By the mid-1970s, time and constant use were overcoming maintenance efforts
for the cable car system, and it was obviously becoming badly deteriorated.
An engineering evaluation showed that a complete rehabilitation of the system
would be necessary.
Beginning September 21, 1982, cable car service was suspended for nearly
two years while work commenced under the Cable Car System Rehabilitation
Sixty-nine city blocks were involved, as old tracks and cable channels were
removed. Heavier rails were introduced. Reinforced-concrete channels
replaced the old brick ones. New turntables were built.
The Washington-Mason car barn and powerhouse was almost completely rebuilt.
The exterior walls and chimney were retained and reinforced. The powerhouse
was equipped with new motors, gearboxes, and strand-alarm systems.
The cable car fleet was also improved. Muni craftspeople repaired 11 California
car and 26 Powell cars. One California car was rebuilt. The cars were
repainted, rewired for 12-volt batteries, sides and ends were reinforced
with sheet-metal, trucks and axles were rebuilt, and braking systems
The rehabilitation was completed in June of 1984, in time for the Democratic
Party's national convention that summer. The California line re-opened Sunday,
June 3rd. The dedication ceremony for the cable car barn was held on the 4th.
On the following Sunday, June 10th, the Powell-Hyde line re-opened.
Thursday, June 21st, 1984, was the first of a four days of festivities celebrating
the return of the cable cars. These began with a ribbon cutting ceremony at
noon in Union Square, followed by a parade of cable cars up Powell Street,
led by the U.S. Marine Corps Band.
The cable cars were back!