The Ives Train Society

The Tale of Two Observations- with a Club car thrown in-I left my heart in San Francisco.. How I found the Cadet Blue Southern Pacific Cars

    By Chuck Yanna and Don Lewis

    As we all know IVES maintained a showroom in San Francisco. We as IVES collectors and historians have supposed that IVES was potentially trying to encourage the Southern Pacific Railroad to be a promoter of IVES trains. Thus we have the 1926-1927 limited production of IVES wide gauge and O gauge sets with Southern Pacific Lines plates. You’ll note that I have said limited production.  In other words “RARE”. To date we have evidence of these special plates on o gauge 3257 & 3255 locos and 141, 142, 135 & 136 cars. In wide gauge we have evidence of 3243, 3242, 3237 & 3236 locos and 180, 181, 182, 187, 188, 189, 184, 185 & 186 cars.

    This story is about a cadet blue 187 Club car and two different Cadet Blue 189 Observation cars.

     The Discovery:

    Perusing Ebay as I usually do I found a picture of a 3236 IVES locomotive. When I opened the picture I noticed a Boucher 2500 in the background. In addition to IVES I also collect Boucher, so I emailed the guy, (Sergio as I now know his name) and asked him about this 2500 locomotive. He was gracious enough to tell me the story of how he got it.  Then asked me what I collected. I told him IVES and Boucher and sent him photos of my collection.  After he reviewed the photos he shared with me that he had a set of Cadet Blue Southern Pacific cars.  I asked him if he would like to make a trade for the cars.  He agreed and told me what he was interested in from my collection.  We agreed on a trade that was amicable to both parties.  When I opened my package of the three Southern Pacific cars, was I first realized there was two observation cars in this set.  One observation car had the normal brass Southern Pacific Lark drumhead plate drumhead and the other observation car had a hexagon floor mounted light on the observation deck with the brass drumhead cut out as well as the railing slats.

     The Background:

     Sergio told me he found the cars listed on an odd website. He was able to purchase the cars.  The gentlemen he purchased the cars from said that his grandfather bought them new from a San Francisco showroom floor. The grandfather passed the cars on to his grandson, the seller. He explained that he had no interest in the trains, so he was selling them.  Unfortunately Sergio no longer has the contact information for this gentlemen therefore I was unable to contact the seller.  This is all the information I have and would greatly appreciate any new and updated information anyone may have on these cars.


    The Details:

     I then called Don Lewis who suggested that I send him photos of the cars as he thought they would make great story for one of The Ives Train Society publications. So here we go:


    First photo, 2 obs ends sp cars, shows the distinct difference in the observation drumheads. Notice the cutout drumhead with the plastic insert. We surmise IVES may have been planning to use a lettered celluloid insert that said Southern Pacific Lark. The second photo, sp 189 obs light, gives a clear view of the hexagon light which clearly is an IVES locomotive headlight. It is mounted with the proper IVES screws and little square nuts, photo sp 189 obs bottom1. The next photo, sp 189 observation interior, shows the platform light wired into the interior light wiring.  The next two photos sp oval 691 and sp oval 692 provide some great shots of the cut out railing and the cut out drumhead.  Photo sp 189 obs oval 1 gives a very clear shot of the cut out drumhead plate. I feel very comfortable in saying that this observation was created by IVES.


    Now for other interesting points; photo sp cars w green stripe 691 show that these Cadet Blue cars were originally Light Green.  We can’t answer why IVES left the window material in when they changed the color of these cars but they did it on all three cars. If you go back to photo sp 189 obs light, you’ll note that IVES also painted around the light on the platform. Odd? In addition the inside of the railing is still green. 

    This photo shows that there are couplers on both ends of all the cars with the correct coupler supports attached. If as we believe this to be an IVES showroom set these three cars would be easily coupled together to make a three car set for a test on the showroom layout  Not that many prospective customers would have noticed, as they would have been mesmerized by the train circling the track.

     The last photo sp cars w reg 3237 shows the three cars as they were intended.

     Well here we have another piece of IVES history that has recently surfaced. Obviously everything We’ve shared is based on Observation, (pun intended) of these three pieces of IVES history. It is based on logic and many years of handling IVES trains.