"above ground" and "vertical" one day at a time!
2005 Harley Springer
I grew up in Connecticut until
I moved to Iowa to attend Iowa State University where I earned
a Bachelor's Degree in Biology. I taught high school science for
three years in Iowa before becoming a full-time beekeeper. After
running 1200 hives of honeybees in southwestern Iowa for several
years, I entered the Air Force and received a commission as a
Second Lieutenant in 1980. I spent the next 28 years serving in
the military as an officer and civil servant. On November 9, 2012,
I decided to finally retire and start working to obtain the necessary
funding to expand the museum.
I have been a "collector"
since early childhood. This passion has grown and expanded through
the years. I initially collected railroad tie date nails, a collection
that now exceeds 25,000 nails dating from 1900 to 1980. I has
also managed to amass over 4,000 bank notes from over 200 currency-issuing
authorities worldwide. Eventually, I expanded my expertise by
collecting marbles, lithographs and engravings, oil paintings,
handmade bottles, antique Harley-Davidson motorcycles and spark
plugs. My personal collection of Anchor Hocking items presently
exceeds 15,000 pieces of glass, over 400 boxed sets, 75 glass
mold sets, 250 wooden patterns, 500 blueprints, 25,000 pages of
glass advertisements, and 500+ catalogs. The entire collection
is now on display in the Anchor Hocking Glassware Museum in San
Antonio, Texas. The museum will not have regular hours so the
collection will be available only when the author is home.
Now that I have 19 motorcars
and a hydraulic crane, I built a facility to protect the cars.
I recently installed a 14,000 lb. capacity car lift so that motorcar
maintenace would be much easier.
With 19 motorcars, I have purchased
numerous new old stock Fairmont motocar parts that I needed to
store, so I enlarged and enclosed the west side of the carport.
I was lucky to find original
Fairmont motorcar parts which
included new roofs (complete and frames only for M-9, M-19, MT-14,
and A-cars), windshield side mounting brackets, 15 pairs of new
aluminum lifting arms, front and back panels, new windshields
in the original crates, Fairmont sound absorbing sheets, and Onan
On subsequent trips, I was
able to purchase four complete sets of cast steel wheels and
thousands of Fairmont parts that came directly from the company's
warehouse. The parts included aluminum side panels for the M-19,
M-14, S-2 motorcars, roof ends needed to make new roofs, and
a myriad of structural rails and supports.
On another trip to Granite
City I found more heavy metal red fussee/torpedo boxes, countless
drive, idler and rear sprockets for single and double rowed chain
drives, 3 new transmissions, and buckets of transmission gears
and assorted parts (washers, shims, bushings, shifter forks and
shifter rods). I had to modify my trailer to haul the myriad of
I think I have purchased the
majority of the motorcar parts I need from Brown's in Granite
City, IL. On this last trip I found 50 rear access boxes for MT-14M
motorcars, 14 NOS transmission cases, NOS bell housings for CCKB
and B48G engines, assorted frame rails, and windshield side panels
for MT-19s, MT-14s and S-2s.
On my 24th trip to Brown's
I purchased many of the popper parts I passed on before. Here
are some of the front and rear pulleys that I acquired. I also
got the idler pulleys and brackets and large piston rods, piston
pins and rod bearings.
Due to the increase in my parts
inventory, I am going to expand the east side of my maintenance
area to accomodate the additional parts. I already ordered some
of the support beams, plywood and rebar for the project. I dug
the holes to secure the posts before the concrete slab is poured.
Once the forms were up and
the rebar installed, a contractor poured the thick concrete slab.
While I am at Brown's getting another motorcar and more parts,
the concrete will cure and harden. Upon my return, the construction
of the roof, walls and storage shelves will commense.
The expansion is progressing
well. Three walls are up and the roof is on. Now I just have to
shingle the roof, add insulation and siding to the walls, and
install the end wall. I purchased the materials for the shelves
and will complete them shortly. Once all the parts are organized,
I can continue the restoration of several motorcars.
The roof is finally done and
the shelves have been installed. Now I am busy organizing the
parts so I can create a database and price list for the parts
I plan to sell. Some items, such as the brake rods, were difficult
to put on shelves, so I hung them in brackets on the wall. I have
purchased so many parts that I had to start stacking them on some
motorcars, even motorcars I restored and have yet to run on the
The vinyl siding done, the
storage shelves have been completed and almost all the parts and
motorcars have been purchased from Brown's Railroad Equipment
in Granite City, IL. Overall, I spent over $85,000 at Brown's
buying 9 motorcars and the majority of their NOS Fairmont motorcar
parts. Generally, if I found a part at Brown's, I bought all of
the stock available since most of the parts are no longer produced
and not available anywhere else. I was also lucky to purchase
heavy steel storage racks after the auction.
Due to the large number of
motorcars that I have accumulated over the last five years I have
run out of room. I decided to construct a storage track in the
lot where the majority of the motorcars and all the parts are
located. The large platform will be used to support a lift for
removing heavy items from motorcars undergoing restoration. It
may also be used for a place to erect a paint booth.
