Railway Preservation News

Streetcars - who likes them?
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Author:  djl [ Sun Sep 27, 2020 3:43 pm ]
Post subject:  Streetcars - who likes them?

I will ask you to avoid the term trolley. In American English trolley = streetcar, but in other countries = trolleybus.
For years my favourite ones from Bucharest where the "Rathgeber" M 4.65 + m 4.65 and M 5.65 + m 5.65 (but you could see them coupled in M 4.65 + m 5.65 or M 5.65 + m 4.65)
Before I knew their names I called them "cele albastre" ("the blue ones").
The visible difference between 4.65 and 5.65 was that the doors of the 4.65 where slinding one over the other into the wall, while the doors of the 5.65 where opening on the outside, in oposite directions. Some of the 4.65 still had incadescent lighting.
In 1994, where the 1sts where bought they started to run on routes 34 and 50 (no more of thouse routes number, but the tracks are used by other routes). Route 34 passed near the place where I l live, so I had the chance to ride them. My first impresion was that "why do we need to bring all the junk from the West" (West = Western Europe). But in no more then 2 years my feeling becamed the opposite, I started to love them. Comparing to Romanian streetcars (even "modernized" version, which I didn't ride too much untill 1997) the surface of the window that could be opened was bigger, so cooler in the summer and had working heat (very hot indeed). Plus they where classy.
I was amazed when I've seen them in a 1972 Munich album, thinking they where made in the '80's. Later I found out they where even older, the 4.65 beeing manufcatured in 1957-1959 and the 5.65 in 1965-1966.
In the year 2000 the Romanian streetcars where introduced on route 34 and the German blue ones on routes 17 and 46. Since these routes had common portions (route 46 still exits, but it's a little bit different now) and people associated the route with the streetcar, sometime confusion where made... probably like after the depart from the route of line 34 something like "this isn't 34?".
I rode them on other routes, especially when I stayed in the neibghourghood of the maternal grandparents (I did stay sometimes there).
In the spring of 2007 they where writhdwan from service. Rode the last of them on routes they served (routes that passed near my maternal grandaprents, but I made a special ride to ride the last of them). It was an end of a nice era. After that, they supressed routes 17 and 50 (route 17 was not going any longer any way because of installing new tracks).
There is one surving 4.65 copule and a few 5.65 motocars. For the service of the transport society. Up untill last year there where 3 surving 5.65 trailers, but or bastard mayor (she's a jerk; later edit: she just lost the reelection) and the managment of the company decide to finish them, to finish something that I loved.

The Czech made P.C.C. streetcars still are doin' fine after 44-46 years of service (well, the ones that are left): http://tramclub.org/viewtopic.php?t=1517&start=0
No more 2 of them copuled like in the old days.

Author:  Crescent-Zephyr [ Sun Sep 27, 2020 5:18 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Streetcars - who likes them?

Louisiana is my home state so I can appreciate your desire to call them streetcars (pun intended) but here in the USA anyone except a railfan will call anything that remotely resembles a street car a trolley no matter if it is technically a trolley or not.

I enjoy them very much. I’m glad I got to operate one for a bit as a “Trolley Conductor” - was a really fun but very hot summer job!

I believe that the best transit museums in the USA are the cities of New Orleans and San Francisco. While many museums (IRM being a prime example) do an incredible job of recreating a trolley line, you just can’t beat the real thing.

Author:  WVNorthern [ Sun Sep 27, 2020 6:29 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Streetcars - who likes them?

The Pennsylvania Trolley Museum south of Pittsburgh, PA has a large collection of streetcars. They have a 2 miles of track, some of which is over a former interurban route. If you have ever wanted to be a trolley operator, they have an "Operator for an hour" program where you can operate a trolley over their entire trackage. I received a coupon from my family for this program several years ago. I piloted an ex-SEPTA PCC and had a blast.

Author:  EJ Berry [ Sun Sep 27, 2020 11:42 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Streetcars - who likes them?

Different US cities had different common names for their electric cars operating in the streets. In Philadelphia we really do call them trolleys and SEPTA has 6 lines in the city and two more in Delaware County.

The lines all use Kawasaki single-unit LRV's built in the early 1980's and the 5 subway-surface lines still have 9 metre curves dating to 1900 and earlier.

The cars are air-conditioned and when they were new they had upper transom openable windows. People opened them and defeated the air conditioning so now they have sealed windows.

