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Friday, November 15, 2013

Pre-Winter Car Maintenance Day - November 16, 2013

Dear Volunteers, Friends, and Interested Parties:

As a reminder, the annual Pre-Winter Car Maintenance Day is tomorrow, November 16.  The weather looks excellent for mid-November!

This is a very important annual work session as this is our final opportunity to ensure our cars are ready for heavy operation in cold weather during the Polar Bear Express and Santa's Trolley events.  Thankfully, we have kept up with maintenance throughout the year due to our dedicated volunteers, but this last "push" is very important.

All skill sets are welcome and useful; especially new volunteers (or volunteers new to electric trolley car maintenance).

Priorities for tomorrow are as follows:

  1. Service both controllers on JTC #355
  2. Service "deadman" foot pedals on JTC #355
  3. Service inbound brake value on JTC #355
  4. Inspect bearing oil levels and add 1 pack of gear tack to each gearbox on JTC #355
  5. Service governors cars 355, 163, 1875, 172, and 249
  6. Service heater knife switches in cars 355 and 163
  7. Install fuses and turn on heat in P&W #205
  8. Lubricate brake valve bodies car 163
  9. Test feel of brake valves car 1875, lubricate as needed
  10. Check oil levels cars 163, 172, 249
  11. Inspect shoes all cars
While this is a long list, we typically are able to get this much work done during this event.

Your help is appreciated!

- Matt Nawn

Thursday, October 17, 2013

Upcoming October-November Maintenance Department Work Sessions (All skills levels needed)

Rockhill Trolley Museum Maintenance Department is scheduling work sessions for the following dates for the following projects:

Saturday, October 19
With most of the regular service fleet in operation this date for the annual Pumpkin Patch Trolley, the following is planned for equipment that will not be in operation on this date:
- SEPTA PCC #2743:  Troubleshooting and repairs to the low voltage charging system.  
- Liberty Liner Independence Hall: Removal of existing resistor grids and start layout of new grids under A1 section
All skills levels are welcome and needed.  Along with the electrical work, further interior work is planned on #2743 and the Liner could really use a good vacuuming from end to end, especially the operator's cabs.  While not glamorous tasks, these are important and make conditions for our visitors and our work and operating crews a little more tolerable.
Saturday, October 26
Saturday, November 16
Tasks for these dates are as follows:
- Winterization of the operating fleet, to include governor servicing, and turn on of car heat
- Controller work and lubrication of inbound brake valve on JTC #355
- Further electrical work on Liberty Liner Independence Hall.
The Liner work will likely take place on October 26 and the winterization work on November 16.  Work on JTC #355 will take place depending upon the car's availability (October 26 is still a regular operating date).
I look forward to seeing you in Rockhill Furnace!
- Matt Nawn


The Liberty Liner and Summary of Work Session from weekend of October 11-13

This past weekend, October 11-13, was a very busy one at the Rockhill Trolley Museum.  Besides the variety of trolleys running for the annual Fall Spectacular, much project and maintenance work was completed as well.

Here is a quick summary of the work completed:

Johnstown Traction Company #311:
- Jim Cohen spent Friday and Saturday night with paint removal in some areas, as well as needle scaling the door step areas with Joel Salomon.  Carl Salomon assisted Friday night with the roof cleats.  David Brightbill continues to make steady progress on wood refinishing.  The new floor is about 80% installed thanks to the talents of contractor Keith Bray.

It's hard not to be impressed with the quality and comprehensiveness of work being performed on the museum's first trolley car.
Frank looks over the new floor as it is installed.
Miscellaneous Car Maintenance:

