A Trip to the Boneyard!


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1954 Hamburg, Germany tram No. 3557 (right) and two ex-Muni PCC streetcars are among the historic vehicles awaiting restoration at Muni’s "boneyard," as the streetcar storage facility is informally known. Todd Lappin photo.

Recently, a group of Market Street Railway board members joined a tour of Muni’s storage facility for streetcars awaiting restoration. This facility, near Islais Creek, exists in part because of our active advocacy, begun three decades ago, to preserve retired streetcars to meet possible future service needs. Already, several have been plucked from this purgatory and restored to service. We are working to see that more follow, as demand grows for additional service on the F-line and future E-line.
The photo above comes from Market Street Railway board member Todd Lappin, who tells all about the trip here, with many more photos. You can find more information on the tram on the right, from Hamburg, Germany, here.
The visit has also been chronicled by Market Street Railway board member Jeremy Whiteman, who co-chairs our calendar committee, and Jon Wollenhaupt. (Enjoy viewing these photos, but please respect the artists’ copyright rules as posted on their sites.)
As Todd points out, not all the streetcars in the “boneyard” will ultimately be restored. Some, with badly rusted or accident-damaged bodies, have already given up many parts needed to keep the current fleet running. We’re currently working with Muni to help determine the most viable candidates for restoration, to set priorities as the need comes up. You can see which streetcars are in storage and get a general idea of their condition by reviewing our complete streetcar roster.
As year-end approaches, it’s a good time to note that we depend entirely on memberships and donations to do what we do, along with thousands of hours of volunteer time and proceeds from gift sales at our San Francisco Railway Museum. Since you’re reading this post, you probably have some interest in our efforts, so please consider helping us. Thanks very much.

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A Streetcar Named Undesirable

Editor’s Note: This article, by Marshall Kilduff, appeared in the San Francisco Chronicle on March 15, 1979. Maurice Klebolt went on to become a board member of Market Street Railway and one of the forces behind the Historic Trolley Festivals from 1983-87 that led to the permanent F-Market and Wharves vintage streetcar line.

A German streetcar was trundled on the back of a flatbed truck to the front steps of City Hall yesterday where city officials fashioned a reluctant welcome for the unbidden gift.

Maurice Klebolt (left) with his pride and joy, Hamburg tram No. 3557, about 1984, some five years  <a style=

The occasion was pronounced “a triumph” by Maurice Klebolt, the portly Municipal Railway gadfly who brought the 35-year old tram from Hamburg but neglected to tell the Muni.

City officials, whose annoyance showed through their ceremonial manners, announced the unsolicited gift will be stored away on a siding at the Geneva carbarn, probably for good.

Klebolt and his band of Muni nostalgia buffs and critics—known as the Citizens Advisory Panel for Transit Improvement—had sweet-talked Hamburg officials into turning over the car, made obsolete there by a new subway system.

Klebolt, happy as a clam, raised the money—including $1500 of his own—to ship the tram from Germany. The Hapag-Lloyd shipping line carried the car at a discount rate. Klebolt was in fine fettle yesterday. Mayor Dianne Feinstein was winding up a ceremony on the City Hall steps with Canadian tourism officials from Ontario when Klebolt sidled up and presented her with a spray of red roses.

The mayor turned to her perplexed guests and explained the newcomer as though he were an eccentric uncle who had been told to stay upstairs during a parlor wedding.

“Mr. Klebolt has paid for this streetcar. But we don’t quite know what to do with it, you see,” she smiled icily.

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No. 3557 participates in the parade marking the centennial of San Francisco’s first streetcar line, 1992. Market Street Railway photo. Click to enlarge.

Feinstein, who had already been presented with a gold chrome bottle of Canadian whiskey and a toy cannon, looked around for somewhere to stow the flowers. She spied a couple of French newlyweds, Jacky and Susan Baudot, who had chosen that moment in their lives to leave City Hall after being married by Judge Gerald J. O’Gara.

“Congratulations. I’m sure you’ll be very happy,” she said, handing off the roses to the startled couple.

Everyone posed for pictures while Klebolt moved off to the red tram, sitting on rusty rails on a flatbed truck.

Despite its advance billing as a “beauty,” the tram was missing its turn signals, rearview mirrors and inside light fixtures. Klebolt rubbed a dent on the tram’s flank.

Its interior was fitted in mahogany, true enough, but the slatted floor installed for the wet north German weather resembled the working area of a luncheonette.

“It’s one of the most beautiful things I have ever seen,” said Muni general manager Richard Sklar bravely.

“Every transit system should have one sitting in its yard for five years,” he added.

undesirable-3.jpgMarket Street Railway photo.

Sklar and Klebolt had a gentlemanly exchange about who was to pay the final trucking costs to the Muni’s Geneva yard. Klebolt assured him his group was good for all expenses.

Klebolt’s masterplan is to round up even more old discarded cars from “international centers of transit” such as Calcutta, Milan, Kyoto, and Melbourne.

The cars would be run along a proposed Embarcadero line, estimated by Muni officials to be five years off.

“Looks like we’ll need about 12,” Klebolt said.

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Editor’s Note: Maurice Klebolt passed away in 1988. He is memorialized in Remembering a Trolley Titan article, from our member newsletter Inside TrackRegular streetcar service on The Embarcadero was not five years off, as “estimated by Muni officials” in the article, but 21. The F-line extension along the northern Embarcadero opened in 2000.

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