The restoration of a Ratchet Car, a sight unseen on the Manx Electric Railway for over a decade, is to take place with the enthusiast-supported overhaul of Car No.14.
The 1898-built Car, the first of fifteen open ‘Crossbenches’ delivered to the M.E.R., will fill a vital ‘missing link’ in the lines current fleet by showcasing the history of the Ratchet Cars. Utilised in peak seasons only, the eight ‘Ratchets’ (Cars 14-15, 17-18 & 28-31) were mainly used to transport huge crowds of holidaymakers between Douglas and the tourist spots along the east coast of the island. The cars lacked the Air Braking systems present on the remainder of the fleet, instead forcing drivers to rely on the ‘Ratchet’ handbraking system. Despite seeing minimal use, all eight were the victims of early withdrawal from regular passenger use throughout the 1970s, and while two Ratchets were briefly returned to service for the M.E.R.s centenary in 1993, these again saw minimal use before returning to store in the early 2000s, closing the door for Ratchet Car operation on the M.E.R. until now.
Following assessment of the Ratchet fleet, No.14 was chosen for complete overhaul to running order, and, following retrucking at Laxey Car Shed, moved to Derby Castle Car Shed on Wednesday 25th March where a full restoration will take place.
Car No.14 will be fully restored to its 1920s condition, with the correct trucks, traction motors, controllers and livery fitted to match this period of the Cars history. The team from Manx Electric Railway Online has been heavily involved with the restoration thus far including the provision of historical and technical data alongside a detailed livery specification to assist with the restoration of the Car to as authentic a condition as possible. A blog has been added where regular updates to the project will be added, and further details on how you can get involved in supporting the restoration of this vital missing link in M.E.R. history will be available shortly.
No.14 will be on display as part of the Derby Castle Shed Tours during the 2015 ‘Rush Hour’ event over the Easter weekend, where members of both the Derby Castle workshop team and Manx Electric Railway Online team will be on hand to answer any questions regarding the restoration or ‘Ratchets’ as a whole.
For further details on the Car No.14 story so far, please click HERE.