Car Preservation & Restoration

Here are some images of our car acquisition, preservation and restoration activities. Choose different cars from the drop-down list to see a particular car's restoration photos. Most of the time, clicking on an image will result in a larger version being displayed.

February 28, 2004

Few trolley restoration projects are as simple as initially thought, and re-roofing the first trolley car of our collection is no exception. After removal of the old roof (see below), discussion began on whether to also replace the badly deteriorated letterboards below the edges of the roof. The canvas roof would have to be removed again if letterboard repairs were done in the future. A 'exploratory team' of volunteers investigated the difficulty of replacing the letterboard and repairing rusted window posts, and decided to proceed with the additional repairs.

Car-card holders, light strips, and one section of letterboard (behind volunteer) are already out of the way as work begins on the 'enhanced' project.

The answer is simple: 82 years of rust!

The riveted joints originally used on the letterboard were abandoned years ago, replaced by not-so-neatly-welded lap joints. In many cases, rivets which were supposed to hold the letterboard to the car no longer existed.

A sample of #311's letterboard, seen from the inside, shows the damage inflicted on steel by mere water and oxygen.

January 4, 2004

The roof of Johnstown 311 looks awfully naked four days into the new year. Volunteers have removed all old canvas, wiring, roofwalks, pole bases, and ventilators. The woodworking staff is making a plan of attack to repair damaged wood, but the condition of the wood is far better than expected.

Some of the participants show off the "new look" of 311 after the first 40 man-hours of work.

January 3, 2004

Work has begun in earnest on removing the old canvas roof from Johnstown 311, the car that was first to join our collection. The roof was leaking rather badly...

A volunteer battles one of dozens of big rusty screws holding roofwalk boards onto 311, as his supervisor observes progress (and holds the spare screwdriver).

While 311 is in the shop, other projects may be woven around the roof repairs. For example, if volunteers are available, we would like to strip and repaint the interior ceiling, which would make a huge improvement in the appearance. We estimate about 25 man-hours to strip the ceiling.

That sure is a nice heatgun. I have one just like...? Hey, wait a minute, that's my heatgun!

November 12, 2005

Among other items required for Johnstown 355 are repaired windows. Although work had supposedly been done on the windows before, that work was many years ago. The windows were found to require substantial repair, including new weatherstripping, latch repairs, and polishing of the solid brass frames.

A volunteer works to remove many years of tarnish and dirt accumulated on a window frame.

November 12, 2005

As mentioned numerous times, we are very busy supplying rebuilt components to support Lyons Industries in their restoration of our Johnstown trolley #355. The latest project has been construction of a new grid resistor box for the car. The resistors limit electrical current flowing through the car's traction motors during starting and slow operation. Because the resistors are cast iron, exposed to the elements, and subjected to continuous heating and cooling, they corrode quite badly over time, changing their resistance value. One of the two boxes on 355 was badly deteriorated, and we rebuilt it using new grids from stock.

A volunteer carefully assembles the delicate new cast iron grid resistors.

November 2-3, 2005

Although Johnstown 355 is being restored 'by a contractor', there are actually lots and lots of components we must overhaul ourselves and supply to the contractor in a timely manner. One of those is the brake cylinder, which was quite deteriorated.

After polishing the cylinder bore, a volunteer installs a new packing cup

October 25-31, 2005

Restoration metalwork on Johnstown 311 has moved to the second side of the car. Because steel is more deteriorated on this side, it is expected that we will have to put more hours into it than the first side.

A volunteer removes corroded steel next to the inbound door.