Astoria Riverfront Trolley

Motorman & Conductors

 Training Manual

2003 Edition

This manual has been combined from multiple sources, including the Willamette Shore Trolley in Portland, the Glenwood Trolley Park by Gales Creek, and the New Orleans manual of Street Railway Equipment. Use this manual to earn the title of Motorman, and join an elite cadre of uniquely skilled people.


The operation of the Astoria Riverfront Trolley places different responsibilities on the Motorman from those formerly met by the Motormen of public service traction companies of the nostalgic past. Most street railways had an intensive training program that, coupled with an eight- or 10-hour operating day, soon developed considerable proficiency in their Motormen. In addition, their maintenance departments were well equipped, stocked and staffed and could undertake anything up to the complete rebuilding of a wrecked car. Continued carelessness or negligence on the part of employees resulted in admonition or severance from the company.

On the Astoria Riverfront Trolley the situation is quite different. The limited training and operating time of Astoria crews makes it imperative that every trip be devoted to the constant improvement of operating skills as well as adherence to the highest safety standards. It is essential that Old 300 be handled in a manner designed to keep servicing and repairs to a minimum. What might have been a short stay in the shop in the golden days of streetcars could become an indefinite lay-up while damaged parts are made to order at considerable expense. Since our equipment is irreplaceable and virtually priceless, very heavy responsibilities are placed upon those entrusted with its care.

This Motorman’s manual has been edited and improved by experienced operators so that this information applies specifically to Astoria Riverfront Trolley car Old 300. Its purpose is to explain the “how” of the trolley’s operations.


The first and primary responsibility of a trolley Motorman and Conductor is safety. Your area of responsibility encompasses everything in or around the trolley; people on the trolley; people getting on or off the trolley; cars, people, dogs, cats and bikes around the trolley; and even people or cars you don’t see, but might be there.

Think about what “could happen” and try to prevent situations from deteriorating. Expect people on the street to do the unexpected, such as run out in front of the trolley. Expect that the person who does not want help on the trolley steps will fall down the trolley steps. Do not move the trolley until everyone is seated. That “parked car” next to the tracks might start moving. Be aware of what is going on inside and around the trolley.

As a Conductor you are primarily responsible for the safety of the passengers. The Motorman is busy operating the trolley, and the Conductor must watch for unsafe behaviors or conditions in and around the trolley.

As a Motorman, you are responsible for the safety of the trolley in addition to the safety of the passengers. Motormen need to concentrate on operating Old 300. A Motorman should not talk with a passenger or use the intercom system while Old 300 is moving. Experience has shown that it is critical for you to pay attention to the condition of the tracks and the clearance of parked cars near the tracks. Avoid a collision with a stationary object by taking the time to stop the trolley and get out to check if there is adequate room to proceed. Stay alert and think. There is no excuse for running into something.

Vandalism of the tracks has happened several times and will likely happen again. It can and will probably happen when you are operating the trolley. It is the responsibility of the Motorman, with help from the Conductor, to carefully observe the track for rocks, sticks, bars, switch settings or anything unusual. If you think you are seeing something on, near, or about the tracks that isn’t right then stop the trolley and check it out. In addition to vandalism remember that our tracks are aging and in need of maintenance. Also, normal vehicular traffic across the tracks can result in rocks and debris where you don’t expect it.

Moving vehicular traffic has been involved in several trolley collisions. People do not expect to see a train on the tracks in Astoria, or they react poorly when they do see one. The best way to avoid a collision with a vehicle is to proceed slowly and cautiously through areas and crossings where vehicles could be. Use the bell to make a racket and be noticed. Always yield the right-of-way, and don’t expect vehicles to stop for you. Make eye contact with the other driver. Be alert and be careful.

Always run the trolley at an appropriate speed that will allow you to see potential problems with adequate time to react. Only a few Motormen have experience driving a vehicle as large and heavy as Old 300. Weighing in at 40,000 pounds, Old 300 traveling at 3 mph (pedestrian speed) has the momentum of a sports utility vehicle traveling 9 mph. At 15 miles per hour, Old 300 has the momentum of an SUV going 43 mph.

The downtown corridor is very busy with cars, forklifts, pedestrians, trucks, animals, and items stacked beside the tracks. Do not drive fast through downtown or anywhere that conditions do not allow. Wet rails can make the brakes very slippery, extending stopping distances considerably. Even on a dry day the brakes can become wet by running the trolley through a puddle of water. You should always travel at a speed that considers the brakes may be less effective than you expect. A good rule-of-thumb to remember is, if it feels like you are moving kind of fast, then you are moving too fast!

Being a trolley Motorman is like being the captain of a ship. Like a ship’s captain, the Motorman is the person in control and accountable for the safety of the passengers and the trolley. Don’t place your passengers or the trolley in danger. If a car or truck looks like it is blocking the way of the trolley, don’t risk it. Look for the owner of the vehicle and have them move it. If you can’t find the vehicle’s owner, call the police and ask for the vehicle to be removed, or reverse direction, and try again later. The trolley should not collide with stationary objects.

Remember, the best time to avoid an accident is before it happens.

