Monday, May 30, 2011

Greenwich St El - Cable Operations


I'm going to throw you part of something I've been working on, about the very early days of the Greenwich St El.

What interested me about this subject is that so little is documented on the state of the first elevated line in Greenwich St and Ninth Ave before its reconstruction in 1879 and 1880. I felt like I could add something. Some dedicated amateur historians, like George Horn of the Electric Railroaders' Association, pulled together information from company documents that were still available in the 1930s and onward. But not much had been kept about the old road, since there was no practical value to it after 1880. The increasing availability of full-text searching of newspapers and journals has now made it possible to gather bits and pieces of evidence that would have been nearly impossible to find previously.

I've written about this before. My excuse is that some of this is new.

When it first opened, the Greenwich St El was operated by cable power. The man behind the project, Charles T Harvey, wanted to avoid using steam locomotives, because of the soot and smoke, the noise, and the danger from boilers exploding. His contemporary, Alfred E Beach, proposed using pneumatic pressure in tubes, and built a demonstration one-block subway in 1870. Harvey proposed a system with moving cable that the cars could grab to carry them down an elevated track. Both systems still involved stationary steam engines located in buildings along the way to supply the pneumatic or cable power. The ultimate solution to the problem, electric motors, were not practical until about 1885.

Harvey built a first segment one block long in October and November 1867. The track was supported by a line of columns along the east curb line of Greenwich St from Battery Place to Morris St. He was able to run a handcar by cable power on December 7, gaining approval to build a further segment up to Cortlandt St.

The second segment was built in March and April 1868. What newspapers called a "trial car" was placed on the structure about May 1, and Harvey gave it a test run for the state-appointed commissioners on June 6.

Here is Harvey demonstrating cable power on December 7, 1867. He is riding a handcar, which would normally be moved by trackworkers turning the handles of the flywheel behind him. But instead Harvey is sitting holding a rope like the reins of a horsewagon, which is evidently attached to the cable. The cross street there is Morris St, so the structure ended just off frame on the left. One of the men in the crowd would continue working on the elevated lines into the 20th century.

Here is the "trial car" at the Cortlandt St end of the second segment, some time between May 1868 and the start of further construction in 1869. The beams are very thin, with a slightly heavier one across Liberty St. The "track" consisted of flat iron strips laid over a cushioning material laid directly on the beams.

The main line up to 30th St was built during 1869 and 1870. The columns, made by the company at its factory in Harrison St, were placed at the east curb line of Greenwich St and the west curb line of Ninth Ave, crossing over at Gansevoort St. By November 1869 the structure was up to Canal St, and it was complete to 30th St by March 1870.

Cable cars are familiar today because of the surviving routes on the streets of San Francisco. An endless loop of cable runs from the powerhouse down to one end of the line, back up to the other end, and back into the powerhouse. The engine in the powerhouse moves the cable continuously throughout the service day. The cars have no power, but can grip the cable to move, or release it and brake to a stop.

The grips used in San Francisco were not yet invented in Harvey's day. His concept was instead to have little wheeled units he called travelers permanently affixed to the cable every 150 feet, with a "horn" projecting up. When the car was to move, the operator turned an iron wheel on the end platform, and a hook under the car would snag the next horn to come along. Turning the wheel back the other way would disconnect the hook.

Streetcar cables run at about 7 miles an hour, and the grip can be closed gradually so as to slip for a moment, bringing the car into motion and then to full speed as the grip is made tight. Harvey wanted to run the cable 10 to 15 miles an hour, and it would suddenly jump forward when the horn was snagged. Arrangements of springs were used on the hook and in the car body, but riders still reported a tremendous jolt when the car started.

This is a traveler.

