Second Renovated PCC Back From Contractor

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The second of 16 PCCs streetcars that made up the original F-line fleet is back in San Francisco and is beginning testing, with the hope of having it back on the F-line carrying passengers by the end of November.

Car 1051, painted in the “simplified green and cream” paint scheme used by Muni on its streetcars in the late 1960s and 1970s, is dedicated to the late Harvey Milk, who rode streetcars painted like this between his Castro Camera store and City Hall when he was the city’s first gay elected supervisor in 1978, up until his assassination on November 27 of that year. The 1051 appeared in the movie “Milk”.

Car 1056 returned to San Francisco last month.

Streetcars currently at the Brookville Equipment Company in Pennsylvania under the contract include 1055, 1059, 1060, 1062, and 1063.  Based on the order in which they were shipped, the 1060 should be the next to return to San Francisco, perhaps by the end of this month. These cars have had 21 years of very intense service since they were first renovated in the early 1990s.

There is additional, very interesting news regarding the Brookville contract, but we’ll give it to our members (including those who join us now) first in the next issue of Inside Track, our exclusive member newsletter, which should be out before month-end. Members, watch for it, and remember, you can get it at least a week faster if you opt for the electronic version rather than the printed one. (Just send an email with your name and email address to [email protected] and say you want to switch.)

 

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On the Road Again

IMG_2221This just in…the first of 16 PCCs to be rebuilt under the current contract with Brookville Equipment Corporation is on the road back to San Francisco. Muni Car 1056, painted to honor Kansas City, has been thoroughly renovated and is on the road toward California right now. The shot above is the car leaving the Brookville facility in Pennsylvania.

Car 1056 had been out of service the past few years because of a cracked bolster (the piece under the body that sits on top of and connects to the trucks (wheel sets and motors). That critical piece must be expertly repaired or replaced to ensure the long-term operation of the restored car. It is one of the areas Muni will look at very closely before accepting the car and returning it to service. As Car 1056 was generally considered to be in the worst condition of the original F-line fleet covered by the current contract, it was sent first. Thus, Muni’s team will watch closely to make sure the car has truly gone from worst to first.

Logos and car numbers will be applied by Muni’s maintenance team after arrival. The car must be “run in” — tested extensively before acceptance — which requires 1,000 miles of service. That usually takes place on the outer ends of the J, K, and L lines.

We’ll let you know when the car has arrived at Muni Metro East! And we’ll have the inside story of the car’s rebirth and a full update on the Brookville contract in the next issue of our exclusive member newsletter, Inside Track, due out in early September.  Join Market Street Railway today so you don’t miss it.

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Patriarch Streetcar Turns 120

578S 2nd and Mission, 1904, SFMTA Archives

Car 578 at 2nd and Mission, 1904, SFMTA Archives

According to our historian, the redoubtable Emiliano Echeverria, 120 years ago, August 10, 1896 (give or take a day), a new streetcar was delivered for service in San Francisco. Streetcars themselves had only become a viable transit technology eight years before in Richmond, Virginia. San Francisco got its first streetcar line only four years before, in 1892, but transit companies led by Market Street Railway Company were replacing cable car lines with streetcars and building new lines with the electric vehicles.

The first streetcars that appeared in San Francisco looked a lot like cable cars, except for the trolley pole on the roof that conducted electricity from the overhead wire. That wasn’t surprising. The standard cable car design of the time, the “California Car” (named after the California Street cable car design still used today), was popular with riders, with open end sections and a closed center section. And many of the early San Francisco streetcars were built by cable car builders.

That new streetcar delivered in August 1896 still operates today. Built by Hammond, which later built today’s fleet of California Street cable cars, No. 578 is the oldest passenger transit vehicle in America still on the operating roster of a public transit agency. It survived because it was turned into a work car after the 1906 earthquake and was kept around in that capacity before being restored by Muni’s crafts workers for the commemoration of the 50th anniversary of the earthquake in 1956.

We’re going to run a special feature to celebrate Car 578‘s 120th birthday in the next issue of our member newsletter, Inside Track, with many more historic photos of this patriarch of San Francisco’s streetcar fleet. Join Market Street Railway now so you don’t miss it!

