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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

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 (powered or unpowered) in many other parts of the world) 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] 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, in the 1990s. Now speeders are collected by hobbyists, who refurbish them and take them on outings organized by the North American Railcar Operators Association (NARCOA) in the USA and Canada and the Australian Society of Section Car Operators, Inc. in Australia.


Speeders in the movies

The most famous speeder in a movie is, arguably, the Fairmont M19/M19AA that Buster Keaton rode across Canada in his 1965 film, The Railrodder. Keaton made tea, washed his laundry, hunted ducks and passed trains as he travelled across Canada. The Railrodder and its making-of documentary, Buster Keaton Rides Again, are still available from the National Film Board of Canada.

A speeder also features in the Russian film Stalker, where it is used to transport the protagonists into the heart of a forbidden area called The Zone, created in the aftermath of an alien landing.

Speeders are also known as draisines (powered or unpowered) in many parts of the world

Motorcar manufacturers and models

Beavercar — BMC-2, BMC-4, BMC-B

Buda Manufacturing

Casey Jones — 531

Commonwealth Engineering — Heavy Gang Car built for 5 ft 3 in (1,600 mm) and Standard Gauge operation in South Australia

Fairbanks-Morse — 40-B, 101, 757

Fairmont Railway Motors Inc — 52, 52-A, 59, 59-A, 59-B, 59-C, 59-D, 1100, 2100, 3100, 4100, 5100, 6100, A2 Series, A3 Series, A4 Series, A5 Series, A6 Series, A7 Series, 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

Pacific ACE (AKA Tutt Bryant)[3] — C500, STT/E


Sheffield — 40-B

Sylvester Manufacturing Co[4] — H21B - Medium Gang Car, E21B - Light Inspection Car

Tamper — TMC-2, TMC-6, TMC-8, TMC-12

D Wickham & Co Ltd[5] — (59 models over their manufacturing history)

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: ~14 inches (360 mm)

Floor Height: ~80% to 120% of the wheel diameter ~11 inches (280 mm) to ~17 inches (430 mm)

See also


  1. ^ "FAQ's & Answers". NARCOA. Retrieved 2008-01-25.  
  2. ^ For more information on Gemco, see Ken McHughs Section Car Shed
  3. ^ Assembled cars from components supplied by Fairmont Railway Motors, but also developed two of their own designs
  4. ^ For more information on Sylvester see Ken McHughs Section Car Shed
  5. ^ Gunner, K., Kennard, M. 2004 The Wickham Works List Dennis Duck Publishing

External links



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