Tuesday, April 10, 2012

History of Chicago Surface Lines 4001



Design and Construction
Early Modifications
Revenue Service
Significant and Unique Technology
Trucks, Motors and Wheels
Door Arrangement
Modifications During Service
Post-Service Modifications
Condition of the Artifact
Appendix A
Mechanical Specifications
Appendix B
Car 7001
Appendix C
ERPCC Test Cars A and B
Appendix D
DC Transit 1053

Photos are from the Illinois Railway Museum Collection except where noted.
All photos are copyrighted and may not be reproduced without written permission.


Over four days in late September of 1934, hundreds of street railway managers, owners, engineers and experts gathered in Cleveland, Ohio for the convention of the American Transit Association. The highlight of the annual convention, for the first time since the start of the Great Depression, was a collection of the latest and most advanced streetcars. The four examples on display on this occasion were completely different from anything that had been seen before. As a group they embodied the efforts of the street railway industry to fight back against the rise of the automobile and to bring people back to streetcars. All four were, in some way, products of the Electric Railway Presidents Conference Committee, or ERPCC. Two were ERPCC test cars, the Model A and Model B. The other two were custom-built prototypes built for the Chicago Surface Lines. The lessons learned from these four test cars would lead to the creation of the most successful streetcar ever designed, the PCC, with over 20,000 streetcars the world over tracing their lineage directly to the four cars on display behind the Cleveland Convention Center.

Of those four prototype cars - indeed, of all of the various streamlined streetcars built from the late 1920's until the first production car built to the ERPCC's final design emerged from the factory in 1936 - only one is still in existence. Chicago Surface Lines 4001, one of two prototypes built for the CSL in early 1934, has survived to the present despite being completely unique, troublesome in operation, short-lived in service, and eventually reduced to a storage shed and a yard office. Nevertheless, though stripped of its trucks and interior, CSL 4001 has retained many of its most significant and advanced features. It remains a unique and important piece of street railway history and a testament to the many people who worked during the Great Depression to stave off the decline of public transportation and save the streetcar.

The Model B test car leads CSL 7001, CSL 4001 and the Model A along Washington Park Boulevard in Cleveland on an excursion during the 1934 ATA convention. Photo from the Krambles-Peterson Archive.


There are many people who, directly or indirectly, have contributed to this article. Thanks go to Joe Reuter for making original Pullman-Standard records, photos and paperwork available, and to Ted Anderson of the Pullman Library for copying these records. Thanks also go to Roy G. Benedict for providing information compiled by the late James Buckley on the service history of cars 4001 and 7001, as well as additional information on the CSL, and to George E. Kanary for providing information from the 1934 BOSE report. Randall Hicks scanned original Pullman photos in the IRM collection for inclusion in the article. Art Peterson, Norm Carlson and David Sadowski were of tremendous help in procuring photos for use in the article. Richard Schauer provided invaluable information on car 4001’s electrical and control systems. Jan Lorenzen and Dave Pirrman contributed information on the use of the ERPCC test cars in Brooklyn. And finally thanks go to Roy G. Benedict, Jeff Hakner, Randall Hicks, Richard Schauer and Bill Wulfert who proofread this article and provided vital corrections and changes.



The story of CSL 4001 begins in 1929 with the formation of the Electric Railway Presidents Conference Committee. The ERPCC was authorized by the American Electric Railway Association (which would become the American Transit Association, or ATA, in 1932) at its 1929 convention. The goal of the ERPCC was to create a standardized streetcar design that could be used by most, if not all, street railway companies in the country. The committee would build on the experiences of 25 of the largest and most influential electric railway companies in the U.S. and Canada; would oversee the design and testing of modern electrical and mechanical systems to create a smoother, quieter and faster car; use industry-wide standardization to reduce costs; and would, in the end, develop a modern streetcar that could replace the aging "Toonerville Trolley" in the mind of the public as the symbol of the street railway in America.

The ERPCC was headed by Dr. Thomas Conway, a forward-thinking manager who had overseen the modernization of the Chicago Aurora & Elgin and Cincinnati & Lake Erie interurban lines. Under his guidance the ERPCC and its chief engineer, Dr. Clarence F. Hirshfeld, developed a series of goals for the program. A new standard streetcar would have to be attractive to the riding public and would have to be noticeably faster, quieter, and more comfortable than existing cars if the street railway companies were to abandon their homegrown designs and embrace standardization. Extensive tests were done in Brooklyn, New York using streetcars borrowed from a few larger systems (including the CSL). Questionnaires were circulated to street railway companies to decide on standards for car size and clearance requirements. Studies were done in conjunction with the University of Michigan to determine optimal acceleration rates. General Electric and Westinghouse, the two primary electrical equipment manufacturers, were induced to design modern control equipment that would conform to ERPCC specifications. A great amount of work went into designs for trucks and resilient wheels that would dampen noise and vibration while still providing reliable service for a reasonable cost. By early 1933 the ERPCC had developed a list of design requirements and was well along in testing prototype electrical and mechanical components that would meet them.


In October 1933, President Guy A. Richardson of the Chicago Surface Lines - the largest street railway system in the country, with over 3,700 cars and 1,100 miles of track, and one of the 25 members of the ERPCC - decided to have a pair of prototype cars constructed for Chicago. These cars would be developed in parallel with the ERPCC test cars then under development and testing and, while not built as part of the ERPCC program, would utilize many of the same design requirements as the ERPCC car. They would, however, be uniquely Chicago cars. The CSL assigned two of the largest streetcar builders, Pullman-Standard and J.G. Brill, to construct one car each. The car builders were given a great deal of leeway but a few requirements were set down by CSL. The cars would be single-ended, as were Chicago's newest cars, the "Sedans" ordered in 1929. They would be two-man cars with three-stream entry doors at the front, "Pay As You Pass" fare collection, two-stream center exit doors and a single exit door at the rear. They would seat 58 passengers and be around 50 feet long. The Pullman-Standard car would use electrical control equipment being developed by Westinghouse for the ERPCC while the Brill car would use GE equipment. In the words of the Pullman-Standard spec sheet, the cars would be built as samples "to demonstrate the latest in the arts for trolley car construction and to reflect the studies and development carried on in late years."

The front end of the car is pictured just before delivery to the CSL. Note the doors open with the steps folded out. Note too that the fender has been tripped and is folded up under the front platform of the car, causing the lifeguard to drop down (visible below the front step).

This view shows the right rear corner of the car. Note dual “stop” lights on the rear of the car.

