To paraphrase Vane Jones, "Knowledge is of little value until shared with others."

Saturday, March 29, 2014

Trolley Pole Primer - Part 4 Making Your Own Trolley Poles?

When covering the trolley wheel or slider, no mention was made of what can be done to correct slightly off center wheels or sliders. A small, smooth jaw pair of pliers can be used if the casting is less than a few degrees off center.

While holding the trolley wheel or slider casting with the pliers gently twist the wheel or slider casting. The phosphor-bronze wire used to make the pole can be twisted. If the trolley wheel or slider is more than a few degrees off center, a soldering iron must be used to unsolder and twist the casting into place.

The answers to the Trivia Questions -
1. What prototype trolley car used 2 different trolley bases?
One example is the Aurora Elgin & Fox River Electric 49, a model of which was built in this Blog. The 49 used both a 4-spring horizontal pole base and a 4-spring horizontal back pole base. The reason for using 2 different pole bases was the lack of space between the 2 mounting points of the trolley bases.
The photo was taken by Joe Hazinski. Joe is an operating member of the Fox River Trolley Museum. The model is perched on a side bearing of a prototype truck bolster.

The 49 is not the only example of 2 different trolley pole bases used on the same car. Whenever there was not enough space between the trolley bases, railways commonly used different pole bases on a car to save room.

2. What prototype trolley car used 3 different trolley bases?
The Chicago Aurora & Elgin #11 line car had 3 trolley poles on its roof, Two of the poles were to collect electricity from the overhead wire. The 3rd pole was to apply grease to the trolley wire. This later pole had a 4-spring horizontal back pole base.

For collecting current from the trolley wire, 1 of the poles had a 4-spring horizontal pole base while the other was a 4-spring vertical pole base.
 This is about the only photo of the roof of CA&E 11.

This is a photo of my model of CA&E 11 made by Jean Deschenes.

Again the reason for the 3 different pole bases was a lack of space. One of the pole bases to collect electricity was very close to the overhead tower. The 4-spring vertical pole base was used here.

The pole used to apply grease did not have a wheel or slider at the tip of the pole. A special grease applying appliance was attached when needed.

You may have noticed my trolley poles on NSL models have an aluminum "sox" on the trolley pole near the trolley base and then at the shoe. The NSL used aluminum paint on these areas of the trolley pole to prevent to pole from rusting in place. This made it easier to replace the pole from the base or to remove the shoe from the pole. I paint about 1/4" of the trolley pole with aluminum paint.

When the CA&E received the St. Louis cars in 1946, the trolley poles were painted aluminum. This gave the new cars a more streamline look. The CA&E liked the idea so it started to paint all of their trolley poles aluminum. From a safety standpoint the poles were easier for the conductors and trainmen to see in the dark. Remember, the CA&E used trolley wire only for freight sidings, parts of the main yard in Wheaton, and at the end of the lines in the Fox Valley. All of these were dark at night!

One personal comment about the Wagner slider. In talking to another trolley modeler about this slider design, we agreed having this shoe designed to be working like the PSC wheel would be great. A working slider would have more and better contact with the trolley wire just like the prototype.

Below is a series of published articles on making your own trolley poles. They appeared in the August and September, 1948 issues of "The Model Craftsman". This magazine later became "Railroad Model Craftsman".

You may have wondered why, in the 1st post about trolley bases, the Ohio Brass names of the trolley bases were introduced. Using a manufacturer's name to identify a particular trolley base is used in the following articles. As can be seen, trying to identify a particular trolley base by its spring design can be hard.



The pages were inserted into the post with as many pixels as possible. If you are interested in making your own trolley poles and have difficulty reading any of the pages contact me.

The 1 pole which I wish was made commercially is the US 11.This trolley base was used on many of the early trolley cars in the Chicago area. I tried to make a US 11 trolley pole as mentioned in the article. It didn't turn out too well!

In case you are interested in pantagraphs, I have little knowledge about prototype and model pantagraphs. I tried to make some minor repairs on pans but the pans did not work any better than they had before starting the work. It's better to replace "broken" pantagraphs with new ones.


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