 - These are the often out of sight tasks that never end and for which volunteers just don't get enough credit for. Among other projects, Budd Blair and Fred Walter checked the pole tension on Car #163 after the inbound end pole was replaced the previous weekend.  Thanks to Charlie Wootton, Ron Rabena, Courtney Brown, and Nicholas Brightbill for getting the pole replaced the week before.
Liberty Liner Independence Hall:
- As mentioned in a previous post earlier this year, new resistor grids for the Liberty Liner have been obtained to replace those under the car which are in poor condition and have finally failed, rendering the train inoperable.  On Sunday, Henry Long and Matt Nawn started the process to replace the grids under the A1 (outbound) end of the train.
Before going much further, let's explain how the train is configured:
(outbound) A1 section - C section - B section - A section (inbound)
The C is the all coach center section, B is the bar section, and the end coach sections are A1 and A.  Interestingly, the outbound and inbound configuration at the museum is the same when the train was operated on the Red Arrow Lines.
The work was done underneath the train on the ground in Carbarn #2.  Each wire was traced, marked according to the schematic, and disconnected from the resistor banks.  By the end of the day, all wires had been disconnected from the A1 end resistors and marked, a concept for mounting the new resistors was developed, and some general assessment work on the train's electrical and air systems was done.  Next step is to remove the resistor banks themselves. 
Helping Henry and Matt with this work were Joel Salomon who helped get the Liner in position, Nevin Byers who helped get some lighting set up and Andrew Nawn, who yelled wire numbers from the schematic to his dad so his dad didn't have to constantly crawl out from under the train. 
No date has yet been announced for when the train will be operable again.  Watch this column and the museum news messages for further details!
The existing grids have been disconnected and are ready for removal.

Andrew Nawn makes a Halloween-like appearance with the uneven lighting in the back of Carbarn #2
My thanks and compliments to all volunteers who make these things possible.
- Matt Nawn

Tuesday, September 3, 2013

Wrap Up of August 24 Work Session; Next Session is September 7

Dear Volunteers and Friends:

Our last work session on August 24 was a productive one, with both planned and unplanned work making progress.

Of our two time critical projects, the repacking of all 16 axle and motor bearings on the trucks for JTC #311 was completed.  This enables the car to be retrucked at the next work session on Saturday, September 7. 

More progress was made on NJT #10, but work remains.  Additional work sessions will be scheduled soon as this project needs to reach completion. 

NJT #10 got off to a delayed start thanks to some unplanned work.  The Carbarn #1 sump pump operation was intermittent, and remained so after the pit was mostly pumped out.  Thus, after a "dive" into the pit (actually, it was more like a fishing expedition in filthy water), the pump was removed, partially disassembled, and the malfunctioning float switch cleaned and tested.  A thick plastic bag was also intermittently getting sucked into the discharge pipe.  This was removed as well.  A check valve was added to the discharge line, and after reassembly, the pit dried out and stayed dry in a manner unseen for some time.  Hopefully this will make the conditions in which our volunteers work in a little more inviting.

Retriever rope on the outbound end of car #172 was replaced as well.

Helping with the projects of this day were Budd Blair, Rick Hoffmeister, Jerry Evans, Courtney Brown, and the Nawns (Matt, Matty, Andrew, and Megan).  Nevin Byers and Nicholas Brightbill helped with hostling #10. 

Next Work Session is Saturday, September 7

Our next work session is Saturday, September 7.  Goal for the day is to place JTC #311 on its rebuilt trucks, and possibly remount the air compressor as well.  If interested in helping with this session, please contact Joel Salomon (jdstrolley@ptd.net) as he will be leading this session.

Seems hard to believe it has been more than 5 years since we detrucked the car.
When completed, #311 will be greatly improved mechanically, electrically, structurally, and cosmetically.
Thank you for your support of Rockhill Trolley Museum!
- Matt Nawn


Friday, August 23, 2013

Maintenance Department Update - Next Work Session August 24 & Wrap Up of August 17 session

Dear Volunteer:

Rockhill Trolley Maintenance Department is having another work session this coming Saturday, August 24.  Your help is needed with the following projects:

  • Continue work on the voltage regulator and low voltage system on former NJ Transit PCC Car #10 (if all goes well, the car may run under its own power since the car was retired August 24, 2001).

  • Finish repacking the remaining bearings on the overhauled Brill 77E trucks from Johnstown Traction Company #311
New volunteers are always welcome to join in and learn what we do as Rockhill Trolley Museum's "pit crew".

Last Saturday, August 17, was a very busy and productive day.  Much work was accomplished then and during this past week, including:

  • Repairs to the inbound brake valve on STCP #172, returning the car to service

  • Continued progress on the voltage regulator repairs to NJT PCC Car #10

  • Continued progress on repacking the journal bearings in the JTC #311 trucks

  • Controller maintenance (heavy duty) on STCP #249

  • Brake valve lubrication on CTC #1875

  • Electrical investigation of IT Sweeper #3
Assisting with this work was Budd Blair (multiple days), Jerry Evans, George Rich, Courtney Brown, Bill Monaghan, Fred Walter, and Matt Nawn.