The Brill car, CSL 7001, was the first completed and made its first runs in Chicago in March 1934. Four months later, on July 6th, the Pullman-Standard car was completed at the Chicago plant and delivered to the CSL. It was unlike anything built before. Its most outstanding feature was that it was built entirely of aluminum. A 50-foot streetcar carrying 58 passengers, it weighed only 29,600 pounds - only 55% as much as the 44-seat Old Pullmans that held down service on many of Chicago's heavier lines. It had an arched roof, large picture windows, ribbed sides that sloped inwards towards the roof, and curved skirts that hid the under-floor electric equipment. Its unique cast-aluminum inside-bearing trucks held 300-volt 50hp traction motors and for control it utilized an early version of the Westinghouse accelerator drum controller. Braking was a combination of air and electric and acceleration was an impressive 4.75 miles per hour per second.


This striking image of car 4001 was taken during its public debut on July 8, 1934. Navy Pier is in the background. Chicago Architectural photo from the Krambles-Peterson Archive.

CSL 4001 was placed on display at Navy Pier on July 8th and downtown at Adams and State the next day, with over 13,000 people passing through the car, but almost immediately an obvious problem arose. July 1934 was unusually hot and it soon became clear that car 4001's sealed windows and forced-air ventilation system were not up to the task of keeping the car cool. In August CSL arranged with Pullman to provide an entire car's worth of replacement two-pane windows that could open, with the requisite safety bars added to the car's exterior. The hastily built replacement windows, unlike the rest of the car, were made of steel and were plated with chrome.

Posed passengers sit for an official photo of car 4001’s interior on July 8, 1934. Note the advertising cards touting the car’s modern features including cork flooring and indirect illumination. Chicago Architectural photo from the Krambles-Peterson Archive.

Hundreds of people file through the modern streamliner at the corner of Adams and State on July 9th, 1934.

Other needed changes soon became apparent as well, as might be expected with any state-of-the-art car. The accelerator was found to generate too much heat and a blower was added. The brake cylinders (one per truck) had been riveted to the floor but were deflecting the aluminum framing members, so their mountings were reinforced. Interlocks were provided to keep the car from moving if the center or rear doors were open. Windows were added to the lower panels of the doors to meet the "requests of [the] Railway people." Even the gong was replaced: "original one was not loud enough to suit Railway people." And car 4001's original trolley pole, which amazingly had been made out of aluminum along with everything else on the car, was replaced with a steel one.

One of the last builders photos of car 4001, this shot was taken at Pullman after modifications made in August 1934 including installation of lower-panel windows in the doors and replacement of the windows with lifting sash.

The aluminum prototype car was placed in service on August 28th on a regular run, based out of Limits car house and operating between State & Kinzie Streets and the 18th Street gate of the Century of Progress World’s Fair then in its second season in Burnham Park. For a brief period Chicagoans could reach the World's Fair on a conveyance every bit as modern as the Sky Ride or the Home of Tomorrow. On September 7th, car 4001 was returned to its birthplace at Pullman for some minor repairs and modifications, along with a new coat of paint in a lighter shade of blue, before it was shipped to Cleveland for its convention appearance. It and the ERPCC Model B, a modern streamliner which had just been completed at the Chicago Pullman plant and was to become the last new streetcar ever built in the city of Chicago, were then loaded onto flatcars. The two Pullman cars were sent to Cleveland where they were displayed alongside CSL 7001 and the ERPCC Model A, actually an earlier prototype streetcar built by Twin Coach and modified by the ERPCC for test purposes.

CSL 4001 is surrounded by 30-year old deck roof Pullmans at the 18th Street Entrance to the Century of Progress Worlds Fair, later known as Museum Loop. Judging from the clothing this was likely early September 1934. The cables in the upper right corner support the west tower for the Sky Ride. CSL photo from the Krambles-Peterson Archive.

Following its three week road trip - the only time the car ever left the state of Illinois - car 4001 arrived back at Pullman on October 4th, 1934 for more modifications. Repairs were made to the trucks, the accelerator pilot motor was replaced, and the new windows, which had been leaking, were modified and re-plated with chrome. Following this work the car was returned to CSL on October 25th where it was assigned to the 77th Street car house and Through Route 22, Clark-Wentworth. It soon went into regular daily service in Chicago, working alongside car 7001 and a host of "Sedans" and older CSL cars in carrying people along one of the city's busiest routes.


Car 4001 is seen in service in the Loop, southbound on Clark at Washington in 1935, probably bound for the loop at 80th & Vincennes. It has just passed a northbound “Sedan.”

CSL 4001 was eye-catching in its unique blue and silver livery, and together with car 7001 was more modern than anything else on rails in Chicago, but its electrical systems were unproven and spare parts were difficult to come by. Over time it developed a reputation as a hangar queen. Its electrical systems were problematical, and the complex brakes especially were troublesome. During most of the 1930s car 4001 was put into the shop for repairs twice a month on average. Not only that, within two years it and its Brill counterpart were eclipsed by a fleet of 83 new cars built to the final ERPCC design. Known as PCC cars, and in Chicago nicknamed "Blue Geese" for their paint scheme, these cars were an unqualified success and bore out the lessons learned in the ERPCC test program. The two 1934 test cars continued in operation, though, through the busiest of the World War II years. On May 15, 1942 car 4001 was transferred to Kedzie car house and put into tripper service on Madison Street, where it operated alongside the “Blue Goose” PCC fleet. It was at this time that it was repainted in the Buckingham Grey livery worn by the prewar PCCs. It didn’t rack up much mileage on Madison Street and was taken out of revenue service in 1944. The car was soon converted into a classroom for bus driver instruction classes, and following a failure in its accelerator the mobile classroom was simply towed dead around the city to locations where it was needed. Car 4001 was put into storage at Lawndale car house in March of 1947, transferred to Division car house in December of that year, and was officially retired from the active fleet on April 15, 1948. In early 1950 it was moved to storage at Burnside car house and soon thereafter was moved to the South Shops complex at 77th & Vincennes.

Car 4001 is shown in revenue service around 1934 or 1935.  The stylized CSL emblem the car bore for its first few years is clearly visible.  Photo courtesy David Sadowski.

Car 4001 is in revenue service northbound on Clark Street approaching North Avenue on July 21, 1935. At the time it was still the newest streetcar in the city of Chicago. Note the Chicago Historical Society building, only three years old at this time, in the distance. Photo by Robert V. Mehlenbeck from the Krambles-Peterson Archive.

Car 4001 is seen while in regular operation on Clark-Wentworth, just having turned back at the off-street loop at 80th & Vincennes. Behind it is one of the “Sedans.” Photo by Ed Frank Jr. from the George E. Kanary Collection.

It’s May 21, 1936 and car 4001 is spotted outside the 77th & Vincennes car house between runs on the Clark-Wentworth line. It bears the scars of an apparent run-in with another vehicle. Photo from the Krambles-Peterson Archive.

Much of the time CSL 4001 operated on Clark-Wentworth it looked like this. It is seen at the 77th & Vincennes car house in 1938.

By the time this photo was taken at Kedzie car house on May 13, 1946, car 4001 had already been out of service for two years. Through the dust the Buckingham grey color scheme it had acquired in 1942 can clearly be seen. Photo by Joe L. Diaz from the Krambles-Peterson Archive.


