PE-314

"Blimp"
Photo by somebody
Car Specs
Car Number: 
314
Type: 
Blimp MU Coach
Builder: 
St. Louis
Built / Retired: 
1930 - 1959
Construction: 
Steel / Aluminum
Seats: 
80
Length: 
72ft
Weight: 
111,000 lbs
Notes: 
Operational

This car was built for the Northwestern Pacific, an interurban railway in the San Francisco Bay area. Owned by the Southern Pacific, the NWP operated electric trains from points throughout Marin County to a ferry boat terminal at Sausalito. Passengers transferred to ferries at Sausalito to complete their journey south into San Francisco. The NWP was abandoned in 1941, following completion of the Golden Gate Bridge.

In 1942, a group of nineteen NWP cars, including this one, were sent south to the SP-controlled Pacific Electric. Their large seating capacity was useful in handling the tremendous surge in passengers brought on by World War II.

The 314 was remodeled into its present configuration during a 1946-7 modernization program. The work included new interiors, seating and the famous "butterfly" paint scheme. The “Blimps”, as they came to be known, were used on the PE’s Southern District lines out of Downtown L.A, (including the route recently resurrected as the Metro Blue Line to Long Beach). In service until 1959, car 314 is one of three PE “Blimps” preserved at the museum.     

The former NWP Blimps were known as "Hot Rods". Having been designed to pull trailers on the NWP, they had more powerful motors than PE's other Blimps and thus had faster acceleration and a higher top speed. 

Although in need of repainting and other restoration work, PE 314 is fully operational and is used for special events on the museum railway. In 2008, a new set of window sash was manufactured for the car. Work is supported by the "PE Blimps" fund, donations to which are welcome. 

Renumberings: The car was originally numbered NWP 384, it became PE 4509, then PE 314 in 1947.  

Video Description
Video Description
More Images
314 as 4509, shortly after being placed in service on the PE in 1942. Walter Abbenseth Collection, OERM
314 as 4509, shortly after being placed in service on the PE in 1942. Walter Abbenseth Collection, OERM

Additional Images

This 2008 view of the 314 and 418 alongside LA 3001 helps illustrate why they were called "Blimps"
This 2008 view of the 314 and 418 alongside LA 3001 helps illustrate why they were called "Blimps"
314 interior 2009
314 interior 2009
Passing Mojave Northern saddletank locomotive, June 2009
Passing Mojave Northern saddletank locomotive, June 2009
Control position
Control position
314 at Dominguez Junction, 1950. OERM Collection
314 at Dominguez Junction, 1950. OERM Collection
314 gets cleaned up in Long Beach, late 1940s. Metro Library.
314 gets cleaned up in Long Beach, late 1940s. Metro Library.

OERM 2014 Calendar

OERM 2014 CalendarThe Orange Empire 2014 Calendar titled "The Street Cars of Los Angeles" is now available. Photographs of the Los Angeles Railway and the Pacific Electric Railway in Los Angeles and the surrounding areas enhance each month.. The price is $12.95 each plus sales tax and $5.00 shipping. To order your calendar call 951-943-3020 or e-mail info@oerm.org for more information.