The Journal of the New York Museum of Transportation
Operating trolleys for our public visitors has always been at the heart of the museum’s purpose. Many history-oriented organizations have to be content with exhibiting static artifacts or images, and only a few of them can actually demonstrate action of some kind, but true involvement for a museumgoer—100% saturation—is a rarity. At NYMT, thanks to the hard work of literally dozens of volunteers, we’ve finally achieved our goal of being able to recreate the interurban era. Our visitors no longer have to be satisfied with photos or even stepping into a trolley car “stuffed and mounted” on display. They can board, sit down, and take a ride. The gears growl, the rail joints click, the trolley wheel sings along the wire, the breeze blows in the open windows. And now…they get it!
Regular readers of these pages know that our dream of trolley rides goes all the way back to the beginning. The founders and early volunteers aimed at operating trolleys even before our charter was granted by New York State in 1975. Early newsletters described hauling trolleys to the museum site and salvaging Rochester Subway rail and laying track on our own railroad. One by one, names that now loom large in our work first showed up on a visitor log or a membership list. Our resources grew along with our commitment to regular hours, special events, and a quality visitor experience. Plans gelled, parts were accumulated, and the needed components were brought together to, finally, on October 24, 1998, briefly run former Philadelphia & Western 168 off of a generator.
With the real possibilities so dramatically demonstrated, the pace quickened. Overhead wire was strung over a quarter-mile portion of our rail line and at the end of June, 2001, we held “Trolleys Return to Rochester”, a weekend event that saw 168 carry lots of happy passengers perhaps discovering for the first time the trolley experience.
Even before the resistors had cooled, we knew there was more work ahead. The standby generator rig took the proverbial “three men and a small boy” to operate. We simply had to have our own substation to convert purchased power to the necessary 600-volt DC. Again, the details have been described in past issues, but suffice it to say that extensive negotiations with power suppliers and regulatory agencies, combined with an incredible effort by knowledgeable power professionals in our volunteer ranks, brought us at the end of 2005 to a point where we could with confidence lay final plans to start regular service on our limited electrified line.
Plenty of work still needed to be wrapped up in our state-of-the-art substation, while outside in the freezing winter weather track and overhead work pushed forward, along with crew training and detailed planning for the kick-off event. On April 1, 2006, 65 years to the day after the ending of streetcar service in Rochester, car 168 was operated in a successful test of our new substation. Then, everything from solving mechanical and electrical issues on car 168 to finding a good source for black neckties for crew uniforms got scrunched into the waning weeks before the July 14/15/16 celebration.
A couple of big “uh ohs” showed up in the middle of these last hectic weeks. During a training run, 168 lost her footing when she picked a point on the outside rail at the switch for track 2. Re-railing the car was an exciting experience, and the switch was reworked to avoid a recurrence. Also, the discovery of metal flakes inside the rails alerted us to severe wear taking place on the flanges of some wheels on 168. Three causes were identified—cold flow roll-over of the rail head from years of Subway service, tight gauge on a curve, and a lack of lubrication where the flange rides on the inside top corner of the rail head. A major effort of hand-grinding got rid of the cold flow, and new ties and gauge bars corrected the gauge issue. Hand-lubing the rails has turned out to be a major time consumer, but it’s proving to be a critically important part of saving those valuable wheels.
Lucky powers the dolly while Ted Strang and Paul Monte take the grinders to the rails. Joe Letwin is grinding in the car house.
As the big weekend approached, we noted that we were just a few days past the 50th anniversary of the end of passenger service on the Rochester Subway; we were returning public trolley service to our area after half a century! Ironically, too, Bloomsburg, Pennsylvania had just suffered severe flooding from torrential rains. We couldn’t help reflect on the fact that our museum owes its existence to the breakup of the Magee Transportation Museum in that city, inundated by similar floods from Hurricane Agnes 34 years earlier.
Friday’s “Member Day” was open to members of NYMT and the Rochester Chapter, NRHS, as well as to the press and many local people who have helped over the years. The turnout was gratifying, and about 75 familiar faces bore broad smiles as they took a ride and got a glimpse of our new substation. Car 168 performed reliably, only balking over an inadequate trolley catcher rope at one point, and demanding caution through one of the wire frogs. On these runs, Charlie Lowe was at the controller, Bob Achilles was Conductor, and Bob Miner was the relief man. Charlie says that our members gave us a good “dress rehearsal” for the two big days to follow.
Over 300 visitors came out to enjoy a trolley ride with us during our weekend event. For the record, the first regularly scheduled public run departed at 12:35 p.m., Saturday July 15, 2006 with Charlie Lowe (Badge 3) as Motorman, Charlie Robinson (Badge 1) as Conductor, Bob Achilles and Steve Huse for relief, and 11 passengers helping make history.
