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NORM Collection
Presidents Conference Committee Cars
# 78, 92, 1644 & 4230

A PCC Car Primer

In the 1920s many streetcars had hard wood or wicker seats. Coal stoves heated them poorly and unevenly. The ride was noisy and rough, and the cars were slow in traffic. Often interior lighting was just bare bulbs. Streetcar riders began deserting the trolleys for automobiles.

Streetcar companies needed to find a way to retain riders. These companies had substantial investments in track and overhead power systems that they could not afford to write off. In 1929 leading streetcar companies formed the Electric Railway Presidents' Conference Committee - soon shortened to PCC. This group had one job; develop a streetcar people would want to ride. Design engineers and staff were hired, and they went to work.

By 1934 the first prototypes were ready for field-testing. That same year the transit industry’s convention was held in Cleveland. The first PCCs went on display, operating over the Cleveland streetcar system. In 1936 Brooklyn, New York placed the first production PCCs into service. Other cities soon followed suit.

PCC cars are defined by a series of patents detailing improvements in truck design, propulsion, braking systems, welded all-steel body, and passenger amenities. They produced a quiet car that accelerated and braked quickly, but rode smoothly. Interior lighting was bright and even. Its padded seats were comfortable, and electric heat warmed the car evenly. The light weight body showed attractive, modern Art Deco styling with chrome trim.

PCCs allowed some operations to continue until the 1950s. The standard design allowed the car to be built by several manufacturers, and at least 5000 PCC cars were built in the US. Many more were also built in foreign countries. The PCCs were so innovative that some patents are being used today. PCC style trucks are still used on some heavy rail transit lines in the US. NORM has a good representation of both pre- and post- war styles including Pittsburgh Railway Company # 1644, Cleveland Transit System #4230 and Shaker Heights Rapid Transit cars # 78 and 92.

Click an image to enlarge it

Here are SHRT 78, CTS 4230 and PRC 1644 in the McCarthy carhouse at NORM in July of 2005. (S. Heister)

Pittsburgh Railway Company # 1644

1644 was built by in 1945 by the St. Louis Car for the Pittsburgh Railway Company. Even though it was built in 1945, it is an example of the pre-war design, lacking the upper 'standee' windows seen on the later cars. It is an air-electric car, meaning that the car in equipped with air-operated brakes powered by an electrically driven compressor. The car was originally mounted on Pennsylvania broad gauge trucks, whose wheels were just over 5’ apart. The museum re-trucked the car with standard gauge trucks in 1999.

PRC 1644 Specifications:

Type:    Electric Street Car

Description:    Single End, Double Truck, Arch Roof, Air PCC

Builder:    St. Louis Car Company, St. Louis, Missouri

Year Built:    1945

   

Acquired by NORM:    1986

Dimensions:    Length: 46ft., Width: 8ft. 4in., Height: 10ft.

Weight:    36,265 lbs.

Seats:    54

Controls:    WH

Trucks:    Clark B-2A

Motors:    4 WH1432, 35 HP

Brakes:    WAB

Compressor:    WH

Lines Served On:    Pittsburgh Railway Company


PRC 1644 on its home rails. (Museum Collection)



Here is 1644 being placed on standard gauge trucks at NORM in 1999. (W. Stoner)



This Spring 2010 photo finds 1644 spotted on track 5 to the east of the Bennett Carhouse. (B. C. Gage)


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Cleveland Transit System # 4230

4230 was built in 1946 by the Pullman Standard Co. for the Cleveland Transit System. It is a classic all electric post-war design PCC street car featuring individual open-able windows for each seat as well as 'standee' windows for standing passengers. In 1952 all 75 of Cleveland’s PCC cars were sold to the Toronto Transit Commission (TTC). 4230 was renumbered 4655 in Toronto. In 1976, nine of the former Cleveland PCC cars were returned to Cleveland to help out on the Shaker Rapid. They saw very little service because they are standard width while the Shaker cars are wider. The narrower cars created a gap between the car and the loading platforms.