Work on NJT #10 continued into the night last Saturday.
My thanks to the volunteers and donors who make all this possible!
Want to help financially with a future project?  Visit the Rockhill Trolley Museum homepage (www.rockhilltrolley.org) to assist with the following:
Buy a desk model of PTC #2743 for yourself and help restore the real thing:
Help bring Rockhill Trolley Museum's first Light Rail Vehicle to the East Coast:

Friday, August 16, 2013

Maintenance Department Work Session - Saturday, August 17

Dear Volunteer:

Rockhill Trolley Museum Maintenance Department is having a work session this Saturday, August 17.  It will be a busy day with the following projects scheduled:

- Service and repair inbound brake valve on STCP #172

- Continue electrical work on former NJT PCC Car #10

- Finish packing the journal bearings on the Brill 77E trucks for Johnstown Traction Company #311

All of these projects are priorities at present.  The repairs to #172 will enable this car to return to service with Operations Department.  The return to operation of NJT #10 will enable it to leave the museum for its new owner and start the process of delivery of a U2 Light Rail Vehicle to the museum schedule for this fall.

A work session is tentatively schedule for Saturday, August 24, with the sole purpose being the re-trucking of JTC #311.  The journal bearing packing must be completed this weekend if the car is to ride again on its original trucks (which have been completely rebuilt).

I hope you can join me this Saturday in Rockhill Furnace.  Based on commitments to date, we should have a decent shop crew size to make the work easier.  But more help is needed!

I apologize that I have not updated this site in 2 months.  It has been a busy time at the museum with the 50th Anniversary being celebrated July 6, following by the second annual PCC Car Day three weeks later.  Both events went off flawlessly and had a good turnout of members and friends (especially the 50th Anniversary Event).

Work has not stopped, however!  In the past 2 months many tasks have been completed, including the following:

- PSCT #6: readjustment of shaft brakes and installation of new batteries

- JTC #311: start of journal bearing repacking as well as extensive work on the carbody

- STCP #172: replacement of a leaking governor gasket

- JTC #355: controller maintenance

- York #163: controller maintenance

- SEPTA #2743: thorough inspection and servicing

- STCP #249: compressor inspection (electrical side)

- SEPTA #205: compressor inspection (electrical side) and rooftop wiring inspection.

- CTC#1875: brake rigging inspection

- Multiple cars: pole and harp maintenance, including carbon insert and show inspection and replacement as necessary

My thanks to all of the volunteers and specialty contractors who make this possible!

- Matt Nawn

Thursday, June 13, 2013

Work Session and Projects for June 15

There will be a Maintenance Department Work Session this coming Saturday, June 15.  Help is needed as two of the museum's most popular cars are current out of service due to failures last weekend.  Work Car day last Saturday is thus followed by a Work Day this Saturday.

The projects are as follows:

York Railways #163
This workhorse of the fleet, and an essential member of the cars used for weekday bus trips, is out of service due to continued issues with the inbound controller not picking up power.  Budd Blair and Fred Walker spend considerable time on May 26 trying to resolve the problems, including rewiring the bonnet switch (controller disconnect/breaker), but the problems returned last weekend.  Some brief troubleshooting last Saturday indicates the ratchet switch may not be picking up but more work is needed.  Budd is planning to resume his efforts on Saturday but could really use a second set of eyes and hands to assist him.
This is the ratchet switch in question; inbound end of York #163, at the bottom of the K68 controller.
CTC Open Car #1875
To save wear and tear, this very popular vehicle in our collection has not been out of the barn much this year to date.  It was put into service last Saturday, but only briefly, as the brake shoe on the outbound end, left side, second axle from the front has come loose and slams against the wheel after the brakes are fully released.  Besides the noise, the shoe is at risk for grabbing the wheel, thus requiring the car to be taken out of service to avoid further damage or a possible derailment.  Troubleshooting is needed.  It could be as simple as a loose, broken, or missing pin; but a full diagnosis and repair is needed.  The car could also use a controller servicing, brake valve lubrication, lubrication of all bearings (most bearings in the car are roller and simply need a few pumps of grease), compressor oil check, and inspection of the compressor brushes.  Joel Salomon has offered to assist a willing volunteer with at least the brake shoe troubleshooting.  It would be great to have this car back in service for our 50th Anniversary on July 6!
JTC #311
As reported on the museum's Facebook page (https://www.facebook.com/rockhilltrolley; you do not need to be a member of Facebook to visit the site and see the photos); steady progress continues to be made on this car by our contractor, Keith, and the museum volunteers who assist him.  Another work session is scheduled for this weekend.  Projects include hot riveting and installation of the new floor.  No special skills are required.
Posted below are some scenes of recent progress on #311. 
Keith bends new window posts in specially built jig

