Sacramento Street on Powell!

Few people realize that most of the cable cars that run on the two Powell Street lines originally ran on Sacramento and Clay Streets. Before the 1906 Earthquake and Fire, the Sacramento-Clay line ran all the way from the Ferry Building to Golden Gate Park (at Sixth Avenue and Fulton). It shared ownership with the Powell lines. A number of new cable cars were locally built in 1893-94 by Carter Brothers to serve the Midwinter Fair in the Park. One of them was Car 511.

At 5:12 a.m. on April 18, 1906, the 511 was one of a couple of dozen Sacramento-Clay cable cars resting in a car barn on outer Sacramento Street. These cable cars were spared the flames that engulfed the original Powell Street fleet of identical cars at Washington and Mason Streets. Rebuilding the system in the aftermath, the Sacramento-Clay cable cars became Powell Street cable cars, replaced on a portion of that line by double-end cable cars rebuilt from cable cars salvaged from Market Street service. (Electric streetcars took over Market Street and the flatter, outer portions of the Sacramento-Clay line.)

Car 511 (renumbered to 11 in the 1970s) soldiered on for the rest of the 20th century and into the 21st in different liveries (paint schemes), but when it came time last year to freshen up the 11, Cable Car Superintendent Ed Cobean asked Market Street Railway what would be an appropriate livery for this car in its 125th year of service. We suggested its original Sacramento-Clay livery of Tuscan Red with tan and white trim, with the rocker panel on the side emblazoned with the name of its original owner (which happens to be an early company that bears our non-profit’s name). Ed graciously agreed, and the cable car body shop and painters did a beautiful job on the car, which went back into service today, with Val Lupiz gripping.

Jeremy Whiteman captured this fabulous photo at the Hyde and Beach turntable.  He has contributed many great photos to our organization, especially its annual calendar (we expect the 2019 calendar in our museum and online in June).

The 1890s Sacramento-Clay livery on Car 11 brings to ten the number of Powell cable cars that now wear heritage liveries seen on these cable cars over the past 130 years, since the Powell lines first went into service in 1888. Our nonprofit is proud to have taken a leading role in bringing these liveries back to life, adding authentic color to the iconic cable cars. In coming months, we’ll be talking more about advocating for further improvements to the irreplaceable cable car system.

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Welcome Back, Cable Car 22!

The double-deuce hits the street Wednesday, November 29 after being out of service eight years!

UPDATE 11/29: Turns out the November 29 runs were for advanced testing…stand by for an announcement on passenger service.

Its failing frame and rotting wood were certainly entitled to take a few years off, for Car 22 (once 522) is one of the relatively few surviving original Ferries & Cliff House Railways Cars from 1887. It started on the vanished Sacramento-Clay line, but moved over to the Powell lines in 1906, after the original Powell fleet was destroyed, along with the Washington-Mason car barn, in the earthquake and fire.

One by one, most of the original 1887 cars eventually wore out, even after being rebuilt once before (in 22’s case, in 1956). Some were replaced by essentially completely new cable cars built by the Woods Carpentry Shop, with virtually nothing remaining of the original.
However, 22, along with Powell Cable Cars 17, 24, and 27, still retain significant parts of their original 1887 construction, when they were built by Mahony Brothers of San Francisco.  So this car is one of the oldest in the fleet.  (Most of the other “original” Powell cars date to 1893, and most of the Cal cars oriignally date to 1906-07.)

According to recently retired Cable Car maintenance supervisor Norbert Feyling, “All credit belongs to carpenter Mark Sobichevsky, who took on a massive rebuild that other people ran away from.” Norbert continues, “Big credit also goes to Bryant Cao, Keith and the other new carpenter hires for which this was a training ground, painters Danny Hicks and Richard Lee, Harry Stewart, John Malia and their machinists, engineer John Becker, and all the shop mechanics who completely replaced the trucks and running gear so she’ll drive as sweet as she looks. All done in house, by Muni personnel.”

We celebrate the return of Powell Cable Car 22 to the active fleet. Thanks to Russell Stanton of the Cable Car Division for posting this photo of 22 to our Facebook group.

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Our Spies are Everywhere!

