Sunday, April 25, 2010

Current collectors

I had a look at the trams in the big shed on Thursday and compared with those in the depots something didn't seem quite right. Then I realised it was the lack of overhead wire and the unatural positions of the current collectors.
Derby 1 has an immitation trolley head. Hardly appropriate in an exhibition that has supposedly cost half a million pounds.
Leicester 76's trolley is pulled right down and somehow reminded me of a picture of withdrawn trams in a scrap yard.
If you look really really carefully, you can just see Glasgow 1115's bow collector.
HTM 1147's pantograph is neatly folded down but that is not how it would have looked when running through streets of the Dutch capital.

Despite concerns for my mental health, I think that overhead line and current collectors were a significant part of tramways. I therefore suggest that overhead is errected this coming winter to enable the trams to be displayed as they appeared in the streets.

My response to Andrew's comment is that as the National Tramway Museum in receipt of public funds, we have a duty to make the exhibition as historically accurate as possible. It will be necessary to make compromises to operate trams but not for those on static display.

Contact number 392 gives some information on the second phase of the project although there is no mention of any conservation or remedial work on the trams themselves. Despite my critics, I do think that the displays should be as accurate as possible and unsightly overhead wiring was a hot topic when tramways were first built and is to this day in several French cities where costly alternatives have been developed.

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  1. Andrew sent me this comment which I deleted in error.

    Richard - I normally agree with your blog comments, but I think you've been too harsh on the new Exhibition. My only criticism is that too much was made of the Easter opening, when it was nowhere near finished, but I still believe that the finished article will be very good. As for the current collectors, is it really that big an issue? I doubt Joe Public will even notice that Derby 1's trolley is a fake!


  2. Richard, I think you are inflicting damage to Crich in stead of contributing to improve things. I don't agree with everything that's going on, however, Crich deserves support for waht has been done (and has to be done). I wish we had something like Crich in The Netherlands.
    I find the exhibition hall a huge improvement compaired to what it was. And remember: it's still not finished. Trolleys, pantographs etc. are really not that important at present. Neither are other small things. They will get done, somehow, sometime.
    And I didn't hear you complain the last four times restoration projects were started which were a complete waist of money. Be fair: eacht time you got a new toy to play with and you and others in the operations department were happy with your toys.
    Just like childrens' toys: after a couple of months it's not new anymore, it gets damaged and you want another one and another one and another one to play with. And people like me and others in the workshop can spend weekends repairing the damage to irreplacable artefacts.
    In the mean time real important restoration projects like a working steam tram don't get done, because the workshop is too busy satisfying grown-up boys.
    By the way: The Hague is not the Dutch Capital, it's the seat of government. Amsterdam is the constitutional Dutch capital.

  3. Anonymous25/4/10 21:19

    I really don't know who you are helping with these continual negative comments towards the Museum. Maybe the Museum could have put notices up to tell people the exhibition is not yet finished but I am sure you would have been one of the first to complain if it hadn't have reopened yet.

    How many "normal" people visiting the Museum do you actually think could care less about the current collectors and would actually even think to look that high up?

    The Exhibition Hall badly needed to be updated and from reading this months Contact it seems this will be happening over the next few weeks and months with video screens etc. Well done to the Museum for actually trying something rather than just keeping things as they always have been.

  4. @Anonymous: I went and saw the exhibition within a week of it opening, and there was a sign telling visitors all about what was going on, and that all that had been completed was "Phase 1" and that the exhibition was still undergoing development.
    What would you prefer: no exhibition at all whilst it was all being completed (which may have resulted in it being closed for at least the 2010 season!) or what has been done so far open to the public?
    But I do agree with the abundance of negativity towards the Museum. Maybe something positive soon? lol :-)

  5. Anonymous26/4/10 21:06

    Hey, you've erased yesterday's bit about continuing to MOAN until....

    Put it back- it was the most accurate thing you've had!

  6. Anonymous26/4/10 21:54

    Once upon a time there was an enthusiast who joined a club and rose to the position of Editor of that club's magazine. One day he fell out with the club and abruptly resigned as the Editor. Several years later the club let him become Editor again and he again resigned. He also at one point left the club because he could not agree with what it was doing. The club, being a welcoming club, then allowed him to rejoin, but years later he began to write things about that club and its activities that many, many members objected to or disagreed with. He continued to write these things, because the club, being a very silly club, did nothing about it.

    This of course is a fairy tale, but it has a motto:

    Find a silly, but welcoming and good-intentioned club, join it and you can mess around and get away with anything. The club will be made to look even sillier in the eyes of the world as a result of your actions, but that will not matter.

  7. Richard,

    I notice that you seem to be biassed towards accuracy. You fall over a trolley head missing or a bend trolley. No mention of 1147's front coupler missing or 68 running on the wrong truck and with the wrong electrical equipment given it's present condition.
    Besides: if there was overhead in the exhibition hall, it would not be accurate for cars like Prague 180 (wrong fleetnumber by the way), New York 674 and The Hague 1147, being too high. The real display of the development of the power supply should be outside on the operational tramway.
    An exhibition hall without overhead is far more flexibel in its display possibilities. Bear in mind that the tracks in the hall can be used either side, so how many wires are you going to put up? Again, one of your many waists of money. Money that could be better spend on other conservation projects.
    Richard, for your own good: stop moaning and start putting your efforts where it really matters. Like helping me win support to create an operational steam tram in 2014, based on the restoration of the MBRO loco. That would be a project of national significance, because it's unique. A working steam tram in an urban surrounding; there are very few places in the world which can show that. Can I count on your support?

  8. Interesting comments from Wim about a steam tram engine; why 2014 though? And to be honest, as much as I'd love to see it happen, I don't think something like the addition of wires in the Exhibition Hall would greatly affect such a project - presumably Lottery funding or similar in the region of £1 million would be needed? Certainly in the short-term I would think that overhauls to trams that have run before would be more beneficial, although to have an operational steam tram is certainly a very worthy target to aim towards one day.

    Also, even though I do agree that overhead wires aren't required as part of a static tram display, it should be noted that neither Prague 180 or New York 674 is actually included in the new Exhibition.


  9. True that at present neither 674 nor 180 are displayed in the exhibition hall, but that could change some time in future. That is the whole idea of the exhibition hall: change the exhibition every couple of years in order to attract people to come back!
    And again: the track layout in the hall is such that the rails can be used on either side. Given Richards' suggestion to put op overhead, this would require twice as many wires as you would normally have. Certainly not historically correct! And it limits the possibilities of the hall. Besides: we do have overhead in the depots.
    About the steam tram: yes, it will cost a lot of money and it comprises more than just restoring the MBRO loco. You would need an extra set of crossovers at Town End, a separate steam tram depot, modification of Dundee 21 and so on. A price tag of 1 mln pounds is a good estimate I think. But such a project is much more worthwhile than some recent restoration projects, because as I stated before it's unique and shows a different form of tram operation: the era before electric trams took to the streets. A National Tramway Museum that shows only electric trams (and than only standard gauge or near standard gauge ones) is not a true National Tramway Museum. A working steam tram fills an important gap. And I am sure that funding for this can be found. A working steam tram will attract visitors, value and volunteers. All very welcome at our beautiful museum high in the Derbyshire hills.

  10. David Holt11/5/10 08:30

    One easy option in the exhibition hall might be to fix each trolley (or bow) at its working height either invisibly by adjustment or by the rope, and then to securely fix a short (say 1 foot) length of trolley wire or even a piece of copper-painted dowel or round balsa horizontally in the trolley head or on the collector pan.