Just enough time to pose for a photo before the first regularly scheduled trolley run in Rochester in over 50 years. Left to right, Charlie Lowe, Bob Achilles, Charlie Robinson, and Steve Huse are ready to roll.
The local newspapers recognized the uniqueness of what we were doing, and obliged with good coverage, including publishing several color shots of 168 in action. TV appearances both days were also a welcome boost for community awareness. The weatherman told us he could do something about either the extreme heat or the torrential rains that we’ve been besieged with this summer, but not both, so we opted for clear, sunny, and hot on both weekend days. Two of our three track cars threw fits of jealousy, but at least had the decency to do so early on Saturday, so they could be patched back together in time for the busier hours. The three sets managed to keep up with the sizable headcount on their half-hourly departures for RGVRRM, as 168 kept grinding out of the car barn loaded with happy passengers, reversing poles at the far end of the line and returning for another trip. In our gallery, Shelden King presented slide talks on both days, describing the history of the Rochester Subway to full-house audiences.
Shelden King says, yes, Rochester really did have a subway!
Conductor Achilles welcomes some travelers aboard.
With so much learning going on, and so much yet to be done, we’ve decided to limit public trolley rides to August 6, September 10 and October 15 this year, and hopes are high that the equipment and a full complement of trained operators will permit an every-Sunday arrangement for 2007’s summer season. Who knows…maybe pumpkin runs, Santa and the Easter Bunny might want to get in the act too.
Plans are already set for advancing the electrified portion of our line with an intermediate goal of reaching a half-way point where riders can deboard and catch an RGVRRM train or track car to complete their journey to Industry Depot in 2007.
The only museum trolley ride in New York State is at the New York Museum of Transportation. Show me your ticket, please, and take a seat anywhere you like. Open that window a bit more, won’t you? I think I feel a fresh breeze out there…
THEN AND NOW
A recent donation of photos included a nice shot of Rochester streetcar 1003 on Park Avenue, one of relatively few shots made on this line. The back of the photo indicated that it might be a Steve Maguire original print, made in 1936 (about a year before Park Avenue was converted to buses), but the location wasn’t noted.
1003 is signed for “PARK”, meaning it is eastbound. Seeing what appeared to be a cross street on the left, with none on the right side of the photo, your Editor went forth to survey all the intersections on Park Avenue with streets only running to the south. Using the clearly visible houses on the north side of Park Avenue as a reference, Vassar Street wasn’t a match, and Edgerton failed too, although the Wilson Farms strip mall (former location of a Star Market if you can remember back that far) left us with no houses to compare there.
Marching eastward, eagerly anticipating that the site would be at one of the smaller streets between Culver Road and Colby Street (yes, of course! The photographer would have taken the Subway to Colby and walked back on Park, grabbing shots of the streetcars as they passed!), we stopped for the light at Culver and glanced across at the house on the northwest corner. Hmm…sure enough, there was the same roof line, windows, side entrance, etc., and farther west was the house that in the 1936 picture is covered with ivy. Apparently the cross street does cross…the far side of Culver is just out of view of this railfan’s camera, for that is indeed where the picture was taken.
Today, there’s a little more traffic at Park and Culver. The trolley tracks are gone, as are the elm trees, car 1003, and the “QUIET” sign on the pole (for the Park Avenue Hospital…also gone). Thanks to Regional Transit Service, however, people can still sit down and ride public transportation along Park Avenue.
New York State Railway, Rochester Lines 1003 (Kuhlman, 1913) poses for a shot on Park Avenue at Culver Road in the summer of 1936. Collection of New York Museum of Transportation
“Low floor” bus 1277 (New Flyer, 2000), signed for Park Avenue and bearing train number 0105, carries on the tradition as it waits for the green at the same location 70 years later.
Buddy Can you spare a Sunday?
It takes at least two people to sell tickets and staff the gift shop when we’re open for visitors, and we invite you to be part of the fun. We truly need to add volunteers to the gift shop and ticket desk staff list. Please make this your year to help out. It’s easy and fun! Call us at 533-1113 or email email@example.com and we’ll take it from there. Thank you!
Just when we were starting to wonder if anyone really reads HEADEND when it arrives each quarter, we heard from eagle-eyed Shelden King, who pointed out a typographical error in the Spring 2006 issue. On page 3, in the list of dates indicating start of service as the Rochester, Syracuse & Eastern grew incrementally, please note that the six miles from Newark to Lyons, New York were added to the system on 8-18-06 (not ’07).
Shelden’s note tells us, “The first car into Lyons was no. 114, newly arrived from the Kuhlman plant near Cleveland. It clattered across the trestle and bridge over the Ganargua River and the Erie Canal on Saturday, August 18, 1906, screeched around the sharp curve onto Water Street, and stopped in front of the Congress Hall Hotel for a photograph.
