Author Topic: Two-Foot Gauge Electric Trolley Line  (Read 300 times)

Fred M. Cain

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Two-Foot Gauge Electric Trolley Line
« on: March 13, 2019, 12:31:41 PM »
Group,

I'd like to bring your attention to a home-built two foot gauge trolley line that was evidently scratch built by a guy named Stan Griffith somewhere in northern Illinois.  At times it almost looks like a realistic Midwestern interurban trolley line from the early 1900s.

Here is a video of the railroad: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=B8ku8OLRBD8&feature=related

But if you click on the usercode of the guy who posted it, bring up his page then click on "VIDEOS" you will see that there are oodles and oodles of them on there the most recent one being about five years old.

I had asked some questions about this on the TRAINS Magazine forum 'cause it's kinda hard finding info on this little pike and someone shared this link with me that tells me a little bit more about Mr. Griffith's project:

https://web.archive.org/web/20110502075113/http://www.docstoc.com/docs/27431145/THE-TWO-FOOTERS

I was just wondering if anyone in Maine had heard about this.

Regards,
Fred M. Cain,
 Topeka, IN


Mike the Choochoo Nix

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Re: Two-Foot Gauge Electric Trolley Line
« Reply #1 on: March 14, 2019, 01:37:57 AM »
I used two be involved with the "Two Footers" but I missed that one. There is. also Bob Bohm near Kenosha Wi. that had a two foot trolley also running on 220 volts. He used an isolation transformer to be able to ground one side of the 220 line. and a third trolley in Ohio running in a back yard on 110 volts. I have the details somewhere.
Mike Nix
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Jeff Schumaker

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Re: Two-Foot Gauge Electric Trolley Line
« Reply #2 on: March 14, 2019, 01:06:17 PM »
The 2 foot trolley line was in Toledo, Ohio, about 30+ miles from where I live. Unfortunately, I never got the opportunity to see it.

Jeff S.
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Fred M. Cain

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Re: Two-Foot Gauge Electric Trolley Line
« Reply #3 on: March 14, 2019, 01:38:17 PM »
I have been trying to contact the guys at the RRVT and finally got some good news back.  I also received some rather bad news.  The guy who started this project – from scratch – was one Stan Griffith who, sadly, passed away back in 2013.

The good news is that a couple of his “partners in crime” are still operating the line, adding track and building a new electric locomotive.  This almost sounds to me like the very early days of the WW&R R.R. group although it’s electric – not steam.  The WW&F was also once a real, for-profit railroad where this obviously is not.

Nevertheless, it is only about four hours from me so that it’d be easier for me to get there to help do track work than it would be for me to come to Maine although a trip to the WW&F is most certainly on my “must do” list – for someday.

Here is a system map of the RRVT:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=D3ywUal6flY

Regards,
Fred M. Cain

Tom Casper

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Re: Two-Foot Gauge Electric Trolley Line
« Reply #4 on: March 14, 2019, 01:58:41 PM »
Hi Fred,  interesting stuff they have there.  Can u say what town it is near?  I am interested in seeing this.  Maybe a PM with contact info if u can.

Tom C.
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Jeff Schumaker

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Re: Two-Foot Gauge Electric Trolley Line
« Reply #5 on: March 14, 2019, 04:55:41 PM »
I wonder if this is a video of a run on the line?

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Bnt11a9OYBk

Jeff S.
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Jeff Schumaker

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Re: Two-Foot Gauge Electric Trolley Line
« Reply #6 on: March 14, 2019, 05:03:47 PM »
I found a number of short videos on Youtube. Type in rrvt867 in the  Youtube Search box.

Jeff S.
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Jeff Schumaker

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Re: Two-Foot Gauge Electric Trolley Line
« Reply #7 on: March 14, 2019, 05:11:07 PM »
Better still, here's a link to the playlist of RRVT videos.

https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLCFC53FF777C8520B

Jeff S.
Hey Rocky, watch me pull a moose trout out of my hat.

Fred M. Cain

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Re: Two-Foot Gauge Electric Trolley Line
« Reply #8 on: March 14, 2019, 06:14:44 PM »
I wonder if this is a video of a run on the line?

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Bnt11a9OYBk

Jeff S.


Yes, most definitely.  They have almost ¾ of a mile of track but with some loops and duplications in it, the total ride is about a mile long.

Regards,

Fred M. Cain

Fred M. Cain

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Re: Two-Foot Gauge Electric Trolley Line
« Reply #9 on: March 14, 2019, 06:16:35 PM »
Better still, here's a link to the playlist of RRVT videos.

https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLCFC53FF777C8520B

Jeff S.

