Thursday, February 18, 2016

Speaking of Motor Cars...

Art Peterson recently sent us a picture of a wooden doodlebug constructed by the Hicks Locomotive and Car Works, from the Krambles-Peterson Archive.  Thanks, Art!

George Krambles wrote on the back:

Muscatine North & South RR (Burlington to Muscatine)
"Sarvent" model car of 1911
The Bettendorf Co. design, Bettendorf, Ia.
Built by Hicks Car & Loco Works, Chicago

Like most Hicks company customers, the Muscatine North & South was an obscure short line, although somebody has written a book about it.  The Bettendorf Co. was of course much better known for its freight car trucks, but it evidently tried its hand at designing a "MOTOR CAR".  I would assume that the gas-mechanical power plant was the weak point of the whole design, as it was on all similar efforts at this time, including much better known projects such as the McKeen car.  It would certainly be interesting to see some blueprints of that bizarre power truck.  I'm sure, however, that the wooden car body was entirely satisfactory.   Or your money back.


Ted Miles said...

Bizarre is right! Look at the spoked wheels on the power truck and plain wheels on the trailing truck.

Last year I took a ride on the V&T #22 McKeen Motor Car restored by the Nevada State Railroad Museum.

A good source of information on these early motor cars is Interurbans Without Wires by Interurbans Press. Thanks for a neat picture!

Ted Miles, IRM Member

Anonymous said...

That power truck is a humdinger. It looks like the motor is a part of the truck itself?

C Kronenwetter
IRM member

Randall Hicks said...

Yes, I would imagine so. As with the McKeen car, it was probably thought best to have the prime mover mounted on the truck, rather than have a complicated drive train. On the McKeen car the cylinder block was vertical and stuck up through a large gap in the floor, but on this Bettendorf car it looks to me like the motor is probably horizontal so it's beneath the floor, jammed in between the drive wheels, but I could be wrong. And we can only guess as to what sort of a transmission it might have had. This is why the gas-electric car was more successful, at least until the RDC came along.

Anonymous said...

Here is a link to the patent for the Sarvent Motor Truck.

It is a horizontally mounted engine in the truck.

Mark S.

Randall Hicks said...

Thanks for looking that up, Mark. It's quite interesting.

And I was actually right for once. Might not happen again.