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Windows 98, eBay, and scraps – Orange County Register

BART was already transporting passengers at the time it began. Apollo-era trains were a sign of a future that saw carpeted floors and seats for all passengers.

This was 1972 when BART was at its peak. Half a century later, many of these same blue and silver trains still run through the Bay Area. And keeping them running — even in the country’s technology capital — requires a special breed of ingenuity.

BART mechanics rely heavily upon Frankensteined laptops running Windows 98 and trainyard scraps, as well as vintage microchips, to keep commuters in the Bay Area safe on the rails.

CONCORD, CALIFORNIA – SEPTEMBER 9: BART transit vehicle electronic technician Shawn Stange shows a laptop with the Windows 98 operating system, which is used to maintain and troubleshoot train cars at the BART maintenance yard in Concord, Calif., on Friday, Sept. 9, 2022. (Ray Chavez/Bay Area News Group).

“We have literally started with a picture and scoured different manufacturers and eBay looking for an oddball part,”John Allen, a BART train mechanic who works with trains in disrepair said, “Car 372.” Get on fireOrinda’s team devised a completely new system, and built the tools to replace the floor. “Sometimes we don’t even know what the name of the part is.”

To understand why BART maintenance can be so challenging, look back at the founders. They avoided heavy steel trains and instead employed signaling technology. Train fleetThis would be a new way to do things. Model for public transit. The result? All-electric trains with sleek aluminum bodies and large windows. They are supported by almost autonomous operations. The price tag for BART’s original 450 cars: $160 million.

“BART was envisioned as a renaissance system,” said Mike Healy, the agency’s longtime spokesperson and BART historian. It was established in 1972. “was sort of the new kid on the block.”

FILE – A Bay Area Rapid Transit System train zips along an elevated section of tracks in Oakland, Calif., Sept. 9, 1972, during a test run, in preparation for the September 11 opening of the first section of BART. BART spokesmen stated that the entire system should be operational next summer, despite the fact that the 28-mile Oakland-to Fremont section will open September 11. (AP Photo/Sal Veder)

Many of the hardware was soon obsolete. Even though Silicon Valley grew nearby, trains were still tied to a safe and secure rail system. arcane automated train control system that depended on DOS — a computer operating system now relegated to the dustbin of history — for vital operations. Although BART was a great model for train networks between Washington, D.C., and Atlanta, its specific mechanics weren’t replicated.

Today’s transit system is a rare exception. With everything from wheels and windows screaming for custom built attention, it is an exceptional example of modern technology.

“The biggest stumbling block is coming up with parts that they don’t make anymore,”Mark Wing, a mechanic responsible for maintaining the entire train’s electrical propulsion equipment and busted seats, said Mark Wing.

What parts are no more made? “Pretty much everything,”He said.

Shawn Stange is on hand to help a BART train in trouble. He pops open a circa-2000 IBM Thinkpad running Windows 98 and opens a portal into the train’s brain — the Automated Train Control system — through the DOS computer language.

Much as if he were conducting a vehicle diagnostic test, Stange uses the software as a mechanic’s roadmap. “This stuff was written so long ago. So you have to take Windows 10 and open up a virtual Windows 98 box and then run the (DOS) program to download the log files,”He said. “It’s primitive.”

CONCORD, CALIFORNIA - SEPTEMBER 9: BART transit vehicle electronic technician Shawn Stange shows a laptop with the Windows 98 operating system, which is used to maintain and troubleshoot train cars at the BART maintenance yard in Concord, Calif., on Friday, Sept. 9, 2022. (Ray Chavez/Bay Area News Group)CONCORD, CALIFORNIA – SEPTEMBER 9: BART transit vehicle electronic technician Shawn Stange shows a laptop with the Windows 98 operating system, which is used to maintain and troubleshoot train cars at the BART maintenance yard in Concord, Calif., on Friday, Sept. 9, 2022. (Ray Chavez/Bay Area News Group).

BART warehouses are filled with stacks upon stacks of vintage laptop carcasses. The train software is so old it won’t work on modern computers.

“I was in an engineering office, and I bet he had 40 of them sitting on the floor stacked up,”Allen. “Rob this part and rob that part to keep one laptop going. You see that here all the time.”

Perhaps the most illustrative symbol of BART’s go-it-alone approach is its iconic 1970s lead cars,This is a dedicated Fan base among transit design aficionados. Although the sloped nose was meant to look futuristic it did not serve any practical purpose. It also prevented trains switching to flat-faced vehicles. Irrespective of functionality, the shape became BART’s “identity,”Healy.

Jim Allison, a spokesperson from BART, stated that 56 original lead cars (known under the name A cars) still operate today. Their mechanical innards were modified during aReconstruction in the middle of lifeIn the late 1990s, the legacy fleet was established. The same pointed nose greets thousands upon thousands of passengers every day. The remaining 341 passengers who are trailing are also included. “B Cars”These are still in use since the 1970s, along with 60 “C cars,”These were built during the 1980s.

CONCORD, CALIFORNIA - SEPTEMBER 9: The BART train (A car) that was derailed last June in Concord is no longer in service and is salvage to repair other cars at the BART maintenance yard in Concord, Calif., on Friday, Sept. 9, 2022. (Ray Chavez/Bay Area News Group)CONCORD, CALIFORNIA – SEPTEMBER 9: The BART train (A car) that was derailed last June in Concord is no longer in service and is salvage to repair other cars at the BART maintenance yard in Concord, Calif., on Friday, Sept. 9, 2022. (Ray Chavez/Bay Area News Group).

