2001 - Volume #25, Issue #5, Page #21[ Sample Stories From This Issue | List of All Stories In This Issue | Print this story | Read this issue]
They Ride The Rails In Old Railroad "Motor Cars"
Motor cars were used originally to transport railroad section workers up and down the tracks. However, railroads no longer use them and in recent years the idea of riding the cars on old abandoned tracks has caught on. Now there are motor car clubs in several states as well as Canada. Enthusiasts get together for "track rides" where it's not unusual for 20 or 30 cars to show up.
The 6 by 8-ft. cars can be easily transported to meet locations on trailers.
Hinds says his entire family enjoys the unusual hobby. "We like to hear the clatter and bang of the wheels as we go down the tracks," he says. "You see a lot that you don't see from the highway, including wildlife. People who see motor cars for the first time often wonder what they're looking at. Motor cars haven't been used for 10 or 20 years in some places, so many younger people don't even know they exist.
"We haul the car inside a covered trailer. It has a ramp with a set of rails on it, which allows us to winch the car on and off the trailer. Usually, motor cars have to be lifted onto the track using lift bars on front and back of the vehicle. However, our car has a hydraulic turntable under it that automatically lifts the car, rotates it 90 degrees, and sets it down on the track."
Hinds says club members ride their cars on abandoned tracks, or on tracks where they know the train schedule and have permission to ride.
"When we get together we travel anywhere from 30 to 100 miles round trip," says Hinds. "We keep a respectable following distance behind other cars. We don't have the right of way at railroad crossings so we always stop. The crossings are flagged as a safety precaution. Our car is powered by an Onan 2-cylinder gas engine and has a 2-speed transmission with a reverse gear. Top speed is about 30 mph. The car is equipped with a flashing beacon on top and also has head lights, brake lights, and lights for going backward."
Motor cars are getting hard to find, notes Hinds. "A few dealers bought up most of the cars when the railroads quit using them. Motor cars are still used in some parts of Canada so you're more likely to find them there."
Contact: FARM SHOW Followup, Richard Hinds, 189 E. Andrew Rd., Springfield, Ill. 62707 (ph 217 487-7750).
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