Sunday, August 17, 2014

Save The Turtle-Back Streetcars Campaign

The North Texas Historic Transportation organization would like to preserve for future generations three Dallas streetcars in danger of being scrapped.  These cars were owned by the Mckinney Avenue Transit Authority. These cars were built to a common Stone & Webster company design known as the turtleback due to the shape of the car roof. MATA had planned to eventually restore these bodies back to working condition.  But over the years they just continued to sit in storage.  Now McKinney Ave. is short on shop space.  They would like to build a new car repair and restoration shop on the land where these car bodies are stored.  Thus the car bodies have been offered to
and accepted by the North Texas Historic Transportation / Texas Traction Company.  This is a group of historically minded electric railway preservationistsfrom the Dallas Fort Worth Texas area.  NTHT /TTCo Currently has several different streetcar bodies and artifacts in storage.  The long term goal of the group is to establish a streetcar and interurban museum in DFW.

Here is a report by one of our members, Tyler Adams, on the current condition of the three turtlebacks.

"189 is the car personally I consider in the best shape. Being inside a house since retirement until the early 90s, and then being kept in a Warehouse until the early 2000s, even the wood on this car is in mostly good shape. The structural steel appears to be in excellent shape, and only show minor signs of rust from the recent years outside. The wood floor in certain areas are showing signs of wear, but still hold an over 200 pounds person jumping up and down on them. Even the roof on this car, although needing new canvas, can still hold an over 200 pounds man jumping on them with ease. The sheet metal on the ends would need replacing, as would much of the wood on the corners and doors. But overall, the car is surprisingly intact.

183 is the one that is the most weathered. Being on the outside wall of house mentioned previously, it did not get the same treatment as 189. Much of the wood on this car, is badly worn if not gone. The floor has collapsed in many areas, and the steel on this car has a bit more rust on it, and note if memory serves me correctly, it is even missing an "elbow", which is the piece that extends from the main frame to help support the platform areas. Roof is also worse, as what is left is decent and close to the condition of 189, but there is at least a third of the roof missing, and those areas below are the worst of being worn out.

323 is the one who has been at this lot before the sounds of streetcars returned to Dallas, and was originally intended to be restored before 186 was discovered to be available. For all her years out there however she seems to have fared well, as the roof is still intact, floor is still good, even the platforms are good. The window areas however are where it is bad, to the point where windows were starting to fall out of place on to the ground, and the sills around them looked to be next. The steel frame on this car may be called into question however, as for an unknown amount of time the car has been a bit corkscrewed, as on one end, and old tie that the car was sitting on for support rotted out years ago, and that end has been on the ground ever since."

Here is a photo of this type of car.  This is #186 of the McKinney Avenue Transit Authority in Dallas.

The following photos were taken in the spring of 2013 when we were putting tarps on the cars.

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