For the second successive year, the East Anglia Transport Museum have found success with the concept of ‘Santa Trams’, which has provided two of its fleet – Blackpool 11 and London Transport 1858 – with employment during the normally quiet winter period. Prior to this, quite a lot of work had been carried out on 11 this year, whilst 1858 is set to receive some well-deserved attention early next year.
The most popular tram in the museum’s small operating fleet, Blackpool Marton VAMBAC Railcoach 11, has had a quiet year after the excitement of 2011, when its visit to Beamish saw it crowned as the British Trams Online ‘Tram of the Year’. Unfortunately the car has suffered from several defects during 2012 including a problem with the VAMBAC accelerator, but happily this has now been corrected allowing it to run over the festive season. Museum volunteers have also found a way to shunt car 11 in and out of the tram depot (which doesn’t have overhead wires installed) using low voltage equipment.
The condition of London 1858‘s hornways has become a concern, and so the car is to be lifted off its bogies in the new year so that bigger horn inserts can be fitted. This issue is affecting 1858‘s braking efficiency and, whilst not a major problem yet, it is pleasing that this is being addressed before it deteriorates to the extent that the tram cannot operate safely.
Perhaps more excitingly, the long-term project of restoring Lowestoft 14 to operational condition has continued during 2012. Electrical testing undertaken in May revealed a problem with one of its axles which was extremely reluctant to turn. To investigate this properly, the tram has been placed on a temporary accomdoation truck so its own truck can be examined more thoroughly. This revealed a potential problem with the bushes on 14‘s wet axle which is under investigation. This should not delay work on the car too much as the body continues to be worked on at the same time. Despite this setback, 14 did manage to move a short distance with assistance from a low-voltage power pack for the museum’s 40th anniversary event on Sunday 27th May, giving a tantaslising glimpse of the time when this tram will join the museum’s regular service fleet for the first time.