RTM logo

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Summary of Work on JTC #311 and Upcoming Work Session

While crews worked this past weekend on car maintenance, that was certainly not the only work being done on our equipment!  Keith Bray was onsite to provide contract support for the ongoing work on Johnstown Traction Company #311 and was assisted by Joel Salomon and Fred Wagner.  The photos below provide a summary of the work completed.

Work in progress is not always beautiful, but this is the sign of progress.  Removal of seats and interior trim enables repairs to be performed on the car's structure.
With the side sheeting removed, work progressed on repairs to the lower structural members.
Fred cleans the corrosion from lower part of one of the window posts.
The outbound end with the side removed.  The copper tubing was a replacement after an accident decades ago.
Next Work Session: Saturday, December 8
Please help keep the progress going by joining us for the next JTC #311 work session on Saturday, December 8.  Work planned for the day includes:
  • Cleaning and preservation of underfloor structural members
  • Rebuilding of door engines
  • Wood work on interior components
Thanksgiving Day is tomorrow.  One of the many things I am thankful for is the dedication and contributions of the volunteers and friends of the Rockhill Trolley Museum.  May you and your families have a very safe, healthy, and happy Thanksgiving!

5 Volunteers, 6 Cars, 7 Hours - Summary of Work Completed November 17, 2012

Along with routine maintenance tasks (and unanticipated repairs at times) throughout the year, an annual work session is scheduled for the middle of November to ensure our passenger cars are ready for the demands of the annual Polar Bear Express and Santa's Trolley Events.  These events draw hundreds of riders every year, and our cars must be ready.  Cold weather is typical for these events also, adding the to the demand placed upon our equipment.

Therefore, 5 volunteers set forth to tackle the servicing of 6 of our most heavily used passenger cars this past Saturday.  Work accomplished is as follows:

Johnstown Traction Company #355:  This car received the bulk of the attention during the day.  Budd Blair and Fred Wagner did a fairly substantial overhaul of both K-35 controllers, which had taken quite a beating during the operating year.  The controller work was extensive and kudos to Budd and Fred for spending much of the day at this task, which is not exactly ergonomic.  Matt Nawn, assisted by Fred Wagner, Bill Monaghan, and George Rich, checked the oil levels in all 12 bearings and added oil as necessary (most needed just a minor topping off with journal oil).  The gears were inspected as well, as a pack of crater grease was added to each gearbox.  The heat was tested as well and found to be operating perfectly (this is a warm car for a cold winter's day!).  Finally, the air governor (this turns the compressor on when air pressure drops and shuts it off as well when pressure builds up to a set point) filter was cleaned, repacked, and the contacts serviced.  After two test runs, the car was declared fit for service. 

Open Car #1875:  This might sound like the "influenza express" at first glance, but many Polar Bear Express riders will wait in line with blankets for a chance to ride this car at night through the lighted Christmas displays in a truly unique experience.  The air governor filter was cleaned, repacked, and the contacts serviced.

STCP #172 and #249:  Each of these car's air governors got the same work done as #355 and #1875.  By this point, Bill and George had become proficient and learning how to do basic servicing of an S-16 governor.  Rockhill Furnace is a long way from the Portuguese coast - these cars have no heat!

York Railways #163:  Along with the usual governor servicing, this car made two test trips to ensure the inbound K-68 controller functioned properly.  This controller has been giving problems this year but it appears Budd's latest work has corrected the problem.  The heat was also turned on and successfully tested.

Public Service Coordinated Transport #6:  The backup controller contactors were cleaned and dressed, which corrected the problem of dynamic brake drag that had developed when operating the car from the backup controller.  The heat was also turned on and found to be in good working order.  A short test run was made late in the day to verify the car coasts properly in reverse.

Last, and certainly not least, Nicholas Brightbill helped late in the day with getting all of the equipment put away in the Carbarns.  His efforts were much appreciated by a work crew that was getting tired by this point.

The photos below illustrated some of the day's progress.  My thanks to all volunteers!

Budd toils away at the outbound controller of JTC #355

Proving your author does something other than tell other people what to do while George gives me some extra light.  Cleaning the governor contacts on #1875.

Two of our most popular orange cars sit outside Carbarn #1 while crews work inside of them.

