P&W Freight Motor #402

The exact origins of very unique Philadelphia and Western Freight Motor #402 remain somewhat unclear. It can be reasonably assumed that the car was constructed around 1920 in the Highland Park shops of the Detroit United Railway and numbered 2010. The DUR both built and reconstructed a number of cars in house during the 1920s that have similar construction details to the 2010.

P&W Freight Motor #402
402_1023x681Car No. 402
Previous Owner:
Philadelphia & Western
Previous City:
Philadelphia, PA
Car Type:
Maintenance of Way Car
Car Style:
Freight motor
Detroit United Rwys. (?)
Year Built:

The 2010 was constructed as a single end car with Westinghouse HL control and 557 traction motors of 140 horsepower each. The motors and control were commonly used on heavy interurban cars in the Midwest and may have been salvaged from a former passenger car.

Car #402 1991

Car #402 is capable of towing one or several cars behind it, like a locomotive. This view is from October 27, 1991.

It has been suggested that the 2010 was constructed over the frame of former Cincinnati Hamilton & Dayton freight trailer #847 which was wrecked in a collision on the DUR around this time. This car was originally built for the Ohio Electric Railway by Cincinnati Car Company in 1914. Although there is no conclusive evidence that this car was the origins of the 2010, the dimensions of the 2010 from bulkhead to bulkhead and from bolster to bolster match those of OE Cincinnati built trailers.

The 2010 operated along the DUR Toledo Division, where freight connections were made with the Cincinnati & Lake Erie, Toledo & Western, Ohio Public Service, and the Lake Shore Electric Railway. These systems, as well as others in Ohio, Indiana, and Pennsylvania, operated an extensive interurban freight network which saw freight trailers interchanged between lines and later, freight motors themselves in a pool arrangement for through freight runs over the C&LE, DUR, LSE, Northern Ohio Traction & Light, and the Penn-Ohio System. Thus, it is fairly certain that the 2010 operated at least as far east as Cleveland, OH and as far south as Cincinnati, OH, and possibly into eastern Indiana and western Pennsylvania as well; hundreds of miles from its home in Detroit. The primary commodity for these runs was components related to the manufacture of automobiles. Thus, 2010 and its sister cars were effectively helping to construct their own demise.

The DUR went bankrupt in the 1920s and the system was broken up. The Toledo division became the Eastern Michigan Toledo Railroad in 1928. The EMT suffered due to the depression and the increased use of automobiles and motor trucks and was abandoned October 5, 1932. Car 2010 was neither sold immediately nor scrapped, but instead was stored, along with a CERA box trailer, at Highland Park for the next 11 years. It has been suggested that the car was taken as collateral by the City of Detroit in a dispute with the EMT over unpaid paving costs. The car would later become the property of Frank Judge, a well-known used equipment dealer.

PW 402 1943 Don Kehl

In 1943, The P&W acquired this freight motor from a used trolley dealer and numbered the car #402. This view is from 1943 by Don Kehl.

In 1943, the Philadelphia & Western lost its wooden freight motor #402 due to fire and needed a replacement due to wartime demands. The P&W acquired the 2010 from Frank Judge as part of an insurance settlement from the destruction of the original 402. Thus, 2010 was loaded on a flatcar and was delivered to the P&W via its interchange connection with the Pennsylvania Railroad’s Cardington Branch at 69th Street in Upper Darby. Upon receipt by the P&W, the car was converted to a double-ended third-rail only motor and a door was cut into the former rear end of the car. The door enabled the car to carry long loads, like sticks of rail.

PW 402 Buehler 1961

In Michigan, the car was originally a single ended car. The P&W equipped the car with controls on both ends. Photo by Louis J G Buehler, November 10, 1961.

The 402 was used to haul freight as part of the P&W’s meager interchange freight operation, which dwindled down to only a few carloads per year by the 1950s. The car was extensively used in work service and for towing of disabled equipment. The 402 towed both former CNS&M Electroliners from the PRR interchange in 1963 and would later rescue these trains when they broke down on the line as well. The car also frequently towed the “pickle car”, which was a flatcar equipped to spray deicing chemicals on the third rail in freezing weather. The car would later be modified with a small plow under each platform to clear snow away from the third rail. The car passed into ownership of the PST Company in 1954 and SEPTA in 1970.

The car continued in use by SEPTA until 1990, when it was retired and offered for museum preservation. Railways To Yesterday, Inc., operators of the Rockhill Trolley Museum, acquired the car the same year and transported it to the museum site in Rockhill Furnace, PA, where it entered service in 1991. The car needed extensive control system work after acquisition by the museum as the car had been used by SEPTA for load testing of new substations which caused significant damage.

P&W #402 1990

In 1990, it took a large truck to carry freight motor #402 from Philadelphia to South Central, PA. Photo Date: December 2, 1990.

The 402 continues in museum use today as an operating example of a trolley freight motor at special events as well as for its intended purpose – hauling heavy loads. The car is the most powerful vehicle in the museum collection and its tractive effort and powerful brakes make towing of heavy cars such as the former subway car and Liberty Liner safer. The museum intends to maintain the car in operating condition as long as possible. When not in use, the car is kept in protected storage where it is available for display.

402 Side View

Matthew W. Nawn, (c) 2011