- Restoration of PTC 8042 to begin
- Philly trolleys in the news
- Pennsylvania Trolley Museum fair report
- Remembering the Red Arrow ’80 cars’
- SEPTA 2168 returns to service at BSM
- Update on the Liberty Liner
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Philadelphia Transportation Co. PCC 2743, one of FPT’s recent restoration projects, is expected to take part in a living history event this weekend at the Rockhill Trolley Museum in Central Pennsylvania.
On Sept. 9, the museum will host a new World War II living history event to put trolley passengers in the middle of the sights, sounds, and tension of homefront America in 1944. Enjoy the sounds and get up and dance to great 1940s swing music played live by The Big Band Sound, Inc. Experience exciting moments Pennsylvania trolley history, such as when trolleys served the war effort, when women first ran the trolleys, and even when fully armed soldiers guarded city transit vehicles.
The first trolley departs at 11:15 a.m., and the band will play from noon to 3 p.m. The last trolley rides will be at 4:15 p.m.
Admission to event is $8 per adult, $5 for children 12 or under, and infants are free. Admission includes live swing dance music performance, trolley rides, a chance to interact with history re-enactors, and more.
In addition to regular trolley rides, there will be limited seating on three special trolley rides throughout the day, at 11:15 a.m., 1 p.m. and 3 p.m. These rides will have combat-equipped Allied soldiers guarding the cars, so passengers should be advised that they may hear gunfire nearby on these special trips. Not recommended for young children, and some walking over gravel and stepping on and off of trolleys is required. Keep an eye out for enemy activity as you ride, and meet the trolley museum’s collection of military veteran rail equipment.
You can reserve a seat for the special ride on the museum’s website, www.rockhilltrolley.org. Note that there is a fee for online reservations.
After being sidelined for several weeks due to concerns with the performance of the braking system, SEPTA 2168 — the car that “started it all” for FPT — has been repaired and returned to operating condition at its home at the Baltimore Streetcar Museum.
After several tedious work days, Mike Lawson, Mike Barron, and Matt Nawn spent Sept. 3 cleaning and adjusting the shaft brake mechanisms to ensure proper operation. The hard work paid off as the car successfully passed its braking tests late in the day, enabling the car to return to active status; including for operation during BSM’s Members Day on Sept. 16.
An interesting fact: Mike, Mike, and Matt are all mechanical engineers who also enjoy working on vintage trolley cars.
Restoration of a classic Philadelphia “80 hundred” streetcar is set to get underway, and you can help Friends of Philadelphia Trolleys support this worthy project.
Built by J.G. Brill in 1923, car 8042 has been on display at the Pennsylvania Trolley Museum in Washington County, Pa., since 2005.
The museum’s Board of Trustees has approved moving ahead with front platform work this fall. Designated Phase I of the 8042 project, the effort will require approximately $40,000. Thanks to individual contributions, PTM has raised $33,000 — donated or pledged — toward the work.
During Washington County Fair Week in August, FPT Directors Bill Monaghan and Harry Donahue presented PTM Executive Director Scott Becker with a $3,000 grant for 8042 through the WCCF Gives program. That will enable FPT’s donation to be matched under the county’s program, as also was done with FPT’s 2016 grant.
Car 8042 was one of 535 “Peter Witt” style cars built for the Philadelphia Rapid Transit Co. (PRT)
in three orders between 1923 and 1926. It was delivered by the J.G. Brill Company to PRT in September, 1923. Initially used in South Philadelphia on routes 29, 63 and 64, by the late 1930s, car 8042 was working out of the Willow Grove Depot on routes 6 and 55, both important feeders to the Broad Street Subway.
But change was in the wind. On Jan. 1, 1940, PRT, which had been in receivership for several years, was reorganized into the Philadelphia Transportation Company (PTC). In an effort to create a more modern image for PTC, the management began an overhaul program for the “eighty hundreds,” as the 8000s were called in Philadelphia.
The cars were equipped with new herringbone gears and braking systems, leather seats, improved interior lighting and a brighter green and cream paint scheme. Imitating the system’s new PCC cars, PTC added a set of painted headlight wings and for publicity purposes, dubbed the rebuilt cars “Paintliners.” The plan was to overhaul all 535 cars, but stopped when the U.S. entered World War II, as PTC’s shops increasingly had to concentrate on overhauling many older cars — which had been in storage for years — to meet anticipated wartime traffic demands.
In the end, about 270 of the “eighty hundreds” were rebuilt, and PTC referred to this class of cars as Single End Rebuilt (SER).
SER 8042 was assigned to Callowhill Depot when it came out of Kensington shops in September 1941, where it was used mainly on Subway-Surface routes 10 and 38. When the SER class was displaced in the subway by PCC cars in September 1955, car 8042 was transferred to Southern Depot for continued use on routes 17 and 32, the last non-PCC trolley lines in Philadelphia.
