Gaming Grant Helps Trolley Restoration Stay On Track

March 4, 2018 GMT

After weathering a flood and surviving a scrap yard, the former Scranton Transit Co. 505 trolley is one step closer to restoration, thanks to a $20,000 gaming grant and a dedicated group of volunteers.

The Electric City Trolley Museum received the Local Share Account grant to continue funding the 1929 streetcar’s restoration. Unlike the museum’s other restoration projects, the 505 is the first project to be entirely volunteer driven and community funded, museum Manager Wayne Hiller said.

“I never met a more dedicated group of folks. ... They put their heart and soul into it, trying to raise funds and donations,” he said. “I thank God that we have guys like Rocco (Genovese) and Jim Wert doing the project.”

None of the project’s funding comes from taxpayers, Hiller said.

Through a combination of grants and donations, the Project 505 Committee, a subset of the Electric City Trolley Museum Association, raised about $200,000 over the past seven years — $160,000 shy of the $360,000 needed for the complete restoration, Genovese said. So far, the committee has spent about $130,000 on the restoration project.

After a flood halted an early restoration project in 1972, the 505 languished in a scrap yard for more than 20 years before ending up at the Rockhill Trolley Museum in central Pennsylvania. The 505 finally made its way back to Scranton in 2012 when Rockhill opted not to restore it and offered the trolley to the Electric City Trolley Museum.

“If we didn’t save it, nobody was going to save it,” said Genovese, the committee’s capital funds manager. “No matter what happens, that car is going to be restored.”

Along with the gaming grant, the museum received $10,000 from the Lackawanna County Community Reinvest program. The committee intends to use the $30,000 to begin restoring the trolley’s traction trucks — the wheels and motors that drive a trolley, Genovese said. Each of the trolley’s four motors must be rebuilt, which can cost as much as $120,000, he said. The committee hopes to rebuild one, possibly two, motors by the end of the year.

“This one is really a complete and total restoration. ... We have to basically rebuild every single inch of it,” Genovese said.

Because the 44-seat trolley will be a “workhorse” regularly used by the public, it has to be structurally sound, Hiller said. The trolley’s entire bottom half had to be rebuilt and fabricated, including rebuilding the frame, straightening the body, fabricating the platform and support beams. The next step is to replace the 505’s 3/32-inch steel body panels.

Designed to compete with buses, the 505 began its life as one of 10 “Electromobile” cars built by Osgood Bradley Car Co. for Scranton in 1929.

“It was like the Cadillac of trolleys in its time,” Hiller said.

Though the gutted trolley sits on wooden blocks in the trolley museum’s restoration shop near PNC Field in Moosic, there’s an end in sight. The committee hopes to complete the project in three years, but five years is more likely, Genovese said.

“We wanted to save it, so we did,” Genovese said. “It’s really something that people are going to identify with.”

To support Project 505, send donations to ECTMA-Project 505, P.O. Box 20019, Scranton, PA 18502, or online at https://www.gofundme.com/new-doors-for-scranton-trolley-505.

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