Railbus and Motor Railcar

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Railbus and Motor Railcar
Posted by Jones1945 on Tuesday, November 06, 2018 11:18 AM

In another post, our forum members shared some idea about the Mack FCD Rail Bus and other railbuses used in different railroads and different countries. I would like to open a new thread and moving some content to here for the record. 

Mack FCD Rail Bus:

Overmod

 

 
Jones1945
I once suspect such idea was inspired by the Aerotrain of GM. But at least the Aerotrain was constructed by new material not used buses.

 

There was a very important difference between the 'American' Leyland bus and the Aerotrain: the suspension.  The Aerotrain as first built had truly pathetic primary suspension and compliance, with the idea -- it worked pretty well on over-the-road GM coaches -- of secondary air-bag suspension (promising good isolation, an absence of spring-rate harmonic effects, and inherent load-leveling for lightweight trains, among other things).  Unfortunately, all the aspects that have made air suspension so well loved in luxury automobiles over the years were present in a train that was expected to negotiate typical pathetic '50s track without all that expensive lining, surfacing, joint build-up, and so forth.  Let alone negotiate it at Zephyr or Hiawatha speeds.

The Leyland we got here was a legitimate 100mph vehicle, with the suspension sophistication to allow that on decent 'permanent way'.  One of the reasons I'd like to see it restored would be to run it, say, on the new rebuilt track north of New Haven toward Springfield, to see if the default level of new construction 'as built' by one of the up-from-the-ground track-building machines would support the Wickens predictions of vehicle dynamics performance.  (And yes, I have given some thought to active weight-transfer management in operation as a way to get around certain ... aspects ... of four-wheel relatively short-wheelbase vehicle construction, especially with unexpectedly high polar moments of inertia at times...)

It was SAID that the last car "improved" by EMD and added to the Aerotrain got rid of the ride issues.  Perhaps someone (hint, hint!) can find what was actually involved with the improvement, and also find objective reporting, perhaps with recorded data, as to how much better the improvement proved to be.

 


 

Jones1945

 

 
Overmod

There was a very important difference between the 'American' Leyland bus and the Aerotrain: the suspension.  The Aerotrain as first built had truly pathetic primary suspension and compliance, with the idea -- it worked pretty well on over-the-road GM coaches -- of secondary air-bag suspension (promising good isolation, an absence of spring-rate harmonic effects, and inherent load-leveling for lightweight trains, among other things).  Unfortunately, all the aspects that have made air suspension so well loved in luxury automobiles over the years were present in a train that was expected to negotiate typical pathetic '50s track without all that expensive lining, surfacing, joint build-up, and so forth.  Let alone negotiate it at Zephyr or Hiawatha speeds.

 

 

There is a close up pic of the suspension of GM Aerotrain in this pdf file:

https://www.gmheritagecenter.com/docs/gm-heritage-archive/historical-brochures/Innovation_and_Technology/Here_Comes_Tomorrow.pdf

Looks like GM did carefully design the suspension system but it didn't work out. Ironically, riding quality was supposed to be one of the main selling points of GM Aerotrain. It was probably the last attempt to lure patrons back from airlines and coaches but failed miserably.

Speaking of railcars, this was not a successful example, but at least they were not built upon a HSFV. Mack FCD Rail Bus. Coffee

 


 

Overmod

 

 
Jones1945
Speaking of railcars, this was not a successful example, but at least they were not built upon a HSFV. Mack FCD Rail Bus.

 

Note I referenced these on Wednesday.  Thanks for finding the detail on them!

These did not "fail" so much as suffer from politics: they were ordered by one New Haven administration, and so 'deprioritized' by the next one, even before they were delivered, that no real use was made of them.  (To be fair to MacGinnis, I think union crew requirements turned out to be part of the issue with actual FCD profitability; the things made sense only when run with one man like a road bus.)

It could be argued that most railbuses, anywhere, weren't much of an effective solution in the United States, as 'real' buses were in general a much preferable alternative for a range of reasons.  Even the Evans Auto-Railer never found a particularly workable niche.  Perhaps the local service the FCDs were intended to continue (think of them as doodlebugs on an even smaller scale) would have become expediently cancelled much more quickly had contemporary legislation permitted.  But for mandated service, something very economical was indicated, and the New Haven gets credit for thinking to acquire what looked at that brief point in time like relatively good new equipment for this.

