5 – The Re-equipment Programme

By the mid 1970s, the reliability of the Snaefell Car fleet was starting to become a cause for concern. Searching for suitable replacements for the cars, the Chairman J Lucas and General Manager H Gilmore of the M.E.R board, together with two London Underground Engineers, journeyed to Aachen, Germany, and found the 1956 production tramcars to have suitably adaptable equipment.

After the Aachen board agreed to sell 7 of them (1003-5, 1008-11), 6 of them were sent to Lots Road Power Station in London, UK for stripping and subsequent disposal. London Transport’s original intention was to fit as much of the spares as they could in the remaining car, itself intended as a source of future spares (No.1010) and transport it to the IoM, however, when the car arrived on the island at Douglas in November 1976, it was found to be empty, LT sending the wrong one by mistake!

The re-equipped Car No.1 at the Summit, 1979. © Richard Pryke

The re-equipped Car No.1 at the Summit, 1979. © Richard Pryke

No.1 had it’s original trucks sent to London Transport at Acton, London for use as a template during Winter 1976 (new fabrications of the originals constructed on site, and fitted with the ex-Aachen motors), being re-equipped at the Snaefell Car Sheds with the brand new trucks during June 1977Trials were held on the mountain during the 1977 Summer, with No.1 reportedly ascending from the Bungalow to the Summit in 8 minutes! These tests lead to the decision to equip the rest of the fleet. These improvements allowed for the fell-braking method to be phased out completely by the newly fitted rheostatic method, with the fell brake now only used in emergencies. Cars No.2 and No.3 made the journey for re-equipment in Winter 1977, with No.s 4, 5 and 6 in Winter 1978.

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