Oporto #172

Car 172 is a Brill semi-convertible design, meaning the windows can be raised into roof pockets. This creates an open summer car effect with the convenience of being able to lower the windows in case of a rain storm or cool weather.

Porto #172
172_811x541Car No. 172
Previous Owner:
(Sociedade de Transportes Colectivos do Porto)

Previous City:
Porto, Portugal
Car Type:
City & Suburban Car
Car Style:
single-truck semi-convertible
Year Built:

Car 172 is our example of a Toonerville trolley, a small two-axle trolley. The nickname comes from a series of silent comedy films by that name, which featured a rickety little trolley bouncing along the countryside as its motorman engaged in a series of comical adventures. Car #172 is based on a design by J. G. Brill Co. of Philadelphia, which is coincidentally where the first Toonerville trolley movies were made, before Hollywood even existed.

Oporto #172 Sister Car

A sister car to #172 operating in Porto.

Car 172 was built in Porto, Portugal in 1929, although it looks very similar to cars that operated in the United States around 1900. Porto built a large fleet of these cars in their shops. Car 172 has an attractive interior, with very ornate carved wood trim , fancy brass fittings, and sliding end doors. It also has a unique seating arrangement, with two seats on one side and one seat on the other, made necessary by the narrow twisting streets of Porto.

172 Being Shipped

Loading Car #172 in Porto aboard a ship for the trip to Philadelphia. A tractor trailer carried the car to the museum.

Car 172 came across the Atlantic Ocean with Porto work car #64 in 1967. Both cars were trucked aboard highway trailers from Philadelphia to our museum. While several other US museums and groups have acquired cars from Porto, our Museum was the first to import cars from that city. Car 172 was in operating condition upon arrival at the museum and was placed in passenger operations immediately. Its four wheels give a bouncy ride, as frequently parodied in the Toonerville Trolley films. The body of 172 has been restored in our Buehler Shop and is a favorite with our visitors. Like sister car #249 from hilly Porto, #172 has three separate braking systems: air brakes, hand brakes, and dynamic brakes.

172 Original Paint

Porto #172 shown in its original Porto paint. colors at the museum in 1971.

The year 2005 saw the completion of extensive mechanical repairs to 172’s wheelsets, motors, gearing, and airbrake piping. The car is now in regular service at our museum.

For more information…

* Read Matt Nawn’s Porto 172 article on Railway Preservation News
* Visit the comprehensive Tram of Porto website
* Visit the Porto Tram Museum webpage (updated site not available in English yet!)

Text by Joel Salomon, (c) 2002