Shelburne Falls Trolley Museum

Car No. 10 Car No. 10


MBTA Line Car

Trolley Car No.10 is back ... On track!


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Please make a Donation for the Line Car Fund.

Seashore Trolley Museum (Kennebunk Maine) donated MBTA Line Car 3283 to us in 2023. They have two other line cars and don't feel that they need to keep this one.

SFTM's new trolley car, MBTA Line Car 3283, is quite odd as trolleys go. The purpose of a Line Car is to serve as a mobile workshop for maintaining the overhead wire. It has a movable platform on the roof that can be raised and lowered and swung out to the side to allow workers to access the overhead trolley wire for repair and maintenance. This feature will be useful to us.

From Seashore Trolley Museum's "re-homing" notice for 3283:
No. 3283 is a wood-frame Line Car built in 1950 by Henry Dow for the Metropolitan Transit Authority (MTA), predecessor of the Massachusetts Bay Transit Authority (MBTA) and has a rich history during its decades of service. Initially, No. 3283 operated from North Point Car House in South Boston until it closed in 1953. The car was instrumental in constructing the Blue Line extensions to Orient Heights and Wonderland in 1952-4 and was later used in the construction of the Riverside Line in 1957-59.

Ten years later, on October 16, 1969, 3283 started a routine late night wire maintenance trip on the Highland Branch. At 3:38AM, 3283 and Motor Flat 2026 met head on under the Washington Street Bridge near Brookline Village. The load of rails No. 2026 carried slid off the flat and nearly halfway through No. 3283, while the large reel of trolley wire moored in the center of No 3283 broke loose and rolled forward. No. 2026 lost its leading cab with no. 3238 receiving major damage all the way back to the center door. No. 2026 and No. 3283 were so tightly jammed together they could not be separated at the scene. One crew member was killed and sixteen others injured. The cause of the accident was found to be sloppy dispatching and alcohol use by the crews on both cars.

Being without a line car, the MBTA borrowed Seashore's former Claremont Railway Line Car No. 4. No. 3283 was rushed to the Everett Shop and returned to service in December 1970. No. 3283 continued its routine career until March 1992, when it received damage to the fuse panel area from a minor fire. Sent to the Watertown Carhouse Shop for moderate repairs, an inspection revealed major rot on the roof, deteriorated wiring and a non-functioning line tower. No. 3238 received a complete overhaul and returned to line department service on April 9, 1993. By early 2005 it was decided the car needed another major overhaul, and was taken out of service early that year. Following two years of non-action, in September 2007 No. 3283 was moved to Maine to join Seashore Trolley Museum's non-accessioned collection.

Car 3283 is the youngest U.S.-built wooden trolley still in existence. It is a copy of a pre-existing car, Line Car 3279. The Metropolitan Transit Authority (MTA, a predecessor of the Boston MBTA) ordered the body of 3283 in 1949 from the Henry E Dow company, a company that never built another trolley car, as it was primarily a builder of kit houses. It was made out of wood since wood is an excellent insulator - a very important trait for a car designed to work on the overhead wire.

Kevin Farrell tells us: From 1950 to 1958, Line car 3283 would travel all over the existing street railway system in Boston. I recall seeing it at the Mattapan Yard in 1953, when they doing some wire work on the Mattapan-Ashmont line. After 1958, when the trolley system had been greatly reduced, Line car 3283 was usually kept at a storage track, in front of the 1894 era, Reservoir Carhouse in Brookline to be ready for service on what became the Green Lines including the trolley subways and the Highland Branch to Riverside. On Monday through Thursdays. Line car 3283 would usually head inbound to Boston about 1:00AM, after the last regular service trolley had departed. The crew would stop at Coolidge Corner, (Beacon and Harvard Streets, Brookline.) and the crew would go into a late-night cafeteria for a quick breakfast. The car would sit there, amid street lights and the 1912 era trolley stations on Beacon Street.

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I have included a late-night, time exposure of the car, I took on November 20, 1967.

The car would then head inbound into the subway for the assigned overhead wire work to do that night. From 1950 to about 1966, the car was painted all orange with a grey roof. After 1966, the car was painted dark grey. After the accident and rebuilding, Line Car 3283 was later painted Yellow in the 1970's as other MBTA work equipment was painted. ... By 2005-2007, line car #3283 was surplus and went to Seashore Trolley Museum.
[The model for 3283,] Line Car 3279 from the MBTA Blue line still exists today and is at a trolley museum in Iowa [Old Threshers] where it is kept inside a car house and is used as a line car there to repair the trolley museum overhead wires.

