Pacific Electric 963 Body at Compton in 1955

By Ralph Cantos

The rather sad remains of Pacific Electric no. 963 is seen here in 1955 along with what’s left of Pacific Electric double-truck Birney no. 152.

The 152 came to the PE around 1932 from Fresno Traction Co. It had been FTC no. 83. The 152 had been retired just before World War II and the PE 963 arrived in Compton around 1951. Both car bodies were being used as parts storage for a water heater manufacturing plant in Compton. If you knew where to look, you could see both car bodies from passing Long Beach Line cars near Compton Station.

Being of wood construction, the 963 was a little worse for wear by 1955. In 1942, all 31 remaining 950s were put through Torrance Shops. When they emerged from the overhaul, all 31 cars were in “better the new” condition. Most of the 31 950s made it into 1950 and were on hand for the final days of the Venice Short Line. By the time of this 1955 photo, the years had taken their toll on the old girl.

But fate would intervene. After several decades resting in Compton, railfan Richard Fellows purchased the rotting remains of the 963. And like a caterpillar emerging from a cocoon, the 963 was reborn as rubber-tired PE no. 1058. Today, the 1058 now sits on interurban-style standard trucks. It is currently in storage along with replica PE cars nos. 500 and 501. The future of all three cars is uncertain at this time.

The body of PE 152 was rescued also and is now on display at OERM. It has been repainted  back to its Fresno  Traction livery and now proudly displays its original no. 83 car number.

Ralph Cantos Collection

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  • Riley

    Around 1960 we heard this car was about to be scrapped, and tried to preserve anything possible from it. I saved half a folding door that was on the ground, a standee window and clerestory window. THe door and windows had some brass and aluminum hardware. The windows had glass (colored in the clerestoy one). Under the shrunken white paint was beautiful inland mahogany wood. Many decades later I donated them to OERM, to help in the restoration of PE 993.

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