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Scranton #505 and the Rockhill Trolley Museum

This past Thursday, November 15, the badly deteriorated carbody structure and trucks from former Scranton Transit Company #505 departed Rockhill Trolley Museum for the Electric City Trolley Museum.  Preparing the car for shipment was a joint effort involving volunteers from three museums (as detailed in a previous post).  Additional volunteer efforts coordinated the loading and the multiple changes to the hauling schedule to ensure the car was able to depart for its new home.

The story of how, and why, Railways To Yesterday came to own the #505 for approximately 40 years is a story that probably has not fully been told.  The photos organized chronologically below tell the story.  All photos are from the collection of RTY, Inc. unless otherwise noted.

Nine year old #505 poses at the end of the Green Ridge Suburban line in 1938.
#505 leaves Nay Aug Park in June 1953
After the end of rail service in Scranton in December 1954, #505 and sweeper #107 were purchased by Dr. Stanley Groman for his Rail City Museum in Sandy Pond, New York.  Here the car sits along US-11 near Nicholson, PA as the flatbed trailer awaits a new axle. 

Another view of #505.  Although looking decent from a distance, years of hard use lurk beneath that paint job.  Like many cars from cities in the Northeast, years of running on salt covered streets leads to extensive corrosion.  If you look closely at the rear truck, you will also see one of the lower frame members is bent. 
Less than 5 years after it left Scranton, the car was looking pretty rough.  Here the car sits outdoors at Rail City in 1959.  Thankfully, sweeper #107 was kept indoors.
By the mid 1960s, #505 (and sweeper #107) had moved to the Magee Museum near Bloomsburg.  It was intended to be the first car to operate at Magee, but priority shifted to the ex-Rio de Janeiro open cars when they arrived.  The deterioration (note especially the drooping platform) was very evident by 1965.  The car was substantially disassembled at Magee but work did not progress very far.
Close up view of the platform condition in 1965.
This is how the interior looked prior to disassembly in 1965.  Note the gaping hole in the floor.
Hurricane Agnes flooded the Magee Museum out of existence in 1972 and the trolley collection was broken up.  Railways To Yesterday acquired sweeper #107 and the remains of #505.  Some parts were lost in the flood and aftermath (including one of the car's controllers, which the museum later acquired a replacement for).  However, the #505 was never acquired with the intention of restoring it.  It was purchased to serve as a possible source of trucks and other parts for the then "newly" acquired carbody of York Railways #163, which was in substantially better structural condition.  Enroute from Bloomsburg to Rockhill Furnace, the truck hauling the carbody got stuck on a highway on-ramp, and after freeing the trailer, the carbody was hauled to a salvage yard in Burnham, PA where it would rest until 1999.
The carbody was removed from the salvage yard in 1999 and hauled to the museum site for storage.  At the same time, parts formerly stored in a boxcar were moved into Carbarn 2. One end of the car was substantially removed before the car left Magee in 1972 and the other had collapsed to the point where it had to be removed before the car could be hauled to Rockhill Furnace.
Lower structural deterioration from years of salt damage, subsequent flood damage, and exposure to the elements. 
In 2003, the carbody, trucks, and components from #505 were traded to the Electric City Trolley Museum Association for what are believed to be the original Curtis trucks from SEPTA Tower Car D-39, which the museum acquired the same year.  In coordination with a series of other moves, and after both ECTMA had time to establish a storage location, and Rockhill Trolley Museum returned the trucks to the carbody, #505 finally departed Rockhill Furnace for a return trip to its home city.  Here Chuck Kumpas records #505 loaded on one more truck trailer.
It is only appropriate that #505 go to its original home for a potential future restoration (or re-creation).  It's the best hope this car has had in more than 4 decades. 
Northeastern Pennsylvania is still represented in the Rockhill Trolley Museum collection by Scranton sweeper #107, which is operable and still used when conditions warrant to sweep snow from the museum's demonstration electric railway.  This vintage view shows the car being unloaded at Magee in 1966.  For more recent scenes of this former Scranton car, including scenes of it sweeping, visit http://www.rockhilltrolley.org/roster/107


Sunday, November 18, 2012

Multi-Museum Cooperation Makes A Difference

Since 2008, Johnstown Traction Company Car #311 has been resting upon the trucks formerly used under Scranton Transit Company #505.  This was done to facilitate removal of the Brill 77E trucks from under JTC #311 for a complete overhaul and yet still enable the car to be towed around the property if required.  Fast forward to the fall of this current year, and there are dual needs to get #311 resting upon jackstands to facilitate underbody repairs and prepare the carbody of Scranton #505 (and its trucks) for shipment to Scranton. 

