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WPacific Electric logoWPacific Electric 1200 Class History
Pacific Electric 1200-1221 Wood Class Car Diagram
Pacific Electric 1200-1221 Class Car Diagram
Pacific Electric 1222-1241 Class Car Diagram
Pacific Electric 1242-1251 Class Car Diagram
Pacific Electric 1252-1257 Class Car Diagram
Pacific Electric 1258-1263 Class Car Diagram

Pacific Electric 1299 Business Car Diagram

Individual Car Histories, 1200 Class


WWhen PE's new management in 1912 decided to purchase a new type of long distance interurban car for the then-building San Bernardino Line, it was a wooden car that was first drawn up.

WThe car as first designed is seen in diagram K-61267. The wooden 1200s would have been an improved 1000 Class car, and to enable the reader to compare the two designs, we reproduce a 1000 Class design, J-61267.

WDimensions of the two types are identical except for a one-inch increase in height for the 1200s, and a 3-inch increase in over-all length. Minor differences in dimensions included 5-inch narrower entrance door for the 1200s.

WBiggest variation was the use of evenly spaced windows and the installation of lavatories. These plans also called for a single compartment car, as did the revised steel 1200 Class plans.

WThe tragic Vineyard wreck in July, 1913, in which sixteen persons died and scores were injured, brought the day of the wooden interurban car on Pacific Electric to an end. "Steel cars," said Pacific Electric, and immediately redesigned its proposed 1200 Class.

WWe publish these plans and the Herb Hahn drawing as an interesting curiosity not without its historical importance in the compiling of a history of Pacific Electric interurbans.


WPE's finest interurban cars were those numbered in the 1200 Class. Within this class were three sub-classes:

W(1) Cars 1200-1221 "San Berdoo Twelves"
W(2) Cars 1222-1251 "Long Beach Twelves"
W(3) Cars 1252-1263 "Portland Twelves"
WEach sub-class is covered separately herein.

WThe "San Berdoo" twelves were first designed as wooden cars, very similar to the immediate predecessor class, cars 1000-1044. In fact, other than having windows equally spaced and without an open section, the original design of the 1200s called for a car exactly like the Tens. The disastrous Vineyard wreck of July 11, 1913 in which sixteen were killed and scores hurt ended the day of wooden interurban trains insofar as Pacific Electric was concerned. The company never ordered another wood passenger car from that day on.

WSo PE's 1200s were redesigned as an all-steel, high speed car incorporating the most modern equipment of that period. Following the lead of the Tens, the Twelves were designed for 600-1200 volt operation, this for the San Bernardino Line which was to be their primary assignment.

WIncorporated herein is the article describing the 1200 Class which appeared in "Electric Railway Journal" and which covers mechanical and construction details of the fine cars in great detail.

WPressed Steel Car Company built these cars, and they received General Electric motors and controls which were installed PE's shops in Los Angeles. An unusual feature of the Twelves was the strength of their buffers which were cast integral with the underframe; in later years this feature protected well the Twelves' fortunate passengers but wreaked havoc with cars of other classes which were involved in unfortunate meets with Twelves. SOme photos are included of such cars. It is safe to say that PE's Twelves were structurally the strongest interurbans ever built for the west.

WAnother feature introduced to Pacific Electric by the Twelves and which was to become standard equipment on all Pacific Electric steel interurban passenger cars was the automatic coupler; of the Westinghouse H-2-A type, this massive car connector for train service automatically connected air, electric and signal circuits as well as physically coupling the cars themselves. Advantages of this are:

W(1) It is unnecessary for men to go between cars to connect air hoses, chains, etc., thus aiding safety.

W(2) When locked, it is quite impossible to separate couplings by accident while in operation, due to unevenness of track or other causes.

W(3) Should the lock of one coupler become defective or deranged, the other is not affected in any way as the locks are so designed that if one becomes defective, the other prevents uncoupling.

W(4) It couples and uncouples the car, air, and electric connections simultaneously.

W(5) It largely reduces the time required to make up trains at terminals, or to couple or uncouple cars enroute.

W(6) It reduces cost of operation by saving wear and tear on flexible hose.

