Destined For A New Life (Albeit A Short One)

Ralph Cantos Collection

Ralph Cantos Collection

By Ralph Cantos

Pacific Electric car no. 5075 , the former no. 674, is seen here at West Hollywood yard, looking rather shabby, preparing to head for Torrance Shops, in this 1953 view.

5075 had been a fixture of the Northern District from late 1949 to September 1951, where she worked in concert with unmodified two-man 700s (732 to 759). After the Northern District abandonment of all rail service, the newly refurbished 5075 entered “dead storage” at the West Hollywood shop complex, along with sister 5050-class cars (5050 to 5099).

Cars 732 to 759, the BEST OF THE BEST, were sold to South America.

For reasons known only to the PE, car assignments where the Hollywood cars were concerned, seemed to be very strict. “In General”, cars 5050 to 5099 had been assigned to the Northern District, along with cars 732 to 759. Cars 5100 to about 5130 were found on the WATTS LINE after the Sierra Vista portion of the line was abandoned. Cars 5131 to 5181 worked the Western District.

After the abandonments of the San Fernando Valley and Santa Monica Blvd lines in 1952-53, many Hollywoods would go into dead storage whereever space could be found, with little regard to vandalism protection. The Hollywood and Glendale-Burbank lines now operated with the cream of the remaining crop, cars 5150 to 5181, all Brill 700s .

All the while, the Watts line continued on with the low 5100s. The renumbering of the Hollywood cars in 1949-50 was very orderly in regards to cars 700 to 731; car 700 became the 5150, car 717 became 5167 and so on.

However, when it came to the first batch of Hollywood cars to go through the renumbering program, it was done as if all the numbers of cars 600 to 699 were put on “bingo balls,”, placed in the rotating basket, and what ever number dropped out of the basket first, became car 5050, which was car 694. Anyone into the renumbering aspect of the hobby would have thought that car 600 would have been the “logical choice” to become car 5050.

The renumbering of cars 5050 to 5099 was done as if it were a bingo game. BUT, again, the PE proved there was some type of order to their “numbering system.” When car 5075 and seven other 5050s were sold to Portland Traction Company, the PE, not wanting to have “gaps” in their sophisticated numbering system , simply took cars 5174 to 5181 “off the top” and renumbered them into the missing 5050 car numbers. In this way, PE’s “computer system” would not crash when it came to car assignments.

In all the photos that I have ever seen of the Western District during the last two years of operation, I have NEVER seen a photo of any of the renumbered 5050s working the Hollywood or Burbank lines. What happened to those renumbered 700s is anyone’s guess. They may have gone into early retirement, simply because all the other 5050 numbered cars were out of service. MAKES GOOD SENSE TO ME!!

As for car 5075, it was put through Torrance Shops, repainted into Portland Traction Co. red & cream , renumbered 4019 and sent on its way. Once in Portland, the eight Hollywood cars were used as a “stop gap” tool to prolong the life of the decaying Portland Traction Co.

The eight Hollywood cars arrived in Portland with gleaming paint jobs in 1953. By the time service was abandoned just five short years later, the cars looked like HELL… One of the eight cars was saved and is now at the Sea Shore Trolley Museum, the other seven were scrapped.

Ralph Cantos Collection

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Showing 5 comments
  • Bob Davis

    The car at Seashore (which I call the “Mother Church of Electric Railway Preservation”) is PE 680/5069/Portland 4022. It’s hidden under a tarp back in the “off limits” area. As I recall, it has no motors, and when I saw it in Oregon back in 1991, the damp climate of the Willamette Valley had taken its toll. Having run PE 717 at OERM, I would love to be able to run PE 680 at Seashore, but short of winning the lottery and paying for a rehab at Brookville, it ain’t gonna happen.

    • Ralph Cantos

      in responce to Bob Davis reply.. what a DAMN SHAME.

  • Al Donnelly

    PERy 5128…Hollywood Boulevard service, photo’d inbound eastward at bridge by Van Ness Avenue in later years.

  • steve pickens

    In Argentina, one of the 700’s became a line car – is it still in existence?

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