Found on EBay – Mt. Lowe Railway

Mt. Lowe Car EBay

Postcards and photos of the railway trip to Mt. Lowe, with its hairpin turns around the mountains, are quite common – but a brass model of the car in HO gauge? That’s a new one on me. This intriguing item, with the original box, has been listed on EBay. Bidding starts at $33 but there is a reserve.

About lmharnisch

I am retired from the Los Angeles Times
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10 Responses to Found on EBay – Mt. Lowe Railway

  1. Mary Mallory says:

    It’s a great walk up to the very top of Mt. Lowe. Hawks, a couple of other people, and I have done it. There used to be huge blown up postcards of the exact corners and turns you were passing, but many of those melted in the fire of a couple of years ago.

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  2. Lee Rivas says:

    I noticed the label had a Duarte zip code. Since zip codes weren’t used until Jan 1, 1963, this model must have been created and/or first sold after that date.

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  3. CatM says:

    This is a beautiful little model. I wonder what it was originally for?

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  4. Riley says:

    This is a PE 450 class interurban, a type usually used in later years on the run from LA to Rubio Canyon. There one transferred to the cable car to Echo Mt. , then to a small trolley to Alpine (later, Mount Lowe) Tavern. They may be the only cars in Los Angeles that used an “elevator” type controller – yes just like in an elevator, for those who remember manned elevators

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  5. Robert Bowdidge says:

    Brass railroad models have an interesting history; they started as one-offs made by craftsmen in Japan, sold to visiting GIs. In the 1950’s, a few U.S. importers started going to Japan and arranging with the same craftsmen and smaller factories to make small runs of model trains that accurately matched some real locomotive, car, or trolley. Building the brass models required high-quality techniques of metal forming, soldering, and lost-wax casting (same process as jewelry). While expensive at the time, they were popular, and were one of the few ways for model railroaders in the States to get an exact model of a specific locomotive or car rather than the more generic and less accurate mass-produced models. A huge range of of brass models were brought into the U.S. by many different importers over the years.

    Suydam, the maker of this model, was a Southern California model manufacturer who focused on streetcars, trolleys, and California-style model buildings. (His building kits are still available though manufactured by a different company.) With the Japanese builders, Suydam could get precise models like this so that a modeler interested in recreating the Pacific Electric could have cars that matched the ones rolling by each day.

    The heyday for the Japanese brass models was in the 1950’s, 1960’s, and 1970’s. As the cost of labor in Japan rose, the cost of the models also rose, and production eventually switched to South Korea. Brass models are still made today, but they tend to be more costly (because of higher labor costs) and rarer because of smaller production runs. They tend to be purchased more by collectors than people who actually want to run them on a model railroad layout.

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  6. Everett says:

    This is a beautiful piece from Suydam. I gotta find one to add to my small Suydam HO brass interurban car collection I started recently.

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  7. Everett says:

    I now have the actual interurban car, in the photo above, in my Suydam HO brass interurban car collection. The Suydam PE Interurban “Mount Lowe” #450 Coach is a wonderful addition to my collection – I am proud to own this piece.

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  8. Everett says:

    I’ve bid and won two Suydam PE interurban “Mount Lowe” #450 coaches on eBay this month. Now, I have a total of three (3) “Mount Lowe” cars in my collection. That includes the actual car in the photo, above. My Suydam brass HO traction model train collection has grown significantly since I started collecting Suydam interurbans and trolleys in January of this year. My other Suydams includes a few of the famed Pacific Electric “Tens” and some Sacramento Northern “Niles” interurban cars.

    I am very pleased to have the “Mount Lowe” cars, but I am even more pleased to have the PE “Tens”. 🙂

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