Railroad officials have many ways of “keeping track” of the property. From the good ol’ fashioned hand car to luxurious business cars, touring the railroad in person remains the most effective means of assessing conditions for track maintainers, supervisors, railroad police and even the CEO.
The advent of the automobile presented a new opportunity for railroads looking for an affordable and accommodating inspection vehicle. Many railroads large and small converted conventional cars for railroad use in their own shops. The conversions generally involved replacing rubber tires with metal wheels and disabling or removing the steering column. Some were also equipped with pilots, horns, bells, even marker lights. All of this was well within the capacity of even the most basic short line shop.
Cars like these could be found nationwide until the availability of a convertible “hi-rail” vehicle became a practical option. These cars, still common today, have the ability to drive on both rail and road, making them even more flexible and useful. It also makes it far easier for them to get out-of-the-way when it is time to get the trains moving again. Today, dozens of the older cars can be found in museums and in the hands of private collectors who enjoy their operation along with fellow “speeder” clubs.
The Lionel model is based upon a 1937 Buick converted by the Maryland and Pennsylvania Railroad in 1942. The Ma & PA, a quintessential short line, maintained this car in service until 1977. The car is preserved today in the Baltimore and Ohio Railroad Museum in Baltimore, MD. A quick internet search will reveal many similar conversions of Buicks, Cadillacs and more of similar vintage all across North America.
Our model features a metal frame and body for plenty of weight and durability. It features forward and reverse operation, working headlights and is even Command Control equipped. It will run on both command control and conventional layouts. Although modeled to scale, this fun little car can negotiate an O-27 curve, so it can inspect any layout! Now available in Santa Fe, Grand Trunk, Great Northern and Frisco, the cars retail for $129.99 and are available now at dealers. Drive one home today!