All Terrain Railroad Motor Car

By Staff
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 D.D.S., P.A. 1018 West Dixie Avenue Leesburg, Florida

Since running a railroad motor car on any railroad without
authorization is not only unlawful but suicidal, and especially
after my wife Susie and I had experienced one derailment on an
abandoned spur line before they took it up, I realized if I wanted
to keep on running my motor car I was going to have to change it so
I could run it someplace other than on a railroad. Therefore, I
proceeded to make it into an all-terrain vehicle.

With the exception of the small rubber cleated tires it still
looks as it did when the old Seaboard Coastline Railroad had it.
The Fairmont 10 HP two cycle engine is as it always was mounted. I
adapted a Gravely commercial lawn mower transmission which has a
planetary set of gears, high and low range, forward and reverse.
The power is delivered to the transmission via a 7′ V pulley on
the engine to a 3′ V pulley on a 90 degree 1-to-l ratio gear
box, from the gear box on a 4′ V pulley to a 6′ V pulley on
the transmission.

Top speed is a very fast walk to a very slow crawl for getting
around crowds.

Since this engine is water cooled and used to being run on the
railroad tracks 30 to 50 miles per hour, I had a heating problem
running so slow. This was solved by adapting a Mercury Cougar 7
blade fan to one of the flywheels, making a shroud from an old tub
and mounting a Buick Opal radiator by the flywheel fan. I found a
small centrifugal water pump with a V pulley at a flea market and
mounted it in front and took the V belt off the regular flat pulley
on the engine.

I also mounted a 4 fluted steam whistle on the guard rail and
supplied the air to blow it from an air pump that Wagoneer used
with their anti-pollution devices. This air pump is also supplied
with power from a third pulley on the gear box. Steering is
accomplished by using the original brake lever and working out the
correct angles and pivots-pull the lever back for a right turn and
push it forward for a left turn.

The front axle was made from a Dodge Caravan rear axle and the
front hubs from a Dodge Omni. I used a one bolt center pivot on the
front axle, as most tractors do, and made up my king pins and
bushing as the old cars used to have.

The rear axle is the original railroad axle out to the hubs,
lathed to fit the wheels and tires off a Florida Ditch Witch. I
coupled the railroad axle to the Gravely axle via hub lathed down
so I could bolt a pulley fitted to the railroad axle.

I had my debut with my motor car at the Pioneer Days Florida
Flywheelers Antique Engine Show at Zolfo Springs, March of this
year. I also ran it in the Wauchula Parade.

My grandest moment was when a spectator ran out in the street
and told me he was a retired Seaboard Coastline Road Master; he
climbed aboard and rode the rest of the way with me. I asked him if
he ever thought he would be riding down Main Street in Wauchula on
a motor car. We had a barrel of fun!

I am a 62 year old dentist and grew up in the country with one
lungers and a Model A Ford. I have a metal lathe, milling machine,
electric arc and acetylene welders, and do all of my own work. I
have a three axle trailer with 12 engines: one 10 HP Fairbanks and
the rest 1? and 2 HP one lungers, and four Model A’s, one in
the process of being restored.

I have always loved these old engines. While I was away in the
Navy in World War II my mother scrapped all our old engines during
a patriotic scrap drive. It wasn’t until five years ago I met
Dan Me Whorter, a member of the Florida Flywheelers, and through
his friendship I realized these beautiful old engines could still
be found.

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