The sixty Type K cars (1501-1560) of the Los Angeles Railway were homemade copies of the Type H cars. The cars were constructed in 1923-1925 at the LARy’s South Park Shops. While the Type H cars, built by St. Louis Car Company, were of steel construction, the Type K cars were built with a steel underframe and wooden body with steel exterior sheathing. Car 1501 was the first car completed in July, 1923 with testing done during September. 1501 officially went into service October 15, 1923 on the S Line and was a proven success, popular with operators and passengers.
The Type K cars were first used on the E Line (later 5 Line) from Eagle Rock to Hawthorne. Being LARy’s only interurban line, the cars were outfitted with oil burning marker lights for nighttime operation and Ohmer fare registers. In 1930, the Type K cars were re-assigned to the W Line, with occasional use on other lines. The use of marker lights was discontinued and the Ohmer fare registers were replaced with the standard Johnson fareboxes.
During the 1930’s LARy underwent a major modernization campaign of its fleet of passenger cars. Between November 1936 and August 1938, the Type K cars were modernized into the new Type K-4 car. Improvements included conversion to one-man, two-man operation, installation of automatic folding steps and doors, and modern lighting. Train couplers and control equipment for multiple-unit operation were removed. The modernized cars saw service on most lines on the system.
In 1945, Los Angeles Transit Lines, an affiliate of National City Lines, purchased the Los Angeles Railway. Operation of the Type K cars persisted as usual. Beginning in 1947, the Type K cars were again modernized with the removal of eclipse fenders and the addition of lifeguard fenders and decorative skirting. The LATL green, yellow, and white “Fruit Salad” paint scheme was also applied at this time. In 1955, a mass abandonment of streetcar lines lead to the retirement of all 60 Type K cars. Car 1559 was preserved by the Pacific Railroad Society, with all other 59 cars sold for scrap to National Metals on Terminal Island.
The Pacific Railroad Society displayed car 1559 at Travel Town at Griffith Park in Los Angeles. Construction of the Ventura Freeway through Griffith Park was going to displace most streetcars on display at Travel Town. With the founding of the Orange Empire Trolley Museum in 1956, a large number of privately owned cars were relocated to the museum in Perris, California, including 1559. Today, at the Southern California Railway Museum, LARy 1559 is on display with the Los Angeles Railway Collection in Carbarn 1. While 1559 is a complete car, it is in need of a mechanical and cosmetic restoration and is inoperable.
Generous donations to the SCRM Yellow Car Fund facilitates restoration and operation of the Los Angeles Railway cars like 1559.