Removal of the old floor is completed

Both new sides are hung; riveting is still in progress

The first side of the car is really taking shape now

The side bearings have been removed and new hardware will be used to remount them

Thank you for your continued support!

Best wishes,
Matt Nawn

Thursday, April 25, 2013

Work Session Scheduled for April 27 for JTC #311 and NJT #10

Johnstown Traction Company #311 and former NJ Transit PCC Car #10 are the focus of the next work session scheduled for Saturday, April 27.

Tremendous progress has been made over the past two months with JTC #311, but much more work remains.  Your help and support is essential to keeping this project moving.

Further work is needed to make NJT #10 operable for its owner so it can depart for its new home and be able to operate under its own power when it arrives.

If you plan to attend Saturday, please contact Joel Salomon (jdstrolley@ptd.net) if you would like to help with JTC #311, or Bill Monaghan (rty-1267@comcast.net) if you would like to help with NJT #10.

Thank you for your dedication and support of the Rockhill Trolley Museum!

Public Service Coordinated Transport #6 is an Award Winner (and other PCC related projects).

Railways To Yesterday, Inc., operators of the Rockhill Trolley Museum, recently confirmed that Public Service Coordinated Transport PCC Car #6 was the recipient of the TRAIN (Tourist Railroad Association INC) 2012 Electric Traction Award. 

Car #6 is the third vehicle in the museum collection to receive this distinction, the other vehicles being Johnstown Traction Company #355 in 2007 and York Railways #163 a number of years ago.

While the rehabilitation of car #6 was not a complete, ground-up restoration; nor was the car returned to like new condition, what made it unique was the tremendous effort and accelerated timeframe that transformed the vehicle from a deteriorated relic to a great looking and operating car again.  Within 5 weeks of the car's shipment from New Jersey, museum volunteers had made the car reliably operable again.  Three months later, body and paint work both inside and out had been completed in time for the car to be rolled out for a special ceremony commemorating both the return of the car to operation and marking 10 years since the end of PCC service in the Newark City Subway.

Car #6 has its minor flaws, dents, and other signs of many decades of use.  But, we'd like to think it is preserved as an accurate representation of its years of service in New Jersey; not pristine, but well maintained and looking good.  Perhaps the greatest compliment came when an individual who had a long history with the cars in Newark visited the museum, inspected #6, and stated "it's not overdone...it looks just like it did in Newark". 

Once again, my compliments to the all-volunteer PCC Car #6 Restoration Crew and the others who worked behind the scenes to make its preservation possible.

 Car #6 departs Penn Station on 8-16-2001, one week before its retirement.  Photo compliments of Bill Volkmer.

Car #6 picks up a passenger at Park Avenue in 1954.  Photo compliments of Bill Volkmer.
PCC Work in Progress and Planned on other vehicles
Awards are great, but there's no time to rest, there is work to be done!  

New Jersey Transit PCC Car #10

Work continued on this car's charging system on March 15.  Fred Wagner, Nicholas Brightbill, and Matt Nawn spent some time trying to get the voltage regulated properly, but more work remains.  Jerry Evans and George Rich, which assistance from Matt Nawn and Bill Monaghan, did some further work during the 4/6/2013 work session, but issues still remain and the MG set itself may be the source of the problems.  Getting this car operable again will enable its owner to ship it to its new home. 


