My name is Jeff Livingston and I am the Historian of the Hawaiian Railway Society (HRS). We are beginning a project to create a replica of the Pearl City Railbus built by the Oahu Railway and Land Company (OR&L) in 1921. We know from what little documentation we have discovered to date that the railbus was built on a Ford Model TT frame and that's about all we have except for a few photographs. Members of the local car clubs who have experience with Model T's will be assisting us but there will be a number of questions we will be asking. Your comments and opinions will be most welcome.
Hopefully the attached photo will appear and you can see the best photo of the original we have in our collection. HRS has purchased a TT chassis to get the project started. Our primary concern will be passenger safety so the railbus will have to be equipped with more braking power than the transmission band brake. The front suspension will be all new construction. The rear will require significant modification as our track gauge is only 36 inches. Your assistance as we progress will be greatly appreciated.
jeff, new accessory brake kits are now available that are very good. these are widely known about and your T model buddies will likely have them in mind. good luck on your project!
Jeff -- What an interesting project! I wish you the best in your endeavor and wish you were closer so I could watch over your shoulders. That Model T hood and radiator look really cute at the front of that huge vehicle. I hope you have some photos of the beast directly from the side, so you can compute dimensions. You can compare unknown dimensions with known ones, such as the hood length. I can't tell for sure from this angle, but if that's a TT frame, it may have been shortened. The original wheelbase on a TT is 123 inches. The TT frame is a good heavy one and will make a good base for your project.
Looks like the driver needs to be very tall or the steering has been modified for someone on a high seat. Would love to see a picture from the side.
Interesting wheels on the engine as well.
The railbus in the photo does not have a stock Ford front axle or suspension. It has fully elliptical springs, a different axle and what appears to be drum brakes. The front hubs are definitely not Ford.
The rear hubs appear to be Ford.
Looks like front brakes were added to the front. Also extra springs. The axle is lowered, relative to the fame, to accommodate the larger wheels. Probably the same on the rear.
You need to examine the photos with a magnifying glass and have an engineer come up with some computer models (Solidworks). Mike has the right approach.
STEERING,.....did you say STEERING ????????
Maybe I should have said "How is the engineer ever going to reach the pedals and see out the window at the same time?"
Steering column might still have throttle and spark advance.
Dave, I bet they didn't even bother with a steering column. They probably stripped all that out of there. The engineer might have been standing using the low or reverse pedal and probably a set of levers.
Big ol' drums like that on all the wheels might be able to stop it unless it is on a steep downhill or on wet rails.
The body looks pretty straightforward to duplicate, but the trucks may be a bit harder to do. I don't know much about TT's but that looks a lot longer than most TT's I remember.
Items like this were made by the various Railroads in the back shops, it is possible that the hood and rad. are the only thing that is Ford,used for looks. It is impossible to tell
without many more pictures. Have you tried any senior citizen home to see if there might be someone that was around when it was in operation
or might have worked at the railway and know where more pictures might be found?
Hope this might be helpful.
Thank you for the comments and encouragement. We know a TT frame was used. We have some evidence that the frame was lengthened up to two feet. The unit was used from 1921 until sometime in the 30's but our research has uncovered no specifics. The photo posted is over 3MB so I reduced it. Using the high res edition, Hassler springs can be seen on the rear. Front brakes would be nice but we don't know enough to determine if the car had them. We don't see anything on the front "drums" that indicate they had brakes installed. There are only two photos of the sides and they are not the best. They are from the Mow Family Collection, Hawaiian Railway Society Collection (citations are important to Historians). The photos appear to show solid metal wheels in place of the spoked wheels but they are sheetmetal covers as evidenced by the dents. They were likely used to keep vegitation out of the spokes.
(I tried to insert the side view photos here but they're to big and I can't get Windows 7 to cooperate and reduce the size. I'll post them tomorrow)
No steering column is visible and I suspect the spark advance and throttle simply came straight up and had modified linkages. There are a couple of other photos that show some detail of the body work but this is all we have to go on as far as the mechanical attributes of the railcar.
If anyone would like a high res copy please contact me through the Hawaiian Railway website www.hawaiianrailway.com
I think this project needs an "on site" co-coordinator and worker. It looks like I will be available sometime in March. I am willing to be flown and housed to assist!
Mahalo for your consideration!
Jeff, I know David's post sounds like he is joking (probably is), but he is in fact an expert restorer, is well versed in model T's. Also an expert on museum procedures, preservation projects, project management AND has restored other rail cars. He is a steam engine as well as a railway expert.
I also am aware that his present projects are concluding and he is indeed available. If you want your project to be successful and need expert help... management, research, fundraising etc. you really should be talking to Mr. Dewey!
Tempting to say the least but although this project is funded HRS will have to do without onsite help. Plus we've got some very knowledgeable folks here. Unless, of course, someone wants to ride the barge over with the chassis, live in a boxcar with no plumbing and eat at Mickey D's! We are currently rebuilding a 1920 passenger coach from the ground up, a 1944 ex-u.s. Navy 65 ton Whitcomb locomotive, cosmetically restoring a 1912 0-6-0 and keeping our operating equipment operating running two public rides every Sunday and special charters about 2-3 time a week. Almost all with volunteer labor. What we lack in big bucks we make up with passion.
