Headend in PDF

The New York Museum of Transportation


Volume 32, Number 3 May-June, 2018


The NYMT trolley system was successfully test-operated on Saturday, June 23, 2018, the first time a trolley had run at NYMT since December 2017.

Beginning in March, many NYMT volunteers put in a ton of effort in returning the NYMT trolley service to a fully operational status. About 400 volunteer hours went into work on the overhead and in the substation which was needed to restore trolley operations.

Roof leakage was discovered in the substation as the 2017 operating season ended. To prevent leakage water from damaging substation equipment, the old hanging ceiling was removed and a protective ceiling was in-stalled. The new ceiling consists of corrugated fiber-glass which drains into a custom-built gutter. In the photo at left, Charlie Lowe (lt.) and Dick Holbert (rt.) are seen conferring on details of the new substation ceiling; Jay Consadine took time out from his work on the project on June 9 to snap the photo.

The overhead’s resistivity problems were first discovered during 2017 but were hard to diagnose. It was eventually discovered that several failed 1920s insulators, used to support the contact wire near Reid’s Crossing, were at fault. Other overhead work performed included re-varnishing wood strain insulators, adjusting the overhead at the extension of the trolley car house and clearing vegetation away from the overhead.

Details of the work involved are given in this issue’s “Shop Report.” As this issue goes to press, motormen and conductors are being qualified and, soon, New York State’s only trolley operation will be running once again for the education and pleasure of NYMT’s visitors.

The new leak-proof ceiling and gutter system, along with new lighting, can be seen in this photo made just after the completion of substation work. Photo by C. Lowe.


With both the trolley ride and the model train room remaining out of service at the planned re-opening of NYMT on May 20, a series of mini-events was planned for May and June. Jim Dierks unveiled a new talk on the Rochester Subway on May 20th, and followed this on the 27th with a showing of rare movies of railroading in and near Rochester. Demonstrations by members of Roc City Modelers and a book sale rounded out the mini-event season.


Philadelphia and Western car 161 — In mid-May, examinations of the partially disassembled motor-generator set were made, and it was decided to remove this apparatus. The m-g set, which lacks its generator, previously powered several auxiliary systems such as the speedometer and a public-address system, and is in the way of easy access to one of the car’s four traction motors. On June 23, after being shoved onto track 2 by car 168, car 161 had its traction and compressor motors inspected and cleaned by Jim Johnson.

Philadelphia and Western car 168 — In late June, car 168’s traction and compressor motors were all inspected and cleaned by Jim Johnson. This car was used to successfully test-operate the trolley system on June 23 and to tow car 161 onto track 2 where its motors could receive care. A minor leak in piping near a whistle valve was repaired.

Gift Shop — Work crews consisting of Doug Anderson, Jay Consadine, Carlos Mercado and Nancy Uffindell cleaned up the gift shop for the season on May 11 and 12. Jay cleaned all the glass cases and vacuumed the carpet. Nancy, Doug and Carlos cleaned shelving and a carpet stain, and restocked the shelves with new inventory.

Overhead — Bob Achilles and Charlie Lowe worked long days in early May to finish overhead adjustments made necessary by the extension of the trolley car house. On May 5, the position of the span wire in front of the car house was adjusted so it would clear the swing of the track doors. An inch or so of the bottom of one door was cut away so that it would swing freely over the rail. On May 12, the contact wires for both tracks were properly secured to the car house troughs.

The track crew, consisting of Rich Fischpera, Rick Holahan, Glenn Madison and Taylor Reed began re-varnishing wood strain insulators in early May. This work was necessary to ensure that no leakage of trolley power occurs during wet weather. The crew began their work at Midway and pro-ceeded north toward NYMT. Rich per-formed most of the work on tower car 020’s platform while the rest of the crew made use of down time trimming grass and tree branches along the way. By June 8, all mainline insulators had been recoated.

With warm weather finally having dried out the access road along the railroad, the bucket truck was moved south of BOCES to pole 38 on June 10. Charlie, Jack Tripp and Carlos Mercado placed plywood on the roadway to permit the passage of the bucket truck. Dick Holbert inspected the lightning arrestor at pole 38 and found it to be in excellent condition. The contact wire insulators at bracket arms on poles 38 to 43 were replaced using like-new insulators from Toronto which were supplied by Halton County Radial Railway Museum. The old insulators had crumbly insulation, causing concerns for physical strength of the insulators. When tested after removal, the old insulators were found to be a direct short.

When the overhead was tested on June 20th, it was found that it had a resistivity of some 3 megOhms. This was far higher than previous readings.

