Rail Motor Cars
On railroads, a 'Motor Car' is a small motorized rail car used by 'Maintenance Of Way' personnel to inspect or repair the tracks. Some are strong enough to pull small flat cars to bring the needed tools. At one time these work cars were extremely common but they have been replaced with "high railers," which are regular road vehicles, often pick-up trucks, fitted with small rail wheels that are lowered to enable them to use the rails. The adaptor kits are made by the same companies that once made the old cars. A number of old fashioned motor cars have survived, most in the hands of private owners. The Texas Transportation Museum has several of these railroad work vehicles, including one that was powered by its occupant, rather than a motor. Follow the link on the right hand side of the page to see it.
Fairmont M19 Rail Motor Car at TTM
Scooting along the Longhorn & Western tracks on the Fairmont M19 motor car
Open rail motor car on the Longhorn & Western railroad
Fairmont M19 Motor Car. This car was lovingly restored from much scattered parts.
The rail motor car above is a Fairmont M19, built in the late 1940s, as were most of the motor cars presented here. It is a one seater open car used by the Track Supervisor. It was owned by the Southern Pacific RR. It has a one cylinder engine, is belt driven and was started by a hand crank. This car was restored by Ken McWilliams in the early 1990s.
Various Fairmont M19 Rail Motor Cars at TTM
Three Fairmont M19 motor cars at the Texas Transportation Museum in San Antonio. Each has a slightly different body style, but they are essentially the same.
This Fairmont M19 has no side or rear protection from the elements. On other styles, curtains could be fitted, but not this one. car is located at the Texas Transportation Museum in San Antonio
Four Fairmont M19s. These cars range from none to full protection from the elements. On the car in the fore ground under the tarp, which has none at all, to the first on the tracks, which just has a front windshield. Then the second in line, which has two front side panels and ending with one that can be fully enclosed. All but the one at the rear, which has an Onan motor, have Fairmont one cylinder motors which have to be hand cranked to be started. All have "stretcher" types handles which can be pulled out at either the front or rear to assist with moving them on and off the tracks.

Fairmont M19 rail motor-car, or speeder, at the Texas Transportation Museum in San Antonio, March 2014
Fairmont M19 rail motor-car, or speeder, at the Texas Transportation Museum in San Antonio, March 2014
Fairmont M19 rail motor-car, or speeder, at the Texas Transportation Museum in San Antonio, March 2014
There are several variants of Fairmont M19 motors cars at the Texas Transportation Museum in San Antonio. The first car is a basic Fairmont M19. It has an open cover and seats two people. It was used by the S.P. RR Maintenance of Way crews. The car behind it is a Fairmont M19F, from 1948. It was owned by Seaboard RR and now belongs to Museum Curator, Jared Davis. It has two front side panels, in addition to the front wind shield. The third car is featured in the next three pictures.
Restored Fairmont M19 Rail Motor Cars TTM
These two Fairmont M19s came to the Texas Transportation Museum in San Antonio in very poor condition. One is on display, as a shell, the other was restored to running condition. Notice in the background another old Air Force motor car.
This Fairmont M19 motor car has been completely dismantled and refurbished by volunteers at the Texas Transportation Museum in San Antonio
This Fairmont M19 car has an Onan motor, plus front and rear side panels. A curtain door could be installed to completely enclose it. Located at the Texas Transportation Museum in San Antonio

Fairmont M19 motor-car in its new location at the garden railroad at the Texas Transportation Museum in San Antonio
Fairmont M19 motor-car in its new location at the garden railroad at the Texas Transportation Museum in San Antonio
Fairmont M19 motor-car in its new location at the garden railroad at the Texas Transportation Museum in San Antonio
This car was refurbished at TTM with a frame off restoration. Even the engine was dismantled. It was all put back together and is now quite show piece. It has an Onan motor, unlike the other Fairmont cars, and has an electrical starter. As a superintendent's car, it comes equipped with fluid operated track level gauges, and other track monitoring equipment.
Kalamazoo Rail Motor Cars at TTM
Ex-Air Force Kalamazoo rail motor car. This car was too far gone to save but yielded useful parts for our other Kalamazoo rail motor car
Master of the rail motor car, Ken McWilliams working on the operational Kalamazoo rail motor car in the 1990s.
This rail motor car was made by Kalamazoo. It is bigger and stronger than the Fairmonts. It has a 4 cylinder Ford industrial motor and is capable of moving and/or pulling heavy loads, It was owned by the U.S. Air Force. Car now located at the Texas Transportation Museum in San Antonio.
Air-conditioning on a Kalamazoo rail motor car. In Texas, you do need the ventilation, as you have to sit on top of a 4 cylinder Ford Motor! This car is now located at the Texas Transportation Museum in San Antonio.
Compared to the Fairmonts, this Kalamazoo is a lot bigger, in every way. It's four cylinder Ford Industrial engine enables it to pull significant loads. This car was originally owned by the United States Air Force. A car like this could be used not only for maintenance of the tracks but for the movement of men and materials, such as ammunition and bombs from secure locations to aircraft.
Rail Rod Motor Car at TTM
This is a more modern type of motor car, built as old fashioned "heavy weight" motor cars were being phased out. Called a rail rod, it is a light weight structure that is also collapsible. It has hinges at each corner that allow it to be folded up for storage or transportation. It is powered by a lawn mower sized Briggs & Stratton motor. It has a bar that you push against one wheel as a brake. It has no reverse, either. To change directions you pick it up and turn it around. (You may not find it to be as light weight as it is advertised!)
