What are Boston Trolley Types?

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What are Boston Trolley Types?

Postby Patrick Boylan » Mon Oct 15, 2012 1:38 am

I'm from a foreign country, southeastern Pennsylvania, so I have little inkling of these type 7's, 8's etc...
When I was a toddler there was only the indestructible PCC a block from my house. My dad gave me some exposure to Red Arrow's St Louis and Brillliners, which sure just looked like PCC's to me, and the 80's, bullets and Strafford cars. The bullets made sense, since they looked like bullets, but I wondered why the Strafford cars didn't go to Strafford, and why he called the 80's "80" when their numbers were 77-86.

I think that SEPTA's taken some efforts to catch up standardize vehicle designations, for example the railroad had MP54's, Reading Blueliners, then Silverliners 1 2 3 4 and the latest tinnyliner 5, Broad St Subway equipment's called B-4, since there were 3 distinct, and simultaneously operating, predecessors to the current monolithic Kawasaki cars, the Norristown line's equipment's N-5, also suggesting 4 predecessors, the aforementioned Strafford and bullet cars, and if I remember my Ron DeGraw's "The Red Arrow" book, the original 1907 cars, and 3 oddballs that they got in the early 1920's before the Strafford cars.
You can get a look at some of these at http://www.ectma.org/collection.html

But enough about trolleys in my exotic land. I just read Type 7 Overhaul Program viewtopic.php?f=65&t=40759, somebody referred to type 6's and got gently corrected that there's no such thing. I consulted the bastion of truth, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Green_Line_%28MBTA%29, which shows active fleet types 7 and 8, and retired fleet US Standard Light Rail Vehicles, and Presidents' Conference Committee streetcars. The text also mentions
"One of the earliest surviving pre-PCC cars, Type 5 5734, can still be seen parked on a sidetrack at the Boylston station, along with PCC 3295"
This hints to me that the PCC's, presumably successors to pre-PCC's, would be type 6, and types 1-4 would be those quaint toonervilles with which the world once teemed.

Can anyone point me to a complete list of Boston's trolley naming system? Was there or was there not a type 6, or do I have to create one in photoshop to share with you?
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Re: what are Boston trolley types?

Postby dieciduej » Mon Oct 15, 2012 2:59 am

Always try to help out a foreigner! This is only a thumbnail of it all.

The predecessors to today's MBTA was the Boston Elevated Railway (BERy) which began the process of designing the cars for the system and then having an outside builder build them. The first example was car 5000, a semi-convertible, built in-house at the Bartlett St shop in 1904. It was the precursor to the Type 1 series. From that point on till the arrival of the PCC car in the early 40s Boston has designed their streetcars. Type 1 to Type 4 were heavyweight style semi-convertibles, where the windows could drop-down or be pushed-up into a pocket to give an open-car feel during the summer season. The Type 5 was a lightweight streetcar, that can be seen at Boylston St. station. In between was the Center Entrance cars, sort of what was scene on the West Penn system. The Type 6 was a paper design and wooden mock-up, which exists up at the Seashore Trolley Museum in Maine. It may have gone into production if the federal government was not pushing to stimulate the sagging airline industry, henceforth Boston ended up with the Boeing LRV.

The Type 7 and 8 designs of today are modifications of existing designs in other cities/countries fitted to the Boston system each with there own benefits and quirks.

Again this was just a real quick thumbnail. For more detailed info look for the "Street Cars of Boston" series, Volume 1 to 6, which covers the whole lot of the horse cars, early electric cars, Type 1 to 5 cars and Center Entrance cars, by O. R. Cummings. The various used railroad book vendors usual carry them and are well worth it. Also the Boston Street Railway Association (BSRA) has published several books on the PCCs of Boston by Ed Anderson. I hope that was helpful all be it a quick snapshot.

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Re: what are Boston trolley types?

Postby The EGE » Mon Oct 15, 2012 3:00 am

Each Line has their own numbering system.

The Green Line is currently on the Type 7 (high floor) and Type 8 (low floor). The Type 9s are being ordered for Green Line Extension service, but it'll be a long while before they completely replace the Type 7s.

I believe the Boeing LRVs were designated as Type 6 but I may be wrong.

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Re: what are Boston trolley types?

Postby dieciduej » Mon Oct 15, 2012 4:03 am

The Type 6 was a design by the MTA/MBTA for a double-ended, single bodied, car. There is an issue of the BSRA magazine RollSign, January 1972, which has pictures of the mock-up and plans. Here is a photo of the mock-up I took in 2006 up at the Seashore Trolly Museum.

Type 6 Mockup (Sm).jpg
MBTA Type 6 Mock-up.
Type 6 Mockup (Sm).jpg (110.63 KiB) Viewed 3863 times
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Re: what are Boston trolley types?