I am now modifying the fence
to install a gate. The first step is to install the posts which
were held in place while the concrete hardens. with the concrete
hardened, I put in the pressure treated stringers and cedar face
boards. The final step is to install a gate and remove the old
fence over the tracks.
Because I have to work alone,
I had to prop up the gate while the hinges and cover boards were
installed. Once that was done I put in a suspension chain to support
the excessive weight of the gate. With the gate finally done,
I started to move motorcars onto the storage track.
The deck around the rails is
so handy that I decided to extended its length. I laid the new
wood out in the sun so the pressure treated lumber would dry out.
- Llano, TX (completed)
- Clinton, OK (completed)
Railroad - Denton, MT (completed)
Railroad - North Bay, Ontario (confirmed)
- Clinton, OK
The Farmrail System run was
a "mixed bag" of weather. The first day was cold, rainy
and windy. The temperatures hovered around 40 degrees with a 40
mph wind out of the north with heavy rain. Some of the participants
decided not to ride on the run after hearing the weather forecast.
Seven individuals braved the first day, but only five operators
ran the second. The second day was perfect; clear skies, warm
temperatures and a slight wind. Combine the weather with the excellent
track conditions, friendly Farmrail staff, well organized excursion,
and low cost for a run almost 300 miles in length and you have
one of the best motorcar excursion values in the United States.
According to the Excursion
Coordinator, this is the 25th year motorcars have run on the Central
Montana Railroad. After meeting with the General Manager we headed
out on several trips across the line. The railroad is noted for
four extremely long, high bridges and a 2,000 foot long tunnel.
The well maintained track took us across the wide open Montana
plains. The weather was perfect, the excursion well organized
and the railroad staff motorcar friendly.
The Montana Tour covered three
railroads throughout Montana. The weather for this year's excursion
was perfect. Sunny skies and warm temperatures were the norm.
The excursions were well organized with very few breakdowns and
Railroad - Denton, Montana
Link - Whitehall, Montana
Railroad - Fortine, Montana
San Luis &
Rio Grande Railroad - Alamosa, Colorado
This was the first
excursion over LaVeta Pass after the devastating forest fires.
The damage from the fires was horrendous!!! Before the excursion,
there was a dedication ceremony for an engine decorated with the
Adams State University logo and paint scheme. Since the railroad
had cars stored in all the wyes, I had to drive my A-4D backwards
for about 80 miles. The excursion was held in conjunction with
a concert at the newly refurbished concert stage in LaVeta Pass.
After the concert, we followed the concert train back to Alamosa.
The railroad maintenance personnel was so impressed with the performance
of my Isuzu diesel powered A-4D that they tried to buy if from
me for their use.
Central Railroad - Elkins, West Virginia
This was one excursion
for the record books. On the trip to Elkins, approximately 1600
miles, I drove through the torrential rains of the hurricance
that went throught the Florida panhandle. Then it rained for most
of the excursion and on the way home, I drove though rain for
over 1200 miles. To make matters worse, it rained for the next
week in Texas. The weather was cold and it even snowed at the
higher elevations of Cheat Mountain. I had passengers with me
both days, one person from Pennsylvania and the other from New
York. Unfortunately, the fall colors were just starting to appear.
This was my fourth time on this run and like the others, it was
well organized and executed!
Heart of Georgia
Railroad - Pitts, Georgia
This was the last run on the
Heart of Georgia Railroad. The railroad was sold and the new owners
are not "motorcar friendly". The run began in the "metropolis"
of Pitts, Georgia and ran through several swamps, over Lake Blackshear,
and across three diamonds with other railroads. On the west end
of the run we ended up in Plains, Georgia, where President Jimmy
Carter lived. We rode through endless groves of pecan trees and
through some extremely old highway overpasses. The two-day run
covered approximately 260 miles.
This was the last motorcar run on the Heart of Georgia Railroad.
The line was purchased by the Genesee and Wyoming Railroad, a
railroad that is definitely not "motorcar friendly".
As the G & W continues to gobble up small lines all over the
United States, availability of railroads for motorcar excursion
San Luis &
Rio Grande Railroad - Alamosa, Colorado
This was the third time I had
attended the LaVeta Pass run. The Friday seton was marked with
thunderstorms, lightning and a 30-minute downpour. The first day
we went to Antonito and saw the largest bridge on the railroad.
Sunday we headed up and over LaVeta Pass (9400 Feet) to the town
of LaVeta. We stopped at Fir and waited for the passenger to pass.
The railroad was surrounded by numerous snow covered peaks. The
railroad line had many unusual rock formations, deep ravines,
two tunnels, sharp curves and steep grades. Overall, the run is
one of the best in the United States and certainly tests the performance
of all motorcars.
Central - Elkins, West Virginia
last motorcar run for the 2017 season proved to fantastic. While
I normally run the excursion in the fall, conflicts with other
activities required that I do the summer run. There was plenty
of wildlife to see and the weather was gorgeous! We managed to
run 200 miles! What a perfect way to end a successful motorcar
Railroad - Lewiston, Idaho
Idaho and Washington
provided some outstanding scenery on two divisions of the former
Camas Prairie Railroad. The only sources of revenue on the Bountiful
Grain and Craig Mountatin Railroad have been sold and will be
closed soon. With all sources of revenue gone, the line will be
used for car storage. This was probably the last run on the line
for the forseeable future.
