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Pacific Electric 457

PE 457 at WRM. PE 457 at WRM.


This car is an arch-roof, double-end, double-truck, steel coach with a smoking compartment. It has distinctive porthole style windows on the ends. This type of car was known as a “blimp” on the Pacific Electric. The Pacific Electric lines in the Los Angeles area were electrified at 600 volts DC.


Pacific Electric 457 last ran in the Los Angeles area. It was built for the Southern Pacific Red car operation in the East Bay and ran there as a “Red Car” until 1941. It was built as SP 332, class 58-EMC-1, by American Car and Foundry in 1911. The car was built with large square windows in the front and rear and was painted dark olive green. The cars were repainted to Southern Pacific’s distinctive red starting in 1912 to improve their visibility in poor weather and at night. The cars received round porthole style end windows, reportedly to improve crew safety. The car had 3 and 2 seating and were very light for the number of passengers they carried. The ownership of these cars was assigned to several different Southern Pacific subsidiaries. This car was owned by South Pacific (SP) and carried these reporting marks on the side of the car until the IER took over.

Southern Pacific’s Oakland, Alameda and Berkeley East Bay service was reorganized into the Interurban Electric Railway on November 14, 1934. With the construction of the Bay Bridge, the ferry service was discontinued and the trains ran directly into San Francisco. In 1936 Key System, Sacramento Northern, and Southern Pacific entered into an agreement with the California Toll Bridge Authority to deed a portion of their equipment to the Authority in return for funds to adapt their equipment for cab signals, train stop, automatic car couplers, and high gates for operation across the Bay Bridge. The 332 was one of these cars deeded to and ownership passed to the Authority on abandonment of service in 1941. For several reasons the operation across the Bridge did not prove to be profitable. The last Red Train service in the East Bay was discontinued due to increasing financial loses on July 26, 1941.

At the beginning of World War Two it became United States Maritime Commission 332 operating on the Pacific Electric in Southern California. At the end of the war PE purchased the car in 1947 and it became PE 4637. The car was rebuilt by the PE and became 457. The PE passenger service was sold to the Metropolitan Coach Lines in 1953. The car retained its 457 number at that time. In 1958 MCL sold its holdings to the Los Angeles Metropolitan Transit Authority and the car became MTA 1707. It was retired in 1960 the electrical and mechanical equipment was stripped at a scrap yard on Terminal Island. The Bay Area Electric Railroad Association purchased the car from the scrap yard and moved it to the Western Railway Museum on a flatcar.

  • Vintage Photo: Vintage Photo
  • Vintage Caption: PE 457 with a three car train on Ocean Blvd., Long Beach, cira 1952. (I. J. Brain photo, BAERA No. 18753)
  • Owners: Pacific Electric 457. Southern Pacific 332. US Maritime Commission 332. Metropolitan Coach Lines 1707.
  • Technical Data: Lightweight steel suburban car. Built by American Car and Foundry in 1911. Seats 80 passengers. Total car weight, empty, 115,840 pounds.
  • Trucks: Baldwin (84-35S). Wheels, (36 inch diameter steel tires on spoked centers). Axle. Journals, (5 X 9 plain bearing). Traction motors, 4-140 horsepower @ 600 VDC, inside hung.
  • Air Brake Equipment: Westinghouse Traction Brake, AML. Motorman’s valve, (M-15-C). Triple valve, (L3G). Double check valve, ?. Brake cylinder, (16 X 12). Air compressor, Westinghouse Air Brake (D3K).
  • Dimensions: Extreme width, 10’ 10”. Length over buffers, 67’ 11 1/2”. Height, 13’ 8”. Truck centers. Truck wheelbase, 84”.
  • Propulsion Equipment: General Electric type M. Master controller, (C-35-A). Switch group, (SB-6-85-A1 with DB-160 contactors). Reverser, (DB-20-A7). Circuit breaker, (DB-102-B12). Traction motors, (GE 207-A). (Gearing, bull 64 teeth, pinion 17 teeth, ratio 3.765 to 1, ?” face). Control switch, (MS-5-B). Power resistors, (GE type CG, form A). MU plugs, (9 point).
  • Misc Data: Couplers, (Janney radial, 1904 MCB contour). Pantograph, (Westinghouse S-522-A).
  • Current Condition: This is a body only but has a complete Pacific Electric interior. It is on the trucks from SN loco 1020, which are not appropriate for this car.
  • Proposed Future Treatment: This car could be restored to its PE appearance but not motorized since no appropriate equipment is available for it.
  • Date Last Modified: Saturday, 04 June 2011

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5848 State Highway 12
Suisun City, CA 94585

(707) 374-2978

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