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A D40LF ‘re-branded’

Missing from our donated D40LF were any fleet name or other branding. BC Transit had removed these before we picked it up. The horizontal stripes along the bodywork remained, but there was space where the company logo had been on the nearside and front. Chris Cassidy stickhandled putting the TMS logo on the front dash. But the shape of the nearside space below the ‘belt line’ precluded doing the same there.

Our logo, designed by Mike Cui, included our name. Jason Sharpe had the idea of just using that text to fill the vacant space. He also that that we could use a reversed version of the logo on the rear panels, in the same fashion as West Vancouver Municipal Transit used a sailboat motif.

With help from myself and President Bryan Larrabee, we produced high quality drawings suitable for use as decals. In a strange twist we found that the hexadecimal ‘colour code’ of our blue TMS logo matched the blue of the existing stripe almost perfectly. According to the BC Transit graphic standards, it should have much darker. (Maybe the BC Transit colours were formalised after the stripe was applied, or the decal had darkened through exposure to the climate.)

When applying the rear decal, Jason noticed that it would be more attractive if the surplus black background was trimmed off – this he did with consummate care, and the results look fantastic.

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You’d be correct if you noticed the snow on the ground in these pictures. I took them on Tuesday, 2nd February at Cullen Diesel Power Ltd. on 192nd Street in Surrey. Bryan Larrabee drove #9753 there so they could perform a CVIP inspection and certification. While the bus was there, Cullen also examined the underside of the coach as part of our Preventive Maintenance program. We’re pleased to say we received good news on both!

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Our first fan-trip of 2023

Sights of South Delta

At 12 noon on Saturday, February 4th, coach #4612 departs on our first fan-trip of 2023. It won’t be its first outing. Trevor Batstone drove the 1964 GM TDH4519 “Fishbowl” in the Lunar Parade on January 22nd. Then it will  perform two private charters during this week, culminating with the fan-trip on Saturday.

This Sunday, 29th January our volunteers were busy putting the finishing touches to the bus. Matthew Walker has fitted a Grant Money-Meter farebox – bring some spare change to donate to the Museum and hear the musical tones once part of every bus ride in the sixties and early 1970s! (The musical fareboxes were introduced in 1960 –along with tokens rather than tickets — and were replaced by the simple ‘Duncan’ in 1973.)

The tour was programmed by Milan Streit with assistance from Andrew Joyce. We’re sure everyone onboard will enjoy the fan-trip. Hopefully this will be the first of many in 2023! (This fan-trip is now sold out!)

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Matthew Walker makes some last-minute adjustments to the farebox and affixes the licence plate.

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Chris and Jason give #4612 a wash-and-brush-up.

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Photos from the Past

Those of us over a certain age will no doubt remember listening to our vinyl records and how much clearer digital CDs were (for good or bad!). The same holds true for photographs. Today’s digital photographs are so much more detailed and able to be tweaked to correct minor problems. Yesterday’s photos just can’t compare – especially those taken with consumer-grade cameras. Colour prints from the seventies and eighties are notoriously unstable. Add cheap camera optics, small image size, poor contrast range and bad lighting to the mix, and one could be forgiven asking whether its worth preserving some of the photos.

The answer is “yes”. No matter how much below the quality we expect nowadays, there is often detail in the images themselves that can only add to our knowledge of transit history. So, I have started a project to scan these images that have been donated to our library through the years. I’m placing them in their own gallery on our website, so viewers know we are preserving them for their historical content more than their photographic merit. Sometimes, the historical content may not be evident at the moment: perhaps some future archivist will discover a nugget of valuable information contained in them!

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We all know of the celebrations of the 100th Anniversary of transit – but what about the 90th?

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The “Bus” sign was not a decal?

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#2601 was fitted with a Brown-Boveri chopper control. Compare the “hump” between it and #2605

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Of course, some are “borderline!”. Maybe it is not worth keeping.

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A Big Announcement!

Well, this week, we have a “housekeeping” entry. But it’s big news!

We’re going on a Fan Trip! It’s aboard 1964 TDH4519 #4612. We’ll travel around Surrey and Delta, stopping for photo opportunities and some interesting points along the way. The route isn’t fully planned yet, but don’t let that stop you from reserving your seat!

The fan trip is open to all, at our regular price of $30 (Members) / $35 non-members. To provide maximum viewing experience, only the number of forward-facing seats will be available. Of course, you can sit anywhere you like, except for that one reserved seat in front. In addition, we’ll only fit four on the back bench – so that limits the seat spaces available to 30. This trip is sure to be popular – reservations are now available – BUT MEMBERS GET A SPECIAL ADVANCE BOOKING PERIOD. To reserve, you must log into Admidio first.

