Philadelphia Rapid Transit 5326

The preserved mast, light, sign and concrete auto stopper are on exhibit at the Richfol Platform.

Car 5326 is one of a group of 135 such cars built in 1923 by the J.G. Brill Company for the Philadelphia Rapid Transit Company. Just as Pittsburgh Railways had favored one car design for many years, so too had PRT favored the general design of cars like 5326, to the point where they had over 2,000 cars representing several variations of the same basic design. Brill had built so many cars for PRT over the years that a track was built from the street outside into the Brill plant just for the delivery of new cars!
Because Philadelphia lacks Pittsburgh’s hills, the cars there didn’t need to be as powerful. 5326 has only two motors to drive it, while most of the museum’s other eight wheel cars have four motors. In order to get maximum traction from the two powered axles, a distinctive design of truck was used, having two small unpowered “pony” wheels and two larger “driver” wheels.
Car 5326 is an example of the advance in the car builder’s art introduced just prior to World War I. The use of considerably more steel in the basic construction and the stronger, easier to maintain arch roof became the standard in car design into the early 1930s. The next step would be the introduction of lightweight alloys, and eventually the all-steel PCC car.
Introduction of the PCC car to Philadelphia in 1938 prompted major changes to 5326 and several of her sister cars. In 1941, the newly formed Philadelphia Transportation Company initiated a modernization program designed to attract patronage by applying features from the new streamlined cars to the older cars. As a result, the original wood slat seats were upholstered, enclosed lighting fixtures were installed, rubber flooring replaced hardwood and green paint was used to cover the car’s traditional brass and cherry wood appointments.
In April 1958, car 5326 had the distinction of being the first trolley car to ever travel the Pennsylvania Turnpike (even if it was on a trailer truck), as it moved to its new home in Washington, PA. While many of the cars at the museum are the lone survivors of their type, this is not true of 5326. Sister car 5205 has been preserved by the Electric City Trolley Museum in Scranton, PA.
Restoration of this car, initiated in 1976 as part of the American Revolution Bicentennial celebration, was made possible by a grant from the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation and the Southeastern Pennsylvania Transportation Authority (SEPTA). The extensive work undertaken to return this car to its 1923 appearance spanned a five year period, and included overhauling its controls and running gear, and undoing all of the modernization applied in 1941. This “labor of love” required more than 3,000 hours of labor by museum volunteers who donated their weekends and vacations to the preservation of history. The car has served as a mainstay of public operation at PTM since 1980, with a short break in 2004 & 2005 when flood damage from the remains of Hurricane Ivan in September 2004 forced the rebuilding of its trucks and motors.

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Car Number 5326 Car Builder J.G. Brill Company
Year Built 1923 Type DE DT City Car
Length 45’6″ Width 8’6″
Height 10’10″ Weight 37,720 lbs. (18.9 tons)
Seats 48 Motors GE 275A
Year Acquired 1957 Status In operation