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Australian gas tram

General Transport Discussion not specific to one state

Australian gas tram

Postby glowpak63 » Sat Oct 11, 2008 5:17 am

Hi ,I am new to this site and need some information about Australian gas engined trams,I am from Great Britain. I am writing a book called "From Blackpool to Neath" the story is about the last gas engined tram in the world.There was a article printed about a experimental gas engined tram the article reads;-then in 1885 an Australian Gas tram,a Mr Danks and a Mr Barnes of the city of Melbourne city have perfected the application of gas to the driving of passenger carrying tramway engine,this being an Otto type gas engine.The gas tram was powered by a 3.5Hp Otto Gas engine the tram was 4 ton vehicle,could anyone out there help me in finding out more information about this Australian gas tram?. Please e mail me if anyone can find out anything . 41langford@tiscali.co.uk thank you :D :D :D :D
Last edited by glowpak63 on Sat Aug 27, 2011 6:25 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Australian gas tram

Postby boronia » Sun Oct 12, 2008 10:02 am

I have been offered this link on Victorian Railways history, which mentions a gas tram line being opened in 1886 and replaced by train line in 1888

http://www.victorianrailways.net/vr%20history/history.html

Danks was the founder of a gas and plumbing equipment manufacturing business in 1859

http://www.danks.com.au/public/company/timeline/timeline.htm

Perhaps the company has some archives.
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Re: Australian gas tram

Postby panther998 » Sun Oct 12, 2008 6:34 pm

An inspiring and marvellous piece of 'historical detective' work there, boronia !!!
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Re: Australian gas tram

Postby boronia » Sun Oct 12, 2008 7:15 pm

I must be honest and state the leg work was done by others on another forum, who posted up the links which I have copied.

Anyone interested in aussie trams should join up Trams Down Under in Yahoo Groups.
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Re: Australian gas tram

Postby glowpak63 » Tue Oct 21, 2008 4:50 am

Hi Boronia, thank you for the information,I need all the help that I can find with this book ,I have found some information about a gas tramway in Estonia of all places but finding out anything else about this tramway is hard work,again thanks for the link :D :D :D :D :D :D :D
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Re: Australian gas tram

Postby Albert Isaacs » Tue Jul 19, 2011 4:02 pm

Dear Glowpack63,

It's some years since you wrote your request for information on the Alphinton Steam Tram, but I have just accessed this.

Below is an article I've on the steam tram for "The Times" the journal of the Australian Association of Timetable Collectors.

I presume your Neath book has now been published and I hope you're happy with the results.

I can be contacted on albert.i@optusnet.com.au

Regards,
(Albert Isaacs)


THE ALPHINGTON GAS TRAM.
Albert Isaacs.

In researching Part II of the article on the 1889 VR WTT, which also appears in this journal, I came across some fascinating details about a very obscure public transport service that operated for just two years in the 1880s. How many people know that as well as cable-driven, horse-drawn and electrically-operated trams, Melbourne also had a gas-powered tram service? This intriguing and little-known tram was operated by a gas motor supplied by John Banks & Son and believed to have been operated by Naphtha Gas. The tram was actually a 40-seat former railway carriage which is believed to have also housed the gas motor

It was opened on 1st February 1886 and ran between Clifton Hill and Alphington in Melbourne’s northern suburbs as an interim measure prior to the commissioning of the rail line to Heidelberg, which opened on 8th May 1888 (concurrent with the first services on the Inner Circle Railway) [For more information about the railway, refer to Part II of the article on the 1889 VR WTT in this edition of The Times]. The tram closed on 7th May 1888, the day before the railway opened.

The tram service was conceived and operated by local residents following a public meeting in October 1872. Construction of the two mile track was actually completed in 1884, two years prior to the commencement of operations.

Interestingly the TT was regularly published on page one of the eight-page, weekly “Clifton Hill Gazette”. The State Library of Victoria has copies of the Gazette available on microfiche for most issues from February to August 1888. Up until the closure of the tram in May, the TT is found in each issue, viz:
GAS TRAM CAR TIME TABLE.
Leaves Clifton Hill at 7.30, 8.30, 10.30 am, 12.45, 2, 3.15, 4.30, 5.30 pm.
Saturday, 7.30, 8.30, 10.30 am, 12.30, 1.30, 2.30, 3.30, 4.30, 5.30 pm.
Leaves Alphington at 8, 9, 11 am, 1.15, 2.30, 3.45, 5, 6 pm.
Saturday, 8, 9, 11 am, 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6 pm.
No tram on Sunday.

