Article From the Winter 2003 Issue of


The Journal of the New York Museum of Transportation



By Charlie Lowe

Readers of HEADEND have been kept up to speed on the effort during 2002 to install standard gauge trucks under R&E 157. Now that this phase of 157ís rebirth is behind us, we thought it would be good to tell the whole story all in one place, and we asked project leader Charlie Lowe to do the telling. Other than not giving himself enough credit for all the effort he put into the project, we think his articleÖand the 157 effortÖcame out very well. Hereís his report:

The past year has been one of almost frenzied activity on car 157. In November 2001, the NYMT Board of Trustees was approached by Western Railway Museumís Dave Johnston. Dave, an NYMT member, knew of our ongoing attempts to obtain streetcar trucks for NYMTís Rochester city car 437. For years, a concern at Western Railway Museum was obtaining interurban trucks and motors for an interurban trailer carbody in their collection. With an electrified museum railroad five miles long and growing, having enough operating cars is a real issue at WRM. Dave offered NYMT two streetcar trucks with motors in exchange for the broad-gauge trucks then under R&E 157, along with the motors that were in indoor storage. With WRMís large shop, re-gauging the trucks would be a real possibility, and since the parts they were offering are a good match for 437, the NYMT Board agreed to the trade.

NYMT had obtained standard-gauge Baldwin interurban trucks with motors for 157 several years ago. These had been donated by Sanyo Electric Railway in Japan with the help of Seashore Trolley Museumís Ben Minnich and several devoted trolley enthusiasts in Japan. With Dave Johnston offering just what was needed for our Rochester streetcar, the decision was made to replace the trucks under 157 in order to release the broad-gauge trucks for trade.

Several difficult problems had to be overcome during the lengthy process of re-trucking 157. Almost immediately, the NYMT Board realized that NYMT really did not have the expertise to lift the 157 carbody off its trucks, and engaged Matthews Building Movers to lift the car and extract the trucks. This latter job was quite a puzzle because the track leading from 157ís display position in the car house to the door is standard gauge. Another problem was economical trucking to California and back. Although WRM had agreed as part of the trade to pay for all shipping (since we traded four motors and received two in return), NYMT agreed to look for a shipper. Jim Dierks took on the unenviable tasks of coordinating Matthews and looking for a trucker.

One of the first jobs tackled was readying the Baldwin trucks for placement under 157. Tarps were removed in May. One of the worries was that the center bearing on the trucks would not fit the ones on the 157 car bolsters. Initial measurements indicated that the two parts would not fit, but a definite decision was postponed until the broad-gauge trucks were removed and all parts could carefully be measured.

To remove the broad-gauge trucks from the car house for shipment, it was necessary to move the Baldwin trucks away from the car house door and to remove Philadelphia and Western 161 from the car house. Since all of 161ís side windows were removed from the car for restoration, temporary Masonite inserts were fabricated by Paul Monte. These were

covered with plastic and inserted into the window openings by Eric Norden, Sam Swisher, and Charlie Lowe. To make 161ís roof watertight, Don Quant made and installed temporary seals for the four roof vents.

For motive power, we decided to use L-3, NYMTís diesel-powered Trakmobile. Unfortunately, L-3 had not been used since placing 161 in the car house in 1997. With a bit of effort, Bob Miner awoke L-3 from its long sleep. On July 12, a work crew consisting of Bob Miner, Jim Dierks, Randy Bogucki, and Charlie Lowe spent several hours shifting equipment around as needed. The two Baldwin trucks were spotted on the mainline near the base of the hill leading down from the entrance road. Next, 161 was pulled out of the car house. Quite a bit of trouble was encountered on the upgrade and sharp curve near the entrance road, but copious amounts of sand helped L-3 move 161 past the difficulty. Further trouble was encountered when the braking on L-3 proved insufficient on the downgrade and a collision between L-3 and the Baldwin trucks ensued. Finally, though, everything was placed on the loop track, leaving the car house lead tracks free for removing 157ís trucks.


L-3 makes a run up a curving grade with P&W 161 as
      Charlie Lowe and Randy Bogucki sand the rails for traction

Shortly after moving the equipment out of the way, repair work on the Baldwin trucks began. Don Quant developed a plan for the repair work, and Don, Jim Dierks, and Rick Holahan took care of obtaining steel parts and bolts, and drilling the necessary holes. Later, Jim, Don and Charlie Lowe painted both trucks with a fresh coat of black paint.

After Charlie and Randy Bogucki disconnected electrical lines into the car and otherwise prepared the area for the lift, Jim arranged with Matthews for an early August date to lift 157 and remove its trucks. This critical part of the exercise was handled by a crew of half a dozen Matthews people, and involved a lot of heavy lifting in mid-summer heat. After agreeing on proper lift points, hydraulic jacks slowly raised the carbody, and heavy cribbing timbers were inserted to provide a secure foundation for 157ís new, up-in-the-air position.

