The roof sticks needed to be remade so we got our joiner to machine us some sticks of Ash 29mm by 31mm by 8 feet long.   We then had to learn how to steam them to an exact radius of 11' 11 5/8".  No one was sure how to do this but a bit of research on the web showed us a formula.  We also made a mould using a scrap church pew from my own chapel.  This was made to the correct radius and we then steamed our first trial stick.   No expense had been spared in preparing the steamer (old knitting needles, a piece of scrap bed frame and a wallpaper stripper).  The first attempt went well but when we took the stick out of the mould the next week it sprang out to 13 foot radius. (Fortunately this did not go to waste as we used it for a piece that is fixed inside the D end bulkhead to take the screws that hold the upper deck floorboards.)

Here Paul Brearley is trying one of the original sticks in the mould.

Undaunted we tried again and this time succeeded.  The successful formula entailed steaming it for 1 1/4 hours then bending it to 9' radius for two hours before transferring it to a mould of the correct radius for the next week.  Over the next two months we steamed 12 new roof sticks plus a couple of spares.

Here the steamer (A piece of plastic drainpipe) is seen inside the tram covered in felt to insulate it.

While the sticks were being produced, Steve, a new member of the team was finishing off the waist rails and trial fitting the ribs.  Jim persevered with cleaning the monitors.


Once the rails had been fitted the ribs were put in place and then they were all carefully scraped until they were in line so the the panelling would be nice and flat.  At the same time the Tudor arches over the windows were made of of new pieces of oak.  The internal arches are original and are varnished on the inside.  The whole structure was secured to the cantrail with 43 No 14 woodscrews.

 The next step was the panelling which we decided to make from three layers of 3mm plywood laminated together.  Paul's professional expertise was invaluable here.  The next photo shows the bottom layer of the first waist panel being pinned in place.

Whilst this was ongoing I spent my time cutting mortises in the new roof sticks, four to each stick.  These were then trial fitted to the roof structure.


The tram was then prepared for its first outing since 1977 when it was invited to the Transport Extravaganza at Elland Road. This was held on the site of the old Leeds tram scrapyard and it was nice to be able to take a tram that is being reborn back to where so many fine cars met their end. Moving it for the first time in over 30 years was in 'interesting task'.

Here 107 has returned safely from the show where it had attracted a lot of attention. It is being put back in the garage on its temporary wheels for the next stage of the assembly. Now it is lower down so that the roof can be refitted.

Whilst all this work was going on we also spent time procuring materials for future work.  All the time that we had been working on the tram we had been told by others in the restoration world that new pitch pine was unobtainable.  Also that it was impossible to get hold of new half round bar for the rubbing rails.  With two late night googling sessions both these problems were cracked.

The Pitch Pine came from a company at Atherstone in the West Midlands.  They had enormous stocks of new Pitch Pine in the lengths and sizes that we needed as well as large stocks of other hardwoods.  The team went to look around the firm and were so impressed with the quality of the timbers, as well as the attitude and knowledge of the staff, that we ordered all the remaining 12' long timber mouldings that we needed.  These were machined for us to our patterns and drawings and were delivered in early July.  The quality is very good and we will be able to build the saloon seats as continuous benches rather than having a joint in the centre on each side.

 Here Jim Soper looks at the stacks of Pitch Pine in amazement. He had never seen stocks of new pitch pine in 50 years of tram restoration. 

The other find, via Google, was half round bar, otherwise known as Feather Edge bar.  We needed 25 metres of this for various rubbing rails around the body.  A late night Googling session turned up 4 firms in the Black Country that could be possibilities.  These were emailed and to my surprise the next morning I had a reply that had been written at 12.45am.  The firm apparently sells many tons of such bar each year to the the Amish communities in Pennsylvania.  When the rolling mill manager rang me to discuss our requirements I told him that I was very impressed with the salesman's attitude. He told me that the man concerned was actually the owner of the company!  We then managed to procure the steelwork that we needed in the correct 7/8" width.

Previous Page - Restoration Progress 2007/8   

Next page - Restoration progress 2009/10