 


 

Jones1945

 

 
Overmod

Note I referenced these on Wednesday.  Thanks for finding the detail on them!

These did not "fail" so much as suffer from politics: they were ordered by one New Haven administration, and so 'deprioritized' by the next one...... But for mandated service, something very economical was indicated, and the New Haven gets credit for thinking to acquire what looked at that brief point in time like relatively good new equipment for this.

 

 

I am glad you like those pics, Overmod Yes. I read about their brief history and note the new administration of New Haven sold most of them without putting them in service (except one?). As you might remember I am a fan of ACF Motorailer, I think these Mack FCD Rail Bus were a simplified and economical version of Motorailer, a much better option than using 3-car consists towed by 2000hp diesel or switcher for mandated services. Look at those deeply cushioned seats, I believe patrons would have loved these railbuses. 

Evans Auto-Railer:

Laugh

 


 

daveklepper

A note on the NYNH&H Mack Railbuses.  I spent a day in one on an NRHS fantrip.  Ir rode OK.  I believe it used PCC B3 trucks and motors.  Definitely not 4-wheel if my memory is correct.

Thank you, Dave, for providing more details about the Mack Railbuses.

PCC B3 "Super Silent" Trucks:

Source: http://www.kmk.krakow.pl/artykul_tramwaj_pcc_1.html

 

(to be continue) 

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Posted by Jones1945 on Wednesday, November 07, 2018 9:21 AM

Some examples manufactured by American Car and Foundry Company before the 1950s:

ACF (or Edwards Rail Car Company?) M100 

Wiki

http://passcarphotos.rypn.org/Indices/DB2a.htm


 

ACF M300

https://www.mendorailhistory.org/1_railroads/railbuses.htm

http://www.air-and-space.com/Locomotives.htm


 

ACF Motorailer 

http://passcarphotos.rypn.org/Indices/DB4b.htm

 Alaska 213, ex-U.S. Navy #19.:

https://www.alaskarails.org/pix/former-loco/JK-213.html 

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Posted by Overmod on Wednesday, November 07, 2018 10:52 AM

Here is an example of what I think the FCDs were intended to supplant:

There were relatively many of these 'bus conversion' railcars over the years; you can find many of them in Ed Keilty's books.  Some were quite sophisticated replacements for older interurban cars, but none of them long survived the great falling-off of interest in 'rail interurban' service.

The Motorailer (and the Budd RDC, in a different sense) are a different paradigm: full-size, full-featured lightweight trains following up the original motor-train developments of the early 1930s as opposed to the high-speed train 'streamliners'; think of them as the logical application of industrial design to EMC-style doodlebugs to make them more attractive conveyances.  Note how hard Budd fought to keep railroads from pulling trailers with the original RDCs, even though it would have been comparatively simple to rig the transmissions for 'towing' even with friction lockup for high.

One of the unremarked reasons for the precipitate decline of interurbans might have been Roosevelt's push for rural electrification in the early New Deal years.  Very little about interurbans made sense if the overhead wiring was not extensively subsidized by companies deriving benefit from it -- for example, utility companies.  Once wire installation, maintenance and energization became 'sunk' expense items, much of the charm of operating electrics vs. motor trains disappeared.  I think one of the major 'proofs' that interurbans died of their own faults rather than some NCL-like conspiracy is precisely that internal-combustion alternatives did not catch on, even with the model of the Dan Patch Line as a very early and relatively technologically crude example.

I'm still trying to figure out why GM couldn't figure out how to jigger the Aerotrain suspension to give reasonable ride and accommodation of curve roll.  For some reason, although there are a thousand references to air suspension and its failure, hard engineering analysis of the actual detail design, reasons for its incompetence in service, and descriptions of the 'fixes' that were tried are either thin on the ground or hidden in paywall-protected scholarly articles.  This leaves me having to guess at what is going on with things like the five-axle 'Micheline' or original Aerotrain suspension.  Let me repeat that part of the solution involves the 'last car' modified at EMD and put in one of the consists, which was said to have addressed and largely solved the riding issues.  It would be nice to know what it was so I can assess whether it did.

