spacer BSM Track Updates . . .

John LaCosta

Track Updates for June 28, 1998

John LaCosta    E verything was planned for Saturday, until Ed Amrhein called on Friday to tell me that we had to move a streetcar from east Baltimore to the Museum. It's not a complete streetcar, just a complete roof, two ends and one side. This car was stored on a large enclosed storage lot of a local company, but due to down sizing they needed the space so it had to be moved.

     The car originally was car 1139, a Baltimore open summer car like our open summer car 1164. The car was rebuilt in 1924 as the second car of the permanently coupled pair of enclosed cars. It was sold by the Transit Company and was used as part of a private structure southwest of the city. The Museum saved it so that it could be used, if needed, for the Historic Cars project and as a possible source of parts for our other cars.

     When I arrived at the Museum at 7:40AM Ed, Rick Obbink and Greg Thompson were already there waiting for the flat bed tractor trailer to arrive. Ed must have been there for quite a while since he was just finishing cutting the grass around the Visitor's Center. At 7:58AM the tractor-trailer arrived and after a little bit of planning we all left for east Baltimore. David Crow arrived just as were leaving and he started on the wirework that was schedule for later that day.

     We arrived at the site and parked the vehicles clear of the car and started to plan the move. The company where the car was stored had kindly allowed us to use one of their large forklifts. The forklift combined with the Rick's small crane was all that was needed.

     First Rick attached the crane to the side of the car, which was already disconnected from the roof, lifted it up over the roof, backed out until the trailer could back under it and lowered it onto the trailer laying on its side. We had to block up one end and the middle with railroad ties to keep it level. It was quite interesting to see a complete side of a streetcar hanging from mid air with almost of the window glass still in place and unbroken.

     The next step proved to be a little more time consuming and troublesome than we had expected. The time consuming part was that the windows in the roof still had the original red ripple glass in them, many of them still unbroken. Rather than risk breaking anymore during the move, we decided to remove them. The removal had mixed results, some came out complete, and others broke. We carefully put the glass in the front of my truck and prepared to move the roof.

     The troublesome part of this process and the remaining clean up were the bees. It seems that a nest of bees had made a home in one of the railroad ties under the roof. Needless to say they were not too happy with all the activity around "their" home. It was bad enough when we first lifted the side, but when we lifted the roof up they were everywhere. I was sure we would all get stung by the end of the move, but to my surprise, no one did.

     Due to the location of the car, we decided the only way to lift the roof was by using the forklift. We spread the forks as wide as they would go, went through the side windows at the center and lifted the whole roof. It was fortunate that the forklift was a large one. I backed out far enough for the trailer to back under the roof and lowered it on top of the car side. Next they put the car ends on the trailer and then we cleaned up the area. We were back at he museum before 11AM. While Rick, Greg, Ed, and the truck driver unloaded the car, David and I reviewed what would be needed for the line work that afternoon and cleaned the Line Truck.

     When the unloading was completed, Ed and Greg came down to the Visitor's Center and we started the training class. This class is the one that I like to teach the most, emergency procedures.

     One of the most important things to do
when training new motorman is to show them what to do when things don't work the way they are supposed to work. This class covers things that are very similar to the problems you could have with your automobile, like what do you do if the brakes fail? Or what do you do if the accelerator sticks? Or what do you do if a fire starts in the engine compartment?

     The answers to these
questions are very similar to what you would do with your car. Not only do we review these procedures with the students, we actually have them practice a number of them under controlled conditions. Its one thing to have someone tell you what you should do in an unusuall situation, its quite another to actually get to do it. With training completed Ed and Rick went to get lunch for the rest of use while I switched cars in the yard so that we could tow the line car up to 28th street to do the line work.

     By this time the regular revenue crew had arrived and got set up for the afternoon operation. Greg and David cleaned up and joined Dennis Falter as the revenue crew with Jerry Kelly as Dispatcher. Rick, Ed and I went out to 28th street to do the line work with the Line Car towed by 264 and the Line Truck.

     During the afternoon the Visitors were able to see the line crew working as each car arrived at 28th street. During one part of the afternoon the loop was out of service, so Jerry carefully adjusted the cars so that only double-ended cars were sent to the end of the line.

     While the line crew was at work, Greg was doing his third day as student conductor, and was qualified as a full conductor by mid afternoon. Once he was qualified, David changed back into line cloths and finished serving the last four spans.

     The line work was to replace five spans on the southeast side of the loop. This was a bit of a problem since all five spans had to be replaced at one time. To minimize the time that the loop would be out of service, David had prepared the replacement spans in the morning and all we had to do was remove the old spans and replacement with the new.

     To do this we first had to remove
a large threaded ring from the top of the line pole that held all five spans. The threads were so rusty that we first had to rethread them, take the double nuts off, and then remove the ring. Once this was done there was a noticeable sag in the wire around the loop. With the whole assembly on the ground, we replaced each span and marked the new spans where they had to be bent and served so they would be the same length as before. The ring with the new spans was reattached to the pole and the spans were attached to the backbone one at a time with three bolt clamps. The three bolt clamps were temporary and fast since we wanted to get the track back in service quickly. Just after we had finished that step, David rejoined he and us served the spans at each location we had used a 3 bolt clamp.

     Dennis Yeagar, the foreman of overhead line, arrived from his regular work and after inspecting what we had done went down to the shop to prepare some insulator ends for David o rebuild. Paul Ritterhoff also stopped by and showed us the progress he made on our new brake shoe patterns for the crane.

     It was 5:30PM when we pushed the Line Car back to the car house and called it a day.

     Sunday was a pleasant day for the crew, Bob Krueger, David Crow and Fred Schneider. They did report that the PCC was a little slow on starting, so on the pit again next weekend for an inspection.

     The Crane crew was busy Friday and removed the counter weight and resistor grids from inside the cab so they could begin rebuilding the cab where it had started to rust.


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