W(7) It will automatically couple and uncouple cars of varying height, whether on straight or curved track.

W(8) When coupled, all slack is eliminated, preventing severe shocks and damage to apparatus between cars.

W(9) Air connections are accessible, tightness is assured, wear, tear and breakage of gaskets practically eliminated.

W(10) Simple and strong in design; thoroughly practical and durable.

W(11) Coupling gaskets can be replaced quickly and easily.

W(12) It may be coupled with any other type of coupler by the use of an adapter head.

WPacific Electric used the Westinghouse H-2-A automatic coupler on its 1100s, 1200s, 1370-1376, and 1299; its NWP and IER cars (see 300 and 400 Classes) came to Pacific Electric already so equipped. All these classes could be coupled together indiscriminately, but of course could not operate in MU due to various differences in control systems, etc. At the height of World War II, when anything went, it was common for trains of dissimilar equipment to be deadheaded from Macy St. to 6th & Main Station coupled together; well remembered are 1100s hauling 4500s, 1200s pulling IERs, indeed any combination one can imagine.

WA smaller version of this coupler, the Westinghouse K-1-A, was used by Pacific Electric on its 600 Class "Hollywood cars and on its PCCs, 5000-5029, which see.

WThis type was first evolved by Westinghouse circa 1913 and was tested on Pacific Electric, first on 950s, then on 450s. Pacific Electric was one of the first companies to adopt the H-2-A as standard equipment.

WCars 1200-1221 and their running mates, combos 1370 and 1371, were installed in Northern District passenger service to El Monte, Covina, Pomona, San Bernardino, Riverside and Redlands in 1915. Bringing a new distinction to Pacific Electric passenger service, the big new cars then began a most distinguished career which was to see them epitomize the ultimate in interurban passenger service.

WAs the years went by, certain improvements were incorporated in these cars. In 1925 their trucks were rebuilt, for the original crescent equalizer and twin coil springs proved susceptible to "teetering" at high speeds; Pacific Electric redesigned the equalizer into a straight bar with reinforced top piece, and larger single coil springs replaced the duals. This gave an even heavier appearance to the impressive cars. Smoking sections were created by placing a partition across the cars; in the original application to cars 1200 and 1201, this was located six windows back; subsequently, 1202 to 1221 received partitions five windows back.


WCars 1216-1221 underwent major modernizing in 1939 to provide more attractive service for the San Bernardino Line. New tubular frame, revolving seats, bullseye lighting, electric markers, faired-in roof destination signs and a striking new red & orange paint scheme set these fortunate cars quite apart from their more prosaic fellows. Ironical is the fact that before they had a real opportunity to prove themselves, Pacific Electric abandoned rail service to San Bernardino. Thereafter, these fine cars, dubbed "Butterfly Twelves" because of the resemblance of their flashy painted "wings" to those of the colorful insect, were operated in pool service with other Twelves. When all San Berdoo Twelves underwent war time rehabilitation in 1942, lavatories were removed from cars 1200-1215, increasing their seating capacity to 64; the Butterflies retained their lavatories, thus keeping them at 60 seats.

WThe 1942 rehabilitation included application of bullseye lighting, electric marker lights and semi-modernization of seats --- along with the red & orange exterior paint, although the latter was by no means as striking as that applied to the Butterflies. The cars were then valued at $16,758 each.

WOn October 14, 1950, the entire 1200 Class was retired, coincident with the conversion of their last assignment, the Baldwin Park Line --- to busses. All Twelves were thereupon placed in dead storage at Torrance Shops and Long Beach until April, 1951; at that time they were sold for scrap to Kaiser Steel Co. Taken to that company's Fontana plant in twelve-car cuts hauled over the SP by steam, the cars were cut up during April and May, 1951. Only car to escape this fate was business car 1299, which see.

WWhy did Pacific Electric retain its "Blimps" rather than the faster Twelves? The answer, of course, is that the Twelves seated but 64, while the modernized Blimps could seat 80. The efficiency of the larger capacity car which weighed but little more and used motors of the same capacity did not escape Pacific Electric. So it was that the West's finest interurbans went to their fiery fate; with them went much of PE's preeminence in the field of safe, speedy and comfortable transporting of passengers.

