Muni’s “Fireplace”

Flash back a half-century or more, when the West Portal of the Twin Peaks Tunnel was done up to resemble a giant brick fireplace, complements of local merchants. We see PCC Car 1010 about to plunge into the “hearth” on its trip downtown, emerging a few minutes later at Market and Castro Streets. 

Did you know that San Francisco is getting Car 1010 as a belated holiday present in the new year? It’s being completely renovated at Brookville Equipment Company in Pennsylvania and should be back in the middle of the year, painted in Muni’s World War II era blue and yellow livery, ready for another quarter-century of service on the E- and F-lines.

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Pacific Electric PCC 1061 Headed Back to Muni

Rolling through Ames, Iowa today on the back of a trailer, one of our watchful members, Mike Joynt, spotted newly rebuilt PCC 1061, painted to honor Pacific Electric, on its way back to San Francisco following rebuilding by Brookville Equipment Company in Pennsylvania. Mike wasn’t able to snap a photo, but here’s one of the car body emerging from Brookville’s paint shop a couple of months ago before its regular trucks were installed and the finishing touches applied. (Thanks to Jack Demnyan for the photo.)

Pacific Electric was the mighty Southern California interurban and electric freight railway involved with the even mightier Southern Pacific Railroad. P-E even painted its small fleet of double-end PCCs to evoke S-P’s red and orange “Daylight” passenger trainsets. The restored 1061 has a more accurate orange — Daylight Orange, actually — that provides more contrast with the red than the color did on the original restoration, performed in the early 1990s. That extra contrast led one member, who saw this photo in Inside Track, to complain that the paint scheme is “wrong” because there’s “too much orange” above the windows. In fact, the paint design is identical to what has been on the car since the early 1990s. The relative lack of contrast between the body red and the trim red-orange meant that this member didn’t notice anything “wrong” for 25 years. You can see the original this great shot by Rich Panse.

In fairness, this paint scheme in particular is tough to replicate because P-E’s PCCs were unique, double-ended with front and center doors and no standee windows.  The side windows were much taller instead, leaving little room between the top of the windows and the main roof as shown below.

We’ll post photos of the finished car when it arrives in San Francisco early next week.

 

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Bringing LA Back to SF from PA

As our Members and friends know, the original F-line fleet of PCC streetcars, 16 in all, is being completely restored at Brookville Equipment Company in Brookville, Pennsylvania. The latest streetcar to arrive in San Francisco, rolling in as this is being written on July 25, is Car 1052, painted to honor Los Angeles Railway. We call it the “Shirley Temple Car” because that child star dedicated the first car of this design to operate in Los Angeles, in 1937. But picking up on the abbreviation of the operator (LARy), some folks call it “Larry” instead.

By whatever name, our network of relentless spies has been tracking the streetcar’s progress back to Muni. That photo collage on Facebook by Cary TIntle at the top captures the 1052 leaving Brookville (a charming small town, by the way) on July 19. Below, a shot crossing the wide open spaces of Iowa on July 21.

 

And finally, from MSR Member James Giraudo, who lives in Nevada, a shot of the car yesterday at a truck stop in Fallon.

We love the dedicated fans who provide all these great photos of streetcars on the move.

The truck that dropped off 1052 is picking up “Green Hornet” Car 1058 today, the last of the 13 single-end cars in this contract to go to Brookville. Of the original F-line fleet, only double-end Car 1007 remains in San Francisco, and it will head east when the next car at Brookville comes back. We’ll have more information about the double-end PCCs in this contract in a future post.

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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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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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Kansas City PCC 1056 Back at Muni

  Five years after leaving F-line service with a major structural crack, PCC 1056, painted to honor Kansas City, arrived back at Muni Metro East this afternoon, totally rebuilt by Brookville Equipment Company and looking mighty good. Because of the damage to the bolster under the car, the 1056 was the first car to be sent to Brookville under the current contract to completely rebuild the 16 PCCs that opened the F-line in 1995. After unloading from the low-ride trailer… — Read More

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K is for Kenosha

  Big celebration in Kenosha, Wisconsin on Saturday, September 12, “Streetcar Day,” as they welcomed their newest PCC streetcar for their two-mile loop line from the commuter rail station to the new housing developments along Lake Michigan. Local angle? Just look at the paint job! Like San Francisco, Kenosha paints its PCC streetcars in different liveries that pay tribute to some of the 30 North American cities that operated this, the most successful streetcar design in history. For their latest… — 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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On the Good Ship Lollipop

Today, we bid a fond farewell to Shirley Temple Black, actress and diplomat, who passed away last night at her Peninsula home. She was 85. Shirley Temple is generally considered the most famous child star ever. In dozens of films during the 1930s, she lifted moviegoers’ spirits and touched their hearts with her upbeat persona and infectious dimpled smile. Some of her songs, such as “Good Ship Lollipop,” were hummed or whistled by people everywhere. In the depths of the… — 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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“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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A Trip to the Boneyard!

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.… — Read More

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Last 1070-Class Streetcar Makes It Into Service

More than eight years ago, Muni purchased 11 PCC streetcars from Newark, New Jersey. The F-line was way overcrowded, and because the Newark streetcars had been well maintained, the thought was that they could be put into service quickly. The last one in the group, No. 1073, started carrying passengers for the first time today. PCC No. 1073, honoring El Paso-Juarez, on its first day of F-line service on lower Market Street, November 28, 2012. Jeremy Whiteman photo. Click to… — Read More

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The Day the Streetcars (Almost) Died

It was 30 years ago today, September 17, 1982, that surface streetcars on Market Street were supposed to roll into history forever. As Market Street Railway member Bob Davis reminds us, that was expected to be the final day of operation of Muni’s streamlined PCC streetcars, with full seven-day operation in the Muni Metro Subway on all five lines (J,K,L,M,N) starting the next morning, using new Boeing light rail vehicles. When PCC No. 1108 took the N-Judah beach loop on… — Read More

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Inside Muni’s Streetcar Restoration Vendor

Muni’s current vendor for streetcar restoration, Brookville Equipment Corporation of Pennsylvania, has produced a promotional video about its services. It’s got several shots of newly restored PCC No. 1006 (or is it 1008? – they’re identical and not numbered in the shots) on the shop floor (starting at 0:47 on the video), along with a peek at their mate No. 1009, partially painted in its Dallas & Terminal Railway livery (at 1:38). Much of the footage covers the mining equipment… — Read More

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