New York Museum
of Transportation

Rebuilding Rochester Streetcar


Car 437 is shown heading eastbound on Main Street East at Union Street, awaiting entry into East Main Station after the morning rush hour on March 25, 1936. Car 437 is riding on the Brill 39E trucks it acquired in 1912. Note how the unpowered wheels nearest the platforms is of a smaller diameter than the powered wheels adjacent to the center of the car. Previous to 1912, the car rode on Bril 27G trucks that had equal-sized wheels throughout and two motors per truck. Photo by George E. Votava.

Below are Twelve different views of the Rebuilding of Rochester streetcar #437.

When the Brill 77E trucks for 437 were delivered from WRM to NYMT, they were placed on NYMT's loop track with motors inboard to match the motor locations on the Brill 39E trucks the car rode of from 1912 to 1936. While this would have permitted use of the access hatches in the car flooring to reach the motors, building the levers and rods needed for the hand brake would have been made much more complicated. Therefore, the decision was made in early 2003 to reverse the arrangement of the trucks under 437 so a proper hand brake could be rigged. Note that these trucks have truck-mounted air cylinders.

On June 24, 2003, the 437 carbody was slid sideways from its long-time (since 1997) resting spot alongside the loop track. Matthews Building Movers was hired to do this difficult work. This view was made two days later.

The wheelbase on 437's new trucks is somewhat longer than on either of the cars previous type trucks, and a conflict point was soon discovered. When the trucks would swivel on curves sharper than about 120' radius, the Brill 77E truck frames would strike the car's outside platform braces. Since the new trucks were also several inches lower than the car's earlier trucks, it was decided to shim the new trucks so that the car would ride higher and the truck frames would clear the platform braces on curves.

The conflict point between truck frames and platform braces can be seen in this photo. Eventually, it was decided to shim the carbody 2-1/2" so that the carbody would ride at its original height and so that trucks frames would swing clear of the car on curves.

By late July, the first truck had been shimmed. The center bearing was shimmed the required 2-1/2" with two steel plates of 1-1/4"-thick steel while the side bearings were shimmed 3" with 3 plates each 1" in thickness. The side bearings needed much more shimming than the center bearings as these trucks probably were sprung for a much heavier car. The new shims are seen here as unpainted steel. Steel Works, Inc. made up the steel plates and drilled the required holes; new, longer bolts were obtained from Rochester Screw and Bolt.

The new shims were painted just before the truck was rolled back under the car.

To remove the trucks from underneath car 437 during the re-shimming process, it was necessary to jack the carbody up, one end at a time. Here, the re-shimmed front truck is read to be rolled back under the carbody.

By mid- August, 2003, all was in readiness to re-shim the second truck at the rear of the car. Since the remains of steps hung down at the right rear corner of the car, it was decided to move the trucks just enough to free the center bearing and to work under the car. Here, the new shims are in place on the rear truck. While the side bearings were simple to disassemble and reassemble, the four bolts holding the center bearings in place were so rusted that the bolt heads had to be ground completely off and the bolts old bolts driven out. To place the new bolts, many of the holes in the various shim plates required enlarging so the bolts could finally be driven through the truck bolster and all shim plates.

With both trucks re-shimmed and the carbody lowered back onto the car's trucks, considerably more carbody-to-truck clearance was obtained.

Sufficient clearance for truck swing was obtained once the re-shimming process was completed. Compare this photo with the earlier photo showing the car as it earlier had riden on its new trucks.

Once car 437 was re-shimmed, the previous conflict between truck frames and platform supports had been eliminated.

Car 437 is seen riding on its new trucks on NYMT's loop track. All is now in readiness with the car for its eventual move into NYMT's main car house, perhaps during 2004, the centennial year of the car.

Photos by Charles Lowe

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