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#524 Lisbon Tram

In January 2003 Old Pueblo Trolley received Lisbon, Portugal, Tram 524 from the city of Aspen, Colorado. This tram was one of six purchased 28 years ago by a private individual for a proposed vintage trolley line for Aspen. The trams were covered with tarps and stored in a field owned by the City of Aspen. As the years wore on the citizens of Aspen waxed and waned about having a tram line running in the small central business district. After the fourth vote, where the citizens of Aspen voted a resounding "no, we don't want trolleys in Aspen", the city government offered these trams to museums. We were given two, one of which was "bundled up" by volunteers, Eric Sitiko and Dave Johnson and sent on its way to Tucson January, 2003.  See pictures of the operation below.

 

Tram 524 was manufactured in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, in 1924 by J. C. Brill. It is a typical Brill six (6) window single truck double ended tram that was manufactured and also copied all over the world. They were designed for a number of track gauges, in the case of Lisbon, the track gauge is 900 millimeters or slightly under three feet between the rails. This tram body is also designed for meter gauge and the standard gauge we have in Tucson. Lisbon had almost 100 similar trams operating up to the 1960's. Their small size is ideal for the narrow streets in the older, historic sections of the capital of Portugal. Today there are 45 of these trams still in daily service. In the 1970's and 80's 35 of these trams were modernized with new electrical and mechanical systems while retaining their original interior classic varnished dark wood work. At the same time the cars were made to be single ended and the routes they ran on were equipped with loops at each end. There are still five tram lines in Lisbon, four of which are served by these 90 year old vehicles. The other tram line also has 10 modern light rail vehicles (LRV) which are mingled with the older cars. The remaining ten 1920's trams have been restored, retaining their double ended configuration and are in daily service on two historic routes which cover the older parts of this historic city.

To the north of Lisbon lies Oporto. This city operates standard gauge Brill trams of the same vintage in daily service. These original Brill built trams are of the seven (7) window variety so are slightly longer with a capacity of three more passengers. A number of the Oporto trams operate in the United States with the largest number found in Memphis, Tennessee.

The Lisbon/Aspen car is a typical Brill single truck car. It is very similar to Prescott and Mt. Union No. 1 which ran 90 plus years ago between Prescott, Arizona, and the US Calvary Fort Whipple six miles to the northeast. Noting the similarity, this car is being restored as the Prescott car. The biggest modification will be the re-gauging of the single truck from 900 millimeters (just under one yard) to the standard gauge used in Tucson.

The motors and air compressor have been remanufactured and the wheels have received new steel tires. With the change of standard gauge the old axles have been replaced. The body was jacked up in order to replace the composite steel and wood beams which make up the frame. Both ends will receive new steam bent poplar wood roofs and the early 1960’s modification done by the Lisbon shops to remove the controls from one end have been reversed so that the car will once again be doubled ended. This will allow it to be run in either direction. More volunteers are needed to achieve this goal.