Car 636 /"Petunia"
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Car 636 was part of an order for 25 streetcars for the Dallas Railway Co. from the J. G. Brill Co.
Petunia, built in 1920, a "Birney Safety Car," (or Birney, for short) is named after its designer, Charles O. Birney of the Stone & Webster Co.
The design incorporated numerous operational and safety improvements over earlier streetcars that permitted one man operation and thereby allowed street railway companies to reduce their expenses.
Birneys were known for their bouncy riding qualities and were never very popular with the Dallas riding public.
Nevertheless, 636 ran in Dallas until 1947 when she was replaced by more modern equipment.
She was stripped of her wheels, motors, and electrical equipment before being sold to serve as a residence for 30 years.
When Ed Landrum acquired the car in the 1970s it contained a bed, sink, stove, refrigerator, easy chair and blue curtains.
Ed cosmetically restored the car and donated it to MATA.
Ed and John Landrum, Frank Schultz and Dean Smith designed and built 636's current 8-foot-long truck using parts from the extra Melbourne trucks purchased along with Car 369.
The only plans and guides were undimensioned photographs of the Fort Collins, Colorado, Birney truck.
Petunia's new truck utilizes two 40-horsepower motors driving 27-inch diameter wheels.
We later added shock absorbers to smooth out the Birney's characteristic bouncy ride.
636 is 28-feet long and weighs 10 tons.
Petunia was nicknamed, so the story goes, for "her petite size and generally sweet nature."
636's restoration was sponsored by Cityplace Corp.



This page last updated March 28, 2012.