“Speeders,” self-propelled cars used by track gangs, have come in many shapes and sizes. Today, they are as popular to preserve full-scale as they are in models.
The speeder, or track car, replaced the hand-powered pumpcars and velocipedes, beginning in the 1920s. The first cars were not much more than a small engine, four wheels and a bench. Often they were home-built in railroad shops. Crude as they may have seemed, compared to pumping your way several miles just to get to the work site, these were a welcome relief to those who used them.
Over time, the speeders evolved into larger and more elaborate vehicles. Roofs, windshields, and eventually side walls enclosed the passenger compartments. Larger cars could carry six or more men. Some speeders had top speeds of more than 40 mph and were often powerful enough to tow an extra cart or two with tools, spikes, etc.
Starting in the 1950s, the traditional rail-only speeder began to be replaced by larger and more-versatile hi-rail vehicles which could run on both rails and roads. By the mid 1980s, most had been replaced on the larger lines. Today, hundreds of the little speeders have been preserved in museums and tourist lines and by private owners who often gather for excursions.
They are one of the most affordable ways to get into 1:1 scale railroading as a hobby. And while some have carefully restored their cars to the original appearance, others have applied unique paint schemes based on favorite prototypes or complete fancy.
There are lots of uses for these little cars on your layout. Whether you want to have one for your section gangs to inspect your railroad, or gather a fleet and model a modern excursion, the new Lionel command control speeders will add a fun element to any model railroad. They’ll even look great sitting beside the tracks on a set-out when not in use.
For small cars, these critters are packed with features:
Run with Command Control or Conventional
- Forward and Reverse operation
- Directional headlights
- Blinking strobe light
- Interior light
- Die-cast metal frame
- Maintenance-free motor
- Traction tire
- Detailed Interior
- Driver figure
The speeders will negotiate an O-27 curve and come decorated for seven popular railroads past and present and a generic Maintenance of Way scheme.
- Union Pacific (6-37061)
- Norfolk Southern (6–37062)
- Pennsylvania (6-37063)
- CSX (6-37064)
- BNSF (6-37065)
- Maint. of Way (6-37066)
- New York Central (6-37067)
- Canadian National (6-37068)
The speeders retail for $149.99 and should ship next month. Pick one up and tour your layout in style!