In March 1957, the car received a complete exterior re-paint, thanks to a political battle between the city and PTC, which was by then under the control of pro-bus National City Lines.
Philadelphia Mayor Richardson Dilworth had demanded that Douglas Pratt, whom National City Lines had brought north from the Baltimore Transit Company, soon after taking control of PTC, “do something about the appearance of those old trolleys on Market Street.”
Pratt — who had been installed as president of PTC, and was in the process of eliminating 33 trolley lines in 31 months (1955-58) — actually ordered that 15 of the 58 SER cars at Southern Depot be completely painted, of which 8042 was one.
The car’s salvation came about partly thanks to an amusing incident soon afterward.
In April 1957, a group of railfans chartered 8042 for a fan trip. The group was specifically told not to
travel west of 17th Street on westbound Susquehanna Avenue as the power had been cut. They did just that, however, and 8042 coasted to the first railroad underpass and waited for a tower truck to come to its rescue. The truck towed 8042 to the closest PTC depot — Ridge, where a number of 8000s had been stored.
Routes 17 and 32, the last Market Street trolley lines, were converted to bus in December 1957, but a number of cars were kept at Ridge into 1958 on the slight chance that the city or the Pennsylvania Public Utilities Commission would rule that the trolleys should be restored to operation. Indeed, there was some political pressure to bring them back on Chestnut and Walnut Streets, but to no avail.
In March 1958, three cars were sold. Car 8530 went to a private family in central Pennsylvania, where it still resides. Cars 8042 and 8534, meanwhile, were sold to Bob Borzell and Earl Johnston, who were connected with a fledgling trolley museum in Tansboro, N.J. The two cars were moved to Tansboro, where car 8042 ran under its own power in June 1970 at Tansboro with the late Ed Torpey at the controls.
Sadly, the museum in Tansboro faltered and the collection was moved to Buckingham, Pa., under the name of Buckingham Valley Trolley Association. In the early 1980s, the collection moved again, this time to Penn’s Landing in Philadelphia.
From Penn’s Landing, 8042 and the BVTA collection went to Scranton, where several of the cars run
today as part of the Electric City Trolley Museum.
In 2005, the Electric City group offered 8042 to the Pennsylvania Trolley Museum. This has proven to be an excellent decision since both 8042 and PTM are broad gauge, thus avoiding the huge expense of regauging the car’s maximum traction trucks.
PTM boasts a collection of nearly 50 cars — including a rich assembly of Philadelphia-area trolleys — with more than 600 members worldwide, 150 active volunteers, and over 30,000 visitors each year.
The plan is to move 8042 into the shop this Fall and to completely rebuild the front platform from its knees to its bonnet. This will include new corner and center posts, platform sidewall and operating equipment.
Keith Bray, who has done a number of beautiful restorations at several of trolley museums in the Northeast, will lead the project, along with volunteers to complete the restoration.
Phase II of the project will include the roof work. Thanks to earlier FPT donations, the new canvas and the roof ventilators have already been purchased.
Phase III will include a new interior headliner, and new doors.
Editor’s Note: Our sincerest thanks go to Ed Springer, Ed Casey and David Horwitz for providing
information on the car’s history, which previously appeared in the Spring 2016 issue of The Streamliner, FPT’s newsletter.
Jerry Evans is a familiar face to many in our group, and at trolley museums throughout the mid-Atlantic and Northeast.
Jerry, who recently retired from SEPTA after 38 years as a trolley mechanic and electrician, has been putting his skills and experience to use by offering technical advice and assistance on the maintenance of many museum cars, particularly PCCs. As a personal token of appreciation from members of several groups that have benefited from Jerry’s generosity, he recently was presented with a very special gift.
Jerry grew up in Sharon Hill, Pennsylvania, and has been a lifelong fan of the Red Arrow trolley system. With the help of John Engleman, a St. Petersburg Tram Collection model of Red Arrow “St. Louie” car 23 was obtained for Jerry. Painted in the original livery worn by these cars, the model carries a Sharon Hill destination sign.
A trolley wouldn’t be a trolley without somewhere to stash passengers’ tokens and cash.
Fareboxes of one kind or another have been an integral part of public transit since its earliest, horse-drawn days. And now, Philadelphia Transportation Co. PCC car 2743 once again has a vintage version planted next to the operator’s seat.
Volunteer Mike Lawson recently completed installation of the contraption on 2743’s front platform.
“There were lots of holes drilled in the floor for the various fareboxes that were used over the years but I found the right set and now the farebox is exactly where it was originally,” Mike said.
For more on recent restoration work, click here.
