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Konstal 4N #1444 enusia

History of the Konstal N and Konstal 4N type of trams

On the bridges
Author: B. Wielgoszewski

Konstal N trams were the first type of tram-cars constructed in Poland after the Second World War. They were possibly the fastest – and therefore burdened with various short-comings – answer of the devastated industry for the lack of rolling- stock in most of Polish cities. Although those trams had a very simple and rather obsolete construction, for several reasons they had to serve for many years and became an inseparable part of the cultural landscape not only in Wrocław.

Even though Konstal N trams were constructed in Poland, their project was created in pre-war Germany. They were a simplified version of a German war-time tram (so called Kriegsstrassenbahnwagen, KSW), which already was of a very simple construction that stemmed from the economic situation of the Second World War. The fact that Polish engineers mostly copied an already existing project, instead of preparing a new one, resulted from the severe devastation of the Polish industry after the period 1939–1945. First Konstal N cars were manufactured in 1948, however, due to the lack of traction engines, they were all trailer cars (the ND type). Production of motor coaches started a year later and was conducted simultaneously by the Steel Constructions Work „Konstal” in Chorzów (Chorzowska Wytwórnia Konstrukcji Stalowych „Konstal”) and the North Shipyard, although the first company prepared the engineering drawings and was responsible for the whole process. Most wagons were manufactured in Chorzów. The letter “N” in the name of the tram originates from the word “Normalised”, which corresponds with the fact that the construction and particular parts of the vehicle followed the Polish technical norms, introduced just in that time. Later the letter “N” preceded by different numbers became a standard symbol of all tram-cars originating from the “Konstal” factory (for example the 4N or 102N types). Globally, 516 trams of the Konstal N type were constructed between 1949 and 1956, when – following only a slightly improved project – the production of Konstal 4N type wagons started. A representative of this series is the historical tram no. 1444 operating in Wrocław.

Interior
Author: B. Wielgoszewski

Trams of the N and 4N generation were originally two-way and two-sided vehicles. Motorman posts were located at both ends of the wagon, there were two entrances at both sides of the tram. Cars of this type were delivered to several Polish cities, in majority of which – just like in Wrocław – not every end of a line had a form of a loop way. Quite often it just ended with a stub track, where the direction had to be changed and a motorman started using the second driving post. The total length of this two-axle tram was 10,4 meter (approximately 34 feet), while the weight was 13,500 kilograms (almost 30 000 pounds). Every motor coach was equipped with two 60 kW engines, which enabled to develop the speed of 55 km per hour (approximately 34 miles per hour). All vehicles had originally two types of breaks: electrical and manual (block breaks). The whole electric equipment was supplied with high voltage (in Wrocław 660V), that includes the heating and lights, which were connected in series. The wiper was operated manually. Every tram could serve 83 passengers, however only 12 persons in the N type car (or 16 in the 4N type car) had a sitting place. A motorman did not have a separated cabin, his working place was just isolated from the passenger unit with a thick curtain.

Driver's desk
Author: B. Wielgoszewski

Konstal N and 4N trams were equipped with sand-sprayers, which enabled to regain tractive adhesion in a situation when wheels skidded. Sand-sprayers are really helpful in autumn, when fallen leaves mashed by tram’s wheels create a greasy, slippery substance. Originally every vehicle had four sand reservoirs located under the first and the last pair of seats. In a situation when wheels skidded, a motorman pulled a special handle and the sand was poured from two of the reservoirs on the head of the rail right in front of the wheels. The sand increases friction and in this way enables to regain adhesion. Sand-sprayers were installed in all pre-war trams, they were also used in first Polish post-war cars, but at the turn of the 1960’s and the 1970’s engineers substituted them with other, more modern devices. However, from the perspective of time, simple sand-sprayers occurred to be the best mechanism protecting trams from skidding and nowadays they are once again quite often used.

