Friday, September 13, 2019

Bullet car removed from list

I've received confirmation that ex-Philadelphia & Western "Bullet car" 204 was scrapped at the Museum of Transportation within the last couple of years. As with the rest of the series of ten Bullets, car 204 was built by Brill in 1931 and ran on the P&W - later Red Arrow, later SEPTA - for some 50 years. This car was retired in 1986 and for some reason its stripped shell went to the Delaware Car Company in Wilmington where it spent several years plinthed alongside the Northeast Corridor (photo here). In 1996 it was acquired by the Museum of Transportation in St. Louis and moved there. Not much was ever done with it and I believe that for the entirety of its time at MOT it was stored outside the "trolley building" at the bottom of the hill. The photo above was taken by yours truly in 2009 and the car's condition didn't improve in the years following this. After being offered to other museums with no takers, it was cut up.

While the Bullets are iconic cars, from an historical perspective this is really no loss. First, the car was only a shell, missing its interior, trucks, and all of its underbody equipment. More importantly, there are still six out of the original ten* P&W Bullet cars around (not to mention three out of the original five FJ&G Bullets) and those six are all complete, or substantially complete, cars. One of them is even in running condition.

*Yes, I know there were eleven because one was built shortly after the others to replace a car destroyed by fire. But there were only ten P&W Bullets at any one time.

Friday, September 6, 2019

Washington Metro cars

I've decided to bite the bullet and add a pair of Washington Metro cars to the PNAERC list. The first two cars built for the system back in 1974, Rohr-built cars 1000 and 1001, have - by multiple accounts - been set aside by WMATA for preservation. It sounds like they're currently stored at Greenbelt Yard in Maryland, possibly being refurbished. I've tried getting absolute confirmation of this fact, including contacting WMATA itself, without any luck. However there have been some rumored sightings of the cars in recent months and I found an official WMATA pronouncement here that these two cars were being preserved. So I'll make the leap and assume that these two cars are, indeed, squirreled away at Greenbelt Yard and being kept around for the foreseeable future.

I've had only moderate luck finding mechanical information about these cars, and most of what I've found has come from Wikipedia (ecch), so I'm interested in any information on the cars' mechanical equipment. They were rebuilt in the 1990s with AC traction motors, which I think makes these the first modern equipment on the PNAERC list with AC motors. They're also the first Rohr-built cars on the list.

WMATA has recently retired, or will soon retire, a few other series of cars and there have been rumors that at least one or possibly two more pairs of cars might be marked by them for preservation. As always, submissions of information are greatly appreciated!

Wednesday, August 28, 2019

Portland Railway Light & Power 1067

Today we've got an update on Portland Railway Light & Power 1067 courtesy of Nick Christiansen, who is working on that car. PRL&P 1067 is a wooden interurban coach built in the company shops in 1906. It's a very historic car because it's the only surviving PRL&P interurban passenger car - and PRL&P isn't just another interurban, it has its origins in one of the very first "true" interurban lines built anywhere in the U.S., the line to Oregon City constructed in 1893.
Car 1067, shown in the two c1910 photos above (all photos copyright Nick Christiansen), is a pretty standard full-sized interurban car of a design typical of the Portland system. It ran until 1945 (later photo here), I believe, at which point it was turned into a cabin in Cannon Beach, Oregon.
Above is a photo taken in 1980 of car 1067 and sister car 1065. The former was saved and moved to the Oregon Electric Railway Historical Society site while the latter, which had been sitting on the ground was in much worse condition, was disassembled for parts.

In recent years car 1067 has been sitting on trucks in the OERHS barn but its stripped condition precluded much serious restoration work. Nick reports that this, however, has changed. The parts retrieved from Portland Traction 1058 have been allocated to help restore PRL&P 1067. This includes correct-type Brill 27E trucks, GE Type M control equipment, AMM schedule brakes, and other parts. The photos above show the current state of car 1067, with its east side in primer and its west side currently stripped and awaiting new windows. The car's interior is pretty well stripped, as is typically the case with cars saved as bodies.

And here's some what what will be going back on to car 1067. At top, an entire set of new windows has been fabricated for the car; then there's a smattering of components salvaged from PTCo 1058; and at bottom is a C6K controller that will go to car 1067. The PRL&P car's record has been updated in the PNAERC database to reflect the equipment assigned to it and the fact that it is undergoing restoration work. Many thanks to Nick for this update, and I look forward to hearing more about this project as it moves forward.

Wednesday, August 21, 2019

Hagerstown & Frederick car cosmetically restored

From Marc Glucksman and River Rail Photo (Facebook link but no account or log-in required) comes news that Hagerstown & Frederick 150, one of three surviving cars from that storied side-of-the-road interurban line, is undergoing a major cosmetic restoration. The plan for the car is that it will be placed on display inside of the new Myersville Library, located in a town along the old H&F.