 

Even Truckee, where John Griffin snapped these two shots of the latest PCC to be rehabilitated by Brookville Equipment Company in Pennsylvania. The photos were forwarded to us by Market Street Railway member James Giraudo.

Car 1055 should be at Muni Metro Center by the time you read this. It is the sixth of 16 PCC cars covered by the current rehabilitation contract with Brookville. The contract covers the original F-line streetcar fleet from 1995, including 13 single end streetcars that Muni procured used from Philadelphia’s SEPTA. This car, numbered 2122 in Philadelphia, looks sparkling new in the same green and cream paint scheme, with red trim, that it was delivered to Philadelphia wearing in 1948.

Meanwhile, the last PCC to arrive, No. 1062, now painted to honor Pittsburgh Railways Co., is moving through its 1000-mile “burn-in” period, where components are tested before the car is accepted for service by Muni. The shops recently added the PRCo logo just to the rear of the center door, provided to them by us, with thanks to our friends at the Pennsylvania Trolley Museum, which gave us detailed advice on the Pittsburgh livery we adopted.

The next PCC due back from Brookville is Baltimore 1063, now painted in its original teal (or is it cyan — heck, blue-green) livery, quite a change from the later yellow livery it wore in San Francisco when it was first restored in 1995. That yellow was actually quite a bit more, er, YELLOW than the orangey hue actually adopted by Baltimore. We hope the new colors are more accurate, but a head’s up — that color from back in the days of lead-based paints, is very difficult to get just right, even with the great help we got from the Baltimore Streetcar Museum. We don’t have an anticipated arrival date for the 1063, but as we say, our spies are everywhere, and we’ll post a photo when we get one.

 

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“Boston” is Back!

 

PCC 1059, honoring Boston Elevated Railway, is back in San Francisco, photographed by MSR Member Traci Cox at Muni Metro East in the wee hours of Monday, April 24. Like many of the 17 first-generation F-line streetcars (numbered from 1050-1063, plus 1007, 1010, and 1015), the colors on the tribute livery adorning 1059 were a little off. At that time, Muni only allowed a relative handful of colors in the palette for the PCC tribute paint schemes, but now, there are many more colors available, so we have been working with Muni to improve the historical accuracy of the colors.

The previous color limitation led to the 1059 being originally painted in a red-orange color, at odds with the actual Boston hue. We’ve got it pretty close now as indicated by the photo below (apologies, we can’t find the photographer credit…please let us know if you know who we should credit).


No, Muni didn’t install left-hand doors on 1059 as the Boston PCCs had (this anomaly was and is required by Boston’s 1897 subway. But we did take a look at what Boston logo would be most appropriate: the Boston Elevated Railway lettering that the Beantown PCCs were delivered in, or the later “MTA” logo or map logo. We stuck with the Boston Elevated
Railway lettering both because that was original and because where possible we lke to have authentic exterior lettering or logos that provide clues to the origin of the tribute livery. That logo will be installed before the car goes into revenue service.

Here are two more views of 1059’s arrival at Metro East, courtesy of Traci Cox.

(The night lighting does skew the orange color somewhat.)

[Update] After unloading the 1059, the trailer returned to Brookville with various parts, rather than with another car. [We erroneously reported Pacific Electric 1061 had gone to Brookville. Not yet. Sorry.] Market Street Railway is working with Muni to tweak the colors on that iconic Pacific Electric paint scheme as well, when 1061 does go to Brookville. (It and Brooklyn 1053 are slated to be the next cars to go back east for restoration, though in what order is not clear.) Comments on the first version of this story suggest that the Boston orange might work very well as a more accurate trim color on the 1061. We’re checking that out, and always appreciate comments from knowledgeable fans on colors, as long as they come to us in time to do something about them.

MSR Members: those who receive the hard copy of our newsletter, Inside Track, it should reach US mailboxes in the next couple of days, overseas by the end of next week (we hope…postal services around the world seem to be falling apart).

 

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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… — Read More

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Flagship Powell Cable Car Slips Into Service

Without fanfare, the latest product of Muni’s able cable car shops has rejoined the fleet after a full restoration and makeover. And it’s a honey. Powell Street Cable Car No. 1 (not to be confused with its “cousin,” Muni streetcar No. 1), quietly slipped out of the cable car barn and went into service on the Powell-Mason line November 15, following a two-year rebuilding process. Despite its number, Powell No. 1 (full history here) is not the oldest car in… — Read More

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On Donner!

