Parts going to New Orleans for serviceOne of the Astoria Riverfront Trolley's two motors will be sent to New Orleans for repairs that should quiet the local fixture as it makes its daily runs along the river during the summer.

Volunteers spent most of the past weekend working with employees from Taggart Construction and Fishhawk Fisheries to first jack the trolley up about two feet and then remove one of the trolley's "trucks" or frames for the rail car's wheels.

The motor from that truck and an axle will be shipped by truck to the New Orleans Regional Transit Authority or NORTA for repairs.

Steve Nurding, a member of Astoria Riverfront Trolley Association, said since Astoria first received the trolley a few association members have known something was askew with the trolley's motor because of the roaring sound it emits when accelerating down the line.

"Several of us have known since day one that it was loud," he said. "It was just recently that we identified why the noise happened."

A trolley expert diagnosed the problem about two months ago after the noise had become noticeably louder, Nurding said.

He explained that the holes through which one of the trolley's axles pass needs to be repaired as well as a drive gear.

The trolley will be shut down for the next few months as workers move its tracks closer to the river. That project came out of a land swap between the city and the Columbia River Maritime Museum.

Nurding said the association chose to use NORTA to repair the trolley because he serendipitously had arranged a tour of the transit authority's warehouse when he was a trip to New Orleans in June.

New Orleans still operates a trolley line from the turn of the century and Nurding said the municipal transit service has a great deal of expertise on repairing, maintaining and even building trolleys.

"They've been doing this for 100 years. They're the national repository, if not the world repository, for trolley maintenance and operation," he said. "They like trolleys."

In one of the authority's work barns, which was about the size of a football field, Nurding said he saw about 100 trolleys, tracks and other rail equipment.

Nurding said he doesn't have an exact amount on how much the repairs will cost.

"It's really a custom job and we're going to rely on their expertise," he said. "Until they see it there's no real good way to know."

But he added a "shooting from the hip, gut reaction" amount of $5,000 to $10,000.

An engineer at the Wauna Mill, Nurding said he arranged to have the trolley parts shipped via the Yellow Freight trucking company at a reduced rate after Fishhawk brought the parts to the mill.

He said the association has enough money for the repairs from revenue based on ridership.

"The best way for people can support the trolley is to ride," he said.

And Nurding said he had to invite anyone who may be interested to come out for the associations conductor or operator training, which starts in March. He said anyone interested can arrange for the training by contacting the Astoria-Warrenton Area Chamber of Commerce.

Since it began operations about five years ago, the trolley has become one of Astoria's most popular features. Nurding said almost 40,000 ride the trolley annually.

The city just recently entered into another five year lease, at no cost to Astoria, with the San Antonio Museum of Art to operate the trolley.

According to information by the chamber the trolley, known as Old Number 300, was built in 1913 by the American Car Company of St. Louis and operated in San Antonio until 1933.

The San Antonio Museum of Art leased the trolley to Astoria on the condition it be repaired, and after an estimated 300 volunteers spent 2,800 hours on the trolley it was ready to rumble down Astoria's riverfront.


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