So, this tram service, like many contemporary railway routes, had more runs during the Saturday afternoon half-day holiday than there were on Monday to Friday.

After the rail service was instigated, a different advert, larger in size, appeared in a similar position in the Gazette and gave full details of the VR Heidelberg rail service which connected at Clifton Hill and Collingwood with trains via the Inner Circle Railway and Royal Park to Spencer Street. (Of course, the Collingwood referred to, is not the present station but the station which has been known as Victoria Park ever since the opening of the direct rail line to Prince’s Bridge via Jolimont in 1901.)

In the Gazette, immediately below the Gas Tram or Rail TTs was yet another TT headed simply “Tram Car Time Table”. This advert refers to one end of the route as “the City” and the other, simply as “the terminus”. Despite the appalling lack of information, one has to assume that this is a summary TT for the Melbourne Tramway & Omnibus Company’s Clifton Hill cable tram route.

Apart from the Gazette TT, the most comprehensive source of information on the gas tram that could be sourced for The Times is an article in the Heidelberg Historical Society’s “The Heidelberg Historian” of August 1976, which is illustrated here.

Many Sydneysiders claim that Sydney was the only Australian city to have had trams using every type of motive power, ie electric, cable, horse and steam. It is usually recorded that Melbourne had all of these except steam trams. However, the information that has now come to light about the Alphington gas tram shows that Sydney and Melbourne both utilised four of the five tramway motive powers used in Australia. Nevertheless, all of that presupposes that electric power is electric power, whether it comes from an overhead wire or a storage battery – Ballarat was the only system to have used batteries.

The lack of documented information on the gas tram is highlighted by this list of the number of internet entries found during a Google search on 16th July 2011, covering a number of unusual, early Sydney and Melbourne tram routes:
o North Sydney cable tram (Sydney) 3,040 entries
o Fairfield horse tram (Melbourne) 2,120 entries
o Kew horse tram (Melbourne) 1,750 entries
o King Street cable tram (Sydney) 1,310 entries
o Doncaster electric tram (Melbourne) 851 entries
o Alphington gas tram (Melbourne) 6 entries.

Amazingly, it appears that there is still a gas tram still operating at the Cefn Coed Colliery Museum, Wales. It’s a restoration of a tram that ran from Blackpool to Neath, around about 1899 and that looks like a typical British double –deck, open –top tram.

Of course, there are still many unanswered questions on the Alphington gas tram such as:
 What was the ticketing system?
 Was there a conductor or just a driver?
 Did the company operating the service have a name?
 Where was the tram housed? (The TT suggests that it was somewhere at the Clifton Hill end.)
 One assumes that it ran straight along Heidelberg Road, but can this be confirmed?
 From where was the former railway carriage sourced?
 What was the gauge of the tramway?

I’d love to learn more!
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Re: Australian gas tram

Postby eddy » Tue Jul 19, 2011 6:18 pm

I have often wondered how much the cost of a tram could be reduced by using CNG instead of having all the expensive and ugly wires.
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Re: Australian gas tram

Postby Albert Isaacs » Wed Jul 20, 2011 9:39 am

Dear Eddy,

You'll be pleased to hear that others have had similar throught to you and put them into action. Go to http://www.ngvjournal.com/pt/veiculos/i ... -next-year. This may be the first tram to use COMPRESSED natural gas, but we know that it's not the first gas tram.

Regards,
ALBERT.
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Re: Australian gas tram

Postby glowpak63 » Mon Aug 01, 2011 7:19 am

Hi thanks for the information,it has been a while since I have been on this website,sadly the gas tram in Neath ,is not able to move,when the gas tram was found there was no engine with it.I have had part of the story published but only in my home town of Briton Ferry.I have found out more information about the gas trams,that is from Dresden,I have over 100 pages and quite a few old drawings and plans of the Dresden gas trams,the trouble is, they are all in German.The very first Dresden gas trams had twin Otto gas engines.I have also found a drawing of the Lytham St Annes gas trams,which clearly show the Otto gas engine and gearing of the tram,also have plans showing the gas compressor house from Dresden. :D :D New e mail address 41langford@tiscali.co.uk
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