Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Washington Times

Frank writes...

My job took me to Pittsburgh again this past weekend, so of course I made my way over to Washington, PA to the Pennsylvania Trolley Museum after work on Saturday.  I got there at about dinnertime but Bruce Wells and family were kind enough to wait up for me.  Before heading over to the local restaurant I got a quick shop tour.  One of the big projects at PTM at the moment is heavy steel work being done on the step well in their Red Arrow center-door car, number 66, shown here:

During dinner I also got a chance to shoot the breeze with Bill Fronczak of PTM and Dave Beuchler of Rio Vista (both of whom were at IRM a week prior) as well as Scott Davis of PTM, who is a regular Hicks Car Works reader.  After dinner a few of us got to go for a quick trip on the museum's ex-Rio de Janeiro double-truck open car.  There's no better way to spend a summer evening!
Afterwards Bruce showed me some of the recent progress at the museum.  Bill has gotten new oval windows built for the "Toledo," the parlor car acquired from Trolleyville, and Bruce and his family have been doing a lot of wood replacement work on a Beaver Valley Traction snow sweeper.  There's also some heavy structural woodwork being done on Monongahela-West Penn 250, a wooden interurban car acquired from Branford a few years back.  This car is acquiring some new platform supports and is also having new end window sills cut out on, of all things, a CNC milling machine.  Pretty impressive stuff!
But the most impressive thing to see was the new Artifact Preservation Building, or APB, which was just framing when I last visited PTM a year ago.  This building has two tracks in it but is not intended to be connected to the rest of the museum's trackage.  Rather, it is intended as parts storage, with the two tracks running down the center of the building intended to hold cars that are long-term projects and not intended for work in the near future.
The walls are lined with heavy-duty steel racking and enough space is left in between the car storage tracks and the walls to maneuver a forklift around.  There is a LOT of storage space available here and efforts to sort and store parts are ongoing.  Each component is tagged with a number when it is put on one of the racks, making it easy to locate later.  Of course there was a lot of interesting stuff there; the most fascinating, to me, was a D1B air compressor.  It was tiny - basically a toy D3EG - and was the predecessor to the DH16, designed for use under smaller streetcars.
Theoretically IRM could do something like this with a building the same size as what we're planning now for Barns 13 and 14, though the wall-to-wall concrete floor would not be cheap.  But our building construction philosophy has long been different from many other museums.  All of our barns have been built with public access in mind.  Crowding storage tracks together along the center line of a building and leaving storage space along the walls is not something we've ever tried.  The philosophy at PTM is more in keeping with non-railway museum practice, namely that the entire collection does not need to be on public display, only the highlights.  The rest, like the cars in this barn, can be off limits, potentially giving over more space for parts storage.  This is a different, more centralized approach than the "storage unit" building recently constructed at IRM, and whatever its relative advantages or disadvantages it seems to be working quite well for PTM.

By the way, if you're interested in reading more about the goings-on at PTM, Bruce Wells runs his own blog known as Weakly Reports.  Take a look!


Anonymous said...

Minor correction. The Artifact Preservation Building will be eventually connected to the rest of the museum's trackage. However, it wll not have trolley wire and, as you say, is intended for storage of long term restoration project cars.

If you think the concrete floor is expensive, the sprinkler system for the APB cost around $50,000.

Art Schwartz

Anonymous said...

i am glad to hear that some work is going on with the West Penn #250 Interurban.

This is a good example of the regional nature of preservation used at most museums.

That car sat in a barn in Connecticut for decades without getting any work. Now that is is back in its home territory it is seeing some wood work.

Good for Pennsylvania Trolley museum!

Ted Miles
IRM Member