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 Post subject: Wheels, was The Birney Car
PostPosted: Wed Feb 06, 2008 5:13 pm 
Site Admin

Joined: Sat Aug 28, 2004 1:15 pm
Posts: 1391
Location: Henderson Nevada
The SPCRR have patterns for 24" and 26" cast steel wheels based on a 19th century Whitney wheels. They were created for our narrow gauge freight and passenger car restorations, but would possibly work for a street car. We used a 19th century MCB 4.5" railroad tread.

Please understand, they are cast steel, and hardend, but were not created with the thought of FRA or other regulatory approval as our railroad is completly insular.

Our vendor believes he could get them certified as needed for "conventional" railroad use, but has not confirmed what that process would include (or cost) Has done wheel work for SF Muni, Bart, and UP, so they not unaware of such issues.

The last time we purchased 24" wheels (5 years ago) they were just under $1,100 per wheel, including machining. I assume they would be more expensive today.

Randy Hees
Director, Nevada State Railroad Museum, Boulder City, Nevada

 Post subject: Re: What is important, a case study, The Birney Car
PostPosted: Wed Feb 06, 2008 6:02 pm 

Joined: Sat Aug 28, 2004 5:52 pm
Posts: 537
Location: Apple Valley, Minnesota

This whole concept of fabricating some critical parts to restore Birney car cadavers was discussed several years ago at an ARM parts committee meeting. The gist of the discussions revolved around fabricating a repro truck and controllers. The whole purpose for this discussion resulted from a general idea that there are so many Birney bodies out there and the components are long-gone. Something needed to be done or these bodies would never be restored even for static display.

Andy Nold has begun the truck portion of the project by arranging for the casting of the journal boxes previously mentioned. I'm no expert in such matters but I believe that is probably the most complicated part of the truck. After that Andy has mentioned next casting the equalizers. You still need spring cups, springs, brake rigging, etc., but it's possible to make those (I presume) by machining steel.

The comment about motors is spot-on. however, if you want to spend the big bucks, Gomaco has Milan motors which I understand are rated in kwh but are roughly equivalent to 27-30hp. Close enough I'd say.

The controllers are another matter. I believe it was Don Curry of Seashore who offered a K74 controller to be used to "reverse engineer" the patterns and other pieces-parts to replicate the controller. This part of the project was to be devided-up and farmed-out amongst several museums with each museum making a particular controller part. The end result was to be that all the parts would then be made and given to the other participating museums who would put their contrtollers together. Of course, you could use a K10 or K11 controller in a Birney as some were equipped with that type. But, there ain't a lot of K10/11s floating around either as far as that goes.

The brake valve is what makes a Birney a safety car. It would be terribly expensive to try to make repos of the M-28 (right model #?) brake valve so I would guess that there won't ever be a restored Birney that would have all its standard as-built safety appliances and features.


Jim Vaitkunas
Minnesota Streetcar Museum

 Post subject: Re: What is important, a case study, The Birney Car
PostPosted: Wed Feb 06, 2008 6:08 pm 

Joined: Sun Aug 22, 2004 8:34 pm
Posts: 658
Location: Union, IL
Ted Miles wrote:
I would disagree about them ones in the Old Spagetti
Factory being "preserved" They have little prospect of ever seeing trucks and rails again.

I agree that many of those cars are unlikely to see rails again (though I know of at least one ex-Spaghetti Factory car that has gone to a museum which has plans to restore it), but that could be said of any number of car bodies in real museums. Will Miami 231 or Pensacola 61 ever be put on a real truck? Maybe not, but they're in museums, on display and open to the public.

The Spaghetti Factory cars may not be preserved in a truly historical setting but they are being kept around for the future, and they are being portrayed to people as electric railway cars. Their future may not be 100% secure, but neither is that of the lines of PCC's at Seashore, the tarped bodies at IRM, or the cars sitting in the yard at Kingston. All of these cars' futures, for better or worse, will eventually depend on the whims of the preservation movement. Just my two cents.

Frank Hicks
Preserved North American Electric Railway Equipment News
Hicks Car Works

 Post subject: Re: What is important, a case study, The Birney Car
PostPosted: Wed Feb 06, 2008 8:57 pm 

Joined: Tue Dec 14, 2004 5:45 pm
Posts: 272
Geesh. I've been trying for days to figure out what my user name and password was so I could reply to this thread.

Regarding the McKinney Avenue Transit Authority Birney, it is not so far away from the mechanical condition it was in at the end of its operating life for Dallas Railway and Terminal. The shop crews loathed the complexity of the deadman control system and scrapped it after the passengers got accustomed to the idea of one-man operation.

The goal as Jim mentioned is to complete a fairly accurate 79E reproduction truck. With so many Birney bodies out there, this seemed like a great opportunity to work together and pool resources to accomplish something that would be prohibitively expensive for one organization to do alone. This is what is great about the ARM.

Bradley Martin of Fort Smith has acquired a K-63 and we have had discussions of reverse engineering that.

My webpage for this project is

We currently have a Westinghouse styled M-28 with separate door valve and a GE styled M-28 with an integral door valve. I cn wire them on the same car, but would prefer to swap for a GE style for consistency.

There are not too many things that we can't reproduce that we need for the car. Oh sure, we're not going to start reproducing asbestos arc shutes or irradiated glass reflectors for that golden glow look, but for those of us who started our restoration projects long after the heyday of easy to find streetcar parts, replacements can be made, found or faked to the point that only a very inquisitive rail squirrel would know the difference. And if you are interpreting the experience of a streetcar ride, I feel it is better to keep the original equipment preserved and wear out the reproduction stuff.

Andy Nold

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