So far, the winter of 2012-13 has been anything but quiet at Manchester’s Heaton Park Tramway. Impressive progress on the main current project, remedial work on Stockport 5, is continuing whilst two other vehicles have been under attention already this year. A brief update on these developments is provided here.
Since last operating in October, considerable work has been undertaken on Stockport 5. Although many of the jobs carried out are fairly small, all of them will make a big difference to the overall appearance of the tram, and will ensure that when it travels to Beamish Museum in the spring it will look superb! It is also heartening that the amount of work being done has actually been increased, due to the number of volunteers who have generously given their time to work on the tram.
Work carried out so far has included extensive cleaning and polishing of numerous brass items, and paintwork attention on the trolley mast, upper deck railings and seat backs, window surrounds, resistance boxes and lifeguards. The outer truck frame is currently being repainted and a panel at the top of one of the staircases is also being repainted, to remove traces of damage caused by a passenger’s attempt to carve their name onto the tram! Some of the lower deck ceiling panels have been replaced due to water damage, but other repairs should prevent any more problems with leaking. Meanwhile, modifications to the car’s braking equipment are now being carried out which will allow the handbrake to be used as the primary brake when in service, although the airbrakes fitted for use in Blackpool will also be retained.
It’s not just car 5 that has been worked on though, as the tramway’s recently acquired works vehicle, to be known as 02 but unofficially dubbed ‘The Beast’, is being prepared for use. This vehicle, which boasts a cherry-picker, can run on both road and rails, and will doubtless prove invaluable for such duties as overhead line maintenance and tree pruning. The rail wheels, which will allow it to run on exposed sleeper track, have now been removed and sent away for re-profiling.
A small inconvenience to progress on these projects occured on Sunday 27th January, when Blackpool Brush car 623 suffered a minor defect. Parts to enable 623 to be repaired have already been obtained and the tram should be back in service shortly, but it is expected that Manchester 765 will take its place as the service car on 3rd February. Having already made a few suprise appearances since its supposed withdrawal last year, this will give visitors another chance to ride on the Manchester ‘California’ car before it takes it turn in the workshops for an overhaul ahead of its 100th birthday next year.