 

MEANWHILE there is a whole 'nother possibility that wasn't taken up: the application of the Pickwick Nite Coach kind of bus service to the rails once it began to be legislated out of existence (by Missouri, most importantly) once the effect of large vehicles on roads and traffic began to be realized.

I for one would be highly interested in the idea of small-scale 'sleeper' service between destination pairs, and on routes, that would not support their own full Pullman treatment.  Even if the vehicle were so small that it would have to stop, and the passengers get off for rest or meals, while the berths were being made up or folded.  When I look at some of the Austro-Daimler cars (can anyone find the old "Eagle of the Rails" I posted somewhere here years ago?) the idea of what to do with large double-deck size begins to give tantalizing possibilities.

We all know how things worked out in 'real' history, and to a large extent why.  But there is no need to think that all railbuses had to be like the old Sykes coaches, or provide the level of service implicit in the old McCoy Toonerville/Galloping Goose parody:

 

 

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Posted by rcdrye on Wednesday, November 07, 2018 2:38 PM

Overmod

Here is an example of what I think the FCDs were intended to supplant:

There were relatively many of these 'bus conversion' railcars over the years; you can find many of them in Ed Keilty's books.  Some were quite sophisticated replacements for older interurban cars, but none of them long survived the great falling-off of interest in 'rail interurban' service.

The Motorailer (and the Budd RDC, in a different sense) are a different paradigm: full-size, full-featured lightweight trains following up the original motor-train developments of the early 1930s as opposed to the high-speed train 'streamliners'; think of them as the logical application of industrial design to EMC-style doodlebugs to make them more attractive conveyances.  Note how hard Budd fought to keep railroads from pulling trailers with the original RDCs, even though it would have been comparatively simple to rig the transmissions for 'towing' even with friction lockup for high.

One of the unremarked reasons for the precipitate decline of interurbans might have been Roosevelt's push for rural electrification in the early New Deal years.  Very little about interurbans made sense if the overhead wiring was not extensively subsidized by companies deriving benefit from it -- for example, utility companies.  Once wire installation, maintenance and energization became 'sunk' expense items, much of the charm of operating electrics vs. motor trains disappeared.  I think one of the major 'proofs' that interurbans died of their own faults rather than some NCL-like conspiracy is precisely that internal-combustion alternatives did not catch on, even with the model of the Dan Patch Line as a very early and relatively technologically crude example.

I'm still trying to figure out why GM couldn't figure out how to jigger the Aerotrain suspension to give reasonable ride and accommodation of curve roll.  For some reason, although there are a thousand references to air suspension and its failure, hard engineering analysis of the actual detail design, reasons for its incompetence in service, and descriptions of the 'fixes' that were tried are either thin on the ground or hidden in paywall-protected scholarly articles.  This leaves me having to guess at what is going on with things like the five-axle 'Micheline' or original Aerotrain suspension.  Let me repeat that part of the solution involves the 'last car' modified at EMD and put in one of the consists, which was said to have addressed and largely solved the riding issues.  It would be nice to know what it was so I can assess whether it did.

 

MEANWHILE there is a whole 'nother possibility that wasn't taken up: the application of the Pickwick Nite Coach kind of bus service to the rails once it began to be legislated out of existence (by Missouri, most importantly) once the effect of large vehicles on roads and traffic began to be realized.

I for one would be highly interested in the idea of small-scale 'sleeper' service between destination pairs, and on routes, that would not support their own full Pullman treatment.  Even if the vehicle were so small that it would have to stop, and the passengers get off for rest or meals, while the berths were being made up or folded.  When I look at some of the Austro-Daimler cars (can anyone find the old "Eagle of the Rails" I posted somewhere here years ago?) the idea of what to do with large double-deck size begins to give tantalizing possibilities.

We all know how things worked out in 'real' history, and to a large extent why.  But there is no need to think that all railbuses had to be like the old Sykes coaches, or provide the level of service implicit in the old McCoy Toonerville/Galloping Goose parody:

 

 

 

Many early interurbans and streetcar systems were either owned by or were owners of the local Electric Utility.  It was another Roosevelt-era change requiring utility securities to be separated from railway holdings that killed off several interurban systems such as the Indiana Railroad.  The Milwaukee Electric Railway and Light company became The Milwakee Electric Railway and Transport company and then sold off its interurban holdings as quickly as it could.

