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85 years of Škoda trolleybus production / Chapter 3

 

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3 Arrival of unit bodies

The Škoda Works in the Whirl of Post-war Changes

The first task of the Czechoslovak economy after the war was the recovery from war damage. The main plant in Pilsen was heavily harmed by bombing, as well as the car factory at Mladá Boleslav. By contrast, the Electrotechnical Factory at Pilsen – Doudlevce remained unharmed.

As the war projects portended, the design of trolleybuses began taking a new direction. A single series motor was sufficient to drive them, and only two axles supported the lightweight body. The conception of a chassis with a central supporting pipe was abandoned and replaced with unitary construction where the body and the chassis form one whole.

 

(p. 50) The photo from November 1948 shows the emerging 6 Tr1 vehicle in the form of a skeleton of the unitary body welded from steel profiles. [305]

The Shop Floor Insufficient for Growing Production

The interest in trolleybuses was growing throughout Europe. In the mid-1950s, Škoda vehicles celebrated the first export success in Polish cities, the then German Democratic Republic and the Soviet Union soon followed. The most distant destinations were the Chinese cities of Beijing and Shanghai. The volume of production grew several times in the course of time, and so the manufacture moved several times within various premises of the Škoda Group in Pilsen. At the turn of the 1950s and 1960s, the manufacture of trolleybuses moved from Pilsen to Ostrov near Carlsbad, where the government then sought new employment for workers after the run-down of uranium extraction.

 

(p. 52) Finished 7 Tr4 trolleybuses waiting on the premises of the Doudlevce plant for dispatch to the customer at the beginning of 1954. [302]

(p. 53) The front page of the handbook for operators of 7 Tr4 trolleybuses published in 1952 shows the manufacturer’s logo and name introduced during the era of toughest Stalinism. [62]

(p. 54) The working team of the plant at Pilsen-Bolevec posing in front of finished 8 Tr vehicles in June 1959. [302]

Huge Development of Trolleybus Operation in Czechoslovakia

Political and economic development after World War II and in the 1950s brought about the need to transport high number of passengers in a short time. Production was concentrated in large factories, and the first housing projects emerged on the outskirts of big cities. The existing transport systems were passing through radical renewal and were being extended while other, completely new ones, were created. Some smaller tram operations, at the limit of their capacity possibilities and often suffering from several years of almost zero maintenance, had to make way for trolleybuses. Eleven new trolleybus operations emerged in Czechoslovakia from 1946 to 1952, the construction of which was quicker and cheaper in comparison with tram infrastructure. From the mid-1950s, the Škoda brand trolleybuses gradually penetrated the vehicle fleets even where trolleybuses of foreign marks used to operate.

 

(p. 55) After WWII, trolleybuses represented the most comfortable means of municipal transport, which is illustrated by the interior of the future 6 Tr1 vehicle for Brno. [302]

RECONSTRUCTION OF CAPTURED TROLLEYBUSES FROM ITALY

The very first trolleybuses which passed through the hands of Škoda staff after the war had been manufactured by Italian companies in 1939 – 1942. They originally had served in Milan, where they were seized by the receding German army and taken to the surroundings of the Czech town of Litvínov. There they waited to see the end of the war, hidden in the forest and somewhat damaged, which required thorough reconstruction of both mechanical and electrical parts. The trolleybuses transported employees among residential quarters, mines and industrial enterprises in the surroundings of Most and Litvínov. Eleven of the total of fourteen vehicles could be put into operation; the remaining ones served as the source of spare parts.

 

(p. 56) Articulated vehicle manufactured in the cooperation of OMS, Isotta, and TIBB companies passing through general overhaul at Pilsen-Doudlevce. The vehicle has just been given a new undercoat. [302]

OMS – Isotta – TIBB, Type I

The vehicles designated as Type I were manufactured by the Italian companies Officina Meccanica della Stanga Padova (chassis), Isotta Fraschini (body), and Tecnomasio Italiano Brown Boveri (electrical equipment) in 1941 – 1942. They were the first articulated vehicles on the territory of Czechoslovakia. Nevertheless, the articulation located over the second axle only enabled the balancing of vertical movements of the body. Passage through arches was made easier by the swivelling third axle. Type I was driven by a traction motor with an output of 108 kW; it was controlled by two pedals, and the electrical equipment comprised a controller, contactors and resistors. The total capacity of the vehicle was 134 passengers (44 seated).

 

(p. 56) OMS-Isotta-TIBB Type I was the first articulated – and at the same time the longest (14 m) – trolleybus which passed through the shops of the Škoda Works. Articulated vehicles of their own construction emerged as late as four decades later. [62]

(p. 57) If we look at the interior, the simple connection of both parts of the vehicle is obvious, which did not enable horizontal bending but only vertical movement. [302]

(p. 57) A representative of Type I, the vehicle with the future no. 102, was seen during trial drives at the Masarykova Třída street, Pilsen-Doubravka, in September 1946. [302]

OMS – Isotta – TIBB, Type II

The vehicle designated as Type II was originally the prototype of Type I in Italy. The body differed in the location of the articulation right over the central axle, and in the position of windows and doors. The traction motor had a higher output – 118 kW, and the electrical equipment was slightly different.

 

(p. 58) The design of Type II differed from Type I in the driver’s post located in the middle, along the longitudinal axis of the vehicle. The conductor’s post was elsewhere too – in front of the back entrance door. [62]

 

To be continued...

 


 

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