Article From the Winter 2002 Issue of


The Journal of the New York Museum of Transportation


The past few months have seen plenty of action on NYMTís top priorityóelectrifying our rail line and getting into public trolley operations. Since our weekend spectacular last summer, we have had many visitors ask when trolley rides will resume, and certainly our members want to know too. Hereís a rundown on the progress thatís being made.

We told in the last issue of HEADEND about obtaining the wire and overhead hardware that will be needed to electrify the rest of the entire jointly operated rail line. Overhead Designer Charlie Lowe has inventoried these parts and those already on hand and confirmed that we have what we need to proceed. Tony Mittiga is leading the effort to restore the wood insulators. Selecting insulators that have intact steel end fittings, Tony sands the hickory insulator and applies several coats of a long-lasting varnish. Only about half the number of insulators required have been restored so far.

Before wire can be strung and insulators attached, there must be poles planted along the rail line. The museum is working with a local company that plans to support the installation of poles in exchange for testing of the firmís equipment on the rail line. On December 7, 2001, Rand Warner and Charlie Lowe identified the locations for pole #27 (near milepost 1.0), through #61 (a short distance from switch 6 at RGVRRM). In midĖDecember, poles were hauled to three of these locations, and one was set (planted), by the NRHS line crew. Work is underway by Charlie and Paul Monte to prepare stakes and finalize the pole line design, so that the 50 to 60 locations for poles and ground anchors can be marked as soon as the ground thaws in the spring.

On December 22, 2001, twelve used wood poles were delivered to the NYMT pole yard by Rand Warner, Scott Gleason and others. These are surplus poles from Rochester Gas and Electric Co. At $60 for each pole on the open market, these donated poles represent a significant saving, and thanks go to RG&E and to Scott for arranging the donation.

Other line work that took advantage of the unusually mild weather included two work sessions, under the direction of Sam Swisher, to move all spare Subway rail to a location on the inside of the swamp curve, to make way for several poles. Also, a culvert near pole location 25 needed attention. The gap in this two-piece pipe had allowed fill materials to wash into the pipe, so a clean-out was accomplished and the gap was covered. More fill over the repaired culvert will permit passage of the heavy auger and bucket trucks needed for construction of the overhead here. Not so easily adapted for truck access will be a second culvert three poles farther down. Some low lying branches also need trimming.

Besides poles, wire and hardware, we will need electricity, and some very good news arrived on that front in November. Rand Warner had further discussions with Niagara Mohawk personnel that cleared up conflicting information (yes, we do in fact have the necessary 3-phase power just 100 feet from our building). NiMo also confirmed that their ability to supply power was sufficient for our trolley needs, and that within the assumptions Rand presented the cost to operate would be affordable. NiMo does not have a special discount for non-profits, nor does it offer reduced rates on weekends (normally lower demand). They have a series of escalations of charges depending on power usage, designed to encourage energy conservation, and from Randís analysis it appears that properly trained motormen, and a well designed operating schedule, should avoid any of the potentially serious penalties.

There are two proposals for a substation to convert the high-voltage AC power to 600-volt DC for the trolley line: (1) adapt the NYMT storeroom, with AC fed in underground conduits and DC returned to the trolley line overhead, or (2) install a small building or cabinet next to the track, without the need for underground conduit. Rand is currently seeking a small structure such as are seen on railroad rights of way to house crossing signal apparatus. It has been agreed to decommission the trailer mounted diesel generator, as its rectifier and switch gear will be incorporated in the new substation.