Seattle WA Trolley Coach
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A nice note from LSH, which answers at least one Seattle picture mystery.

I am one of those ex-trackless trolley operators that just enjoyed his time under the wires. I am including a photo of myself and Twin Coach 633 taken at Jefferson Garage in Seattle, WA, around 1976 and again at the Orange Empire Railway Museum in Perris, California. I had no idea the coach was there and happened to "luck" up on it while visiting the area and took a "before and after" picture alongside it.

Also in the background is Pullman 656, the newest of that class. Around 1976, the shops installed about 10-12 large batteries beneath the floor of that coach and a mechanism on the roof which automatically pulled the poles down, allowing the coach to go off-route for about a half mile. The device worked somewhat but the downside was that there wasn't enough power to run the air compressors. All you had was what was left in those air tanks prior to bringing the poles down. Once that was exhausted, you were up a creek! No one wanted to drive it because it had become so heavy with those extra batteries that steering it in regular service taxed the biggest weight lifter! And so it sat in the yards as the last to go out on the shortest of trippers!

[After reading the note about the remote dewiring device, John Day sent me the following comment: "This equipment was bought second-hand from Rheydt, Germany after that city abandoned its trolleybus operation. I had shown slides to individuals in Seattle of the Rheydt operation, which required its trolleybuses to cross main line railways electrified at high-voltage A.C. It was simpler to have the trolleybuses dewire, and motor across the tracks on auxiliary power (in that case, a standard VW air-cooled engine) that to figure out a safe physical connection to the high-voltage catenary. Upon obtaining contact information, a set of equipment was bought for trial, leading to the similar system fitted to the Bredas for their suburban operation away from the overhead network."]

I originally applied to work at Seattle Transit in 1968, at age 21 and I've driven the Twins, the Pullmans and of course Brill 798, all in regular service. I was in high school in 1963 when all of the Brills and about 75 of the earlier Twins were retired, replaced by new Flxibles but I do remember seeing no. 798, which was the last Brill painted in green and white and if I'm correct, the last one taken out of service.

The Flxibles came during the summer of 1963 and the first line to lose its trolleys was the No. 5 Phinney, a line traditionally worked by 800 series Twins.

Finally, you have a photo of Twin Coach No. 612 , working south at 3rd and Union and signed "12 E. Cherry"... For years, the 12's along with the 2's and 13's, worked east on Pike, turning south on 5th where they worked south to Spring and then made a left turn up toward 9th Avenue and First Hill. That all changed in 1977 when businesses along 5th Avenue wanted the wires taken down between Pike and Spring Streets, necessitating a reroute. Wire was strung from 3rd and Spring Street, up a steep grade to where it connected with the old route at 5th and Spring. And that is why you see a route 12 trolley heading southbound on 3rd Avenue.

It must be mentioned here that the Twin Coaches, with their seven-step Westinghouse controls, had no trouble ascending Spring Street, a grade which was actually steeper than Queen Anne's "Counterbalance", however, the Pullmans, which had 14-step General Electric controls suffered terribly. The booster buttons often caused the circuitry on the Pullmans to "pop", meaning you had to get off of the accelerator for a second, stop, and then try it again. More often that not, the booster buttons didn't work on the Pullmans on such steep grades (perhaps the reason why Brills and Pullmans never worked route no. 2 up Queen Anne Hill. By the time you crested the top of the grade, you could smell the controls "frying" from the rear end. Strangely enough, no one ever became alarmed at the smell and I can only remember one Pullman ever having a fire on Spring Street before it reached First Hill. Note: Once, during a coach shortage, I took a Pullman up the Queen Anne "Counterbalance" and it had no trouble. A keen-sighted passenger, who obviously recognized "his trolleys" sat behind me and asked if I "thought the bus would make it!"

Personally, I enjoyed the "little" Twins as they were the most maneuverable and most comfortable to drive. They were also the oldest, having arrived in 1940, a few months ahead of the Brills.

Before closing, Atlanta had some Twins from 1939 and 1940. We always see the Twins that opened the system in 1936. We also see the last of the Atlanta Twins, a batch of 8 from 1943. But those from 1939 and 1940 seemed to have gotten lost somewhere. No matter where one looks, there never seems to be photos of them.

--Thanks for the kind words, and for solving the mystery

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