Substation — On Saturday, May 19, a substation crew consisting of Jay Consadine, Dick Holbert, Jim Johnson and Charlie Lowe worked on substation projects. The nearby workbench was cleared. The last remains of the old ceiling were removed. A grade line for the new ceiling was established. Design details for the ceiling were determined. Sealing of gaps between the walls and the roof with expandable foam from inside the substation was started; this work was completed the following day.

New supplies of Kindorf beams and connectors were ordered by Jim Johnson in late May and these were soon delivered to NYMT. Other supplies delivered in late May included corrugated ceiling panels, gutter parts, a new glass block for the substation window and mortar for setting the block in place.

In early June, Dick and Jim installed the all-important supports for the Kindorf beams. On June 9, Dick, Jay and Charlie installed the four Kindorf beams and the ceiling panels. Work this day also included drilling the two-inch-diameter outlet hole for the gutter system. The rest of the gutter work, installation of a new glass block in the substation window, light installations and substation cleanup were completed during the following week. With this work done, Dick Holbert and Jim Johnson performed final substation component cleaning and testing. The substation was successfully tested on June 23, at which time Bob Sass resumed his role as Substation Manager.

Crew Training — Bob Achilles, Dave Coon, Charlie Lowe and Jack Tripp all passed their work train road tests in late May and early June. Jack was added to the list of persons qualified to raise and lower tower car 020.

Milking Parlor Clean-Up: The northwesterly corner of the milking parlor has been undergoing an intensive clean-up in anticipation of the arrival of the Midtown Monorail.

Facility — Dave Coon took time in late June to replace the damaged screen door to the NYMT office. The new door is seen in the adjacent photo. The old screen door, damaged for several years, finally succumbed to wind damage this past spring. Carter Brown assisted in this work.

Exhibits —Visitors to the museum this summer will discover several changes have been made. Perhaps the most noticeable is the final removal of the “Evolution of Rail Transportation” exhibit which had to be taken down due to potential damage to the model trains from our leaking roof. The model trains were all built by Master Modeler Ed VanLeer and they were arranged on a time line to show the development of railroading from its earliest days to the present. Ed’s models were removed earlier and stored in a secure place, but this spring the exhibit cases themselves had to be taken down due to mold and an atmosphere of mildew. There are no plans to resurrect the exhibit until the roof is repaired. Meanwhile, our massive display of 3-rail O-scale trains in the corridor also represents milestones in railroad history and serves to enlighten and satisfy ourvisitors.

Speaking of the corridor, it is also home to a rotating display of Donovan Shilling's exquisite HO-scale “modules.” Don donated 16 of these delightful, super-detailed 3D vignettes that portray his imaginings of life in an earlier time. By “rotating” we refer not only to periodically changing out the two modules in the case for two that haven’t been seen for awhile, but we also note that the modules are designed to be seen from all sides. The press of a button slowly spins each one around for proper viewing. This time, the “Seabreeze Lumber Mill” and “Rickett’s Repair Dock” have been installed. Come out and see all the wonderful details Don has managed to squeeze into these scenes.

While we keep our eyes on the past, exhibiting the history of transportation, our museum should roll with the times, and a good example is the recent installation of an audio tour accessible by smart phone. Fifteen locations in the museum have been established as stops on the tour. Visitors download an app and select our museum from a lengthy list of similar sites. They are then presented with a keyboard on their phone’s screen. When walking through the museum, they will encounter small numbered signs at various exhibits. Selecting a number on their phone’s screen starts an approximately one minute narration about that exhibit. The Exhibits Manager wrote the text which is read by a professional. Our museum is not equipped with wifi, so visitors will be touring on their data plan, but we feel this new addition to the visitor experience will be especially embraced by our younger visitors. Then again, despite the “hightech” approach, we still welcome our visitors to climb in, ring a bell, and get to know transportation history with their “hands on.” Contributed by Jim Dierks.

Board — At its annual meeting on May 15, the Board elected its corporate officers for 2018–2019. At its May meeting, immediately following the annual meeting, the Board accepted the resignation of Ted Strang from the Board. A horse-drawn sleigh was placed on long-term loan. New admission rates, for use when the trolley is not in operation, were approved. Funding up to $3,000 was approved for making ceiling repairs in the substation. Operation of an RGV train north of Midway for that organization’s August meeting night was approved. Use of the NYMT auger truck by RGV for pole installation at RGV was approved. Jim Dierks reported on the milking parlor roofing project status. Charlie Lowe discussed the plan for the substation ceiling, and urged those who might like to commit to working for a possible Winterfest event in February report such interest to Carlos Mercado. Nancy Uffindell reported on the several mini-events planned for the weeks prior to the resumption of trolley operation. Jim Dierks reported on the condition of the model train room which, for the time being, remains closed to visitors.