Car 4001 is seen in the early 1950s in storage at South Shops. Its “Blue Goose” prewar PCC livery is obvious. At right sits its Brill-built sister, car 7001, also in storage at this time. The flash of red visible through the front doors is likely the red upholstery on car 4001’s longitudinal seats. Photo from the Bill Volkmer Collection.

A view of car 4001 in storage at South Shops in 1954. Note that the skirts have been cut away for easier access to the bolsters, a likely sign that it had already lost its motors at this point. Photo by John R. Williams from the Krambles-Peterson Archive.

The car sat at South Shops, located next to car 7001 and used as a storage room. In December 1955 the car’s trucks were removed and scrapped and it was converted into an office. Its fellow experimental car, 7001, retained its trucks but eventually drew the short straw. Along with thousands of other Chicago streetcars over the course of the decade, it was cut up for scrap metal in 1959 while the aluminum car being used as an office was spared. Car 4001 remained at South Shops for another decade or so. It was 1970 when the car was once again judged surplus, this time for the last time. However by now the preservation movement was on a firmer footing and the unique pre-PCC streamliner was an obvious candidate for salvation. It was acquired by the Electric Railway Historical Society in west suburban Downers Grove but, with storage space at the ERHS site lacking, the car was moved to the Illinois Railway Museum in Union. Three years later the ERHS was dissolved and its entire collection was donated to IRM.

CSL 4001 is shown at the Illinois Railway Museum in 1976 in the company of CSL 9020. The car is located north of Central Avenue with Barn 4 in the right background; at this time it had recently been given a quick partial coat of West Towns blue (much darker than its actual original blue) by Steve Hawley Michael. Photo from the Bill Wulfert Collection.

For many years car 4001 sat on CSL trailer trucks along the north side of Central Avenue, in the current location of Yard 5, along with other car bodies including CSL 9020 and Michigan Electric 28. At some point it was filled with doors and windows from a house that had been torn down. When Yard 5 was built around 1985 car 4001 was relocated to the east end of Track 42. Finally, in 1994, enough indoor storage space became available with the construction of Barns 6 and 8 to put the unique streetcar into indoor storage. The house doors and windows were removed and discarded, the car was placed on PCC trucks, and it was moved into Barn 8.

Car 4001 is shown on display in Barn 8 in June 2006. This shows its current condition, stripped of paint and with most windows missing but substantially intact. Photo by the author.

Following this move some cosmetic restoration work was performed. The steel windows that had been installed only weeks after the car emerged from the Pullman factory had mostly dissolved; most were literally in pieces and were discarded. The car was stripped and sanded, though planned spray-painting was never completed. The car's interior was cleaned out and some analysis of the under-floor electric equipment, which was almost completely intact, was done. Some removal of deteriorated linoleum flooring and Masonite roofing was done but that was all. In 2009 IRM needed indoor storage space for several cars just acquired in good condition from Trolleyville in Ohio. CSL 4001, with its all-aluminum construction and uncluttered roof suitable for tarping, was an obvious candidate for eviction. Late that year it was tarped and placed in outdoor storage in Yard 14.



Arguably the single most distinctive and notable aspect of car 4001's design was its all-aluminum construction. The car's entire structure was of riveted Alcoa aluminum, including not only the framing and exterior sheathing but also the interior walls, the seat frames, most castings, and even many of the underbody components and equipment covers. The trucks were custom-built using aluminum castings and the wheels had aluminum inserts. Even the car's original trolley pole was built out of aluminum, though that didn't last long before a steel replacement was deemed necessary. The car was almost certainly built with more aluminum components than any other streetcar before or since. It was not, however, the first streetcar built predominantly of aluminum. That distinction goes to Cleveland Railway 1376, a car built in that company's shops in 1926 that weighed 32,000 lbs. However the Cleveland car, other than its aluminum construction, was entirely a traditional car and matched existing Peter Witts in that city even down to the archaic arched windows. Another all-aluminum car was Chicago & Joliet Electric 200, built by Cummings in 1927 and weighing in at only 24,000 lbs. The unique characteristic of CSL 4001, then, was not simply that it was built entirely out of aluminum, but that it combined extensive aluminum use with state-of-the-art advancements in trucks, motors, control and streamlining to create a car that was modern in every respect.

In late March 1934, car 4001 has been framed out at Pullman. The opening for the rear exit door is closest to the camera.

The rear end of car 4001 in late March 1934. In the background, Union Pacific M-10001 “City of Portland” is under construction.

By April 20, 1934 car 4001’s sheathing had been installed but it still lacked an interior. This view looks towards the front of the car; note that the Masonite roof was installed before the aluminum ceiling.

Less than a week later car 4001 is having insulation and flooring installed. This photo was taken looking towards the rear of the car.


One of the most revolutionary features of the PCC streetcar was its smooth acceleration, using modern controllers with dozens of acceleration points instead of eight or ten on older streetcars. Before the ERPCC development program the most modern streetcars used PC control, built by General Electric, or VA control, built by Westinghouse. Both of these systems accelerated automatically but had no more acceleration points than older cars. At the urging of the ERPCC, Westinghouse developed a multi-point acceleration controller. A cylindrical washtub-shaped drum was ringed by a copper bus bar. Inside of this 65 contact buttons (increased to 99 on production PCC cars) were arrayed, and a rotating arm advanced along the inside of the drum sequentially depressing the contact buttons to make and break acceleration contacts. The resistance grids were mounted to the drum itself, mounted outside of the bus bar, as well as in separate boxes. The first version of this controller, the XD-23, was tested in 1933 on the ERPCC Model A car. The second version to see use, the XD-223, was fitted to CSL 4001 and spent the next decade or so in revenue service: a testament to the design's success, even in the prototype stage. The XD-223 controller was similar to the XD-323 that debuted with the first PCC cars in 1936 but also differed significantly. It used only a single roller arm driven by an electric pilot motor, rather than the twin roller arms on the PCC accelerators. All control was at 600 volts, with only the electro-magnetic track brakes and braking retardation controller being operated on low voltage. The rate of acceleration was controlled mechanically and could be adjusted by the motorman. A traditional hand control handle was used, and a backup controller was fitted at the rear of the car. The XD-223 accelerator fitted to car 4001 is still intact, complete with its unique aluminum cover, although its condition betrays the likely reason that the car was taken out of service the final time. There is a large hole burned through the drum wall with obvious arc burns and damage to surrounding contact bars.

The motorman’s position on car 4001 is seen just before delivery. To the left is the controller handle, with reverser in the base. The brake handle is centered on the console. The control on the desktop at right may be to adjust the rate of braking, while mounted on the front of the console is a door control valve and hand brake.

