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Photo of the Month - December 2008

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        This unfortunate 1919 accident did not happen in Columbus, but rather Washington D.C.  I've placed it here because it shows in clear detail the underside of a wooden double truck streetcar with maximum traction trucks just like the Columbus streetcars of the early 20th Century. 

        The car body was constructed of wood.  There was a compressor and air tank to provide for the  brakes.  The trap doors over the trucks have been taken out or perhaps fell out in the accident.  Maintenance men could oil the pinion gears and replace motor commentator brushes through these trap doors.  The two resistor grids are visible along what is now the top edge of the car bottom.  A very simple design.

        These single motor "Maximum Traction" trucks led with the small wheel so that when power was applied to the motor it forced the front small wheel down helping keeping it on the track.  In this case the motorman may have been going too fast down a hill and the small wheel came off the track guiding the streetcar over to the curb.  When the car hit the curb it tipped over.  You can read more about the accident by clicking here.

Photo from the National Photo Company via Shorpy.com.