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Restoration to operating order, Freight Car 24s


Sydney Freight tram 24s entered service in 1903 carrying freight between Depots, Workshops and per-way yards. It was fitted with extended balconies at each end in 1911 and continued in use until the early 1930’s when the effects of the Depression and advances in motor trucks forced its retirement.
In 1939 the threat of war and the introduction of petrol rationing saw 24s come out of retirement and back in service. It was painted in the green and cream colours at this time.
In 1949 petrol rationing was lifted and once again 24s was withdrawn and sent to open storage awaiting scrapping. However, shortly afterwards it was donated to the fledgeling Sydney Tramway Museum for preservation. The body was restored during the 1990’s but the electrical’s and the unusual (for Sydney) McGuire maximum traction bogies had to wait. Now, thanks to the society’s recently successful application for a Transport Heritage NSW grant [5] to bring the car to operating condition, 24s takes its turn in the Restoration Shed and it won’t be long before this 113-year-old veteran returns to the rails under its own power.

Restoration of 24s Commences

Project & Workshop Manager, Bill Parkinson, did not waste any time in starting the work. On Saturday 19 November, 24s was transferred from the Display Hall into the Workshop. On the following Wednesday, Terry Thomas, Warren Howlett and Bob Cooper removed the #2 crane jib that had been badly damaged many years ago and with the assistance of the hydraulic press managed to straighten the damaged sections. A difficult job that required the use of the overhead crane to maneuver the heavy jib into the press a number of times to complete the work. The jib was then reinstalled onto 24s after the application of sufficient lubrication into the joints.

On Wednesday 30th November, Frank Cuddy commenced the work to install new wiring into the interior of the tram. After the removal of a shelf and cupboard with difficulty ( the screws had probably not been removed since the tram was built), Frank started the removal of the cable trough covers. Again these had been in place since 24s was constructed.

May 2017 update

This is based on a report on the progress report sent to Transport Heritage NSW.
Thanks to Martin Pinches for the report and most of the photographs.

The Restoration of Freight Car 24s is on time and budget as at 31st March 2017. The tram was moved to the Museum Workshop to allow work to commence in December 2016. Work on electrical wiring and refurbishing switch panels has commenced with the electrical panels installed in No1 and 2 cabs whilst internal light and headlight cabling has been completed.

A major milestone has been achieved with the tram lifted and the McGuire Maximum Traction bogies removed to allow work to be undertaken on the 600v DC GE 67 electric motors. Stripping of the bogies and motors has commenced and three resistor grids have been tested ready for installation under 24s.

A new air receiver tank was ordered and has been delivered, with work on refurbishing a replacement GE CP27 air compressor, compressor governor, 6″brake cylinder and brake valves finished.

Work on preparing and partially undercoating the internal ceiling, doors and walls has started with the required paint for both internal and external being purchased.

Work will continue to finish the complete rewiring of 24s over the course of the next few months with the installation of the replacement wiring throughout the tram. The cable has already been ordered and delivered.

The major work that will occur will be the complete refurbishment of the two motors by our Project Manager and Electrical Fitters. One motor has already been disassembled and a scope of the work required has been completed. After removing the armature and field coils it was obvious that some moisture had entered the motor at some point. Therefore the field coils will have to be checked and dried out. The traction Motor cabling is in poor condition and will have to be replaced. An order for new cabling has been placed.

The cleaning and checking of the two bogies will also be an important part of the project to enable any replacement parts to be manufactured or acquired. Some parts have been found missing or damaged and replacements are being sourced.

The lifting of the tram over the inspection pit has allowed a thorough inspection of the underside of the Freight Car to be undertaken and necessary work determined. There will be a large amount of cleaning of the underside of the tram together with some work on the underframe.

August 2017 Update

A significant milestone has been reached with the Restoration to operating Condition of Sydney Freight Car 24s. On Wednesday 30th August the GE GP27 Air Compressor was successfully tested and checked by the use of the Workshop motor-generator set. The compressor cut-in and cut-out at the correct pressures and after a few minor air-leaks were completed the air brake system was thoroughly checked with operation from both air brake stands undertaken to ensure the correct movement of the brake cylinder and associated under-car brake gear.

The workshop volunteers were all extremely pleased with this milestone being achieved with thanks to all concerned, Bill, Ed, Bob, Frank, Mick, Terry, Warren, Scott and all others that assisted with this work.

Also of course the painting of the interior of the Freight car has continued with the task almost completed. Thanks to Ian and Peter for all the work that has been finished.

Meanwhile , Bill has almost completed the overhaul of the second GE 67 motor with lacquer spraying of the armature and field coils completed. The commutator requires attention prior to the motor being re-assembled and then tested which should occur in the next week.

November 2017 Update – Testing

On November 11 2017, 24s was taken out onto the museum ‘mainline’ for a full operational test. It had operated around the depot yard under its own power a few weeks previously, but this was the first time it ventured out onto the ‘mainline’ in over 60 years.
It made the trip to Waratah loop and performed well, to the satisfaction to all that worked on her. Then she actually did some work, a prefabricated track train grill was wanted up at TAFE crossing where some drain improvements are being undertaken. This was loaded into 24s with the forklift, and then taken to TAFE crossing where one of built-in jib arms was used to unload the heavy track component.

Video: Matthew Geier
Video: Matthew Geier