2743 returns to service at Rockhill

Car 2743 returned to service at the Rockhill Trolley Museum on June 17, 2017. (Courtesy Harry Donahue.)

After more than a year of painting, seat re-installation and other interior detail work by FPT volunteers, Philadelphia Transportation Co. PCC car 2743 returned to formal passenger service at the Rockhill Trolley Museum on Saturday, June 17, 2017.

The 1947 streamliner’s inside has been restored to 1960s appearance to complement its exterior, which was repainted in PTC’s green and cream colors in 2015. The interior had remained in SEPTA’s 1980s GOH scheme until last year, when FPT began sending seats out to be reupholstered in PTC-era brown while repainting of the walls, ceilings and seat frames was underway.

FPT is grateful to all of the donors who helped make this project a reality through their generosity — especially through our donate a seat program — and to all of the volunteers who spent many long hours inside the car transforming its appearance. We are looking at ways of recognizing all of you for your efforts. Watch this space for more details in the near future.

In the meanwhile, we hope you will take the opportunity to visit Rockhill in the near future and see the restored car for yourselves.

From left, George Rich, Mike Lawson and Harry Donahue enjoy a laugh as 2743 was being made ready to re-enter museum service. (Bill Monaghan photo.)

Alex Campbell helps out with some last-minute details before 2743 returned to service. (Bill Monaghan photo.)

Mike Lawson was a virtual one-man band when the time came to install the final seats inside 2743. (Harry Donahue photo.)

PTC car 2743 has just arrived at Blacklog Narrows following an outbound trip on June 17, 2017. (Bill Monaghan photo.)





We really get around!

Seen here with Lancaster Birney car 236 are: Mike Lawson, Andrew Nawn, Matt Nawn, George Rich and Bill Monaghan Jr. (John Eichelberger photo.)

While FPT’s focus is and always will be on Philadelphia trolleys, our volunteers and friends also share their personal time with other museums that work to preserve our traction heritage, with a focus on cars connected to Pennsylvania and surrounding states.

The Manheim Historical Society in Lancaster County, Pa., operates a restored 1926 Birney car that was built by Brill in Philadelphia, and operated for Lancaster’s Conestoga Traction Co. until 1947. The car is housed in a small purpose-built barn, and runs along a short stretch of track next to the society’s restored 1881 railroad station in the Borough of Manheim.

Birney 236 was rescued by the society in 1990 from the Pennsylvania Historical and Museum Commission. While its line isn’t long and the traffic isn’t heavy, the 91-year-old trolley does need some care and fine-tuning from time to time. FPT founding member Matt Nawn has lent the society his expertise in recent years.

On May 13, Matt and several other friends visited the society’s carbarn to perform some work on 236 prior to the start of the 2017 season. Together with Matt were Andrew Nawn, Bill Monaghan, Mike Lawson, George Rich and Roger DuPuis. The society’s John Eichelberger was on hand with a rain canopy, tools and supplies this damp Saturday, while Kate Eichelberger made sure everyone had a warm meal inside the beautifully restored station building.

The car’s controllers, motors, brake valves, breaker boxes and doors all received some attention, with the inside windows getting a good cleaning.

The trolley operates from 1 to 4 p.m. on Sundays, weather permitting, between June and September. For those who would like to come out for a visit, Matt will be operating on June 10, and Roger on June 11, during Manheim Heritage Days.

2743: We’re getting there!

Mike Lawson chats with Rockhill Trolley Museum’s Joel Solomon during work on 2743 at the museum, April 8, 2017.

Work on restoring the interior of PTC 2743 to its 1960s appearance continues, with some significant advances in recent weeks.

All of the car’s seats have now been reupholstered, and volunteers are in the process of re-installing them. The overall appearance is truly gratifying, but two of the most amazing sights are at the front and the back. In the rear of the car, the back bench has been reupholstered in three sections, with the middle cushion easily removable to allow access to a back-up controller, which has yet to be installed. In the front of the car, meanwhile, volunteer Mike Lawson has installed the redone operator’s seat cushions on a cleaned-up frame which works — and looks — much more like the original models than the heavy old seat frame which had been inside the car since its final days of service in Philadelphia.

Mike’s skills and enthusiasm have come as a welcome breath of fresh air as we move toward the final stages of the interior work. His attention to detail really shows through on the primed and repainted cab heaters and other floorboard details. Mike also reinstalled the Pennsylvania PUC notice plate, which, was recently donated to FPT by Chuck Kumpas, and offered some helpful tips about how to clean and polish it. He also removed the plexiglas panel behind the operator’s seat, another 1980s addition. Work is underway to replace the original cloth operator’s curtain which hangs in that space.

In the attached photos, we see Mike, Jerry Evans and Harry Donahue at work inside the car on Saturday, April 8, along with some detail shots. Anyone who might be interested in helping FPT finish this work is welcome to contact us. In particular, we will be looking to do interior paint touch-ups during April and May.

Mike Lawson relaxes in the refurbished operator’s seat.

Harry Donahue checks out the new back bench, with back-up controller access panel.

Looking toward the front of 2743.

The vintage Pennsylvania PUC notice plate has been installed on the front door motor panel.

Here is a closer look at the refurbished rear bench seat.