Friday, August 12, 2016

Trip to Baltimore, Part 3

Frank writes...

Traction fans may feel a bit adrift after my last two posts, seeing as the B&O Railroad Museum has very little electric equipment. But never fear, during my trip to Maryland I also had time to stop by the Baltimore Streetcar Museum.

BSM has a really extraordinary collection of 19th-century and turn-of-the-century streetcars, many of them restored and operational. One of the jewels of the fleet is this double-truck open car built by Brill in 1902. This is really a great car and has been one of the regulars of the BSM operating fleet for years. Note the PCC painted on the car barn door, which is kind of a neat touch.
And from the sublime, we proceed to the ridiculous. Until recently BSM was famous for the compactness and focus of its collection; for decades they didn't have anything not from Baltimore. More recently that has changed, as they've acquired a few pieces from other cities for utility use. This ex-Newark PCC is identical to car 4 at IRM and does operate, though it isn't in use at the moment pending some general fixing up.
Another car from further afield is this Philadelphia snow sweeper, which likewise is operational. A few years back this was put to use during a snow storm; video of the event is floating around online and is impressive to watch!
I got to the museum late in the afternoon and the only car still running was this Philadelphia PCC, which has been repainted in 1970s colors courtesy of a grant from the Friends of the Philadelphia Trolleys group. Here the car is seen in the loop at the end of the BSM line.
But my favorite part of the visit was the shop tour, natch! Dave Wilson, "Buster" Hughes and a younger volunteer whose name I regrettably didn't write down were nice enough to take time out from working on this car to chat. It's a single-truck open car built by Brownell in 1896. Within the last couple of years the wooden side sills of the car, which were rotted, were totally replaced and the entire car has gone through a general restoration including repainting and repair of windows, ends, and various other components. The BSM guys were up on a scaffold sanding down the sides of the clerestory for repainting - not the ideal job on a 90-degree day in Baltimore! The job they're doing is beautiful, though, and this car will really be a gem when it is outshopped.
Thing 1896 is old? Try 1885! Just a few feet away was this beautiful little car, the most recent restoration to be completed at BSM, largely courtesy of project manager Dave Wilson. Car 417 was built as a horsecar but converted to electricity around 1895; it's been restored to its condition around 1895-1900. In 1910 it became a work car and was later kept around as something of an historical curiosity.
BSM acquired this car out of work service, with the interior largely stripped out, but the museum's volunteers have fully restored it. The blue seats are correct for this period because prior to electrification it was used on the "Blue Line" horsecar line in Baltimore! Note the standee straps, which are mounted similarly to those in "L" car 24 now being restored at IRM. Outside the window is another Baltimore streetcar built nearly 60 years after this one, car 7407 dating to 1944. It's hard to believe that 7407 isn't that much older now than car 417 was when 7407 was new!

And that's it for my visit to Baltimore. Thanks to Dave and the BSM crew for showing me around!

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