Monday, August 1, 2011

Charles Brush

“I plowed awhile this morning and then we commenced cutting barley.  Barley is so short it is very slow cutting.  We finished cutting the south lot about half past four and then cut three or four times around the other lot.  Very pleasant day.”


Charles Brush - 1920

Born in Euclid Township, Ohio, Brush was raised on a farm about 10 miles from downtown Cleveland. He had a great interest in science, particularly with Humphry Davy's experiments with the arc light; he tinkered with and built simple electrical devices such as a static electricity machine at age 12, experimenting in a workshop on his parents farm. Brush attended Central High School in Cleveland where he built his first arc light, and graduated there with honors in 1867.  He received his college education from the University of Michigan, where he studied mining engineering (there were no majors—as there are today—in electrical engineering). At Michigan, Brush was a member of Delta Kappa Epsilon fraternity (Omicron chapter).

New York central power plant dynamos powered arc lamps for public lighting. Beginning operation in December 1880 at 133 West Twenty-Fifth Street, it powered a 2 mile long circuit

In 1876 he secured the backing of the Wetting Supply Company in Cleveland to design his "dynamo" (an electrical generator) for powering arc lights. Brush began with the dynamo design of Zénobe Gramme but his final design was a marked divergence, retaining the ring armature idea that originated with Antonio Pacinotti. Brush remarked on his motivation for improving the generator in his U.S. Patent 189,997: "The best forms of magneto-electric apparatus at present before the public are unnecessarily bulky, heavy, and expensive, and are more or less wasteful of mechanical power." After comparing it to the Gramme dynamo and other European entrants, the Franklin Institute of Philadelphia judged Brush's dynamo superior due to its simpler design and maintainability after completing tests in 1878.
Brush produced additional patents refining the design of his arc lights in the coming years and sold systems to several cities for public lighting, and even equipped Philadelphia's Wanamaker's Grand Depot with a system. His lights were easier to maintain, had automatic functions and burned twice as long as Yablochkov candles. His generators were reliable and automatically increased voltage with greater load while keeping current constant.  By 1881, New York, Boston, Philadelphia, Baltimore, Montreal, Buffalo, San Francisco, Cleveland and other cities had Brush arc light systems, producing public light well into the 20th century.

Leesah

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