Wednesday, October 28, 2020

A 4000 for East Troy


The news was posted on RyPN this week that Chicago Transit Authority 4439, a standard 4000-series Chicago 'L' cars, has been moved from Grand Rapids, Michigan to the East Troy Electric Railroad. This move was mentioned on this blog a few months ago but it has now actually happened, so car 4439 has been updated with its new owner and location. The TLE&W still has a pair of ex-New York Central MU cars and an unidentified Lackawanna MU car on their roster but car 4439 was the last vestige of the Grand Rapids Electric Railway collection that had been amassed by Charley Sheets. From outward appearances the car looks to be largely complete and generally in excellent condition.

So that's one fewer owner of CTA 4000s as listed on the PNAERC roster. According to the list there are a total of 30 CTA 4000s still remaining, consisting of one "Baldy" trailer, three "Baldy" motor cars, and 26 "Plushies" (the latter category including cars like 4439). These are spread out among a total of 13 owners. Right now there are only two museums that are actually operating 4000s: East Troy and the Illinois Railway Museum. East Troy has both of their 4000s in service (4439 will give them a three-car train) while IRM has four of its six cars in operation including its "Baldy." The CTA itself, certainly not a museum, also has a pair of cars in its historic collection that see occasional use for PR purposes. A fourth organization, Fox River Trolley Museum, has a pair of 4000s undergoing heavy overhaul work, including a now-rare example of a car rebuilt with gasket-ized upper sash. It likely won't be too long before these cars are back in operation.

The remaining nine organizations are a mixed bag of museums and private owners. The Connecticut Trolley Museum owns more 4000s than anyone else except IRM, with four cars (including a "Baldy" motor car that the museum converted into a trailer), but none are in very good condition and two have been offered for sale. The Northern Ohio Railway Museum also owns three 4000s, including the last "Baldy" trailer, but its three cars are in relatively poor condition too and all have been deaccessed from the historic collection and/or offered for sale. There are two (now-rare) 4000-series work cars at the Middletown & Hummelstown, a lone car at Branford, and a lone car at the Ohio Railway Museum, all in fairly decrepit condition. The Michigan Transit Museum has a pair of 4000s, one of which is maintained in reasonably good condition and towed by a diesel as part of that organization's tourist train. And finally there are three (maybe two-and-a-half) cars in private collections: the remnants of one car at Buckeye Lake Trolley have been cut down to just the floor, one car in Indiana that is in limbo after having been rescued from the scrappers descending on the Indiana Transportation Museum in 2018, and one stored indoors in Escanaba, Michigan.

Monday, October 26, 2020

An orange by any other name...


A while back Chris Baldwin pointed out to me that the Orange Empire Railway Museum, which for several years has been slowly transitioning to a new name, had officially "switched over." It took me a while but I finally updated the PNAERC roster. So you'll no longer see Orange Empire listed among owners. It will now be the Southern California Railway Museum.

I've decided just to change the name of the organization (though OERM will still be listed under the "also known as" category in the organization's description). This means that searches for historical information may be slightly confusing. For instance, searching for equipment that is or was owned by SCRM brings up BCER 1225, which is listed as having belonged to SCRM from 1958 to 2005 despite the fact that the organization was known as OERM until the late 2010s and never owned car 1225 while it bore the SCRM name. But then again, OERM was actually known as the Orange Empire Trolley Museum until 1975 and I haven't listed the organization's equipment as all having changed hands at that time either.

When it comes to preservation organizations, I tend to just adopt "dba" name changes rather than creating new owners. Other examples of this are the Rockhill Trolley Museum, which used to be known as Railways to Yesterday, and the Pennsylvania Trolley Museum, which used to be the Arden Trolley Museum. Both have just been carried forward with their new names - you can't run a search for equipment formerly owned by the Arden Trolley Museum. One exception to this is the Fox River Trolley Museum, which was known as RELIC until 1984. In that case I've listed those as two separate owners, the reason being that the transition from RELIC (Railway Equipment Leasing and Investment Corporation) to FRTM wasn't just a name change, it was a major organization shift from the for-profit, privately-held RELIC to the nonprofit museum FRTM.