The problems of the Harvey system, when it operated properly, were the least of it. There was a collision at 29th St terminal on June 14, when an arriving car would not detach from the cable, and it rammed another car, snapping the cable. Since the car overshot the platform and could not be moved, passengers had to go down to street level by ladder. On June 22, the machinery was smashed as a car crossed over the cable break at Houston Street, and a wheel (from a traveler?) fell in fragments to the street. Again the passengers had to escape by ladders. On some other occasions, when the cable failed, a rope was then attached to the front of the stalled car and the other end was thrown to the street where a truck with four horses, if they could make it, pulled the car.

The trade publication Iron Age ripped it apart:
... it is constructed with but little apparent regard for scientific or mechanical principles ... the motion is uneven and disagreeable, and the gradual loss of impetus in passing over the bridges between the sections [the cable gaps], necessitates a succession of sudden and unexpected jerks as the tracks attached to the cables come in contact with the spring affixed to the under part of the car. The worst feature of the road, however, is the weakness of the structure, sustained by single posts, and possessing no side braces or supports to overcome the lateral motion of the heavy cars balanced on the spreading arms that hold the tracks. These defects should have been discovered before a hundred feet of the road had been built, if not sooner ...

The cables were short compared to later street railways. There were four engine houses and nine cables, in a distance of only 3.3 miles.

CORTLANDT ST cable. This house was opened in 1868 and powered the demonstration sections south to Battery Place. (The temporary powerhouse for the first block in 1867 is unknown but was probably at Morris St.) This cable was built differently from the others because it returned in a vault under the sidewalk. It was noticed in early 1868 that water got into the vault, and freezing would interfere with cable operation. The main line was built with the cable returning directly under itself up on the structure. The Cortlandt St cable was not used in regular passenger service.

Cable gap at or near Cortlandt St, location not documented.
FRANKLIN ST south cable to Cortlandt St.
FRANKLIN ST north cable to Houston St.
Cable gap across Houston St.
BETHUNE ST south cable to Houston St.
BETHUNE ST north cable to Gansevoort St.
Cable gap across Gansevoort and Little W 12th Sts.
22ND ST south cable to Little W 12th St.
22ND ST north cable to 30th St.

Below is a typical section of the main line, at Fulton St. You can see the cable returning, below the beams and passing through a redesigned column. Again the beam across the street is a little heavier than the others, and it has truss rods too, possibly added as a result of the May 1870 load test.

This is the cable gap between the end of the 22nd St south cable at Little W 12th St, foreground, and the Bethune St north cable at Gansevoort St, background. Cars had to coast across, losing speed as they went, until they were jolted back to cable speed at the other side. The big drums are where the cable loops back under itself to return to the powerhouse. This is also where the el crossed from the west curb of Ninth Ave to the east curb of Greenwich St.

This wonderful illustration shows that the 22nd St powerhouse was below street level at the northwest corner. On the left, a typical elevated column has been adapted to support the smokestack from the unseen stationary steam engine. There is only a small cable gap here between the south and north cables, so maybe less of a jolt.

Passenger service was operated from Dey St to 29th St. Dey St station was located at the southeast corner partially in the Exchange Bank building. 29th St station was located across 29th St with a stairway at the southwest corner. At both ends there was one block of cable past the stations, to Cortlandt St and 30th St respectively, which was used to set cars that were not in service. There were no sidings.

Dey St station, still under construction in 1869. The ticket office is built into the Exchange Bank building on the left. It's hard to be sure, but under the word "boots" on the sign may be the big drum at the end of this cable.

29th St station, 1870. The stationhouse is barely large enough for one person, and the platform is clearly no longer than one car.

Regular service started on June 11, 1870 (many sources give earlier dates), and ran intermittently because on many days the line was closed for repairs. By mid August the line was reported as no longer running. A "pneumatic engine", which was shaped like a small steam locomotive but ran on a tank of compressed air, was tried in September. The line reopened with cable power on November 14 but was closed for mechanical failure by the end of the day. And that was all.

The property was foreclosed and sold, and the new owners tried operating with a small steam engine in April 1871. But that's another story.