Thanks to the recent substantial contributions by the Friends of Philadelphia Trolleys as well as many individual donors, the long planned carbody restoration of this popular vehicle will commence in late spring of this year.  The goal for completion is the Summer 2014 PCC Car Day at the Rockhill Trolley Museum.  Updates will be posted here as the car is transformed back to circa 1959 PTC appearance in the familiar green and cream colors.  The work will be performed by the same contractor crew that restored the carbody of SEPTA #2168 at the Baltimore Streetcar Museum under the experienced supervision of Harry Donahue.

This is the color scheme #2743 will wear after its restoration, but we plan to avoid smashing in the doors.  Photo by R. Vible, RTY Collection.


Friday, April 5, 2013

An Electroliner/Liberty Liner rides again in 2013?

One of the most popular vehicles (or at least the one most asked about) at the Rockhill Trolley Museum took a major step towards being operable again, thanks to an anonymous friend of the museum who recently provided a set of new resistor grids for one end of the train, replacing the badly deteriorated set that has sidelined the train since last spring.

The grids are in the B-section...but only temporarily

Current museum priorities are focused on completing the heavy overhaul of JTC #311 in 2013, but once this work is completed, more time can be devoted to the Liner.

While the Liner will never be an "everyday" part of the operating fleet, it will certainly be a welcome sight to see it back in operation for special events.  The train emerged from 14 years of storage in 2010 as it was towed for a special trip and subsequently ran under its own power in 2011 before having to be sidelined again in 2012. 

2013 marks 50 years of public operation at what is now known as the Rockhill Trolley Museum.  2013 also marks 50 years since the abandonment of the Chicago North Shore & Milwaukee.  It would be most appropriate to see one of these famous and celebrated trains run again this year.

We look forward to seeing a sight like this again soon.  So do the budding young fans in the photo!

My sincere thanks and appreciation to the volunteers and friends who make things like this possible!

Best wishes,
Matt Nawn

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Cooperation Between Museums Keeps PCC Cars Rolling

On March 2, several volunteers from the Rockhill Trolley Museum took a break from projects there to assist the Baltimore Streetcar Museum with work on two of their PCC cars.  Or, would it be more appropriate to say a group of BSM volunteers focused back on work at their home location?  Or how about a little of both...

There is great cooperation between Rockhill Trolley Museum and Baltimore Streetcar Museum in many areas, perhaps mostly significantly, with regards to work on PCC cars.  A group of volunteers who are active members of both organizations comprise a large part of the group which keeps the PCC cars in good repair at both of these great museums.   

Thus, on March 2, the crew focused on work at BSM.  Primary focus for the day was former SEPTA PCC Car #2168, which was suffering from sticking shaft brakes as well as having problems with #3 door.  Supporting the efforts was Bill Monaghan, Jerry Evans, George Rich, Harry Donahue, Steven Goehring, Matt Nawn, and Matty Nawn.  Ed Amrhein worked on several projects that day but still found time to assist with the PCC work as well. 

Steven blows the accumulated filth away from the shaft brakes on #2168.
First order of the day (after car shuffling to get #2168 over the pit) was to get the shaft brakes working properly on #2168.  Removal of accumulated filth and lubrication solved the problem for 3 of the 4 shaft brake actuators and associated linkages, but the left rear still gave significant problems.  After repeated soaking with penetrating oil and assistance from a large hammer, the linkage was freed.  The part of the mechanism that opens and closes the shoes had frozen itself solid from accumulated filth.  Once corrected, the crew proceeded with a several braking tests which confirmed resolution of the problem.  During one of the tests, a recently married couple posed with #2168 for a photo!
Final checks are made before a road test.  Look at those Cats Eyes!
With the braking work completed, the crew turned its attention in the afternoon to two other projects, #3 door of #2168 and an electrical servicing of BTC #7407.  After significant troubleshooting, it was determined that the #3 door motor was grounded and a replacement was found in BSM stock and installed.  Meanwhile, #7407 got some pit time for a much needed cleaning and servicing of all contactors as well as preventive maintenance to its motor controller.
#7407 waits patiently for its turn over the pit.
Most cars in the picture contest.  Actually, while PCC work was taking place at the pit, a number of other volunteers worked on a clean up of the barn, hence why so many cars are outside on this date.
Car #417 (lower right) helps identify the scene.  All photos on this post were taken by 8 year old Matty Nawn, who also kept the team moving as the tool runner all day.