RS&E 114, the first car into Lyons, New York, poses for the photographer westbound on Water St. Collection of Shelden King
“With completion of the line to Culver Road, Rochester, on September 14, 1906, Rochester, Syracuse & Eastern Railroad commenced regular service between that point and Lyons. Lyons remained the eastern terminus until Clyde was reached September 1, 1907, as noted in the table in the Spring issue”.
WHERE’S THE FIRE?
The museum’s former Brighton, New York Mack fire truck number 307 came to us through the generosity of Mike Cassin, and along with it came the story that, mysteriously, there was no vehicle identification number or other data on the builder plate. We’re happy to report that we now know the VIN and a lot more about the truck, thanks to the good people at Beam Mack in Rochester.
We last reported on the fire truck in the Summer 2005 HEADEND when we acknowledged some great help from Mike Ziegler, Service Manager at Beam Mack, in making the repairs needed to pass State inspection. With remaining work completed this spring by Don Quant and John Ross, including a new turn signal flasher and a new windshield (two, in fact, but that’s another story…), Don, John and Jim Dierks headed off to Beam Mack for the inspection. The truck drew a small crowd of interested bystanders, including Elmer Conway who owns the company. When we told him the story about the missing VIN, he sent for Jerry Conklin, Parts Manager, who arrived with his reading glasses and an eye loupe, and after some close scrutiny of the builder plate announced that there was indeed a faint number there, matching (for the most part) the “phone number” we had on the registration.
More, Jerry headed back into the dusty archives and returned with a folder containing the original factory build papers, page after page listing the part numbers for every component on the truck! We now know that manufacture of number 307, which we believe was one of two identical trucks ordered in the fall of 1941, delayed due to the start of World War II and eventually completed in early 1943. Thanks to the good folks at Beam Mack, we know more about 307 than we could have hoped, and that ought to help keep the truck in good running condition for years to come.
The museum’s Brighton fire truck has more local history aboard
Like most fire trucks, number 307 fairly bristles with accessories and attachments. One of these devices has some local significance—the combination flashing red light and siren mounted on the left front fender. Look closely at the small plate on this classic accessory and you’ll see that it’s a model 30 “Sirenlite” made by the Sterling Siren Fire Alarm Company, of Rochester, NY.
Early fire apparatus relied on bells to alert pedestrians, and the sound (and sight) of three horses at full gallop pulling a smoking steam-powered pumper a century ago must have been all that was needed to clear the way. But, just as faster motorized trucks were being introduced, open buggies and sleighs were also giving way to enclosed autos. Primitive, hand-cranked sirens weren’t loud enough to be heard well over greater distances, so electric sirens came on the scene.
The Interstate Machine Company was formed around 1915 or 1916, and became the Sterling Siren Fire Alarm Company in 1925. Inter-State apparently traced its lineage back to two companies on Frank Street (now Plymouth Avenue North): Rochester Electric Motor Company and Rochester Machine Tool Works. At the turn of the last century, these firms were next door to each other at the corner of Commercial Street, placing them in the “back yard” so to speak of the State Street car barns of the Rochester streetcar system. Both firms likely had interest in the growing electric traction activity in their neighborhood. Principals in these two companies, John and Frederick Buckley, became Treasurer and Secretary of Inter-State when it was formed, and the new company took up residence at 56 Allen Street, on the other side of the New York Central tracks.1
An early product success came with their Model M-series warning sirens, the kind that are mounted on towers or tall structures and serve to call volunteer fire fighters or broadcast alerts for tornadoes and other potential disasters. We are probably all familiar with the wail of these large units, and most are still in service after many years.
Air raid warnings gave a boost to the business in World War II, and other uses for siren technology were coming into fashion too. Fire trucks, ambulances and police cars all began to be routinely fitted with Sirenlites, of course. Also, as noise levels rose in industrial manufacturing plants, sirens were useful as warning devices. Watch a huge ladle of molten steel about to be poured in a steel mill, and you’ll hear a siren ring its warning. Sterling also made call boxes for fire alarms, and even ventured into washing machines at one time.
The company left Rochester in 1972, and now does business in Canon City, Colorado, employing over 100 people under the name Sentry Siren, Inc. The heritage of this firm, considered the oldest manufacturer of sirens, lives on in old re-runs of Broderick Crawford’s “Highway Patrol”, and—we’re happy to say—right here on the left front fender of Brighton Mack fire truck 307.
NOTICE TO ALL VOLUNTEERS
As NYMT enters its new era of routine trolley operations, everyone needs to respect the inherent danger in the overhead trolley wire. When energized, it carries 600 volts direct current. Receiving a shock from the energized trolley wire would be extremely hazardous.
