Tuesday, August 23, 2016

Visit to Seashore

Frank writes...

Getting tired of trip reports, random photos of streetcars you've never heard of, and quickie photo tours of other museums? Wish I'd just write more about actual progress at IRM?

Well, too bad. I've been traveling a lot on business so you'll just have to suffer through it. And this one's going to be a doozy, because last week I was in New England and had a chance to visit both Seashore and Branford. First up is Seashore, the largest trolley museum in the country and the only one with a true "national collection" of electric cars spanning the continent and including examples from most major cities.

This car is from Wheeling, WV and is an example of some of the really stunning restoration work that Seashore has done over the years. The first trolley museum in the nation (founded in 1939), they were also the first to embark on restoration of car bodies. This curve-sider was acquired as a body and they spent years restoring it, only finishing it a couple of  years ago. When I visited on a Thursday, it and a Connecticut Company open car were in service
And here's the interior. Beautiful! One of the interesting things I learned during my visit is that Seashore has seen a tremendous surge in visitors - they're up 30% over last year, and last year they were up 40% over 2014. And it's all due to tour bus companies, who will bring in a couple of bus loads of passengers on a tour up the coast for a 45-minute stop and a trolley ride. It's great to see them seeing a boost in riders this way.
Here's the apron to Highwood Barn, one of the museum's display buildings. All of their barns are named after well-known electric railway barns. Most are east coast but this one is a bit closer to home for us Chicagoans! But hey, what's that thing to the left of those Blue Line cars?
Well bless my soul, it's CTA car 1, the only surviving "high performance" 6000. This car was sold to General Electric in the 1970s and used for testing chopper control. It was only acquired by Seashore a few months ago and still wears what's left of its 1970s Skokie Swift livery. That's a Washington, DC PCC just inside the barn door.
Sitting outside Town House Shop was this intriguing homebuilt steeplecab from Boston, which they're currently working on. It's kind of a neat design, with an arched cab roof and full-width hoods. You can tell it was homebuilt because the frame is built out of freaking rails.
Randy Leclair, their shop manager, graciously showed me some of the projects being worked on. The big restoration project at the moment is this car, Portland-Lewiston wooden interurban car 14 - the "Narcissus." It was built in 1912 and was once ridden by Theodore Roosevelt. This series was among the biggest interurbans ever to run in New England and was profiled in one of William Middleton's "Traction Classics" books. That train door is about 16" wide, I think.
Another body they're restoring is that of a 1901 single-truck railroad-roof car from the Middlesex & Boston. They're going to have to fabricate a new truck for it; here a stand-in has been built out of wood to test for dimensions, I suppose. Other projects in the shop included running repairs being made to a Toronto Peter Witt and a second Connecticut Company open car; long-term rebuilding work on a Bay State Street Railway semiconvertible, a Denver Birney, and one of those neat Boston center-entrance cars; and another Newark PCC like ours, courtesy of the Bill Wall PCC Distribution Network.
There's a ton of neat stuff in Seashore's barns, including some fascinating Midwestern equipment. Here's a Cleveland center-door car, 1227, built as part of the same order as our car 1218. However Seashore has totally restored this car (from a complete basket case, I might add) to its as-built condition including K-controllers. Note the edge of North Shore 755 on the right.
Here's the interior; note the glassed-in cab and the longitudinal seats down one side. This is what our car looked like inside when it was new.
Seashore has its share of cars in unrestored condition, too; the salt air from their proximity to the ocean doesn't exactly help. This car is another sister to one in IRM's collection: Detroit Peter Witt 3876, identical to our 3865. Seashore's example was acquired recently from the Ohio Railway Museum where its condition had deteriorated badly. It's now in an open-sided barn at Seashore.
If a national collection isn't enough for you, Seashore also has an international collection. Here's a double-deck car from Blackpool, England for our Anglophile readers.
And a photo taken of the upper deck of a tram from Glasgow, Scotland. They don't just have cars from the UK; there's also equipment from New Zealand, Germany, Australia, Hungary, and Japan.
What's the most efficient way to store spare trucks? Vertically, of course! I believe these originated in Belgium or maybe the Netherlands but they're good old Brill trucks.
Seashore also has a lot of buses and trolley buses, including this little thing which reminded me somewhat of one of the buses we acquired last year. And they do have an operating trolley bus line - the only other museum that does - however theirs is fairly short and lacks loops or wyes so it's not really usable for regular public operation like ours is.


Anonymous said...

You are right that Seashore is a giant in traction preservation.

They are starting a project to extend and build side on the Fairview Car Barn; a much needed improvement.

Ted Miles, STM and IRM Member

Anonymous said...

I didn't realize Seashore had a national collection.

Is there a chance they might be a good home for such gems as 1892/1992 for static display? I'd hate to see half the remaining 2000s go to the torch...

Jeron G. said...

No. They're being used as a parts source for the operating pair of 2000's. Thanks for playing, though!

Douglas Carrier said...

The wooden truck was built under 41 to make her mobile to get her outside so they could replace the roof and put new lights in.. hence the tarp. That's all done and I've taken the tarp off. I'm rebuilding the truck we found in a farmers swamp from old Norway and Paris St Ry in maine. Costing me a fortune..lol.