Monday, April 5, 2021

1917 Wason added to list

It's not every day that I get to add a newly-discovered streetcar to the PNAERC list, but it happens now and then. Today the lucky car is Fonda Johnstown & Gloversville 29, a single-trucker built by Wason in 1917 and pictured above in a photo posted to Facebook by Owen Dalton. The car is a body (of course) and is currently sitting along Route 67 in Amsterdam, New York, a few miles west of Schenectady, on the grounds of the Walter Elwood Museum. This is the local history museum and judging from good ol' Google Street View the streetcar appeared sometime between 2014 and 2016 so that's my best guess as to when the museum acquired it. It's hard to tell exactly what condition the car is in, but the side towards the street at least looks largely intact, so that's something.

Fortunately I was able to find a couple of articles online that referenced the car. This article identifies the car as FJ&G 29 and provides a pretty decent in-service photo of it. And this article provides a bit more information, including its builder and vintage as well as a vague accounting of one or two other organizations that apparently used to own it. It's a handsomely proportioned pre-Birney single-truck steel car apparently built for two-man use.

So if anyone has a good book on the FJ&G and can provide more information on the car, let me know. I'm 90% sure from that in-service photo that it had a Taylor truck, but I don't have any other information on it. The FJ&G apparently abandoned streetcar service in Amsterdam in 1936, so that's my best guess for when this car would have been retired, but I just don't know. Car 29 is one of four FJ&G cars on the PNAERC roster and the only one that 1) is preserved in FJ&G territory, and 2) isn't a Bullet car!

Tuesday, March 30, 2021

LRV's removed from list

A little over a year ago, in January 2020 back "before this all started" as they say, I put up this post about the MBTA listing its three Boeing-Vertol LRV's for sale. Well, it occurred to me that I had never followed up to see what happened with those cars.
I had guessed that they were most likely scrapped, and a check of the Boston Transit Museum MBTA roster page reveals that to be true. It says that all three cars were cut up a year ago, back in March 2020, but given the unusual amount of news happening that month I guess this didn't quite make the headlines. 

There are photos of all three cars at the January 2020 post linked above, but suffice to say that all three - MBTA 3417, 3448, and 3453 (all original numbers) - were built by Boeing-Vertol in 1976 for the T. Cars 3417 and 3453 were rebuilt in the mid-1990s as a re-railing car and a general work car, respectively, while 3448 became a "track geometry car" in 2005 after it had been painted in Boston Elevated Railway colors. All had been out of service for years by 2020, though, and from the photos in the MBTA sale listing they were obviously in very rough shape.

So these three have now been removed from the list. That leaves only one preserved Boeing-Vertol LRV from Boston, car 3424 preserved inoperable at Seashore, plus three San Francisco examples, two in museums (both, against all odds, currently operational) and one in private ownership in dubious condition.

Monday, March 29, 2021

Newark PCC plinthed

Thanks to John Igoe of the North Jersey Electric Railway Historical Society for sending along the above photo of Public Service Coordinated Transport 28, credited to Trolley Lines #30, Tony Hall. This photo shows the car in its new home, plinthed next to the main gate of the Kinki-Sharyo plant in Piscataway, New Jersey. Previously I had reported that the car had been repainted by Kinki-Sharyo and it appears that this is why: so that it can be displayed out in front of the plant. Of course I'm a bit behind the times on this, and John reports that car 28 has been out by the plant entrance since the end of 2019 (it's even visible on Google aerial photos), but better late than never. And thanks also to Bill Wall, who confirms that car 28 is definitely owned by New Jersey Transit and is simply on display in Piscataway.

John also sent along some other updates on the NJERHS collection. Most I was aware of from the update I received late last year, but it was confirmed that most of the organization's collection was shrink-wrapped and placed in storage outside the southwest corner of the Kinki-Sharyo plant. Car 2651 is still indoors, where I believe it was being worked on until the pandemic struck and will presumably be worked on again once things sufficiently reopen, while Newark PCC 13 is in storage at the URHS yard in Boonton and itself was recently shrink-wrapped.

