The unique streamlined treatment of #4663’s nose end, I’m guessing, was done in the Altoona or Hollidaysburg shops. A picture of it in service in 1935 shows it was blunt nosed like most of its sisters. A picture of #4665 taken at Laketon a couple days before service ended in 1950 shows it was blunt nosed.
Pennsy depended on these type of rail motor cars or doodlebugs to haul passengers on the Muskegon branch from1930 until the end of service. Over those years units assigned were #s 4635, 4644, 4651, 4663, 4665, and 4773. 4773 was built by Brill in 1925 and was converted and used as a “trailer car” at some point.
Anecdotal history indicates 4663 and 4665 remained on the Division’s property and in service until 1954 and 1955 and were used during the last days of PRR passenger service south from GR to Sturgis. (correction to my first post that Grand Rapids PRR passenger service ended in 1952. It did that year, north to Cadillac.
Many of these type of cars were built as “gas-electrics, fueled by gasoline instead of diesel. Use of gasoline ended after a horrendous crash involving one of the PRR doodlebugs head-ending a freight in 1940, just north of the idyllic village of Chagrin Falls, OH, a suburb not far south and east of Cleveland. Its 43 passengers were incinerated when the motor car’s fuel tank was punctured and flames engulfed the car. Only the crew escaped, jumping just before impact.
Here’s a link to builder’s diagrams of all the Pennsy doodlebugs built. My information about the Muskegon branch service sourced from several articles published in the Pennsy Rail and Historical Society quarterly, The Keystone, about the Grand Rapids division. Articles: Spring 1999, Winter 2000, Summer 2007, Autumn 2007, Autumn 2008.
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