Sunday, May 22, 2011

Lantern Slides : Upper West Side El


While rummaging around in my picture collection recently, I found four lantern slides of the Upper West Side elevated railway showing it under construction in 1879. They're pretty dirty, and I am sure they were not made from original negatives but rather by photographing other photographs. The sharpest exposure is usually in a circular area near the center.

The two elevated companies— New York Elevated Railroad and Metropolitan Elevated Railway— had both been awarded franchises for Ninth Ave (Columbus Ave). The Metropolitan company could not continue their Sixth Ave El directly north because of Central Park, and Seventh Ave was likewise unusable, and Eighth Ave was not allowed because of popular sentiment against an elevated railway running right next to the park, thus pushing any possible Sixth Ave extension all the way west to Ninth Ave. Under an agreement New York Elevated built up to 83rd St, and briefly considered some alternate routing north from there. Metropolitan Elevated constructed the rest up to 155th St. The main service in the nineteenth century was by Sixth Ave trains. Older New Yorkers who remember the line, which closed in 1940, invariably consider it part of the Ninth Ave El, which was the main service in its last years.

110th St, looking from Eighth Ave west toward Ninth Ave.

Other photos from this general location were in Riding the El part 13. There were few buildings in this area in 1879, so we can see clearly up to the higher ground at Ninth Ave (Columbus Ave). The downgrade at track level was made less steep by erecting a very high structure here and letting it slope gradually down to a normal height at about 125th St.

A detail shows the foundations of the columns. These look the same as those in a diagram published in 1878, for an article explaining that they have a concrete footing, over which is a cut stone core that the column rests on, surrounded by brick. I wonder how many of these foundations remain out of sight under the streets. They are so solid, probably only those in the way of other work would have been removed.

You can also see the trees on the rocky hillside leading up to Ninth Ave. All this is covered now by apartment blocks. This photograph appears in The First Elevated Railroads in Manhattan and the Bronx by William Fullerton Reeves (New-York Historical Society, 1936), and in his caption he writes, "In the distance, at the left, Lion Park is shown, located at 109th Street, east side of Ninth Avenue."

Lion Park and the Lion Brewery was actually between 107th St and 108th St, as shown in this excerpt below from G W Bromley's Atlas of the Entire City of New York published the same year as the photograph, 1879.

Neighborhood trivia. Look at that "Cemetery" at the corner of 109th St. This was too late a date for a planned new cemetery in Manhattan, so I don't know what to think. What did they do with the bodies? At the upper left, Leake and Watt's Orphan Asylum would become the grounds for the Cathedral of St John the Divine, and part of the orphanage's main building is still standing, attached to the cathedral.

Construction workers look down at the photographer. The tubular Phoenix column was favored by the Metropolitan Elevated company. It is made of four parts bolted together.

Eighth Ave, looking north from 110th St.

This perspective, blocked later by buildings, shows very nicely how the track grade slopes gradually down to a normal height.

Up on the structure is the beginnings of 116th St station, but the long stairway that led to the street is not visible and may not have been built yet.

The shanty at ground level may have nothing to do with the construction. Such primitive houses can be seen in many photographs of upper Manhattan in the nineteenth century.

This thing amazed people in 1879, and it still amazes me now.

The cross-beams have hangers for possible center track, which was added within fifteen years.

Ninth Ave (Columbus Ave).

A short section at this location was originally built for three tracks.

But what is this location? This photograph is also in Reeves, who writes, "Looking northwest from 96th St. Remains of the old Croton Aqueduct (built 1842) are visible at the extreme left." However the lantern slide itself has a handwritten note, "100th St & 9th Av before woodwork".

Referring again to Bromley's 1879 atlas, 100th St wins. There was a cluster of buildings at 100th St, but none at 96th St.

Apparently the aqueduct originally ran above ground level in this area. The right of way can be seen as a pair of wider lots through each block (where I have inserted the letters ST for each street name). I'll come back to this in a few moments.