Friday, March 19, 2021

Controller terminology change

It's not very often that we change the terminology used on the PNAERC list. I do what I can to keep things consistent and I'm more successful with this in some areas than in others. Recently Jeff Hakner noticed that there were some inconsistencies with my control terminology. Fortunately, he recommended an eminently sensible solution.

Previously, for most MU control, I was using hyphens between the control system type and the master controller. This tends to be common usage, at least in railfan publications, and gives you equipment designations like "GE M-C6A" or "WH HL-15B1." However Jeff pointed out that in some cases, notably PC control, I was putting the master controller in parentheses, e.g. "GE PC-10 (CJ129)." I think I did this because hyphenating PC-control seemed standard but I also didn't want strings of hyphens. But it's inconsistent. It's also inconsistent with the brake terminology we've long used, where the brake schedule is followed by the motorman's valve in parentheses, e.g. "AMM (M15B)."

The solution Jeff recommended - and, with a bit of input from me, has implemented - was to put master controllers in parentheses. So "GE M-C6A" is now "GE M (C6A)" and "WH HL-15B1" is now "WH HL (15B1)." This conveys the same information but, I think, in a slightly clearer and certainly more consistent fashion. Enjoy.

Thursday, March 11, 2021

New York subway pump car added to list

Thanks to Bill Wall for sending me information on a car that was not on the PNAERC list until now: New York City Transit Authority 5001. This is the only "pump car" on the list and it was built for use in pumping out flooded subway tunnels. It was constructed by ACF in 1918 on the same order as car 5000 but unlike that car is not motorized, since it was designed to be shoved into flooded portions of the subway. The above photo, sent by Bill, shows the car when relatively new. Bill writes:

Pump cars are specially outfitted cars that are sent into flooded tunnels to pump  water out.   What makes 5001 unique is that it is equipped with a master controller and ME23 brake valve on each end and  was set up to operate with BMT subway cars of the day.   Later on it was modified to operate with R9 cars.  No other pump car had this feature.

The way the pump train would work is, with power on as far as you could get into a flooded area, the pump car would lead into the flood, going in as far it could go.  The siphon would be dropped down, hoses rigged to go the nearest sewer line (since the sewers are above the subway level)  or simply to the street and water pumped out.    When enough water was pumped out, break it down, move and repeat as needed.

The pump car was  attached usually to 3 reach cars, which were old wooden Q type cars, which were loaded with hoses and other gear, as well as providing some seating for work crews.    There was a bus line, located in the  roof area of the pump cars and the reach cars, that would go all the way through the cars.  The times I was on it, the bus line plug on the rear car would be jumped into one of the electrical panels in the car of the R9 pushing it..   On site, this was disconnected and a heavy duty connector put to a 3rd rail, as everything on the car was 600 volts DC

Control from the  pump car back was an interesting conglomeration.    The pump car had electric portions on the H2 couplers it was built with.  The lead reach car had an H2 coupler on the end coupled to the pump car but the other end had  a Van Dorn, as did the middle car and the “blind” end of the 3rd reach car, which in turn had an H2 coupler with an electric portion to couple to the subway cars.    In areas where the Van Dorns were, there were MU jumper cables.   

Now what really made this train odd was while the pump car was equipped with ME23 brake valves and had the electric brake plug feature, it and the reach cars were all straight air. The electric feature only worked on the subway cars attached to it.  When I operated it, I usually did not bother with the electric brake feature as it was not dependable at the time. Straight air was a bit slower but more reliable when you needed it.

So that's pretty interesting! The only recent photo I could find online of car 5001 is here but it is indeed stored at Coney Island with several other non-revenue cars in the historic collection.

