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Sunderland Tram Number 16.

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Special Tram Rescued and Restored.

Restoration by the Tramways Volunteers and Now Completed

An update (a little late but interesting).

photograph: Tramcar.

Picture: Sunderland tram No. 16 completed and running at Beamish Museum.
With alternative description for non graphics or blind users.

The Winter 1999 Newsletter published an article on what was then the proposed restoration of Sunderland Tram No.16, which was about to take off. It described the various activities which were perhaps more pious hopes than forecasts but, happily, the project has developed reasonably well. There have been a few references to the reconstruction in subsequent issues but the following is the position to date.

Going back to January 2000, the rescued lower saloon that readers may remember being located in the Foulbridge yard, and later inside the depot where its roof had been replaced, was uplifted to the Appleby Training and Heritage Centre. Aided by general arrangement and detail drawings prepared by the Tramway Group, they reconstructed the body to the extent of the complete underframe, the sides and bulkheads all glazed and panelled externally and then re-fitted the roof.

Their work expanded to manufacturing and fitting the platforms with their vertical enclosures to the stage in which the lower deck was structurally complete but, of course, without any internal trim or furnishings such as seats, doors etc.

Sadly, the original carcase, which had served its purpose as a master from which to copy, had to be discarded as the timbers were beyond recovery although a few parts were retained for interest and later to reveal details such as the early livery.

Whilst the saloon body, which forms the core of the vehicle, was being reconstructed, the truck, comprising the main mechanical components (wheelsets, frames, gears, springs, bearings, brakes etc.) was being completely renovated at R.W.Gears, Blaydon. This unit had been part of a Leeds tram but, fortunately, was of the same type as had served for a while under Sunderland 16.

The traction motors were also in need of overhaul and were completely re-wound by Dowding and Mills at Durham, the opportunity being taken to down-rate them slightly to suit the more modest Beamish operational requirements.

A further major activity, contemporary with all this, was the construction of the top cover comprising, effectively, the entire upper deck apart from its floor which, of course, is formed by the lower saloon roof. This cover, which had not survived the scrapman's attention, had to be defined by drawings prepared by the Group mainly from photographs, and sub-contracted to Heritage Engineering, Glasgow for manufacture to a similar state to the lower saloon.

Finally, but no less essentially, the staircases were constructed at Beamish by members of the Group ready for fitting when the ensemble appeared.

Almost miraculously, things were completed and arrived in the right order. First, the refurbished truck was delivered followed, a few weeks later, by the lower saloon from Appleby which, to everybody's great relief, dropped into place precisely.

Very shortly after this, the top cover appeared from North of the border and was lowered correctly into the position which had been prepared for it.

Now there was a recognisable double deck tram much in the condition in which a photograph was published in Newsletter 126. However, as far as work at Beamish was concerned, this was just the start of a fairly major endeavour.

Much of the programme for the finishing work has been determined by availability of our painting contractor whose timetable was not as elastic as our own. For this reason, we concentrated on completing the bodywork externally by fitting all items with an outside surface such as window lights together with beading and protecting any areas subject to ingress of water.

Because, once fitted, the outer stringers of the stairs are inaccessible, these had to be the first items to be painted and then finally installed. The need to have scaffolding for access to the outside of the upper deck further complicated matters.

Internally, much of the original lower saloon trim, which had been removed before the body went to Appleby, has been cleaned and replaced, but where this has not been possible we have either used components from identical trams, kindly provided by the Group who have restored Stockport No.5, or remade the parts using originals as masters.

In the latter category are the doors, some of the opening window lights and the longitudinal seats. The end internal bulkheads contain as much of the original as possible and have been fitted with casement doors formed from panelwork which includes some rather elegant Sunderland Crests.

These arrived with the body when it first came to Beamish although their precise provenance is obscure. For the inside finish of the upper deck we have had to rely on the memories of Sunderland senior citizens as no material evidence survives.

In general we have aimed to reflect the style of the lower saloon but bearing in mind that its ambience is some twenty years later. All the upper deck seating, mainly reversible back transverse units, has been made but awaits the laying of the floor material before it can be placed.

The vehicle has now been completely wired both for the traction and auxiliary (mainly lighting) circuits. The driver's controllers came from Lisbon trams but are of U.K. origin and exactly the same as those fitted in Sunderland. They needed to be extensively overhauled by Group members and worn or burnt parts replaced.

The resistance, essential for graded starting and speed control, was manufactured by a Midlands Company to Group specification using a period style case provided by our Stockport friends.

Most other electrical items came from our own resources acquired over the years although the trolley boom and head have been transplanted from Sheffield 513 which is now on long term hire to Blackpool and which 16 is intended to replace at Beamish.

Currently, work is centred on the brake systems. Classic handbrake arrangements are being installed based exactly on the Sunderland scheme with a substantial 10 inch bronze driver's lever at the top of a staff on each platform coupled by chains under the platform to the mechanism on the truck.

Additionally, air braking is being fitted using mainly equipment from Portugese trams salvaged by the Museum or elsewhere over the years. This includes an ex-Lisbon compressor restored by the Friends and now mounted under the No.2 end stairs.

Piping is being laid as opportunity arises and connections to the underseat reservoirs are now complete. The driver's valves will be mounted on the brackets bracing the top of the handbrake staves.

A milestone in the restoration was passed on 10th.August when No.16 moved under its its own power responding to control from both platforms.

Because of the uncompleted braking systems it had to be coupled to another tram in case it got too enthusiastic but it proved to be well behaved and demonstrated that all the traction circuits were in order and the basic mechanisms were correctly in place.

Tony Wickens (20th.September 2002)

End of page.


Text Equivalent of the Photographs on This Page.

Screen Reader version for people who cannot see the image for what ever reason.

Picture: Sunderland No. 16 completed and running at Beamish Museum.

Rectangular box shaped tram with a rounded front end coming towards the camera at an angle from left to right. Takes up the whole photograph except for a narrow band of blue sky in the background.

The top deck has a flat roof with a thin red rim. Left in the photograph, on the long side of the car the upper deck is divided with a yellow upper portion and a red lower. The upper has seven windows equally spaced along its length each window having a small narrow section at the top. Five larger window are set across the curved front of the tram.

The sides of the lower deck is red with many thin yellow decorative lines. There are seven windows in the lower deck side each with a smaller narrow section at the top. Below the windows a yellow strip extends along the side of the lower deck with some script in yellow and gold that reads "Sunderland Corporation". Some other details are blurred and unreadable.

The lower deck front end has red panels with a large flat window in front and a narrower window at each side. All these windows have a yellow framework and in the centre a circular headlight with a yellow rim and just above is the number sixteen in gold. A narrow destination board lies at the top of the front window but no name is visible.

The body throughout has numerous narrow straight yellow lines for decoration following edges of the body panels. Below the tram the track, metal wheels and other mechanical parts are visible but indistinct

There is a doorway at the centre of the photograph which is the front end of the side of the tram. One man in uniform shows right half of his body in the door and another man can be seen behind the glass in the drivers cab at the front of the tram. TEXT.



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