Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Roots of Motive Power Steam Up #5: Speeders


These little vehicles are another favorite at the annual Steam Up, and I think some are called "speeders" while others are called "hand cars", and some speeders have covered cabs for weathering the elements. There are clubs for speeder hobbyists who arrange rail excursions together, by prior arrangement with rail operators. Originally, most of these were used for maintenance work on the rails. This orange one has wooden handles on each end for two people to lift it on or off the rails. A Roots volunteer explained its operation and history to a visitor, then powered up its noisy gasoline motor, and sped off to tour the loop track. Others were powered with human muscle alone. Perhaps you've seen the classic lever pump varieties in old movies and cartoons. In fact, you can check out Kermit the Frog, or Buster Keaton on my Overflow blog.


11 comments:

Bibi said...

I think these cars are cool. I also think the railroad type would be good for your abs. I remember seeing one in the film, "Blazing Saddles."

Halcyon said...

In France, many small towns turned old railroad tracks into bicycle rails. There was one near me that I always meant to check out. You have these four seater cars and everyone pedals to keep the car moving. It was called velo-rail which means bicycle rails. I bet pumping is much harder work though!

Halcyon said...

This was not the one near me, but you can get an idea. Looks fun!

http://www.velorail16.com/fr/galerie.htm

Wayne said...

O' Brother Where Art Thou featured a handcar.

My grandfather was an engineer and of course my dad grew up in a railroad town. As kids we always called the motorised units 'jiggers'.

Thanks Elaine, I get a kick out of these posts.

Chuck Pefley said...

A good friend of mine belongs to a local steam enthusiast group ... mostly scale model stuff. Great fun! So many hobbies, so little money and time :)

Abraham Lincoln said...

We used to have four men ride on one similar to this and their job was to go along the D&U Railroad track and fix anything that looked wrong or was about to go wrong. It was a hand pumping up and down kind of cart for years and then one day my mom and i heard this putt putt putt sound and the same car had a small engine on it and they were putting right along past our house. These are neat pieces of history and you made a nice photo of them.

USelaine said...

Bibi - I saw more of these in old comedies than in real life. It's fun to see them up close.

Halcyon - That sounds like a great idea! There is a "Rails to Trails" trend in the US too, but usually it's to turn the rail right-of-way into a paved bike trail, without keeping the rails. Preserving them would be even better.

Wayne - Thanks for coming around, with your connections. I never heard the term "jiggers".

Chuck - With the Roots group, it's a labor of love, indeed. Restoring full sized locomotives ain't cheap.

Abe - Wow! That's how I've heard they were used, but like I say, in my experience they were just comedy devices in films and TV, and I didn't think about their true uses.

Glad you folks enjoyed this. 8^)

Marie Reed said...

I'd like to hop on that hand car and speed down the track too!

Miss Havisham said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Miss Havisham said...

O'Brother

USelaine said...

Marie - That would be just the thing right now.

Miss H. - I love it. I don't know how you find these easy play, top rate songs to post, but they're great!