Club Trolley

Our club’s restored trolley has complex and colorful history. Member Rick Lienemann of Omaha is an auctioneer. In 2008, while working an auction for Marsh Machine Shop in north Omaha, he saw the dilapidated trolley/tram unit sitting in overgrown trees along Marsh’s building. Rick asked Marsh if it was for sale and learned that it belonged to Leroy Strong of Omaha, a trucker for a nation-wide transit company (who also had some past association with Olley the Trolley in Omaha.) In 2005 Strong was trucking north of Atlantic City, NJ and stopped at Atlantic City Harley Davidson Motorcycle to kill some time and also buy a T-shirt. The owner of the Harley Davidson business, Ben Petrovic, had this trolley/tram sitting on his lot next to another locomotive type trolley. Petorvic is an avid collector of railroad stuff. But the robin egg blue trolley/tram (the original color) didn’t quite match the locomotive. The trolley/tram was given to him through a friend of a friend in 2003; it was destined to be scrapped but he thought it was worth salvaging. His intent was to restore it as he had pulled it in some parades and other events. But it just didn’t fit with what he was working on so he sold the trolley/tram to Leroy. Mr. Petrovic stated that he had frequently visited the Atlantic City Boardwalk but doesn’t ever recall seeing these trolleys and trams. His thought was that units of this size were too awkward and cumbersome and that people didn’t like the noise and the smell of diesel fumes from the engines. Ben also said that people would dump trash in the trolley as it sat on his lot and he always had to clean it up. Sometimes itinerants slept in it and so he decided it was just best to get rid of it; he sold it to Leroy Strong who hauled it to Omaha and parked it at Marsh’s place. After a little negotiating with Leroy, Lienemann soon owned the trolley.

Rick then began to research the trolley’s (actually called a tram since it was once pulled by a similar-appearing engine-powered trolley) origin and here is what he found. The car was designed by Cable Car Concepts of Deltona, Florida, and was most likely manufactured by another Florida firm, The Ward Company, in Ormond Beach near Daytona Beach. Both companies pride themselves in designing and building trolley/tram cars that are dead ringers for their counterparts used in the horse and buggy days. However today they are customized to comply with all the city ordinances and environmental regulations demanded in the 2000’s. Using the Internet, Rick had a stroke of luck when he found a similar trolley & tram unit for sale ($38K) and then somehow reached the man who had actually made the sale of 7 trolleys and 14 trams (one motorized unit pulled two cars) to A.C. Trams, Inc., Atlantic City, NJ in the early 1990’s. A.C. Trams, a private concessionaire serving the hotels and casino guests along the two-mile Boardwalk route, had made the largest purchase ever of trackless trolleys. The trolley units (one trolley and two trams) cost around $200,000 each. The EVAPA tram was one of those tram units. After that company discontinued their use in the late 90’s, they were sold and apparently the units were separated.

Once the trolley came into Rick’s possession, he stored it at a friend’s place north of Arlington, NE. While discussing the repair and care of a different people-hauler that members of the Elkhorn Valley Antique Power Association (EVAPA) were working on, Rick suggested that EVAPA might have interest in his purchase since he wasn’t getting around to doing any restoration. This appealed to club members and the unit was moved from Arlington to an outdoor storage place in Fremont in July 2009. In November of that year it was moved into a restoration shop owned by EVAPA member John Gibney of Fremont and the work began. The restoration of the trolley was a long and tedious job (approximately 600 hours over 7 full months by 10 members) but it is apparent that it was a labor of love for the club members that worked on it. Their work has resulted in a wonderful restoration job. Now that old trolley is truly a sight for sore eyes!!

Trolley Engineering Facts
Overall Length 24 feet including tongue
Tram Length 20 feet
Tram Width 7 foot, 9 inches
Tram Height 9 foot, 6 inches
Tram Weight 4200 lbs.
Passenger Capacity20/25 persons
Seating Arrangement Forward Facing
TiresAll new Carlisle Ground Force, 10 ply – 9:00 x 10:00
Hitch2 5/8” ball with Hydraulic Brake Actuator
Paint colors Burgundy and Ash Grey, special mix from D&R Auto Paint & Supply
Windshields30 inches by 76 inches, glass
Windows 18 small resin thermoplastic windows in enclosed top
DecalsAsh Grey vinyl from Signs Now in Omaha
Seat LumberMilled from red oak logs provided by A+ Tree Service of Fremont
Safety Items 6 Brass Hand Rails, Slow Moving Vehicle sign, Safety Chains
Restoration Cost $2777.33 (to date)

EVAPA MEMBERS THAT GAVE APPROXIMATELY 600 HOURS OF DEDICATED AND EXPERT WORK ON THE RESTORATION PROJECT: Dave Vyhlidal (Restoration Project Coordinator), Jim Vyhlidal, Wally Meadows, John Krance, Larry Kruse, Jim Dillon, Craig Coufal, Joe Gibney, John Gibney and Mike O’Brien.

Areas of Work
Brake/brake lines repair and/or replacement John Krance, Jim Dillon
Rebuild step bracketsJohn Krance
Electrical wiring Larry Kruse, John Krance
Sawing seat lumberCraig Coufal
Seat lumber planning, sanding, finishingMike O’Brien
Seat assembly and installationMike O’Brien, John Krance
Tire purchase and mounting Craig Coufal
Brass handrails (remove, polish & re-install) Wally Meadows
Hitch and brake actuator construction and installJim Vyhlidal, Dave Vyhlidal
Body sandingJoe Gibney, Wally Meadows
DecalsDave Vyhlidal
Strip paint and clean bench stands Larry Kruse
Metal and fiberglass body work and paintingJohn Gibney
Clean, paint & install new Lexan on upper windowsDave Vyhlidal, Joe Gibney
Install new aluminum diamond plate to interior wallDave & Jim Vyhlidal, Wally Meadows
Construct and mount new license plate and SMV bracketDave Vyhlidal
Author of trolley narrativeBenny Benschoter