& Craig Mountain Railroad
- Montana Rail Link
Dixon and Whitehall,
This tour involved motorcar
runs on several divisions of the Montana Rail Link and Central
Montana Railroads. The Montana Rail Link lines were active with
numerous 100+ car trains. On several ocassions we had to take
a siding to allow trains to pass. We crossed the 800 ft. long,
226 ft. high Marent Gulch Viaduct and tranversed a 2.2% grade
after departing Dixon. From Whitehall we went climbed the grade
to Sappington. On the run we were greeted by a herd of 8 wild
horses which ran at full speed towards the motorcars. The horses
ran up the embankment and across the tracks directly in front
of my motorcar. I came to an emergency stop just as all 8 horses
momentarily hesitated on the tracks directly in front of me. One
large horse actually rubbed the front of my motorcar during the
incident. I am extremely thankful I was able to completely stop
before I hit the horses! The weather was perfect and the scenery
gorgeous. On the Central Montana Railroad we were able to traverse
all four large trestles on the line. Overall, it was a superb
Montana Tour - Central
Worcester Railroad - Worcester, Massachusetts
This was the first excursion
on this railroad. The two-day excursion took us through Rhode
Island, Connecticut, and Massachusetts. The area was the former
center of the knitting industry in the United States. Each town
had one or more large mills, a water supply to run the mills,
and rows of mill-owned worker houses. Most of the mills were built
in the late 1800s, with many converted into apartments after the
industry folded. The route towards Providence Rhode Island was
originally two tracks, but one track was removed when passenger
service ceased. Another unique part of this excursion was the
overnight parking space for the motorcars. To ensure the motorcars
were protected, the railroad graciously let us put the motorcars
in the engine shop overnight. On the first day we did encounter
an hour delay when a large clump of trees fell across the tracks.
Luckily, two people had chainsaws and after an hour of cutting,
the trees were removed. Notice the large group of people directing
the efforts of the few who were actually doing all the work. Looks
like a state or federal work crew in "action".
This was the first and last motorcar run on the Providence and
Worcester Railroad. The line was purchased by the Genesee and
Wyoming Railroad, a railroad that is definitely not "motorcar
friendly". As the G & W continues to gobble up small
lines all over the United States, availability of railroads for
motorcar excursion diminishes significantly.
Central - Elkins, West Virginia
I first rode a motorcar during
a work session of the Railroad Partners Incorporated group.
That first ride sparked my interested in the hobby while bringing
back fond memories of riding the New Haven Railroad freight
train that came through Manchester, Connecticut. As a member
of RPI, I went on numerous excursions and work sessions that
are not documented on the RPI website. In an effort to provide
the members with historical and current information, I am including
photos on my website.
My mentoring run
was on an excursion which traversed the long bridge at Kingsland,
The Llano Branch
During one of the work
sessions, sections of rail were torn out leaving the motorcars
unable to reach Llano. After several months, the railroad
finally decided to fix the crossing and return the line to
The wye in Llano
needs constant attention to make it functional. These volunteers
were busy cutting grass in 2014.
The motorcar operators rode
the Llano line during an excursion in 2014. After crossing the
bridge over Lake Lyndon B. Johnson, they stopped in Kingsland
One of the work sessions
in 2017 addressed some of the overhanging limbs and vines on
the line. A custom made platform was mounted on a push cart
so volunteers could reach overhead limbs and vines with ease.
A few volunteers
showed up for the work session in March 2018.
During the March 2018 work
session, we were surprised to see cars stored at a point just
east of our leased trackage. The railroad had also cleared the
brush along the right of way and totally rebuilt one of the
bridges west of the Scobey Spur switch. Days after the work
session, the railroad moved cars west into our leased trackage.
Because we can't reach the road crossing at the end of our leased
trackage, we are forced to turn around in Kingsland. The cars
were removed before the 2019 Bluebonnet Run so we could reach
our motorcar turn around point.
During the fall 2018
rains, the Llano River flooded and severely undercut some of
the roadbed on the line. This made traversing the line rather
precarious. On March 23, 2019 RPI personnel had a work session
to assess the condition of the line prior to the Bluebonnet
Run the following weekend. The river undercut the roadbed for
approximately 100 yards. To make this section safe, we used
a jack to lift the rails while large rocks were stacked under
the ties to provide some needed stability. In the future, RPI
personnel will insert railroad ties longitudinally under the
track to provide a more permanent foundation for the rails.
The McDade branch
hadn't seen train traffic in many years. It took several months
to clear the trees, vines and brush from the tracks.
Some of the volunteers
who donated many hours and funds to clear the line for motorcar
Track work on the line included
replacing many of the ties, installing new ballast, replacing
numerous sections of rail, and using a laser guilded machine
to level the track. In many places, over 95% of the ties had
Run - Llano, Texas - 2019
The weather for the
run was rather gloomy, cold, overcast, and windy. We headed east
on the Llano branch after the safety meeting and traveled along
the Llano River. We could see all the debris from the recent floods
that had undercut some of the tracks. Of the many bridges along
the line, the long bridge at Kingsland is always awesome.
