Steam Motor Car ..the First RSC? Dayliner?

991 views
8 replies
1 rating 2 rating 3 rating 4 rating 5 rating
  • Member since
    September, 2013
  • 1,734 posts
Steam Motor Car ..the First RSC? Dayliner?
Posted by Miningman on Thursday, April 06, 2017 8:41 PM

   

 Is this the first RSC? Certainly not an RDC!

Luv the ad- " Motor car has handsome coach and smoking room. Runs smoothly Makes good time"

 

 

RME
  • Member since
    March, 2016
  • 2,073 posts
Posted by RME on Thursday, April 06, 2017 9:01 PM

Look closely at the diagram and you can tell almost instantly the range of time this thing would be run before being extensively redesigned or rebuilt back into a conventional car.

But for far more detail, see the detailed report in Railway Age made at the time the car was put in service.

Oil fuel carried within the truck frame?  Rod drive on a single axle ... a single leading axle?  700-degree nominal superheat into 5" piston valves, and 42" drivers?  They  set the oil firing up for semi-attended operation ... and note that even though the car 'was designed to use oil as fuel' the ad talks about coal as the fuel, and even in just three months' experience CP figured out that coal firing (in a Morrison corrugated firebox!) was 'found to be cheaper'.  In fact, says Railway Age, about as cheap as a conventional steam locomotive, and reading between the lines that was not particularly cost-effective for all the additional proprietary tinkering to give 200 slippery horsepower.  I would be particularly interested to see the technical detail about what was provided to drive the car from the opposite end.

On the other hand, at the time of writing the car had been running four trips a day, albeit only 24 route-miles end to end in what was essentially suburban service, and CP at least claimed they could get 50-55mph out of it ... perhaps carefully not noting what the fuel or servicing costs were for sustained periods of time using that speed.

This is very far from being the "first" practicable steam car -- there were very good designs in the late 1850s (nipped in the bud by the Civil War) and then again at intervals ... White notes the major economic depressions in the United States (cf. 1873 and 1893) had the effect of curtailing some attractive developments.  Rail steam motor cars were also under development in England (for example the GWR's first was in 1903) and by 1906 the Ganz company had over a decade of experience building and exporting their design of self-propelled steam car.  There is a very good index of articles on steam motor cars in the early years (it was published in a magazine in 1916) and there were only a few exceptions, such as the stillborn Stanley Unit Car, to the general trend toward internal-combustion engines for this kind of car.

  • Member since
    September, 2013
  • 1,734 posts
Posted by Miningman on Thursday, April 06, 2017 9:51 PM

Found this little summary on this Rail Steam Car. It's a bit thin on information but we find out that it was in service 2 years earlier in the Montreal area.

It certainly looks frail and not very rugged. It would be fun to have a chit chat with the crew after a run. 

Nontheless you got to admire the optimism from the Victorians and their embrace of science to do good things and solve all of the worlds problems. Until WWI turned their science into mass slaughter. 

Best of intentions and all that. 

 Motor Car 88 was a unique piece of rolling stock looking almost like an ordinary 75 foot long wooden passenger car but, with the addition of a small steam engine complete with boiler. Weighing just under 70 tons in operating order and seating 56 (including 16 in the smoker section) it was built at Angus Shops early in 1906 it was the first and only such car in Canada. It was able to not only exceed the scheduled speed of a locomotive hauled train but, to do so at great savings which was what the original goal was. It was built for off-peak use in Montreal Vaudreuil commuter service, a 23 mile trip it could make at 50-55 miles per hour in only 38 minutes compared to 50 for the locomotive-hauled train and do it at only about 15-20 cents per mile! Unfortunately, its success fell short of the dependability required for passenger service. One of the problems as with any self-propelled passenger car was maintaining and repairing it since it was both a locomotive and a passenger car it had to be worked on in two distinctly different places. 

The Motor Car was tried at other locations looking for a place where it could fit in, only one of which has been recently discovered. A new "Inter-Urban" service between Toronto and Brampton on the Orangeville Branch was announced effective June 1, 1908. Scheduled to operate a number of trips daily however; it is not known how long it lasted. Never-the-less it was one more example of how the CPR pioneered as it sought to cut costs and provide service at the same time.

  • Member since
    August, 2010
  • From: Henrico, VA
  • 7,074 posts
Posted by Firelock76 on Friday, April 07, 2017 8:13 PM

I knew I'd seen something similar to this, so I went running for one of my Colin Garratt books, "World Of Steam Railways," and sure enough there it was on page 62.

