Work continues on returning Blackpool trams to the rails

While engineering staff are now back at Rigby Road in Blackpool preparing the trams for a return to the tracks at the August Bank Holiday weekend as well as continuing the work on the overhauls of the illuminated feature cars there is also progress being made away from Blackpool Transport’s facility. We’ve heard a lot about Railcoach 279 over the past few months but good progress is also being made on the restoration of Coronation 663 which is at Riley & Sons Engineers in Heywood.

The last update we had on 663 was in August 2019 when work was underway on the bogies and now 12 months later that work has been completed and the bogies are back under the tram again. It was late 2018 that 663 was first moved to Riley & Sons near Bury and the first big task has been to fully overhaul the bogies, with the tram having last run in 1974. The bogies have been fully rebuilt with new components and with this work completed they have been returned under the tram once more.

There still remains a lot of work to be completed before 663 can return to Blackpool and into service with the next task to include underframe repairs around the centre platform and the overhaul of the four motors. The tram will also need a full rewire and refurbishment of the bodywork.

Whilst on the subject of rewiring, Railcoach 279’s rewire has now been completed in full, although this did overrun slightly. This means the electricians will have to return to complete the fitting of the main switches and fuses to the cab panels. Elsewhere on the tram further undercoating has been completed and the reassembly of no. 1 controller been finished by a FTT volunteer.

Two trams which are on the road to return to the tracks in Blackpool in the future.

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4 Responses to Work continues on returning Blackpool trams to the rails

  1. nostalgicyetprogressive says:

    Well and truly a welcome light at the end of the coronavirus tunnel, this focuses positively on the future. When 279 runs, it will be the first traditional E E Railcoach to operate since the end of 1973 when 615 was withdrawn to create OMO 11 – the long wait is finally nearing an end. It will be good too to see a Coronation in service again, with 660 no doubt mothballed indefinitely and 304 requiring significant work. Car 663 could also have an important role to play in the Queen’s Platinum Jubilee in 2022 and not forgetting the 125th Anniversary of the Blackpool and Fleetwood Tramroad the following year. Finally when 704 and 143 are complete, there will be much to enjoy when normality eventually returns.

  2. John1 says:

    If you think 663 will be complete by 2022 you are delusional! The backlog is getting bigger due to Covid and with the reluctance to allow volunteer labour its getting longer. Personally I’d be focussing on money spinners such as 706 and 230. The public will notice a Coronation because its different but beyond the enthusiast/museum/preservation circles 279 won’t be a crowd puller. Agree with 143, but 704? Just another balloon and one with uncomfortable seats – should have been a luxury Dreadnought!
    That said it is indeed good to see Heritage on the way back and wishing them every success under the current restraints.

  3. nostalgicyetprogressive says:

    Of course 706 is very important and will complement to two boats currently available for service to attract customers during spells of fine weather, being optimistic about the likelihood of such weather. On the matter of optimism, however, never say ‘never’ – recalling all the years that 304 remained stored and almost forgotten and then it took little over a year from its return to Blackpool to get it running again. The ‘Salvage Squad’, contrary to what the programme would have viewers believe, provided in the main just the funding as in reality virtually all the hard work was carried out by volunteers with help from Rigby Road staff. If we remain hopeful and carry on in a positive manner, it’s not impossible that 663 could be ready for 2022, even though the odds seem stacked against this happening in the present circumstances. In these challenging times surely it’s better not to lose sight of hope, otherwise what have we to look forward to?
    I believe that returning 706 to service would be far more useful than an authentic ‘luxury Dreadnought’. Alice has upper deck windscreens for a good reason – to prevent falls over the front on the occasion of sharp braking: not unusual on the promenade these days. On an original style open top streamline double-decker, health and safety would probably insist the front seats be roped off. Maybe Blackpool Heritage Trams could join forces with Heaton Park and create such a tram from 708, which could then be loaned to Blackpool from time to time and would probably be able to run at Heaton Park without any capacity restriction owing to the low operating speed – just an interesting thought for now. I think when it comes to 279, an attractive historic livery would elevate its presence on the promenade in a similar way to 621 (and 623 when on loan).

    • John1 says:

      There is optimistic and delusional! There are NO restrictions on what can operate. If it ran it can run again. Its up to the Operator to be sensible (and of course anything which was obviously dangerous even back in the day such as uncovered live springs!).
      If the present Tour model continues (and I suspect it might) then that refocuses what is needed from the fleet. A whole other kettle of fish!

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