Organizational Structure

The Astoria Riverfront Trolley Association is a non-profit organization that operates under the umbrella of the City of Astoria. Although the city has been extremely supportive of the trolley, no city budget money is used to pay for trolley operations or repairs. All income has been through donations and operating fares. About 30,000 people ride Old 300 each year, at a typical fare of $1 each.

The City of Astoria owns all of the tracks and right-of-way from Tongue Point in the east to the Port of Astoria in the west. The tracks and right-of-way were acquired under the “rail banking” program when Burlington Northern abandoned the line to Astoria. The intention of this federal program is to prevent the rail infrastructure of our country from being lost as railroad operators curtail operations.

All of the Motormen and Conductors that operate the trolley are unpaid volunteers. Without these volunteers there would be no trolley in Astoria. The volunteer Motormen and Conductors are the most important part of the trolley organization. You can be a Conductor, who manages the riders and fares. You can be a Motorman who operates the trolley and serves at times as a Conductor. Every round-trip, the duties of Motorman and Conductor are traded between the two people that work on the trolley during each shift. If there is one certified Motorman and one certified Conductor, then the certified Motorman will operate the trolley for the entire shift.

The next tier of the organization is the Trolley Operations Committee. Their fellow Motormen and Conductors elect these committee members. This committee helps decide on operational issues such as policy about stops, duties, how we do what we do, and arranging special events with the trolley. In addition, the Trolley Operations Committee is responsible for recruiting and training new volunteers, refresher training, trolley maintenance, barn operations, and all of the details that need to be taken care of to make the trolley a success.

The lowliest tier of the trolley organization is the Board of Directors. These people provide the work and influence to get the Motormen and Conductors the resources that they need to keep the Riverfront Trolley Association going. The Board of Directors is responsible for managing the money, liaison with government organizations, insurance, and all of the invisible issues that Motormen and Conductors generally have little interest in.

There are two part-time paid positions. One of these is the maintainer, and one is the scheduler. The maintainer’s duties include preventive and planned maintenance to the trolley and generator such as oil and filter changes and repairs to doors and brakes. The scheduler’s duties include coordination of the volunteer Motormen and Conductors to assure that crews are available when the trolley is scheduled to operate.

Conductor and Motorman’s Qualifications and Duties

A two-person team operates Old 300. This team is made up of either two Motormen, or one Motorman and one Conductor. For safety reasons Old 300 is not operated by only one person.

Conductor Qualifications

·      The Conductor must be physically capable of helping people to board and exit the trolley. Some passengers are of limited mobility and need considerable help up or down the steps of the trolley. The Conductors physical condition must be good enough to quickly ascend or descend the trolley steps in order to immediately respond to the needs of the passengers.

·      The Conductors vision must be sufficient to allow the Conductor to act as a second set of eyes for the Motorman.

·      The Conductors hearing must be sufficient to hear the signal bell, main trolley bell, and outside car horns.

·      The Conductor must have a friendly demeanor and enjoy dealing with the public.

·      Knowledge of local history and trivia is desirable.

·      The Conductor must be at least 14, but less than 132 years old and meet the physical requirements.

·      CPR training is recommended, but not required.

Conductor’s Duties

The Conductor is responsible for dealing with passengers. These responsibilities include:

1.    Help passengers as they board or exit the trolley. Passengers enter and exit the trolley at the rear of the car, which is the end of the car that the Conductor operates from.

1.    Collect fares from passengers and carry the money.

1.    Count the till, filling out the money paperwork, and put the money in the safe. This duty can be shared with the Motorman.

1.    Carry the Trolley cell phone.

1.    Determine if a passenger wants to get off of the trolley. The Conductor signals to stop at the next trolley stop by ringing the signal bell once.

1.    Make sure the passengers are seated before the trolley begins to move. When the Conductor determines that the passengers are ready for the trolley to move, the Conductor rings the signal bell twice.

1.    Signal the Motorman that an emergency stop is needed right now! Ring the signal bell repeatedly without stopping until the Motorman stops the trolley.

1.    Answer passenger questions.

1.    Use the microphone to give narrative tours and point out interesting things.

1.    Make sure that doors are closed (and stay closed) when moving.

1.    Help passengers operate the reversible seats.

1.    Maintain the best temperature in the trolley by opening or closing windows as appropriate.

1.    The Conductor will be at the back of the car when starting and most of the time. Remember, you are another pair of eyes for the Motorman. If you see something unsafe or unusual, take care of it or let the Motorman know.

Motorman Qualifications

The Motorman is subject to all of the same qualification requirements as the Conductor. In addition, the Motorman must have the following:

·      Valid U.S. driver’s license.

·      Passed all of the tests and training, and is signed off as a certified Motorman.

·      Good judgment, and the ability to resolve unexpected situations.

Motorman’s Duties

1.    The Motorman must be able to perform all Conductor duties. All Motormen will periodically be required to be a Conductor.

1.    Verify that the trolley is ready to be put into operation. See Start Up procedures.

1.    Verify the position of all track switches before crossing them.

1.    Scan the route ahead for possible obstructions.

1.    Operate the trolley bell at and through all crossings, or any time that it is appropriate to make the trolley presence known.

