Barbara and I were part owners of the Private Car Tamalpais for over 20 years. It was our flanged wheel Winnebago that took us on trips all over the U.S. and Canada. Barbara loved not having to cook and having somebody else to make the beds. Our son Andy loved going through tunnels. And most importantly it was a great venue for spending time with good friends.
The Tam was built by Pullman about 1933 and was formerly ATSF 33. It was sold by the ATSF and had several private owners including Atlantic Richfield Corporation. A few modications had been made to the car over the years, but overall it retained much of its original 1933 ambience.
While a private railway car is an expensive luxury (a black hole into which you throw money), we shared ownership with a group of like-minded people and chartered the car to earn money. Some folks contributed money, others contributed hard work maintaining our 50-year old antique. One day we might be enjoyed prime rib on fine china served by a white jacketed waiter, the next we might be under the car covered with grease trying to fix the most recent old vebelfetzer to break. By sharing costs, running it as a business, and most importantly making it a labor of love, the cost was not unreasonable for what we got in return. Our friends who rode with us certainly loved it.
But eventually our group ran out of steam, and we sold the Tam. We miss it. But it went to a fine new owner who invested a lot of money in needed repairs, and today the Tam, now again painted Pullman green, lettered Santa Fe, and simply Car 33, still plys the rails.