Houses at 100th St. On the left is a pile of wooden cross-ties waiting to be hoisted up to the structure.

Details of the ironwork.

Back to the aqueduct. Now here is something I never heard of before. The Clendinning Valley.
This valley is 1900 feet across, and the Aqueduct is supported upon a foundation wall of dry stone work having the face laid in mortar, except over three streets where bridges are built, having an arch of 30 feet span for the carriage-way and one on each side of 10½ feet span for the sidewalks. These bridges are over 98th, 99th, and 100th streets. [...] These bridges are beautiful specimens of mechanical work ; indeed the whole structure across this valley has a degree of neatness, finish, and taste, not surpassed by any on the line of Aqueduct.
The book quoted here, Illustrations of the Croton Aqueduct by Fayette Bartholomew Tower, 1842, contains not one but two images of this wonder, by the author.

That is Manhattan around 100th St in 1842! The viaduct extended from 95th St to 102nd St. Originally there was to be an arch at every street ; but then to save money it was proposed to build a solid wall seven blocks long ; and then to compromise with irate city officials, in the final plan three streets were allowed through. 96th St was not one of them. The whole thing was torn down in the 1870s, replaced by a siphon running under Ninth Ave.

As little as it shows, the photograph above may be the only photograph of any part of the Clendinning aqueduct. There, now I've said that, someone will want to prove me wrong.

The handwritten note on this slide says "8th Av from 116th St looking North". The point of view is probably 115th St looking north, with 116th St the first cross street we see there. From that point back, for a distance, are cross beams to support the station platform, which was not yet built.

You can imagine why real estate speculators were enthusiastically behind construction of elevated railways. These nearly empty properties suddenly became useful places for commuters once there was a reasonably fast way to get downtown. The cluster of buildings in the distance were around 125th St, which had a crosstown streetcar connecting to the Harlem Railroad at Park Ave for trains to Grand Central. But this elevated railway would take you directly to lower Manhattan for one fare (originally ten cents). Progress. No more cows at 100th St.



Sunday, May 15, 2011

Greenwich St El Cars


If you have any special interest or hobby, you probably know how you can get drawn into a discussion of some little detail, especially when you can't find any specific documentation and all you can do is argue your case.

This one is about early days on the Greenwich St and Ninth Ave elevated railway.

There's a lot of back story. Briefly, a very lightweight structure went up in 1869 along the east curb line of Greenwich St and west curb line of Ninth Ave, to be operated by cable power. The system, which pre-dated the grip system used on the San Francisco cable cars, had repeated mechanical failures when the company attempted to operate it for a few months in 1870. The property was foreclosed, and a new company was formed to operate the same line with steam engines. The catch was that the structure was so weak that the engine and cars would have to weigh as little as possible.

Many New York transit buffs know about the elevated railways, but this first one in its early state was different from the others. The old road in Greenwich St and Ninth Ave (south of 53rd St) had to be rebuilt in 1880 to bring it up to the same standard as the other three elevated railways that had opened from 1878 to 1880. Only after the rebuild was it possible to operate standard elevated engines and cars over the old road. At that time too all of the lightweight engines and cars were sold or scrapped, even though some were only a few years old. It's quite clear that the old road was incompatible with the others, so much so that its lightweight equipment could not even be run on heavyweight structures.

The little question I got into recently is how wide the car bodies were.

From 1878, elevated cars were about 8 feet 9 inches wide, and that width survives today on the former IRT subway lines (numbered routes) and the PATH trains. The width gets set in stone because the car bodies have to meet the station platforms with about an inch to spare.

The Greenwich St el equipment looks a lot narrower than that in photographs. Gene Sansone, in his book Evolution of New York City Subways, writes that the car bodies were about 6 feet wide. That would make them much too narrow to board passengers safely at platforms built for standard equipment, and therefore would explain why the cars could not be used after the rebuild of 1880.