1.    Operate the trolley at a safe speed.

1.    The Motorman should concentrate on operating the trolley, and should not talk to passengers or use the intercom while the trolley is in motion.

1.    Put the trolley away at the end of the shift. See Shut Down procedures.

Motorman and Conductor Appearance and Conduct


The Motorman and Conductor need to be readily identifiable by the general public as trolley staff. For this reason, vests and hats are available for purchase. Overcoats have been provided, and you are encouraged to wear these if you do not have the vest. During unusually hot weather you are not required to wear the overcoat. Overcoats are provided free of charge.

Trolley day is a good day to remember to spruce up, and in general you should remember that you are representing the City of Astoria. Many visitors to Oregon will recall their ride on the Astoria Riverfront Trolley and the people who ran it. No offensive T-shirts should be worn, and although blue jeans are suitable, do not wear any torn or heavily stained pants. High heels are discouraged for safety reasons.


·      Most people ride the trolley to have fun. Always put on a cheerful face, even if you don’t feel cheerful.

·      Make sure that the passengers and you have a good time, while maintaining a professional demeanor.

·      Do not make jokes about accidents or make statements degrading to our community.

·      Make no statements that could offend anyone.

·      Do not hang out the windows or doors, or do anything else that you would not allow a passenger to do on the trolley.

·      Eating and drinking on the trolley should be minimized.

·      No religious or political agendas shall be promulgated on the trolley.

·      The Motorman and Conductor need to help each other and work as a team.

Motormen and Conductors need to start and end their shift with a blood alcohol level of 0. Do not mix drinking and trolley operations. If you suspect your shift partner has been drinking then you have an obligation to deal with the situation. Public safety is paramount.


The trolley is equipped with two sets of bells. The first set provides for internal communication between the Motorman and Conductor. The second set provides for external communication between the trolley and the outside world.

The internal bell set lets the Motorman and Conductor communicate. Pushing the button on one end of the car rings the bell at the other end. This way, the Conductor can tell the Motorman to stop, to start, or inform the Motorman of an emergency.

The Conductor pushes the bell once to inform the Motorman that the trolley should stop.  The Motorman rings the external bell once to acknowledge, and stops the trolley at the next trolley stop. In areas where there isn’t a stop nearby, the Motorman will stop as soon as it is safe to do so. Conductors should give the Motorman as much notice as possible—it’s tough to stop a fully loaded trolley at full speed in just 30 feet.

The Conductor pushes the bell twice to inform the Motorman that the trolley is ready to roll. The Conductor should push the bell twice after passengers are sitting down. The Motorman rings the external bell twice to signal to people not on board the trolley and to vehicles that Old 300 is about to start moving.

In an emergency the Conductor should ring the internal bell continually. The Motorman will bring the trolley to an immediate stop.

The outside bell on the trolley serves two purposes. First, it is our early warning device, signaling to the public the trolley is coming, and to get out of the way. The bell should be rung continually when approaching and crossing intersections, and during stretches on hazardous sections of the route. Second, the bell is a fun and easy way to advertise the trolley. The bell attracts people just like the bell on ice cream trucks. Ring the bell, and see kids and families run to the trolley.

Trolley Route & Stops

Old 300 operates on railroad tracks owned by the City of Astoria. Old 300 runs from the Red Lion Inn to the west side of the intersection of the railroad tracks and 36th Street at the East End Mooring Basin.

Old 300 has several mandatory trolley stops for passengers. The Trolley always stops at the Maritime Museum, 11th Street, 6th Street, and the Red Lion, even if there are not any passengers who want to get off Old 300 or any passengers waiting to be picked up.  Often, potential passengers get tired of waiting for the trolley to show up, so they wander off a ways to see the sights. Stopping the trolley, and ringing the bell, gives passengers a chance to catch a ride.

Old 300 also always stops for safety at Portway Ave., 3rd Street, and 14th Street. Motorman must come to a complete stop at these intersections, and proceed when the intersections are clear.

Old 300 should stop whenever it appears someone is interested in riding the trolley. Sometimes potential passengers will stand near the tracks waiting for the trolley to come by. Motormen and Conductors should be on the look out for potential passengers, and stop the trolley wherever it is safe to allow new passengers to board. The rule of thumb is if someone is waving money at the trolley, stop and pick him or her up.

Old 300 can also stop wherever it is safe to allow passengers to get off the trolley. In places where a stop is just ahead, proceed to the next stop. But if the next regular stop is several blocks ahead, stop as soon as safety allows.

Operational Policies

Fare Structures

$1 Fare:   The typical fare to ride the Astoria Riverfront Trolley is $1 per person, which is collected by the Conductor upon boarding. For the $1 fare a person can ride the trolley as long as they like, for as many round trips as they like. However, if a person gets off of the trolley then they must pay an additional $1 to ride again.

$2 Fare:   For $2, a person buys an all-day fare. For $2 the passenger gets their hand stamped. Then the passenger can get on and off of the trolley as many times as they want on that day.