A British built steam railcar, built by the Clayton Wagon Company (Lincoln UK) in 1928, photographed by Mr. Garratt in the Sudan in 1982.  "Built like a battleship" says Mr. Garratt, and he's right, nothing flimsy about this machine, it looks like you could run it through a castle wall with no ill effects.

According to Mr. Garratt Clayton built eleven nearly identical railcars for the L.N.E.R.  The bore the names of famous stagecoaches like "Bang Up", "Chevy Chase", "Comet", and "Rapid".  And these steam railcars were powerful enough to pull a trailing coach as well.

However, in 1982 it was out of service.  I wonder if it was saved, or if any like it were?

RME
  • Member since
    March, 2016
  • 2,073 posts
Posted by RME on Saturday, April 08, 2017 12:26 AM

Firelock76
Clayton built eleven nearly identical railcars for the L.N.E.R. The bore the names of famous stagecoaches like "Bang Up", "Chevy Chase", "Comet", and "Rapid".

Here's one for you

The problem about running it through a castle wall is that you must have it running in the first place.  I suspect that only British-style maintenance and fitting-up would keep this running very long.  And even then, not very well.  None of them survived very far into 1937, and all are somewhat unsurprisingly long, long gone.  Here is a page on them.

Some of the purpose-built trailers that went with these might survive as 'summer houses' - be interesting to find out.

  • Member since
    August, 2010
  • From: Henrico, VA
  • 7,074 posts
Posted by Firelock76 on Saturday, April 08, 2017 9:32 AM

Oh, well.  They promised much but turned out to be a bust.  Not the first time that's happened and I'd suppose it won't be the last.

To bad.  That Clayton railcar Mr. Garratt photographed in the Sudan looked formidable, to say the least!

RME
  • Member since
    March, 2016
  • 2,073 posts
Posted by RME on Saturday, April 08, 2017 11:14 AM

Firelock76
Oh, well. They promised much but turned out to be a bust. Not the first time that's happened and I'd suppose it won't be the last.

There were much better ones, foremost among them perhaps the Stanley Unit Car.  In fact, at just about every stage of 'engine' development there was a small 'motorcar' version that promised higher economy and better flexibility than a full locomotive and separate-car train for services that would not fill a train.  Some of the problem was, as I noted, that financial troubles killed off some of the 'contenders' before they could have full impact on one or multiple railroads; another was that demand for this kind of 'doodlebug' service rose and fell with contemporary forces, just as it did with the GE railcar effort after 1911 and with the early EMC motorcars.

Related to this was a problem encountered with the early motor-train streamliners: any substantial 'take rate' of the high-speed service quickly made larger trains, locomotive-hauled trains of switchable cars, preferable.  It is possible, I think, that a Unit Car or International Harvester Steamotive car could have been built to the size of the Susquehanna motorcars with 132 commuter seats, and it would probably be easily capable of pulling at least one trailer of comparable size (although the sweet spot of high acceleration and reasonably high achieved top speed might have required a transmission even for steam power).  In the event, however, using something like a Hall-Scott motor underfloor made better sense than any external-combustion system, even one as advanced as the later Besler developments, and allowed vastly simplified (and unattended) MU or bidirectional operation of motorcars.

I think one of the major nails in the coffin of steam motorcars came with Clessie Cummins, who had developed a couple of key technological 'enablers' for small reliable diesel engines by the mid- to late-'20s.  He mentioned in his memoirs a key PRR official ... I have never taken the time to try figuring out who he was, but Mike can probably figure it out if he doesn't know already ... who was a strong supporter of internal combustion even for high-speed road service, but who died in 1927 (just as things were beginning to get interesting beyond things like four-plug distillate motors) leaving only conservative steam-oriented Philadelphians who left the future to the Hamiltons and Dilworths.  I suspect things would have gone MUCH faster toward early (and effective!) road dieselization (or, for the anti-German-culture people still remaining at that time, oil-electrification), including both switching and local 'road-switcher' service, had that not occurred.

We've already discussed the very interesting work Doble and the Beslers took up in Germany in the 1930s -- even with an implicit bias toward the 'native son's' internal-combustion technology, this was pretty good.  It just didn't give as good results as what others were achieving with different approaches...

I have sometimes wondered what might have happened had Mr. Stanley not died in 1924, and he, or Doble, or Besler had been taken into GM by Mr. Sloan and given the advantages that EMC and Winton were.