The motorman’s position with equipment access doors open. The nine snap switches over the center route sign are (L-R): four switches for the four interior lighting circuits; sign lights/headlight/taillights; heat-window defrost; rear door (?); air compressor; and conductor and motorman’s heat.


During 1932 and 1933 the ERPCC developed a succession of truck designs with the goal of reducing noise and vibration while still keeping the truck affordable to build and easy to maintain. The trucks built for car 4001 were a unique Pullman-Standard design with cast aluminum frames and journal bearings inboard of the wheels. The trucks were largely aluminum with some steel components including spring planks, swing links and springs. Rubber bushings and pads were used to reduce noise. Unlike the eventual B-2 truck used under production PCC cars, car 4001's trucks used a traditional suspension arrangement with a bolster supported on elliptic springs, journal boxes equalized using helical springs, and the car body riding on center and side bearings. The wheels were a sandwich design, similar to super-resilient PCC wheels, using aluminum inserts and steel treads with rubber inserts to reduce vibration. The motors, Westinghouse 1430D's, were 50-horsepower 300-volt motors designed for a maximum speed of 5,000 rpm. They were compound-wound, with shunt fields used for dynamic braking. The car’s low weight and large motors made it 30% quicker than the “Sedans,” and about 40% quicker than the system’s older cars, in normal operation. The motors were suspended in the truck using rubber bushings and drove the axles through double reduction herringbone gears. This was essentially the Westinghouse W-N gearbox that had been developed in 1927, but modified somewhat and fitted with some aluminum components. Though the trucks were not unsuccessful, they proved to be not so much forerunners as stepping stones to the B-2 truck developed for the PCC car.

This view of one of car 4001’s trucks shows the clasp brakes, track brakes, super-resilient wheels, and traditional side bearings. Photo from the George E. Kanary Collection.

End view of car 4001’s trucks showing the inboard cast side frames, motor inboard of the axle with gear box to the right, and truck bolster with center bearing.


At the time CSL 4001 was built, the vast majority of streetcars used a simple straight-air braking system. Though sturdy and reliable, this system was difficult to operate and produced uneven or jerky braking. The ERPCC program concluded that a blended braking system, combining electric and air or hydraulic braking, would provide the smoothest and most effective way of stopping a modern car. General Electric was developing an eddy-current braking system in the early 1930s that saw use on CSL 7001, the ERPCC Model B test car, and a series of "multi-section" subway cars built for New York City, but eventually proved to be a technological dead end for street railway use. Car 4001, its electrical equipment built by Westinghouse, used a combination of dynamic, air and electro-magnetic braking. When at speed, dynamic braking was used to slow the car. Car 4001 had compound-wound traction motors, with a shunt winding for use in braking separate from the series winding used in series with the motor armature to propel the car. Line voltage was put across the shunt winding in steps of variable resistance which would vary the rate of braking. Electro-magnetically activated track brakes powered by batteries were also employed during braking and were particularly vital at low speed when the dynamic brakes faded out. Air brakes, using standard floor-mounted brake cylinders, could be used to hold the car while stopped or in an emergency. The rate of deceleration could be adjusted by the motorman and was controlled by a mechanical retardation controller, effectively a large plumb-bob which activated electrical contacts to vary the rate of braking, and a limit relay. Of the four test cars being tested in 1934, car 4001 was the only one to use dynamic, air and electro-magnetic brakes – the same combination which would be adopted for the first years of PCC cars. The systems used differed significantly from PCC car practice, though, most notably in how dynamic braking was accomplished. Production PCC cars used standard traction motors without shunt fields and used the car's main resistance grids, modulated automatically by load through the car's accelerator, to modulate the rate. The major disadvantage of car 4001’s method was that if power were lost, dynamic braking was lost too, leaving braking entirely to the track brakes and air brakes. Car 4001 also used hand control for the brakes, which all production PCC cars except for the cars built for Chicago eschewed in favor of foot control. On the whole, though, car 4001 was a valuable stepping stone towards the system of blended dynamic, air and electro-magnetic brakes that would be reused in hundreds of PCC cars in the coming years.

A side view of car 4001’s trucks in full working order, with both air-operated clasp brakes and electo-magnetic track brakes installed. Pullman-Standard photo from the Krambles-Peterson Archive.


When car 4001 rolled out of the factory its interior differed significantly from other streetcars of the day. Like the car body itself, the biggest difference was in its all-aluminum construction. Virtually all other streetcars at the time had wooden interiors; even the Brill experimental, CSL 7001, used Masonite on its interior. On car 4001, all wall and ceiling panels were aluminum, as were fittings and trim pieces. The seats were designed especially for the car using square aluminum tubing. Like the “Sedans” the car’s seats were comfortably upholstered in leather, a contrast with the majority of the Chicago streetcar fleet where rattan was the standard. Lighting was indirect incandescent, using an amazing 160 bulbs arrayed down a center trough (also a part of the forced-air ventilation system) in eight circuits of 20 bulbs each. The floor was standard Linoleum but between the Linoleum and the aluminum sheets that formed the sub-floor was a layer of cork for reducing noise from the running gear. Forced-air ventilation was intended to cool the car, with three ducts running the length of the body: two baseboard ducts and a duct in the trough in the center of the ceiling. Through the grille over the front windows, blowers in the canopy admitted air which was directed down the baseboard ducts. A blower in the rear canopy pulled waste air through the ceiling duct and out the grille over the rear windows, with airflow controlled by thermostat-activated dampers. Although this system could circulate all of the air in the car every three minutes at full capacity it was found that it did not sufficiently cool the car and soon the original sealed windows were replaced by windows that could be opened. Heating was fairly standard, with heating elements in the baseboard ducts.

This photo, taken June 5, 1934 during construction, shows the interior before seats were installed. Note the three-tone color scheme and the blowers mounted on the floor to direct air from the intake grille over the front windows through the baseboard ducts. The loose wires in the foreground are likely for the conductor’s controls.

The front half of car 4001 is seen just before delivery. Forward of the center doors the car was fitted with longitudinal seating, with cross seats in the rear half of the car.

The interior of car 4001 as seen just before delivery, looking towards the back of the car. The conductor’s station is at left just forward of the center doors.

Bench seat at the rear of car 4001, as seen just before delivery.


