Our oldest MAX trains are getting makeovers

We launched our first MAX trains—what we call the Type 1—nearly 30 years ago in 1986. That same year, “Top Gun” graced the silver screen, Ronald Reagan lived in the White House and big hair was all the rage.

Since then, our Type 1 trains have logged 1.6 million miles in the metro area and over time, they’ve begun to show their age. With time, the trains’ body filler (like industrial-strength putty) has broken down, allowing moisture to get through. Also, the stairwells in these high-floor trains have signs of rust and corrosion.

Massive makeover

A bare Type 1 MAX train
A bare Type 1 MAX train

To extend their operating lifetime (for up to 20 years), we started refurbishing these trains in 2002. To date, 21 trains are fully restored and two are in process. The last three Type 1 trains are expected to be revived by the end of 2016.

From start to finish, it takes three people about six months—or about 3,500 labor hours—to refurbish a Type 1 train. Here are the key steps to refinish this train:

  • Remove equipment on the roof, exterior end and sidewalls.
  • Cover door and window openings.
  • Chip off old body filler and paint and grind the entire exterior to the metal.
  • Apply epoxy primer and three coats of body filler.
  • Use industrial-scale white body paint, then TriMet blue and yellow color coats.
  • Refinish and reattach doors.

“It takes a lot of effort to get all of the body filler down to the metal,” says Mark Grove, who is the Manager of Rail Equipment Maintenance at our Gresham facility. “We have talented light-rail mechanics like Bob Culpepper who help make this project happen.”

Grove also says it’s an “art form” to get the body filler flat and smooth. And unlike the original primer and filler, modern filler flexes with the metal of the train’s movement, which makes it last longer.

New signs, windows, HVAC

Mark Grove with a refurbished Type 1 MAX train.
Mark Grove with a refurbished Type 1 MAX train.

Type 1 trains are the only ones in the MAX fleet where its destination signs are hand-cranked by the operator. As part of the rehab, all Type 1 trains will feature new digital signage.

We’re also upgrading the HVAC systems, along with the old vented windows, and replacing them with single-piece fixed windows. This will increase energy efficiency and give you a quieter ride and more open space.

Finally, we’re replacing the old propulsion/braking resistors that are mounted on the roof. The old ones are at the end of their useful life.

“The new resistors have a 20% higher capacity, so they’re stressed less, will be more reliable and last longer,” Grove says.

Why not buy new?

Renovating a Type 1 train is far less costly than buying new. A new light-rail train costs up to $4 million. A Type 1 train rehab runs about $200,000. Cha-ching!

Next in line

Once all the Type 1 renovations are done, we’ll start makeovers on the Type 2 trains.

In the meantime, check out our brand new MAX trains! We’ll be welcoming 18 new-and-improved MAX vehicles to our fleet this year.

Andrew Longeteig

Andrew Longeteig

I’m TriMet’s Communications Coordinator. I share what’s happening at the agency with the media and general public. When I’m not working, I’ll either be watching the Blazers or at a rock concert.

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