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WPacific Electric logoWPacific Electric 800 Class History
Pacific Electric 800-805, 807-811, 813-832, 834, 836-860, 862, 864 to 868, 870-896 Class Car Diagram
Pacific Electric 897-899 Class Car Diagram
Pacific Electric 901-908, 910, 911 & 918 Class Car Diagram
Pacific Electric 900, 912 to 917, 919-927 Class Car Diagram
Individual Car Histories, 800 Class

WThe 800 Class built Pacific Electric. They were Southern California's first high speed interurbans. They were by far the largest interurban class numerically, there being 131 cars of this type after 1911. They were THE Huntington Interurban car for they were designed by Huntington engineers in 1902 and proved such a success that the original order for twenty cars was followed by several re-orders. The Eights reigned supreme from 1902 until 1914 from Santa Monica to Pomona, from Pasadena to Balboa. Even after being supplanted by newer cars the Eights held their own due more perhaps to their high speed than to any other factor.

WWith the construction of Mr. Huntington's line to Long Beach in 1902 the way was open for true interurban operation on the then new Pacific Electric system. Once the major decision to build that line to standard gauge rather than the then universal 3'-6" gauge used in the Los Angeles area had been made, cars could be used capable of carrying motors of sufficient power to attain speeds in excess of a mile a minute. This was the challenge and Huntington engineers met it in a novel way: by enlarging the company's then largest type of car, its 200 Class. These cars (see 500-529) incorporated an open section and a larger closed section, were mounted on rigid bolster trucks and used Huntington's universal five-window ends. As narrow gauge cars they were capable of getting up to about thirty miles an hour.

WThe 800s proved to be a super 500: their open sections were lengthened to provide five windows instead of three, but the closed sections were similar. The order for twenty test cars was awarded to the St. Louis Car Company and the Eights were on their way.

WThe big cars created a sensation when delivered back in 1902. In its issue of June 13, 1903, "Street Railway Journal" noted with misgivings:

WAlthough these cars are intended for a speed of over 70 miles per hour maximum, the California (sic) type of car has been selected... This car has one end open, although entrance can only be made from the platform, as the open part of the car is surrounded by wire netting up to the sash line.
WApparently Mr. Huntington's staff felt that passengers in the open section would not object to being windblown at 70---they could always cling to the netting! Be that as it may, we note that those Eights built with netting received enclosed side up to the belt rail in the next few years, and newer Eights were so built at the factory.

WIn 1902 Multiple Unit (MU) operation was unheard of on Pacific Electric so these cars were equipped for single unit operation with L-4 control and link & pin couplers. In 1906 Pacific Electric went over to MU train operation and later cars of this class were so equipped when built. Many of the earlier EIghts were given MU control, but some remained single unit cars until the end. Cars 919-926 are in this category although it appears from old records that they too were multiple unit in early years. In 1930 these cars received K-14 control, still single unit, but all were equipped with Janey couplers for emergency use.

WWhile records are not decisive, apparently PE ordered 270-276 in 1903, 277-319 in 1904 and 320-386 in 1906. Records do not show a 1907 renumbering for cars 330-335 leading to a fascinating speculation; such as could these cars have become San Francisco, Napa & Calistoga's cars 44-49 which were very similar except for being AC powered?

WIn 1907 PE carried out a renumbering of this class to provide additional numbers for suburban cars (see 500 Class). Details of this renumbering plus the 1911 renumbering are available elsewhere herein.

WWith the coming of MU operation, 1906 cars came with a curved buffer to accommodate the Janey radial couplers. This buffer was bolted on and it served as additional protection in case of collision. Couplers were so mounted that they swung radially about a pin which connected to a standard radial drawbar anchor bolted to center sills. A spring sufficient for handling five or six cars was used.

WThe assignments of the Eights is legend. On any interurban line of any consequence in PE's history, Eights operated at one time or another. Even the 1200v San Bernardino Line saw cars 871-882 ,specially modified in 1919, exchanging motors with 1001-1012. 871-882 lost 557-A-5 motors which were 600-1200 volt machines at that time and got in return 333-A-2 motors, also able to operate on 1200 volts. Hence we cannot be certain that an Eight never rolled in San Bernardino!

WFrom 1902 until 1936 there were more cars of this class in service on the Southern District that any other type. In 1911, every interurban car on the South was an Eight! In 1915 thirty Tens went south but there were 69 Eights there to offset them. 1918 saw Tens almost even, 38 Tens to 44 Eights, and there were 44 Eights in service on the West that year. In 1920 there were 62 Eights on the South, but by 1922 the Eights were stronger on the West; 62 cars vs. 54 on the South. In 1924 the 950 Class relieved of its epic Pasadena assignment by the new 1100s descended upon the West and the EIghts remaining there numbered but 31. The displaced Eights at the time went south to the tune of 71 units setting a record. For the following twelve years Eights were divided between the North, South and West in this ratio: 25, 58 and 39 respectively. Not until 1936 did the Eights relinquish their rule of the South. In that year 17 went to the North, 11 to the South and 69 to the West, mainly to replace the 550s on the Glendale-Burbank Line. Cars 836-855 received two trolley poles and automatic safety stops on their trucks for subway operation.

