Author Archives: Ben Franske

2019 Annual Membership Meeting

On Saturday, March 23 2019 the Minnesota Streetcar Museum held it’s annual membership meeting. Recordings from the meeting are available on the Museum’s YouTube channel. The first recording includes the State of the Museum as well as reports from several museum department heads.  The second recording includes a film footage from Fargo-Moorhead streetcar operations, a San Francisco cable car line which operated in the same way as some of the St. Paul cable car lines, and footage from the last day of operations of the University of Minnesota Inter-Campus Streetcar Line.

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MSM 2018 Annual Appeal

Please consider a generous donation to our Museum’s 2018-2019 Annual Appeal.  The goal in this Annual Appeal is to raise funds to rebuild the trucks under TCRT “gate car” No. 1239 and perform other necessary work.  More information and an online donation form can be found on the Annual Appeal page of the site.

Great Progress at ESL

August was a great month for special events and completing major projects at ESL. Here’s a summary of what we’ve accomplished.
StoryTime Trolley. The August ESL StoryTime Trolley was a sold out event. August featured  author Stephen Shaskan and it was a huge success. The weather was beautiful for a trolley ride and for listening to Stephen read his books while entertaining the young riders. Families departing the trolley were all smiles and giggles, a fun event for all.
Sleepy Time Trolley. The Sleepy Time Trolley was a new ESL event. We had a lot of fun planning activities for our young riders. They wore their pajamas, brought their favorite stuffed animals, received a treat and rode the Trolley. The children, with their teddy bears, tigers, cats and assorted other animals, gathered to listen to stories, sing songs and cheer the Trolley on when we pretended it was stalled. Elaine Love and Karen Kertzman led the fun activities, while wearing pajamas too! Chuck Anding, John Knox and Jim Kertzman (all in uniform) played along with all the antics and provided a safe ride.
The Sleepy Time Trolley was the first ESL event to have ticket sales available online. It was a big success, both rides sold out and we received a lot of compliments from parents. It will definitely be on the 2019 special events calendar. A big thanks to Ben Franske, Rod Eaton and Bill Arends
for working their magic in getting ticket sales online on short notice.
ESL History Wall and Store Renovations. Over the past year and throughout this season there have been a number of improvements to the ESL carbarn to update and improve its looks and add functionality. The carbarn received a new concrete floor and updated lighting, both inside and out. While not the main purpose, these changes helped to create a more rider friendly environment during carbarn tours. To continue to improve the experience, the ESL Tuesday Crew has done a magnificent job rebuilding the History Wall and the store area. While the work is still underway, we are already hearing compliments from our riders. Even with ridership num-
bers down due to bad weather, store sales are still on par with last year. What has been completed?
  • The stairs to the storage area are now hinged and can be raised or lowered by remote control. When not in use they remain raised which opens up the entire length of the History Wall and store area below.
  • About 50 feet of 48” wide cork has been installed on the wall, allowing for an expanded display of our Streetcar’s historical past. The cork also gives us the ability to continually update the pictures, keeping the display fresh for returning riders.
  • Bead Board painted in Streetcar Yellow has been installed above and below the cork giving a Streetcar look to the entire area. To complete the trolley motif, the cork has been framed in Streetcar Green with Streetcar Red bordering the top of the entire wall.
  • The store itself has been expanded from two to three display cases which allowed merchandise offerings to be increased from 25 to 70 items.
  • The end result is a brand new look for our riders while giving them greater exposure to our streetcar history and merchandise.
BIG THANKS to the ESL Tuesday Carbarn Crew of Howie Melco, Scott Heiderich, Dick Zawacki, Carl Floren, Tom McGruder, Dave McCollum, Art Ruder, Mark Brothen, Steve Mages, Mike
Kimitch, Art Abrahams and Scott Ingram for their great ideas and all their hard work to make it happen.
You are invited to come ride the Excelsior Streetcar Line and experience these exciting changes.

How CHSL performs Winter Maintenance on our Streetcars

Some of our Members have asked us recently why a particular streetcar may not be running after a certain date in our operating season. The intent of the CHSL shop staff and Operations Department is to set up a schedule to give all cars equal time to run during the season. But, in doing this we also need to keep in mind that our winters here in Minnesota sometimes restricts us from shuffling the cars around between the “ready barn” and the shop portion of the George Isaacs Carbarn and Shop. So, we need to plan and work on streetcar maintenance with this in mind so we can give all our cars their required “tender loving care.”
We usually try to take our PCC car, TCRT No. 322 out of service right after Labor Day so we can start the maintenance cycle on this streetcar since it requires a lot more time to check the electrical controls and perform maintenance on same. We worked very hard to establish and follow a detailed maintenance procedure for each of our streetcars, along with a complete description of what to check and how to complete that checking. This process on our streetcars usually takes us about eight weeks per streetcar This seems like a long time, but we only work on Tuesday and Saturday mornings, so the two months time equates to about 20 to 40 shop
hours of work. Of course, we have several of our volunteers working on the car so there are many more “man-hours” involved in executing our standard maintenance plan for each streetcar. We then have to decide what car has a big project that needs to be done, like refinishing the wood floor on Duluth No. 265 that we accomplished a couple of years ago. After we finish one streetcar, we then work on another for eight weeks or so. This winter we’ll likely work on No. 265 first then on No. 1300 doing follow-up work on a few minor identified  problems from the No. 1300 truck rebuild. With all the work on 1300’s trucks this year, the problems might not be that bad but have occurred because of normal “wear-in” noises that will get better over time.
This is a broad view of the CHSL shop’s winter work schedule. And it will become a bit more complicated when Winona No. 10 is transferred to CHSL. When that happens, we’ll need to fit No. 10 into this schedule and create a maintenance procedure for this streetcar.
If you are interested in helping us with this vital maintenance work on our historic streetcars, please call our Museum’s Volunteer Coordinator, Pat Cosgrove, 952-953-6559. Or, you can call me (John Prestholdt-651-698-1173) and ask me any questions you may have. No experience is necessary because except for PCC No. 322, the mechanical and electrical work is pretty basic and the tasks we perform to maintain our streetcars can be taught via basic “on-the-job training” (OJT). Bottom line—we really could use YOU.