Therefore, no one should ever consider performing any kind of work near the overhead without proper authorization. This includes activities along the electrified portion of the railroad such as tree trimming, working on top of cars and use of a ladder inside the new car house. Proper authorization can only be obtained from the Officer of the Day, who would then have the substation crew insure that power to the overhead is off and that the trolley wire is grounded. This creates an “Isolated Work Area” in accordance with industry standards, and includes a lock-out procedure to protect volunteers engaged in necessary maintenance near the overhead.
In addition to electrical danger, certain mechanical dangers also exist. The various wires, cables and clamps that hold the trolley wire in place are under a great deal of stress, all within acceptable tolerances but which could cause harm should anyone attempt to adjust the various parts. As a result, no one should attempt any work on the overhead without proper authority.
Trolley systems such as the one that has been built at NYMT have been safely used for over 100 years, but a healthy respect for the power of electricity and the mechanical forces involved is necessary to insure safety for all.
DOING PAPER WORK
heritage in imaging is still strong and productive, and it’s
contributing a lot to our museum. Just in time for our July trolley
weekend, James Root at Kodak’s NexPress division produced two
post cards for us featuring car 168. One card came preprinted to
invite museum members and friends to the preview operations on
Friday, July 14, and the other is a standard post card for sale in
the gift shop.
Color brings out our best to attract and satisfy more visitors.
Rich Carling, also at NexPress, has provided us with great-looking brochures in full color on glossy stock, showing the full quality of Chris Hauf’s nice work on the brochure. Bob Miner runs the folding machine, and we end up looking pretty good in the public eye.
In the black and white department, Jim Dierks has finally gotten around to updating our visitor handout to show the new car barn, track car ride boarding area and trolley boarding point, while Doug Anderson handles the copying duties for the handout.
We’d be remiss if we didn’t once again thank Mark McDowell at Toshiba Business Solutions New York for ongoing maintenance of our own copier too! Check out their car card ads in 168.
HERE’S YOUR CHANCE !
the many new goodies in the gift shop this year is a G-gauge
“Holiday Express” Christmas train set donated by Peter
Oosterling of Mill-Side Trains in Ontario, NY. The set includes an
animated locomotive, cars, track, etc. and also comes with two extra
straight-track sections and extra passenger car. The set is valued
The drawing will be held on November 12, 2006, and the lucky winner need not be present but must pick up the set at the museum (we’ll phone you). Tickets are available at the gift shop and can be purchased for $2 each, or three for $5. Proceeds benefit the programs of the New York Museum of Transportation, so come out and buy as many tickets as you like. As they say, you can’t win if you don’t enter!
We enjoy enlightening our younger visitors as they step into a world of streetcars, horse drawn sleighs, and oil lamps, but when the senior citizens show up, the vector is often in the other direction. Older visitors often lived through at least some of the periods we exhibit, and can remember small details and vignettes that illuminate those old times. Here are some of the latest things we’ve been told about:
Bill Stuart came with the annual French Road School tour as one of the chaperones, and he told us about running away from home as an 8 year old. Apparently kids really did that back in the 1940s. Bill’s dad was sleeping on the couch and his mother wasn’t home. The wanderlust spirit hit him and he decided to hop a freight to New York City! When the train pulled into Buffalo, he realized he was headed in the wrong direction, and hopped another train back to Rochester where he decided he’d had enough traveling for awhile. He never told his parents about his adventure. Bill says he and his buddies often would hop a local freight in the neighborhood and ride for a mile or two, just for the fun of it. Kids, don’t try this at home!
If we had a dollar for every senior who told us about pulling the trolley pole off the wire as a prank, we’d be rich. One man’s remembrance at the end of a slide talk we gave in Gates told us that he never did it, but he knew a lot of kids who did. Sounds fishy to us. A woman sitting next to him said she and her brother would visit their grandmother in the city on Monroe Avenue. Her brother’s special kick was to do the trolley pole rope trick at night. You couldn’t be as easily seen, and it was great fun watching all the lights go out in the trolley!
Those darn kids….
Weekly passes on city streetcars and buses were the focus of John Derleth’s recollection. A neighbor lady worked downtown and traveled with a weekly pass, which she would give to John to use on the weekend. He would be sure to push to the front of the line boarding the bus, and after boarding and showing the pass to the driver, he’d toss the pass out the window to his brother at the end of the line, who then boarded. Whenever he and his brother could cadge two passes, they’d head downtown and ride all day.
Finally, another reminiscence from an elderly lady at one of our off-site slide presentations. She pointed out that the streetcars had wooden boxes filled with sand that the motorman could use for traction if he encountered wet leaves or other causes of slippery rail. The lady says every time her mother would take her into the city on the streetcar, the combination of the swaying ride and excitement from the experience made her car sick. Mom would grab her and head for that sandbox! We can wonder how the men in the shop felt about cleaning out the box, but it probably beat washing between the slats of the wooden floor.