Many thanks to Bill for sending me information on this car so that it can be added to the list. Unpowered equipment like this can be a grey area, and in general I tend not to add unpowered non-revenue equipment unless its design is unique to traction practice (like an interurban freight trailer). But car 5001 is a control trailer, set up with a controller and brake stand, and undoubtedly qualifies.

Monday, March 8, 2021

Adding details

I've mentioned this plenty of times before, but I'm always looking to fill in gaps on the PNAERC roster wherever possible. There are a lot of cars on the list for which I'm missing technical information - trucks, motors, control, brakes, air compressors. Some of these are car bodies, and in certain cases that information just doesn't exist. But in many cases, it's simply that this information hasn't been published online.

I'm always appreciative of people taking the time to look up information like this and sending it to me. To that end, many thanks to Bill Wall of Branford and Joel Salomon of Rockhill for filling in a few gaps recently. Bill sent me a cache of information on NYCTA 44 (pictured above in a Dave Pirrmann photo), a unique piece of equipment with virtually no published information available online. By design, it's a box motor, but it was built for service on the New York subway system and has long been used as a subway maintenance work car. It's been in the NYCTA's historic fleet since 1988. The PNAERC list now includes this car's trucks, motors, control, dimensions, and Bill also pointed out that it was built for the BMT and not - as previously and erroneously listed - for the IND.
UPDATE: And Bill has also sent information on NYCTA 5000, another New York subway system work car that resembles a box motor. This one started out as a locomotive and was converted to a welding/tool car right at the end of its service life. In addition to mechanical and dimensional information, Bill also pointed out that it was built not for South Brooklyn Railway but rather for New York Municipal Railway, a subsidiary of Brooklyn Rapid Transit that was folded into BMT in 1923. The car is pictured above in a photo Bill took a few weeks ago when he and a few others boarded it up, in the process evicting the pigeons that had taken up residence inside 5000. Bill comments about the pigeon eviction, "There were over one hundred living inside it and were not happy at all about it. In some ways, it was like the Hitchcock movie 'The Birds'."

Meanwhile Joel sent me some information on a couple of pieces of ex-Philadelphia & Western non-revenue equipment at the Rockhill Trolley Museum, snow plow 10 and freight motor 402. Both complete and operational, car 10 is a 1916 Wason double-truck plow retired in 1988 while car 402 was built in 1920 in the shops of the Detroit United system and is one of only two surviving ex-DUR cars. Previously missing information like motors, brakes, and air compressors have now been added to these cars' listings.

You too can help! If you notice that your local museum includes cars with missing information, jot it down and send it in. Thank you!

Thursday, March 4, 2021

Better late than never

As I mentioned in my last post, it can sometimes take me a while before a change is reflected on the PNAERC roster. And so it goes with Arkansas Valley Interurban 12.
I came across a KAKE article, which included the photo above, about this combine-turned-box-motor-turned-chicken coop. The article dates to 2017 and indicates that AVI 12, which I knew had been deaccessed by the Great Plains Transportation Museum back in 2013, had been transferred to the expansively named Historic Preservation Alliance of Wichita & Sedgwick County. Sure enough, recent photos suggest that it's gone from the GPTM site in downtown Wichita, so my best guess is that it's stored with HPAWSC's other two car bodies in a warehouse southwest of the city.

AVI 12 is a fairly historic piece. One of only two surviving cars from Kansas' most famous interurban line (the other is in private ownership and virtually nothing is known about its condition), car 12 was built by American in 1917 as a fairly attractive combine. In 1938 it had large baggage doors cut into its sides and was rebuilt into a freight motor; just two years later, when the wires came down, it became a freight trailer. It only lasted another two years in that role before its body ended up on a farm in Bentley, KS. The car was acquired by GPTM in 1988 but just sat by the fence at the north end of the museum's site until the decision was made to get rid of it. It's taken me a while to figure out where it went, as GPTM doesn't seem to have publicized the sale/donation and HPAWSC has a minimal online presence, but the PNAERC list has finally been updated. If anyone figures out exactly when the car was moved, let me know.