spacer BSM Track Updates . . .
John LaCosta

Track Updates for April 12, 1998

    A lot of things have occurred over the last month. The most important is the addition of another streetcar to our collection. Another important task was the replacement of 60 feet of track. Also the loss of both 7407 and 6119 from revenue service, although 7407 is back.

     Our PCC, 7407, has had its share of problems. The crews finally decided that something was wrong and place it on the pit over two months ago, you can tell how long its been since I have written an update. The symptoms suggested a burned out resistor ribbon, one of 99. What we found was about 25 resistors that were burned out and/or melted to their neighbors. It was so bad that the resistor drum had to be dropped out from under the car and sent up to our 22nd street shops for repair. Dropping the drum, while not hard, does take a fair amount of work, including removing about 25 wires from the drum.

     The 22nd. Street crew did a great job and one week later the drum was ready to reinstall. Installing the drum is much harder than removing it, as is true for most things. It talk a lot of work, strength and skinny arms to get it attached to the car. Once this was done the wires were reattached and testing started the following week. As of this date the PCC is working fine.

     The Witt, 6119, had two problems in succession. The first was a bad relay. This would have been a minor incident except for that the fact that it got so hot that it caught on fire. No real damage to the car, but since we have no spares, the center doors are out of service until we cam get the replacement coil made. Last week, 4/5/98, the car stopped running. An inspection reveled that the automatic controller under the car (PCM for those who are up on such things) was jammed. The car was towed to the pit for further evaluation.

     Saturday found us removing the controller air motor and camshaft and sending it to 22nd. Street for a serious investigation. As of this point, we could find nothing broken, but lots of "crud" in the motor. With the unit disassemble, we decided that a good cleaning was in order. We did find a bad bearing that needed replacement. Now normally replacements for almost anything on a car this old is hard to find, except we were lucky this time. The bearing was a standard size ball bearing and after lunch a new one was purchased. We still have to get a special tool to polish the piston walls before we put it back, this will hopefully be done next week and the Witt should be back in service by the end of April.

     Friday the fourth is normally a day that I would be at the job that pays me money, but instead I was at the museum along with a number of other members waiting for a streetcar to arrive. Actually it is a crane car that once was used by the Baltimore Transit Company. It took BSM buying one crane and then swapping it with another museum, but we had a crane, a Baltimore crane.

     For those of you that are familiar with the car house, I am sure you are wondering where we planed to put this new vehicle. For those not familiar with the car house, it was already full. Where there is a will there is a way and our VP of Ops, Ed Amrhein came up with the solution. Remove the platform from the semi, it was about to fall off by itself, move the horse car between track two and three and also put "put-put" between track two and three.

     These moves took about a month to complete. During this month was the first time I had ever seen three track empty. The crane came down on one tractor-trailer, while a bunch of other parts came down on a second trailer. The parts trailer arrived first and in short order one truck with wheels, four traction motors, six axles with wheels and one air compressor were removed and placed in side. It sure is nice to have TWO forklifts.

     No sooner than we had that done, the first trailer arrived. We soon found out that unloading was to be a bigger problem than we had planned. While I think of our yard as flat, the trailer with our streetcar on it only cleared the ground by about 3 inches. After much discussion the truck diver decided how he thought he could get in with out hanging up on the tracks, all he had to do was turn around. The only problem with that was the only place he could turn around was 5/8 mile back up the road. He backed his rig 5/8 mile, turned it around and backed it another 5/8 mile to the museum. If you see grass missing in the yard when you come down next time, it is probably where he scraped the ground coming in. While we had a way to unload the car with out any outside help, we thought that it would be helpful if we had a crane just in case.

     The construction company up the road said they would help. When the rail crane arrived on the trailer the construction company came down, sized up the task, and said they would be back. What do we see coming down the road in about 5 minutes? Not one crane, but two cranes and a utility truck. In short order they had positioned the cranes. While the line crew had removed the wire from track 3, the large crane could not get its boom up because the wire on two track was in the way. So the line crew removed a cap and cone on two track and we pushed the wire over far enough to let the large crane to set up. They rigged the cranes to our crane on the trailer, lifted it up, the trailer pulled away, we rolled two trucks under the carne, and down it went on the trucks. This was fine except that one of the trucks was not Baltimore gauge (5' 4 ") but Philadelphia gauge (5' 2"), just enough to stay on the tracks, most of the time. After two derailments, actually three, and the use of a front-end loader, the crane was placed in the barn. The Line crew put the wire back, and we all went home.

     Saturday should have been a day of rest after Friday, except the track crew had planed to replace 60 feet of track. To say the track needed to be replaced is an understatement. When all was said and done, all 30+ ties were replaced, and new ballast used. Next time you are down to the museum, look at the track from the yard toward the substation. Sunday surly should have been a day of rest, but no. The track was jacked up (by the line department, the track crew was have a well-deserved day off) level and tamped so that normal operation could be held, meanwhile an antique car show was in progress. Once the track was tamped and checked, the electric switch was put back in service so that the two man cars could use the Yard. The following Saturday the track crew finished the final leveling and tamping.


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