We’ll have to watch what we say about our spotlight victim this time, because he is an important link in the process of getting HEADEND to you each quarter, and he just might decide to “edit” what we have to say about him. Meet yet another talented and multifaceted person who helps keep our museum going: James Root.
Proud of his heritage, James starts his life story with news about his parents and ancestors. His great grandfather on his dad’s side worked in construction on the Chicago & North Western Railway, and his grandfather was in the road’s dining car commissary in charge of stocking and preparing those cars for their runs. James fondly remembers as a youngster walking by the tracks (“not ON the tracks”, he notes) near his Fairport, NY home during visits from his granddad. His father, Mike, put in some time on a C&NW track gang in his younger days as well, so we’re not surprised that an affection for railroads and museums like ours has taken hold.
James tells us there’s another pivotal element in his family history. His father met the future Mrs. Root, a lovely lass from Ireland, at a copier while both were working at General Dynamics. This just has to be why James’ circuitous career path has led him to NexPress, the Kodak division responsible for the super quality print job you’re holding in your hands.
James’ father’s career at General Dynamics involved communications installations at Air Force missile launch sites, taking him to all corners of the globe. The Roots eventually decided to settle down, and with a new job at General Railway Signal Company, the elder Root opted for a home site in Fairport, partly due to his fascination with canals and railroads. Mike Root is a member in the Rochester Chapter, NRHS, and volunteers at Industry Depot.
When he turned 16, James got his first job, as an assembler and purveyor of carefully concocted comestibles at a local eating establishment (he worked at McDonald’s). He suffered through this in order to afford his first motorcycle. By the time he was 19, he was into road racing on asphalt tracks, where he did very well but eventually had an “incident” in practice. It wrecked the bike, but luckily James recovered from his injuries, including a concussion. He’s always had a motorcycle, and his goals include riding daily until his birthday, December 16, each year, and to ride at least one day in each month of the year (he adds, “Riding on 3 inches of snow isn’t that much fun”). This past summer, James put 2,200 miles under himself and his new Honda VFR800 Interceptor on a 5-day tour through the central Midwest.
James’ career steps reveal a wide variety of interests pursued. On the education side, he’s spent time at Monroe Community College and Rochester Institute of Technology, taken drafting classes with the Machine Tool and Die Association while at Norden Tool & Mold Co., and took a whirl at photojournalism. His jobs were educational steps too, of course. The McDonald’s experience led him to a position as chef garmanger at the Lodge at Woodcliff, where he was in charge of decorative food displays including attractive hors d’oeuvres arrangements and large ice sculptures. Several years at Xerox gave him practical experience in software product testing that eventually enabled him to get a position in Kodak.
The Kodak job lasted about a year, but during the layoff he helped a friend start a metal artisan business, involving bronze casting, machine design and fabrication, metal art pieces, and so on. His friend is doing well and James landed on his feet back at Kodak.
James tells us that the NexPress division of Kodak’s Graphic Communications Group traces its background to the Kodak Office Imaging organization, which was sold to Heidelberg Digital, then sold back to Kodak as a subsidiary, and this past July became part of Kodak once again. The machines they make are having a major impact on the printing industry, especially for lower volume jobs and those that benefit from personalizing and customizing communications. Our trolley Member Day invitation post card is a great example. Formerly, we would have to have signed up for 5,000 or so post cards to keep the cost per piece reasonable, so a card like that would have been impossible.
The machines are “the size of a minivan”, according to James, and “they even have their own air conditioning system”. The NexPress 2500 that prints HEADEND can do 2500 pages/hour in color, and 150 pages per minute in black and white. The machines can also do collating, binding, etc., and have been used to create complete books.
With long and intense hours working in the lab for NexPress, James still finds time to pursue his serious interest in the environment and in worthy causes. He recently spent two weeks in Haiti helping develop simple wells to aid the poor there. We’re proud to include James in our roster of volunteers, and we thank him for all he does to help us document our progress in such a great looking way.
The Receiving Department in our Archive is getting worried, as donated items continue to arrive. Since the loss of Ted Thomas, we’ve been hard pressed just to keep up with the record keeping, and haven’t been able to attend to actually cataloguing items destined for our collection. While Shelden King has been recently occupied cataloguing the massive collection of Wally Bradley negatives, he’s indicated a willingness to help with cataloguing our other recent arrivals too, and we’re grateful for that!
