Digital Exclusives: Wilkes-Barre Trolley Cleaning

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SWOYERSVILLE, LUZERNE COUNTY (WBRE/WYOU) — Anthracite Trolleys, Inc. has been working on the relocation and restoration of a Wilkes-Barre trolley for the past few months. Conrad Baut, President of Anthracite Trolleys, Inc. says they brought the trolley to the restoration site on July 1.

“This trolley was built in 1924 by the J.G. Drill company of Philadelphia, world’s largest manufacturer of trolleys and electric vehicles,” he said.

The trolley was purchased by Wilkes-Barre Transport and was in service from 1933 to 1950 in Wilkes-Barre. It was again purchased in 1951, but this time it was built into part of a cottage.

Five years ago, the Anthracite Trolleys Incorporated began to work with the trolley’s owner to remove it from the house. Now the second phase of restoration begins starting with the removal of the rust that has built up on the trolley. Vincent Shea, owner, and operator of Bieber Blasting, says his company was called in to resurface the trolley by using a new method.

“Basically what we’re gonna do is use water and glass combination with an anti-rust chemical to basically strip all of the rust and paint chip that is, that has been on this trolley,” he said.

This new method gets rid of the rust but is also environmentally friendlier than a normal sandblaster.

“It’s gonna make our volunteers’ help so much easier without having to be inside the car with paint strippers, with sanding blocks, and piles and piles of sandpaper,” he said.

The method also takes a much shorter time to remove the rust without warping the metal or damaging the wood of the trolley.

“We’re able to adjust the pressure itself which actually ads to the versatility of the machine. Where we could adjust it to do something like metal to something as soft as wood,” he said.

Baut says there are many more phases to finish before the trolley is ready, but that this is a good start. When it’s finished, the trolley will go to the electric city trolley museum in Scranton, and be part of the operating fleet. Baut says visitors will be able to ride on a Scranton trolley or a Wilkes-Barre trolley.

“We’ll be trying to bring the idea of Wilkes-Barre, Scranton, Luzerne County, Lackawanna County more regional. We’re all on the same boat. And this car will be a very nice idea to their collection,” he said.

Anthracite Trolleys Incorporated estimates that this restoration will cost about $300,000. It plans to finish the restoration in three to four years.

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