MBTA 3283 line car, then painted dark gray and rail car 2026 crashed into each other in the wee hours of the morning in 1969. [This was] the last time two wooden streetcars crashed together. The result was Claremont Railway line car #4 was brought down from Seashore to Everett, fixed up and served the MBTA Green Lines for a while. Later #4 came down again, around 1975-1976 to assist in converting the Green Lines overhead to accept both pantograph and poles. The MBTA was able to get the work done much faster with a second line car and their own crews.

Note the two red markers on each end of the car. In 1950 when the car was being assembled at Everett Shops, they went out to the scrap line and took off what parts they needed. The red markers are off of two 4400's, (ex Eastern Mass Street Ry 7000's)(another famous Massachusetts street railway system) which were being scrapped in 1950. Trucks and motors were taken from a Center Entrance car. Headlights came off some other car on the scrap line. When they were doing wire work on the High Speed line, 3283 was painted all orange until about 1966 when it was repainted all dark grey. When rebuilt after the crash, it and other work cars were painted yellow. Usually it was parked on a stub end track in front of the 1894 vintage Reservoir Carhouse at Cleveland Circle.

After those repairs, 3283 continued doing line work until 2005, when it was found to be in need of a heavy overhaul. At that point, the car was retired and placed behind the shops, and in 2007 was donated to Seashore. Seashore used the car as a line car for several years, and it was in use as late as 2014. However, electrical and roof issues sidelined the car in the mid 2010s.

For a number of years, SFTM has been searching for a machine to help move our heavy rail equipment around. At 46,000 pounds with four motors, 3283 is heavier and more powerful than Number 10. The car also has a large reel for storing and spooling out overhead wire, and plenty of workshop space inside (there is even a hot plate, for heating food during cold winter nights in Boston). It needs extensive roof repairs, exterior siding and electrical work.

Josh, our Restoration Manager, will be leading the restoration of this car. You can reach Josh at josh@sftm.org if you'd like to volunteer to help with this project. Please consider making a Donation for the Line Car Fund - with your help, we hope 3283 can serve the museum for years as a powerful new tool and exhibit.

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This interior shot shows that this was very much a work-oriented piece of equipment.
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Here is what 3283 looked like after arriving at Seashore Trolley Museum in 2008. Griffin Bourassa is in the doorway.
Marty Wisniewski Collection

How do you move a trolley car? One option is to use Silk Road Trucking.
They have special stretch lowboy trailers with rails on the beds.
Here is a You Tube video of the car being loaded at Seashore Trolley Museum in Maine.


Seashore posted some pictures and comments when the car left their museum.

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Here is 3283 when she arrived in late May 2023.
Ellie Flint Photo

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The truck is disconnected and driven to the rear to operate the winch.
Ramps are assembled to roll the car onto our tracks.
Ellie Flint Photo

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We used the tractor to pull 3283 away so the truck could be reconnected and driven away.
We fashioned a drawbar for No. 10 and used No. 10 to move 3283 into the Car Barn.

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Now 3283 can keep No. 10 company in our Car Barn.


Here are some historic images from other sources of MBTA 3283:
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MTA Line Car 3283 Everett Shops, New in 1950, note Center Entrance car to be scrapped. Kevin Farrell Collection
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MTA Line Car 3283 Everett Shops, New in 1950 side view. Kevin Farrell Collection
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MTA Line Car 3283 Everett Shops, New in 1950 Official view. Kevin Farrell Collection
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MBTA line car 3283 Beacon Junction 8/12/75. Kevin Farrell Photograph
At Lechmere 11/4/1958. Collection of Frank Phuhler
At Lechmere 12/7/1958, same location as above. Collection of Joe Testagrose
At the Reservoir Car House, March 1969. Photo By Tom Nelligan
At the Reservoir Car House in 1973. Photo by ironmike9 on Flickriver
At Seashore Trolley Museum 2010 by Joseph Diecedue
MBTA 3283 at Seashore Trolley Museum, May 2010
MBTA 3283 at Seashore Trolley Museum, May 2010. Photo by Todd Van Hoosear

This car is not open to the public.
We are raising money to start the restoration.
Please make an Donation for the Line Car Fund.

Please send any additional information or corrections or pictures to Sam Bartlett.


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Trolley Car No.10 is back ... On track!

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14 Depot Street Shelburne Falls MA 01370        413-625-9443       trolley@sftm.org