Saturday, October 3, 2020

Lake Shore 73 progress

 Many thanks to Bob Harris, who has sent along photos showing recent progress on Chicago Lake Shore & South Bend 73, the only surviving wood car from the predecessor to the South Shore Line. This is a truly stunning project and has entailed a tremendous amount of rebuilding and restoration. The car being restored is pretty unique - it may be the only surviving wooden AC car, not too surprising given how few early interurban lines used AC power transmission. Since the last update, the car's copper-sheathed roof has been completed and exterior painting is now well underway.

And a late addition showing additional progress:

Wednesday, September 30, 2020

Milwaukee Street Railway 200 found

One of the stranger "missing streetcars" on the PNAERC list, outlined here, has been found. This one is strange because most of the cars I consider "missing" are only missing to me - people associated with the owners, or former owners, know what happened to those cars. In the case of Milwaukee Street Railway 200, though, it went missing and nobody - including its owner, East Troy Electric Railroad - knew what happened to it. Until now! ETER member Scott Patrick posted the above photo, and some others, on Facebook showing that the car has indeed turned up on the property of a man who had been somehow involved with an abortive restoration attempt about a decade ago. The car is in rough shape, essentially a skeleton sitting atop an unusual steel frame that was built c2010, but then again it wasn't much more complete when it left East Troy in 2009. It sounds like East Troy is going to move the body of car 200 back to their site and look into options for future restoration.

It's good that the car wasn't lost. As skeletal as it is, it's quite historic and may be the oldest electric car preserved in the Midwest. It was built in 1892, using an 1888 horsecar as a base, and was used as a street railway parlor car until a second rebuilding in 1907 which turned it into a hospital car (does this make it the only preserved electric railway hospital car in the country?). Then in 1919 its slow downgrading process continued and it became a tool car, finally leaving the roster in 1931.

Tuesday, September 29, 2020

ConnCo 855 returns home

 Many thanks to Bill Wall for passing along news, and the photos shown here, of Connecticut Company 855's return home to Branford.

Above the car is shown passing East Haven Town Hall; below it's passing the East Haven Green, while below that it's seen being unloaded at the foot of River Street and shown through the windows of Sprague.

Car 855 was built by Wason in 1905 as Consolidated Railway 512. It was retired and went to Branford in 1947, but as a duplicate in the collection (identical car 865, which is fully restored, is also preserved at the museum) it was soon stripped of parts and its body was placed on the ground. Over the years car 855 saw a few different uses but in 1984 it was cosmetically restored on the outside and placed on display nearby in East Haven outside of the Trolley Square shopping mall. In 1993 it moved again, this time to a spot in front of the Holiday Inn where it served as the East Haven Visitors Center until recently. It has now returned to Branford for the first time in more than 35 years.

Correction and additional information: Bill has written to point out that car 855 has been plinthed on the piece of track shown above, not in River Street (where Branford's line terminates) but alongside it. The car will serve as a welcome sign and landmark for visitors, not to mention an impressive photo op. Its years in various uses have given it a lot of modifications (including, among other things, a metal roof and vinyl windows and siding!) so while Branford is definitely keeping it around, it is not being preserved as an historic artifact.

Finally, as an unrelated aside, the recently-discovered Phoenix streetcar body mentioned here has indeed been moved to the Arizona Street Railway Museum's (aka Phoenix Trolley Museum's) storage site as shown here. The car had already been added to the PNAERC list.

