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Wicker Post Card and Mistery Item.

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An interesting post card picture of the Wicker but what is this thing on the nearest pole?   My apologies if this has been posted before but though I seem to remember seeing this object before I can't find the post or remember an answer.      -------------         https://www.ebay.co.uk/itm/382550153334?ul_noapp=true   

wicker_1912.jpg

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Would be interesting to know what it is and what's it for. 

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2 minutes ago, Gamal said:

Would be interesting to know what it is and what's it for. 

I can't even work out what is holding it on the pole.

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8 minutes ago, boginspro said:

I can't even work out what is holding it on the pole.

Yeah that is a strange one. 

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This is probably totally wrong, but here goes.....

The item on the pole appears to be a lanyard of some sort and the dark shiny appearance would suggest that it is made of a rubberised material, or maybe a rubber coating on a rope? Trying to gauge the size of it, looking at the people nearby, when decoiled it looks like it would be maybe 6-8 feet long, with a hook (or loop) at one end and at the other end, a stiff section 18-24” long, like the handle of a whip?

It appears to be only hooked on to the pole, just above head height and is meant to be taken off and used for something, then put back as it was found.

You can see from the map that the position of the pole is at the interstection of where the tramlines split, one route down Wicker and the other down Blonk Street. I seem to have either read or see somewhere that the overhead lines that powered the trams were on discrete circuits and when changing route (and therefore) circuit, the tram needed to have its pantograph (the arm on the top of the tram that draws power from the overhead line) swapped from one line to another.

On the top of the pantograph was a pulley wheel, with a deep recessed groove, in which the power line ran. The pantograph itself was sprung loaded, so the pantograph would always be in contact with the overhead line, as it would need a constant supply of electricity to power the motor, lights, etc.

So, my theory (whacky though it might be) is that this was a device with which the tram operator used to swap lines and take a route on another circuit. They would unhook the lanyard off the pole, nip up to the top deck with it, lasso the pantograph and pull it down off the power line (hence the rubberised rope for insulation) and swing it over to the new power line, lining up the pulley wheel and relocating it to the new source. The tram would then be able to take a new route, powered by the circuit for that route........ for example, the tram would stop on Wicker, swap lines and turn down Blonk Street..... or something like that?

So, I reckon it’s a pantograph puller, power line swapper, type of device...... Does that have any credibility whatsoever?

:)

 

 

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I fully agree with the last theory. I remeber at Firth Park Terminus in the 1950s  a pole being used to change the tram to another line. Some trams stopped at FIrth Park others went to Lane Top. 

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What’s also intriguing is why a postcard of Sheffield Wicker has been used by someone sending a note from Oswaldkirk (20 miles north of York) to someone in Dalton in Furness in the South Lakes, just North of Barrow(bados) as we like to refer to it, when speaking with our colleagues there! :)

My suspicions were aroused when the writer, E. McIntee esq. enthused to Mrs. Newby....  “It is lovely here now, the fruit trees are in full bloom”

On Wicker in 1912, you’ve all on to see the arches a couple of hundred yards away, so the only cherry blossom you’d be seeing there, would be on the tins of boot polish in the shop behind the pole!!! :) 

Also the pantograph appears to be the arm in the original photo and another i found of the same model tram, both circled in the photos? It sits on what looks like a large insulator, which i suppose would be entirely reasonable, given the current coming from the catenary, down the pantograph and into the cabling that powered the tram. It would be poor show to electrocute your top deck passengers! 

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Wasn't it used to help trams change tracks?

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On 31/08/2018 at 08:20, RLongden said:

********** So, my theory (whacky though it might be) is that this was a device with which the tram operator used to swap lines and take a route on another circuit. They would unhook the lanyard off the pole, nip up to the top deck with it, lasso the pantograph and pull it down off the power line (hence the rubberised rope for insulation) and swing it over to the new power line, lining up the pulley wheel and relocating it to the new source. The tram would then be able to take a new route, powered by the circuit for that route........ for example, the tram would stop on Wicker, swap lines and turn down Blonk Street..... or something like that? **********

( I am a bit late replying, but thanks to BT's total inefficiency I have had no internet for a week.)        Thanks,  that's very interesting, I thought it may be something to do with the points but it's nothing like the bars I have seen before for changing the points and I never considered thinking upwards to the power lines. 

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I'm not sure what the item is, but I'm pretty sure it doesn't relate to the trams. The trolley pole of a tram is insulated all the way to the end, with only the small wheel on the tip being live. The 550V DC was then carried down a heavy cable inside the hollow metal pole, first to a circuit breaker, then to the lighting circuit and controllers and then on to the motors.

The pole was turned either by the conductor pulling on a rope from ground level, which was permanently attached to the trolley head, or by using a seperate bamboo pole when no rope was fitted.

What it may be (although I've never seen one anything like this) is a device for recovering a "grounded" tram. Grounding occurs when the wheels become electically isolated from the track, which forms the negative return for the electrical circuit. Besides stopping the tram, grounding can be quite dangerous as the high voltage DV tries to find the shortest route it can from the overhead wire to the tracks. If it can't pass through the motors etc and out through the wheels there is a very good chance it will pass into the body of the tramcar. If this happens, anyone standing on or near the tracks (particularly on a damp day) who touches the tram will likely complete the circuit and experience a 550V DC shock. If they were to grap a handrail the shock would likely make theior muscles contract, meaning they are unable to let go, so prolonging the peroid of shock.

The official way the Tramway Museum at Crich deal with a grounding is for everyone aboard the tram to be kept aboard. One of the platform staff (usually the conductor) then JUMPS off, making sure their body entirely leaves the tram before any part of them touches the ground. Next, using either the iulated rope attached to the trolley or a bamboo pole which can be found at staategic points along the route, the trolley is hooked down off the wire to cut off the electrical supply to the vehicle. The tram is then pushed or pulled ontpo a cleaner bit of track, where hopefully it's no longer grounded when the power is restored. This can be checled easily by turning the saloon lights on.

There are other simpler 'dirty' methods for dealing with a grounding. One involves jumping from the tram and then throwing a bucket of water under the wheels. The water is a pretty good conductor at these voltages and will also swill away some of the dirt from the rails. This trick usually works and was common in the days when fire buckets full of water were common place.

The other method, and also the most risky, is to jump from the tram with the point iron in your hand. The point iron is a thing a bit like a crowbar that all trams carry for changing the points. Just infront of the tram you have to wedge the end of the point iron into the groove of the track, making sure it is in contact with good metal. Then, with a swift and positive motion, ram the other end of the point iron down across the fender of the tram, scraping off as much paint as you can as you do so. The theory is because you made the connection with the track first, when the point iron touches the tram the current travels down the metal bar to the track without harming the person holding it. However if you get it the wrong way around and touch it on the tram first, then you'll likely get a 550V DC whack! I knew a chap who made this mistake while on a special tram tour in Sheffield in the late 50s or early 60s, which ran over some disused and hence dirty tracks. He didn't remember much about the shock, but woke up on the opposite side of the Moor to where he started! Luckily he lived to tell the tale!

The thing on the pole could be something for wedging in the track and then attaching to the tram. Or it may be something for holding down the trolley if no rope is fitted and it can't be tied to the rear fender, which is the normal practice.

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