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1952 Theatre Catalog, 10th Edition, Page 262 (226)

1952 Theatre Catalog, 10th Edition
1952 Theatre Catalog
1952 Theatre Catalog, 10th Edition, Page 262
Page 262

1952 Theatre Catalog, 10th Edition, Page 262

The Trackless Bandcar in Modern Staging

Use of the Motor-Powered Bandcar 011 the Stage Lends an Impressively Dramatic Touch to Shows

It is curtain time. As the houSe lights dim, the strains of the overture dramatically flplay the curtain open], and the orchestra appears down stage. Slowly and effortlessly, with changing lights flooding the scene in glowing colors, the orchestra glides upstage stopping automatically at the footlights and at the finish of the overture moves gracefully back stage, freeing the front stage for the acts that follow. The trackless bandcar makes such dramatic effects possible.

Dates Back to Romans

The use of bandcars in staging theatrical productions is not new. It dates back to the Romans, and possibly farther. It was used by the Romans to set up an act beforehand, ready to be pushed on stage at the proper moment. At that time, and up to quite recently, all bandcars were pushed by hand. When the tendency to build larger stages and wider proscenium openings came into vogue, it was found that any bandcar that could be pushed on and off stage by hand was far too small in proportion to the stage and also would not accommodate enough seats or musicians.

Tracks Unsatisfactory

This brought about the need for motorization, which in turn presented another problem - that of guiding the bandcar up and down stage so that one end of the car did not get ahead of the other. Of course, this problem became more acute when it was decided to use the car in connection with an orchestra elevator. In a very few instances, metal tracks were inserted in the stage floor, and the car wheels were equipped with flanges that followed these tracks, similar to a railroad. When not in use, the tracks were covered with strips of flooring running up and down stage. Obviously, these tracks or guides did not permit a very smooth floor, and in most cases required the use of a ground cloth to cover the tracks when not in use.

First Trackless Bandcar

Because of these obstacles, the use of bandcars practically died out for a time. In 1940, however, a trackless type car was designed, built and installed in the Center, Passaic, New Jersey. This car accommodates 25 musicians, and is built in sections so that it can be readily dismantled for storage. The type of wheels, both drivers and idlers, is such that they will not mar the finest floor, yet have sufficient traction to move the car on the most highly polished surface.

With this accomplished, a car was designed and built for the Beverly Hills Country Club at Newport, Ky., which comes out of a recoss at the back of the stage and travels to the front of

By C. E. TOMPKINS President. J. R. Clancy, Inc. Syracuse, N. Y.


BRIEF: The use of the bandcar in slaging theatrical productions dates back to early Rome . . . Larger stages called for larger bandcars . . . Tracks were used but were unsatisfactory . . . and the use of bandcars diminished . . . First trackless bandcar was built in 1940 . . . Latest type automatically moves of orchestra elevator . . . and can be stopped, started, or reversed from any position . . . 0n stages without elevators . . trackless bandcar glides to correct position under its own power . . . Having a variety of uses . . . the trackless bandcar may become more widely used . . . when its full range of possibilities are explored.

* the stage, 32 feet, and then back into the recess. The clearance on each side of the recess is only two and a half inches. The fact that, after countless trips in and out, the car does not get out of alignment or bind in the recess is convincing proof of the efficiency of the trackless method.

Following this, several cars of this type were built, and in 1950 a car was installed at Purdue University Music Hall, which is 55 feet, 4 inches long, with a width of 13 feet, 6 inches at the center, and 10 feet, 8 inches at each end. The car was designed to fit the orches tra elevator previously installed. The motor unit is located on the back side of the car, approximately at center. The outline of the operation is as follows.

How the Bandcar Works

With the car located on the elevator at the basement position, the elevator travels upward, and automatically levels at the stage floor. At this point, the car motor is energized, and the elevator circuit is killed so that the elevator cannot be moved until the car is all the way on stage. Just back of the footlights is a row of disappearing microphones which are also electrically hooked into the circuit in such a manner that the car will not leave its position on the elevator unless the microphones are down and out of the way.

Assuming that the microphones are down and out of the way, the car proceeds on its travel backstage, restoring the elevator circuit as soon as the car is clear, and the car continues on its journey until the automatic limit switch cuts off the circuit. All motorized bandcars can be stopped, started or reversed from any position.

On the forward motion, the car proceeds to the microphone line, and stops if the microphones are up. Otherwise, it proceeds on to the elevator, provided the elevator is up to receive it. If the elevator is in any other than the up position the car will not move beyond this position. When the car reaches its position on the elevator, the elevator VIEW BELOW shows several parallel platforms mounted on the base platform of the Sandcar supporting an entire glee club with accompanying grand piano at Purdue University Music Hall.

1952 Theatre Catalog, 10th Edition, Page 262