Tickets:   Trolley tickets are sold through various outlets. Honor a trolley ticket as you would a $1 bill.

Annual Passes: Passengers can purchase an annual pass for $25, which allows them to ride Old 300 as frequently as they like. Conductors need to make sure the name on the pass belongs to the person presenting the pass.

All people, regardless of age must pay a fare. This includes senior citizens. The exception is children too small to walk, which may ride for free when accompanied by a paying passenger.

Passengers With Disabilities

Old 300 was built before the needs of the elderly or the disabled were appreciated. Being an antique trolley car Old 300 is exempt from the handicap access requirements of the Americans with Disabilities Act. Boarding or exiting the steep steps of the trolley can be hazardous for people with reduced strengths or impaired mobility. However, we should do all that we can to accommodate people with special needs. The Conductor should assess the passengers as they board or exit the trolley, and help in any way possible. The Conductor should not hesitate to ask the Motorman for additional assistance, and the Motorman should pay attention to boarding/exiting passengers. If you feel that it is unsafe for a passenger to board the trolley then you have an obligation to follow your instincts. Do your best to apologize, but remember that passenger safety comes first.


Old 300 has a cell phone that is stored in the trolley barn. The Conductor is to carry the cell phone, and the cell phone must be on the trolley at all times. All Conductors and Motormen should be able to hear and operate the phone. The trolley cell phone number is 791-0064, and is to be used for trolley related business only. Make sure that the phone is hooked up to the charger at the end of the day. The phone number of the trolley barn is 325-8790.


Smoking is not allowed on board Old 300, as is the regulation aboard any public transportation. In addition to considering the comfort of non-smoking passengers, the trolley is made of wood, and smoking constitutes a fire hazard.

Dogs and Cats

Animals on the trolley should be discouraged. Letting an animal aboard is at your own discretion. You are responsible for the animal’s behavior while it is on board. If the critter makes a mess, then you need to clean it up. In addition, other passengers may be allergic to cats and dogs, or may feel intimidated by a mean looking pooch.

If the trolley is not too crowded and the animal appears calm and well behaved then you can let the animal on. Dogs and cats can ride for free, but must be accompanied by a paying passenger.

Drunken Passengers

Think of the trolley as you would a city bus. A person riding the trolley after a few drinks is better than having that same person drive a car after a few drinks. Anybody that is tipsy, but well behaved, is a welcome passenger. Remember that, as with the dog and cat policy, “if the critter makes a mess, then you need to clean it up.”

Food and Drink on the Trolley

Food and drink on the trolley is at the discretion of the Conductor. The Conductor and Motorman are responsible for keeping the trolley clean during operations, and for cleaning the inside of the trolley at the end of the day. If passengers seem to have control of their drinks or food (such as a lid and straw on a cup), then you can let them bring it on board. If a mess appears inevitable, such as teetering and dripping ice cream cones, then suggest that they finish their snacks and catch the trolley in 20 minutes when you return.

The Motorman should not eat or drink while driving the trolley, as the Motorman’s full attention needs to be directed toward operating the trolley. Eating or drinking by the Conductor should be kept to a minimum.


No alcohol consumption is, or open containers are, allowed on the trolley unless permission is obtained in advance from the Oregon State Liquor Control Commission.

Emergencies or Problems


If there is an emergency requiring police, fire, or medical assistance, use the cell phone and call 911. Please refer to the chart for guidance as to who and when to call for help.


Who to Call

When to Call

Medical Emergency






Injury Collision



Non Injury Collision

Police Department 325-4411


Unruly Passenger



Track Vandalism

Police Department 325-4411

At end of shift

Unless results

in injury or


Car on Track

Motorman and Conductor should look for vehicle owner,

and if unable to locate, call Police Department at 325-4411

Mechanical Breakdown

Steve Nurding 325-6273

Jim Wilkins, 338-0606

Mitch Mitchum 791-3837



Steve Nurding 325-6273

Jeff Newenhof 325-2652, 325-4512

Mitch Mitchum 791-3837

Jim Wilkins 338-0606



If there is a fire on the trolley, get all people off immediately. The trolley is equipped with a fire extinguisher at either end. Only fight the fire if there is no danger in doing so.

Electrical Shock or Sparks

Shut off the main power disconnect switch on the generator as soon as possible. Do not operate the trolley until the problem has been identified and resolved.


A collision involving the trolley should be treated the same as any collision involving your car. Do not leave the scene of the accident until you have been in contact with the other vehicle owner or contacted the police. If you hit an item next to the tracks then you must notify the owner of the item. Do not continue to operate the trolley unless you are sure that no further damage will occur by doing so.

Mechanical Breakdown

If you can identify and resolve the problem yourself then please try. If you cannot, first see to the needs of the passengers. Next, call the appropriate phone numbers. 911 should not be called unless there is an immediate need for medical, fire, or police help. Mechanical breakdowns are inevitable on an old machine and should be considered a common and normal occurrence. Remain calm, use your good judgment, and consider a breakdown as a personal challenge to be overcome. It’s all a part of trolley operations. In addition to major problems, minor equipment problems should be described in the trolley logbook at the end of each day.