But I haven't found a contemporary source that simply states the width, and since the cars were gone by the end of 1880, the more voluminous later data sources are silent on the subject.

Here's the first elevated engine, Pioneer, designed by New York Elevated Railroad's engineer David Wyman and constructed by the Albany Street Iron Works in lower Manhattan.

The metal shell somehow contained an upright boiler, rods, a coal bunker, and room for an engineer and fireman to work it! This very small engine weighed less than 4 tons, and on opening day, Thursday, April 6, 1871, it managed to pull two passenger cars that weighed only 3500 pounds each. And it ran successfully day after day. By July this engine pulled three cars.

I want to stress that 3500 pounds is an extremely lightweight car. Horsecars on the busier street railways in the city, pulled by two horses, weighed 5000 to 6000 pounds. Only a small one-horse car was as light as 3000 pounds. What on earth did they have on the el in 1871?

Some people say they were using the former cable cars. You'll see this stated in some histories. I have been unable to find a source that specifically states whether the cars were or were not the former cable cars. For several reasons I don't think they were.

I think the closest car in the photo below is what Pioneer pulled.

It looks like a horsecar body, and it might even be a used horsecar. The track is the original cable track, strips of metal laid directly on the beams of the structure at an odd gauge of 4 feet 10 inches, so the photo pre-dates the standard gauge track laid in April 1875. The car trucks were custom-made for that gauge. Access to the car is from a platform at only one end, with no steps.

Beyond it, and of exactly the same body width, are two of the "shadbelly" cars acquired starting in 1872. They were much heavier cars, described as under 5 tons. New York Elevated Railroad management evidently had decided to chance larger engines and cars, although over the next few years they would keep adding braces to the old structure just to make sure. The shadbelly cars were numbered starting at 1, as if they were the permanent equipment and whatever had been used earlier was just a temporary expedient.

The location is Greenwich St just north of Battery Place, the end of track past the last stop where cars could be stored out of the way. This section was built in 1867 and as shown it has been just slightly strengthened with thin braces outside the original gracefully curved column tops. It's scary.

Now if the track is no more than 5 feet wide, how wide are those cars?

Here's another photo of two shadbelly cars at the same location. Battery Place crosses in the foreground. Compare the height of the end door to the width of the car.

The next one shows the engine Yonkers, built in 1876, coupled to a shadbelly car, and in the background is another shadbelly car in the trainyard in mid block between Battery Place and Morris St. The standard gauge track (4 foot 8½ inches) rested on wooden cross ties. Some of the posters on the wall below are for candidates in the November 1876 local election.

Again, compare the height of the end door compared to the width. The shell around the engine seems just large enough to clear the side rods, and the dropped center of the car seems no wider than the cross ties.

One more. A photograph taken from the West 11th St station in Greenwich Village, opened in 1875, shows the engine Kingsbridge pulling an uptown train. The truss rods were added in 1875 to the 1869 structure keep the beams from bowing down between columns. The track uses a very thin rail, but with very tall wooden guides inside the rails to keep a derailed train on the structure.

In this case, we have a man standing on the end platform to help establish the width.

It's hard to find truly equivalent photographs, but here's a wider view of the Yonkers photo together with part of an image from my Riding the El series part 7. The car at upper left in the old photo is at about the same three-quarter angle as the car in 1940.

What do you think? Shall we say the bodies were about six feet wide?

Or shall we have another round?



Sunday, May 8, 2011

Alien Raids part deux


Go here to see the previous chapter. It's better than this one.

Page 28:

Supermouse: Morse Code! An S.O.S.!
Sounds: Tap! Tap! Tap! Tap! Tap!

Supermouse: I have something!

Supermouse: This little thing! I worked out a force-screen anti-ray while examining that alien city!

Supermouse: Now let's hope it's the same kind of screen!

