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Speeder in use in Santa Cruz, California
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
Former Queensland Rail (Australia) speeders
An English Wickham trolley, a railway engineering personnel carrier, used on British Railways as the type No.27 Gang and Inspection trolley from 1946 until the 1990s. Seen at the Amberley Museum & Heritage Centre.

A speeder (also known as railway motor car, putt-putt, track-maintenance car, crew car, jigger, trike, quad, trolley or inspection car, and also known as a draisine (although that can also be unpowered) is a maintenance of way motorized vehicle formerly used on railroads 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. 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]

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 models[edit]


  • Beavercar —
    • BMC-2
    • BMC-4
    • BMC-B
  • Buda Manufacturing
  • Casey Jones —
    • 531
  • Fairbanks-Morse
    • 40-B
    • 101
    • 757
  • Fairmont Railway Motors Inc
    • S2
    • S2-A
    • S9,
    • S9,
    • S9-A
    • S9-B
    • S9-C
    • S9-D
    • 1100
    • 2100
    • 3100
    • 4100
    • 5100
    • 6100
    • A2-A8 Series
    • M2
    • Fairmont A3D Motorcar - Kentucky & Tennessee Railway #9. It was purchased new by the K&T Rwy and came with an optional Fairmont body and four optional Fairmont seats. It has a four-speed transmission, a forward-reverse transmission and is powered by a Waukesha ICK 17hp 4cyl. gasoline engine.
    • M14
    • MT14
    • M15
    • M17
    • M19
    • MT19
    • S2
    • ST2
    • C7
    • CD7
    • CK7
    • CR7

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.

  • 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 (Wickham trolley)[4]
  • 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: Standard gauge 1,435 mm (4 ft 8 12 in) (56.5 inches)
  • Weight: 3,500 pounds (1,600 kg)
  • Width: 64 inches (1,600 mm)
  • Height: 60 inches (1,500 mm)
  • Length: 9 feet 2 inches (2,790 mm) (~110 inches)
  • Wheel Diameter: 16 inches (410 mm)
  • Floor Height: 80%-120% of the wheel diameter; 11 inches (280 mm)-17 inches (430 mm)

See also[edit]


  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 links[edit]