      Don Quant applies paint to spruce
       up and protect 157ís new trucks

The Matthews crew then began to move the now-free wide-gauge trucks from under 157Öharder than it sounds. First, thanks to an additional rail laid by our track crew, Randy Bogucki and Tony Mittiga, the rear truck was manually rolled out. A special, rubber-tired rig had been brought out from the Matthews plant, and the truck was suspended in position. With lots of planking, shoving and heaving, the heavy rig was eventually brought out the door of the building. This method of moving was, at that point, deemed unwieldy, and the rig with truck attached was parked there.
      Cribbing, steel beams and hydraulic jacks carefully raise 157

For the front truck, the crew took the easier route of laying a third rail to a position behind the moving rig, and soon both trucks were resting outside the car house to await shipment.

With the carbody raised on its wood blocking and the trucks removed, Charlie was now able to confirm his worst fears: the center bearing plates on 157ís bolsters would have to be removed so the ones provided with the Baldwin trucks could be bolted in place. With considerable grinding, Charlie cut away the old bolts and removed the old center bearings from 157. These bearings had never fit the Brill broad-gauge trucks, and they no doubt dated from the original Stephenson-built 157 of 1903. A machine shop was used to drill the required new holes in the Baldwin center bearings so the original holes in 157ís car bolster could be reused as they were. In late August, Charlie and Randy were able to bolt the new center bearing onto the 157 car bolsters.

Randy, though, had been busy re-gauging the track under 157. The decision was made to tear up the entire length of track under 157 and to relay it with new plank ties. A few lengths of 70 pound per yard rail were located that matched what had been used in most of the rest of the car house trackage. As it turned out, several rail cuts had to be made. Many, many hours of grinding and hack-sawing by the Randy and Charlie team finally resulted in proper rail lengths. As part of this project, it was decided to extend both the 157 and 107 tracks about five feet toward the milking parlor. With car house track at an absolute premium, these small extensions figured to give just a little more room between car ends.

As work proceeded on 157, the work of preparing the items to be traded to WRM went forward as well. The four motors were staged in front of the fire truck, and two controller frames also being traded were prepared.

By mid-October, all preparation work had finally been finished. Due to the moving rig proving to be so unwieldy, the wide-gauge trucks had been left in a spot not readily accessible for loading on a semi-trailer truck. Bob Miner spoke with Art Mummery at Industry depot, and while the decision eventually was made not to borrow help from the Chapterís fleet of construction equipment, Art was very helpful in suggesting Mendon Enterprises for the job of making the run to California and return. Their bid turned out to be the best among several we and WRM were able to obtain, and October 21 was set as the load-out date.

Trucks and motors are tied down and ready to head west

Matthews dug into their bottomless supply of special equipment and came out with a huge, rubber-tired fork lift that made quick work of loading the two trucks, four motors, two controllers and several boxes of parts onto Mendonís flatbed for shipment. Later that week, L-3 was used to spot the Baldwin trucks under 157.

Easy does it. Bob Miner and L-3 guide                   Newly arrived trucks for Rochester city car 437 are carefully
157ís new trucks into the carhouse                        placed on rails adjacent to the tarped carbody (background)

During the next week, the semi returned from California, and Matthews made another trip out with their fork lift to unload>the arriving streetcar trucks and controller. They also used that big machine to place Hornell Traction Company snow plow 34 onto a shop truck Charlie had built during the summer.

A few days later Matthews returned a final time to lower 157 onto its new trucks. Our track crew had repositioned the rails almost exactly centered under 157, and the car was lowered right onto the good looking Baldwin trucks.

          Charlie Lowe watches intently as 157 is slowly lowered
          onto its new set of wheels

Getting 161 back in the car house before winter set in had been driving the work schedule. Before hauling 161 back inside, 157 made a quick trip outside for photos. L-3 was used to make the move on November 3, with Bob Miner at the controls. As far as is known, 157 had not ventured outside since arriving at NYMT in October, 1973!

White flags flying in the breeze, R&E 157 enjoys a brief moment
in daylight after 30 years indoors.
Charles R. Lowe photo

Shortly thereafter, a Thursday work crew moved 161 inside and tarped 168 for the winter. It was a monumental effort, and the model railroad crew pitched in to help. Your Associate Editor was the "young guy" on that crew by a solid twenty years, and I was sore for days afterward. The crew consisted of Charlie Robinson, Bob Miner, Dick Luchterhand, Bob Nesbitt, Roger Harnaart and Charlie Lowe.

Attention now turns to reopening 157 for public viewing in 2003. This coming year is the 100th anniversary of the first runs on the Rochester and Eastern, and getting 157 ready for the 2003 summer season seems to be a good way to mark the occasion. Bob Miner, Don Quant and Randy Bogucki are hard at work building a proper wooden grade crossing between 107/157 and C-130/161. Charlie Lowe has installed proper steel steps in the right rear doorway of 157 so visitors can enter the car in an authentic manner. Bob Miner and Charlie Lowe have reattached the wiring needed for lighting the carís headlight, destination sign and interior. Other planned improvements include floor repairs, installation of the carís controller and a thorough cleaning of the car interior. With NYMT volunteers focusing on 157, reopening the car to the public is sure to happen early in 2003.