Page 29:

Supermouse: It is!

Supermouse: Well, in that case ——

Sounds: Crash!
Wonder Dog: That's music to my ears!

Supercat: What was that?

Supercat: Supermouse!

Supermouse: You? Oh, I'm prepared!

Page 30:

Supermouse: OW.
Supercat: So've I!
[Supermouse is knocked out. He has X eyes.]

Narration: And Supercat leaves.
Wonder Dog: He'd come prepared. Hmm.

Wonder Dog: I bet I know what's in here!
Wonder Pup: Ohhh!

Supermouse: Hey, wait!
Wonder Dog: Supermouse!

Supermouse: Hey! Stupidcat!
Supercat: You again?!

Supermouse: You'd better come quietly!

Page 31:

Supermouse: It tickled!
Sounds: Tap!
Supercat: It hurt me!

Supercat: Is— Is that—
Supermouse: Sure! Molybdenum!

Supermouse: Here! Take him to jail!!
Wonder Dog: O.K.!
Supercat: You!

Superkitten: I'm here!
Supermouse: So?

Page 32:

Supermouse: You always were weaker than me! You're only a kitten!
Sounds: Pow!
Superkitten: OW.

Supermouse: And you aliens— I'll repair the hole and you'll take off to space, you hear?

Alien: We were forced to commit crime. We have an Antaran system of government!
Supermouse: Antaren?

Supermouse: Is your heat giver (sun) Antares?
Alien: Yes.

Page 33:

Supermouse: They said they'd be back on a visit sometime!
Wonder Dog: I can't wait!

Narration: The End!! (of this)

Page 28: We established last time that Supermouse can't see through the walls or windows of the plane, but was there any reason he can't break through lead? It's softer than most metals. Panel 2, the closeup of his shapeless body, should show us a pocket or bag or something where he has "this little thing", but shows us nothing.

Page 30: "I'm prepared" (page 29) does not match the comeback here, "So've I!". Again, I stress, honestly, English is my native language. Because you might not believe it.

Page 31: Molybdenum? We might grant that the unknown "proconite" (see Chapter 4) is Supermouse's kryptonite, but really, Supercats lose their powers when they are near an ordinary element found on earth? No wonder Supermouse calls him Stupidcat.

Page 32: That poor kitten. Did I have something against cats when I was a kid? I don't remember any traumatic episodes. I like cats now.

Also page 32: No, Supermouse, he said Antaran, not Antaren. And why, Supermouse, do you think that somehow "heat giver" would be more understandable than "sun"? And for that matter how does their home planet's sun or their system of government force them to commit crimes? Maybe this was covered in Chapter 1 or 2 or 3.

Page 33: What a lame ending. And what else would it be the end of, younger self? One thing: the effect of the purple ray under the saucer is nice. It's not outlined in pencil.

I wonder what was on the next page before I tore it out.

I apologize for this comic. Chapter 4 was pretty good. But then this. I have worse childhood comic books. If I get desperate for material you will see them.

To make up for this I will give you another brief slice of life like I did in Comic with No Pictures. "Lindsay" will get this.

On Friday I got home first, because Helen goes to the gym after work. She's still half asleep when I leave in the morning, so when she came home, this was the first conversation we'd had all day.

Joe B: Hey! What's the name of Zorro's horse?

Helen (without hesitation): Toronado. Why?

I bet you want to know the rest of that story. But I understand the ideal in show biz is to leave them wanting more.


Sunday, May 1, 2011

Alien Raids


What's that? You couldn't get enough of Supermouse and Wonder Dog, the heroes of Invasion from Beyond!!? I understand. They're back.

Remember the setup: dorky kid around age twelve drawing comics. Nuff said.


Splash page: cover of Wonder Comics. It's Volume II of "The Alien Raids".

Yes. Volume II. And I don't have Volume I. So we'll be coming in at Chapter 4.

