Blackpool 167 on test at Beamish...

Blackpool 167 on test at Beamish…

The eleventh visiting tramcar to arrive at Beamish was waiting at the gates this morning, in the form of English Electric ‘Pantograph’ car No.167 from the National Tramway Museum at Crich, Derbyshire.  After preparation and loading on Saturday, the tram arrived on the familiar Scotts trailer, being rapidly unloaded and the trolley pole refitted.  It was then moved over the pit for the life trays to be refitted and the commissioning process to start.

Below: 167 meets 703 another Blackpool expatriate.

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Below: With Andy Bailey and Mike Crabtree from Crich working alongside Brian and Tom from our staff, the work to prepare 167 was rapidly completed.  The tram had been carefully prepared over the preceding week in the National Tramway Museum’s own workshop so with formalities completed, 167 was soon able to venture outside where it was further readied for a test run on the main line.


Below: The winter fleet, from right to left we have 280, 167 and 196.  These can be supplemented as required from any of the other cars (including open toppers – contrary to what I have read elsewhere, they are not mothballed – it can be sunny at this time of year!!).


Below: On the initial test run a number of brake tests were carried out and recorded.  The mandatory ‘first’ photograph was also taken at the Entrance loop.


Below: And so, into the Town.  Clearance checks underway with the swing of the bogies through our curves being around the maximum 167 is generally used to.

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Below: Attempts to be ‘arty’…


Below: … and pause for reflection… (ok, I’ll stop this now!).


Below: After testing through the Town crossover, 167 sets off for Pockerley to carry out hill start and run back tests, with further dynamic brake tests on route to test the various systems.  All from Beamish were very impressed with the car, its ride and its responsiveness to the tests.


Below: The general operating pattern for the Tramway will be to use 280 as much as possible, with 167 joining it at weekends, for half term and for the events during the Great North Festival of Transport.  196 will be the third tram, with 31, 101 and 114 being added as required (or weather permits).  Gateshead 10 is largely retired from duty but remains operational and is used for a number of education activities that take place on the Depot apron.


Below: Meanwhile, back in Depot Road 1, 114 has been brought in for the trolley mast to be overhauled.  It has also received a re-varnish, including repair work to damaged paintwork on the no.1 end dash panel.  Blackpool 31 is also due re-varnishing this winter and will move in shortly for this work to be carried out.  Sunderland 16 is well advanced and looks stunning under the first coats of varnish applied.  I am a great fan of tidying and re-varnishing paintwork (and we hope to carry it out on the trams every three years or so now) – the depth of the finish gets deeper and the colours richer – well aged (like a fine wine?!).


Below: Scratch damage removed and a new coat of varnish applied – and a deeper, richer result.