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  • Writer's pictureJohn Woodman

A Touch of Varnish

By pure coincidence two Blackpool boat cars are getting a fair amount of detailed attention over the winter months into Spring this year. In Rigby Road a large effort is going into rewiring Boat Car 227 in the Engineering Workshop and at the same the seats (or most of them) have been taken out to remove the layers of paint which covered the slatted fittings and the wooden back rests. This involves considerable painstaking effort to avoid damage to these mostly original fixtures on the tram.

Boat 227 getting electrical attention in the Rigby Road Workshops. Seats are stored off-camera. Practical help in removing paint from wooden slatted seats would no doubt be very welcome from knowledgeable local sources.

While at the same time the Crich Museum Workshop is similarly carrying out its own treatment to the seats on Boat Car 236 ahead of the Museum's summer season. A detailed account with images is available on the Crich Museum Blog Page showing the extent of work required on this seemingly simplistic task.

When Boat Car 600 was being given a major overhaul at Rigby Road a proposal to similarly remove paint and varnish the seats was tested on a single unit. The amount of time and of course expense in completing this throughout the tram was deemed to be unacceptable to BTS - and the option lapsed. Varnishing wood is the easiest part: its the careful removal of layers of paint, particularly on the slatted seats which poses the biggest (and longest) challenge.

Of course Blackpool 'Boat' cars are famous in the US with four examples in three seperate heritage operations. A final glimpse of 233 during its final week of service at the Beamish Open Museum before departure to an equally busy venue in California operating to Fisherman's Wharf in San Francisco. Images : John Woodman

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