The Restoration Process

Identification

Considerable time had elapsed between the closures of the tramways in Western Australia and the beginnings of the preservation movement. An early and major task for the Society was to locate bodies of trams suitable for ultimate restoration.

When the tramways closed, the trams were stripped of all electrical and running gear, seats and other fittings. The bodies were disposed of, usually for some type of accommodation purposes. With the generally dry climate, their rate of deterioration was slow - often termites and vandals were a greater problem than weather.

Some bodies were located in farm settings, often surrounded by bushland:

Perth Electric Tramway Society Restoration
Perth G35, near Albany.

Perth Electric Tramway Society Restoration
Perth Leyland trolleybus 22, now at Whiteman Park, had a roof attached to the vehicle.


Other tram bodies found their way to more built-up situations, and were given a high degree of protection:

Perth Electric Tramway Society Restoration
Perth B-class 15 was located for many years in a backyard in suburban Kelmscott, used as a play room. A layer of metal sheeting over the original roof afforded it a good degree of protection.

Perth Electric Tramway Society Restoration
Few trams were found in such a well-protected location as Fremantle bogie car #28, built into a farm-house near Jarrahdale, and with its own substantial roof. Some of the tram is in fact further inside the house than this visible portion.


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Retrieval

More tram bodies have been found than needed for the tramway museum. The Society's Collection Policy, together with an assessment of the condition of the individual body, helps to assign a priority for each one. In some cases all that can be done is to retrieve parts for use in the restoration of other bodies.

When a decision has been made to acquire a tram body, the next task is to transfer it to the Society's storage area. Transport of tram bodies is a specialised field.

Perth Electric Tramway Society Restoration
Preparations for tram loading.

Perth Electric Tramway Society Restoration
FMT 28 on arrival at Whiteman Park.


Conservation

Perth Electric Tramway Society Restoration

Retrieved bodies join the queue awaiting restoration for their return to active service. [This queue is currently quite a lengthy one.] In the meantime they often act as makeshift storage areas.

Nearly all retrieved bodies are in undercover storage, and are fully protected from the weather.

In some cases additional conservation work is done to stabilise the structure.


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Restoration

The restoration process is a long one. As much material as possible is re-used from the original, but the passage of time sometimes makes this difficult, or undesirable from a safety viewpoint. Western Australian trams were largely of wooden construction [with varying amounts of metal supports], which can be both an advantage and a disadvantage for restoration.

At its very briefest, the process follows these lines:

  • The body is completely stripped back to its frame, and any worn, rotted or unserviceable parts are replaced. Structural soundness is imperative.
  • The body is then straightened by use of its "stress bars" - a painstaking process.
  • The roof is then re-canvassed, if required.
  • While the above are happening, other components are prepared [refurbished, made or acquired]:
    • seats, windows, doors
    • electric motors, controllers, air compressor, resistors
    • bogies [wheel-sets], brakes
  • Re-assembly can then commence.

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PETS Contacts:
General:
Street Address:
Whiteman Park
Whiteman
Western Australia
Postal Address:
PO Box 257
Mount Lawley
Western Australia
Australia . . . 6929
Telephone:
(08) 9443 1945
Tram-car Hire:
0448 821 200
Workshops (Tuesday/Wednesday):
(08) 9249 2777
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