Carter Bros. Convertable Streetcars

Discussion of specific prototype locomotives and other equipment of all gauges.
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Carter Bros. Convertable Streetcars

Post by r3feetr » Sat Apr 30, 2016 4:34 pm

Through a newspaper search I found that Carter Bros. built convertible electric street cars for a Portland Street Car Company. When I looked through John T. Labbe's book, Fare, Please! Those Portland Trolley Years, I found a photo for a convertible car made by the Stockton Combined Harvester and Agricultural Works of Stockton, CA. These cars were delivered in April 1891. I am wondering if these cars were a joint venture of Carter Bros. and the Stockton Works. The Newspaper article, book photo, and Patent drawing are attached. Does anyone know if there was a joint venture? Or maybe the Stockton Works subcontracted the wood work to Carter?

December 1, 1890 San Francisco Call, page 3
Interior Towns. -- Irvington.
Your correspondent had the pleasure this week of visiting the car-shops at the invitation of Mr. Carter to inspect some new model cars there manufacturing for the electric-motor road in Portland, Oregon. These are the first to be built for use. At first glance they look like unusually large Sutter-street dummy-cars— two long seats running the length of the car, back to back, with an aisle between, "By a simple twist of the wrist," however, these seats, which are in sections, are made to face inward. Window-sashes pull down from above and join them, and, presto! there is your inclosed car. just like any other one of its kind, keeping the passengers warm and dry. The inventor is J. E. Low, the well-known mining expert, a brother of the San Francisco banker of that name. His invention is applicable to the open dummies of the cablecars, and is beyond dispute a fine thing. " Why didn't some one think of that before." is the first thought of the beholder.

Low patent convertible car.jpg
Carter - Stockton Works Convertible Street Car.jpg

Randy Hees
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Joined: Mon Aug 17, 2009 7:07 pm

Re: Carter Bros. Convertable Streetcars

Post by Randy Hees » Sun May 01, 2016 7:22 am

Hi John, I have fallen down that rabbit hole as well...

As far as I can tell, the Carter Bothers and Stockton Combined Harvester & Agricultural works were not connected, but instead were competitors. I also suspect that railroad cars attributed to Holt were instead built by SCH&A...

I have been working on a history of SCH&A... It needs work but...

Stockton Combine Harvester & Agricultural Works

Company founded 1884 by L. U. Shippee. Shippee is a former blacksmith, later banker. It appears that he is not so much a designer or inventor as much as a business man.

October 1885 merges with (or takes over) Hauser Combine works. They hold a patent for a combined harvester/thresher/header Patent number: 389884, Filing date: Jul 20, 1887 Issue date: Sep 25, 1888

His business model seems to be based on acquiring the “best” technology, by purchasing companies and retaining their owner/inventor to manage that portion of his business. Businesses acquired include Hauser’s Combine works, a maker of the screens used in combines, and a plow maker.

The works burn in 1890, and again, later leading to several law suits.

The railroad car business starts suddenly, and they seem to the dominant builder of the Pacific coast cable car outside of San Francisco and Oakland. To date, I have not located a strong connection with car building, which would lead to SCH&A to enter the business. The only connection seems to be a pattern maker, William E. Tretheway attended the public schools of Stockton until he was fourteen years old, then went to San Francisco, where he attended the Lincoln public school and served an apprenticeship as pattern-maker in the Risdon Iron Works. In this branch of industry he at once rose to prominence. He built the Hope Iron Works, and turned out the patterns for the California Street Cable Company, San Francisco. Leaving that city in 1877, he returned to Stockton and took charge of the pattern department of Farrington, Hyatt & Co., where he was engaged until the present firm was organized.

This firm was sued for patent infringement by Hammond (check Chronicle 21 Nov 1895) over there construction of “California” style cable and street cars (open/closed/open style) which Hammond had patented.

Note: this firm is not associated with Holt. There are a number of reports that Holt may have also built railroad equipment in Stockton, but I suspect that those reports are in error. It is likely that parties associated with the Stockton & Ione may have built some horse cars for others, as well as some freight cars for the S&I in Stockton.

The company eventually fails at least in part because of Shippee’s love of horse racing, at which he is not as good at as he would like to be. His son attempts to revive the business in the later 1890’s

Cars built

1888 – Grip (and dummy?) cars for Yasler Way line, Seattle (Hilton, CCIA)
1888 – 23 cable cars (some likely built later) 12 combination SF Pattern, 10 open cars, 1 California style
for Portland Cable Railway (this car is likely 1891) (Hilton, CCIA)
1889 – 16 combination SF pattern cars for Madison Street Cable Railway, Seattle (Hilton, CCIA)
1889 – 4 grip cars and trailers for Spokane Cable Railway (Hilton, CCIA)
1890 – 4 combination SF pattern cars for West Seattle Cable Railway (Hilton, CCIA)
1890 – 2 California style double ended cable cars for Spokane Cable Railway (Hilton, CCIA)
1890 – 12 California style double ended cable cars for San Diego Cable Railway
1892 – 10 California style Electric street cars for Los Angeles Consolidated Electric Railway Company
(LACE) numbers 100-109, later to LARy and Glendale and Montrose

Additionally it is likely that they built horse cars for various San Joaquin Valley lines, and possibly for San Luis Obispo, as well as cable cars for Tacoma and Los Angeles.

One Stockton built grip car is held in the collection of the Smithsonian Museum of American History but is not currently on display. A San Luis Obispo horse car is displayed downtown, attributed to Holt, but is more likely built by SCH&A, if built in Stockton as reported.
Randy Hees

Director, Nevada State Railroad Museum, Boulder City
Railway Preservation News
Chasing old trains where ever I may find them...

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