Tuesday, September 18, 2018

The Smithonian's streetcar trailer

Many thanks to Wesley Paulson, who has sent along the only photos I've seen of Washington & Georgetown 212 showing the car since it went to the Smithsonian.

W&G 212 is a single-truck trailer built by Stephenson in 1892 as a cable car trailer but modified it for use as a horse-drawn car in 1897 when the cable powerhouse burned down. In 1898 it was again rebuilt for use with the new electric cars and remained in service until retirement in 1913. Amazingly it stayed in storage until 1937, when it was rehabbed for historic use - still wearing its post-1906 number, 1512 - and used for fan trips and company celebrations until the end of streetcar service in Washington 25 years later (photo here). This car and the motor car with which it was used in historic service, car 303, were given to the Smithsonian in 1975. Both were restored but only car 303 was put on public display. The trailer, backdated to W&G livery, is in storage in Maryland in the back of a Smithsonian warehouse. These photos were taken by Wesley in the 1990s.

Monday, September 17, 2018


I'm always trying to add more information to cars already on the list so that I can make it more complete. Things like corporate history and technical data can be tough to track down, at least if you don't happen to own whatever book was written on that particular line.

Most recently I was able to add some information to a few of the cars on the list. Bill Wulfert pointed out that Singer 1, which was recently removed from the defunct museum in Noblesville, Indiana to private storage, was built for 250 volt DC operation, so that fact was added to its listing. Then there's Jersey Shore Street Railway 4, a rather old streetcar body in private ownership, to which I was able to add truck, motor, and control information. This is an intriguing car thought to either be ex-Buffalo, NY or possibly ex-New York City, but its origins are not known for certain. Finally I managed to pick up a book on the Cleveland Southwestern & Columbus. This allowed me to correct some corporate history info on the two remaining cars from that system, combine 121 and freight trailer 512 (the fleet number and construction information of the latter car is somewhat in doubt).

If you spot even a minor error in any of the listings, or information that's been left out, please let me know. I'm always looking to make the list more complete and more accurate.

Thursday, September 13, 2018

Name change

Just some housekeeping, but I decided to change the name of this page from PNAERC Blog to Preserved Traction. The reason is simple: I don't have any better idea of how to pronounce "pnaerc" than you do, and I was starting to get the occasional question asked of me in person. Problem solved. I also added an image at the top, because why not?

Tuesday, September 11, 2018

Branford-San Francisco swap

Thanks to Bill Wulfert, who passed along some information on a recent trade between Branford and the Market Street Railway Association in San Francisco. Branford received an out-of-service San Francisco cable car, which will help them interpret 19th-century street railway history (they already have the best collection of horse cars on the continent and several pre-1900 electric cars). In return, San Francisco has received a pair of Peckham 14B3 trucks and four GE motors (more info below). The trucks will go under Market Street Railway 798, the most modern surviving car from that system, which has been the subject of a very long-term restoration from car body status.

Car 798 originally had either Peckham 14B3 or Brill 27G1 trucks, both of which are 1890s or turn-of-the-century designs. The car was built in the company shops and was obviously fitted with equipment from an older car. The Peckhams acquired from Branford are of a type used by this series and possibly by car 798 itself at some point. Another surviving piece of equipment from MSRy, crane 0130 at Rio Vista, also has Peckham 14B3 trucks, but intriguingly there are no other cars known to exist with GE 52 motors like the ones sent to San Francisco.

UPDATE: The below message, and photos, were submitted by Bill Wall of Branford and this post has been corrected as a result. Thank you for the additional info, Bill!

Branford now has cable car 28, an 1887 Mahoney Bros. car that was used on the Powell Street lines by SF Muni. Since arrival, 28 has had quite a bit of work done to prepare it for display. As a 42 inch gauge car, it has been placed on two specially prepared track dollies which have strap rail on them set for 42 inch gauge. The car sits a bit higher than normal (as it is still on its original trucks on the dollies) but this gives Branford the ability to move it around on standard gauge track.  We did not want to bastardize the car with other trucks. The car also came with a complete grip mechanism and some cable, so we can show how a cable car operates.