WTime ran out for the Eights in 1940 when PE's $5 million modernization program resulted in abandonment of several rail lines. 1940 and 1941 saw wholesale scrapping at Torrance Shops of the 800s. Five became box motors (823, 826, 844, 859 and 881) with new numbers 1495-1499 respectively. During World War II these five again became passenger cars serving on the Torrance Shop train until 1944 when they again became box motors. Four cars became combos 1356-1359. One car became a crane and another a weed burner. Only 1498 remained complete going to Travel Town and then to Orange Empire Railway Museum where it was severely damaged by fire in 1995. Other car's body's remain and someday all these pieces might be combined to reconstruct an example of one of the PE's most significant and finest classes of car.

WIronic is is that had the scrapping program been deferred but a few months, the Eights could have lasted through World War II. Had they remained would the PE have imported the Blimps (see 300 and 400 Classes)? And had the Blimps not been imported and still later modernized, would PE's 1100s and 1200's have remained until the final end of passenger rail operations in 1961?

Miscellaneous Car Notes:

WIn 1914, Pacific Electric equipped all 345 interurban and suburban cars, 16 combos, 25 box motors and 13 cabooses with emergency wrecking tool boxes at a cost of about $3,000. Reason given: "To meet emergencies in case of wrecks; thus facilitating extricating any persons who might be buried under the wreckage." The glass fronted boxes and their clearly visible axes, sledge hammers and saws were installed over doors in partitions between the smoking section and main passenger section. Cars receiving these tool boxes were: all 400s, all 500s, all 700s, 800-926, 1300, 1301, 1350, 1351, 1310-1318, 1360, 1362, 1363, 1407-1409, 1413-1415, 1417-1420, 1430-1444 and 1900-1912; a total of 399 cars.

WPE was always interested in devices which would separate motorman from passengers so they would not interfere with his work by talking, jostling and asking questions. In 1909 cars 300-424 inclusive (all the 800 Class then in regular service) received heavy pipe railings affixed behind motorman's position. In 1918 a work order was approved calling for equipping 100 cars with cabs at right front corner; cars were: six 450s, 38 of the 500s, 14 of the 700s and 42 of the 800s. After 11 cars were so equipped the program was changed. On July 1, 1919 it was decided to abandon cabs in favor of bulkheads with doors which could be locked to force passengers to leave by rear doors where conductor could supervise them in the interest of safety; applying only to open ends. After 36 cars received the bulkheads, passenger complaints of objectionable seating positions necessitated the PE returning to the cab design; which the remaining 53 cars in time received. Cabs required moving the car controls to the right front corner at a cost of approximately $100 per car. The work was completed late in 1920 at a total coast of $35,000.

WTo show the amazing preeminence of the 800 Class at the time of the Great Merger, we examine mileage records that show that as of January, 1912 the two interurban classes compared as follows:

800 Class498,000 miles5,416 miles per car92 cars
900 Class67,998 miles2,833 miles per car24 cars
700 Class139,000 miles3,022 miles per car46 cars
Since 800 & 900 Classes were identical, grand total was 565,998.

Seating capacities of PE interurban classes
800 Class7,280 seats
950 Class2,800 seats
1000 Class3,180 seats
1100 Class3,200 seats
1200 Class4,096 seats
300 Class1,520 seats
400 Class3,760 seats

WTrucks were St. Louis Car Company's Type 23-B, designated by PE as its Class A swing bolster type. Of 6'-4" wheelbase, these trucks used wheels of the 33" size during most of their lives, but some had wheels of larger diameters, up to 36" for some deluxe cars used on excursion runs. Very similar to the MCB design, the 23-B had its frame depressed at the top but not sufficiently to materially reduce the space available for the spiral springs which rested on equalizing bars. Side frames were of bar-irons, arranged in a truss and bolted to angle-iron ends. Elliptic springs were used on bolsters. The swing of the bolsters was cushioned by spiral springs. Weight of the 23-B truck complete was about 9,000 lbs. Weight of the car body was 42,900 lbs. in original version for a total of 60,900 lbs. before motorization.

Orders and Dates Built:
WOld Pacific Electric placed several orders with St. Louis Car Company for Eights. As nearly as can be determined from existing records, these orders were as follows:

Car Nos.UnitsDate Ordered
250-26920December, 1902
270-2767June, 1903
277-31943July, 1904
320-32910February, 1906
336-38651*July, 1906
*Missing cars: 330-335, six cars

WThus counting the six missing cars, the total is 137 cars---the largest order ever placed by any interurban electric railway in the world for one type of car.

WCars 800-889 were ordered and paid for by PE's affiliate, the Los Angeles Inter-Urban Railway, but were always lettered for the PE.

Miscellaneous Notes:
WThe Eights were delivered to Los Angeles on their own wheels and were equipped at PE's very complete shops located at 7th, Central and Alameda Streets.

WFirst test MU train operated on June 15, 1906 and was composed of two motors and a trailer between. PE installed the couplers and 251-C controls itself. All cars then received couplers and MU controls.

