Melbourne & Metropolitan Tramways Board T Class No 180

This tram was built in 1917 by Adelaide-based car builders Duncan & Fraser Limited for the Melbourne, Brunswick & Coburg Tramways Trust (MBCTT) as part of an order for six tramcars. Designed by the Engineer and Manager of the Trust, Struan Robertson, these cars were first electric tramcars to be built for Melbourne service to be fitted with line breakers rather than circuit breakers. This particular tram was originally MBCTT No 16.

It is of unusual design, being a single truck drop end combination car with arch roof, but the main design feature is the Brill ‘Radiax’ truck. The objective of this design was to remove one of the major disadvantages of single truck cars over double bogie cars, in that single truck cars do not travel smoothly around sharp curves. The Brill ‘Radiax’ truck has pivoting (or radial) axles within the truck, allowing a longer wheelbase than other single truck designs. The combination of the longer wheel base and the pivoting axles results in a quality of ride comparable to that of double bogie cars. However, the extra complication required in the truck to achieve this outcome, together with the ease of maintenance of bogies, meant that this radical design was ultimately unsuccessful in the market place. The only other use of this truck design in Victoria was with the Geelong ‘Pengelley’ tramcars.

MBCTT No 16 (later M&MTB No 180) in original condition, 1916. Photograph PTC collection MBCTT No 16 (later M&MTB No 180) in original condition, 1916.
Photograph PTC collection.

The tram received no major modifications during its life, except for the fitting of a standard destination box. No 180 was allocated to a number of depots during its life, including Coburg, Glenhuntly, Brunswick and Footscray. With the closure of the Footscray routes in 1962 it was placed into store. In 1969 the tramcar was donated to the Tramway Museum Society of Victoria.

Along with S class No 164, it is the only surviving ex-MBCTT tramcar.

In 1992 it was placed on long term loan to the Victorian State Government as part of the Heritage Tramcar Fleet, and is now on display as part of the collection of the Melbourne Tram Museum.

Technical details

Motors: 2 x 55hp (GE 241)
Controller: GE K36JR
Truck: Brill Radiax
Passengers: 38 (seated), 72 (standing)
Weight: 13.1 tons
Length: 35 feet 0 inches
Width: 8 feet 0 inches

Bibliography

Brill, D. (2001) History of the J.G. Brill Company, Indiana University Press

Cross, N., Budd, D., and Wilson, R. (1993) Destination City (Fifth Edition), Transit Australia Publishing

Cross, N., Henderson, R. and Kings, K. (1981) Destination City (Fourth Edition), Australian Electric Traction Association

Kings, K.S. and Richardson, J. (1965) Destination Eaglehawk, Traction Publications

Prentice, R. H. (1966) “A Brief History of the Melbourne, Brunswick and Coburg Tramways Trust”, Running Journal July 1966, Tramway Museum Society of Victoria