Blackpool Railgrinder No. 2

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Photo: J Dignan

Tram rail may look tough and resilient but is subjected to enormous stresses and pressures, particularly on bends and at intersections, where points enable tramcars to switch from one track to another.  Another source of pressure comes from heavy braking by tramcars, which can cause the wheels to lock.  One effect of such pressure is to cause the rail to wear unevenly, resulting in corrugations or ripples that make for a noisy and uneven ride.

Tramway operators dealt with such problems by employing railgrinders, which consisted of power-driven tram trucks that were fitted with carborundum blocks.  These could be brought into contact with the rails and put under pressure in order to remove the corrugations.  Because of the heat that was generated by the process, the rail grinder was also equipped with a large water tank that was normally housed within a wooden body.

Small jets of water were directed onto the rail as the tram passed slowly over it.  The task of maintaining the track in good condition was a slow and laborious one as only 300 yards of single track could be resurfaced in an average shift (usually at night).  Nevertheless, it was the only way of preventing excessive vibrations from building up, which were a major cause of wear and, ultimately, disintegration if not attended to.

Specification

Type of tram
Works car – rail grinder
Livery
Originally green; currently grey.
Seating capacity
N/A
Date built
1935
Date entered service
25th May 1935
Manufacturer of body
Blackpool Corporation
Manufacturer of truck
Brush Flexible Axle
Gauge
4’ 8½”
Motor
2x 40 hp GE 200K
Controller
BTH B18
Current collector
Trolley pole (not fitted)
Modification

Fitted with snowplough November 1935.

Withdrawn from service

October 1965

Subsequent history

Moved to Crich in December 1965; initially used as a works car and also a mobile generator for a time. Also appeared as an illuminated tramcar during the annual August extravaganzas.
Placed in off-site storage, March 1975

Restoration history

Converted to generator car while at Crich which resulted in a number of modifications. Current trolley gantry is not original

Current status
Unrestored; non-operational. Several electrical components are missing, having been used in the restoration of Manchester 765. Its original truck is stored separately but in the same off-site location.
Date started operating at Crich
N/A
Total mileage covered at Crich
N/A
Current location
In storage off-site
Timeline
  • 1935 – 1965Fully operational on original tramway
  • 1965 – 1975Operational at Crich as a works vehicle and mobile generator
  • 1975 –Off-site storage

Crich Tramway Village is a brand name for the National Tramway Museum (Accredited with Arts Council England), solely owned and operated by The Tramway Museum Society, incorporated in England with liability by guarantee (no. 744229). Registered charity number 313615. Our ICO number is Z6700136.