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.
Car No. 172
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(Sociedade de Transportes Colectivos do Porto)
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City & Suburban Car
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.
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.
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.
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.
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Text by Joel Salomon, (c) 2002