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And you’ll be able to actually ride this unique streetcar on Muni Heritage Weekend, September 24-25, from 10 a.m. – 4 p.m. Come to our San Francisco Railway Museum to get your seat!

Happy 120th Birthday, Car 578!!

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First Videos of “White Front” Powell Cable Car 12

Right on schedule, Powell Cable Car 12 returned to service at 11 a.m. on Thursday, June 15, 2016. For the first time in 72 years (back when it was numbered 512), it was wearing the “White Front” livery of our namesake, Market Street Railway Company, which merged with Muni in 1944. The video above shows the 12 leaving the Washington-Mason car barn for the first time in revenue service since its restoration.

The photograph below, taken just few blocks away at Powell and California by the great rail photographer Will Whittaker,, shows how the car looked in service the first time it was in this livery, in 1944. We wrote more about this car, and our initiative to restore historic liveries to the Powell Street cable car fleet here.

60-2k WJ car 512 on Powell at California, 1944, WCW sm copy 2

The video below shows the first time Car 12 spun the Powell-Market turntable in revenue service today.

Finally, here’s a shot of two of the many proud parents of Car 12, SFMTA’s Ed Cobean, in overall charge of cable cars, and his maintenance right-hand, Carol Wolther. The first-run gripman, Randy Dea, is ready to go in the background.

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We’ll have much more about this car and our livery restoration program in the next issue of our member newsletter, Inside Track, due out in July.  Meantime, welcome back, Car 12!

 

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“White Front” Cable Car Returns

Powell Street cable car 12 returns to service today after an extensive rebuilding process that lasted more than two years. Its return marks the completion of a project that Market Street Railway has supported Muni on for more than 20 years. Powell 12 now proudly wears the famous “White Front” livery of our namesake, Market Street Railway Company, that all Powell cars wore from the mid-1930s until 1944, when Muni took over its private competitor, acquiring the Powell cable lines as part of the deal. The livery is very simple: all white on the ends, all green on the sides. That was deliberate. Market Street Railway Company was in increasing financial trouble and wanted to keep labor costs down wherever possible. An earlier Market Street Railway Company livery, displayed on Powell Car 9, featured red window sashes. (The company painted all its streetcars and cable cars in the simpler scheme shown above.) Since the Powell-Mason streetcar line opened in 1888, the “halfway to the stars” cars have worn numerous liveries (paint schemes) adopted by the five companies that have owned the Powell lines over the past 128 years. From bright yellow to red to green to blue to maroon, the history… — Read More

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Postgame Parade

The Super Bowl ended this football season, but we’ll go into overtime for a minute to share a special football-related photo. We’re at the end of the N-Judah line at Ocean Beach. Based on the clues in the photo, it’s between 1955 and 1957. PCC “torpedo” No. 1015 is about to take the loop and head inbound. It’s been converted from double-end to single-end operation, hence the blocked-off doors you see. On the stub track sit two “B type” original Muni streetcars, built in 1914 but recently “modernized” with conductor-operated doors on their rear platforms. We can’t tell the number of the car, on the right, but the one closer to us is No. 162. We know why it and its sibling are laying over from the yellow dash sign saying “Football Today – Kezar Stadium.” It’s probably a 49ers game (city high school games were played there too). Muni banked a couple of cars on the N-line terminal spur for postgame pickups. Other cars would switch back near Kezar on Carl Street to take fans home. As mentioned last week, we’ve captured this distinctive dash sign on a tee shirt which you can buy at our San Francisco Railway Museum.… — Read More

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Fleet Heads Back to Cameron Beach Tonight!