The wild flowers were spectacular
for this year's Bluebonnet Run. Many of the operators were so
overwhelmed with the flowers that they wanted to get "up
close and personal" with the abundance of color.
During the run we ate lunch
at the new Wakepoint facility in Kingsland. The weather was
rather cool, but everyone enjoyed the fantastic food and great
camaraderie of the event. In the afternoon the weather warmed
up slightly and the camera shutters were clicking everywhere
at all the photo stops..
Run - Llano, Texas - 2016
The first excursion of 2016
was the Bluebonnet Run on the former Southern Pacific line running
east from Llano Texas. The was the test run for the diesel powered
car (former Ontario Northland) that I just finished overhauling.
Since the motorcar ran well with no problems, it will be taken
to the Heart of Georgia excursion in Pitts, Georgia next. During
the Bluebonnet Run we encountered rain, high weeds, clogged
brake rigging and a multitude of gorgeous wildflowers.
Heart of Texas
Railroad - San Saba, Texas - 2015
of Texas Railroad - San Saba, Texas - 2016
The Heart of Texas Railroad
from Brady to Lometa, Texas, was recently sold and the new owners
are not "motorcar friendly". The run in April 2016
will probably be the last time the line will see motorcar traffic
in the forseeable future. The line was noted for its beautiful
scenery, multiple long bridges, and welded rail. The highlight
of the run was the photo stop on the newly constructed 1,000
foot long, high bridge over the Colorado river. The original
wooden bridge had collapsed after
a horrific fire.
Railroad - Rio Grande City, TX - 2014
On our run of
the Border Pacific Railroad we were confronted with a cut of
cars left on the mailine the previous evening. This prevented
us from reaching the west end of the railroad. The next day,
with the cars removed, we continued west and stopped just before
reaching Rio Grande City to get lunch at a local Mexican restaurant.
Railroad - Palestine, TX - 2016
The Texas State Railroad
provides motorcar operators with the unique experience of operating
on the same line at the same time with two steam powered passenger
trains. Motorcars traversed 25 miles of well manicured right
of way in Texas.
The Motorcar Fleet
(3-Cylinder Lister-Petter Diesel)
The A-4D was the first motorcar
that I purchased. The car had been overhauled by the previous
owner so the only improvements I made was to add an intercom system
and new console. Eventually the pedestal seats from my Tomah Cab
car were added to this car when the suspension system was installed
in the other car. This year I purchased a set of cast steel wheels
and the original heater. This spring I installed a new clutch,
cast steel wheels, new radiator vibration isolation mounts, a
new radiator core and rebuilt the original heater with a new core
and fan motor.
(2-Cylinder Mitsubishi Diesel)
The motorcar was in really
rough shape when I brought it back from Florida. I had originally
purchased the motorcar for the diesel engine only; however, when
I got it home I decided it would be a real challenge to restore
the motorcar to running condition.
The A-5E restoration project
is well underway. The chassis has been cleaned, straightened,
and repainted. All the bearings in the transmission and rear end
have been replaced. The radiator fan, fan belt, clutch, and alternator
are new. The old wheels were discarded and new wheels installed
along with new bonded brake shoes. The radiator core was replaced
and the inlet and outlet were moved to match the engines specifications.
The new decking, fuel system and wiring completed the restoration.
Eventually, I replaced the engine injectors and injector lines,
and upgraded the motorcar with new cast steel wheels.
Standard Gauge (Kubota Z-600 Diesel)
The Ontario Northland motorcar
was in sad shape when it was purchased. The wiring was riddled
with splices and bad connections. The entire inner surface had
been sprayed with glue and covered with hard rubber matting. The
brakes were bad, the turntable did not have an alarm, the fire
extinguisher was empty although the gauge showed it was full,
it had the wrong front axle improperly adjusted, and the fluids
and filters hadn't seen attention for a long time.
The Ontario Northland motorcar
was totally upgraded with all new wiring, completely new fuel
system, new center console, new intercom system, new bonded brakes,
new aluminum lift handles, four new wheels, new front axle and
bearings, and a new paint scheme. I took this motorcar on my runs
this year in Texas, Georgia, Washington, Idaho, and Montana where
it performed flawlessly. After an excursion in Colorado in 2017,
I replaced the engine injectors and injector lines to improve
Standard Gauge (Kubota Z-600 Diesel)
This car is an
unrestored example of an Ontario Northland MT-14L with the Kubota
Z-600 diesel. I really didn't need another motorcar but I couldn't
resist buying a car just as it came from the railroad. This will
join my two other ONR cars with Kubota diesels once the winter
ends and the snow melts.
The motorcar was tricky to
load. We were on a busy highway and on a blind curve. I had to
back into a ditch and between a tree and large stone pillar. Luckily,
I was able to line the trailer up with the motorcar. The 9,000
pound winch easily pulled the car onto the trailer. The all that
was left was the 2,162 mile drive home.