TMS – Admidio

Enter your credentials in the first panel. Forgotten your password? Click the link under the blue sign-in button. You’ll receive instructions at your registered email address. Forgotten your log-in? Changed email address? Send us an email: membership@transitmuseumsociety.org

Your browser must accept cookies in order for us to validate your membership.

Once logged in, select Web Links from the dark grey bar on the left. Click on the first link presented. You must sign-in again! Click Continue to reservations page under the TMS logo. (We’re investigating ways to make this process simpler!)

Non-members will be able to reserve any remaining seats beginning Monday, January 23rd.

The trip will depart from Scott Rd SkyTrain on Saturday, February 4th at 12 noon, The duration is approximately 3 hours.

Unsure of where to board at Scott Rd? We’ll email you details, explaining that and lots more, whether you travel by car, bus or SkyTrain. Watch your email (and junk inbox!) a few days before departure date.

We encourage you to pay for your ticket(s) after you make a reservation. (You can reserve tickets for a companion who isn’t a member). We accept credit cards, and also debit cards bearing the VISA or Mastercard logos. 

If you wish to pay onboard, please remember: for this tour we will only accept cash.

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Christmas-in-January

Sunday 8th January was the rescheduled Christmas Lunch (and ‘Secret Santa’ ) at our Langley shop. It had been postponed from December 18th due to severe weather. Lunch was generously provided by Bryan & Rhonda Larrabee, partly as a “thank-you” to the shop crew who helped with our recent move, and partly because, well,  Bryan & Rhonda are  just great guys! Thank you, Larrabees!

In attendance: (Clockwise around the table from bottom), Matthew Walker, with back to camera, Milan Streit, Sue & Lawrence Walker, Richard Dyer, Savannah Dewolf, Rob Chew, Bryan Larrabee, Angus Macintyre, Jason Sharpe, Trevor Batstone and Rhonda Larrabee. Camera-shy: Michael Taylor-Noonan and Aaron Meier

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Car 4 – A Streetcar on Cambie St

It’s just after 10pm on 14th December 2022 when TMS member Jeff Veniot witnesses an unusual sight on West 1st Avenue near Crowe St. There, a tractor unit is attempting to do a right turn. Attached is a specialized trailer loaded with an very large object wrapped in a large white tarp. Peeking out from the end is the unmistakeable face of Car #4, a tram once owned by the Transit Museum Society, purchased to one day run on the now-abandoned Downtown Historic Railway.

How the streetcar came to this point, squeezing by cars with centimetres to spare under the watchful eyes of transportation specialists from Nickel Bros, with a police escort no-less, began nearly 87 years ago in Brussels, Belgium.

There, Car #4 –or to give it its original number of 5023 – entered service in 1935. But to the casual observer, this would be hard to determine.  On first glance, Car #4 looks to be one of the large number of PCC-based streetcars purchased by European systems after WW2, some actually using trucks from scrapped US cars. But appearances can be deceiving.

Below: #5023 in service in Brussels (TMS Archives); Lower: Car #4 as offered at auction. Restoration will be a daunting task! We do not know the intentions of the winning bidder. (BC Auctions)

 

#5023 was part of a 25-car order by Ateliers de La Dyle et Bacalan, a well-known Belgian builder, based in Louvain. Les Tramways Bruxellois (predecessor of today’s Brussels Intercommunal Transport Company or STIB-MIVB) wanted them to carry crowds to the 1935 world exhibition. They were the first dual-truck streetcars in Brussels. They had wooden bodies, carrying 90 passengers, 34 of whom were seated. They were fast and reliable. Distinguishing marks were the square and stiff appearance. They were referred to as Standaardtrams. (https://www.nycsubway.org/wiki/ Brussels,_Belgium_Trams)

 

Four cars, though, #5006, 5020, 5021 and 5023 were rebodied following accidents. In 1964-65, #5023 was given a new steel body which resembled the PCC cars of the #7000 series which began to be delivered in 1951. The class was retired in 1976. The four rebodied cars became “works cars” #5023 became Works Car #4. (https://www.bec-kits.co.uk/Kitpages/kit32.htm) They retained their exterior appearance except side windows were blocked off, leaving only small openings at the top.

It’s the late 1990s, and STIB decides to withdraw Car #4 from service. Streetcar buff Claude Sabot who grew up in Belgium, has settled in Gibsons, BC. Here he hopes to build a heritage tramway, purchasing old retired Brussels trams. His dream would falter through lack of money, and he would be forced to sell his acquired streetcars. (While at least two would travel to museums in the US, I have been unable to determine their fates.) Claude used his experience to convince STIB to donate Car #4 to TMS and secure half-price shipping to Vancouver. (Dale Laird). The tram arrived in Vancouver on 15th September 2000.