As promised, here are the only two side views of the Model TT Oahu Railway and Land Company Railbus.
The entire route of the railbus was about 1.1 miles on level ground. Sole purpose was to move residents of the Pearl City Peninsula (developed by the OR&L) to the Pearl City railroad station.
In zooming in on the pictures I see that the hand break lever has been extended to wast high, and the pedals are in there standard location, and at the back of the rear wheels it appears that there is an outside break hanging there.
With the frame extended it was possible that it had a straight rear axle with chain reduction geared drive, this was common with this type of rail units at the time. I hope that better pictures can be found.
Interesting observation Bob but from the shadows I believe what appears to be a possible brake hanger is actually somebody's legs as the shadow to the left indicates. Not the greatest photos but this is all we have to go on. But what the heck, if it were easy everyone would do it. Thanks for your help.
This is the one I did a few years ago, I was lucky to be able to take pictures and have a contact where it was located. I Made some rough drawing with numbers. I had to make all the parts (with a lot of help). It was great fun and it runs very well. You will enjoy your project.
The wheels appear to be modified wood spoke wheels, perhaps off a truck of the period. The front axle and springs appear to be light railroad type or early truck. I think you will have to start from scratch with the axles, wheels, springs and brakes unless you can find old truck hardware that is close enough.
Another early railcar with similar wheels.
We may have to turn one of the T rolling chassis into someting like that. Nicely done Sir.
The front end will be totally new construction. Using some known dimensions we figure the wheels to be 21 inches with six lugs and all four appear to be the same unlike the shorter thicker spokes of a TT rear. An earlier comment indicated the front hubs were not Ford T or TT which may help with the brake drum question. Now to determine what they are.
Terry is embarrassing me! But at least you didn't tell me I had to eat poi! (OK, I know there are some rather interesting version of it, it's not all like the purple stuff fed to Howlies).
I'm wondering if the rims are Kalamazoo rims? It definitely looks like brake drums on them too. Tubular axle should narrow down the possibilities. Interesting that the axle is mounted above the lower spring. The full elliptical springs should be another clue too.
There is the possibility that it's made from a truck's rear axle, since there is no need for the wheels to pivot.
The narrow gauge does present a few problems; with standard gauge it's a fairly simple thing to convert to properly gauged flanged wheels. When we did the '23 for the Feather River Museum, my friend Jim just welded up an adapter plate for the Fairmont rims we used, we didn't have to modify the rear axle at all. The front axle, however was a different story. There we fastened a Fairmont axle under the Ford axle. Here's a pic:
This sounds like a wonderful project, I hope you are able to pull it off!
Great looking railcar! We've got some Fairmont wheels too, hmmmmm. The OR&L was into trucking as well as railroading in 1920/21 so the use of some truck parts is a definite possibility. They built another railbus in 1928 from and International bus and replaced the International engine in 1938 with a Ford Model A engine. Would you prefer two or three finger Poi?
This is the rear axle shifting assembly on my railcar,copied from orig unit. Made so you could have 2 speeds in forward and reverse.
Another older post showing a TT chassis fitted with rail wheels.
That rear end shifter is incredible!
We (the late Stan Bender) and I had to rethink the ingenuity of the back shop people from the 20's, was not able to open it up,they wouldn't let me and the last repair was reassembled and welded up. It came out OK and it work very well.
SHIFT ONLY WHEN AT A FULL STOP.
What Jerry said, incredible! I wonder why the original opted for a chain drive? Fortunately for HRS the chassis we bought already has a Ruckstell. We have a drawing of a proposed OR&L railcar for the Pearl City Peninsula dated 1919 that uses two engines, one on both ends and gear boxes with chain drives. It was never built and the TT took its place.
Thanks for the link. It's heartening to know another TT railcar existed and appears to use the stock rear end. These photos are very helpful.
Bob posting of railcar project sure brings back memories. I remember Stan telling anyone who didn't know who Bob McDonald was-he's the guy building the railcar. It was exciting to get your weekly progress reports at Stan's coffee vists, you sure put some thought into that one and deserve the success of that build. Good Job
I deeply appreciate your comments, observations and sharing of knowledge. I plan to spend at least a major portion of the next few days trying to nuke out some basic measurements. I've also printed the thread to isolate particular comments to be investigated. Hopefully I can distill what we know and what we need to find out about the railbus to make a replica worthy of the OR&L and Ford. Specific questions including supporting information will be posted under separate headings. Having owned and driven a 31 Dodge, 39 Plymouth sedan, 40 Plymouth PU and 41 Dodge PU plus a number of old British sports cars I have an interest other than railroads although they remain my passion. With two T rolling chassis donated to the HRS I feel a depot hack coming on. Happy Thanksgiving!
I have ridden on a similar vehicle in New Zealand (South Island). Not built as heavy as the one described in this thread but and interesting ride from a similar era. You might find more information about his operating rail T from Chris Dyer (firstname.lastname@example.org) who did some of the restoration work and might provide contacts for complete information. Steve Boyd
I have ridden on a similar vehicle in New Zealand (South Island). Not built as heavy as the one described in this thread but and interesting ride from a similar era. You might find more information about his operating rail T from Chris Dyer (email@example.com) who did some of the restoration work and might provide contacts for complete information. Steve Boyd
Thanks for the email address. I've contacted them through their website.