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.