Two beautiful sights in one: snow falling this morning on Donner Summit (keep it coming!) and PCC No. 1009, painted in tribute to Dallas, headed back to San Francisco. MSR Member James Giraudo caught this great action shot. No. 1009 arrived safely in the city this afternoon, completing its return trip to Brookville Equipment Company in Pennsylvania for refitting of the traditional-style door motors that work better than the computerized ones installed during the recent overhaul program. No. 1009 should… — Read More

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The “Euro-PCC” is Back in Action.

Photo by Brice Crandall, San Francisco Railway Museum. After an extended absence, the most exotic looking PCC streetcar in Muni’s fleet is carrying passengers again, working the F-line shuttle run from the Wharf to the Ferry Building yesterday (Saturday, February 15, 2014), after a prolonged absence waiting for some parts specific to the car, followed by operator training, led by Muni’s Robert Parks. You can read all about this streetcar here. The slender design (just 7’3″ wide, almost two feet… — Read More

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Toot Toot!

Muni’s “newest” streetcar, 1934 Blackpool boat tram No. 233, ran under its own power today at Cameron Beach Yard, less than a week after it arrived in San Francisco from England. Enormous credit goes to Muni’s vintage streetcar shop crew, who swarmed the boat upon arrival. They repaired bumper and panel damage incurred at the museum that had custody of it (that’s the repaired end in the photo), painted all the seats, cut down the tower atop the center cab… — Read More

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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… — Read More

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Still Time to Join the Dallas PCC Charter Aug. 4

Perhaps the most remarkable renovation performed on any of the F-line streetcars is the one given to No. 1009. Here’s the before photo: Interior of PCC No. 1009, vandalized and burned by homeless, leaving San Francisco for restoration, 2010. Though the car had been badly vandalized while in storage, its capacity (one of the largest streetcars in the fleet) and its ability to operate from either end made it worth restoring. Now it’s back, painted in tribute to Dallas Terminal… — Read More

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Plain Jane on the Way to a Makeover

Our San Francisco Railway Museum manager, Brian Leadingham, spotted this mystery PCC streetcar gliding by the museum the other day and snapped this quick shot. It’s No. 1056, which has been out of service for quite some time after cracks were found in the part of the frame that attaches the car to one of its trucks (wheel sets). The paint shop was taking the opportunity to repaint the car and had gotten the base coat of cream on when… — Read More

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Photo of the Moment: Down Under the Bridge

Copyright 2013, Jeremy Whiteman. Muni’s shops continue to make gradual progress on 1946 Melbourne tram No. 916, a 2009 gift to the City of San Francisco from the Australian State of Victoria. The retired tram needed extensive modifications to meet Muni and California operating standards, and to operate on the opposite side of the road from its native city. (Door controls, for example, had to be reversed.) Market Street Railway has assisted in procuring needed parts. With staffing very tight,… — Read More

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“Gliding Beauty” Rejoins Muni’s Streetcar Fleet

PCC No. 1009, honoring Dallas, near the San Francisco Railway Museum on the F-line, January 17, 2013. Brian Leadingham photo. Dallas didn’t operate PCC streetcars very long — just 11 years. When they did, just after World War II, they called them “Gliding Beauties” for their streamlined grace. Today, Muni pays tribute to the streetcars of “Big D” with the first day of passenger service for PCC No. 1009, painted in the original Dallas livery. Dallas is one of the… — Read More

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Here’s to an Historic 2013!

Muni’s first streetcar, No. 1, poses at 11th and Market streets December 28, 2012. Moments earlier, it passed Market and Geary almost exactly 100 years to the minute from its first ever trip from that same location, out Geary with Mayor “Sunny Jim” Rolph at the controls to inaugurate America’s first major publicly owned transit system. Here, it’s flanked by Muni’s oldest operable trolley coach, 1950 No. 776, and its oldest operating motor coach, 1938 No. 042. All carried passengers… — Read More

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