Several cartons of miscellaneous railfan ephemera arrived in the past couple of months, and they’ve been sorted and culled, yielding some interesting items for our vertical file. Tom Kirn came up with yet another pile of photos…about a shoe box full…ranging from 1970s foreign transit shots to original prints of Rochester streetcars from the 1930s. A Westinghouse air whistle for 168, a four-chamber conductor’s coin changer, milk can and wood barrels for our R&E station, a couple of LPs of railroad sounds, and five framed prints of early streetcars and street scenes round out the additions to our collection. For tools, we now have a nice set of screwdrivers (how did we ever get along without these?), a rechargeable drill, and a new track spike puller. And, there’s that G-gauge “Holiday Express” train set for the raffle too!
No. 39 in a
Just 70 years ago, Rochester was still laced with no less than 14 electric railway transit routes. Most of these routes were formed by through-routing of two lines that terminated in downtown and reached outward to surrounding neighborhoods. These were: Lake-Monroe (route 1); Main E.-Arnett (route 2); Park (route 3); University-West (route 4); St. Paul-South (route 5); Webster-Lyell (route 6); Clinton North-Clinton South (route 7); Parsells-Genesee (route 8); Hudson-Allen (route 9); Dewey-Portland/Sea Breeze, Durand Sub (route 10); Clifford-Joseph (route 11); Central Park-Jefferson (route 12); Goodman (route 14); Subway, Dewey surface-Subway line (route 25).
The important Plymouth South streetcar line had been converted to bus operation in 1929, as had the lesser Emerson, Driving Park and Exchange lines. And, no extensions to Rochester’s streetcar system had been built since 1923. As late as 1936, though, Rochester remained mostly a streetcar city, with buses used mostly on extensions to outlying areas in support of the core streetcar operation.
All this changed with a bang in August, 1936. Seeing that its elderly equipment, track and overhead needed vast repairs and improvements to remain competitive, New York State Railways sought and obtained permission to run buses in place of eleven streetcar lines in Rochester. The first to go was the short Durand Stub, which ran out its last miles from Sea Breeze to Durant-Eastman bath house on August 23. More lines expired the next weekend, with the last full day of operation being Saturday, August 29; the last runs on some or all of these lines would have been made in the early morning hours of August 30. Gone after that were the Webster, Clinton South, Hudson, Allen, Sea Breeze, Clifford, Joseph, Central Park, Jefferson and Goodman Streetcar lines, ten in all and nearly half of those that had been running. It was the beginning of the end of streetcars in Rochester; in just five years, all remaining electric transit lines save for the Subway would be converted to bus operation.
Our photo shows car 446 (Kuhlman, 1904), from the same lot as NYMT’s car 437, southbound on Joseph Avenue at Central Avenue signed for Clifford. A New York Central passenger coach can be seen in the background. Rochester railfan George Slyford probably made this photo; at least, it looks like Slyford’s style of inked notation at left on the area of the trolley pole in the foreground. Slyford was an acquaintance of Steve Maguire, and may have traded the negative of this scene to Maguire. NYMT member Shelden King purchased this print directly from the now-deceased Maguire many years ago, an act which preserved for us now the only known scene of the last full day of those ten Rochester streetcar lines.
SHOP REPORT by Charles Lowe
Philadelphia & Western 168: Bob Miner has focused his maintenance efforts on the car’s braking system. He is refurbishing a spare triple valve, with the goal of rotating out the valves in 161 and 168 for refurbishing as well. Bob Achilles, Don Quant, John Ross, Dave Daunce, Charlie Lowe and others worked over the details to prepare this car for our trolley weekend, including end vestibule window cleaning, trolley rope replacement, installing the front headlight, and rewiring the rear headlight and installing its glass lens.
Philadelphia & Western 161: Steel steps were fabricated and installed at the front end of the car, and anti-skid material placed on the new treads. The glass lens was installed in the rear headlight. The wooden window sills were fitted to the car body, screw holes counter sunk, and the sills installed. All lower sash windows, re-glazed with tempered safety glass and repainted, have been put back in place. About half of these windows are missing their cast bronze sash lifts (and thanks to Paul Monte for finding the ones we had removed some six or seven years ago); matching lifts are not available, and replacements are being sought in a style that will be appropriate to the car. Options for sealing the gap between the upper and lower windows are being explored; a design has been proposed for one method, with a prototype already made for evaluation. The details of mounting the upper sash are being worked out. Next up are: final painting of the sills, installing sash seals and upper sash, and upholstery repairs to a dozen seat cushions and backs.
Electrification: Use of the trolley electric system was made on practically a weekly basis during much of May and June to train motormen and conductors. This activity ground to a halt when a derailment occurred at the track 2 switch. The lead wheel of 168’s rear truck rode over the east point rail of this switch, landing that wheel set on the ties. After an hour and a half session with jacks and blocking, the car was re-railed. In the aftermath, it was decided that many track repairs were needed to prevent future derailments. The track 2 switch and the track 1 switch were both spiked for track 1, and the track 1 switch’s spring frog was secured with rods in the track 1 direction.