At its June meeting, the Board passed motions for funding two projects, one a new display and the other some much-needed track work. The Board also approved hosting the annual Winterfest event for other northeast area organizations that have museum trolley operations.

ROCHESTER STREETCARS......................... No. 89 in a series

Rochester Transit Corp. 040
Photographer unknown

© Charles R. Lowe

The first electric cars purchased by Rochester Ry. Co. were a group of 100 cars from Gilbert Car and Mfg. Co., of Green Island, N.Y. Gilbert had spent much of the 19th century making horse-drawn equipment but branch- ed out into electric cars in the late 1880s. Two closed Gilbert cars, purchased by Rochester Electric Ry. for its line along Lake Ave. in 1889, may have prompted RRC to make Gilbert its first electric car supplier.

RRC's 100 Gilbert cars, delivered in 1890-91, had unusual (for 1890) enclosed vestibules. They were oddly numbered at first. Some were in a low-100 series while others were numbered in the low 200s, the low 300s, the 350s and the low 400s. Within a few years, though, the Gilbert cars were renumbered 200-298.

Starting in 1900, many of the 200-series Gilbert cars were extended and made into double-truck 300-series cars. Still others remained as single-truck cars and trudged forth in passenger duties as late as about 1916. A very few Gilbert cars survived as work cars.

Here we see one of the Gilbert cars which survived to the end as a sand car. It's April 1941, and soon nearly all remaining cars will be sent to Blossom Road yard. The only cars to survive, aside from those sent to the Subway: horsecar 55; sand car 0243 representing the "alpha" electric car; and "Peter Witt" 1246 as the "omega" electric car. Sadly, officials failed to recognize the Gilbert's as the true "alpha" electric cars of the system, and none were saved for posterity.


Volume 32, Number 3 May-June, 2018

HEADEND is a publication of New York Museum of Transportation, © 2018. All rights reserved. No portion of this publication may be reproduced in any form without written permission from the publisher.
www.nymtmuseum.org (585) 533-1113


Editor Charles R. Lowe
Associate Editor James E. Dierks
Printer Bob Miner
On-Line Publication Bob Sass

Board of Trustees

President and Trustee Charles R. Lowe
First Vice President and Trustee Carlos Mercado
Second Vice President and Trustee Jack Tripp
Third Vice President and Trustee Nancy Uffindell
Secretary and Trustee Jim Dierks
Treasurer and Trustee Bob Achilles
Trustee Doug Anderson
Board Member Bob Sass

Department Leaders

Archivist Jim Dierks
Chief Engineer Charlie Lowe
Chief Lineman Charlie Lowe
Chief Track Car Operator Rich Fischpera
Exhibits Manager Jim Dierks
Event Manager Nancy Uffindell
Facilities Manager Dave Coon
Gift Shop Crew Manager Beth Adams
Gift Shop Manager Doug Anderson
Group Tour Manager Jim Dierks
Historic Car and Building Manager Charlie Lowe
Marketing Manager Jim Dierks
Master Mechanic Strafford Cars Charlie Lowe
Master Mechanic Track Cars Rich Fischpera
Model Railroad Manager Bob Nesbit
Membership Manager Bob Sass
New Volunteer Manager Carlos Mercado
Officer of the Day Manager Jim Dierks
Substation Manager Bob Sass
Track Maintenance Manager Rich Fischpera
Trainmaster Charlie Lowe


By the time you read this issue of HEADEND, I expect trolleys and the model train room will be back in operation, and that NYMT will be hosting its usual compliment of visitors. While we can all be glad for that happy turn of events, it also means that our volunteerism must match the promise of the repaired facility. I therefore urge each reader of HEADEND to consider supporting the museum through an increased level of your own personal volunteerism. Through volunteerism, NYMT can remain the important community asset it has been for the past forty-five years.

Charles R. Lowe, Editor


The New York Museum of Transportation is a 501(c)(3) non-profit museum chartered by the Board of Regents of the University of the State of New York. We are managed and operated entirely by volunteers, and the welcome mat is always out for anyone wishing to join our work. Open for visitors all year on Sundays only, 11 a.m. to 5 p.m., we also welcome group visits during the week by appointment.

We are located at 6393 East River Road in the Town of Rush, and our mailing address is P.O. Box 136, West Henrietta, NY 14586. www.nymtmuseum.org is the place to find us on the internet and learn much more about us. Also, you can visit us on Facebook at www.facebook.com/NYMTmuseum.

Want to contact us? Call us at (585) 533-1113 or send us an email at info@nymtmuseum.org. And, remember to tell your friends!

Consider becoming a member www.nymtmuseum.org/Membership.php .