Tomah Cab (Onan Engine)
This car was modified by the
Tomah Car Shops of the Milwaukee Railroad after it was purchased
from Fairmont. The motorcar was overhauled and fitted with a new
suspension system, four new wheels, new bonded brakes, stainless
steel six gallon gas tank, new seats, new control console, new
floor mats, and a 110 watt radio. In 2017 I installed a pair of
Pyle National miniature caboose marker lights to the rear of the
Narrow Gauge (Onan Engine)
This motorcar was originally
sold to the Denver & Rio Grande Western Railroad in 1975.
It was subquently converted to narrow gauge several years later.
In the coming months the original gasoline powered Onan engine
will be replaced with a brand new Kubota diesel; thereby eliminating
the problems associated with running gasoline engines at high
altitudes. I have a setup for a hydrostatic drive but I have decided
to replace this drive with an Onan Manual transmission. I recently
received the clutch adapter and bellhouse ring for the final conversion.
(Kubota Z-600 Diesel - Hydrostatic Drive)
This motorcar has a Kubota
diesel but the drive is fluid (hydrostatic). Not many of these
cars were produced and information about the drive system is very
limited. I bought the motorcar for the diesel engine; however,
my plans have changed and it will be my next restoration project.
The original cab was removed,
cut up and land-filled. The deck was stripped and repainted. The
control console was repainted and fitted with new switches and
gauges. The motorcar contains a myriad of hydraulic lines that
makes restoration a real challenge.
The center wood console was
made from solid red oak and red oak 3/4" veneered plywood.
The wood was assembled with stainless steel screws and then stained
and coated with outdoor polyurethane. The front of the motorcar
was assembled from new old stock Fairmont parts which will be
disassembled. painted and then reassembled.
The fuel tank had to be mounted
near the front of the motorcar because there was no room under
the console at the back of the motorcar once the battery box was
installed. The oil cooler was mounted in front of the radiator.
Fairmont A-4 (2-Cylinder
This motorcar was purchased
as a standby only. It has a Mitsubishi 21.5 horsepower S2E2 diesel
engine like the A-5E shown earlier. The cab has been fitted with
a massive structural support that allowed the railroad to lift
the motorcar with a crane. Fold down footrests were utilized to
increase the crew comfort and capacity of the motorcar. The motorcar
weighs 2800 pounds.
(2-Cylinder Mitsubishi Diesel)
This motorcar was purchased
as a standby only. It has a Mitsubishi 21.5 horsepower S2E2 diesel
engine like other Canadian Pacific motorcars. We had to use a
crane to extract the car from a closely packed line of motorcars
in storage. It was loaded on my trailer with four A-4E motorcar
roof frames, cast steel wheels, and two M-19 roofs still in the
original Fairmont wooden crates.
Although this motorcar was
purchased as a standby only, when it was moved to the storage
track I started its restoration. I spent the first day removing
the majority of the old wood, wiring, and lighting. My next task
will be removing the pressed wheels and replacing them with cast
Like most restorations
I do, I removed the radiator to have it recored. The alternator
was rebuilt and a new cooling fan and fan belt are installed.
I removed the
rearend cover, transmission, and clutch access cover and found
the the parts were practically new with no corrosion or damage.
Fairmont A-4 (3-Cylinder
This motorcar has a Mitsubishi
33 horsepower S3E2 diesel engine. The cab has been fitted with
a massive structural support that allowed the railroad to lift
the motorcar with a crane. Unlike the 2-cylinder version shown
earlier, this car is all steel and weighs 3200 pounds.
I had not planned on restoring
this motorcar, but since I completed my other restorations I began
to restore this car. I had the radiator recored, changed all the
fuel, air and oil filters, and started to remove all the paint.
The engine started quickly even after nine years of sitting out
in the weather. I recently replaced the stamped wheels with new
cast steel wheels and totally rebuilt all the braking system with
new parts. Luckily, the cab is all steel so I won't have to do
much work to get it ready for painting.
Fairmont A-4 (4-Cylinder
This is an A-4D that was used
on the Alaska Railroad. It is powered by a Ford 4-cylinder engine.
It has not been modified since it was purchased from the railroad.
The motorcar has cast steel wheels, 4-wheel chain drive and rail
sweeps that are made of heavy steel blades for snow removal.
We had to use a crane to lift
the motorcar from a closely packed line of cars and place it on
my trailer. Both the rear end and transmission could not be actuated,
so rolling the motorcar off the trailer in Texas was impossible.
I had to take the top off the transmission (four speed with a
reverse) and carefully unlock the shifting mechanism. I also cut
the old floor out to access the rear end. After several hours
of work, both the transmission and reversing rear end were in
perfect working order and the unloading could commense.
The rear end and universal
joint were stripped and repainted. All the wheel bearings were
repacked and the oil in the differential changed. Most of the
chassis has been disassembled. The radiator has been recored,
the alternator has been rebuilt and a new starter, muffler, and
drive chain installed. Luckily, I kept my motorcycle lift; it
makes the removal and replacement of the heavy cast steel wheels
manageable. Always replace all filters. Over time serious deterioration
may have occurred. The motorcar is powered with a Ford 4-cylinder
134 CID industrial engine.
(4-Cylinder Ford Engine)
I originally tried
to purchase the cast steel wheels off this Alaska Railroad A-4D
motorcar; however, the seller said I could have the entire car
for the price of the wheels alone. This purchase was a "no
brainer". I received a complete car with the Ford 4-cylinder
industrial engine, excellent transmission with a reverse gear,
a perfect rear end and numerous good body parts.
