Another Rebuilt PCC Enters Service

The seventh PCC streetcar from the original 1995 F-line fleet reentered passenger service on this drizzly January 10, 2018, after successfully completing 1,000 miles of testing, It was then formally accepted by Muni from the restoration vendor, Brookville Equipment Company of Pennsylvania.

Car 1055, like the other 12 single-end PCCs in the contract, came to Muni from Philadelphia, where it operated for almost a half-century. While the other PCCs in that group are painted in tribute to some of the other 32 North American cities that once ran PCCs, 1055 wears its own “as-delivered” 1948 green livery with cream and red trim. It’s even adorned with an authentic decal near the front door, instructing boarding passengers to “Please move to rear to speed your ride”, donated courtesy of Harry Donohue of the Friends of the Philadelphia Trolleys and applied by the Muni shops before the car entered service. Thanks to Ken Kwong of our Facebook group for the photo.

Meanwhile, the ninth car in the contract, 1050, arrived safely at Muni Metro East following the long journey from Brookville and will soon enter testing. It now wears the red and cream livery of St. Louis Public Service Company, one of the largest operators of PCCs back in the day. Allen Chan posted the photo below of 1050 arriving at MME on January 7.

Sandwiched in between those two cars, in order of delivery, is Car 1063, painted in tribute to Baltimore Transit Company. On New Year’s day, just a couple weeks after reentering regular service, it was badly damaged in an accident on Third Street.

According to Muni statements, the driver of a box truck swerved from the right hand southbound lane on Third Street against the left turn signal directly into the path of the streetcar, which was operating below the 25 mile per hour limit on that stretch of road. We are told video footage from the streetcar itself shows all this. We do not know if the truck driver was charged by police or whether the truck is insured.

The repairs to Car 1063 will be very expensive because the right front corner of the car, where the worst damage occurred, houses much of the streetcar’s electrical control equipment. We will let you know when a final decision has been made on whether the car would be repaired in-house or sent out on a contract. If the latter, it would likely have to be a separate contract from the Brookville renovation contract that refurbished the car in the first place. Muni had accepted the car, relieving Brookville of all liability for it, and the renovation contract does not include repairs. Scoping and bidding a separate contract would likely take many months.

Currently under reconstruction at Brookville: Cars 1052, 1053, and 1061. The next car slated to go to Brookville is 1015, the first of three-double end cars to be covered under the Brookville contract. It is still at MME while discussions between Muni and Brookville continue about whether to substitute two ex-Red Arrow double-end cars (with PCC bodies) for two of the cars covered by the contract. We’ve covered this story for our Members in our quarterly magazine, Inside Track, and will have an update in our next issue. Join Market Street Railway now and don’t miss out!

 

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“Newest” PCC Streetcar Collides with Truck

Around 8:30 p.m. on New Year’s Day, the newest PCC streetcar to reenter regular service following a complete rebuilding collided with a large box truck while returning to the carbarn after completing its day’s work on the F-line. The impact knocked the streetcar, No. 1063 (painted to honor Baltimore Transit), off the track and turned the truck on its side. No injuries had been reported by the time this post was made. The streetcar had no passengers aboard at the time of the collision.

Car 1063 was southbound on Third Street, headed for Muni Metro East, its storage and maintenance base, when it collided with the truck at Mission Bay Boulevard South. The 1063 suffered extensive damage to its door side front corner. The driver’s side corner and the rest of the car appeared undamaged, though it is possible there could be frame damage underneath. Damage to the truck was also extensive.

Observations made at the scene seem to indicate that the truck was struck in the middle of its box behind the cab, with the force of the impact flipping the truck on its side and derailing the streetcar. The angle of impact suggests that the truck was turning left from southbound Third Street onto eastbound Mission Bay Boulevard South at the time of the collision. This was confirmed to news media by a Muni spokesperson.

The intersection is signalized for both streetcars and motor vehicle traffic, with separate left turn signals that are interlocked with the streetcar signals so that only one or the other is given a signal to proceed at a given time. No information has been released regarding the setting of the signals at the time of the collision; however, we were told at the scene that there should be security camera footage from the streetcar and perhaps from surrounding buildings that could determine who was at fault.

Car 1063 had reentered regular service within the last month after being completely rebuilt by Brookville Equipment Company in Pennsylvania, part of a contract covering 16 Muni PCCs. Like all streetcars going through the rebuilding program, Car 1063 had to successfully complete a 1,000-mile “burn in” period, during which all systems including propulsion and brakes had to be thoroughly tested and the car had to pass braking tests required by the California Public Utilities Commission before it was certified to carry passengers.

There have been several collisions involving T-line light rail vehicles on Third Street (which is used by F- and E-line streetcars on their way to and from the car barn). These have involved cars or trucks turning left in front of streetcars running in private rights-of-way, such as on The Embarcadero, King Street, and Third Street. In a collision almost exactly four years ago, a truck pulled in front of vintage streetcar 162 on January 4, 2014 at Bay Street and The Embarcadero, causing significant damage to the streetcar (which is currently being repaired in Southern California). The trucker was found at fault and Muni received a substantial insurance payment.

The Third Street tracks were blocked for several hours while the truck was righted, the streetcar re-railed, and the intersection cleared. Buses replaced LRVs on the T-line while Third Street was blocked.

The San Francisco Police Department is investigating the collision. A damage assessment on the streetcar will be made by Muni, but even a cursory visual inspection indicates Car 1063 will be out of service many months.

We will keep you up to date on developments on this story.

 

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Perfect November Saturday on the Waterfront

On a picture-perfect November Saturday morning, we were at Aquatic Park shooting some photos for a forthcoming feature in the next issue of our member magazine, Inside Track, about an exciting updated vision for extending streetcar service to western Fisherman’s Wharf, Ghirardelli Square, Aquatic Park, Municipal Pier, and Fort Mason. (Not a Member?  Join now and get the scoop on this.)

