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The Straggler May Finally Head Our Way

It seems forever ago that Muni awarded a contract to Brookville Equipment Company of Pennsylvania to renovate 16 streamliner PCC streetcars for Muni. Five of these were complete reconstructions, including four precious double-end cars (precious because only a handful of the 5,000 PCCs built in North America were double ended, and because only double-end cars will be able to serve the new E-Embarcadero line, at least at first).

The double-end cars were the last to get worked on and three of the four have been put into Muni service, although one of them, No. 1009, just got rear-ended by a private bus and will be out for repairs for awhile. (We’ve learned that Muni does intend to go after the bus company for the full cost, and that the damage, luckily, is almost exclusively cosmetic.)

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PCC No. 1011, painted in the livery of our namesake, Muni’s erstwhile competitor Market Street Railway Company (which wanted, but could never afford PCCs), sits outside the Brookville Equipment Company shops in Pennsylvania. Copyright Peter Ehrlich.

However, one of the four double-enders, No. 1011, has lingered at Brookville’s facility for many months after the others were delivered. But there’s a good reason. As we’ve reported previously, the door systems put into these renovated cars haven’t worked very well. In what we consider a misguided attempt to “modernize” the cars with computer assisted door controls, Muni ended up with unreliable systems that led to excessive — and unneeded — breakdowns in service.

To their credit, Muni engineering came to recognize this and changed the specifications on No. 1011 to install more traditional PCC door motors (which were very hard to source when the contract was originally let). Getting that door system installed and working properly on No. 1011 is the reason for the delay in finishing it. But we hear it may finally make its way to San Francisco later this month.

By the way, Muni has a contractor installing the same new (but traditionally designed) door control system on PCC No. 1071 as a pilot test for the 11-car 1070 class. (No. 1076, which had a similar system installed several years ago, using used components, has worked reliably ever since.

This is good news, since correcting this deficiency will further increase the reliability of the historic PCCs.

We’ll let you know when No. 1011 is on the road.

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