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Dale Laird supervises unloading of Car #4, 15th September, 2004 (TMS Archives)

“(The enthusiasts) found the money to put windows in and the volunteers started to restore the car. A UBC student project worked on the controller and they almost got it into running condition. At the time the City of Vancouver was a part sponsor and did the servicing and maintenance on the two interurban trains. I don’t think they put any money into Car 4. Eventually the DHR became a victim of budget cuts within the city and Car 4 was abandoned. “ (Bryan Larrabee)

The City put Car #4 up for auction in August, 2022. Special note was made of the condition it was in, the presence of Asbestos, and the need for specialized equipment and manpower to remove it from the DHR car barn. Nevertheless, there were 130 bids, mainly from two interested parties. Both were serious — one had a history of over 60 successful bids – but it came down to the final few seconds. A bidder was trumped by $5 just as the auction ended. It’s hoped the successful bidder –with a winning bid of $405 –realizes the challenges of removing and transporting the streetcar. The city had stated the streetcar had to be removed by October 14th, 2022. But it wasn’t until December that preparations were started to move car #4. A few days later, on December 14th, the move took place.

Nickel Bros is a long established trucking company specializing in house and large object moving projects. Jeff reports that from the car barn, the low-loader carrying the streetcar moved under the Cambie bridge along the abandoned right-of-way.

(Now) on First Ave… they tried turning right onto Wylie St, but that wasn’t going to happen…so they went one more block to Crowe St. That proved difficult as the street had not been cleared of cars. They had to back up & pull forward a few times. Fortunately the rear set of wheels had a steerable truck & they made it.

Then another slow turn onto 2nd Ave heading West. Then the tight Left turn onto the Cambie Street southbound loop – opposite the Olympic Village Canada Line Stn. I left them as they sailed through Cambie & Broadway.

I asked the movers where they were going & got different answers. The most common answer was somewhere on Marine Drive (Vancouver), to a private residence (?) for restoration & then it would become a restaurant somewhere.

(Jeff Veniot)

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Car #4 travels up Cambie past Broadway, heading to a new phase in its long and varied life. (All photos of the move courtesy Jeff Veniot)

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Christmas Time… Time for Christmas Lights!

Behind the Christmas Lights Tours

If you went on one of our Christmas Lights Tours, you would have met our hosts and driver at Scott Road Station. The hosts keep track of our passenger roster, collect fares if people haven’t pre-paid and answer the phone if any of our passengers is delayed and wants us to hold the bus. One host goes along with the tour and acts as the tour guide and makes sure we don’t leave anyone behind at one of our stops. What you don’t realize is that there are a few other Transit Museum volunteers involved before and after the tour.

(Host Matthew at Scott Rd Station awaiting our passengers. All photos except where indicated otherwise: L. Walker)

Before the tour becomes a reality, much research is involved to design a route. It starts with the memory of past tours and the great lights displays from last year. We only have a couple of weeks as most people start building their displays in early December. Some of the past displays are gone so we have to adjust the tour and see if there are new displays to discover. After some mapping and test driving, a route is determined. We try to be flexible and in fact we added a couple of houses at the last minute this year. Every year 3 or 4 people are involved in the final design of the route.

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(Chris checks the brakes as part of his pre-trip. Photo Brian Larrabee)

Members of the shop crew decorate the bus under the supervision of our electrician. In past years the bus became “Rudolph” with antlers, eyes and a big nose but this year with the big move to Langley we decided just to decorate the interior.

We realized a few years ago that we needed a reservation system and a way for our riders to contact us with questions or concerns. A fairly simple (and free!) software system developed for a small airline was adopted by our webmaster. People can reserve and prepay for a seat or have the option of making a reservation and paying in person at Scott Road Station. Our hosts are emailed a passenger roster before the tour and know who to collect fares from and if there are any seats available for walk on customers. A phone system is activated for last minute problems. We like the bus to be at Scott Road Station at 6:30pm so that people can spot it and know where to go, and our first step is to meet at the Langley Shop an hour early. Someone gets the bus started and aired up and backs it out of the shop. The driver arrives and does the pre-trip inspection which consists of an air brake check, fluids and lights are checked and they make sure that a fire extinguisher, first aid kit and emergency reflective road kit are on board. They walk around the bus and do a visual inspection of the wheels and tires. The driver fills out and signs the pre-trip form and completes a driver log to track the hours that they have driven in the past week. Just before leaving, the driver calls our recorded phone service confirming that the bus is on its way to Scott Rd.