What went out to Muni were 2 Peckham 14B3 trucks with GE-52 motors (one on each axle). The car series that 798 belongs to could have used Brill 27G1, Peckham 14B3 or other trucks, as that car series was equipped with a number of different types. Market Street Railway used whatever was on hand, reclaimed from older cars and had no problem swapping out different sets of trucks of a different style. So it is entirely possible that 798 did indeed have Peckham trucks at some point in its service life. That was the big attraction in sending these to Muni – right car, right trucks.  Source for this info is the book “The White Front Cars of San Francisco."

The trucks were originally under a Rhode Island Company line car that was scrapped at Branford in 1950. Silk Road delivered them to San Francisco by flatbed, with the same trailer bringing 28 back east. Photo attached of the trucks being delivered to Muni Metro East maintenance facility.

Branford has long wanted a real cable car as the missing piece in the street railway story. We have an ex-cable car from Third Avenue Railway in NYC, but it has nothing on it to show what it once was. When you mention cable car to the general public, San Francisco comes to mind and in particular the Powell Street cars, seen in all those Rice-a-Roni commercials. We expect it to be a big hit with our visitors, complete with a Rice-a-Roni ad.

Monday, September 10, 2018

Historic fleet progress at CTA

As recently as four years ago, the Chicago Transit Authority had only two cars on the PNAERC list: their two 1920s-era 4000s, 4271 and 4272. That's changed now, though, with a new emphasis on historic preservation, and CTA currently rosters no fewer than 14 cars on the PNAERC list of three different types. Of those, eight are recently-retired 2400-series cars from the 1970s while four are 1950s-era 6000-series cars that were purchased back from museums that had originally acquired them from the CTA in the 1990s.
After a fair amount of work by CTA employees, largely volunteering their time, the first of the two pairs of 6000s has been made operational. Cars 6711 and 6712, shown above in a Lou Gerard photo taken September 1st, have been returned to operational condition and were actually run for the public during the CTA's annual "Roadeo" this past weekend. Their status has been updated on the roster. These cars were owned by the Museum of Transportation in St. Louis for many years, until CTA bought them back in November 2017, and for virtually the entire time they were in St. Louis they were stored indoors. That seems to have kept them in excellent condition and limited somewhat the work required of the CTA employees.

The other pair of 6000s owned by the CTA, 6101 and 6102, were bought by the CTA from the Fox River Trolley Museum earlier in 2017 and will need significantly more work before they run again. These cars sat outside for the 23 years they were at FRTM and suffered accordingly. But before they went to Fox River they were restored to their original color scheme and briefly functioned as historic cars for the CTA, so there is definitely interest in doing the work to fix them up.

Thursday, September 6, 2018

The streetcar at Knoebel's Grove

Joel Salomon of the Rockhill Trolley Museum has been kind enough to send along some photos of Shamokin & Mount Carmel 33, a 1905 Brill semiconvertible whose body has resided at the Knoebel's Amusement Park (aka Knoebel's Grove) in Elysburg, Pennsylvania for possibly as long as eighty years - perhaps since it was retired from railway service in 1938. The S&MC was one of many small rural trolley lines in the northeast, mid-Atlantic, and Midwestern states and, like many of those lines, it went out before World War II. This car is a pretty rare survivor of a small, rural street railway. It's also a rare example of a true off-the-shelf Brill semiconvertible, a type of streetcar which was as ubiquitous as any other early in the early 1900s but is difficult to find among museums since so many examples were retired and scrapped early. It's under roof, apparently in okay condition, and presumably in no danger of going anywhere - though hopefully if it does go anywhere it's to a museum.

Wednesday, September 5, 2018

One mystery solved

Many thanks to Wesley Paulson, who has successfully solved one of the more perplexing mysteries of recent years: whatever happened to Texas Transportation 1? With help from Wesley and Hugh Hemphill, plus an assist from Google Maps, it's been discovered that this Baldwin-Westinghouse - whose last confirmed siting that I knew of was back in 2006 - is indeed still in storage. It's now in Elmendorf, Texas, stored in a building behind the site of the future San Antonio Railroad Heritage Museum. The image above, from Google Street View, shows the locomotive in the distance, safe and under cover. (There's another photo here.) Evidently the locomotive is still owned by the Pearl Brewery (of which Texas Transportation was a subsidiary) and is just being stored, with no particular plans for it.