When Brill and Pullman-Standard were given orders for experimental cars in late 1933, very few hard and fast requirements were laid down by the Chicago Surface Lines. One was the door arrangement: three-stream entrance doors at the front, two-stream exit doors at the center just past the conductor, and a single exit door at the rear. The arrangement used on cars 4001 and 7001 was essentially a modified Peter Witt arrangement. The Peter Witt design, named for a past streetcar commissioner in Cleveland, provided for doors in the front and center of the car. Passengers entered at the front and paid the conductor, sitting just ahead of the center doors, as they passed. Pay As You Pass fare collection reduced dwell times since the motorman could close the door and have the car well on its way while people were still fishing for change in their pockets. The CSL's most recent order for cars, placed in 1929, had been for 100 Peter Witt cars that were nicknamed "Sedans” and were officially designated “FECE” for “Front Entrance, Center Exit” cars. Although these were standard single-ended Peter Witt cars, one car of the series, car 3322, had been modified with a single exit door at the back corner. Significantly, car 3322 had been one of only two cars shipped to Brooklyn from other cities for testing at the ERPCC facility, and most likely played a large part in persuading the CSL - and possibly also the ERPCC - that for larger crowds a similar door arrangement was optimal. Both of the 1934 experimental cars, and all 83 of the 1936 PCC cars built for Chicago (though not the 600 postwar PCC cars built for Chicago), utilized this door arrangement. The doors on car 4001 were unusual in a few regards. For one, they had folding steps that folded out of the skirting. Common on later steam railroad lightweight cars, these were quite unusual for a streetcar. CSL 4001's doors were opened by pneumatic door engines, with the front doors controlled by the motorman and the center doors by the conductor. The rear door was actuated by a treadle plate on the step, meaning that the door would open only if a passenger stepped on the treadle. The rear door treadle could be activated, deactivated, or the door opened directly, by the crew, initially by the motorman but soon changed to the conductor. Another early change was to add an interlock that prevented the car from moving if the center or rear doors were open. Though few of these features were revolutionary, they were a success in use on cars 4001 and 7001 and for the most part were employed on the thousands of PCC cars that followed.

The door arrangement of car 4001 is evident in this broadside view taken at Pullman just days before the car was delivered to the CSL. As a single-ended car, it had doors on only one side. Note the non-standard CSL emblem and Futura number.


Not much is known about the changes made to car 4001 over the course of its 13-year career with the Chicago Surface Lines. After the initial round of modifications which included replacement of the car's windows and installation of lower-panel windows in the doors, the car remained substantially the same throughout its abbreviated career. As a test car, one which was always intended to be more of an experiment than a true prototype for a fleet of copies, it's possible that the Surface Lines simply didn't see any point in working too hard to improve the car's design. There is some evidence that small changes were made to the car's function - blanked-off panels on the interior where switches were relocated, for example - but information on these changes is lacking. On the whole, the car's electrical and brake systems were unchanged from when it initially entered service in 1934.

This broadside view, taken during the late 1930s, shows the car’s second major paint scheme. It retained its blue-and-silver color scheme but lost its Futura numbers and stylized CSL emblem in favor of the company’s standard lettering. Note differences with as-built photo shown above.

The most notable changes to the car over its service history involved paint. Originally the car was painted medium Royal blue and aluminum, though within weeks of construction the blue was painted over with a lighter shade. Both colors are still evident on the car. Although it was lettered in aluminum outlined in black, as was standard in the CSL fleet, the style was something never seen before. Block lettering similar to Futura was used for the car numbers and, more unusual, the CSL monogram was even modified with a straight bar on the "S". At some point in the late 1930's the car was repainted, keeping its color scheme but with the numbers reverting to standard CSL Roman and the standard CSL emblem replacing the original stylized one. Then, at the same time the car was transferred to Madison Street service in 1942, it was painted in CSL prewar PCC colors of Buckingham Grey and cream with a red belt rail. This livery was adapted somewhat haltingly to the unique lines of car 4001, but adapted it was. Even the car’s interior acquired a coat of the brown and cream paint that was used on many of the PCCs in Chicago. It was this color scheme that the car wore when it was retired.


When car 4001 was removed from service in 1947, it was first turned into a storage shed at the South Shops complex at 77th and Vincennes. Initially it is likely that the only modifications made were removal of the car's seats, to allow for more interior storage space, and removal of certain electrical components. These included its contactors and air compressor, probably removed for reuse elsewhere, and possibly also its motors, which would have had a good deal of scrap value. The car’s skirting was cut away at the bolsters to make lifting the car with jacks easier.

In December 1955 the car was taken off of its trucks, which were scrapped, and set on the ground for use as a yard office. It’s likely that this was the time at which the entire controller console at the front of the car was removed. At a later time the rear doors and one of the two sets of center doors were also removed. All of the car's original windows were left in place but over time they deteriorated badly, with the chemical reaction between the steel window frames and the aluminum body of the car causing severe localized damage to both. The window frames were virtually all destroyed, while damage to the car occurred mainly to the interior window sill and horizontal interior wall supports. The roof held up fairly well, considering it was made out of Masonite, but eventually it began to fail as well.

Car 4001 is seen at South Shops in 1956, less than a year after it was made into a yard office. It has lost its trucks and its flashy paint job but has so far retained all of its doors. Photo by George Krambles from the Krambles-Peterson Archive.

Very few changes were made after the car arrived at the Illinois Railway Museum in 1970. No significant restoration work has been performed, other than stripping the car of paint, removal of a couple of the badly deteriorated Masonite roof panels, and removal of the most badly-damaged window frames. The original structure of the car as it exists now is in essentially the same condition it was when it left South Shops in 1970.


The current condition of car 4001 is poor yet stable, with major vital components missing and yet surprisingly complete given its history. The body is in generally good condition, with no apparent structural deterioration. The car's floor was designed to be "humped" over the bolsters for the purpose of lowering the height of the steps, and this unevenness in the floor is still quite obvious. The car's aluminum structure has survived with relatively little damage. Traffic accident damage to the corners, repaired in service by the CSL, is still obvious. A fork from a forklift was run through the car's side in one spot after retirement, and the skirts were badly bent when it was placed on the ground by the CTA, but other than that the only serious aluminum damage is to the interior walls where chemical reactions with the rusting steel window frames have damaged the window sills and wall framing in some places. The car was built using steel rivets but there has been no similar damage around any of the rivets. The Masonite roof is substantially intact, though some removal of damaged Masonite was done in the 1990's.

The car's trucks and motors were gone by 1955 but the bolsters and brake cylinders are still under the car. Also still under the car and complete, if rusty, are the original XM-223 accelerator (with electrical damage from the last time the car operated), brake valves and piping, air tanks, and various switches and relays. The control contactors were removed but the box is still there; likewise with the car's batteries. Underneath the rear of the car is a trough where the roof access ladder was once stored, though the ladder is gone. Much of the under-floor wiring is still intact although many of the looms have been severed at various places.

The interior of the car was almost completely hollowed out when it was made into a yard office. All of the seats, stanchions and baseboard ductwork were removed as was the motorman's console at the front of the car. The linoleum-over-cork floor was in poor condition and was mostly pulled up in the mid-1990s. Most of the steel window frames were so badly deteriorated that they were crumbling into pieces and were also removed. The rear door and one of the two center doors are also gone, though the remaining center door and all three front doors remain intact along with their fold-out steps.

The car is currently located in outdoor storage protected by a tarpaulin. Its aluminum structure and lack of interior appointments makes it relatively impervious to weather so long as the roof and missing windows remain covered.

