Streetcar No. 1 Restoration Underway

Muni’s flagship streetcar, 1912 No. 1, has safely arrived at the shops of the contractor, Brookville Equipment Company in Pennsylvania (below), the first time in its 97-year life that the streetcar has left San Francisco.  Reports we’ve received tell us restoration has already started.

Car 1_Brookville_0709.jpg

The contract calls for the streetcar to be completely rehabilitated with its original motor and control technology intact, but with the addition of low-voltage circuitry for the interior lights and modern VETAG switch controls and GPS for tracking, like the PCCs, MIlans, and some other vintage streetcars have. The historic fabric of No. 1 is not supposed to be altered. In fact, the contract contains such language as the following:

The Contractor shall be fully aware of the historical nature of the vehicle and note that it is the SFMTA’s intent to preserve the design and integrity of the original interior and exterior to the greatest extent possible. For example, if slotted brass screws or hot rivets were originally used, then they should be used again or a substitute fastener if it closely resembles the original. The SFMTA will hold the Contractor responsible for any damage to historic Streetcar components caused during the Contractor’s possession of the Streetcar.

According to the terms of the contract, the car must be completed and returned to Muni by May 14, 2010, so time is of the essence for Brookvile. Market Street Railway will be monitoring the work to the extent possible with an eye toward maintaining the essential autheniticity of this irreplaceable streetcar.

Comments: 6

  1. I remember there was some comment about the cost of this project; if it’s supposed to take less than a year, with no shortcuts, that might explain the high price. There’s a cartoon I saw many years ago, showing an academic-looking fellow standing at a chalkboard. On the board one sees: “T = [a whole board full of mathematical symbols] = $” And the caption reads, “Professor Freem proves that Time is Money”.
    A question: does the job include adding air whistles like the Milano trams have?

  2. Bob, the schedule shouldn’t impact cost in this case. With full-time dedication such as a contractor can provide, a single streetcar can easily be rebuilt in a year. And yes, a loud, air-powered warning device will be added to the car, because it’s required by California Public Utilities regulation for vintage streetcars. (It will also have a gong.) Car No. 1 will get running lights like car 162 as well, also required by CPUC, but they will be similarly discreet in size and placement.

  3. Good luck to car #1 and to Brookvile to do a good restoration job on it. Great contract wording to hold Brookvile responsible for preserving the car’s historical nature and for any damage to it. Hope there is none!! What about the contract to restore the last four double ended “Big Tens” and #1040? Has that been awarded as yet?

  4. Since the Milano cars have (much to my delight) Pacific Electric-style whistles, maybe #1 could have a Sacramento Northern whistle or a Key System air horn set, just for variety.

  5. Dennis, the PCC Contract still has to go before the SF Board of Supervisors. We will have a separate post on that soon.
    Bob, the horn/whistle is really about meeting CPUC requirements, not grafting something from a bygone system onto a San Francisco streetcar. As far as I know, the similarity between the Milan whistles and old Pacific Electric ones is a coincidence. We do strive to preserve the history of the cars themselves as much as possible, but it’s probably better to leave S-N and Key System horns to Rio Vista Junction, in their museum setting.

  6. This is good. I have faith in Brookville to do the job right and per specs. Once done this car will last yet another 97 years.Hopefully the double end PCC’s and 1040 will go there as well.The ex Minneapolis/Newark cars should go back there for rewiring as well. It doesn’t seem economic to have one group of cars go one place and another set go somewhere else. Brookville has the expertice to do great restoration work.

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