TTM's rail rod at a train show in Burnett, Texas. Other motor cars can be seen in the background.
This is the stripped down, final version of motor cars, called a rail rod. It was built for only two years in the late 1960s by a company called Tabers based in Perry, Oklahoma. It is relatively light weight and versatile, as it can be easily dismantled or folded up for storage or transportation. It was replaced by a version with its engine centrally located for better weight distribution. Coming as it did at the end of the rail-car era, it, too, was made oboselte by road vehicles fitted with hi-rail equipment to allow them to run on tracks.
Latest Addition to our Motor Car Fleet
The museum's latest acquisition is yet another Fairmont motor car, this one formerly owned by the US Marines. It has a unique driver position and operates much like an automobile. It is powered by a four cylinder Ford industrial engine. We have encountered some unexpected mechanical issues, but anticipate introducing the motor car to service as soon as possible. It's size will allow it to carry up to four persons as well as the driver, providing a very up front and personal way for our visitors to experience rail travel.
Acquired in early 2006, this Fairmont motor car, formerly owned by the U.S. Marines, is the latest addition to the rail motor car collection at the Texas Transportation Museum in San Antonio
Top side of the Ford 4 cylinder industrial engine, with valve cover removed, on an ex-US Marine Kalamazoo motor car minus valve cover. Now located at the Texas Transportation Museum in San Antonio
This controls on the Kalamazoo motor car at the Texas Transportation Museum in San Antonio are very simple.
Bottom end of engine, minus oil pan, at the Texas Transportation Museum in San Antonio
Two museum volunteers check out the ex-US Marine Kalamazoo motor car at the Texas Transportation Museum in San Antonio
As of the Fall of 2008, this car is now in service. It took some time to find a number of the parts, plus much of the original wood needed to be replaced. We now use it to give rides on Thursday and Fridays. Riding the rails on a motor car provides our visitors with a much closer idea of what it takes to maintain a railroad as they get a chance to experience how track gangs and rail inspectors moved around to work on the tracks and make sure passenger and freight trains could travel with safety.
Ex marine Kalamazoo motor car ready, willing and able to serve, Fall 2008, at the at the Texas Transportation Museum in San Antonio
Ex-US Marine Kalamazoo motor car at the Texas Transportation Museum depot.
U.S. Marine motor car 256260 at the Texas Transportation Museum in San Antonio
U.S. Marine motor car 256260 at Texas Transportation Museum in San Antonio.
We are already working on another unique motor car. Pretty soon we will have a good number of these classic rail vehicles in operation. An invitation has been extended to members of the Texas "Speeder" club to have a special day at the museum, so the public can see a significant number of these wonderful railroad relics in action. In the mean time our visitors are having a grand time riding on our ex-Marine car.
U.S. Marine motor car 256260 at Texas Transportation Museum.
U.S. Marine motor car 256260 at Texas Transportation Museum.
U.S. Marine motor car 256260 at Texas Transportation Museum.
U.S. Marine motor car 256260 at Texas Transportation Museum.
TTM manager Hugh Hemphill on the Marine Motor Car 256260, April 2012
A Visit by a Fairmont MT14K in February 2009
TTM welcomes folks with motor cars to use our rails to take them for a ride. In February 2009, Leland Stewart, who heads a group called Rail Partners, Inc, a group dedicated to preserving railroad lines in danger of being dismantled, brought out his recently restored Fairmont MT14K, a rare example of a 2 stroke "M" model with a 2 speed rear axle. This was the motorcar's first test run since the restoration, a two year project, was completed. The motorcar was built around the late 1950s or early 1960s. It was used by the Great Northern Railroad but laid idle for almost two decades before Leland rescued it and brought it back to its original condition and appearance. The motorcar is for sale, for $3,800 to make room for his next restoration. You will find his contact e-mail address on each of the four pictures below.
Restored Fairmont MT14K at TTM
Fairmont MT14K rail motor car, February 2009. The motor car was built in either the late 1950's or early 1960's and purchased by the Great Northern Railroad. It is a rare 2-stroke "M" model with a 2 speed axle. It sat idle for almost two decades before Leland Stewart, pictured above, rescued and restored it. Leland is selling it to make room for his latest rescue project. The price is $3,800.00.
Fairmont MT14K rail motor car, February 2009. The motor car was built in either the late 1950's or early 1960's and purchased by the Great Northern Railroad. It is a rare 2-stroke "M" model with a 2 speed axle. It sat idle for almost two decades before Leland Stewart, pictured above, rescued and restored it. Leland is selling it to make room for his latest rescue project. The price is $3,800.00.
Fairmont MT14K rail motor car, February 2009. The motor car was built in either the late 1950's or early 1960's and purchased by the Great Northern Railroad. It is a rare 2-stroke "M" model with a 2 speed axle. It sat idle for almost two decades before Leland Stewart, pictured above, rescued and restored it. Leland is selling it to make room for his latest rescue project. The price is $3,800.00.
Fairmont MT14K rail motor car, February 2009. The motor car was built in either the late 1950's or early 1960's and purchased by the Great Northern Railroad. It is a rare 2-stroke "M" model with a 2 speed axle. It sat idle for almost two decades before Leland Stewart, pictured above, rescued and restored it. Leland is selling it to make room for his latest rescue project. The price is $3,800.00.
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11731 Wetmore Road
San Antonio, Texas 78247
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