CSL 4001 is shown being towed through Yard 8 in October 2009, immediately prior to the car being tarped and moved to outdoor storage in Yard 14. The front doors are intact but open (the linkage to the steps was broken long ago). The car’s windows were of "shatter-proof" glass, with glass sandwiching a sheet of clear plastic, and the plastic has badly deteriorated and become largely opaque. Photo by the author.

This broadside view of car 4001 in Yard 8 taken during October 2009 shows the current appearance of its door side well. The car is sitting much higher than it was designed due to inclusion of CTA 6000-series car body bolsters in between the PCC shop trucks and the car’s original body bolsters. Note that some of the side windows judged worth saving as patterns remain in place and that some of the car’s roof panels have been removed. Photo by the author.


Overall length: 50'4-5/8"
Distance between bolster centers: 22'0"
Width over side sills: 8'6"
Height from rail to top of roof: 10'4-3/16"
Height from rail to eaves: 8'2-9/16"
Height from rail to widow sill: 3'2-1/2"
Height from rail to body floor at bolster: 2'7-1/16"
Height from rail to body floor at center of car: 2'4-3/16"

Seating capacity: 58

Weight of body: 16,750 lbs
Weight of trucks: 12,850 lbs
Total weight: 29,600 lbs

Motors: WH 1430D (4) (50hp each)
Accelerator: WH XD-223
Switch group: WH UM-72E
Master controller: WH XM-145
Limit relay: WH UV-896
Control switch: WH TC-2
Retardation relay box: WH UC-668A
Motor cutout switch: WH TK-44
Resistor box: WH 46-R6
Fuse box: WH 220-A3
Knife switch: WH 496-I

Type: Standard Steel Car Company, drawing T-20570-A
Design: Inside bearing, cast aluminum frame
Wheel base: 5'6"
Wheel diameter: 24"
Wheel design: aluminum center, rolled steel tire, rubber insert
Axles: forged aluminum, grade 27ST
Journal bearings: 3-3/4x7" SKF roller type
Brakes: clasp type air brakes; electro-magnetic track brakes
Motor transmission: Double-reduction herringbone and "Maag" type gear and SKF bearings with aluminum housing

Air compressor: R10
Governor: S16
Brake valve: R4
Brake cylinders: 7x8" (2)
Conductor's valve: B3B
Contactors for electric brakes: UM27 (3)
Main reservoirs: 16x36" (2)
Safety valve: E1
Hand brake: "Pittsburgh" type #35 drop-handle connected to front truck only

Exterior: Deep blue with aluminum striping, roof and underframe
Interior: Floor and baseboard dark blue; blue-grey walls; light blue ceiling with center duct matching walls
Lettering: Car numbers in plain block letters and monograms of letters CSL in aluminum

Door engine: NPCo C-17000 electro-pneumatic (5)
Door control valve: NPCo C-16080 (2)
Treadle step switch: NPCo C-10600
Heat regulator: WH #11
Trolley base: US26A
Flooring: 3/16" thick blue Congoleum Linoleum on cork base
Seat frames: Aluminum tubing with cast aluminum bases
Seats: Leather, color Eagle Ottawa #758 (red)

CAR 7001

Photo from the Krambles-Peterson Archive

Chicago Surface Lines 7001 by itself was not technically more successful than its Pullman-Standard counterpart, car 4001, yet by and large it much more closely resembled the eventual design for the PCC. It had a steel body with a canvas-over-wood roof and styling by Otto Kuhler. Unlike car 4001, which was of all-riveted construction, and the later PCC car, which was all-welded, car 7001 was of combined welded/riveted construction with a steel skin riveted to welded framing members. The interior was similar to car 4001 with indirect lighting, located behind the advertising rack, and upholstered semi-bucket seats. Its interior used Masonite paneling, unlike the all-metal interior on the Pullman car. It was designed from the beginning with windows that could be raised, similarly to the prewar PCC cars, and heating was done by an under-floor blower that drew air in through a louver near the conductor’s position and directed the air over heating elements. Heat could be controlled by the conductor through operation of a damper, another system reused on the PCC car.

Car 7001 poses at Navy Pier soon after delivery in the company of another Art Deco icon that debuted in 1934, a Chrysler Airflow. Photo from the Krambles-Peterson Archive.

The well-lit interior of CSL 7001 is shown in this builder’s photo looking towards the rear of the car. The layout was virtually identical to car 4001, with the conductor stationed at left just forward of the center doors. J.G. Brill Company photograph from the Krambles-Peterson Archive.

The motorman’s position on car 7001 is seen when the car was new. Note the distinctive bulkhead arch and the unusual floor pattern. Photo from the Krambles-Peterson Archive.

The car ran on Brill 95E trucks, designed specially for this car and assembled from steel plate. The Timken roller journal boxes were independently equalized by being mounted to pins on the inboard side and floating on coil springs outboard of the axle. Wheels were of the resilient type with case-hardened treads and vanadium steel axles. Car 7001 had four 50-horsepower GE 1178 motors, a motor originally designed for use in trolley buses. Although it was similarly powered it was slower than the Pullman car owing to its 37,260 pound weight, which was 25% more than the all-aluminum car 4001. The car was fitted with General Electric’s newly-developed commutator controller, a forerunner of the 17KM3A1 controller used on the first order for production PCCs for Brooklyn in 1936. The controller had 127 full-field points and an additional 20 short-field points, with hand control similar to the Pullman car. Braking, unlike the Pullman car, was accomplished via a foot pedal and was a combination of GE-designed eddy current braking, magnetic track brakes and hydraulic motor-mounted drum brakes. In normal operation the eddy-current brakes would be used first, followed by the track brakes and finally by the hydraulic brakes for emergencies and also for use as a holding brake. Loss of 600 volt power would lead to loss of eddy-current brakes, but written accounts suggest that the car’s track and hydraulic brakes were powerful enough to stop the car easily in the event of a power loss or pole de-wiring. The car had no air compressor so hydraulic motors had to be specially designed to open and close the doors. As a final harbinger of Chicago PCCs to come, car 7001 was painted in a livery of two-tone light green with orange and silver trim. It was owned by CSL subsidiary Chicago City Railway, in contrast with the Pullman car, which was owned by Chicago Railways.

The unique Brill 95E truck designed for CSL 7001 is shown before installation of motors. The unusual journal box suspension, split wheel treads and lack of brake shoes can be clearly seen. J.G. Brill Company photograph from the Krambles-Peterson Archive.

A view of the bottom of the Brill 95E truck designed for car 7001 shows its appearance after installation of GE 1178B1 motors. The square boxes at the ends of the motor housings contain the eddy-current braking equipment. The track brake shoes can be seen between the wheels. J.G. Brill Company photograph from the Krambles-Peterson Archive.

