Gasoline rail-cars for branches of trunk-line railroads and for short-line roads have been the subject of much discussion since 1920. Mechanical officers of interested railroads, the engineers of companies building highway motor-trucks and others specializing on this subject have now developed designs to meet the different service requirements. Several hundred cars of various types have been built and are in service. The railroad with which the author is connected has in operation or on order 24 cars.
Consideration of several principal factors of design is necessary if a selection is to result in obtaining equipment suitable for the particular service requirements of the carrier and if the knowledge accruing from the engineering development and operating experience of the past several years is to be of value. Important factors include:
  1. (1)
    Horsepower rating of powerplant in relation to car speed, weight, grades, curvature and operating schedules; especially in the case of internal-combustion engines the power must be sufficient to permit engine operation at speeds and outputs well within the maximum of the engine
  2. (2)
    Type of transmission between engine and wheels; to be simple to operate, accessible for repairs, rugged for endurance, quiet in operation and efficient in power transmission
  3. (3)
    Single-end versus double-end control; the former is far preferable if terminal conditions permit, because it is cheaper to build, more reliable, has less weight and is easier to operate
  4. (4)
    Distribution of available space between engine room, baggage room and passenger compartment. This factor is largely variable according to the ideas and the needs of the carrier. However, the convenience, comfort and safety of the passengers and the convenience of the crew require consideration because of the space available and the permissible weight
  5. (5)
    Materials of construction are important and largely different from those usual in railroad equipment construction. Care is necessary to give lightness, strength, warmth, good appearance and quietness of operation at a permissible cost. Climatic conditions should be considered, as well as the more or less exacting requirements of the particular service
  6. (6)
    Design of the car frame and body and of the trucks to give strength, lightness, good appearance and safe and quiet operation needs careful study and departure largely from usual steam-road practices
  7. (7)
    Heating, signaling, lighting, ventilation and braking are all important factors concerning which experience has produced much information
  8. (8)
    Multiple-unit control may be of some importance in later developments for specialized service but does not appear to be of considerable moment
The author has endeavored to give as much information from his own experience on these subjects as possible to help those railroad men and automotive engineers actively interested in rail-cars to reach conclusions as to the best design.


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