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Monday, August 17, 2009

SDERy Niles Cars

With their signature arched windows (even the clerestory windows were arched!), cars built by the Niles Car & Manufacturing Co. were actually a rarity in Southern California. But six of them, built in the "California Car" style with an enclosed "all weather" section in the center and two open sections on the ends to take advantage of the fair southern California weather, did manage to make their way here.

The National City & Otay Railway, in 1908, ordered the six cars from Niles, numbered 105 - 110, to run on the 13 mile electric portion of NC&O's steam line from San Diego south to National City, Chula Vista and eventually Otay. Before the company took possession of the cars, the NC&O and Coronado Railroad were consolidated to become the San Diego Southern Railway.
Cars 105, 106 and 107 were retained by the San Diego Southern, but cars 108, 109 and 110 went to the Point Loma Railroad Co. The Point Loma line came under control of the San Diego Electric between 1909 and 1910, who changed the cars numbers to 401, 402 and 400 respectively. The numbers weren't changed on the cars themselves until 1911.


Around 1910, the Point Loma Railroad had car 110 repainted a chocolate brown and it became a very popular Sight Seeing Car. It ran over much of the San Diego Electrics lines, far from Point Loma.

The San Diego Southern lasted only a short 4 years before merging with the San Diego & Cuyamaca Railway to become the San Diego & South Eastern Railway in 1912. Note the nifty SD&SE monogram on car 105 (above). Car 105 would last the longest of the six. By 1915, San Diego Electric decided that their class 2 cars were more economical than the big interurbans and so retired the Niles cars.

All of the Niles cars were sold to the Pacific Electric in 1918. PE renumbered them 413- 418. Then 413 (ol' #105) was renumbered to 419, and ran under that number until 1933, when the other Niles cars were scrapped. 419 for whatever reason was spared and swapped numbers with PE 474.

Pacific Electrics spec sheet for the Niles cars.


#474 was spared yet again when it was rebuilt by the Pacific Electric as express car #1300. Car #1300 (old #474, and older #419, and yet older #413, and originally #105) was finally scrapped in 1941.

In 1970, Suydam imported HO scale brass models of PE 414 and PE 13oo Niles cars. Of which I have three. I think its time to get these trolleys tricked out next. Yessir! Tricked out trolleys!