WPacific Electric records made available by Walter Abbenseth shed additional light on the modernization of cars 1216-1221 in 1939. Under Work Order 39145, cars 1216 and 1217 were put through the shops at a cost of $2,390 for 1216 and $2,701 for 1217. Under Work Order 40106, cars 1218-1221 were updated similarly, costing in order: $2,786; $2,671; $2,682; and $2,815. 1216 was first car, out on November 12th, 1939; 1218 was last, out on January 22, 1940.


WCars 1222-1241 were built to re-equip PE's Long Beach Line --- backbone of the Southern District. Along with their working partners, trailers 1242-1251, the big steel cars were constructed by The Pullman Company in 1921 at a cost of $41,080 for each motor car, $22,434 for each trailer --- quite an increase over the original Twelves, which ere virtually similar throughout.

WKnown as "Long Beach Twelves," the 1222 Class was powered by Westinghouse 557-D-7 motors of 140 hp each; these drove the 36" wheels through a gear ratio of 19:58, making the 1222s somewhat slower (56 mph balancing speed versus 60 mph for the San Berdoo Twelves) than 1200-1221, but this was offset by their increased accelerative ability, useful for hauling the big trailers. PE's operating policy was to use three car trains of these cars, which would consist of two motors with a trailer in between; at first, Pacific Electric operated one motor and one sled in regular service, but acceleration proved to be poor enough to tie up the busy Southern District schedules; in modern times, it was always the same formula; two motors per trailer, except on rare occasions of whenever long, sustained runs were the order of the day, such as on the Catalina Specials.

WAnother difference: the Long Beach Twelves did not have toilets installed, as their runs came under the one hour limit set up by the California State Railroad Commission; San Berdoo Twelves, designed for runs in excess of an hour's duration, were required to have comfort facilities for their patrons.

WOtherwise, the 1222s were virtual duplicates of the San Berdoo Twelves and brought the Southern District up to par in the matter of steel equipment.

WIn addition to their Long Beach Line assignment, the 1222s were used to San Pedro prior to World War II. It was unusual to see them on other lines, and they almost never got off the South except to Pasadena on New Year's Days;. With the coming of the NWP and IER classes in 1942-43, the 1222s branched out; they were seen on the Newport Line, on the Santa Ana Line, and more and more frequently on the Northern District runs, including the troop trains to San Bernardino. After the war, they were frequently seen on the Western District lines except on rare occasions they run on the Santa Monica Air Line.

WThe Long Beach Twelves lasted until 1951 (except for 1231 and 1235 which were scrapped after their head-on collision in 1946), at which time they, along with other Twelves, were scrapped at the Kaiser Steel Plan at Fontana, ending a long and creditable life.


WTrailers 1242-1251 were built on the same order as motors 1222-1241 and were designed to work with those twenty motors on the Long Beach Line. The trailers were similar in every way to these motors, except that no motors were installed in their motor trucks.

WPacific Electric always had a soft spot in its heart for trailers since it first inaugurated multiple unit operation back in 1906; at that time, certain motors of the 800 Class) were demotorized, although retaining controls. These trailers were assigned to the Long Beach Line also, working on a ratio of one trailer per two motors. When Pacific Electric decided to re-equip the Long Beach Line in 1920, it was not surprising that the trailer principle was revived; on a line of heavy traffic with comparatively few stops, carrying a trailer was no handicap to on-time operation and entailed certain savings in power at no appreciable loss in performance. Thus motors 1222-1241 were geared down slightly in comparison to the San Berdoo Twelves --- this so they could handle trailers with minimum loss in acceleration time.

WAs long as traffic held up, the trailer idea was sound; but when Pacific Electric suffered a serious drop in patronage in the depression years, followed by an even greater swing to automobiles, it big steel trailers were seen less and less on the main line and more and more in the yards. Only World War II brought the 1242 Class back into the picture and warranted putting them in the shops for rehabilitation. All during the war the trailers were used regularly, often appearing on head ends of trains --- something Pacific Electric was loath to do when time permitted switching trailers to interior spots in consists.