In June, the family of legacy-lead vehicles was reduced to a smaller size. Car 1204 DerailedIt now lives at Concord Maintenance Yard and is scorching under the latest heat wave. “It’ll go to Schnitzer Steel in Oakland and get crushed,” said Allison.

But before Car 1204 meets the trash compactor, mechanics picked through the train’s bones in recent weeks. They removed the hard-to replicate conductor window and pulled the sockets for the headlights in order to preserve parts.

“The window is kind of bowed out, like a bubble,”Scott Fitzgerald, Concord yard manager, stated that they have one spare. “I don’t know how many attempts the glassmaker has tried to get that arc correctly.”

One of the first people to see BART’s space-age trains running through the Bay Area was Mekela Edwards. On Sept. 11, 1972, she was a toddler slung over her mother Theresa’s shoulder when the pair became the system’s First customers to pay. “Sometimes I introduce myself as BART’s first baby,”Edwards is currently a teacher in Palo Alto.

Trains were always a new discovery for her on trips to San Francisco and Oakland. But Edward’s connection to BART also parallels many passengers’ love-hate relationship with the system as the dated trains struggle with cleanliness, delays and notoriously failing air conditioners.

As she grew older her frustrations with BART sometimes turned into angry social media posts. “I just could not believe it was so hot on the train,”She told of a 2016 trip. “And so I was tweeting, ‘do something about this.’”

BART is doing something. It is slowly phasing out older trains. The majority of these trains will be retired to the scrapyards within the next two years. Some will be used to support other causes.Local beer garden, video arcade and firefighter education. This information is also available at the Western Railway Museum in Solano County. fundraisingTo save BART cars that are no longer in use and to make way for a new exhibit.

Their place will be taken over by the $2.6 Billion “Fleet of the Future,”It already accounts for nearly a third the train’s total capacity. The cars have LCD maps screens and cooler cabins. BART’s new fleet includes a redesigned train control system and train control system. Software glitches could cause problems.

Finding replacement parts won’t be a problem and DOS is no longer necessary for Allen and his crew, but it will still be bittersweet to say goodbye to trains that they have lovingly kept alive.

“There is a part of me that definitely has a little tear in my eye,”Allen, who has dedicated 16 of his years of life and work to BART repairs. “I think we could probably rebuild the fleet again and keep it going . . . but you know, out with the old and in with the new.”

BART has existed for fifty years

2,302,680: Average mileage for BART’s 1970s train cars89:Number of train cars in service in 1972, including the number that are still in use today“It will never work” — Margaret Thatcher, in 1969 after touring BART$2.6 billion: Cost of BART’s 775 new “Fleet of the Future”Trains70 mph: BART’s maximum speed

 

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    OAKLAND, CALIFORNIA – SEPTEMBER 15 : A BART train heads south towards the Fruitvale BART station in Oakland, Calif., on Thursday, Sept. 15, 2022. (Jose Carlos Fajardo/Bay Area News Group)

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    CONCORD, CALIFORNIA – SEPTEMBER 9: BART quality team leader Mark Wing, left, and BART transit vehicle electronic technician Shawn Stange show the power bracket of a train car as part of a routine maintenance and repairs at the BART maintenance yard in Concord, Calif., on Friday, Sept. 9, 2022. (Ray Chavez/Bay Area News Group).

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    CONCORD, CALIFORNIA – SEPTEMBER 9: BART quality team leader Mark Wing shows the power brackets of a train car as part of a routine maintenance and repairs at the BART maintenance yard in Concord, Calif., on Friday, Sept. 9, 2022. (Ray Chavez/Bay Area News Group).

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    CONCORD, CALIFORNIA – SEPTEMBER 9: BART train cars get routine maintenance and repairs at the BART maintenance yard in Concord, Calif., on Friday, Sept. 9, 2022. (Ray Chavez/Bay Area News Group).

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    CONCORD, CALIFORNIA – SEPTEMBER 9: BART quality team leader Mark Wing shows the door control system of a train car as part of a routine maintenance and repairs at the BART maintenance yard in Concord, Calif., on Friday, Sept. 9, 2022. They said that the majority damage was caused by patrons. (Ray Chavez/Bay Area News Group).

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    CONCORD, CALIFORNIA – SEPTEMBER 9: The BART train car that was derailed last June in Concord is salvage to repair other cars at the BART maintenance yard in Concord, Calif., on Friday, Sept. 9, 2022. (Ray Chavez/Bay Area News Group).

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    CONCORD, CALIFORNIA – SEPTEMBER 9: BART quality team leader Mark Wing, left, and BART transit vehicle electronic technician Shawn Stange, show the logic board of a train car as part of a routine maintenance and repairs at the BART maintenance yard in Concord, Calif., on Friday, Sept. 9, 2022. (Ray Chavez/Bay Area News Group).

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    CONCORD, CALIFORNIA – SEPTEMBER 9: BART train cars get routine maintenance and repairs at the BART maintenance yard in Concord, Calif., on Friday, Sept. 9, 2022. (Ray Chavez/Bay Area News Group).

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