On the same day as the derailment, it was observed that a great quantity of steel flakes had been deposited on the ties next to rails on outsides of curves. The entire 1200 feet of track being used for electric car runs was measured for gauge at every fourth tie. Several spots of narrow gauge were found. A particularly tight section of track near the R&E shelter was repaired with gauge rods, several new ties, and replacement of rail splice bolts.
One reason, other than tight gauge, that the steel flakes were found on the ties was that car 168 had broken off the cold-rolled lip that had formed years ago on our rail. Where this breakage occurred, which was done sporadically in short lengths scattered throughout, a sharp corner on the inside edge of the rail’s upper flange was cutting into 168’s wheel flanges (think of the rail as a serrated bread knife, and the wheel flanges as the bread!). To stop this unwanted machining of the wheel flanges, the cold rolled lip was laboriously ground off and a properly curved rail profile recreated. In addition, a program of curve greasing was initiated. Finger gauges have been used to characterize the damaged flanges, and repeat measurements are being taken now that this corrective action has been taken on the rail line. So far, the combined program of gauging, grinding and greasing has stopped the excessive wheel flange wear.
These emergency repairs were performed by a vast array of volunteers. Ted Strang and Dick Luchterhand formed a grinding team, using Bob Achilles’ 220-volt generator and Ted’s large (and heavy!) grinder. They took note of the horrendous difficulties some volunteers were having in grinding the rail, and used the small cart as a mobile support for the grinder. Ted ran the grinder and Dick slowly inched the car along the track (see photo, page 1). Joe Letwin and Paul Monte also spent considerable time with grinders. Tony Mittiga, Bob Achilles, Charlie Lowe, Dick Luchterhand and others worked steadily for several weeks re-gauging the track and stabilizing the track 1 and track 2 switches. It was a lot of work, but the efforts paid off in that no derailments or further wheel grinding have been experienced.
Track: 18 ties were placed along the railroad between the entrance road grade crossing and Giles Crossing this spring, and seven were installed during June, July and early August. With 4 put in before that, this leaves just 7 left to install. Tony Mittiga, Bob Achilles, and Trevor James have worked on this necessary and tough work. The tall hedge of ragweed along the big hill, which had been obsuring the view of 168 here, was removed by Jim Dierks and Eric Norden. This also improved visibility for the crew on this part of the railroad.
TRACK WORKERS WANTED!
It’s great exercise and crucial to continued trolley operations! Join us any Saturday. Call Charlie Lowe to set up (223-5747)
With the completion of the majority of our substation work, and the mid-July trolley event looming, thought was given to a serious question: How could we properly recognize the volunteers who gave so much of their time and talents to achieve this major milestone in our museum’s history? When we started listing the names, it quickly became obvious that we couldn’t afford to bestow an award of some kind to each one without breaking the bank, so the suggestion was accepted to create a plaque containing the names of all who helped.
The plaque is mounted in our entry foyer, where all our visitors can see it, and there are 36 names on it…members and non-members, volunteers who are regulars and those who have limited time but are there for us when their special contribution is needed, those who are at the center of the action and those behind the scenes. To each of them, we repeat our deepest gratitude. Their time, effort and skill have helped create the only operating trolley museum for miles around, and we can all be proud of that!
July 15, 2006
On this date at the New York Museum of Transportation, scheduled trolley operations began, bringing back the growl of traction motors and the spark of 600 volt DC a half-century after passenger service ended on the Rochester Subway. This plaque is dedicated to the following volunteers and friends who directly supported the electrification program, as well as the many who came before them, and to the memory of Frederick J. Perry whose knowledge and assistance inspired us all.
Bob Achilles, Doug Anderson, Neil Bellenger, Randy Bogucki, Bill Chapin, Terry Clarke, Jim Dierks, Tim Ehmann, Scott Gleason, Roger Harnaart, Charlie Harshbarger, Rick Holahan, Dick Holbert, Trevor James, Jim Johnson, David Johnston, Luther Keyes, Charlie Lowe, Dick Luchterhand, Bob Mader, Robert McKnight, Bob Miner, Tony Mittiga, Paul Monte, Walt Morey, Eric Norden, Chris Perry, Tod Prowell, Don Quant, Charles Robinson, John Ross, Dave Shields, Ted Strang, Ted Thomas, Rand Warner, Dan Waterstraat
So much gets done at
the museum on a day to day basis, and we like to give credit where
it’s due. Projects like these are part of the fun for
volunteers, and we’d be glad to include you. Give us a call
at 533-1113 and we’ll take it from there!
* Thanks to Otto Vondrak and Chris Hauf for some great new car cards that adorn car 168. For well over a century, car cards have been informing and entertaining riders on buses and trolleys. They’re still 11” high, a standard that’s never changed, and we’re glad to be able to carry on the tradition through the magic of digital technology.