WIn 1929 trailers 1242-1249 lost their motor trucks to some Portland Twelves, receiving Portland type trailer trucks instead. In 1946 trailers 1250 and 1251 lost their motor trucks to motorized trailers 1243 and 1244, receiving trail trucks from those cars in exchange. Trailers 1242 and 1246 received NWP cast steel trail trucks in 1946; 1246 kept hers till the end --- but 1242 was motorized in 1946, using trucks from 1206.

WWork Order No. 18186, dated September 13, 1920, called for the purchase and equipping as control cars of ten steel 1200 Class trail coaches at a cost of $260,000. In the WO's own words:

W"These cars are desired for use on Southern District Lines, which will release 800, 900 and 1000 Class cars for use on Western, Northern and Southern Divisions."

W"Present interurban equipment is not sufficient to provide satisfactory service, owning to a gradual and steady increase in our passenger business, on account of increase in population in districts we serve. A great many passengers are compelled to stand, and constant and serious complaints are continually received, resulting in loss of passenger fares as well as constant agitation for motor bus service. It has become very difficult to defend ourselves against the inroads of motor bus competition owning to this condition."

WFinal approval came through on December 8, 1920, and the ten trailers were purchased and equipped under SP Co. Series E Trust Equipment Fund; it almost seems the trailer were an afterthought --- for they were not proposed until eight weeks after the motors were requested. Yet final approval came through the same day and all 30 were purchased on the same equipment trust.


WOn April 16, 1943, Pacific Electric proposed in its Work Order 43, 100 request to motorize 17 trailers: 4512-4518 and 1242-1251. To quote from this WO which was later altered to apply to only 4512-4518:

W"Since these 17 cars are incapable of moving under their own power, they do not afford the flexibility of service required in Pacific Electric operations under present conditions. Account gas rationing and increased traffic, it is essential that the company get complete efficiency from each unit. Under present conditions these trailers are only utilized approximately 10% of their possible use as motor cars. 18 of the Maritime Commission cars are to be converted into trailers: it is planned to purchase 17 motor sets and controllers from USMC which will be installed on the Pacific Electric equipment."

WIt was decided to motorize only 4512-4518.


WCars 1252-1263 came to Pacific Electric in 1928 from SP after that company had abandoned electric suburban runs out of Portland to Eugene via Forest Grove, Newberg, McMinnville and Corvallis. Known originally as "The Portland, Eugene & Eastern Railway," the company later was "The Oregon & California Railway" and finally was simply known as "The SP Red Electrics," the latter being a nickname, not the corporate title. Opened in 1913, the electrical operation at its height was impressive, yet by 1927 was suffering severely from automobile competition. By July, 1928, buses had taken over some runs and eighteen of the big steel interurban cars were surplus; these were sold to Pacific Electric in July of that year. The last electric train operated over the West Side Line (via Forest Grove) in July of 1929, and the final run on the East Side Line to Eugene occurred on October 5, 1929.

WPE's Work Order 28210 called for the purchase from SP of eighteen Red Electrics for $214,659; it was dated July 1, 1928. Towed to Torrance Shops, the big cars were soon on their way back to top condition after years of quasi-neglect. Included in this work order were the following Portlands: passenger motors 210-212, 219 and 220; passenger control trailers 470-477; RPO-passenger 501; combos 511-514. Pacific Electric rebuilt these cars as follows:
Oregon & California 210Pacific Electric 1257
Oregon & California 211Pacific Electric 1252
Oregon & California 212Pacific Electric 1253
Oregon & California 219Pacific Electric 1254
Oregon & California 220Pacific Electric 1255
Oregon & California 470Pacific Electric 1256
Oregon & California 471Pacific Electric 1263
Oregon & California 472Pacific Electric 1258
Oregon & California 473Pacific Electric 1259
Oregon & California 474Pacific Electric 1260
Oregon & California 475Pacific Electric 1261
Oregon & California 476Pacific Electric 1262
Oregon & California 477Pacific Electric 1299
Oregon & California 501Pacific Electric 1374
Oregon & California 511Pacific Electric 1375
Oregon & California 512Pacific Electric 1376
Oregon & California 513Pacific Electric 1372
Oregon & California 514Pacific Electric 1373
WIt appears that PE's original intention was to have more passenger motors and fewer combos; in our files is a letter to all Pacific Electric foremen from Mr. E. C. Straub, PE's shop superintendent, with a date of February 13, 1929. In this letter Mr. Straub refers to passenger cars 1252 to 1266, and combos 1372 and 1373 only. It would seem that cars 1264, 1265 and 1266 turned into combos 1374, 1375 and 1376 by some mysterious alchemy.