Thanks for that Jeff !  The newest video on there is about five years old now but the guy I heard from from the RRVT told me that he is planning some new videos to be uploaded this spring.

Regards,
Fred M. Cain

Fred M. Cain

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Re: Two-Foot Gauge Electric Trolley Line
« Reply #10 on: March 15, 2019, 03:16:13 PM »
Group,

There’s one more thing I’d like to say about this.  I first discovered this 24” gauge trolley back in 2012 on YouTube when I accidently stumbled upon it while searching for something else.  The first scene that I saw of a box motor coming at me fooled me and for a few seconds I thought it was a real interurban railway in a museum or something.

Well, after doing some more searching on YouTube back in 2012, I found an explanation and a brief history of the line (which I can no longer find on YouTube) but I had “copied and pasted” it to a light rail transit forum.  THAT I found again.  So, here it is, copied and pasted.  This guy Griffith was really creative and even found a way to get wheels and rails from abandoned mines.   Sadly, he passed away in 2013.

A short history of the RRVT, as everyone has been asking for: This railroad was started around 1950, by a Mr. S. Griffith. It started as a single short stretch of track, a flatcar with a motor on it and an extension cord for power. This flatcar actually provided the base of the Birney car, #656, still in operation today!

Mr. Griffith began building this railway because he was basically unsatisfied with the experience that model railroading provided and wanted to be able to ride on the train (as most of us do!) and being a trolley fan this type of setup made perfect sense.

A good friend of his was an electrical engineer for various electric railways around the Chicago area, which helped immensely in designing the power distribution system and acquisition of electrical equipment. He began acquiring rail, wheels, and misc RR parts from old mines, factories, and through trading with other people he knew in the railfan circles. Over the last 60 years and with the help of a few people the railroad has grown to almost a mile run through the woods.

Most of the cars on the line are very close to their original condition as when Mr. Griffith built them, although I have upgraded the control and drive systems to improve operation. All of the cars were built between 1956 and 2004. You could say that this line has outlived the lifespan of nearly all of the electric railways that once existed in the US! Everyone has been asking where the line is located, and while I would love to have the company and show off some of this wonderful equipment the exact location of the line will be kept private for the time being, due of course to insurance reasons.

30 years ago this was not a concern but everyone is so sue happy these days I cannot afford to risk it. I will tell you that we are located in northern Illinois, with a BNSF line to the north and a UP line to the south. The line is powered from 240V AC power, utilizing 3 substations strategically placed to ensure even power distribution.

The rail is used as "ground" and the overhead wire is energized at 240V potential. Most of the cars have now been changed over to DC motors, with a 36V golf cart motor being the most common traction motor. A power supply onboard the car converts the 240V AC power to the 40V DC needed by the motor or motors, the speed being controlled with home brew chopper type systems. Air brakes have also been added to nearly all of the cars as their traction systems were updated.

We work on the line one day a week, usually Sunday since the rest of the week is taken up with a paying job! Currently in the works is the replacement of the signal system, which I installed originally around 2001 but has been a problem due to the trees and branches constantly knocking down the codeine.

The new system is wireless which will allow for a CTC indicator panel to be installed in the carbarn with little work. The carbarn was recently expanded to include a lean-to building for storage of rolling stock, and a new 12' flat car was built this year for tie and rail hauling. Once things warm up again we will be spreading ballast along the line and upgrading the high speed straight sections of track, and one of our crew members has been very busy installing new ties along much of the line. I hope to get some videos of us making these improvements, although sometimes it is tough to run the camera and work at the same time! Thanks for all the comments and enjoy.



Regards,
Fred M. Cain

John McNamara

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Re: Two-Foot Gauge Electric Trolley Line
« Reply #11 on: March 15, 2019, 06:01:38 PM »
[text deleted]

We work on the line one day a week, usually Sunday since the rest of the week is taken up with a paying job! Currently in the works is the replacement of the signal system, which I installed originally around 2001 but has been a problem due to the trees and branches constantly knocking down the codeine.
I'm glad to hear that you are going wireless, as "codeine" is bad stuff to be "knocking down." I know that you meant code line, but once an editor, always an editor.

-John M

Fred M. Cain

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Re: Two-Foot Gauge Electric Trolley Line
« Reply #12 on: March 18, 2019, 07:06:47 PM »
John,

Point taken.  I should've put "[SIC]" after "codeine" because, you see, I did not write this.  I was only quoting it.

Regards,
Fred M. Cain