After the War-to-End-All-Wars was over in November of 1918, the automobile began to really put a dent in the Monson’s passenger revenue. Like the other Maine two footers, the Monson was looking for ways to cut their expenses in the form of motorized railroad vehicles. At about this time, Sam Sewall, supt. of the WW&F bought a 1917 Model T for conversion to a motor car. Some of the other roads also tinkered with this idea soon after in the ‘20’s, most of which ended up using a factory built chassis and a home built body.
In a letter dated May 23, 1919 to the Laconia Car Company, Supt.Morrill states that “We are considering the advisibility of using a small motor (gasoline) car for use on our road to haul passengers and mail. We do not have more than 12 to 15 passengers as a rule on any of our trains and a motor car that could be handled by one man would be much cheaper for us to operate than a locomotive and a car which takes three men.” He enquired if they knew of the address of any “parties who would build such equipment.”
Similar letters were sent out to Buyers Index Company, Railway Storage Battery Car Company, Harvey Motor Truck Company, Fairmont Gas Engine and Railway Motor Car Company and Northwestern Motor Company.
Just a few days later on May 28th, Morrill advised Mr. Wier, treasurer of the Monson, that the Unity Car Company is “building a unit car operated by kerosene,” and that the Laconia Car Company is building six bodies for them.
The next several weeks saw correspondence with Unity and Laconia through treasurer Weir. Dimensions of Monson’s Combine No. 3 were shared with the idea of building a motor car similar to the combine. Unity’s plan was to “have an engine and boiler like the Stanley Steamer attached to the truck frame.” However Morrill goes on to say that “I would not think it a very practical idea, but it would do no harm to look into it.”
Evidently the Monson brass looked into it and decided against a motor car, as no further mention of it is in the letter press files. Monson never had any motorized car except the work car home-built by Elwin French (a future blog).
However it is a little intriguing to imagine a combine like the Monson’s with a Stanley Steamer type of drive!