Phil Mulligan

Author:  Brian Norden [ Mon Sep 28, 2020 12:06 am ]
Post subject:  Re: Streetcars - who likes them?

I once ran into a customer in a model train shop who took exception to calling a streetcar a streetcar. He said a streetcar was that gasoline powered vehicle that ran on rubber tires on the pavement.

Here in the U.S. the term "trolley" or "trolley car" meaning a streetcar has long been used in common everyday vernacular use by the general public. Newspaper comic strips used the term. Songs used it.

Some of the earliest electric street car operations had two closely spaced wires and upon them rode a four-wheel cart which was connect by two twisted, insulated wires. This little cart was a "trolley" (like an English serving cart). But here the term came to mean the entire car. After the rails became the return circuit for the DC power the pole which had contact to the overhead wire with a wheel, the pole was called a "trolley pole" and the wheel a "trolley wheel" and when the wheel was replaced by a sliding shoe that was called a "trolley shoe."

Don't criticize us for not using "the King's" English. We have many terms that are different. Automobile hood = bonnet; flash light = torch; elevator = lift; first floor = ground floor; second floor= first floor. It has been said that the Brits and us Americans are separated by a common language.

There are even YouTube channels that explain the different vocabulary and word usages between England and the USA.

Author:  Alexander D. Mitchell IV [ Mon Sep 28, 2020 2:44 am ]
Post subject:  Re: Streetcars - who likes them?

The distinction of "trolley" versus "streetcar" is an entirely vernacular one. In NYC and "Philly" they were trolleys. In Baltimore and Washington DC they were streetcars. New Orleans, Toronto, and some other cities (I believe Dallas, Portland and Seattle) also called their systems "streetcars."

Basically, locals decided somewhere early on, and the name stuck.

Author:  djl [ Mon Sep 28, 2020 10:48 am ]
Post subject:  Re: Streetcars - who likes them?

In Bucharest you can open the windows. Most people don't open them on a.c. vehicles when the a.c. is running. When the weather is good, most drivers turn a.c. on. And in time of Covid-19 is better without the a.c.
Oh, at 'Tatra' P.C.C. streetcars I do take sometimes my head outside the window.

In Germany streetcars are called both tram and strassenbahn. Dependes on the area.
If you go to city of Timişoara (Timishoara), in West Romania you may hear the term firobuz * (wirebus) in stad of troleibuz (trolleybus). This is puzziling for some people. The explination for firobuz is that the 1st trolleybuses in the City (1st line and for some time the sole one was opened in Nov. of 1942) was installed by the Italians who use the term filobus.
The trolley thing is annoing. In Romania they traduce trolley as troleibuz. In "Pelican File" you did see a New Orleans streetcar, but they still did traduced troleibuz whyle it was obvious that it was a streetcar (tramvai in Romanian).

* I found out what firobuz memans from a book for kids and teens. One of the characters takes the firobuz from city of Constanţa to the resort of Mamaia (mamaia means grandma in Romanian, but this isn't quite a correct traduction, because the name cames from Turkish Mamakioi, which haves a different meaning) and his riding the firobuz. Since there where no streetcars and Constanţa back then (and b.t.w., none of the streetcars ever reached Mamaia) firobuz could be only troleibuz.

The "Rathgeber" wheren't the oldest streetcars in Bucharest. These where: http://tramclub.org/viewtopic.php?t=2927
Manufactured in 1955.
But I liked more the Blue ones then the Green ones (in fact ren, but when green and red are closed in colour, I can mistake them).
1st time they had cushion seats, but after that usual fiber glass seats from scraped Romanian streetcars.
And they installed them Romanian boogies like they did with "Rathgeber" streetcars.
After installing Romanian boogies (copyed after a German boogie) the floor of the "Rathgeber" streetcars whent very up.
Oh, the "Rathgebers" used compressed air for door opening and closing. The excess air was evicted by a pipe underneath the motor car, which was on the doors side. No problem in Germany, but in Romania where there is much dust on the streets, if the streetcar was in a stop or a narrow street, the dust was flown towards the people... Later they modified that.