Hard work, but an enjoyable day nonetheless!  Volunteers make these things happen.
Best wishes,
Matt Nawn

One Month of Progress for JTC #311 Pays Off

The month of March has been a busy one at the Rockhill Trolley Museum.  Efforts with regards to car projects have had one primary focus - the ongoing heavy overhaul of Johnstown Traction Company #311.  Volunteers have been at the museum working on the car for at least part of every weekend from March 1 through March 24, with the contractor support of Keith Bray present as well for the weekends of March 9, 16, and 23.  Substantial progress has been made.

The photos below present a chronological synopsis of the work over the past month.

Rick Hoffmeister emits "showers of sparks" (like the warning labels used to say on old fireworks) as he burns off the remains of an old rivet to allow a new underfloor structural beam to be installed.
By the afternoon of March 1, two new structural beams were installed and heavy structural work to the underframe was now completed.

A major morale boost came on March 16 when one new side was hung on the "shop" side of the car.  The new side sheets are slightly heavier gauge than the deteriorated ones that were removed.
This is how the new sides look from inside the car with the seats, window sill, and interior trim removed.  Like peeling back an onion, as the project has progressed, the scope has grown.  The decision has been made to replace the significantly deteriorated floor as part of the overhaul. 
This is a close up of the floor condition.  Look carefully and you will see some significant cracks besides substantial wear to the top layer.  Note the vapor barrier between the floor layers.
Now we are starting to look like a trolley again!  Installation of new window sills is completed and the letterboard is hung and the first new hot rivets are in place.
Another view of the new window sills.  These were custom fabricated to a pattern we provided as a donation by our friends at UTCRAS (www.utcras.com). 
The rivet furnace keeps the process moving. 
The inside of the new letterboard.  Note the first of the new rivets are in place.
Besides the structural work, work is being done in many, often out of sight, but equally as important to the completion of JTC #311.  Volunteers have been busy sorting parts, stripping and refinishing the roof boards, cherry trim for the interior, disassembling air brake piping (to facilitate floor removal), marking of wires and removing the resistor grids, and organized what has been removed to facilitate an organized reassembly once the carbody work is completed.  The museum has even located a set of large diameter headlights similar to those used on the car around 1950 which will be overhauled and installed in the finished car (the current smaller headlights were later substitutes).
Many volunteers have been assisting with this project, including Rick Hoffmeister, Budd Blair, Matt Nawn, Joel Salomon, Phil Sauerlender, David Brightbill, Nicholas Brightbill, Fred Wagner, Courtney Brown, and Valerie Robbins-Rice.  Keith Bray has been working alongside our volunteers as a contractor.  Any omissions from this list are purely accidental and solely the fault of the author.
The next work session will be April 6 - new volunteers always welcome!
Best wishes,
Matt Nawn

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Next JTC #311 Work Session: March 22 and 23

Substantial Progress has been made over the past three weeks on Johnstown Traction Company #311.  One new side has been fabricated and hung on the car, the letterboard has been hung on the same side, the replacement of deteriorated underfloor beams has been completed, floor removal is in progress, and the wooden roof boards and cleats have been stripped. 

Your help can keep this progress moving forward.  A JTC #311 work session is scheduled for this coming Friday, March 22 and Saturday, March 23.  Hot riveting of the letterboard, continued floor removal, and disassembly of the "wall" side of the car are planned. 

If you plan to attend, please contact me in advance so we can align your volunteer help with an appropriate project.

A more detailed report on the recent progress of JTC #311 (complete with photos), as well as an update on other projects including NJ Transit #10, cooperative work with our friends at the Baltimore Streetcar Museum, a update on PTC #2743, even some very positive information about Liberty Liner "Independence Hall", and information on a new acquisition, is forthcoming within the week.  Stay tuned!

Thank you for your interest in and support of the Rockhill Trolley Museum!

Matt Nawn

Thursday, February 28, 2013

Upcoming Work Sessions for JTC #311 and NJT #10

Spring is here...well soon enough we hope.  Rockhill Trolley Museum's Maintenance Department has scheduled the following work sessions on the dates below:

- Friday, March 1.  Session starts 9:30AM.  Focus is JTC #311 underbody work to include drilling holes in new transverse beam and installation of beam if time permits.  Work Session Leader is Matt Nawn.