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Posted by Overmod on Wednesday, November 07, 2018 5:13 PM

Example of a somewhat later MoPac railbus than the Eagle of the Rails: Beaumont, Sour Lake & Western, cutting-edge modern in 1948, ran until the 1960s.  (Company formally merged into Missouri Pacific in March 1956)

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Posted by gmpullman on Wednesday, November 07, 2018 10:44 PM

Two-Footer, Sandy River and Rangely Lakes at Strong Maine.

 SR&RL_pair_at_Strong_ME by Edmund, on Flickr

 SR and RL Longcar Reo by Edmund, on Flickr

Caption written by my father:

 SRandRL_Longcar_Reo1935 by Edmund, on Flickr

Regards, Ed

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Posted by Jones1945 on Thursday, November 08, 2018 2:34 AM

Overmod

Here is an example of what I think the FCDs were intended to supplant:

There were relatively many of these 'bus conversion' railcars over the years; you can find many of them in Ed Keilty's books.  Some were quite sophisticated replacements for older interurban cars, but none of them long survived the great falling-off of interest in 'rail interurban' service...

Thank you for the info, Overmod. I think using diesel motor car or larger size motor train like the ACF Motorailer; which was a very successful example when used by Missouri Pacific,  to replace steam or electric interurban vehicle would be an economic solution to further decrease the operation cost for routes (including commuter services) which had lower demand, since the management could get rid of all dated electric infrastructure in phases without discontinuing of services. Imagine the maintenance cost of running a 30 km electric railway system with only a few "streetcars" running on it. I didn't know that many interurban systems were owned by electric companies and detailed background history behind them...... it sounds more complicated than I imagine.

The Eaglette MotoRailer #670:

http://www.trainweb.org/screamingeagle/eaglette.html

 

Overmod

I'm still trying to figure out why GM couldn't figure out how to jigger the Aerotrain suspension to give reasonable ride and accommodation of curve roll.  For some reason, although there are a thousand references to air suspension and its failure, hard engineering analysis of the actual detail design, reasons for its incompetence in service, and descriptions of the 'fixes' that were tried are either thin on the ground or hidden in paywall-protected scholarly articles...

I did a brief searching for it last night but it seems that you are right, it probably being treated as a commercial secret which is being locked somewhere in GM's HQ. Since it was probably not a major redesign, I believe it can't be easily found like those patent drawings. I wonder what we would have got if AeroTrain used the rubber-tired wheel with advanced technologies on its car instead of small diameter normal metal wheels. It seems that 4-wheel passenger cars never manage to provide comfortable ride quality at higher speed, example like the Leyland Railbus of the UK. I guess a 2+4 wheel arrangement like the Greyhound Scenicruiser might worked better on the AeroTrain, but I can't provide any scientific explanation for it, just a wild guess. 

 

A 6-wheel passenger car.

 

Overmod

MEANWHILE there is a whole 'nother possibility that wasn't taken up: the application of the Pickwick Nite Coach kind of bus service to the rails once it began to be legislated out of existence (by Missouri, most importantly) once the effect of large vehicles on roads and traffic began to be realized.

I for one would be highly interested in the idea of small-scale 'sleeper' service between destination pairs, and on routes, that would not support their own full Pullman treatment.

I love this idea! Every time I look at a pic of ACF Motorail, I can see a lot of potential of these larger size "railbus", they could have provided sleeper service and commuter service at the same time, picking up the passenger outside the mainline system until it continues its journey as a normal named overnight sleeper trains (detach the commuter car first). ACF would have needed to increase the power of the train and upgrade the trucks.

Even convert a Pickwick Nite Coach to a railbus might work if the price of the ticket was competitive enough. "Sleeper Railbus" provided another option for passengers who couldn't afford or unwilling to pay for All-Pullman level service. It could have been a new market which provides a higher frequency of sleeper service with much lower operating cost.  Such sleeper railbuses probably couldn't reach 65mph, but inside larger RRs system, they could use the track for freight services. 