Postby jwhite07 » Mon Oct 15, 2012 7:27 am

JoeD summarizes it pretty well. The pertinent point is that the "Type" designation was only given to cars designed specifically for Boston's system. Therefore, stuff like Birneys, PCCs, and the Boeing SLRV, which are not unique to Boston, did not receive a Type designation.

My question has always been, why weren't Center Entrance motor and trailer cars assigned a Type number? I believe they were an in-house unique design for Boston...
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Re: what are Boston trolley types?

Postby Disney Guy » Mon Oct 15, 2012 8:57 am

The Boston Elevated Railway (and MTA and MBTA) also assigned "type" numbers to the rapid transit cars but used the terminology "Number" or "No." rather than "type", for example "No.1 Main Line Elevated" for the first Orange line cars. Current models are #12 for Orange line, and "#5 East Boston Tunnel" for Blue line. For the Red line they dropped back to #1 and also changed the label; "#5 Cambridge Dorchester" was followed by "#1 Red Line"; the current fleet consisting of #1s and #2s and #3s.

The MBTA has also used "No." interchangeably with "Type" for the trolleys, e.g. No. 7 Surface Rail Vehicle for the Type 7.

You could consider New York City Transit Authority's "R" designations e.g. R-35, R-129, for their rapid transit cars as the same idea as Boston's "type" numbers.
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Re: what are Boston trolley types?

Postby F-line to Dudley via Park » Mon Oct 15, 2012 10:44 am

Per NETransit. . .

Type 1 - built by Brill - in revenue service 1905-1931 - 40 cars (5001-5040), none surviving.
Type 2 - built by Brill - in revenue service 1906-1928 - 50 cars (5041-5090), 3 surviving as converted compressor cars (Seashore).
Type 3 - built by St. Louis - in revenue service 1907-1931 - 100 cars (5091-5190), 6 surviving as converted snow plows (Seashore)...last one made it into the 21st century as an active MBTA plow before being retired.
Type 4, 4A, 4A2, 4A3, 4A4 (same model, different orders) - built by Laconia (4, 4A2), Osgood-Bradley (4A), St. Louis (4A, 4A2), Jewett (4A3), Wason (4A4) - in revenue service 1911-1950 - 285 cars (5191-5475), none surviving.
Type 5, 5A, 5A1, 5A2, 5B, 5B1, 5B1A, 5B2, 5C, 5C1, 5C2, 5D (same model, different orders)- built by Brill (5, 5A1, 5B, 5C), Laconia (5A, 5B1, 5B1A, 5D), Bradley (5A2, 5B2), Wason (5C2) - in revenue service 1923-1959 - 471 cars (5500-5970), 4 surviving (2 Seashore, 1 Warehouse Point, 1 MBTA at Boylston).
Type 6 - 1970's mock up, never built
Type 7 - built by Kinki-Sharyo - in revenue service 1986-present - 120 cars (3600-3719), 111 surviving (4 more expected to be scrapped).
Type 8 - built by Breda - in revenue service 1998-present - 95 cars (3800-3894), 1 stripped.

The 1's were preceded by a hodgepodge of other generic cars...NETransit only documents 61 of them lasting 1903-1930, but hundreds ran through the Central Subway in its first decade.

Gaps in the "Type" orders were:
-- 191 Articulated cars (4000-4068, 4200-4321), built in-house by BERy from mated old cars, in revenue service 1912-1925, none surviving.
-- 630 Center Entrance cars (powered cars 6000-6404, unpowered cars 7000-7224) built by Brill, Laconia, and Kuhlman, in revenue service 1915-1953, 2 surviving (Seashore).
-- 80 Birney 1's/1A's (9001-9081), built by American and Brill, in revenue service 1918-1929, none surviving
-- 346 PCC's (3001-3346), built by St. Louis (1 car only) and Pullman-Standard, in revenue service 1937-present, 10 active on Mattapan, many others surviving.
-- 144 Standard LRV's (3400-3543), built by Boeing-Vertol, in revenue service 1976-2007, 4 surviving (3 MBTA work cars, 1 Seashore)

Breaks in the "Type" numbering scheme were:
-- Type 5's (skipped 5476-5499 to reset at 5500)
-- Type 7's (continued the PCC/Boeing 3xxx scheme, skipping 3544-3599 to reset at 3600). Type 8's and future Type 9's continue the current scheme, resetting at the next 3x00 with each new design.
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Re: what are Boston trolley types?

Postby dieciduej » Mon Oct 15, 2012 4:16 pm

jwhite07 wrote:My question has always been, why weren't Center Entrance motor and trailer cars assigned a Type number? I believe they were an in-house unique design for Boston...