Hazardous Trolley Crossings

While a Motorman should always be cautious when operating Old 300, several parts of our route require extra careful operation in order to ensure the safety of passengers and Old 300.

14th Street

The 14th Street intersection is unique in Astoria because a traffic light controls the intersection for vehicle traffic that crosses the trolley tracks. Old 300 must stop at the intersection to check for traffic before proceeding through.

Between 11th Street and 14th Street

The stretch from 11th to 14th Street is the busiest area along the route for cars and pedestrians. Motormen and Conductors should be extra careful. Be alert for cars pulling out of the diagonal parking spaces. The trolley should be operated at walking speed, and a continual ringing of the bell is recommended as a warning to vehicles and pedestrians that the trolley is coming through.

Between 7th Street and 9th Street

This working waterfront area is of great interest to our passengers, and should be an area of great caution for our Motormen. Be on the watch for forklifts and trucks on the tracks, and pallets and tote boxes stored on or close to the tracks. Forklift operators in this area are wearing hearing-protection devices that mean they can’t hear the trolley bell. There are lots of nooks and crannies that can hide a forklift until it is too late, so the trolley should be run at walking speed if the canneries are in operation and the bell should be rung all the way through this area.

3rd Street

At the Burger King/Columbia House intersection there are "STOP" signs along the tracks in both directions. The trolley must be brought to a complete stop at these intersections. The driveway at the condominium is a blind spot (especially westbound) and exiting cars often move out quickly in order to clear the gate.

Portway Street

This is a “blind intersection” as well as a place where the trolley crosses an arterial. It is difficult to see traffic coming from the North. The trolley must always come to a full stop before crossing this intersection.

Trolley Construction and Features

Old 300 utilizes the latest 1913-construction technique, known as “hybrid construction.” Earlier cars were constructed entirely of wood. Later cars were constructed entirely of metal. Old 300 is a hybrid, constructed of a steel frame carrying a wood body. With the body being constructed primarily of wood it is vulnerable to fire, weather and misuse. Old 300 weighs 40,000 pounds.

Power is supplied at approximately 600 volts DC from the Cummins/Onan 60-kilowatt motor generator through the main circuit breakers to the trolley. From the car’s circuit breaker, it passes through the controller.

      The controller allows the current to reach the motors in varying amounts by introducing or reducing resistance to the circuit.

      Old 300 is double-ended, which means that it may be operated from either end. There are controllers at either end of the car. There is a motor on each of the car’s two trucks. These motors are normally operated together in series, with each motor receiving a maximum of 300 volts DC.

Circuit Breakers

      Circuit breakers and fuses protect both the motor generator and the car motors. The circuit breaker at the motor-generator, referred to as the “master disconnect switch,” will disconnect all power to the trolley when a dangerous overload occurs. If this breaker opens, it will remain open until the trouble is corrected and the breaker is reset.

The car also has a circuit breakers located in the vestibule above the control platform. It can serve as an on/off switch for the car, but we never use it. We use the Master Disconnect Switch instead. Accelerating the car too rapidly could trip a circuit breaker. If only the car’s breaker has opened, it may be manually reset and the car can continue operation. If the entire line remains dead, the master disconnect in the motor-generator has opened, and will also need to be reset.

The Control Platform

      Old 300 is operated from the control platforms located in the vestibule at either end of the car. Only the Motorman and Conductor should occupy the control platform during operation. A large oak module called the controller dominates the control platform.

Controller Operation

      Each axle of our antique trolley carries a load of more than 5 tons. (Old 300 weighs in at 40,000 pounds) Applying full current to each motor to start the car would overload the circuit and cause the circuit breaker to trip. To prevent this, and to give the motors the right amount of electrical current, a combination of resistance circuits are utilized.

      The controller has two main drums: one near the center for the controller handle, and one on the right for the reversing key. The reversing key can be placed on its drum only in the central or “neutral” position. In this position, the controller drum is locked.

The controller handle can be operated only when the reversing key is in the forward or reverse position, when the car is standing still and movement is not desired. Upon leaving the platform, the Motorman should always take the reversing key with him. This will prevent accidental or unauthorized movement of the car. In addition, the brake handle should also be taken with the Motorman (to prevent possible theft of the brake handle).

Reversing Key in Reverse Position


Reversing Key in Center, Neutral Position


Reversing Key in Forward Position


      On Old 300, the controller drum rotates through notches that are indicated by cast index marks on the controller cover, and are numbered 0 through 8. Notches on the controller can be thought of as the gas pedal on your car. Starting at the “0” mark, and rotating clockwise, the first five notches encountered are the series notches. This is followed by a gap between 5 and 6 called “transition.” Notches 6, 7, and 8 are the parallel notches. We have placed limiters inside of Old 300’s controllers so that you cannot go higher than notch 5, the highest series notch. This is to prevent achieving the high speeds associated with notches 6, 7, and 8 when the motors could receive a full 600 volts.

      Each of the notches on the controller drum represents the connecting up of a different operating circuit. A vertical row of contacts makes connection with a vertical row of copper “fingers” associated with each notch, sending the electric current through a different amount of resistors in each notch. This way the amount of electricity going to each motor is regulated, thus providing a method of speed control.