First Konstal N trams were delivered to Wrocław in 1956. In total the Miejskie Przedsiębiorstwo Komunikacyjne (MPK, Municipal Communication Company) in Wrocław received 49 new motor coaches and 109 new trailer cars. The deliveries of the 4N and 4ND (trailer cars) type trams lasted in the period 1957–1962. Later – between 1964 and 1969 – Wrocław obtained Konstal N trams phased out from Warsaw – 57 motor and 105 trailer coaches. For this reason it was possible to progressively immobilise the pre-war rolling-stock, which up to that time was regularly operating in passenger service. Products from the Konstal company started to dominate on Wrocław’s rails. However, because the capital city of Lower Silesia received more trailer cars than motor coaches, for many years one could see a post-war wagon pulled by a pre-war one.

Bottom view of vehicle chassis
Author: B. Wielgoszewski

Konstal N and 4N trams were started being modernised as early as in the middle of the 1960’s. The biggest change was the reconstruction of the originally two-way car into a one-way one, which corresponded with the gradual process of replacing stub tracks with loop ways. One of the motorman posts and two entrances and sand-sprayers on the adequate side were removed. In the place of the removed motorman post a converter was installed, i.e. a devise changing high voltage (600V) into low voltage (40V). Thanks to the on-load voltage, every tram could have been equipped with an electromagnetic slipper brakes (that is the third type of brakes), head-lights irrespective from the changes of the contact line voltage, clearance lights and electric bells. The doors were also considerably modified. Originally they were single, massive doors shifted manually in the direction of the motorman posts. Due to heavy weight they were quite dangerous. With time they were substituted with double doors, which from 1967 were provided with electrical engines enabling opening and closing from the motorman post. It is quite interesting that the whole mechanism consisted of an ordinary drill engine, a rod and a bicycle chain.

Wagons of the N and 4N generation were gradually immobilised in the 1980’s, when the deliveries of modern Konstal 105Na trams started. Last cars of those types operated in passenger service in 1991. At present in the capital city of Lower Silesia only a few modified Konstal N and 4N trams survived. They are used as technical cars or not used at all; usually they decay without proper care. Fortunately, one wagon (inventory no. 1444) was restored in 2012 by the Club of Municipal Transport Lovers and it is now protected by law as a part of the national technical heritage. We call it ‘Enusia’. This particular tram was constructed in 1960 and was operating regularly until 1991, when it became a technical car of the Municipal Communication Company in Wrocław. After the restoration, the tram no. 1444 is a representative of Konstal N and 4N coaches from the end of their regular exploitation. Apart from Wrocław, trams of the presented types were preserved in Katowice, Kraków, Warsaw, Poznań and Szczecin.

History of ‘Enusia’

The tram was manufactured in 1960 in Chorzów. It was in regular service until the 1990s, and later became a technical car at the Dąbie depot. In 2012, it was bought by our society, restored and returned to passengers traffic.

Parameters

Parameters
Built1960
Total number of passengers80
Number of seats 16
Length10500mm
Heigth3300mm
Width2160mm
Number of engines2
Total weight14000
Engine power60kW

Events that the vehicle participated in

Byliśmy na Dniu Otwartym MPK

25 maja 2024

Obsłużyliśmy Noc Muzeów we Wrocławiu w 2024 roku

18 maja 2024

Choinkowy tramwaj

24 grudnia 2023

Dzień Otwarty Zajezdni Popowice

9 września 2023

Zakończenie kursowania Wrocławskich Linii Turystycznych

3 września 2023

Obsłużyliśmy Noc Muzeów we Wrocławiu

20 maja 2023

Mikołajki na Zajezdni Popowice

3 grudnia 2022

Dzień Otwarty Zajezdni Popowice 2022

10 września 2022

Jeździliśmy na Dniu Otwartym MPK i nie tylko

26 czerwca 2022

Dzień Otwarty Zajezdni Popowice 2020

5 września 2020

Dzień Otwarty Zajezdni Popowice 2019

7 września 2019

Przejazd dla miłośników z Niemiec

20 października 2018

Dzień Otwarty Zajezdni Popowice

8 września 2018

Noc Muzeów 2018 we Wrocławiu

19 maja 2018

Jazz tramwaj

14 października 2017

Dzień otwarty zajezdni Popowice

9 września 2017

Noc Muzeów 2017

20 maja 2017