Realizing the amount of effort involved to perform this work in one day, Rockhill Trolley Museum invited friends and volunteers from the Electric City Trolley Museum Association and Baltimore Streetcar Museum to assist with this project on Saturday, October 20.  The volunteers from each group were as follows:

Rockhill Trolley Museum: Rick Hoffmeister, Budd Blair, Nicholas Brightbill, Joel Salomon, Courtney Brown, Nevin Byers, Matt Nawn.  (Matty, Andrew, and Megan Nawn took photos, some of which are used in this report).

Baltimore Streetcar Museum: Ed Amrhein, Justin Thillman

Electric City Trolley Museum Association: Mike Trosino, David Noyes, Phil Mulligan

The photos provided below show the events of the day in chronological order:

Could somebody give me a hand here, my arms are getting tired!  (No, really, we used the air jacks)
The car is on the jack stands and the trucks are out
Before the jacks were removed, two lengths of rail were cut to run under the jackstands for extra support.  Here Justin does the torch work on the first rail section.
First truck is out.  Soon the second truck will be chained up and off to return these to #505
By late in the day, what was left of #505 was reunited with its trucks
The structural condition of #505 made for some delicate work, but the job got done safely
There was even time to get pumpkins, even if this was the only group that got them with the work car
Rockhill Trolley Museum thanks the efforts of every person who made this possible, including our friends from ECTMA and BSM.  We hope to be able to return the favor in the future.

Work Progresses on former NJT PCC Car #10

As mentioned in previous posts on this blog and in official RTY publications, Rockhill Trolley Museum has made an agreement with this car's owner to return it to operational condition.  In support of this effort, Maintenance Department volunteers Bill Monaghan, Jerry Evans, Budd Blair, George Rich, Jim Walsh, and Matt Nawn took part in a three day effort from October 12-14 to get this car closer to operating condition.

Work completed during this period is as follows:

- Complete blow down and overall cleaning of all electrical equipment (final cleaning and servicing is being done as each component is inspected as readied for testing)

- Removal, cleaning, and painting of interior surfaces of all electrical access panels and motor covers with Glyptal insulating paint

- Installation of new batteries.

- 600VDC main circuit testing. 

- Cleaned, inspected, and tested the MG set to verify proper operation and tested the voltage regulator. The regulator and 32VDC charging circuit are the current focus of work as the voltage is not being properly regulated at this point.

- Meggar tested all 4 motors. 

- Cleaned and inspected the backup controller. 

- Cleaned the car interior of all debris and all loose paint chips.

Next tasks are to continue to troubleshoot and repair the 32VDC charging circuit, followed by servicing of all high and low voltage contactors, line breaker test, contactor sequence test, motor and brake test, complete repairs to backup controller, and finally test of all ancillary systems (such as doors, lights, gong, horn, etc.).

A short video clip is attached below.  The MG is running and the taillights are flashing because the brake pedal is depressed (which was a modification done by Public Service Coordinated Transport for use in the Newark City Subway).

Finally, Harry Donahue provides a shot from his collection of PSCT #10 at Orange Street, Newark, NJ in 1954 taken by the late Ernie Mozer.

RTY Maintenance Department volunteers are happy of the work they are doing to return another former NJ Transit PCC car to operating status.

Maintenance Department Projects Late Summer to Early Fall 2012 Wrap Up

With the need to support so many "big" projects and events over the past three months, its easy to forget the myriad of tasks that RTY Maintenance Department volunteers perform to keep our equipment operable and manage acquisition of parts and components that will serve the long term goals of the museum's collection.  This report will capture some of these tasks from late August through early September.

