North East Rails
Doodlebug/Motor Cars FAQ
Doodlebugs are essentially self-propelled coaches (or rather baggage-passenger combines, as most had a coach section and a baggage section). Usually, they had gasoline generators and electric transmissions, but a few later ones were diesel-powered, and a few were built with mechanical transmissions. There's one still stored in the engine house of the Hampton & Branchville RR in SC that has the engine mounted under the floor of the car on the front truck, and geared directly to the axles. There's a good picture of it in the book "Logging RR's of SC" by Thomas Fetters, which is a *great* book, BTW.
There are a few other doodlebugs around, one PRR unit on the Wilmington & Western in DE that runs, another under restoration on the Black River & Western in NJ (also Pensy). I rode that one in the early '80s. The EBT has a narrow-gauge doodlebug that the company built from Brill parts, it's used occasionally. I think there's an unusual all-baggage AT&SF one in Texas, I could be wrong about the location.
Johnathon Kruger firstname.lastname@example.org adds this info to Matt's discussion:I have a floor plan of SRS 118 on my Web site).
The "Skunk" rail-cars in CA were operated by the California Western. There is one of them in regular excursion service on the Niles Canyon Railway in California. It is the number M-200 and was built in 1926 by the Skagit Iron Works in Washington. The "rail-bus" is owned by the Pacific Locomotive Assn. (which I am a member of, I am also one of the Brakeman who operates and maintains the M-200).
I think the resemblance to a doodlebug is functional, not because doodlebugs were used as starting points. The propelling engine is up front, next to the driver, just like in a doodlebug (Sperry cars used to have Hercules gasoline engines, they now all have Cat diesels). The radiator is over the engine, with a fan over that. The driver sits on the right, with the engine in the center. This is a design dictated by the practical limitations of where you can put stuff, so naturally Sperry cars and doodlebugs would use the same solution. If you look closely at a Sperry car you'll see it's very specialized and the resemblance to a doodlebug is cursory at best.
Also, most of the cars in service in the '60s are the same cars in service today! Very few have been retired, although a number of cars have been added to the fleet. The older cars you're referring to are the lower-numbered cars, 118 to somewhere in the mid-30's.
---- -Matt Conrad, Artist, J.M.Conrad Co., jmconrad@InfoAve.net Providing fine art and Mac software for train nuts like myself. http://web.InfoAve.net/~jmconrad/ The gelding's name is "No Steam." =======================================================================
Christopher.P.Locke@SNET.com writes: Sperry owns many detector cars. Every (and I mean every) car from 118 (the oldest existing) to 138 were doodlebugs. Look up any roster of gas-electric St. Louis Car Company cars and you'll see how they were disposed of. Lehigh Valley 15 was a gas-electric doodlebug. Seaboard Air Line 2003 was a gas electric doodlebug. Cars after and including 139 were scratch built, from prints obtained from Saint Louis Car Company. Car 140 is a hybrid, built from a New York City M40 subway car. All cars (118-139, and 141-149) are built from or modeled after St. Louis Car Company doodlebugs. All 5 Star and Hillebrand cars were built from scratch. Starting from 2 pieces of 12" x 62'6" channel iron placed on saw horses, the floor rails were welded on, and the car body was built. No coaches were used to make Sperry cars. Sperry cars are more doodle bugs than sperry cars. Front truck, body, framework, and propulsion were kept original. Nowadays they use diesel electric propulsion, but even until the late 70's and early 80's, they were still "gas electric." I maintained the roster at Sperry =======================================================================
Evan Werkemaemail@example.com writes:
It's probably worth noting that, for many railroads, doodlebugs were the first internal combustion power of any kind on their roster. They were, for better or worse, a tentative first step on the road to dieselization. Santa Fe, for instance, bought their first McKeen cars in 1909, 26 YEARS before their first diesel. Heck, in 1909 no US railroad had diesels, and wouldn't for another decade. I wonder if railroads' experiences with doodlebugs eased their minds about placing diesels in passenger service early on, giving us the diesel-powered Zephyrs and City trains years before road freight diesels.
Nicholas L. Pitsch - firstname.lastname@example.org writes:
Some time ago, I received a printed sheet titled:"Sperry Rail Service Induction Detector Car Rolling Stock Specifications and Service Data" I can only guess it was an official Sperry document of some sort as it lists no copyright date, only "Source: Engineering Files and Car Files".
It lists several cars, including what I would call glorified track speeders built by Kalamazoo and Fairmont to the much-discussed Doodlebugs.
Also see SPERRY RAIL Roster
A listing of the "Doodlebugs"........
105 - Brill 11/29 - became 120 107 - Brill 11/29 - became NYC X8015 108 - SRS ??/30 - became ?? 115 - Brill 8/30 - became 121 116 - Brill 8/30 - became 122 117 - St Louis Car 8/34 - ex B&O 6005 (Baltimore & Ohio) 118 - St Louis Car 8/34 - ex B&O 6006 119 - St Louis Car 9/34 - ex B&O 6003 120 - to Remington Arms 121 - to Remington Arms 122 - to St Louis Scrap dealer 123 - ex LV 14 (Lehigh Valley) 124 - ex LV 20 125 - ex LV 26 126 - ex CNW 9900 (Chicago & Northwestern) 127 - ex B&M 1151 (Boston & Maine) 128 - ex LV 15 129 - ex LV 29 130 - ex LV 28 131 - ex LV 27 132 - ex SAL 2003 (Seaboard Air Line) 133 - ex SAL 2002 134 - ex SAL 2022 - wrecked on B&M 12/63 135 - ex SAL 2023 136 - ex NYC M-11 (New York Central)
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