      The first notch on the controller is for the circuit that feeds the least amount of current into the motors. In this circuit, the motors are placed in series along with a maximum amount of resistance. There is sufficient power to allow the motors to start to move the car, but not so much that they will be overloaded.

      Cast iron resistor grids located under the floor of the car provides the resistance. They dissipate some 45% of the electrical energy as heat. This heat is a useless and costly by-product, as the grids heat up rather rapidly and burn out easily if subjected to prolonged heating.  

      After Old 300 gathers speed in notch 1, the controller is moved to the second notch. At this notch the motors are still in series, but some of the resistance is removed. At notches 3 and 4 less of the current goes through the resistor grids, and more current goes to the motors, which are still operating in series. The 5th notch removes all of the resistance, leaving the two motors in series to share all of the electric current. On Old 300, the first four notches are resistance notches and notch 5 is the series running notch. Running Old 300 at the 5th notch (running notch) does not heat the resistance grids or waste power. Old 300 can thus be operated indefinitely at notch 5 without the possibility of burning a resistor grid (as can happen by staying in 1, 2, 3, or 4 too long).

      It is very important to move the controller quickly from notch to notch when gaining speed, seating firmly and holding on a notch only long enough to attain sufficient speed for the next notch. A Motorman should stay in each notch from three to five seconds before moving up to the next notch. Motorman should “get off the points,” as it is called, as rapidly as possible to avoid damage to the resistance grids by overheating them.

      If there was no limiter inside of the controller to keep you from going higher than notch 5, then after notch 5 the controller passes through “transition” to the notch 6, first parallel notch. In this circuit, the motors are placed in parallel and, as in the first series notch, resistance is also placed in the circuit to diminish the amount of current fed to the motors.

      If you could get to notch 8, notch 8 has no resistance in its circuit and the motors are placed in parallel, each receiving the full 600 volts DC electrical power as supplied. Therefore, notch 8 is also known as a “running notch.” In notch 8 the trolley would be moving at its maximum speed, but we are limited to a top speed provided in notch 5.

      Coasting saves electrical energy and reduces wear and tear on the mechanical parts of the car. Whenever practical, the controller should be returned to the off or “0” position after reaching the desired speed. You will spend more time coasting in notch “0” then in any other notch.


      There are two braking systems on Old 300: the hand brake and the air brake. Old 300 does not use the motors or resistance grids for “regenerative braking” like some other trolleys do.

On Old 300, to the right of the controller are the air brake handle, air reservoir pressure gauge, and hand brake wheel. At the foot of the vertical rod from the handbrake wheel is a toothed wheel and foot-actuated pawl (release), which secures the hand brake when it is tightened.

      Before the invention of a power brake, the hand brake as the primary means of stopping the streetcar and it was quite effective when the Motormen became used to it. However, today’s “modern” streetcars are fortunately equipped with power brakes, too, and stopping has been greatly simplified. The hand brake remains as a parking or emergency brake in case the power brake fails. It is important to test all air brakes before each day’s operation. Do not test the manual hand brake.

      Rotating the big orange hand brake wheel clockwise turns a vertical rod that winds up a heavy chain under the floor of the car. This chain is attached to the brake rigging and pulling it up tight applies the brake to the wheel. The Motorman can secure the brake by meshing a foot-actuated pawl into the teeth of a ratchet wheel on the control platform floor at the base of the vertical rod. There is a hand brake at each end of the car. The hand brake should always be released and the foot pawls disengaged while running.

      The air brake is the brake that is routinely used to stop Old 300. Old 300 is equipped with a straight air brake, i.e., one that uses the air pressure directly on the brake cylinder to apply the brake. An air compressor mounted under the floor pumps air into a reservoir located under the floor. With a hand-operated valve on the control platform, the Motorman sends some of the compressed air from the reservoir into the brake cylinder. This pushes a spring-loaded piston that, through the brake linkage, applies the brake to the wheel.

      The air reservoir pressure-indicating gauge on the control platform gives the air pressure in the reservoir in pounds per square inch. Approximately 70 pounds per square inch is the normal operating air pressure. The compressor is set to turn on automatically when the air pressure drops to about 50 pounds per square inch. The trolley should never be moved until the compressor has filled the air reservoir and shut off: The gauge should read over 50 pounds.

      The air reservoir has a drain cock that should be opened whenever the car is stored. This releases all air and condensed water so that the inside of the tank will not rust. It must be closed again when the car is to be operated.

      Old 300’s air brakes are not like a modern truck’s brakes. On a modern truck with “anchor locks,” springs apply the brakes and the air is used to release the brakes. This system means that loss of air pressure or system failure will automatically apply the brakes. When Old 300 was built nobody had invented fail-safe brakes with anchor locks. If Old 300 looses air pressure then you will have no brakes!

Operating the Brakes

A brake shoe on a rotating wheel exerts about one-third the braking power it exerts on a standing wheel. In stopping, three times as much pressure is needed to bring the car to a stop as is needed to hold it, once stopped. Likewise, the frictional resistance between the rail and wheel is three times as great when the wheel is rolling as opposed to a sliding wheel.