Brake Valve Overhaul on STCP #172

These brake valves are an ongoing maintenance headache from the RTY Maintenance Department volunteers.  After some frustrating trial and error, Budd Blair and your author finally diagnosed the source of the ongoing problems and what thus far has been a successful intermediate solution. 

The Sociedade de Transportes Colectivos do Porto (STCP) not only constructed a number of car bodies in their own shops, but also designed and constructed many of the components that make up a complete car, including, but not limited to truck castings, brake shoes, air compressors, and brake valves.  The brake valves function by an internal plate pushing against spring loaded valves that either release or apply the brakes depending upon whether the valve handle is pushed (release) or pulled (apply).  The spring loaded valves have an internal cup-shaped gasket that slides against the inside of the piston walls.  The following series of photos illustrate the valve construction.

This shows the inside of the main body of the valve with the top cover and main plate removed

This is the back of the brake valve, showing the cylinders that the pistons sit in (these are the two release side pistons)

From left (release side) to right (apply side), these are the pistons, springs, and associated gaskets

This shows the cup-shaped gasket after a typical failure

After investigation, the following was determined to be the sources of the problem:

- Originally, it is believed wax-impregnated leather packing cups were used in the pistons.  At some point, these were replaced with rubber gaskets (packing cups) from automobile wheel cylinder parts.  The stock on hand was found to have gaskets of two different widths (some too large), some with holes punched off center (causing the packing cup to bind on one side over time), and others dry rotted and cracked.  Only acceptable cups were kept in stock after this discovery.

- WABCO brake cylinder grease had been used to lubricate the gaskets.  This was found to attack the rubber, causing premature failure.  White lithium grease has been substituted since and has given good results to date.

Maintenance Department plans to order correctly sized wax-impregnated leather packing cups to replace the rubber cups at the next servicing, and is also exploring a more common and serviceable pair of brake valves (such as an overhauled pair of GE brake valves) to replace the STCP versions on car #172.  (Sister car #249 is planned to retain its STCP valves for the long-term future to ensure the historical integrity of this car). 

Repairs were completed on September 15 and since then the car has performed satisfactorily.

Delivery of Brill 27F trucks for Valley Railways #12

On September 25, RTY volunteers Budd Blair, Charlie Wootten, Larry Zilch, David Brightbill, and Matt Nawn took an early morning delivery of a pair of Brill 27F trucks, obtained as the second part of the multi-museum trade of former DCTS Sweeper #09 for Iowa Terminal #3.  Acquisition of these trucks completes a nearly three decade search by the museum for suitable vintage, size, and wheelbase trucks for use under the museum's oldest car.  Brill trucks of this style and vintage are nearly impossible to obtain complete from any source.  While covered in a moderate coat of surface rust, what is most important and made these trucks very valuable is that they are complete except for one pair of brake shoes and motors (which were not part of the trade but the museum has suitable motors on hand for use with these trucks).  These trucks is a huge boost to the restoration potential of this unique and much-loved car.  Demonstrating just how rare these trucks are, volunteers from another museum already made an informal offer to acquire them (sorry, we are keeping these)!  The trucks are currently stored near Buehler Shop, but will soon be moved inside Carbarn #2 once the JTC #311 trucks are moved into Buehler Shop.

It was a very special day for Rockhill Trolley Museum when these cars arrived.

More work on STCP cars

After the delivery and unloading of the 27F trucks, Budd Blair and Matt Nawn performed an inspection and servicing of the controllers on STCP work car C-64 and made adjustments to the pole of STCP #172.  Out of sight, but certainly not forgotten, David Brightbill also took advantage of this relatively quiet day by getting some wood varnishing done on interior components of JTC #311.

Both STCP single truck cars get ready to return to Carbarn #2 after some maintenance work.

Every volunteer can make a difference

There is a job for volunteers of every age and skill level.  Case in point, on October 13, Matty Nawn (Age 8), Andrew Nawn (Age 6), and Megan Nawn (Age 4) decided (without any suggestion from Dad) to remove accumulated stones and other debris from the former Ohio Public Service trucks displayed outside of the Littlewood Substation while their dad checked on work on NJT PCC Car #10.  Even the little jobs can make a difference.  The proud crew poses below with their handiwork.

Thank you to each and every one of our volunteers in every department who make a difference!