Wiki

http://theoldmotor.com/?p=166339 

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Posted by Jones1945 on Thursday, November 08, 2018 3:56 AM

gmpullman

Two-Footer, Sandy River and Rangely Lakes at Strong Maine.

 SR and RL Longcar Reo by Edmund, on Flickr

Caption written by my father:

 SRandRL_Longcar_Reo1935 by Edmund, on Flickr

Regards, Ed 

Thank you very much, Ed. It is interesting to know that they had such a funny nickname. Local RRs probably never had the resources and sense to make their fleet looks better, especially when the US was still recovering from the Great Depression.


 

1937 - Central Argentine Railway - single & double railcars (Top speed: 68mph)

https://www.derbysulzers.com/argentinadmu1935.html

 

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Posted by Jones1945 on Friday, November 09, 2018 8:26 AM

I found this article about the long forgotten Streamliner: The GM&O Rebel

The ‘Infamous’ GM&O Rebel

https://olebillwrites.wordpress.com/2017/01/16/the-infamous-gmo-rebel/

Yes, Its was a Streamliner which was as large as the UP M10000, if the definition of a Streamliner was a streamlined train serving between big cities, I shouldn't call The Rebel a motorcar. But at the same time, the size of it was just dozens of feet longer than the two-car ACF Motorailer. So I would like to put the article here for readers' convenience.

I just realized (after reading this post: http://cs.trains.com/trn/f/742/p/272814/3104379.aspx#3104379 ) that an interurban must be powered by electricity, so if my fantasy of dieselized an interurban with motorcar or railbuses, it no longer could be called an interurban. Could fancy motor car like the Motorailer or much smaller railbuses manage to prevent the demise of interurban in the States?  No. When local folks could easily obtain a less expensive truck or 2nd hand cars, even buses became irrelevant. 

 

http://www.dieselpunks.org/profiles/blogs/sunday-streamline-63-the-slowest-one

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Posted by Jones1945 on Wednesday, November 14, 2018 6:32 AM

Some pic I found from the rrmuseumpa:

ACL Motorailer, the streamlined motor car designed for commuter services. Underrated! 


 

Before the ACF Motorailer, The Rebel of the The Gulf, Mobile and Northern Railroad. Probably the slowest Streamliner in terms of average speed. A product of racial segregation policy of the US in 1930s.

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Posted by BaltACD on Wednesday, November 14, 2018 8:11 AM

         

Never too old to have a happy childhood!

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Posted by Overmod on Wednesday, November 14, 2018 11:30 AM

I find I am still requried to log in.  Until the people maintaining the server learn how to spell correctly, I have to wonder if it's actually the Government serving the files... I don't remember this access convention or the misspelling before the 'defunding'.

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Posted by Jones1945 on Thursday, November 15, 2018 7:41 AM

It was an ICC investigation report of an accident involved a motor car near Painesville, Ohio in 1927. Does that mean Motor Cars were seen as a dangerous vehicle which could easy get involved in traffic accidents and get people killed in the States? I remember the demise of ACF Motorailer was also directly or indirectly caused by a traffic accident which resulted in the death of the engineer. 

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Posted by Miningman on Thursday, November 15, 2018 8:36 AM

All of these things just scream "I'm a bus". They all look like junk to me, especially the streamlined ones. Budds RDC's were pretty zippy and relatively rattle free and at least acted like it was railroad equipment. Not very sexy looking though, utilitarian appearance ( exception: the NYC Jet powered one time whatever the heck that was for thingie). 

I'll take a light Pacific, Jubilee or Mogul and 2 or 3 heavyweights any day over any of it.

20181113

Soo local in northern Minnesota

Pacific 2702 clatters across the Northern Pacific tracks at McGregor, Minn., 81 miles west of Duluth, with Soo Line’s Thief River Falls–Duluth train 64 in September 1954.
Philip R. Hastings photo

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Posted by Overmod on Thursday, November 15, 2018 9:43 AM

Jones1945
Does that mean Motor Cars were seen as a dangerous vehicle which could easy get involved in traffic accidents and get people killed in the States?

