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074a 2651Car 2651 in service.

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Squirrels had nested for all those years in the spaces between the car's roof and the false roof built over it by the owners That meant even more work&emdash;under some extremely unpleasant conditions, but Tony and his volunteers did the job.

Built at the Public Service Newark shops in 1917, the car first ran on the Orange and Mount Prospect lines. During World War II, 2651 and a fleet of similar cars joined the defense effort on the Federal line, carrying thousands of workers to the vital shipyards on the North Jersey waterfront, where the needs of the Nation's Naval Power were met.

Won't you please join with us in our effort to retain this particularly distinctive example of New Jersey's trolleys, this important reflection of a past era? Your greatly-appreciated contributions will enable us to take immediate steps toward our goal of restoring No. 2651 to its original appearance and operating condition.

Here, in Tony's own words, is the story of the restoration---written in 1975 and published in "Car Restoration Review":

In 1971 the existence of the car body became known to me and I immediately opened negotiations with the owner. A tin roof had been built over the cardboard (Agasote) one thus saving the car from almost certain ruin. Inside, 25 years' accumulation of furniture, lumber, tools, etc., had to be disposed of. In addition, lumber had been stored underneath the car. Since it was resting on 4 cinder blocks, it had settled into the mud, the floor coming down on the lumber beneath causing a large upward bend to the floor members which will necessitate their replacement. One end had settled into the mud causing the end platform floor boards to rot completely. Generations of squirrels had made a sewer of the space between the original and false roofs. In fact, until very recently, any damp day brought a return of that overpowering pungency. Despite all this seemingly discouraging evidence the car was structurally excellent and in 1973, on Labor Day weekend, the restoration began. We removed the false roof and a great amount of squirrel droppings which had accumulated beneath. The remains of the Agasote were covered with plastic and four of us proceeded to remove 55 years of paint and rust with paint remover and hand scrapers. Primer was then applied for protection. We worked every Saturday and Sunday for five months, commuting 50 miles each way, each day, rain and shine. Finally it was done. We had been invited by the Black River and Western RR to move the car to their yards at Ringoes and work on it there without cost, the object being to run the car on a future line which is still under development. With the indispensible help of Ed Blossom, a mover was contacted, Carl Caine of Bloomsburg, Pa. Mr. Caine was the only person who would move the car for anything near what we could afford. In January, 1974, we jacked the car from the ground with 2 hand-operated car jacks to a height of 4 feet and cleared a small forest to the rear so that Mr. Caine could back his truck under. In March he came, loaded the car and began to move out. All went smoothly until the truck mired down in a wheat field 100 feet short of the road. The farmer, after cursing us for gouging his field, returned with two tractors with which he pulled truck, tractor and trolley to the road, finally.

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Content: © 1997 Al Mankoff
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Brett Putnam