The Maine Narrow Gauges (Historic & Preserved) > Sandy River & Rangeley Lakes Railroad

What are the SR&RL railcars based on?

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Matthew Gustafson:
Ive learned that the RGS actually made railcars out of automobile bodies on railroad wheels! Are the SR&RL railcar are based on automobile with railroad wheels attach to the body?  ??? ;) :)

Steve Klare:
SR&RL was very good at converting motor vehicles for rail use. As a matter of fact the Phillips shops of the SR&RL did a standard gauge Bus conversion for the Maine Central which still exists today. I recently heard it also did some time on the little standard gauge industrial railway at Starbird Lumber in Strong in years after the SR&RL itself was gone..

A lot of the two foot gauge cars still exist as well, including a Model T track car, Model T Superintendent's inspection car and a REO railbus.

Here is a shot I got of the SR&RL track car at Boothbay Railway Village in 2004.

Ira Schreiber:
NONE of the RGS Motors(Geese) were Fords.
They were a mix of Buick, Pierce Arrow, Chevrolet and what ever else was around the Ridgway shops.
Of the seven originally built, six remain and there is a replica of the seventh. Three of them are just 45 minutes from me at the Colorado railroad Museum.

Stewart "Start" Rhine:
Matt, the car body depended on the type of work the car was designed for.  The SR&RL used Model T and later, Model A Fords as the basis for their railcars.  The Superintendents Model T retained it's original open (soft top) touring body mounted on a heavier channel stock frame.  A tool box was added to the back.  The standard track crew cars had the Model T front with a wide open utility body.   This design allowed for seats and room in back for lighter tools.  The track crews usually took these cars out pulling a small railcar for track tools.  The SR&RL liked Model T's because of the Ford planetary transmission which included the service brake.  Also, there was no gas pedal because the spark advance and throttle were on the steering column.  This made the Model T an easy conversion to a two foot railcar.  Hand brakes were applied to the wheels during conversion.  The Phillips shop crew came up with a special rear axle design that allowed the cars to run as fast in reverse as they did going forward.  The only problem with extended backwards running was that the cars ran hot and the radiator would boil over.  The car had to be stopped to let the engine cool.  (Note: That's why the WW&F's Model T was built with it's own turntable)  The last SR&RL track car built was a standard open work body car  with the a Model A engine, transmission and front.  That car had a standard gear shift and clutch.  The car got beat up when the scrappers used it to pull flatcar loads of rail.  The car was sold and dismantled for it's Model A drive train.

Steve Klare:
I always thought the "A" was a "T" re-engined by the scrappers. Was this a new car built during operations?

I rode on the SR&RL model T track car at both Edaville and Phillips, and something struck me interesting about it.

Obviously they didn't need the steering wheel because the track takes care of all that, but they needed the column itself to mount the spark advance and throttle (as Stewart reminds me).

-So here you are: Mr. Motorman, sitting in a seat without belts of any kind with the butt end of a steering column pointed straight into your chest.

I guess the track workers could have "joined the birds" if they saw a crash coming, but Vose's "T" had the original "T" body, and the driver's side front door didn't even open on a Model T. The outline of it was stamped into the sheet metal, but ol' Henry didn't make it functional to cut costs.

If you really think about it, it was an accident waiting to happen, yet somehow they lived to be old men without worrying about it too much.

Personally I would have left the wheel in place, even if it would only be a good as handgrab. (You just watch out for the guy that turns it when he comes to a switch and disqualify him to ever run a locomotive!)


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