A brief summary of the history of motor rail-car equipment on the railroad represented by the author is given in his paper. Three gasoline-driven rail-cars were put into operation in 1910. The engine used for each car was a six-cylinder, 10 x 12-in., slow-speed, four-cycle reversible-type having overhead valves, an open crankcase and a 200-hp. rating, but experience has proved that the four-cycle reversible-type engine equipped with an air-operated starting-apparatus makes rather a complicated unit that is the cause of many difficulties. Details are given concerning these first three cars, their performance and the changes made in their equipment.
In 1922, a two-car train consisting of a motorcoach and a trailer was installed. The coach is 28 ft. long, has a 12-ft. baggage-space, carries 30 passengers and weighs 28,000 lb.; the trailer is 32 ft. long, weighs 17,000 lb. and seats 36 passengers. Equipped at first with a four-cylinder 65-hp. engine, this was found to be of insufficient capacity and a six-cylinder 105-hp. engine was substituted. Other changes have been made since and these are described. Experience with the rail-cars thus far specified showed that any future units, and particularly two-car trains, must be of light construction and of sufficient ruggedness to operate on steam-railroad lines.
The next installation was a single-unit rail-car weighing 30,000 lb. and having capacity for 38 passengers. It has a 65-hp. four-cylinder engine and operates very successfully over a daily 185-mile run through level territory. After instituting a new set of motor rail-car stations at public-highway crossings along this route, passenger business for this particular unit increased.
A train consisting of a large motorcoach and a trailer, powered with a 225-hp. marine-type engine, was then installed and operated over a 216-mile route. The coach seats 30 passengers and has a 16-ft. baggage-space; the trailer seats 44 passengers. These gasoline-propelled rail-cars and trains are driven by steam-railroad engineers. The last-mentioned train has operated so successfully that the company has ordered two more similar trains of even larger capacity and, in addition, a gasoline-electric single-unit rail-car. The operating and maintenance costs of the equipment mentioned are tabulated.
Some general requisites for stability, reliability and low total costs for rail-car utilization are that an engine of sufficient capacity be provided to enable it to operate normally at not more than 60 or 65 per cent of its maximum power; that lighting arrangement, current generation and current storage be improved; that passengers be made more comfortable; that the cooling capacity be made ample for the engine; that U. S, Standard and not S. A. E. Standard bolts and nuts be used; that all parts be made accessible and that parts be standardized.