Thursday, March 30, 2006

Biting the Bullet

With a temporary home in the "Top Shed" at Sydney Tramway Museum (STM), Loftus, on Sydney's southern fringe, work began in earnest, removing body panelling inside and out.
There were no surprises---- just lots of rust, in a frame 66 years old. The frame material is light (1 mm) steel, given only a perfunctory coat of red lead primer in 1939, so in Sydney's hot humid coastal climate rust is a fact of life.

The bus stands outside the top shed with all top deck panels removed, as well as interior linings and trims, sliding windows and seats. August 2005 photo Bill Parkinson

The Gardner 6LW engine of 1615. At 8.4 litres, max. RPM 1800, output 100 BHP, it is the most fuel-efficient diesel ever built.
photo Bill Parkinson 3/8/2005.

Craig's hard work has seen him able to buy his own house in Wollongong, with a substantial shed on the property. The plan at one stage was to raise the side walls of the shed along with its roof, to give sufficient headroom for a double decker.
Then another idea surfaced. STM has two heavy travelling electric cranes in its workshop. They can lift an entire tram, so half a double decker would be a breeze. Sydney double deckers were built as a single decker with wooden roof, which then had the top deck, constructed separately, lowered onto it. We would do the reverse.
In the event, not much was found to be securing the top deck to the bottom: of the original 80 or so bolts, only about 12 were still intact, some only partially due to rust, and there was some electrical wiring and three destination display winders to be removed.

The bottom deck, still driveable, will go to Craig's house, to have its frame restored, engine and mechanicals overhauled, chassis cleaned and painted, and wheels, brakes and tyres renovated.
The top deck, now sitting on the flat bed of a Sydney tramways ballast motor, can then be restored. This will be done at ground level, obviating the need for awkward scaffolding and elevated work platforms.


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