absorb rail shocks near the point of origin. Shrouding plates are of steel, covered on the inner and outer surfaces with canvas, and with hinged side plates for examination. The end shrouding is sloped to deflect sound onto the roadbed.

The underframe is of pressed steel construction, and in so far as load carrying is concerned, is incorporated as a unit with the body. The headstocks, together with the end top plates, form a rigid structure for transmission of buffing shocks, and at the same time care for racking stresses. Both mid-longitudinals and crossbars run through, the latter being under the former and connected by means of rack plates.

In the buffing and drawgear "Ferodo" bushes have been used for the sector bar pins, and also for the platform plate plungers. The design of the body was prepared with a view to ease and quickness of production, there being no unwieldy portions to obtain or handle. Sides, ends and roofs are built in jigs as units to secure complete interchangeability, all parts being drilled to templets. The construction is all steel, aluminum or alloy only being used for doors, fittings and interior moldings.

Timber is used only for floor slats, window capping, end door posts, windscreen parts, handrails and on ends of seats. The sides are constructed with pressed-steel pillars, sheeted on the outside with steel plates, there being no expensive window or other pressings. Horizontal moldings, cant rails, crib rails, inside waist rails, and door pocket members are of rolled-steel sections. The interior sides and ends are of steel sheets secured to the framing. Aluminum molding is secured by means of wood screws into fiber blocks. The ceiling is of Agasote, secured to the roof framing in the same manner.

The side sliding doors are of one-piece aluminum castings sheeted on both sides with aluminum plates. They have standard rollers at the bottom with the exception that an eccentric pin is pivoted to lift or lower the doors when the very limited clearances allowable make it necessary. A "Crittall" runner is fitted, and is provided with springs which allow the door to ride over any obstruction, and also to prevent rattle. A "Crittall" runner has also been fitted at the rear of the sliding door for connecting to the air motor arm. The sliding doors are fitted on the closing sides with sponge rubber safety edges, molded to fit one slightly into the other, and are of such soft nature as to provide, with the compression of the air motor springs, a complete watertight joint. They also effectively prevent injury to a limb, and allow clothing, etc., to be very easily withdrawn when the doors are closed and the coach is in motion.

Windows are provided with zinc water pockets, and the lifting gear is made as one unit. Seats are of Vi-Spring pattern, made by the Marshall Patent Mattress Company. Longitudinal seats are constructed individually, to permit easy access to the door operating gear, and for economy in repairs.

Ventilation is by extraction. There are twenty-eight extractor ventilators in all, twenty of which ventilate the interior of the car. The remaining eight ventilate the air space between the outer and inner walls of the body. Electric lamps, inclosed in Holophane bowl fittings, are installed at the lower clerestory and the center ceiling. Emergency lights are fitted into two of the bowl fittings, making it unnecessary to break up the ceiling by further fittings. Two extra bulbs are provided for an illuminated sign.

Noise insulation includes canvas attached to the inside of the outer sheeting of sides, ends and roof and between all metal-to-metal joints, and use of hair felt. The floor is of key section steel, the trough being filled with cork. A layer of cork covers the whole of the key flooring, and on this are laid the wood slats. The interior is designed to avoid dust-collecting ledges. Bright surfaces requiring cleaning have also been avoided. The interior decoration is in green and brown. Fittings are of aluminum. Straps are attached to sockets suspended from the roof.


Among the special features of this car are that nickel steel has been used for the undergear; that the flooring is of corrugated steel with a thickness of non-inflammable wood and a fluted covering of fire-resisting rubber; that white-metal sheets are used for paneling; that natural non-inflammable material is used for seat rests, etc., and that sliding doors are of self-centering construction.

To reduce noise the wheels are filled in with teak segments, sound-insulating materials are freely used, and even the painting scheme includes the use of Docker "loaded" paint, having qualities by which it assists to deaden sound vibration. The trucks are completely shrouded with pulped wood sheeting, with flapdoors for inspection. The ends are streamlined.

