spacer BSM Track Updates . . .
John LaCosta

Track Updates for May 2, 1998

    I had not planned to write so soon, but I thought I would pass on the sad news in case you did not know. Joe Wagner passed away last week. Joe has been a fixture at the shop and was a great source of information, help, and friendship to us all. Joe knew where every thing was, and was our radio "maven". We will miss him greatly.

     Saturday was the first time in about two months that I have had time to do preventive maintenance on the cars. 1050, 554 and 264 all have their controllers and overhead hood switches serviced, lubricated and adjusted.

     This may seem like a minor task, but it has improved the reliability of the cars dramatically. When I first started at the Museum cars were inspected once or twice a year depending on if they were used for half a season or year round. While this schedule was great for most of the car, it was too long for the controller. For the first couple years we had a series of controller problems with "burned" fingers and "burned" drum segments.

     I should explain that the controller is the large box at each end of the car that the Motorman used to control the speed of the car. He/she does this by moving a handle around in an arc, the farther the handle is moved, the faster the car accelerates. When the handle is turned, a long drum inside the controller rotates and connects the fingers together in various configurations. These fingers are attached to wires that run to the traction motors and resistor grids under the car. If the fingers do not make good contact with the drum an arc is created, similar to the spark you get when to touch something metal and get a shock. The big difference is that this arc carries about 50 amps, and is about the same as an electric welder. If this are is left long enough, it will burn and/or melt the finger and drum.

     Once we started a 1 to 2 month inspection and lubrication of the controllers, the problem of burned fingers almost totally disappeared, as well as the complaint of a "sticking" controller.

     Since Ed had painted the trolley pole for the crane the previous week, I grabbed Carl, whose was cutting the grass and he helped me reinstall it into the trolley base. This was an interesting task since normally trolley poles are removed and installed when the cars are outside and the pole can be placed straight up.

     Because the crane is not really mobile yet, we did it inside the car barn. It is truly amazing what a 2x4 can do to help hold things in place long enough to complete a task.

     All this was done as the Bob and Ray held a training class on the line. We have two students in the class, one who was, or is, I forget, an operator in Philadelphia, and the other from a transit property in Virginia. They got lots of practice starting on wet rail.

     Work continues on 1164's truck with Rick preparing the Driver Journal boxes for machining.

     I don't know what happened in the afternoon since I had to go to a dress rehearsal for the church choir.

     Sunday was more work than Dave, Rick and Dan expected, but more on that in the next update.


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