Car 7001 was delivered to the CSL on March 19th, 1934 and as the newest and by far the most modern streetcar in the fleet, it was accorded quite a welcome. On March 22nd it was placed on display at the corner of State and Adams in the Loop after which it saw brief stints in demonstration operation on Clark between Limits car house and 22nd Street, on Broadway, and on Madison Street. It was also circulated to the various car houses to be inspected by both company employees and the public. On May 19th the car was put into revenue service running between State and Kinzie and the 18th Street Gate of the Century of Progress World’s Fair and based out of Limits car house. It continued operation on this line after its return from the ATA convention in Cleveland until the fair closed at the end of October, when it was transferred to the Devon car house and put into operation on the Clark-Wentworth line.

A mob of people surrounds the new Brill car as it sits on LaSalle Street just north of Washington, likely during late March or April 1934. In the background Old Pullmans and Turtlebacks, examples of the Surface Lines' great wood fleet, proceed along Washington Street. Bill Wulfert Collection Photo.

As part of the publicity surrounding the arrival of car 7001, it was brought to the 18th Street entrance to the World's Fair and posed alongside one of the two ancient horse cars that the CSL had just rebuilt in its shops as historic artifacts. The horse car may be car 8, now at IRM. Bill Wulfert Collection Photo.

Car 7001 proceeds south over the State Street Bridge on August 28, 1934 in the company of older CSL arch-roofed cars on its way to the 18th Street Gate of the World’s Fair. Photo by George Krambles from the Krambles-Peterson Archive.

CSL 7001 and the Model B test car are seen on display on September 24, 1934 in downtown Cleveland during the ATA convention. Cleveland Stadium is in the background. Photo by Ralph A. Perkin from the Krambles-Peterson Archive.

Car 7001 is northbound on State Street about to cross Washington in the heart of the Loop. This photo was likely taken early in the car’s career; note that the City of Chicago flag to the left only has three stars. The fourth star was added in 1939 to commemorate the Century of Progress World’s Fair. Photo from the Krambles-Peterson Archive.

Judging from available accounts, once some initial mechanical issues were ironed out car 7001 was somewhat more reliable than its Pullman-built companion. Though its control system and hydraulic brakes were troublesome, it likely didn’t spend as much time in the shop as car 4001 did. It also bore more of a resemblance, not only in styling but in many of its design features, to the 1936 PCC cars than did car 4001. However its career was very similar to car 4001; both were one-offs, unique prototypes built before full development of the revolutionary systems they used, and both were likely difficult to maintain and repair. Car 7001 operated on the Clark-Wentworth route in Chicago alongside car 4001 until it was transferred to Madison Street tripper service on February 17, 1942. Like the Pullman car, it soon acquired the prewar PCC livery of Buckingham grey, cream and red. Like the Pullman car, it ran through much of World War II and was retired from regular service and placed in storage at Kedzie car house in 1944. Like the Pullman car, it was adapted for use as a mobile classroom for bus instruction and was moved around the system as needed in the years following the war. It was officially retired on April 15, 1948 and afterwards was put into storage at South Shops.

Car 7001 is shown in service on the Clark-Wentworth line, sometime during the 1930s, at the corner of Clark and Adams in downtown Chicago. Photo from the Krambles-Peterson Archive.

Car 7001 is seen in a broadside view during its time on the Clark-Wentworth route. The similarities with the prewar PCC cars is striking. Photo from the Krambles-Peterson Archive.

CSL 7001 is at the 81st & Halsted terminus of the Clark-Wentworth line, ready to head north on March 24, 1941. Its time on Clark-Wentworth would draw to a close only a year later. Photo by James J. Buckley from the Krambles-Peterson Archive.

This photo showing the interior of car 7001 was taken around early 1948 when it was in use as a classroom car. CTA photo from the Krambles-Peterson Archive.

The story of car 7001 comes to an end in 1959. At that time, the Brill experimental car was in storage at South Shops and was largely complete except for its seats, which had been removed when the car was turned into a storage shed, and motors, which had likely been sold for scrap. Its trucks, controls and body were said to be mostly intact. The Electric Railway Historical Society, a fledgling streetcar preservation group in suburban Downers Grove, inspected the car with an eye towards acquisition. With only limited resources, though, and in consideration of the major components missing from the Brill experimental car, they decided instead to save a double-truck snow plow that had been built in the CSL shops. Car 7001 was cut up for scrap on December 22, 1959.

Car 7001 is seen around 1954 in storage at South Shops, sandwiched between car 4001 (left) and a 1920s-vintage center door trailer. The Buckingham grey livery shows off the similarities between 7001’s design and that of the prewar PCC cars. John R. Williams photo from the Krambles-Peterson Archive.

CSL 7001 sits forlornly at South Shops on December 8, 1957 with its number ominously painted out. In front of it is an even worse-looking prewar PCC, behind it a center door trailer. Photo by Tom Desnoyers from the Krambles-Peterson Archive.


Concurrent with the construction and testing of CSL 4001 and 7001 were tests being conducted on the two test cars owned by the Electric Railway Presidents Conference Committee (ERPCC), known as the Model A and Model B. The first car, the Model A, had not been built by the ERPCC but had rather been acquired by them secondhand. It was a very unusual car built by bus builder Twin Coach in 1929 to test the market for streetcars. It was a lightweight steel car of unorthodox design. The all-steel roof comprised a major structural element and helped support the car's platforms. The four traction motors were bolted to the floor framing and drove the axles via drive shafts. Braking was via dynamic brakes and Timken disc brakes. Though 40 feet long and seating 50 passengers, the car weighed only 27,800 lbs. It was delivered to Brooklyn & Queens Transit in October 1929 where it became car 5200. After a brief period on public display it was put into service on DeKalb Avenue. In 1932 it was turned over to the ERPCC testing program. Thereafter it underwent a series of modifications, both major and minor, being fitted at various times with ERPCC-design trucks and multi-point controllers built by both GE and Westinghouse. By late 1934, when it made a trip to Cleveland for the American Transit Association convention, it had acquired trucks of an early ERPCC design and thereafter saw use on Brooklyn & Queens Transit for testing purposes in 1934-1935, mostly on Flatbush Avenue. Testing was concluded in 1935 but it was not until February 1939 that the car was officially retired. Later that year the car was scrapped at the Canarsie sand pits on Avenue J in Brooklyn.

The Model A test car is shown at 9th Avenue Depot in Brooklyn while in service on Brooklyn & Queens Transit, likely sometime around 1935. The car’s flat front and bus-inspired styling is evident. Photo from the Frank Pfuhler Collection.