Trucks have 2-ft. 8-in. wheels and laminated side bearings fitted with Spencer's auxiliary rubber springs, double elliptical bolster springs are provided, and "Metro" patent ball-bearing center plates and roller side bearings are fitted to reduce friction. The underframe includes bulb angle section solebars, and pressed-steel headstocks, bolsters, crossbars and longitudinals, and has reinforced end construction. "Ferodo" strips and washers are used extensively for trucks and underframe and elsewhere to prevent noise.

The body consists of light steel pressings for pillars, and angle sections for bracings, longitudinals, side members and roof. Side and end plates are of aluminum and copper alloy. Windows each consist of two complete steel pressings. Spaces between the inner and outer sheeting of walls and ceilings are sectionalized by small wood packings, to reduce "drumming," the spaces being filled with eel grass quilting, a material useful both for sound and heat insulation.

Sliding doors include aluminum plates, light steel channels and wood linings, spaces being filled with eel grass quilting. A ball-bearing attachment between the door-operating air-motor and the door minimizes sliding friction. A new type of door roller is employed, enabling the door to be removed readily without disturbing the runner track, while V-rollers provide for self-centering. There are also twin ball races giving correct alignment. Special arrangements are made to obtain weather-tightness between the doors, while the meeting edges are fitted with rubber joints which enable a passenger (or his clothing) who may be trapped to withdraw.

Windows have drop lights apparently frameless, provision being made for easy cleaning, adjustment and withdrawal, to avoid rattle, and for draining rainwater. Ventilators in the clerestory are of "M. & M." pattern, with staggered air openings. Air scoops are also fitted. Half the seats have small closely-nested springs, with spiral springs for the backs; the others have seats and backs of woven wire with supplementary spiral springs. All seats are in self-contained frames, these and the backs being removable. Seat risers and top plates are heavily shrouded to reduce noise. Strap-hangers are of light gray rubber with strong canvas inserted.

Electric lamps are sunk in flush with the spherical bulb, the lights themselves being opalescent or frosted glass. Dust-collecting ledges, etc., are avoided. Ceilings are of Agasote fire-resisting millboard, with light upper decoration. Fittings are of bronze. Upholstery is in blue, and the interior of the car has mahogany and maple paneling.

CAR No. 720, UNDERGROUND COMPANIES' DESIGN (Constructed by the Gloucester Carriage & Wagon Company)

The interior decoration is in brown with white paneling; fittings are in oxidized copper. The lighting is entirely by side brackets, except for two emergency lamps in the center. The seats are of "Nesta" all-metal design, covered with moquette, and the arm rests with leather. Straps include Bakelite handles on swivel joints attached to the clerestory rail. The ceiling is white, decorated in the "Adams" style.

To reduce noise the roof and body are insulated by sheet cork and "Wadnit" asbestos, the flooring, which is otherwise to the usual "Underground" standards, being similarly insulated, but having different thicknesses of material. The trucks are of an improved design not hitherto used. They are provided with shrouding of "Wadnit" asbestos secured to underframes of wheel boxes, "Sundela" board panels being used on sides and ends of bogies. The exterior body panels are of steel, the interior panelling being of asbestos millboard. Doors have wood frames covered on either side with aluminum plates. Special attention is given to weather tightness, while a drainage system is provided to deal with rainwater. The side sliding doors have rubber edges to prevent injury to a passenger who might be trapped or his clothing caught, as in the case of the other cars.

[Left] Car 821, Bowl Fittings Are Used For Lighting and Aluminum Trim Is Employed Quite Extensively. [Right] Car 822, Upholstery Is in Blue and Paneling Is Mahogany and Maple.
[Left] Car 833, Seats Are of Special Light Construction Covered with Moquette. [Right] Car 824, Diffused Lighting Is Used and Decoration Is in Blue and Gold.
[Left] Sound Photograph Taken in Ordinary Tube Car. [Right] Sound Photograph Taken in One of the New Cars.


Electric Railway Journal, McGraw Hill Company, Digitized by Microsoft, Americana Collection, archive.org.

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