Wednesday, April 11, 2018

New Haven MU car moves

The last New Haven "washboard" MU club car, and one of only three "washboards" still in existence, is being moved to the Danbury Railway Museum. New Haven 5111 has been stored in poor condition in Old Saybrook, Connecticut for a number of years, and a few years back was deaccessed by the Railroad Museum of New England. It has now been acquired by an individual who is moving it to Danbury. It left Old Saybrook on April 10th.

This is a fairly historic car; the only other surviving "washboards" are two combines that are already preserved in Danbury. A third combine preserved in Ohio was scrapped just a year or two ago. Car 5111's interior is gutted and it suffers from fire damage dating to 2006 but the car is thought to be mechanically fairly complete.

Wednesday, March 28, 2018

Second AEM-7 preserved

The Illinois Railway Museum has announced today that it has acquired Amtrak 945, an AEM-7 mainline electric locomotive built in 1982 by Electro-Motive using components manufactured in Sweden. The locomotive was retired in 2015 and has been sitting in storage in the northeast since then but was moved to Chicago in February. It's not at Union yet; although it's off Amtrak property it is being held pending movement to IRM's site. The locomotive is not intended for operation, given that it is designed for 11,000-volt AC operation and it would be virtually impossible to adapt it for even limited operation on the museum's 600-volt DC overhead. This is the second AEM-7 preserved; number 915 was acquired by the Railroad Museum of Pennsylvania in 2015 straight out of service. And it's the fourth electric locomotive preserved that was built for Amtrak, preceded by older E60 type locomotives 603 and 958.

Wednesday, March 21, 2018

Bristol Traction corrections

I'm always trying to go through the PNAERC list to check information, especially historical (ownership) information, and correct listings. This week it was time to take a look at the surviving cars from Bristol Traction, the street railway in Bristol, Connecticut. BT was a small system, with only about two dozen cars at any one time, but there are three survivors (sort of): car 28, a 1907 single-trucker; car 34, an unusual 1917 convertible; and car 43, a 1927 double-trucker bought secondhand which is also the only surviving car from the Fitchburg & Leominster in Massachusetts. All are located at the Connecticut Trolley Museum. All three are car bodies in various stages of disrepair, though car 28 at least is on a truck which looks from photos to be roughly correct. Car 34 is probably the most distinctive of the group: not only is it a two-axle, arch-roof convertible - a rare type to be built as late as 1917 - but it is also one of only two extant cars that was built with a Brill Radiax truck with "steerable" axles.

Anyway, some research into the history of Bristol Traction (not to be confused with the Bristol Traction located in Tennessee) revealed that none of the above cars was built for BT. Rather, BT was only created in 1927 and before that was known as the Bristol & Plainville. The two older cars were built for the B&P while car 43 was purchased from the F&L, possibly around 1932 when the F&L quit or maybe earlier. (Anyone know for sure?) I also discovered that car 34, which had formerly been listed as built by Brill, was actually built by Wason - something it has in common with the other two BT cars. I'm still in need of a lot of mechanical information on these Bristol cars but at least their histories seem to have been cleared up somewhat.

Monday, March 19, 2018

Muni plans

This recent post on the Heritage Rail Alliance site provides an interesting look into the planning going on at the San Francisco Municipal Railway. The post suggests that Muni is preparing a proposal to restore seven pre-PCC double-ended cars in its fleet as well as five Milan Peter Witts. Of the seven double-ended cars, one - Muni 130, built in 1914 by Jewett - is to be rebuilt in kind with its original electrical and mechanical equipment. Three other American cars - Market Street Railway 798, Johnstown 351, and New Orleans 913 - are to be restored with "standardized" electrical equipment for ease of maintenance. The first two of those are currently incomplete while the last, car 913, is complete but has only two motors and is thus underpowered on San Francisco's hills. It's not clear what standard Muni will settle on but it may be equipment common to its fleet of Milan cars or it could be new-build K-35's or something similar. The seven double-enders to be rebuilt also include three foreign cars not on the PNAERC list, cars hailing from Melbourne, Hiroshima, and Oporto.

No specific mention is made of the two Red Arrow double-enders recently acquired and moved to Brookville though they may have already been put on the list for rebuilding. The article does state that about a dozen of the PCC cars in storage, those in the worst shape, will likely be given away to whoever wants them. This most likely means the 12 ex-St. Louis Public Service cars in the 1100-series that have been in dead storage for years. Most have been in outdoor storage in San Francisco since they were retired some 35 years ago though a few were actually purchased by Muni from other owners about 15 years ago not long before the Newark cars were acquired. Even if Muni gets rid of the ex-SLPS cars it still has nine of the "Baby Ten" PCC cars, built for San Francisco in 1951, that are in storage awaiting their chance at a full rebuild in case it decides more PCC cars are needed.

Thursday, March 15, 2018

First PCC returns to El Paso

An online article published yesterday states that the first of the prewar PCC cars remanufactured for the El Paso Streetcar project by Brookville is now en route back to its home in Texas. Car 1506 is the first car to return, attired in mint green and white livery. It has been heavily rebuilt so all of the mechanical components of the car have been blanked out in the PNAERC database until correct information can be found; the car's original equipment has been noted in the remarks section. Question: anyone know what the equipment being fitted to these cars is called?

The car's ownership has also been changed to Sun Metro, the transit provider in El Paso, with this change backdated to 2015. That's when the car really left Paso del Norte Streetcar Preservation Society's site and went to Brookville for rebuilding. As the other five PCC cars return to El Paso they will also be switched over to Sun Metro ownership. I've set the car's status to "operated occasionally" which is admittedly getting a little ahead of myself, but should be true soon enough.

Tuesday, March 13, 2018

Car body removed from list

Going through some of the privately-owned cars on the PNAERC list, I came across one that I decided to remove as it almost certainly doesn't qualify as "preserved," at least not any more. The car in question is Toronto Transportation Commission 2835, a center-entrance trailer which until now was listed under "Private owner - Honey Harbour." This is a holdover from an old description in Veteran & Vintage Transit, the mid-1990s book by Dave Young, but it seems the car in more recent years (see this link) was actually moved to a remote spot near Haliburton, Ontario. Regardless, the car's body - or what little is left of it - seems to be abandoned in the woods more than plinthed and on display, as the car supposedly was at one time. So, since it really doesn't qualify any longer as preserved, I've taken it off the list.

Friday, March 9, 2018

The Last Boston Birney

There's only one Birney in existence that was built for Boston and it's a long way from home. Companhia Forca e Luz do Parana 110, built by Brill in 1920 for the Boston Elevated Railway (original number unknown), was sold to Porto Alegre, Brazil in 1931 and ran there until 1952 on that city's meter-gauge system. At some point, I believe in the 1990s, the car body was discovered and restored using a separately-discovered (correct type) truck. For a time the car was on display in the Pra├ža Tiradente in downtown Curitiba.

But while I was looking around online for something else I stumbled across this article showing that the car is no longer downtown, nor is it on display. Back in 2002 it was removed and transported to a city storage yard, which I tracked down to this location. The car still seems to be in pretty good shape; it's under a roof and while the paint is failing it appears largely intact. There's even a video here that shows the car's interior to be mainly complete (though I haven't a clue where those controllers came from). The truck needs some work though. But anyway, the car's status has been updated to "stored."

Finding up-to-date information on preserved electric cars in other countries can be tough, particularly where there's a language barrier and/or where there isn't much of a focus on the car (an example of this is the ex-Worcester Street Railway car preserved at a police station in Brazil). But if it's a car that was built for service in North America then it still qualifies for the PNAERC list and I'm still interested in trying to track it.