Railroad speeder

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A speeder (also known as a section car, railway motor car, putt-putt, track-maintenance car, crew car, jigger, trike, quad, trolley, inspection car, or a draisine) is a small railcar formerly used around the world by track inspectors and work crews to move quickly to and from work sites.[1] Although it is slow compared to a train or car, it is called speeder because it is faster than a human-powered vehicle such as a handcar (draisine). Motorised inspection cars date back to at least 1896, when it was reported that the U.S. Daimler Motor Company created a gasoline-powered rail inspection car capable of 15 mph (24 km/h).[2]

Speeder in use in Santa Cruz, California

In the 1990s, many speeders were replaced with trucks (usually pickup trucks or sport utility vehicles) using flanged wheels that could be lowered for on-rail (called road-rail vehicles or hi-rails for highway-railroad). Speeders are collected by hobbyists, who refurbish them for excursions organized by the North American Railcar Operators Association[3] in the U.S. and Canada and the Australian Society of Section Car Operators, Inc. in Australia.

Motorcar manufacturers and modelsEdit

A privately owned Fairmont MT-14 speeder on display at a model railroad show in February 2004
A former Chessie System speeder at the Linden Railroad Museum, Linden, Indiana
United States Canada
  • Beavercar (BMC-2m BMC-4m BMC-B)
  • Buda Manufacturing
  • Casey Jones (531)
  • Fairbanks-Morse (40-B, 101, 757)
  • Fairmont Railway Motors Inc[a]
    • S2, S2-A, S9, S9, S9-A, S9-B, S9-C S9-D
    • 1100 2100 3100 4100 5100 6100
    • A2-A8 Series
    • M2 M9 M14 MT14 M15 M17 M19 MT19
    • S2 ST2 C7 CD7 CK7 CR7
  • Kalamazoo
    • 23 Series B, 23 Series T, 27, 560N
  • Portec
  • Sheffield
    • 40-B
  • Sylvester Steel Products
    • "21" section car with "120" engine (steel frame)
    • "21E" section car with "KP" engine (aluminum frame)
    • "K54" inspection car with "KP" engine (aluminum frame)
  • Tamper
    • TMC-2, TMC-6, TMC-8, TMC-12
  • D Wickham & Co Ltd
  • Woodings
    • CBI, CBL
  • Railway Workshops

Various railways and their workshops also manufactured speeders. Often these were a copy of commercially available cars, such as Wickham and Fairmont.


Approximate dimensions of a common speeder car are given below. Due to the variety of base models and customization these are not fixed numbers. These values are from a Fairmont A4-D.

  • Rail Gauge: 1,435 mm (4 ft 8+12 in) standard gauge (56.5 inches)
  • Weight: 3,500 pounds (1,588 kg)
  • Width: 64 inches (1,626 mm)
  • Height: 60 inches (1,524 mm)
  • Length: 9 feet 2 inches (2,794 mm) (~110 inches)
  • Wheel Diameter: 16 inches (406 mm)
  • Floor Height: 80–120% of the wheel diameter; 11 inches (279 mm)-17 inches (432 mm)


See alsoEdit


  1. ^ Fairmont used three letters to designate car types. "S" was a Standard Series" section car; "A" was an "Advanced Series" section car and "M" was the "Master Series" section car. They also used a "category" name for motorcars. "Light Inspection" or 1-2 men, were car models: M9 nicknamed "Safe Easy", MM9, MR9, 59, M17, and MM17. "Inspection" or 1-4 men, were models "Roadmaster", M12, M16, M19 nicknamed the Safety Quick", MT19, and the 150. "Light Section" or 1-6 men, the M1, and M14 also called the "Light Section Car". "Section" or 1-8 men, were models "Dreadnaught", M2, 75, and S2. "Heavy Duty Section" or 1-8 men, the A2. "Gang" or 1-12 men, MT2, ST2, A2, AT2 and A3. "Extra Gang" or "B & B" 1-12 men, MX3, MX30G, MT2, A4, AF4, and A6. Final group, "Large Extra Gang" or "Hump" 1-12 men, models A6, A7, A8.


  1. ^ "FAQ's & Answers". NARCOA. Retrieved 2008-01-25.
  2. ^ Notes of the Month, The Automotor and Horesless Carriage Journal, December 1896, p103
  3. ^ NARCOA website
  4. ^ Gunner, K., Kennard, M. 2004 The Wickham Works List Dennis Duck Publishing
  5. ^ Brujita ref 1
  6. ^ Brujita ref 2
  7. ^ Brujita ref 3

External linksEdit