2107 – wheel re-profile project

A Transport Heritage New South Wales funded project.

One of the impediments to the regular operation of Variotram 2107 at Loftus is its hybrid ‘tram-train’ profile wheels are incompatible with the ‘old’ Sydney point work used at the museum.

The goods line that was used for the original Sydney Light Rail project was not converted to tramway standards – it was left compatible with heavy rail trains. At the time of the projects inception, grain was still being hauled into Pyrmont and the project planning proceeded on the basis that this would continue. So the trams were specified with ‘tram-train’ wheels that allowed the cars to negotiate heavy rail points in a safe manner.

This special wheel profile has a ‘step’ on the wheel back to engage the railway check rails. This gives a wheel with both tramway and railway ‘back-to-back’ measurements.

The old Sydney tramways used raised check rails on points – and the museum has many of these points recovered from locations around Sydney. These check-rails foul the ‘tram-train’ step on the back of the Variotram wheels.

This project, supported by Transport Heritage NSW, is to ‘in place’ mill the wheel backs to remove this step. This will make the wheels compatible with the museum tracks. To this end a Wollongong based specialist engineering firm Leussink Engineering has been engaged to perform this work. Leussink will design and fabricate the tools needed to perform the task and then their machinists will assemble the tool at Loftus and machine the wheels to a suitable profile.

Lifting 2107 to remove the bogies and send them for offsite work is not possible at Loftus at this time, as special ‘lifting bay’ will have to be constructed for the special Variotram jacks. In place wheel milling is the most cost effective method at this time.

An initial inspection by Leussink staff occurred early August 2020.