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Pacific Electric Box Motors at SCLS

By Dave Cox - Torrance, CA

There are currently 2 operating Pacific Electric box motors operating at SCLS

There are currently 2 operating Pacific Electric box motors operating at the club. There is my No. 1453 and Teri McQuerrey's No 1455. These box motors began as wooden kits some 20 years ago. They were built by a craftsman in Oregon and brought to Southern California by a former president of our club. Kelly Smith has two of the kits. Joe Manzo had two and one was owned by the late Gerry Gossett. Teri purchased hers from Gerry's family and I purchased one of Joe's.

The kits each consisted of two ends, two sides, and a very heavy roof. The cars were similar to PE but were a bit generic. Floors, power trucks, couplers, controls and all painting, lettering and details needed to be built. I chose to rebuild mine by changing the arrangement of the front windows, carving out the roofs, adding roof details, grab irons, foot boards, a sound system, headlights and bell.



The power trucks consisted of a bicycle assist motor geared to each axle. Joe Manzo built up the trucks to resemble a Pacific Electric Baldwin truck. Joe also cast the parts to make the pneumatic pole bases. Most of the other detail parts were made from bass sheets and bar stock. The removable headlights were made from PVC pipe and small flashlight parts. There are hooks on the front doors for hanging the headlights like the prototype. Small hinges and an operating door knob were added to the doors. The side doors were made to open in tracks inside the walls.

The car is powered by three 12 volt deep cycle marine batteries in series. The controller is a 4QD NCC 70-336v which uses MOSFETS instead of diodes and is made in Great Britain. I installed plugs at each end of the car so that it could be operated from either end. A piano hinge and chest hardware enables the roof to open for access to the batteries and wiring. When not in use special trickle chargers are used to maintain the battery charge.



The end result was to create a working model that resembled a Pacific Electric 1400 class wood box motor.


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About the Author:

Dave Cox has been a member of SCLS for about fourteen years. He was president of the club in 1998. Dave built a 1 1/2" backyard railroad for his kids back in 1971. It still exists for his grandchildren. There is a PE steeple jack locomotive, a small SP diesel locomotive, a riding car, crane car and caboose that operate there.

Dave's interest in model construction and trains goes back to childhood. He is currently a life member of the National Model Railroaders Association and has earned the title of "Grand Master Modeler".

Dave now divides his time between SCLS and the Los Angeles Fire Department Historical Society of which he is a director.

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