Suspect that is one reason for the fall-off in their popularity after the 'age of EMC cars' in the '20s.  See also the Redondo Beach accident with RDCs, which soured ATSF on their great high-speed rail-diesel-car future almost before it began.  Few people like riding in a 100mph ... or 55mph ... beer can with their heads close to contact level, let alone doing it with several hundred gallons of gasoline or distillate in close proximity to hot manifolds.

I'm not sure I'd attribute the entire 'death' of the Motorailer itself to the Land O Corn beer-truck collision.  IC itself wanted to replace the train 'in kind' but as I recall WPB requirements did not allow it; postwar the usual increase in successful traffic led to that train being kept with full-size equipment.  MoPac famously not only kept their 'Eaglette' in service through the early Fifties but resurrected it once in its original service and then stuck it on Delta Eagle service later.

The things were too light for the kinds of line they would be used for, and the relatively low horsepower didn't help them.  The better solution was the same thing that confronted doodlebugs en masse in the postwar years: cars and buses did any real job they could fulfil and do it better.

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Posted by Miningman on Thursday, November 15, 2018 11:11 AM

Except good safe secondary roads were not all yet in place, certainly not reliable to numerous rural areas especially in winter. Salting, sanding and snowplowing techniques took a while to be emplaced and used on many rural roads. Gas stations could be far in between and not always open. Main roads and highways were generally ok but a good winter storm could knock them out quite easily back then. Not sure but I would say that things were good and reliable by the early 60's for the most part. 

Yeah very unfortunate with the Sante Fe RDC's but that was an outlier. It did end their relationship with although it should not have.

Even in the modern age well into the 2000's VIA/CN ran up to ten scheduled RDC's Toronto-Niagara Falls. Took those trains out of Toronto Union many times and I would be back in Burlington way before anyone could drive it on the QEW. 20-25 minutes, they just let 'em go, you could really feel the speed. Highway all jammed and slow going. We would wave and we zipped by. You could buy your ticket on board, relax and have a smoke. Those days are gone, but it wasn't that long ago.

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Posted by BaltACD on Thursday, November 15, 2018 2:11 PM

Overmod
I find I am still requried to log in.  Until the people maintaining the server learn how to spell correctly, I have to wonder if it's actually the Government serving the files... I don't remember this access convention or the misspelling before the 'defunding'.

I had to Sign IN with the re-establishment of the DOT web site.  Since establishing the 'new' identity I have not had any issues.

Prior to the site having been taken down, I don't recall that signing in had been a requirement.

         

Never too old to have a happy childhood!

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Posted by Jones1945 on Friday, November 16, 2018 9:44 AM

Overmod

The things were too light for the kinds of line they would be used for, and the relatively low horsepower didn't help them.  The better solution was the same thing that confronted doodlebugs en masse in the postwar years: cars and buses did any real job they could fulfill and do it better.

Agree. That's why in my post on Nov 9, I admitted that these fancy looking Railbuses couldn't prevent the demise of "interurban" in the States when local folks could easily obtain a less expensive truck or 2nd hand cars. Even buses; which is more feasible and cheap became irrelevant. 

The reason I think ACF Motorailer was underrated is that there was a very rare successful example happened on MoPac 'Eaglette' MotoRailer #670, where the local folks actually developed an emotional bonding with the car:

" When word got out the the Eaglette's Lincoln-Union service was to come to an end, words of protest from the public reached the highest places. One letter written to the Nebraska State Railway Commision stated that no less than Paul J. Neff himself, MP's chief executive officer, heard of the impending retirement from of the Eaglette in 1952. It so happened that the Motorailer was a long-time favorite of Neff's -- by the time he had his say the Eaglette was immediately back in service and the official responsible for its early retirement was demoted."

*Full Story here: http://www.trainweb.org/screamingeagle/eaglette.html

This example really made me rethink the potential of Railbus in the States since this kind of vehicle were widely used in many EU countries. But I didn't pay enough attention to the postwar development of automobiles industry in the States.  

 

Miningman

I'll take a light Pacific, Jubilee or Mogul and 2 or 3 heavyweights any day over any of it.

Okok, FULL STEAM AHEAD. Coffee

 

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