Outer space adventure, and coming in at Chapter 4. You're thinking Star Wars, aren't you? Well, this comic dates from about 1963, so that's not the inspiration. It's more like, George Lucas and me, great minds think alike.

Then I noticed that the page numbering starts with 20, so I guess there really was a lost Volume I.

Page 20: half blank, but with a summary of Volume I. If you need to imagine this crawling up against a background of stars, go ahead, but as you can see it's written in pencil on a field of yellow crayon.

Narration: What has gone before: Flying saucers and rays steal various objects. SM [Supermouse] goes inside flying saucer and escapes ; one alien asks the other if they should let him go, and the reply is yes. Wonder Dog and Wonder Pup have been helping all along. Now a strange light was reported, and SM finds a vacant alien city there ; it's in the Himalayas. He is stopped by a force barrier.

Narration: Now turn for Chapter Four.

Page 21: blank except for the words: Volume II.

Page 22:

Narration: In the Himalayas.
Supermouse: It's that same .. force barrier.

Supermouse: Let's examine.

Narration: Meanwhile.
Wonder Dog: I think that maybe Supermouse, with his X-ray vision, could look at me while I'm in a flying saucer!
Wonder Pup: Not a bad idea! But what will I do?

Wonder Dog: Want to come with me?

Wonder Pup: Sure!

Page 23:

Narration: After informing Supermouse.
Wonder Dog: Another saucer at the Dogville Planetarium!
Wonder Pup: Let's go!

Wonder Dog: We know this won't hurt it— but after SM attacked, they let him in.
Wonder Pup: Check.

Sounds: BAM. POW.
Voice in saucer: Looks like more visitors....
Another voice in saucer: But this time permanent!

Page 24:

Voice in saucer: Attention, Earth-being! Enter through the hatch! You will be anti-gravitized to let you float in air!
Wonder Dog: (chuckle)

Voice in saucer: Come.
Wonder Pup: This is something new!

Voice in saucer: Welcome, Wonder Dog!
Wonder Dog: How do you know us?
Voice in saucer: I know you personally.

Wonder Dog: Supercat!
Supercat: Yes, and Superkitten is still at the controls!

Page 25:

Supercat: Superkitten?! Who's at the controls?
Superkitten: Zorg!
Narration: So they're with aliens!

Supercat: And by the way, if you're counting on Supermouse, this thing is lead-lined!!
Wonder Dog: Really?

Narration: And true to SC...
Supermouse: I can't see through this!

Supermouse: The windows are coated with blue proconite! Anyone but me, a Proconian, can see thru it!

Supermouse: That's funny! Only a few people know of blue proconite!

Supermouse: Wait! What's that?
Sounds: Tap tap tap tap.

Page 26:

Narration: And inside Wonder Dog has done a plan!

Wonder Dog: Now that we're alone I'll do this!
Sounds: Tap! Tap! Tap! Tap!

Narration: It's Morse Code for an S.O.S.! Will SM get the message? See Chapter 5!!

Don't worry. I have Chapter 5.

Page 20: I used a semicolon, twice. Whoa.

Page 23: I am happy with the perspective of panel 1, with the Wonder Plane and the landscape below. I must have copied that from somewhere. On the other hand, the bat-like wings of the Wonder Plane are less of a mystery.

Page 25: "Zorg", of course, has to be the name of an alien. Many aliens are named Zorg. And yet the narrator wanted to make sure we got that bit.

Also page 25: It looks like Supermouse used an interrobang in panel 6, but I think it's just a question mark changed to an exclamation point. This was drawn in pencil. Did I not have an eraser?

Page 26: "Done a plan"? Or "gone a plan"? Not "got a plan"? Yes, English is my native language. I cannot explain some things in this comic. I am also puzzled why the narration box seems to be a speech balloon pointing to three speakers, one of which is not even drawn in the panel. But there was no time to fix such petty details. There's Chapter 5 to draw.