Brake Handle In Release Position
Brake Handle  In Lap Position
Brake Handle In Apply Position
The air brake handle has three positions: Apply, Lap, and Release. “Apply” allows air from the reservoir to enter the brake cylinder. “Release” allows air to escape from the brake cylinder into the atmosphere. “Lap” position maintains the status quo.

The brakes should be fully released when moving the trolley. Otherwise the brake shoes will wear out, just like if you were to ride the brake pedal of your automobile.

On Old 300, routine stops are made with the air brake. The Motorman turns the air brake handle to the right of center to allow some of the air in the reservoir to enter the cylinder. This applies the brake shoe to the wheel. If the air is not then vented slightly from the cylinder, the constant pressure will keep the shoe applied and hasten deceleration. This would result in a jerking, shuddering stop that would rack the car, wheels, and passengers.

      The Motorman, therefore, releases about one-third of the air he has applied, once the car begins to slow down considerably. Because there is still pressure against the brake shoe, a second release of about another third is affected just as the trolley comes to a stop. This prevents a jerking stop while still maintaining enough air in the cylinder to hold the car at a stop. In summary, one application and two or three releases make for a good stop. You will learn to vary these motions to either prolong or hurry your stop as you become more experienced.

      Alternately applying and releasing the air brake indiscriminately is called “fanning the brake” and should be discouraged. It is very hard on the air valve, brake rigging, compressor, and wastes air. It also results in unnecessary maintenance work and expense.

When it is desired to move the car just a foot or two, the following method will forestall bumping into an object in front of Old 300. Apply just a little air to the brake. Move the controller handle firmly to the first notch briefly. Avoid just touching the notch as this could cause serious burning on the fingers inside the controller. As the car begins to move the slight brake pressure will keep the car from surging ahead. Then when the power is cut out by a rapid motion of the controller handle, the same pressure will stop the car. When properly executed, this action does not produce any greater strain to the car than starting with a load. It is very much like doing a hill-start in a car with a clutch.

      The brakes should never be applied so hard as to lock the wheels except in an emergency stop. This racks the car body and undercarriage, and results in flat spots on the trolley wheels. We do not have the capability of repairing flattened wheels, and to send the wheels away to have them turned could result in considerable expense as well as putting the car out of service for some time. A car skidding takes longer to stop and is out of control.

      An emergency stop is necessary when the trolley needs to be stopped in the shortest time and distance possible. The best way to stop in any emergency is to return to notch 0 and fully apply the brakes as quickly as possible. A good Motorman always has his right hand on the brake lever so that it can instantly be applied. In an operation such as ours, it is really difficult to justify a situation that would require a sudden emergency stop. Speed is not an asset on our line. Our passengers want to prolong the enjoyment of their ride and a too-fast trip deprives them of that pleasure. Old 300 is a genuine antique and the length of her useful life will be directly proportional to the slowness and gentleness with which they are handled. If you keep alert and keep your right hand on the brake handle you may never need to perform an emergency stop.

Operating and Conducting Tips

Time of Roundtrip

     Operating speed of Old 300 is dictated by several things: track conditions; pedestrian and vehicle activity around the tracks; the continued well-being of the trolley; and most important, the safety and comfort of our passengers.

 We don’t have a set timetable to run the trolley. We don’t have to be at a certain point at a certain time. So there isn’t a rush to get to any point along the route in a speedy matter. Conversely, a single round trip shouldn’t take more than an hour.

Through experience generated over several seasons of operation, the typically round trip should average about 45 minutes. Sometimes it might be slower, sometimes longer, depending on the number of passengers getting on and off the trolley. In a three hour shift Old 300 should make four roundtrips. That way, each member of a two-Motorman team of operators will get two trips behind the controller.

Bell Ringing

      Ringing the bell of the trolley serves two purposes. First, it advertises the trolley to potential passengers. Second, and more important, bell ringing is the early warning system to let pedestrians and vehicles know the trolley is coming.

      Using common railroad practices, the proper procedure for bell ringing at intersections is to ring the bell well in advance of the intersection, and to continue to ring the bell while the trolley is in the intersection. Because of blind intersections and poor sight lines, often the only way a motorist or pedestrian knows the trolley is coming is by hearing the bell. In addition to intersections, the bell needs to be rung continuously at several points on our route, between 11th and 14th Street, and between the canneries between 6th and 9th Street.

Points of Possible Conflict

     In order to keep a hand free to ring the bell at intersections, the Motorman should employ the Point of Possible Conflict (POPC) driving method.

      The POPC method of driving is simple. When approaching an intersection, the Motorman returns the controller to notch zero and coasts through the intersection. This eliminates the urge to speed up the trolley in case of a possible conflict, and if need be, makes it easier for the Motorman to attempt an emergency stop if needed.

      Once across the intersection, the Motorman can smartly kick things up a notch by applying power to the appropriate notch and regain speed. As a side benefit, coasting through intersections means the trolley is going slower through areas that have the worst track conditions, making the ride safer and more comfortable for passengers, and easier on Old 300.