WAll 1252 Class cars were built by the Pullman Company in 1912 for the PE&E. To bring them up to Pacific Electric standards, these cars underwent major overhaul and modification at Torrance Shops. Their original motors, GE 205, were too small to enable the Portlands to keep up with PE's own 1200s with which the Portlands had to operate in train service; so Pacific Electric removed a dozen quadruple sets of Westinghouse 557-A-5 motors from its cars 1001-1012 (the original San Bernardino Line cars) and installed them in the Portlands. Since Portland motors had seen considerably more service in Oregon than the trailers, and the latters' bodies were in considerably better condition and Pacific Electric decided to motorize them as needed to round out its dozen Portlands. Thus we see trailers 470-476 given motor trucks, the 470 receiving Portland motor trucks, with the others receiving motor trucks removed from Pacific Electric trailers of the 1242 Class.

WOther necessary changes included installation of PE's standard pneumatic trolleys to replace their former pantagraphs; automatic couplers; Hunter illuminated roof signs; removal of spring buffers and applying anti-climbers; applying one fender; removing roof clatter gongs and relocating same beneath end platforms. With these changes, the Portlands looked like Pacific Electric cars.

WCars 1252-1257 were given deluxe seating and entered service as parlor cars on January 3, 1929; they were assigned to streamer train service primarily, operating as extra fare equipment between Los Angeles and San Pedro.

WCars 1258-1263 were outshopped as straight passenger motors and entered regular service; the last, 1263, was released from Torrance on June 1, 1929. 1262 preceded it by a week. These cars entered pool service with PE's own 1200s, running mostly to San Bernardino, Redlands and Riverside.

WDue to dwindling business, parlor cars 1252-1256 were withdrawn from that service on October 31, 1936, and were returned to Torrance for conversion into standard passenger motors. With pantasote covered seats installed, the 1252s thereafter were distinguishable from the 1258s only by their special low type pneumatic trolley bases. 1254 and 1255 left Torrance and entered regular service on October 31, 1936; 1257 followed on November 21st; 1256 on December 5th; 1253 on December 18th; and finally 1252 on December 23rd.

WFoot operated air clatter gongs were removed on March 24, 1937 and replaced by standard 14" roof bells.

WRecepticles were applied for heater connections.

WRolling stock operated on S.P. Red Electric in Oregon consisted of 61 cars, divided as follows: 17 single-end combos, 19 double-end passenger motors, 17 double-end passenger control trailers, 5 box motors, and 3 RPO-baggage motors. All were built by Pullman except the three RPO cars which were built by Brill. All cars had same 36" wheels, four GE 205 motors (110 hp), GE Type M control, ARA standard couplers, and pantagraphs.

WWW WNumbering scheme:

1912 passenger motors: 200-212, 219, 220
1912 passenger trailers: 700-710 on PE&E, and 470-480 on O&C
1912 combos: 500-516
1912 box motors: 750-754
1912 RPO: 770-772
1920 passenger motors: 213-218
1920 passenger trailers: 481-486

WThe following were sent to the PE's Torrance Shops when SP abandoned its Oregon electric service:

All passenger motors: 200-220
Passenger trailers 470-477
All combos: 500-516
All box motors: 750-754
All RPO cars: 770-772

WPacific Electric scrapped the following at Torrance, 1938:

Passenger motors: 200-204, 206, 207
Combos: 500, 504-510, 515, 516

WTrailers 478-486 became NWP 210-218.

WAll other Portland cars were purchased by Pacific Electric and placed in service.

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