On my birthday,
I picked up the A-4 in Granite City, IL and transported the motorcar
back to Texas.
(4-Cylinder Ford Engine)
While I was in Granite City,
I purchased this motorcar for two reasons. First, the car was
basically complete and second, it was equipped with the mounting
brackets for a Fairmont turntable which I had purchased two years
ago and never installed in any of my motorcars. I bought the turntable
for my A-4D with the Lister-Petter diesel engine, but it was too
dificult to make all the brackets necessary to mount the unit.
This motorcar is also unique because the chain for the four-wheel
drive is exterior to the wheels. The brakes are foot actuated
not hand actuated and it is equipped with a parking brake like
an automobile. The purchase also included brand new side and end
I recently found and purchased
the entire side chain drive and cover for an A-4E motorcar. The
drive is rather ugly, but my goal in restoring any motorcar is
to keep the car in its original configuration. I was also able
to find a complete original Fairmont turntable made specifically
for the A-4E cars. I will have the hydraulic rams overhauled before
I install the turntable. The other challenge was finding a company
that could manufacture new drive sprockets to fit on the wheel
pedestals. Froedge Machine & Supply Company in Tompkinsville,
Kentucky was able to machine the necessary sprockets.
Fairmont A-6 (6-Cylinder
I resisted the temptation and
bought this Fairmont A-6 which originally came from the Alaska
Railroad. The motorcar is powered by a Ford inline six cylinder
engine and rides on 20 inch cast steel wheels. During the restoration
I will remove and discard the plywood doors and sides made by
the railroad. I was able to find a new gas tank, four new shock
absorbers, four new axle boxes with installed bearings, and new
body panels for the A-6 in the motorcar parts I purchased from
Brown Railroad Equipment Company in Granite City, IL.
I recently drove
to Eugene, Oregon to pick up an original Fairmont turntable made
specifically for the A-6F motorcar.
(4-Cylinder Isuzu Diesel)
I bought this
A-4D motorcar at the Brown Rail auction on 22 March 2018. The
car is powered by a 4-cylinder Isuzu diesel engine. This is one
of the few cars that I don't have to totally restore before it
hits the rails.
The Isuzu motorcar needed little
work to make it completely NARCOA compliant. I had the alternator
rebuilt, changed all the air, fuel and oil filters, installed
a new fan belt and fuel lines, sanded all the decking to ensure
the wood was in good condition, and bought 1/2" aircraft
grade aluminum diamond plate for the center floor areas. I still
need to upgrade the lighting and straighten the four rail sweeps.
The radiator was removed to
have a new copper core installed. While it was out I replaced
the radiator mounts and all the radiator hoses. The front grate
was also removed to straighten the bent frame. Four new tail/brake
lights were installed and the rail sweeps completely rebuilt.
The old rusted hardware was removed and renewed with stainless
steel hardware. The required NARCOA tow bar was added to the front
The next part of the restoration
is the replacement of the wood decking. Once the pieces are properly
prepared, the wood will be stained and covered with polyurethane
for weather resistence. A new 10-gallon stainless steel fuel tank
will replace the original tank. The brake blocks looked good at
a distance, but upon closer examination, were cracked and rotting.
All the brake blocks were replaced when the cast steel wheels
Blocks for A-Cars
Over the years I have bought
several sets of A-car brake blocks. I have been frustrated by
the carriage bolts used to secure the hook assembly in the center
of the block. The carriage bolt will turn in an old block or in
a new block if you over tighten the nut and then try to loosen
the nut. I recently ordered eight blocks from Thunderhill Services.
When I expressed my frustration with the carriage bolts they modified
the hole to accept a square headed bold. This bolt will not turn
in the block. They also include square headed bolts to secure
the brake shoe to the block. This was how Fairmont secured the
brakes. Other manufactures put hex head bolts in the square holes.
I have had several bolts rotate in the hole when trying to tighten
or loosen the nuts. Thunderhill Services (found on the NARCOA
site) also coats the blocks with polyurethane to protect the blocks
from the elements. They are the best blocks I have found anywhere!
The motorcar has been totally
restored and successfully tackled the 3% grades of LaVeta Pass
(9400 Feet) in Colorado. The railroad maintenance personnel
were so impressed with the performance of the motorcar that they
tried for two days to purchase the car from me.
Tomah Cab (Onan Engine)
The MT-14L was originally restored
for the owner of Brown Railroad Equipment Company of Granite City,
IL. The restoration was performed by Steve Paluso, the "Michelango
of Motorcar Restorations". The entire car was built with
NOS Fairmont parts: new engine, transmission, hydraulic turntable,
floor and tunnel panels, console, wheels, brakes, axles, gas tank,
full vibration and sound isolation, and other assorted parts.
