• Brill Master Unit--info?

  • General discussion about fallen trolley and interurban lines in North America, past and present.
General discussion about fallen trolley and interurban lines in North America, past and present.

Moderator: Aa3rt

  by jaystreetcrr
 
I just purchased an old HO brass model of a Brill Master Unit trolley. I'm not a traction modeler (yet) and most of my knowledge is of stuff that ran in Brooklyn and the NYC area. Can anyone share any information on Master Units, or on HO brass trolley imports from the 60s? Thanks....John
  by Mr rt
 
Look at Philly area ... the last Brill plant was there, so some local towns bought Brills.

Your problem is that at the end Brill wasn't selling many Brilliners or Brill Master Units.
The Branford Trolley Museum in CT has one or each.
  by jaystreetcrr
 
Thanks for the info. I've since done a little research and yes, they weren't that common. Seems like most of them were in Virginia or Washington state. It looks a little like the Osgood Bradley Master Units that ran on the Queensboro Bridge so I've thought of painting it in that scheme.
I purchased seven more trolleys from the same flea market source and have some 3rd Avenue and Brooklyn ones that are more interesting to me, so if anyone's interested in a Master Unit, or a Toronto Peter Witt, or a Pacific Electric 1200....John
  by JimBoylan
 
Osgood Bradley made Electromobiles.
Philadelphia & West Chester Traction Co. bought 10 each of Brill's Master Units and Brilliners, 1 of each are at the trolley museum in Branford, Conn.
  by walt
 
JimBoylan wrote:Osgood Bradley made Electromobiles.
Philadelphia & West Chester Traction Co. bought 10 each of Brill's Master Units and Brilliners, 1 of each are at the trolley museum in Branford, Conn.
The Electric City Trolley Museum in Scranton has two of the 1932 Brill Lightweight Cars,( Nos 80 & 85) which are not really "Master Units" though the museum describes them as such, and one of the Red Arrow Brilliners( No 9). There was also a second Brilliner in the collection ( No 7- the last "conventional" car to operate in revenue service on the former Red Arrow Rail Lines) but its body deteriorated to the point that it had to be scrapped. The 1932 Brill Cars, which have been described as Master Units, have the same relationship to the actual Brill Master Units as the 1949 PCC type St Louis Interurban Cars have to the "true" PCC Cars, which is to say that although the cars have some similarity to Master Units, they were much faster and had very different operating equipment than the Master Unit Cars had. Note-- by the time the Brilliners were acquired ( in 1941) the Philadelphia & West Chester Traction Company had become the Philadelphia Suburban Transportation Company ( Red Arrow Lines), hence the lower numbers assigned to the Brilliners ( Nos. 1-10) which represented the "new" series of numbers reflecting vehicles acquired by PSTCo. rather than P&WCT.
  by RobtN
 
My guess is you have one of the 300 HO Master Unit cars built by Fairfield Traction Models for Northwest Short Line. (I'm guessing NWSL brought this out due to the Portland connection; they're usual offerings were Pacific Northwest steam, especially logging.)

The Master Unit was an important step towards the "standard" street car, which culminated with the launch of the Presidents' Conference Committee (PCC) car in 1936. The Master Unit was a standard set of components, but only within the Brill group of companies, which included Osgood-Bradley, whose version was the Electromobile. Operators had some flexibility in car length and other details (there was even a single-truck prototype unit), and it could be built in single- and double-end versions. Almost all were city cars, save for the 10 previously noted Red Arrow suburban/interurban cars.

In terms of history, there's a good history of J.G. Brill published a few years ago, which is also available on Google Books. Also, in addition to the cars mentioned above, the Pennsylvania Trolley Museum (in Arden, PA, south of Pittsburgh) has one of the Red Arrow Master Unit cars, on display and in operation, and also has a Red Arrow Brillliner and PCC car.

If you visit, Arden, be sure to check out the single-end and double-end Pittsburgh "Jones" cars, an earlier, operator-level standardized car.
  by JimBoylan
 
RobtN wrote:The Master Unit was a standard set of components, but only within the Brill group of companies, which included Osgood-Bradley, whose version was the Electromobile.
Osgood-Bradley, Worcester, Mass., was within the competing Pullman group of companies. PCCs were also build at that plant. Wason Mfg. Co., of Springfield, was the Mass. car builder within the Brill group of companies.
  by Disney Guy
 
Do the 1932 Brill Lightweights have the same body as Master Units?

If so, then the model could stand for either.
  by walt
 
Disney Guy wrote:Do the 1932 Brill Lightweights have the same body as Master Units?

If so, then the model could stand for either.
The 1932 Red Arrow Cars have a body that is very similar to the Master Units, though they are double ended while most of the Master Unit Cars were single ended. One of the problems in trying to "pigeon hole" the three Red Arrow Car types is that they have more in common with each other than they do with the single ended city type cars which are considered to be their "sisters".
Of course standardization in the streetcar building industry never reached the level that the bus manufacturing industry reached. Even the so called "standard" PCC car came in 22 different versions. This is primarily because there were many more variations in the needs and methods of operation of streetcar, and especially interurban systems than with bus systems. In reality, the Red Arrow Brilliners and the Red Arrow St. Louis Cars have much more in common with each other than either has with its "sister" city type cars. Both types use exactly the same 75 HP motors, and have exactly the same seating arrangement ( which is very similar to that in the 80 series Lightweights) The "standard" PCC had 55 HP motors and very different seating arrangements. And, of course, all three types were much faster than their city "sisters". Probably the most accurate statement that can be made about the three Red Arrow Car types is that they were each unique and unlike any thing operating anywhere else.
  by jaystreetcrr
 
Thanks for all the replies. Way more than I'll ever need to know about Master Units! I ended up getting a lot more trolley models from the same flea market vendor, including some Brooklyn and 3rd Avenue Railway ones, so now I'm looking to sell the Master Unit. Yes, it is one of those NWSL/Fairfield models. It has a bad paint job but is otherwise in good shape.
Anyone out there in the NY area (or internet land) interested in NYC area traction? I'm not finding a lot of modelers or fans around here....John