* When John Corzine isn’t working for FEMA in the southern states, he’s adding his unique talents to the pool at NYMT. Most recently, he’s rebuilt the sound system at steam loco 47 to provide a reliable, realistic addition to a cab visit.
* Lots of work goes into successful trolley operations, and just to name some of the efforts, we would say that Rand Warner has continued to install bonds at rail joints to provide a guaranteed return circuit for the DC trolley power; Charlie Robinson has spent considerable time checking the hand brake on car 168 and recommending actions to assure safe operations; and plenty of hot-weather effort has gone into our track, with Tony Mittiga, Bob Achilles, and Charlie Lowe doing the honors.
* Don Shilling and grandsons have primed and painted the walls of the corridor, brightening it considerably and making it ready to install the exhibit table for Don’s scenic modules.
* Visitors are important to our survival, and making them feel welcome is a big part of the “word of mouth” advertising they do for us. This spring, Jim Dierks and Phil McCabe created a new sign to replace the hand-painted one over our entrance door. Here we see Thursday volunteers Don Quant (on the ladder) and John Ross doing the installation. Speaking of signs, Phil has also upgraded our highway sign, and Chris Hauf has contributed new signs to direct visitors to the new track car boarding area.
Automobiles built before 1915 are referred to as “brass era”
cars, since that’s the material most of the decoration was
made of. On June 23, about 50 members of the Horseless Carriage
Club of America stopped by for a visit in their beautiful old cars,
as part of a week-long gathering in the Rochester area. We were so
excited to see all that polished metalwork that we neglected to tell
our guests that Brasso used to be made in our fair city. The cars
were all “drivers”, arriving on their own from their
previous stop at the Jello Museum in Leroy, and after a couple of
hours enjoying our place, they fired right up and moved on to their
next location with nary a wheeze or a backfire.
* Trolley operations forced us to rearrange the track car ride so that it now departs from NYMT on the southeast leg of the loop track. This was done to totally separate the trolley route and that of the track cars. Given the steep grade on this part of our rail line, Harold Russell designed and built sanders for TC-1 and TC-3, to provide extra traction when wet rails give us trouble.
Harold Russell fills one of his two new sand boxes on TC-1 with a special fine sand.
* Credit the following for keeping our lawns and fields down to a dull roar in this summer of unprecedented foliage growth: Bob Miner, Paul Monte, Dave Peet, Rick Holahan, John Corzine, Charlie Lowe, and Jim Dierks. Jim and Eric Norden took down the wall of weeds that obscured the view of car 168 on its run down the back straight, too. We can always use more help on the Ford and the John Deere, or pushing the walk-behind weed whacker, so give us a call!
Remember, we still have two more trolley operating days this year: Sundays, September 10 and October 15. Come on out and enjoy a ride with us!
There’s one name on the recognition plaque that may seem out of place, at first. Doug Anderson has done a lot over the years at the museum, but he hasn’t been stringing trolley wire or digging conduit trenches for the substation. His role is just as important, however. He provides a good share of the money!
No, he isn’t writing checks when Sylvia isn’t looking. It’s Doug’s gift shop profit that goes into the “joint enhancement fund” for improvements to the visitor experience throughout our combined facility with RGVRRM. By agreement with our friends at the south end, these funds have been directed at the substation, an expense that has come to almost $30,000, even with substantial donations of time, professional services, and materials.
Doug labors behind the scene, poring over catalogues, deciding which items to stock, selecting T-shirt designs, books for kids, and an amazing variety of lighted locomotive key chains, whistles, train-theme jewelry, magnets, patches, toys, railroad uniforms, and on and on. Beyond selecting and managing his inventory of goods, he has recently found a new credit card terminal for us that will let our gift shop people retire the old, manual card imprinter. The new card “swiper” prints out the two copies of the purchase receipt…”just like New York”!
and check out the supply of goodies in Doug’s shop. There’s
something there for everyone, from pre-schoolers to those seeking
serious publications like Charlie Lowe’s “Trolleys to
Glen Haven” or Shelden King’s “New York State
Just arrived! New museum T-shirts feature P&W 168 in a “South Shore Line” period design, and R&E 157 making a stop at our R&E station—a glimpse of our future. Pick one up soon!
And did we mention that we can use more volunteers to staff the shop for our visitors? We didn’t? Well….
HEADEND is published four times a year by the New York Museum of Transportation, © 2006. All rights reserved. No portion of this newsletter may be reproduced in any form without written permission from the publisher. www.nymtmuseum.org
1 In an ironic twist, Frederick Buckley and his wife died in the firm’s office in 1932, asphyxiated by a faulty space heater.