Pacific Electric Diesels at Taylor Yard

By Steve Crise & Michael Patris

A very unusual view from inside the depths of Southern Pacific’s Taylor Yard in Los Angeles, California finds these three Pacific Electric diesel switchers spotted at the paint rack.

PE 1654, and a pair of Baldwin VO-1000’s were captured by E. Rod Crossley’s camera around 1950 set out on one of the whisker tracks of the turntable at Taylor Yard. On the nose of the second unit masking tape is visible where the orange and black tiger striping will be painted.

In 1944 the Pacific Electric began purchasing small, light-weight diesel-electric locomotives from General Electric in Erie, Pennsylvania with the aim of having them replace electric locomotives on some of their freight lines that were isolated from the rest of the electrical overhead system or those lines that were soon to be de-electrified.

Some interesting scribblings on the side of 1654 just under the numbers reads, “Super Jet” and “SP Studebaker Front.” One can only speculate that the comment about the unit being a “super jet” must refer to the locomotive’s limited speed ability of only a minuscule 35 mph.

As far as the Studebaker scribbling is concerned, perhaps that is a comment on the styling of the locomotive (think Pennsylvania’s GG-1) that somewhat resembles a popular car sold in the late 1940’s and early 1950’s made by the Studebaker Company, most notably the Studebaker Champion designed by Robert Bourke from the renowned Raymond Loewy Industrial Design Studio. The Studebaker Champion of 1950 had unique styling that perhaps prompted some unknown person to scribble their remarks on the side of the little locomotive. Maybe the paint crew at Taylor Yard will eliminate the comments with a fresh coat of Southern Pacific gloss black paint.

References: Ira Swett, Interurbans Special # 37, Southern Pacific Review 1952-82, Joe Strapac.

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Rod Crossley Photo. Property of the / MLPSI. Photographer: E. Rod Crosley. Date: c.1950 Location: Unknown, perhaps 8th Street or Butte Street yards, Los Angeles, California. Railroad: Pacific Electric Railway Engine#: PE 1653 Image notes: Scanned from the original negative. Caption: This never before published photograph by the late E. Rod Crosley documents the usage of smaller diesel electric locomotives by the Pacific Electric Railway. Here PE 1653 is handling a AT&SF / SFRD ice refrigerator car at an unrecorded location, perhaps Butte Street or 8th Street yards in Los Angeles, California.PE 1653 diesel electric locomotive was manufactured by General Electric and was part of a five unit order. It is a 44-ton diesel electric locomotive that produced 380 horsepower with two pairs of Caterpillar D-17000 diesel engines used in pairs. It's maximum speed was only 35 MPH. PE 1653 was part of a second order of 44-ton locomotives from GE that arrived in 1944 from the General Electric plant in Erie Pennsylvania. Note the trolley pole is not in use because it is not needed with in the yard limits to activate signals and crossing devices. Reference: Interurban Specials #37, page 656. Steve Crise Scan 2017. 310 963 9265.Pacific Electric 5160 at Glendale and Park. Rod Crossley Photo, Pacific Electric Railway Historical Society Collection / MLPSI Collection.