The answer is in "Street Cars of Boston Volume 3: Closed and Semi-Convertible Cars." Cars 5001-5054 based upon the BERy experimental 5000 car, actually they were ordered before 5000 was completed. They were designated by the BERy as Type 1 Semi-Convertibles. That said the Center Entrance cars were not semi-convertible hence they received their own designation.

But JoeD the Type 6 (paper design), Type 7 and Type 8 are not semi-convertible! They were designed during the MBTA era and adherence to the naming convention as well as the semi-convertible body type had gone by the wayside.

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Re: what are Boston trolley types?

Postby MBTA3247 » Mon Oct 15, 2012 4:28 pm

Two corrections to what F-Line posted: of the surviving Type 5s, one of the 2 Seashore cars is the one displayed at Boylston; the 4th car is owned by the BSRA and is being restored somewhere. There are also 1 or 2 more surviving Boeings than what he listed, which were sold to various branches of the federal government.
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Re: what are Boston trolley types?

Postby dieciduej » Mon Oct 15, 2012 4:38 pm

MBTA3247 wrote:... the 4th car is owned by the BSRA and is being restored somewhere.

Here is a link to the BSRA's webpage for the restoration of Type 5 5706:


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Re: what are Boston trolley types?

Postby Head-end View » Mon Oct 15, 2012 7:36 pm

I've always been sorry that the Boeing-Vertol cars were not more successful. I thought their one-piece flat windshield made them more attractive than the Type-7's double pane curved windshield. I understand though that Kinki-Sharyo must have been the better builder.
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Re: what are Boston trolley types?

Postby typesix » Mon Oct 15, 2012 7:52 pm

Head-end View wrote:I've always been sorry that the Boeing-Vertol cars were not more successful. ... I understand though that Kinki-Sharyo must have been the better builder.

Boeing did build rapid transit cars for Chicago that worked well, because Boeing did not design the car.
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Re: what are Boston trolley types?

Postby Adams_Umass_Boston » Mon Oct 15, 2012 8:31 pm

I too was a fan of the LRV's. I enjoyed that distinctive whine they made.
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Re: what are Boston trolley types?

Postby Scott10690 » Mon Oct 15, 2012 11:06 pm

Not to veer too far off subject but there are a few more Boston Boeing LRVs in existence besides 3424 at Seashore, and 3417/3448/3453 at the T.

3541 is somewhere with the US Army. Likewise 3468, 3480, 3485, 3499, 3514, and 3520 are with the TSA in Colorado.

and if we want to be really nit-picky two rejected Boston cars (later picked up by the San Francisco Muni) are kicking around as well. Muni car 1320 is at the Cameron Beach Yard in San Francisco and 1326 is in Manchester, UK.
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Re: what are Boston trolley types?

Postby Gerry6309 » Tue Oct 16, 2012 4:19 pm

Not to nitpick too hard here, but the design of car 5000 led to the type 2s and 3s. The Type 1s were an off-the-shelf design from Brill which was ordered to fill the need for larger cars, while the builder worked on meeting the Elevated's specs. Brill also delivered the 50 Type 2s. The Type 1s were shorter, and had a 5 window front, but would fit the East Boston Tunnel, and served there until the Type 2s arrived. After that they had uneventful careers, mostly in Division 6.

The Type 4s and Type 5s were all new designs, still unique to the Elevated, though some Type 5s were sold to Reading, PA in an emergency situation after a disaster struck that company. There were also 10 "Not quite Type 4s" sometimes referred to as Type 4A4s, which recycled equipment from Type 2s destroyed in the East Boston Carhouse fire. These were the last numbers in that series.

The Boeings were NEVER referred to as Type 6s. They were an adaption of a Tokyu Car Co. design, which also appears in its original state in cars operated in Buffalo. The feds insistence on a common design for the MBTA and MUNI resulted in a compromise spec. which was not what either city wanted. Federal insistence on "New Technology" tilted the equipment away from old line suppliers General Electric and Westinghouse and toward Garrett's chopper design (SOAC cars). Boeing took the cards dealt to them and did the best that they could.

The Type 7s were a response to a spec put out by the MBTA, based on the good points of the LRV, combined with lessons learned and what the MBTA really wanted. Kinki Sharyo designed a car which met the spec - and worked - but were heavy, requiring certain changes in the infrastructure. They got reordered! The Type 8s went back to the drawing board to meet the ADA requirements. Kinki designed a three section articulated car (based on the Type 7) which would work, with only the middle section low floor, but the MBTA rejected it on fare collection grounds. They went with a shorter three section design by an old line builder in Italy, but encountered severe teething pains resulting from the heavy use of "new technology". Which brings in one of my favorite lines, "Those who do not learn from the mistakes of the past are doomed to repeat them."

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