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Earle Baldwin

"The Interborough Rapid Transit Lo-V Cars" (Audio Compact Disc)

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Between the years of 1915 and 1925, over 1100 cars of the Lo-V or "low voltage" type were placed into service on IRT lines. The low voltage designation refers specifically to the stepped down current passing through the Motorman's controller. Previous Hi-V (high voltage) equipment placed the train operator in a situation in which his controller was directly connected to the 600 volts emanating from the third rail, definitely not an ideal arrangement for the employee. The Lo-V cars featured batteries with a range of 32 to 40 volts incorporated into a master controller which enabled the Motorman to harness those 600 volts processed through the switches under the car without fear of being electrocuted. Understandably, Lo-V equipment rapidly gained favor with operating crews. The cars served the city well, remaining in service until the early 60's.

 

The subject of our review is an hour long audio compact disc of sounds of Lo-V equipment as recorded by Edward Davis and Franklin Roberts in 1963. Trackside and on board segments are included to provide the listener with an interesting array of noises made by subway cars "back in the day." Traction motors growled, compressors thumped and interurban style air whistles tooted. Combine this with the sweet smell of ozone, incandescent lighting, rattan seats and open windows and a subway ride was a treat for every sense!

 

A variety of locations and settings are included on the recording. A few of the on board segments are a trip from East 180th Street to Dyre Avenue, a raucous ride on the Uptown Lexington Avenue Express and a fast ride down the Seventh Avenue Line from 110th Street. Listening to the CD in the car is guaranteed to place you aboard the train and make you forget about the traffic in which you're sitting. What more could you ask for?

 

The disc is packaged in a standard jewel case with attractive color photographs of Lo-V consists front and back. Included on the rear as well is a summary of tracks. I procured my copy on line at auction from eBay seller "subwayal" for approximately $12. I believe the list price is about $15. The CD is a product of Rail Tapes Productions and its catalog number is

ML-7. Contact information provided is as follows:

 

E-mail: lipizzansvt@aol.com

Telephone: 802-293-5421

 

"The Interborough Rapid Transit Lo-V Cars" compact disc is an essential item for any subway enthusiast.

 

Happy railroading!

 

Earle

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