Attention shutterbugs!  The F-line’s historic streetcars will head back to Cameron Beach Division via the J-Church line today and tonight (Friday, November 6).  Grab your cameras and snap away! The historic fleet has been exiled to Muni Metro East, just off Third Street on the T-line, for well over a year now.  Light rail vehicles have been stored at Cameron Beach (formerly the venerable Geneva Division, opened as a streetcar yard in 1900!) instead, during reconstruction of the tracks at their home across the street, Green Division. But with access to Muni Metro East cut off for the next eight days while Muni installs switches at Fourth and King Streets to connect to the future Central Subway, the only way to continue streetcar service on the F-line is the send the fleet back to Beach.  (The E-Embarcadero line will NOT operate this weekend due to the Fourth and King construction.) Market Street Railway wants this return to be permanent, not temporary. The historic fleet has been unprotected for too long already, while the $9 million protective canopy we worked so long and hard to have built at Beach has been all but unused. With predictions of an El Nino-driven wet… — Read More

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New Boat at E-line Ceremony July 31

Muni’s new “boat tram,” Blackpool, England open-top Car No. 233, will officially debut on July 31 at the opening press event for the new E-Embarcadero line. The new boat tram, Muni’s second example of this popular 1934 design, was acquired for Muni by Market Street Railway in 2013, thanks to a very generous donation by the Thoresen Foundation, and ocean shipping subsidized by FedEx Trade Networks.  The boat, pictured above when on display during 2013’s Muni Heritage Weekend, has been out and about testing and training operators this week. Photo seekers should be able to get excellent shots from the new Brannan Street Wharf on the Bay across from the Brannan Street Muni Metro Station.  The new boat, and PCC No. 1006 will pass by on E-line track about 10:30 a.m.  The two streetcars will proceed along the E-line right-of-way on The Embarcadero, branching off where the N- and T-line lines go into the subway at Folsom, and continuing north to Mission, where the press event will take place. We’ll be looking for one of these images for our 2017 Market Street Railway calendar, so please submit them to our Flickr group, tagged 2017msrcalendar. You can also view the E-line press event at… — Read More

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Third PCC Goes Into Rehab

PCC streetcar No. 1060, wearing its 1938 Philadelphia “Cream Cheese” livery (named for its silver and blue color, evocative of that famous food product), left San Francisco June 3 en route to a full rehabilitation at Brookville Equipment Company in Pennsylvania. It’s the third of 16 PCCs to leave town for the renovation following 20 years of intense use on the F-line.  This $34.5 million contract covers the original F-line PCC fleet: 13 cars acquired from the SEPTA transit agency in Philadelphia in the early 1990s (Nos. 1050-1053 and 1055-1063 — No. 1054 was wrecked long ago) and three of Muni’s own double-end “torpedo” PCCs (Nos. 1007, 1010, 1015).  It follows No. 1056 and No. 1051. The contract describes the work to be done: The rehabilitation work will include a complete disassembly of the vehicle; rebuilding of the carbody, underfloor, trucks, doors systems and passenger area; installation of a new Westinghouse-type propulsion system; all new wiring, power supply, lighting and a video surveillance system; and all necessary work that may be uncovered when the car is disassembled. All three of the cars now at Brookville had been removed from service well before they left town. No. 1056 had a cracked bolster (the… — Read More

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Information NOT Gladly Given?

Muni unveiled sleek new buses yesterday, both motor coaches and trolley coaches. Their press release was full of positive stuff, and rightly so. Transit chief John Haley deserves credit for pulling strings to get new vehicles ordered and here much faster than used to be the case. But, as the Chronicle story pointed out, there’s something a little historic missing from the new vehicles: “some of the familiar signs, replaced mostly with visual images. That includes the classic Muni message: ‘Information Gladly Given But Safety Requires Avoiding Unnecessary Conversation.’ Haley said it’s part of a campaign to eradicate negative and threatening messaging from buses.’ That’s not the environment we want to create,’ he said.” Well, since our non-profit’s mission is “Preserving Historic Transit in San Francisco,” we figure we’ve got to do something. So we’re not only going to continue to offer our tee shirt bearing that ironic (and now, iconic as well) slogan in the traditional gray, we’ve now added stylish black. (Scroll down the linked webpage to reach the shirt.) Gray or black, starting at $16.95 (members get 10% off!) There’s no better conversation starter than this shirt, and as Muni excises the slogan from its new vehicles, it’s even more… — Read More

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