CTS 4230 Specifications:

Type:    Electric Street Car

Description:    Single End, Double Truck, Arch Roof, Electric PCC

Builder:    Pullman Standard Car Company, Chicago, Illinois

Year Built:    1946

   

Acquired by NORM:    1983

Dimensions:    Length: 46ft. 6in., Width: 8ft. 4in., Height: 10ft. 3in.

Weight:    39,800 lbs.

Seats:    53

Controls:    WH XD423P

Trucks:    Clark B-2

Motors:    4 WH1432J, 55 HP

Brakes:    WH

Compressor:    n/a

Lines Served On:    Cleveland Transit System - 4230 / Toronto Transportaion Commission - 4655 / Greater Cleveland Regional Transit Authority - 4655



CTS 4201, a car from the same set as 4230, is seen here in service in Cleveland. (Museum Collection)



Here is CTS 4231, another of the set, in TCC paint as number 4656 in service in Toronto. (Museum Collection)



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Shaker Heights Rapid Transit # 78 & 92

78 & 92 were built in 1948 by the Pullman Standard Co. for the Shaker Heights Rapid Transit. These are examples of all electric PCC streetcars, with a few differences from the CTS versions. The cars were wider than normal streetcars, and they have wider wheel treads for high speed service on off-street tracks.

The Pullman PCCs were delivered with full skirting which featured hinged rectangular doors for maintenance access. After years of use the hinges had rusted and were very difficult to open. As a result, the doors were removed on many of the cars over the years. After the line was taken over by the RTA, shop crews cut the skirts to match the classic flowing arch style seen on many PCC cars. This was done in order to fit the trucks onto the wheel truing machine at the line's Brookpark shop facility. These modifications are apparent in the photos below.

SHRT 78 & 92 Specifications:

Type:    Electric Rapid Transit Car

Description:    Single End, Double Truck, Arch Roof, Electric PCC

Builder:    Pullman Standard Car Company, Chicago, Illinois

Year Built:    1948

   

Acquired by NORM:    1987

Dimensions:    Length: 50ft., Width: 9ft., Height: 10ft. 2in.

Weight:    43,100 lbs.

Seats:    58

Controls:    GE

Trucks:    Clark B-2

Motors:    4 GE1220

Brakes:    GE

Compressor:    n/a

Lines Served On:    Shaker Hieghts Rapid Transit / Greater Cleveland Regional Transit Authority



Shaker Heights Rapid Transit # 78

This photo, taken in September of 1952, shows SHRT 78 waiting with several other cars for the line to be cleared after a derailment. The location is just west of the belt line bridge on the Shaker line. (J. Spangler)



Passengers board SHRT 78 at the CTS Windermere yard for a fan trip in this 1969 photo. (J. Spangler)



RTA 78 approaches the West Green station on the newly renovated Shaker line in the fall of 1980. The car is on one of its final runs, soon to be replaced by LRVs. Note the new cantenary-style overhead, the LRVs are equipped with pantographs. (B. A. Gage)



Fall of 2011 finds 78 spotted on track 5 next to the Bennett Carhouse at NORM. PCCs CTS 4230 (in TTC paint) and PRC 1644 are just behind with CTS Bluebird Rapid Transit 112 bringing up the rear. The bodies of Lake Shore Electric Freight Motor 42 and Steel Coach 181 can be seen to the right of the photo. (B. C. Gage)



Shaker Heights Rapid Transit # 92

SHRT 92 is seen here in service on the Shaker's Green Road line. (Museum Collection)



92 approaches the Lynnfield Road station on the Shaker's Van Aken Boulevard line at the head end of this multiple unit train. (J. Spangler)



SHRT 92 and 57 on a NORM fan trip at the Shaker's Kingsbury yard in the fall of 1974. Car 57 was built by the St. Louis Car Company for the Twin City Rapid Transit Company. It was Acquired by the Shaker when the line ended streetcar operations.(J. Spangler)



This photo shows car 92 eastbound at Shaker Square. Although it bears the RTA logo on the side, the car retains its SHRT colors. (C. Crouse)



Here is 92 at the Museum in August of 2008. (B. C. Gage)



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Last Updated 01/20/2014



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