The Model B, unlike the Model A, was built specifically for the ERPCC as a test car that would incorporate all of the committee's designs. Effectively it was a prototype, though it was not intended that the eventual production PCC model would necessarily mimic the design for the Model B. The Model B was fully streamlined, with a Peter Witt door arrangement that would become standard on the PCC car. It had GE commutator control and four 50-horsepower GE 1178B1 motors with the first-ever railway use of hypoid gearing. Braking was done using eddy-current disc brakes and hydraulically-operated track brakes. The car weighed 31,400 lbs. It was ordered in February 1934 and built in the Pullman-Standard plant in Chicago. Delivered to the Chicago Surface Lines on August 1st, it underwent three weeks of testing and two weeks in revenue service on the Windsor Park line before being returned to Pullman in early September. It was shipped to Cleveland for the American Transit Association convention and then kept heading east to Brooklyn, where it was placed on display in Albee Square on October 18, 1934. The next day Brooklyn & Queens Transit put the car into service as car number 5300 on Fulton Street. It underwent operational testing under ERPCC observation and later operated on Flatbush Avenue as well. During operation in Brooklyn in 1935 a routine pole dewirement led to a loss of braking, as the eddy-current brakes required power to be put through the motors, and the car collided with a truck. This accident led to the car’s retirement and the end of the ERPCC’s experiments with GE eddy-current brakes; it may have also influenced the type of dynamic braking system that was developed for the PCC car. The damage to car 5300 was repaired but it was put into storage. At one point a proposal was made to rebuild it, possibly using PCC car equipment, but that project was abandoned and the car was struck from the B&QT roster in 1938 and dismantled at DeKalb Shop.

The Model B test car is seen in Chicago, likely on display at Navy Pier in August 1934 with the warehouses along East Illinois Street in the background. It is signed for 63rd & Dorchester, the northern terminus of the Windsor Park line where it was briefly used in revenue operation. William C. Janssen photo from the East Troy Electric Railroad Collection.

At left is the interior of the Model B test car.  Note the ventilation trough in the ceiling, free-standing stanchions, window cranks over the windows, and two-and-one seating at the front of the car rather than longitudinal seats like CSL 4001 and 7001 had.  Close inspection also shows that there was an inset panel on the left side across from the center doors, likely to permit installation of left-side doors like those later used on Boston PCC cars.  Chicago Architectural Photographing Company, courtesy David Sadowski.


Until September 28, 2003, car 4001 was not the only pre-PCC streamlined car in preservation. On that date a fire of undetermined cause destroyed a carbarn at the National Capital Trolley Museum in Maryland containing eight historic electric cars. One was Capital Transit (later DC Transit) 1053, built in 1935 by St. Louis Car Company. The Washington, DC streetcar system had ordered 20 modern streamliners in 1935 because they judged their need for modern rolling stock to be too pressing to wait for completion of the PCC car design. These 20 cars, half built by St. Louis and half by Brill, were acknowledged to be successful and further proved the concepts being refined for use on the PCC. The cars had a Peter Witt door arrangement, were single-ended, and the St. Louis-built cars had welded bodies, all aspects that would be echoed in the final PCC design. The trucks on the St. Louis cars, a unique design christened the Capital 70, were also not too dissimilar from the 1936 B-2 truck although they had outboard bearings and side frames. The Brill-built cars used Brill 97E trucks, which were a development of the trucks designed for CSL 7001. However the Washington cars did not use the modern accelerator control being developed for the PCC, instead using older GE PC-type control (or, on the Brill cars, Westinghouse VA control) activated using foot pedals.

Capital Transit 1053 is shown in operation during the late 1950s on Wisconsin Avenue near the National Cathedral in Washington, DC. The car’s similarity in styling to CSL 7001 is striking. Photo courtesy of Ken Rucker.

Car 1053 and its 19 sisters were used in daily service for nearly two decades, until route cutbacks reduced car requirements to levels that could be filled by Washington’s fleet of PCC cars. But car 1053 survived until the end of streetcar service in Washington in 1962 and beyond, preserved by company management and eventually donated to the National Capital Trolley Museum in 1970. It operated there for over three decades until the fire in 2003. The fire completely destroyed the car's interior and hopelessly warped the body. Only the trucks were salvageable.

Capital Transit 1053 operated for years at the National Capital Trolley Museum until it was destroyed by fire in 2003. Here it is shown in operation at the museum’s site near Wheaton, Maryland during the 1980s or 1990s. Photo courtesy of Ken Rucker.


Annual Report of the Board of Supervising Engineers, Chicago Traction: Volume 28. Chicago, IL: Board of Supervising Engineers, 1935.

Buckley, James J. “Experimental Cars: 4001 and 7001.” Unpublished essays.

Carlson, Stephen P., and Fred W. Schneider III. PCC: The Car That Fought Back. Glendale, California: Interurban Press, 1980.

Engel, Donald. The Branford Electric Railway Journal Vol. 17: Lightweight Street and Interurban Cars. East Haven, CT: Branford Electric Railway Association, 1998.

Lind, Alan R. Chicago Surface Lines: An Illustrated History, Third Edition. Park Forest, IL: Transport History Press, 1986.

Linder, Bernard. “PCC Car Research and Development.” New York Division Bulletin Feb. 2009: 2-5.

Lot 6429 Engineering Department Specification File and Drawing List. Chicago, Illinois: Pullman Press, 1934.

Toman, James A., and Blaine S. Hays. Horse Trails to Regional Rails: The Story of Public Transit in Greater Cleveland. Kent, OH: Kent State University Press, 1996.


Anonymous said...

that sure is a nice write up and a great selection of pictures.

Some day I am sure this interesting car body will get a turn in the museum's restoration Shop.

Ted Miles

David Vartanoff said...

This is a lovely history of the car and its relatives. Especially appreciate the DCT 1053 details as that was the last DCT car I rode at the end

I. Hayes said...

Very interesting article. Informative and very well researched. Excellent writing, Mr. Hicks.

Bruce Duensing said...

A masterful history that places this one of a kind historical artifact in it's rightful context and place in the continuing evolution of what are now called LRV's. I love the interior shots with its large windows and indirect lighting. I can imagine sitting warm inside of it, on a cold Chicago night, watching the passing scene. Is there any fund for this item for set asides?

Anonymous said...

Great Article ...would that we had such info on all our "artifacts"

Frank Hicks said...

Thanks for the compliments! To answer Bruce, yes CSL 4001 does have its own fund, R4001. However for what it's worth I would recommend donating NOT to that fund, but rather to the Electric Car Department indoor storage fund. At the moment car 4001 is stored outside and tarped, so money in its fund can't be used towards restoration anyway. Donating to get more electric cars indoors is the best way to help car 4001 at this time.

cscardinal said...

Hello. Do scale plans or drawings for this car exist?

I hear it begging to be modeled!


Chris Cardinal

Frank Hicks said...

Yes, there are plans for car 4001 in possession of IRM's Pullman Library. I believe you may be able to order copies but you would need to contact the Pullman Library staffers to find out. Contact info is at http://www.irm.org/pullmanlibrary/

Tony said...

Never knew this existed. Anything can be reconstructed with the right amount of money