- Friday, March 8 and Saturday, March 9.  Friday session starts at Noon; Saturday session starts at 9:00AM.  Focus is treatment and preservation of remaining sections of JTC #311 underbody and disassembly of "wall" side of car.  Work Session Leader is Joel Salomon.

- Friday, March 15 and Saturday, March 16.  Friday Session starts at 9:30AM; Saturday session starts at 8:30AM.  Focus on Friday is electrical work on NJT #10.  Focus on Saturday is JTC #311.  Work Session Leader is Matt Nawn.

We hope to see you at one of our upcoming work sessions and look forward to reporting on the progress made.

Best wishes,
Matt Nawn

Work Continues on JTC #311

Although it has been several weeks since I have updated this site, it does not mean that work on JTC #311 has come to a standstill. 

Budd Blair braved the winter cold on January 19 to keep the project moving.  Budd accomplished the following on this date:

- Cut the new transverse outbound end beam to length using old transverse beam for measurement.
- Using the old beam as template, Budd located holes to be drilled and center punched the same.
Thanks to Budd's efforts, as manpower is available the beam is ready for drilling and subsequent installation.
Along with Budd's efforts, David Brightbill, Joel Salomon, Bill Monaghan, and The Nawns have all assisted with project planning and acquisition of items needed to keep the restoration moving over the past several weeks.
We recently acquired a photo of JTC #311 that illustrates the goal we are working towards - the car in its last color scheme in Johnstown but without the rot, rust, and deterioration it displayed in its last years.  We estimate the date of the photo below to be about 1948.  Look carefully and you'll note the sides do not show the deterioration of later years. 
Photo from the William Nixon collection, used with permission. 
I look forward to our next work session!
Best wishes,
Matt Nawn

Saturday, January 19, 2013

Taking a torch, hammers, and scrapers to Johnstown Traction Company #311

A significant amount of progress was made towards the restoration of Johnstown Traction Company #311 on Friday, January 11 and Saturday, January 12 at the Rockhill Trolley Museum.  The amount of work accomplished definitely helped the museum get closer of its goal to substantially complete the restoration work by July 6, 2013, which is 50 years to the day of Rockhill Trolley Museum's official Grand Opening Celebration.

The focus of work was underneath the car.  Most arduous, challenging, and time consuming was the removal of the two substantially deteriorated transverse underfloor structural member.  The web of each member was nearly destroyed in two locations each by wheel wash, namely, the splattering of water, mud, dirt, road salt, etc. at the wheels rolled along the streets of Johnstown.  During the car's service days in Johnstown, a "repair" of sorts was attempted by filling the holes with body filler and then covering the repaired area with a wooden beam at each repaired located.  Sound ridiculous?  Yes, we thought so too when we uncovered this!  But, every car has a story to tell and usually doesn't reveal its secrets until its is torn down for restoration. 

The deterioration can be seen on the right side of the beam.  Removal of the wooden beam sistering it revealed a gaping hole.

Rick Hoffmeister and Joel Salomon started the work on Friday by cutting off most of the rivets holding the first (inbound) of the two beams to the car.  This is long and tedious work; even if the torch is used to cut the heads off of the rivets there is still substantial hammer and chisel work required due to the tight confines encountered.  This work on Friday gave the Saturday crew an excellent head start on further progress.

On Saturday, Matt Nawn, Andrew Nawn, Phil Sauerlender (a new volunteer to shop projects; welcome Phil!), Budd Blair, and Jim Cohen joined Joel and soon the team developed a good flow of work.  Matt and Joel did the cutting and hammering to remove the beams, Phil and Budd did the work with the machine tools to cut the new channel stock to size and drill holes for new fasteners, and Jim cleaned and presevered the underfloor areas with POR-15 on the steel structure and wood primer on the underside of the floor.  Andrew got the crew its tools when needed and did the "supervision".

The "supervisor" pauses for a moment for a photo. 

Matt uses the torch to cut off rivet heads to enable the beam to be broken free and removed.

