WWII event at Rockhill Trolley Museum

(Courtesy Rockhill Trolley Museum.)

Philadelphia Transportation Co. PCC 2743, one of FPT’s recent restoration projects, is expected to take part in a living history event this weekend at the Rockhill Trolley Museum in Central Pennsylvania.

On Sept. 9, the museum will host a new World War II living history event to put trolley passengers in the middle of the sights, sounds, and tension of homefront America in 1944. Enjoy the sounds and get up and dance to great 1940s swing music played live by The Big Band Sound, Inc. Experience exciting moments Pennsylvania trolley history, such as when trolleys served the war effort, when women first ran the trolleys, and even when fully armed soldiers guarded city transit vehicles.

The first trolley departs at 11:15 a.m., and the band will play from noon to 3 p.m. The last trolley rides will be at 4:15 p.m.

Admission to event is $8 per adult, $5 for children 12 or under, and infants are free. Admission includes live swing dance music performance, trolley rides, a chance to interact with history re-enactors, and more.

In addition to regular trolley rides, there will be limited seating on three special trolley rides throughout the day, at 11:15 a.m., 1 p.m. and 3 p.m. These rides will have combat-equipped Allied soldiers guarding the cars, so passengers should be advised that they may hear gunfire nearby on these special trips. Not recommended for young children, and some walking over gravel and stepping on and off of trolleys is required. Keep an eye out for enemy activity as you ride, and meet the trolley museum’s collection of military veteran rail equipment.

You can reserve a seat for the special ride on the museum’s website, www.rockhilltrolley.org. Note that there is a fee for online reservations.

PCC 2168 returns to service at BSM

Mike Barron, left, and Mike Lawson pose with SEPTA 2168 after completing repairs on the car at the Baltimore Streetcar Museum. (Matt Nawn photo.)

After being sidelined for several weeks due to concerns with the performance of the braking system, SEPTA 2168 — the car that “started it all” for FPT — has been repaired and returned to operating condition at its home at the Baltimore Streetcar Museum.

After several tedious work days, Mike Lawson, Mike Barron, and Matt Nawn spent Sept. 3 cleaning and adjusting the shaft brake mechanisms to ensure proper operation. The hard work paid off as the car successfully passed its braking tests late in the day, enabling the car to return to active status; including for operation during BSM’s Members Day on Sept. 16.

An interesting fact: Mike, Mike, and Matt are all mechanical engineers who also enjoy working on vintage trolley cars.

FPT Hosts the 2017 Winter Trolleyfest

Members of the “safety vest convention,” aka attendees of the 2017 Winterfest event, gather at the 69th Street trolley platform to await their two-car Kawasaki LRV charter over the former Red Arrow lines, Friday, Feb.17, 2017. (Bill Monaghan photo.)

In the late 1990s, several of the Trolley Museums in the Northeast began to hold an annual winter get-together for the people who volunteer at the various museums. The event has been held on a Friday-Saturday in February when the museums are normally closed to the public. The host museum would usually have a pizza party on Friday night along with guest operations. On Saturday, there would be more guest operations along with a formal lunch or dinner with a slide or power point informative program.

The idea was to foster a spirit of fellowship and cooperation among the different museums. One of the benefits of these informal communications was that parts and various equipment could be located and traded between the various museum shops.

This year, due to a variety of factors, none of the museums was able to host the event.

By early December it looked as if there would be no Winterfest for 2017.

The Feb. 17 suburban charter pauses for a photo stop at the Springfield Mall stop. (Bill Monaghan photo.)

Guests admire a PCC-II car during their tour of Woodland Heavy Repair Shops on Feb. 18, 2017. (Bill Monaghan photo.)

Then, one day in December, Bruce Wells of the Pennsylvania Trolley Museum (PTM) called Bill Monaghan with an idea: Could FPT put a Winterfest program together in the city of Philadelphia? Bill immediately contacted Harry Donahue and Matt Nawn. Could a program be put together on such short notice? Obviously, there could be no “guest operations” and the program would need the cooperation of SEPTA.

It was decided to build the event around SEPTA’s eight broad gauge trolley lines, six in the City Division and two in the Suburban Division. With the help of Ed Springer of SEPTA, FPT was able to arrange a Friday night charter on the suburban Media and Sharon Hill lines (former Red Arrow routes) using an MU Kawasaki train. On Saturday there was a five-hour charter on the City side using a two-car MU Kawasaki train. The city cars are very rarely used in MU service. Tours of both Elmwood Depot and Woodland Heavy Repair Shops were included with the charter.

The two-car City Division charter and a Route 15 PCC-II car are held up by traffic outside the Philadelphia Zoo, Feb. 18, 2017. (Bill Monaghan photo.)

Following the charter, there was a tour of the Newtown Square Railroad Museum where former Red Arrow “St. Louie” Streamliner #23 will be restored as a static display just about one hundred feet from West Chester Pike where it once ran on the West Chester Line. On Saturday evening, FPT hosted a pizza dinner at the Newtown Square Municipal Building (thanks to the efforts of John Nawn). Matt Nawn gave a presentation about Friends of Philadelphia Trolleys and retried SEPTA engineer Russ Jackson presented a program on the development of SEPTA’s Kawasaki light rail cars.

Although the event was put together on very short notice, we had a total of 89 people registered and everyone appeared to have a great time. A committee was formed to look into which museum will host Winter Trolleyfest for 2018.

FPT wishes to thank SEPTA for their assistance in making this a successful event.