Friday, September 18, 2020

The second sweeper

Thanks to Bill Wall, who pointed out this post from the SubChat message board. It appears - improbably - that this week two snow sweepers left the Baltimore Streetcar Museum. Following the relocation of C127 to Scranton, the other sweeper that was being stored by BSM for someone else left Baltimore too. This second sweeper was New Jersey Transit 5246, a handsome double-truck Russell-built example built in 1921.

Car 5246 has quite a history: it was built new for the Trenton & Mercer County, making it the only survivor from that line* and a very rare survivor from the network of small New Jersey suburban lines. In 1934, following the abandonment of streetcars in Trenton, the sweeper went to the Third Avenue Railway System in New York. It only ran there 14 years before being resold again to Toronto, which operated it until 1973. At that time it was brought back to its home state of New Jersey by New Jersey Transit, the purpose being to replace NJT 5173 as the Newark Subway's snow sweeper after that car burned to its frame in 1972. (The frame of 5173, though, is still intact and the car - such as it is - is considered to be on the roster of the North Jersey Electric Railway Historical Society, or NJERHS.) Sweeper 5246 was stored - and occasionally used, I guess - on the Newark Subway system until it was transferred to the Friends of New Jersey Transportation Heritage Center (FNJTHC) in 2011. Without anywhere to put it, that group sent it to Baltimore for storage.

Car 5246 is still evidently owned by FNJTHC and supposedly the original plan was to move it from Baltimore to the Kinki-Sharyo plant in Piscataway, where other cars owned by them and NJERHS are stored. But there was said to be no room in the inn, so 5246 has now ended up back home on the Newark system for interim storage. It's now one of two cars listed under NJ Transit, joining a lone PCC that was kept as an historic relic but has not, as far as I know, seen use. And BSM, for its part, now no longer has anyone else's equipment on its property.

*Sweeper 5246 is the only car listed on the PNAERC list as ex-Trenton & Mercer County, however I'm not certain that's strictly correct. The only information I can find on T&MC's corporate history is here and it implies that T&MC was basically an operating company, with equipment owned by various subsidiaries. If that's true then Trenton Street Railway 288 would also be ex-T&MC... but to be consistent I'd likely need to change the ownership history of either 288 or 5246. Anyone know the story?

Wednesday, September 16, 2020

Snow sweeper relocates


It has been reported on RyPN that Philadelphia snow sweeper C127 has finally, after several years of waiting, been relocated to Scranton and has arrived at the Electric City Trolley Museum. The sweeper is shown above in a photo posted in the aforementioned thread.

The car in question is one of eight surviving double-truck sweepers built by Brill for Philadelphia Rapid Transit in 1923 (though despite all being essentially identical four of the eight - C127 not among them - were built as plows and soon rebuilt as sweepers). Sweeper C127 was sold to Ed Mitchell in Uniontown, PA in 1974 and was stored on his farm - most of the time under cover - until he died and his collection was sold in 2011. "Sold" may not be the right word because out of maybe 10 or 12 pieces of traction equipment he owned, the only one not to get scrapped was C127. Instead it was purchased by ECTM but, due to a lack of storage space, it was transported to Baltimore. For the last nine years it has been stored (still under cover) at BSM awaiting an indoor berth in Scranton.

The sale of Chicago Aurora & Elgin 453 to IRM last year opened up that berth, so C127 is now residing with its owners. It joins identical car C128 in Scranton; that sweeper came via the Trolley Valhalla and Buckingham Valley groups and appears rough but complete. I'm not certain what the museum's plans for the two sweepers are. ECTM has managed to acquire a pair of correct trucks from sweeper C124, which had been preserved in Grand Rapids, Ohio and was scrapped in 2018, and these trucks have already been regauged to standard gauge so that will allow C127 to be placed on live rail.

So C127 is now listed under ECTM and not under BSM (I typically list cars based on their physical location with a notation about ownership). BSM isn't sweeper-less, though; in fact of the eight preserved Philly sweepers the only one currently operational is owned by BSM, car C145, which is now undergoing a major restoration project to return it to original condition.