But the Bucharest one wheren't the oldest streetcars in use. The Sibiu - Răşinari (răşină means resin in Romanian) used some 1951-1952 metric gauge Be 4/4 Swiss made steetcars: http://tramclub.org/viewtopic.php?t=655
In July? of 1997 I rode the motor painted car. It's scrapped, like his trailer.
Since I didn't had the interent, I dind't know that the transport administration was using an 1960 Swiss made trolleybus. And while was waiting for my father and his new family (I rode the streetcar alone) I wanted to ride a trolleybus (1966 made ones, all scraped, also Swiss Made) but:
1) What if they did come and dind't find me;
2) We have the same trolleybuses in Bucharest.
2), very extemly wrong. The ones from the Sibiu where "F.B.W.", the ones from Bucharest where "Saurer". They where almost the same age (Bucharest ones where 1968-1970 made), but there was another big difference: the ones from Bucharest where in fact buses converted intro trolleybuses, but I didn't know that at the time, so missed a chance. I never seen the "Saurer" as a bus (I was a scared person, so I wasn't going alone on the city center at the age of 12-13) and nerer seen one as a bus. The "Sauer" 5DUK-A ("Hess" body work) had worn out engines and gearboxes, but the rest was good. The Romanian 'Dac' trolleybuses where badly built (trough all newer), but the electric engines (Romanian made) where good. So after scraping trolleybuses, they made trolleybuses out of busses, but they added choppers (so the "Sauer" didn't used contactors).

Author:  Crescent-Zephyr [ Mon Sep 28, 2020 1:52 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Streetcars - who likes them?

Alexander D. Mitchell IV wrote:
The distinction of "trolley" versus "streetcar" is an entirely vernacular one. In NYC and "Philly" they were trolleys. In Baltimore and Washington DC they were streetcars. New Orleans, Toronto, and some other cities (I believe Dallas, Portland and Seattle) also called their systems "streetcars."

Basically, locals decided somewhere early on, and the name stuck.

Years and years ago a New Orleans car operator told me the reason New Orleans operated "Streetcars" and not "trolleys" is because the line dates back to before trolleys were invented.

I'm not sure if that is accurate or not but seems like a reasonable explanation.

Author:  EJ Berry [ Wed Sep 30, 2020 11:30 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Streetcars - who likes them?

The New Orleans operator is correct. The St. Charles line dates to 1835 and began as a steam road, then horses or mules, then electric cars in 1893. The term "trolley" is derived from the "troller," a 4-wheel cart that drew electric power from two overhead wires in the 1880's. Later people realized the ground return could be in the rails and you needed one overhead wire.

In UK English, "trolley" sometimes refers to a small 4-wheel cart.

Phil Mulligan

Author:  djl [ Thu Oct 01, 2020 8:37 am ]
Post subject:  Re: Streetcars - who likes them?

In Cincinatti they where prevented on the city to use the rails as the return wire, so streetcars did used 2 trolleyes, like at trolleybuses. They used 2 (I'm not sure because of the same motive) in Havana, Cuba.

Author:  EJ Berry [ Thu Oct 01, 2020 9:40 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Streetcars - who likes them?

A problem with using the rails for ground return is they have to be bonded (electrically connected to each other) or welded. Otherwise the electricity may find another way to return to the power plant. That causes electrolysis on both both the rails and the means used to return the power (usually water or gas pipes) as well as interfering with communication wires. In Cincy the trolley company installed double wire because of telephone interference and a Court Order.

The new streetcar system, the Cincinnati Bell Connector, uses single overhead wire.

Phil Mulligan

Author:  djl [ Fri Oct 02, 2020 5:54 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Streetcars - who likes them?

When they started to improve the returing of the current?

Author:  EJ Berry [ Sun Oct 04, 2020 12:39 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Streetcars - who likes them?

They pretty much solved the problem early but there was legislation that mandated the two wires. Later, they dismantled the original system and some 50 years later built an all-new one.

Phil Mulligan

Author:  djl [ Wed Oct 07, 2020 2:56 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Streetcars - who likes them?

I knew there is a new system, but it's a pitty the destruction from the past...

Author:  EJ Berry [ Wed Oct 07, 2020 9:54 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Streetcars - who likes them?

Unfortunately, after WWII and into the 1960's almost all North American streetcar/trolley systems were converted to motor bus or trackless trolley ("trolleybus" in some cities). One factor was the efficiency of the diesel motor bus, in particular those with 671 diesel engines and hydraulic transmissions. Places with inexpensive electric power ("hydro" in Canadian English) converted to trackless trolley.

Some Cincinnati cars (PCC) emigrated to Toronto where they were notable for wide trolley bases to accommodate the two poles they had in Cincy. They had one pole in Toronto.

Phil Mulligan

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