Everything was powder coated in dark red, the owner's wife's favorite
color. To ensure everything was operational, the motorcar was
taken on a twenty mile break in run. That was the only time the
car was ever operated. I had tried unsuccessfully on many earlier
trips to Granity City to purchase the motorcar. With plenty of
cash in hand, I was able to strike a deal for the car and bring
it back to Texas.
As you can see the entire motorcar
was built with NOS parts. I did have to relocate the rail sweeps,
add an electric fuel pump, and add a tow bar to make the car NARCOA
(4-Cylinder Waukeshaw Engine)
This motorcar was purchased
as a source of parts only. I have no intention of restoring the
car. Once the wood was removed, the roof and the rest of the motorcar
was disassembled. The transmission and rear end were practically
new, so they are going to be used to build another motorcar. The
Waukashaw engine turns over and was sold and the structural steel
beams were salvaged.
(4-Cylinder Waukeshaw Engine)
Like the motorcar
shown above, this motorcar was purchased as a source of parts
only. I have no intention of restoring the car. The car's drive
train in in great shape and the roof is salvageable.
(4-Cylinder Ford Flathead)
This was another motorcar that
I purchased at the Brown Rail auction on 22 March 2018. It is
powered by a Ford industrial flathead engine. The car has a unique
drive system and both axles are secured to the frame with a single
leaf spring. The axle blocks allow about 1.5 inches of independent
vertical travel. The motorcar was parked at Brown's for about
20 years allowing a tree to grow up through the frame.
Recently I started to restore
the Kalamazoo motorcar. The first task was to access the condition
of the drivetrain. The rearend had massive ring gears. The entire
unit had surface rust (easily removed) but nothing that would
degrade its operation. I was surprised to find out that the main
3-speed transmission had curved teeth like the ring gears in the
rear end and was syncromeshed.
Fairmont W64-A-1 Hydraulic
Derrick (Wisconsin Engine)
I purchased a very rare, hydraulically-powered
W64-A-1 derrick with a 13 foot boom from the Smythville Texas
Railroad Museum. Between exposure to the elements and local vandals,
the derrick was almost beyond restoration: however, the brakes
have been replaced, there is new decking, all the boom cables
were replaced, the Wisconsin 9 h.p. engine has been totally overhauled
and new hydraulic lines purchased. I just have to add hydraulic
oil and connect the gas tank and the project will be completed.
Fairmont Rail Cart (EJ
& E Railroad)
I purchased this rail cart
and two axles at an estate auction in Northern Missouri because
they had cast steel wheels. The cart was extremely heavy so I
removed the steel decking, winch, axle supports and wheels (about
650 pounds). I also repaired one end of the cart where it had
been rammed and the steel structure distorted.
I replaced the
cast steel wheels, painted the steel structure, replaced the steel
decking with pressure treated lumber and fastened everything down
with stainless steel hardware.
I purchased a very rare, brand
new complete MT-19 enclosed cab that has never been on a motorcar.
In the coming months I will locate a rolling chassis to complete
I purchased this ATSF for the
rolling chassis for the motorcar cab shown above. In the coming
months, when space is available, I will strip the motorcar down
to the bare chassis and begin a complete restoration.
I purchased a MT-14M motorcar
in Granite City, Illinois in late 2016. We used a crane to lift
the car from a line of motorcars and place it on my trailer. While
the cab was incomplete, I was able to buy the needed replacement
parts for most all the Fairmont motorcars. The B-48G engine was
virtually new with the hone marks clearly visible in the cylinders.
The chassis will need to be disassembled and the corroded components
replaced. I already have new wheels, cylinder heads, rail sweeps,
seat brackets, engine gauges, lights and other electrical components
purchased. This project won't be started for about a year since
I burried many of the car's walls and doors behind the myriad
of motorcar parts I have.
New Car Fleet
Driving to distant motorcar
runs is a breeze in my new Ford F-250 Super Duty truck. The diesel
has outstanding horsepower, torque, comfort and economy. With
a 15,000 lb. towing capacity, you hardly know you are towing even
the heaviest motorcar.
early this year with the purchase of a 2016 Ford Escape SE in
burgundy red. This replaces my 1984 El Camino.
I decided to live each day
like it was my last. With this in mind, I recently took an hour
flight in the P-51 Mustang pictured here. The flight, costing
$2200.00 for 30 minutes, consisted of 360 degree rolls, four-point
rolls, flying inverted, flying in very close formation with another
aircraft and the pinnacle of the flight was two simulated bombing
and straffing runs over Calavaras and Braunig Lakes. The flight
gave me a great appreciation for stamina and courage of the pilots
who flew these fighters in WW II!!
In early September
I had a ride in the bombardier's position in the B-29 Fifi. The
bombardier's position is the favorite position because it is in
the nose of the aircraft just below and in the front of the pilot
and copilot. The view was spectacular but watching the landing
from this position had my heart racing! The $1450.00 cost of the
flight was minor in comparision to the cost of operating this
aircraft: $2,000,000.00 a year!
In March 2019 I took a ride
in the B-17 Flying Fortress. The highlight of the flight was looking
out the top hatch while we were flying. I had to remove my hat
and glasses so the 180 mph air stream didn't rip everything off.