The Trolley Barn

Old 300’s home and our headquarters is at a trolley barn located at the extreme west end of the tracks. Each night the trolley is put away inside of the barn to protect Old 300 from shenanigans and the weather. The barn contains an office, restroom, training room, workbench, and storage areas. The barn has two sets of parallel tracks in it. One of the tracks is over a maintenance pit. During normal operation the trolley is parked on the south track, which is not over the pit. This is for safety reasons, so that Motormen and Conductors are not exposed to a fall hazard.

If you ever park the trolley over the pit track, be extremely careful to have all doors closed so that nothing hits the vertical pipes and chains that form a railing around the pit.

The barn has two lighting systems: The fluorescent lights and the “really super bright kind of shop lights.” We always leave the fluorescent lights on, even at night when there are no people in the barn. This is for security reasons. The second system of “really super bright kind of shop lights” are switched on and off from inside of the breaker panel over by the workbench. Feel free to use these lights if you need them, but turn them off when you are done.

The barn has a natural gas heating system, remote controlled roll-up doors, lights, and a flush toilet. All of this is a huge improvement over our first seasons of operation, and those people who remember our temporary barn are doing their best to forget it. We are fortunate to have our new barn, and all you have to do is use common sense and help keep the barn clean.

Barn Rules are few, but include the following:

·      No automotive repair or non-trolley projects are allowed in the barn.

·      Clean up if you make a mess, or just tidy up sometimes.

·      Leave the fluorescent lights on at all times, even at night.

·      The diesel motor of the generator quickly fills the barn with fumes. Run the generator for as short a time as possible while in the barn.

·      Be particularly careful when moving the trolley over the maintenance pit. Clearance from the pipes and safety chains surrounding the pit are very tight.

·      Each track has a basketball hung from a rope as a reference. If you pull Old 300 forward until the front window of the vestibule touches the basketball you will be parked in the perfect position.

·      The pipes and chains surrounding the maintenance pit are to remain in place at all times to avoid creating a fall-hazard.

·      When driving the trolley out of the barn, or when driving the trolley back into the barn, make sure that the door is all of the way open!

Old 300 being parked over the maintenance pit. Notice that the pipes and chains are in-place to prevent a possible fall, and that there is very little clearance for Old 300.

Start Up and Shut Down Procedures

Start up:

1.    Call the Chamber of Commerce (325-6311) if it’s the start of a day’s running, and let them know that the trolley is running today.

2.    Check the logbook to see if there is anything unusual you should know about.

3.    Open the trolley barn door.

4.    Close the bleed valve on the trolley air tank, located low down on the south side of the trolley.

5.    Walk around the trolley and generator trailer, and make sure that there is nothing unusual. Check to be sure the tracks are clear, and that any extension cords are disconnected and removed from the trolley. Make sure that there is no unfinished maintenance still under way.

6.    Verify that the reversing key is not in place on the controller. The Motorman should have the reversing key and brake handle his/her pocket by this point.

7.    Open generator enclosure side doors and check coolant and engine oil levels.

8.    Look for unusual drips or other warning signs under the engine and generator trailer.

9.    Check the fuel level in the generator trailer tank. Refill with diesel when below 1/2 tank.

10. Open the northwest door of the generator enclosure. The “Master Disconnect Switch” is in here. Make sure that the “Master Disconnect Switch” is in the “off” position.

11. Open front (west) door of generator and turn on the large round battery switch that is on the left side of the opening. This switch activates the 12-volt starting battery.

12. Take a moment to think about if you are ready to start the generator.

13. Push the “start” button on the generator control panel.

14. Turn on the Master Disconnect Switch. Now the trolley is getting power. Close all of the generator doors.

15. The generator is now running and filling the barn with smoke. This is the only time you can move the trolley without waiting for full pressure to build up in the air tank. If all is clear, move the trolley forward about 20 feet to get the generator exhaust stack outside of the barn.

16. Wait for the air compressor to build up full air pressure in the air tank and turn itself off. When the compressor turns itself off then check the air pressure gauge to verify that there is over 50 PSI in the tank. (It typically reads around 90 psi at shutoff)

17. If everything seems OK then you are ready to go. Keep alert for unusual sounds or smells, and drive safely.

18. The Conductor uses a remote control to close the trolley barn door after the trolley is clear. Make sure that the door is closing.

Shut Down:

1.    After parking the trolley in the barn, remove the reversing key and brake handle.

2.    Open the northwest generator enclosure door and shut off the Master Disconnect Switch.

3.    Open the west enclosure door and turn off the generator motor.

4.    Turn off the battery switch.

5.    Gradually open the air bleed valve on the trolley air tank. The air in the tank is under a lot of pressure, so slowly opening the valve will reduce the amount of dust blasted in your face. The valve should be left open to allow any condensation in the tank to escape.

6.    Walk around the trolley and look to see if there is anything unusual that has happened to the trolley or generator. Look underneath, too.

7.    Clean up any garbage or mess in the trolley.

8.    Return reversing key and brake handle to trolley office.

9.    If there is anything unusual to communicate to other Motormen, make a note in the logbook.