Car 150, though not the "typical" H&F combine, does have a historically significant and varied history. It was built in 1918 by the Southern Car Company, making it one of only five Southern-built cars preserved. Originally it ran on Columbia Railway Gas & Electric in South Carolina (I think, though am not sure, that it was part of CRG&E's 100-116 series) so it's the only car from that system known to still exist. It went to the H&F in 1923 and ran there until 1954, after which its body was sold. Eventually it was picked up by Don Easterday, an H&F fan living in Myersville, who cosmetically restored the body and placed it on Bettendor freight car trucks. Following Don's death the car went to the city of Myersville and they are now putting what looks to be an impressive amount of work into the car to fix it up for public display. Photo above by Marc Glucksman.

Monday, August 19, 2019

The "decimal point" car

News comes from the Narrow Gauge Discussion Forum that the last surviving "decimal point" car from the Denver & Intermountain, car .04, has been moved to Cheyenne for restoration. The car, shown above, was built in 1911 by Woeber Carriage and ran until it was retired in 1950. It was built as a standard-gauge car but was converted to 3'6" gauge, standard in Denver, in 1924. The restoration, said to be cosmetic only, is being done by High Plains Railroad Preservation.

Besides the car now being under restoration, its ownership has been clarified. While it's been stored outdoors in Arvada for some time, I thought it was owned by the Denver Rail Heritage Society. While that may have been true at one point (the car's preservation-era history is virtually unknown to me) the car is apparently now owned by the City of Arvada. So that correction has been made to its PNAERC record. Between trailer 610 in Aurora and now .04, Denver car bodies preserved in the area seem to be faring well these days.

Tuesday, July 16, 2019

San Diego update

The Times of San Diego has posted in an article here that the city's first light rail car, U2 1001, has been put into regular historic service on the "Silver Line" downtown route. There it will join a pair of heavily rebuilt PCC cars, currently numbered 529 and 530, in heritage service. It seems to me that anyone showing up to ride on a PCC would be a bit disappointed to have a light rail set pull up, but I suppose that it's all relative and even the seemingly modern U2 cars are already historic. They're no more rare than PCC cars though: besides a number of U2 cars from San Diego that were resold for continued service in South America, a total of seven have been preserved in this country - just as many as there are Boeing-Vertol LRV's still extant.

Speaking of the San Diego heritage operation, I'm looking for updated information on the San Diego fleet. Besides the U2 and the two PCC cars in service, last I knew a third PCC - ex-Philadelphia car 531 - was undergoing rebuild to join them. However I don't know whether that is still an active project or whether the car has been mothballed. There's also ex-Philadelphia 533, apparently in storage, and Muni 1123, last seen being cannibalized for parts. Finally there's Newark 16, which is still stored in the Eastern time zone; I believe this car was intended for San Diego at one point but I don't know who owns it currently. Clarification would be appreciated.

Wednesday, July 10, 2019

Updates from IRM

From our sister blog, Hicks Car Works, have over recent months come several changes to the status of equipment in the IRM collection. First, the good news: Chicago & West Towns 141, shown above, has had most of its teething issues worked out and has been put into regular service. This was the first real "chicken coop" restoration done by IRM and following completion of major work in 2013 the car stayed in only occasional use for several years while the bugs were worked out.

There's also Fox River Electric 306, which was IRM's example of that trolley museum staple, the project abandoned mid-restoration. This suburban car was acquired by IRM in the mid-1980s in seriously deteriorated, albeit complete and operational, condition and was torn down for a complete rebuild. That effort ground to a halt around 1990 or so but has recently been resumed, with welding work and component reassembly efforts now underway.

Additionally, Amtrak 945, the museum's AEM7 passenger locomotive and one of the newer pieces of equipment at IRM, has been moved out of the shop and put on outdoor public display. This follows welding work necessitated by the replacement of some windows that were broken by vandals during transportation from the east coast.

Then there's the bad news. Chicago Aurora & Elgin 308 is out-of-service for the foreseeable future following a motor failure. This isn't the first time IRM has had a GE 66 blow up but it is expected to take some time before funds can be raised to rebuild the motor for continued service. In the meantime the museum has three other CA&E wood cars that will remain in regular service.

Finally, Wisconsin Electric Power L7 is also out-of-service with a failed air compressor. On most pieces of equipment this wouldn't be too catastrophic, but the L7 is one of only two pieces of equipment on the PNAERC list to sport a giant CP-19 air compressor. It sits in the cab and removing it for work is an involved process, so for the moment repair work is on the back burner.