My next flight will be on the F-4 Phantom, hopefully later this
During inclement weather, I
can always continue my fascination with railroads by operating
my HO model railroad (now under construction). The railroad is
designed to represent the New Haven Railroad's mainline with overhead
In February 2017
I took my second cruise to Mexico, Belize, and Honduras in the
western Carribean. This cruise was taken aboard the Carnival Freedem.
I visited the Mayan ruins in both Mexico and Belize. In Mahagony
Bay Honduras I went snorkling and exploring the coral reefs in
a one-person, self-propelled submersible. The highlight of the
cruise was a guided tour of the ship available to only 32 passengers.
We went through the laundry, food storage and preparation areas,
morgue, brig, control room for all the ship's equipment (engines,
generators, ballast and fuel tanks, heat exchangers, water treatment,
etc.) and tour of the ship's bridge conducted by the ship captain.
Carribean and the Panama Canal
The 14-day cruise
on the Carnival Freedom went to Jamaica, Aruba, Curacao, Colombia,
Costa Rica, Mexico and through the Panama Canal.
provided some spectacular sunrises, sunsets and rainbows.
The skylines of
Aruba, Colombia and Costa Rica were completely different.
We were one of the first cruise
ships to go through the new Panama Canal locks. A new bridge is
being constructed to replace the ferry across the mouth of the
During this cruise I ascended
a 750 foot high series of waterfalls, rode a chairlift up a mountainside
and rescued green sea turtles trapped under the sand at the protected
I decided to indulge myself
on the cruise and buy a Rolex watch as my Christmas present to
myself. The watch has 54 diamonds around the edge of the 14K solid
gold case and 10 diamonds marking the hour positions on the dial.
The wrist band is stainless steel and solid 18K gold. Another
item to cross off my "bucket list".
Since we didn't
have pumpkins for Halloween, the ships crew carved watermelons.
During the cruise
we were amazed at the talent of the individual pictured above
in creating a host of balloon figures.
There were many interesting
things to look at on this cruise: lovely ladies playing the violins,
marble floors throughout the ship and the culinary arts of the
Many of the days on the cruise
were marked with frequent storms and high winds. We were able
to dock in Mexico and Jamaica; however, because of the high winds
and rough seas, we did not go ashore at Grand Cayman.
The storms were everywhere,
but they did provide some beautiful sunsets. The ship's staff
had a display of their towel folding talents. The next day the
pool was drained because the ship was rocking back and forth to
such an extent that the water was sloshing out of the pool area.
Life is great when you are
"owned" by a cat. This is Lovebug my faithful and loving
companion who was
rescued near Rosenberg Texas after being "dumped" by
the side of the road by some thoughtless person.
Lovebug is enjoying
life every chance she can! She spends the majority of her day
Coyotes and wild hogs
living in the area pose a serious threat to domestic animals,
so Lovebug and Noel have an outdoor pen which they can access
through a elavated tunnel from the porch. I had to install a custom
made spiral ladder for Lovebug because of her advanced age (9
years old). Lovebug
needed a companion so I adopted Noel from the Animal Defense League
of Texas. Life has definitely changed with two cats!
Noel is a mighty hunter and
often brings her trophies into the house. No matter where she
is, Noel can always find a way to settle down for taking a nap.
a Capital "T"
Early this summer a feral cat
decided to have a litter of kittens in my Ontario Northland MT-14L
motorcar. Originally, I only found four kittens. Several days
later I found another kitten inside my drained pool. I put this
kitten with the other four and continued to feed the mother so
she would stay with the five kittens. One night she moved two
kittens, then moved another the next morning. The second night
she moved the forth kitten but she would not take the fifth kitten.
I decided to bottle feed this kitten. I brought it to the vet
to get the feeding bottle and formula and make sure the kitten
was healthy. The kitten is so lovable and has plenty of personality.
The other cats are aware of her existence but have ignored her
for now. Life is certainly full of twists and turns!!
Moose cuddles up to his moose
for comfort when she is in his travel box or relaxing in my master
bathroom tub. Unlike some of the people I know, Moose appreciates
my beard as a great spot to place her head for a quick nap!
Moose certainly has grown over
the last couple of months! She continues to play "innocent"
when she is on the dining room table playing with the Waterford
crystal candlebra or checking out Noel's activities in the bedroom
Like most cats,
Moose spends the majority of the day sleeping. How else can she get
the energy to totally destroy my bathroom?
For some reason all
three cats want to constantly lay in front of the computer to get some
Moose can look so innocent
and peaceful (when sleeping), yet once awake she can get into
all sorts of trouble. SPECIAL NOTE: Even
after three visits to the local vet, nobody suspected Moose
was not a "dude". When Moose when into "heat"
I took the cat back to the vet to verify her sex. Yes she is
a female and will be spayed and front declawed this month. I
sure thought vet students received anatomy lessons during their
training, but evidently I was wrong.
Over the years,
everybody has learned to tolerated each other and get along
most of the time!
Trying to watch
TV is always a challenge when the cats are in the house. Luckily,
Moose can "chill out" by herself and not park herself
on my chest like Lovebug.
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