PE-498

"Blimp" Combo
- John Smatlak photo -
Car Specs
Car Number: 
498
Type: 
"Blimp" MU Baggage / Coach
Builder: 
Pullman
Built / Retired: 
1913 - 1959
Notes: 
operational

Car 498 has much the same history as sister car 418, except that it was built as a combination baggage/passenger car, or "combo" in railroad terminology. The 498 was one of only four combo "Blimps"; all of which were used almost exclusively for Catalina Special service from Downtown Los Angeles to the docks in Wilmington, where connections were made to boats for Catalina Island. Why isn't this "Big Red Car" painted Red?The 498 is nearing the end of a complete interior and exterior restoration. It suffered, as did many steel railroad cars,  from rust problems that accumulated over many decades of hard service. Particularly affected were the car’s window posts (the vertical pieces between the windows), where wood located behind the steel skin absorbed moisture. Other areas where water would collect also developed serious rust problems, including the area where the floor of the baggage compartment met the walls. This particular area was especially bad, probably not helped by the fact that fresh fish, iced and salted, was a common cargo in the baggage compartment on the Catalina Specials. In order to repair the damage, the bottom six inches of each window post was cut out and replaced with new steel. The new pieces were welded in, and after finishing and painting, the repairs are almost unnoticeable.  Other sections on the car's ends and sides were also cut out and replaced. Work is now focusing on reassembling the car's interior, and on some necessary mechanical work. Portions of the exterior will begin receiving red paint in the near future.

Additional Images

On McFarland Ave in Wilmington headed for the Catalina Terminal 10/16/55. Robert
On McFarland Ave in Wilmington headed for the Catalina Terminal 10/16/55. Robert B. Petersen photo, OERM Collection
On San Pedro St. in downtown Los Angeles 7/9/53. Robert B. Petersen photo, OERM
On San Pedro St. in downtown Los Angeles 7/9/53. Robert B. Petersen photo, OERM Collection
Departing the Catalina Terminal in Wilmington 10/16/55. Robert B. Petersen photo
Departing the Catalina Terminal in Wilmington 10/16/55. Robert B. Petersen photo, OERM Collection

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.