Anyway, riding back on the F-line, we hopped off at the Ferry Building Farmer’s Market for some shopping. Saw an E-line car coming up from Caltrain with a seated load — great to see ridership building there — and then some great sights on the F that we thought it would be fun to share here.

First, the newest PCC to return to service, Car 1062, honoring Pittsburgh Railways, getting instructions from the inspector at the Jones and Beach terminal, with a Milan tram on the F-line behind it, then double-end PCC 1007 on the E-line.

As soon as we get to the Ferry Building stop, what do we see but another PCC newly returned from its renovation by Brookville Equipment Company, Car 1059, now in its correct orange livery honoring Boston Elevated Railway. (Nice coincidence: Embarcadero Center in the background is owned by Boston Properties, our newest Business Benefactor Member!) The dirt on the roof reflects last week’s storm. Rain deposits carbon from the slide on the trolley pole onto the roofs of cars; it takes the crews a few days to get all the cars clean again.

 

We hear a gong and turn around and what should appear coming up the E-line tracks but the “brandest-newest” PCC to return from Brookville, Car 1063, honoring Baltimore Transit with that city’s original PCC livery of Alexandria Blue, orange, and gray. It has just started its 1,000-mile “burn-in” to check all its systems before entering passenger service.

Three newly refurbished PCCs to brighten an already spectacular day!

 

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Baltimore Blues

Of all the comments we’ve received about Muni’s restored PCC streetcars over the past 30 years, nothing comes close to carping about colors. “You’re half a shade off there, you know.” “I can’t believe you didn’t get that green right.” And on and on and on.

Which is why you can call this a pre-emptive post. All you Baltimore Transit experts who look at the photos in this post with your fingers twitching to launch a tirade, step back from the keyboard and read the rest of the post first.

In a lifetime of photography, I (MSR President Rick Laubscher) have never seen such an odd color shift from the actual as I got today in photographing newly restored PCC 1063, honoring Baltimore Transit, which arrived at Muni Metro East first thing this morning.

When i first laid eyes on the 1063, just inside the shop, the color seemed to be accurate — a blue-green some call teal, some cyan. But when I photographed it, the result is way more blue than it really is, as seems evident in my photos above and below. (Also, the orange belt rail looks redder than it actually is.)

I had seen earlier shots of the car, taken at Brookville Equipment Company before it left for San Francisco, that concerned me because the body of the car, which is supposed to be a very unusual teal tone, looked flat-out blue. Which would be wrong. But another photo from Brookville looked just right, and we were told the car actually matched the sample panel we created after consultation with the Baltimore Streetcar Museum, which restored authentic Baltimore Transit car 7407. Both shots that looked too blue, in SF and Brookville, were taken indoors, so maybe it’s the temperature of the artificial lighting affecting the camera sensors. All I can say is that when I looked at it with my own eyes, it looks correct. Weird.

The right color was even more important because when it was first restored for Muni, in the early 1990s, Muni only allowed eight colors to be used in the palette for all the PCCs. Consequently, a number of the restored cars were indeed a “half-shade off”, including the 1063. (The actual Baltimore paint scheme is just below in the snow, with 1063 in its 1990s paint just below that.)

Anyway, on the recommendation of several people we respect, including then-head of Muni historic rail maintenance Karl Johnson, we opted for the original Baltimore PCC scheme, dating back to 1936. In working with the museum in Baltimore, we were told that photographs of their 7407 might appear to show silver lettering and logos, but the originals were actually gold, so we made them that way.

Without exact, modern paint codes, which we could not obtain for the 1063’s teal, you have to do the best you can. The different temperatures of old film don’t make it easier. The color photos of the Baltimore yellow/orange online, for example, run the gamut from almost as yellow as 1063 used to look to as orange as Muni’s Milan trams. And it’s important to remember that traction companies often mixed their own paint, and some cars came out of the repair shop in a slightly different shade than it went in. In the days of old lead-based paints, oxidation played a major role as well, which is why some old-timers swear a particular paint scheme is “off” when they’re remembering the oxidized shade, not the shiny color it wore when factory fresh.

Whatever. Car 1063 is here; it looks as good inside and out as the six cars already delivered in this restoration contract (1051, 1055, 1056, 1059, 1060, 1062). Don’t know when it will hit the streets for testing and its 1000-mile testing before being accepted for service, since 1055 is ahead of it. When it’s out, we expect to see a whole lot of photos in different lighting conditions. And when people see it in person, on the street, not through an internet post, it’s going to look right.

By the way, the 1063 came out on the return trip that took Pacific Electric 1061 to Brookville for rehab. No additional cars left today.

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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… — Read More

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Boston’s Back in Business

Muni’s paint shop folks put the finishing touch on newly-returned PCC 1059, applying the “Boston Elevated Railway” decal prepared by our ace graphic designer, David Dugan. The 1059 should be entering “burn-in” activities in the next few days. This is the acceptance period for each of the 16 cars in the current rehabilitation contract with Brookville Equipment Company following their complete renovation. This involves running the car without passengers for 1,000 miles to test all systems and ensure the car… — Read More

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Second Renovated PCC Back From Contractor

  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… — Read More

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Driver Takes Stupid Pills

We get that driving an automobile in San Francisco is not easy, but c’mon! From our friends at SFist comes this photo taken last Thursday by Kendall Willets. Willets reports that the driver of the SUV tried an illegal left turn from the right lane from westbound Market onto southbound Tenth Street.  No injuries, no damage to the streetcar, which has been back on the road. As San Franciscans know, left turns off Market throughout downtown (except onto Drumm Street) have been banned… — Read More

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