Joel burns off the remains of a rivet so the old beam can be used as a pattern.
Joel heats the rivet so Phil can pound it out with a hammer.
Budd and Phil lay out the fastener holes in the new beam while Andrew supervises.  Note the hole in the old beam!
Jim primes underfloor areas that have been cleaned and prepared.  Maintenance Department is thrilled to be able to actually see under the the car during future maintenance after the car is in service.
By the end of Saturday, both deteriorated beams were removed and one replacement fabricated and ready for reinstallation, and large portions of the underbody were cleaned and preserved.  This is the sort of progress and teamwork needed to get our first car back in service.  My thanks and compliments to all who made this possible.
Dirty Jobs could film its next feature at Rockhill Trolley Museum with the JTC #311 work crew.  I sure hope this guy cleaned up before he went home.
Along with the work at the museum site, our friends at UTCRAS in Morton, PA advised us this week that they are in the process of making new window sills and associated components that will be needed when the car sides are replaced.  They used sample material provided by us to make drawings of the parts and then move to fabrication from these drawings.  This work is being done at no cost to the museum.  Thank you, UTCRAS!
Future work sessions will be announced as soon as they are scheduled.  New volunteers are always welcome; please do not hesitate to contact me for further information.
Historical Footnote - Why Did Rockhill Trolley Museum Acquire #311?

The common railfan myth is that #311 was preserved because it was the last of its class on the property in Johnstown and the last Birney-type car in service anywhere.   Actually, it was acquired by more or less by default.   By the time the five individuals who became the founders of Railways To Yesterday decided to approach JTC to purchase a car, all of the 350 series cars available had already been spoken for or set aside for a special purpose.  #311 was the only car available, and since it had wheels that were less than a decade old, it cost $50 more than the other cars at $300.   However, as the late Tod Prowell told me, our founders knew that if nothing else, #311 ran, however seedy it looked.
Then a debate arose as to the scope of work once the car arrived in Rockhill Furnace.   A local metalworker was hired to replace some of the worst of the rotten side sheeting and the structural members under what is today the outbound end.   The car was repainted.   However, the crew realized that the project could go on forever if they allowed it to, thus the car was improved, but never really restored, and made ready for service.  In August 1962,  it became the first trolley car to operate at any museum in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, with Member #2, the late Tolbert (Tod) V. Prowell, at the controls. As the saying goes, the rest is history! 

Friday, January 4, 2013

Upcoming Work Session on Johnstown Traction Company #311: January 11-12, 2013

Happy New Year!

With the holidays coming to a close, the efforts of the Rockhill Trolley Museum to complete the restoration of its first car, Johnstown Traction Company #311, are moving forward again.

There will be multiple work sessions in the winter and spring of 2013 to complete the project and return this historic and popular car to public operation.  The first of these work sessions in Friday, January 11 and Saturday, January 12, weather permitting.

Joel Salomon will be at the museum starting at noon on January 11 for any volunteer who wishes to get an early start on the weekend.  I will be joining him on early Saturday morning, January 12.

In the event of extremely cold or inclement weather, a cancellation notice will be posted to this site and an email sent to the RTY Maintenance Distribution list by 7AM Friday, January 11.

Prioritized goals for this session are as follows:
  • Continue underbody preservation work (see photo below)
  • Continue overhaul of door engines
  • Move rebuilt 77E trucks from Carbarn 2 to Buehler Shop for pre-installation work and move 27F trucks for Valley Railways #12 into protected storage in Carbarn 2
If sufficient help is available, it would also be desirable to move STC sweeper #107 to the front of Carbarn #2 and P&W plow #10 to the front of Carbarn #1 in the event of heavy snows later this winter.  However, this is the lowest priority for the session.  We want to get #311 completed!

December 2012 Work on JTC #311
Additional progress was made on JTC #311 this past December 8, thanks to the dedication of Rick Hoffmeister with a little assistance by me (although the vast majority of work completed was due to Rick).  Progress made was as follows:
  • Marking of underfloor members to be replaced in their entirety
  • Preservation work in the area above the air compressor
The photo pasted below shows the area completed by Rick.

We hope to see you on January 11-12.  New Volunteers always welcome!  Feel free to contact me at mwntrolley@aol.com or Joel Salomon at jdstrolley@ptd.net for any questions.
Best wishes,
Matt Nawn