  • Member since
    September, 2013
  • 1,734 posts
Posted by Miningman on Saturday, April 08, 2017 11:30 AM

The Canadian Pacific #88 Steam Motor Car would at least look more rugged if you replaced that very fine and spindly cow catcher up front with something more substantial. 

The "gas tank" slung underneath seems a bit risky. What is the purpose of the operators room at the back? Was is for backup moves communicating? 

That picture of "Bang Up" highballing away reminds me of some of my neighbours vehicles. Imagine being trackside seeing this thing for the first time..."What the? Bang up? No kidding"

RME
  • Member since
    March, 2016
  • 2,073 posts
Posted by RME on Saturday, April 08, 2017 12:35 PM

Miningman
The Canadian Pacific #88 Steam Motor Car would at least look more rugged if you replaced that very fine and spindly cow catcher up front with something more substantial.

But that's a passenger pilot!  (I grant you it might make better sense to put a glorified trolley fender apparatus up there, but that would have far less dignity even than footboards...)  Remember that senior folks at Angus Shops designed this thing, and I think included some romance of early railroading in the design.

The "gas tank" slung underneath seems a bit risky.

Actually it might be safer to keep the fuel oil down there in case of fire or blowback in the boiler compartment -- a Booth burner being a somewhat primitive thing imho.  The problem with it is far more the sort of thing you'd see with the Besler motor locomotive design (cf. B&O W-1) with the dirt, water, and ballast rock flying around... we won't go into how they handled the arrangement to get the oil up to the burner.

What is the purpose of the operators room at the back? Was is for backup moves communicating?

According to everything I've read on the car, it was intended to be bidirectional; you'd control the throttle and brake from the rear, and the semi-automatic firing would take care of the smoke and some of the load management, perhaps even the water injector(s).  I would guess that at intermediate stops a quick walk to supervise and adjust things at the boiler end would have been made.

That picture of "Bang Up" highballing away reminds me of some of my neighbours vehicles. Imagine being trackside seeing this thing for the first time..."What the? Bang up? No kidding"

Insert contemporary British slang as needed.  Although I strongly suspect 'wizard' would NOT be one of the sobriquets used...  Here is some of the flavor from the age the coach names were derived:

Naturally, the roads were thronged, and “Piccadilly was all in motion—coaches, carts, gigs, tilburies, whiskies, buggies, dogcarts, sociables, dennets, curricles, and sulkies were passing in rapid succession, intermingled with tax-carts and waggons decorated with laurel, conveying company of the most varied description. Here was to be seen the dashing Corinthian tickling up his ***, and his bang-up set-out of blood and bone, giving the go-by to a heavy drag laden with eight brawny, bull-faced blades, smoking their way down behind a skeleton of a horse, to whom, in all probability, a good feed of corn would have been a luxury; pattering among themselves, occasionally chaffing the more elevated drivers by whom they were surrounded, and pushing forward their nags with all the ardour of a British merchant intent upon disposing of a valuable cargo of foreign goods on ’Change. There was a waggon full of all sorts upon the lark, succeeded by a donkey-cart with four insides: but Neddy, not liking his burthen, stopped short in the way of a dandy, whose horse’s head, coming plump up to the back of the crazy vehicle at the moment of its stoppage, threw the rider into the arms of a dustman, who, hugging his customer with the determined grasp of a bear, swore, d—n his eyes, he had saved his life, and he expected he would stand something handsome for the Gemmen all round,[Pg 6] for if he had not pitched into their cart he would certainly have broke his neck; which being complied with, though reluctantly, he regained his saddle, and proceeded a little more cautiously along the remainder of the road, while groups of pedestrians of all ranks and appearances lined each side.”

 Seriously, I think it was a great and spirited thing to name those cars after famous stagecoaches ... I have to mourn the names couldn't be steam coaches from the age of Goldsworthy Gurney, before laws and railroads hamstrung their development nearly a century too soon.  ('Bang Up' would be a pretty good pun for one, were the experience so much like the experience described here ...  which, come to think of it, might have been remarkably similar to the experience on the '20s "Bang Up").
 
(In reference to an earlier topic, note the word used for the person consulted about the safety valve... not, it would seem, the same personage as the 'steersman'...)

 

SUBSCRIBER & MEMBER LOGIN

Login, or register today to interact in our online community, comment on articles, receive our newsletter, manage your account online and more!

FREE NEWSLETTER SIGNUP

Get the Classic Trains twice-monthly newsletter

Search the Community