By Roger DuPuis II
One of Philadelphia’s lost transit treasures continues to serve the public nearly 3,000 miles away.
Ex-SEPTA PCC car 2715, now numbered 1060, recently returned to service for the San Francisco Municipal Railway after a 1,000-mile burn-in following complete rebuilding by the Brookville Equipment Corp. in Pennsylvania.
Car 2715 was delivered to the Philadelphia Transportation Co. in February 1947, one of 25 Westinghouse-equipped cars (2701-2725) that were among the first 100 postwar all-electric PCCs built for PTC by the St. Louis Car Co. (Sisters 2726-2800 were GE-equipped vehicles).
The car would make history in 1979, when PTC successor SEPTA chose it to be the pilot vehicle for a new overhaul program. Sporting the new red, white and blue livery applied to SEPTA’s trolleys and buses, 2715 would serve in that guise for only eight years, after which it was retired. In 1992, it was among a group sold to San Francisco for use on the city’s F-Market line.
The F-Market line opened to the public in September 1995, and continues to operate using vintage trolley cars from around the world. Among them are 13 ex-SEPTA PCCs, including car 1060, wearing tribute liveries representing North American cities that operated PCC cars.
As the Market Street Railway’s 1060 page explains, the car initially entered service in San Francisco in 1995 wearing former Newark, N.J. colors. Following an accident in 2002, the car was rebuilt and repainted in an interpretation of the silver, cream and blue colors worn by Philadelphia Rapid Transit Co.’s first PCC cars in 1938. The resemblance to Kraft’s famous cream cheese boxes earned the car its new nickname.
Initially rehabilitated by Morrison-Knudsen for use in San Francisco, the ex-Philadelphia cars are in the process of undergoing second rehabs by Brookville, located in western Pennsylvania.
Brookville also was the contractor chosen to rebuild 18 PCC car shells with new propulsion, interiors, air conditioning and wheelchair lifts for SEPTA in the early 2000s. Dubbed PCC-II cars, they continue to serve Philadelphians on Route 15-Girard.
The rebuilt San Francisco cars, meanwhile, are being outshopped with fittings and equipment that are much closer in design to their original 1940s configuration.
For more on Philadelphia’s much-travelled postwar PCC cars, see:
After more than a year of painting, seat re-installation and other interior detail work by FPT volunteers, Philadelphia Transportation Co. PCC car 2743 returned to formal passenger service at the Rockhill Trolley Museum on Saturday, June 17, 2017.
The 1947 streamliner’s inside has been restored to 1960s appearance to complement its exterior, which was repainted in PTC’s green and cream colors in 2015. The interior had remained in SEPTA’s 1980s GOH scheme until last year, when FPT began sending seats out to be reupholstered in PTC-era brown while repainting of the walls, ceilings and seat frames was underway.
FPT is grateful to all of the donors who helped make this project a reality through their generosity — especially through our donate a seat program — and to all of the volunteers who spent many long hours inside the car transforming its appearance. We are looking at ways of recognizing all of you for your efforts. Watch this space for more details in the near future.
In the meanwhile, we hope you will take the opportunity to visit Rockhill in the near future and see the restored car for yourselves.
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While FPT’s focus is and always will be on Philadelphia trolleys, our volunteers and friends also share their personal time with other museums that work to preserve our traction heritage, with a focus on cars connected to Pennsylvania and surrounding states.
The Manheim Historical Society in Lancaster County, Pa., operates a restored 1926 Birney car that was built by Brill in Philadelphia, and operated for Lancaster’s Conestoga Traction Co. until 1947. The car is housed in a small purpose-built barn, and runs along a short stretch of track next to the society’s restored 1881 railroad station in the Borough of Manheim.
Birney 236 was rescued by the society in 1990 from the Pennsylvania Historical and Museum Commission. While its line isn’t long and the traffic isn’t heavy, the 91-year-old trolley does need some care and fine-tuning from time to time. FPT founding member Matt Nawn has lent the society his expertise in recent years.
On May 13, Matt and several other friends visited the society’s carbarn to perform some work on 236 prior to the start of the 2017 season. Together with Matt were Andrew Nawn, Bill Monaghan, Mike Lawson, George Rich and Roger DuPuis. The society’s John Eichelberger was on hand with a rain canopy, tools and supplies this damp Saturday, while Kate Eichelberger made sure everyone had a warm meal inside the beautifully restored station building.
The car’s controllers, motors, brake valves, breaker boxes and doors all received some attention, with the inside windows getting a good cleaning.
The trolley operates from 1 to 4 p.m. on Sundays, weather permitting, between June and September. For those who would like to come out for a visit, Matt will be operating on June 10, and Roger on June 11, during Manheim Heritage Days.