It’s about a half hour drive to Scott Road Station, so the bus departs at 6pm and the shop is locked up. At around 10:30 the shop crew returns to meet the bus as it arrives after the tour. The driver hands in the paperwork and lets us know how the tour went and if there were any problems with the bus. The fuel level is checked and the bus floor is swept and washed. Wheels and tires are inspected. Bus batteries are turned off and the bus is ready for the next trip.

Everyone involved is a volunteer and just as you support the Transit Museum by purchasing a ticket, our planners, hosts, drivers and shop crew are contributing their time to help with this valuable fundraiser. Thank you everyone for keeping the Museum alive and active.

Bryan Larrabee, President, Transit Museum Society

On the Road

Our Christmas Lights Tour organizer also has a few words to say about what makes them possible. “I have had one of the best CLTs in years!” says Lawrence Walker, especially that of Saturday December 17th

“With Stephan Goodman checking off names, now a TMS host in training, Chris driving superbly, always a character, lamenting on how much he missed driving bus. Andrew and Chris working well together with Andrew Joyce directing. The roads looked wet but we’re a lovely sheet of ice. The owner of the “Inflatable House” in North Delta  coming out and greeting us, (he also emailed us before we even had a route plan), Chris asking Andrew if he had a few different places that he didn’t , and taking us past them including Alex Jager’s house!”

In closing, we must also mention our other hosts (Sue & Matthew), drivers (Evan, Michael H. & Alan), service personnel getting 9753 ready, (Milan, Matthew, Jason S., Jason B., Richard, Sean, and of course, Bryan who stood by ready to drive our ‘rescue’ bus (4612) if it was needed – which it wasn’t! My apologies to anyone I’ve missed. A pat on the back to you all…

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Our Christmas Lights Tour returns

Its Christmas Lights Tour time!

A Christmas tradition returns. This year our Christmas Coach, #9753, will tour houses in Surrey and Langley. This year, though, we will limit the number of tours to six: three public and three private charters. As President Bryan Larrabee says, “we’re all exhausted after completing the move. We can’t impose on members to do more.”

It’s unfortunate because there was demand for additional public tours, coupled with a decision to restrict seat sales to forward-facing positions. All three tours were quickly sold out, although we did direct disappointed customers to a private charter organized by Andrew Joyce. Andrew, in cooperation with Lawrence Walker designed this year’s route.

On Saturday, December 10th, the first tour departed from Scott Road Station. #9753 was driven (expertly and very professionally according to Lawrence) by Michael Hayter. Future trips and the private charters will be driven by Chris Cassidy and Alan Mihatov. A shortened version of the route for the Blue Eagle Cadets/TransLink Police was driven by Evan Russell. Hosts for this first excursion were Lawrence, Sue & Matthew Walker. The coach was decorated by Matthew and Milan Streit. Photographs by Stephen Goodman. (Top to bottom: Sue, Matthew, our first customers!)A picture containing outdoor

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Unhinged…

 

No, not Lawrence

But this:

We’re not sure of the design philosophy involved here, but this is a “hinge” that attaches various door flaps to the body of our 1976 Flyer E800 10240 #2649. The obvious explanation is cost savings since its made from rubber, not stainless steel. The lifespan of the part is in the neighbourhood of ten years – eventually it will need to be replaced. And then Flyer’s parsimoniousness  will turn round and bite the the operator’s finances. It’s not just a simple matter of screwing on a new hinge; the surrounding body panels will probably have to be removed from the bus to be able to fully slide the new piece of rubber hinge in place. That operation could require up to four or more hours of labour to accomplish – far exceeding the cost savings realized by Flyer. **Retired CMBC Operator and TMS past President Dale Laird -who should know!- points out that these rubber hinges were first used by GM on radiator doors.  ** (Below: It’s a two-person job: Anthony Sherst helps Lawrence replace the engine door on 2649.)

The design was carried onto our 1991 New Flyer D40, #3106. But by 1996, when our D40LF was built, New Flyer had begun using stainless steel “piano” type hinges that are much easier to replace.

Mission accomplished!

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Christmas time!

It’s that time of year again! Christmas! And time for our Christmas Lights Tours. And if you need a “stocking stuffer” why not order a copy of our new 2023 Calendar, celebrating 75 years of Vancouver trolleycoaches!

Milan sweeps out 9753 in preperation for the 2022 Christmas Lights Tours, while Matthew decorates with festive lighting. The tours will operate December 10th and 17th, departing from Scott Road Skytrain Station. Please reserve (and optionally pay) for your seat at tours.transitmuseumsociety.org

You may also pay onboard with Cash – no credit cards accepted.