Trailers: WOld Pacific Electric was firmly convinced of the efficacy of trailer operation. From 1906 on there were trailers on 800 Class trains whenever traffic demanded. At first not all trailers were equipped with controls. Such non-control sleds had to be placed within trains and have control cables running their entire length to connect adjacent motor cars. By the time of the Great Merger records indicate that all trailers were equipped with MU controls of Westinghouse manufacture. At that time it appears that cars 900-919 were control trailers.

WIn September 1911 trailers 906-911 received big Westinghouse 333-A-2 motors (125hp) as a test. Working with these newly motorized cars were trailers 900-905. These dozen cars comprised the Westinghouse set of test cars intended to decide on type of equipment new cars of the proposed 1000 Class would receive.

WThe following year saw General Electric equip six trailers, 912-917 with its big motors of the 222-D type (also 125hp each). Car 917, last of the six to be motorized was ready in August, 1912.

W1913 saw cars 906-911 lose their Westinghouse motors and controls; PE stated in the work order that "this test equipment was not suited to our needs and will be removed." These cars then were given GE MU controls (October, 1913) to enable them to work with motors 912 to 917. From that time on, these were the "GE Eights" and the dozen cars comprised their own small class, not being able to work in train service with remainder of the 800s. They usually worked the Newport-Balboa Line.

WThis GE control equipment included C-36-C master controllers, MS-46-A control switch and fuse, MS-14-B combined master controller and reset switch, DA-69-B nine point coupler sockets and DC-66-C nine point coupler plugs.

WTrailers 900-905 and 918 remained Westinghouse cars and worked with the balance of the Eights for many years.

WTrailers equipped with cabs were: 901, 903, 905, 910 and 918. The GE trailers were equipped with one portable Crouse-Hinds headlight leading to the conclusion that they worked at the head end of trains.

WAll of these 900 Class trailers entered dead storage on January 20, 1930.

1928 Upgrading:
WUnder work orders 28201 and 28202, 106 Eights went through Torrance Shops in 1928 and 1929 for a major overhaul and rebuilding. Included in the work was the application of Rex brand brass window sash in open ends to make the cars entirely enclosed. Upholstered seats were then installed in the former open sections. Folding doors were also applied.

WOn April 10, 1929 the Pacific Electric Magazine stated:

W"The work of enclosing open section by metal sash and folding doors is about completed. With this improvement and the improved seats, the old 800s are very comfortable to travel in, although in service approximately 17 (sic) years."

WAlas, the depression caused the Pacific Electric on April 25, 1933 to issue orders that in the future, any overhauling of the Eights must not exceed $550.

WAlthough Eights were listed in Pacific Electric's 1913 Evaluation Report as costing $3,799.70 each FOB Los Angeles, by 1928 they were carried on the books at $10,800 each.

1918 Big Motor Proposal:
WWith the upsurge of confidence and eagerness to get going again, PE in November 1918 proposed to purchase 48 Westinghouse 333-A-2 motors to equip a dozen Eights "with motors of modern design and larger capacity," to quote the Authority For Expenditure.

WReason given for this request was: "By this expenditure we will be able to save $8,600 per year, which represents the saving in maintenance cost of 48 old Westinghouse 76 motors. An additional $1,00 per car will be saved by relieving the balance of the cars of the 800 Class of present excessive maintenance charges caused by hauling trailers. To this saving can be added $120 per car per year, which represents the time of car out of service."

WRegrettably this plan was not approved.

WIn the summer of 1919 PE purchased twelve sets of Westinghouse 557-A-5 motors (140hp each) and installed them on cars 1001-1012. The old 333-A-2 motors formerly on those cars were then installed on 871-882. This exchange continued until 1928 when the 557-A-5 motors went into Portland cars of the 1252 Class. 1001-1012 then received back their 333-A-2 motors. While equipped with 333-A-2 machines, 871-882 continued to work MU with other Eights; but according to PE's retired Superintendent of Equipment Ernest A. Stevens, "They worked together, but not very well." Although the 333 motors were 600-1200 volt machines, no Eight ever got onto 1200 volt trackage according to Mr. Stevens.

Cars 330-335, where are you?
WOld Pacific Electric evidently lost track of some six cars of this class: 330-335.

WOriginal numbers of cars in this class started at 250 and progressed to and including car 386 indicating a grand total of 137 cars.

WAccounted for are 130 cars: 800-929 (latter also included as 909) and 1357.

WIf we add car 398 (scrapped 1911) and the six cars unaccounted for: 330-335, the total is 137.

WCan it be that 330-335 were sold to another electric railway company? Only other company known to have owned cars similar to the Eights on the San Francisco, Napa & Calistoga. Can Napa Valley have bought these cars and re-equipped them for operation on 3200 volts AC? Napa scrapped its remaining cars of this type in 1938 at the same time that only three Eights still existed.

WFour Eights were rebuilt into combination passenger-baggage motors.

W929 became combo 1356 in 1928.

WDeluxe car 012 became combo 1357, also in 1928.

W854 became combo II 1358 and 855 became combo II 1359 in 1933.

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