Tuesday, May 24, 2005

Sail Cars?

From: "Wendell Huffman" wwhuffma@clan.lib.nv.us

I've been browsing the CPRR.org site, looking at the many new things added. In looking at the 1883 CPRR annual report I see that the company had added some "sail cars".

What are we talking about here? "Hand" cars with sails?



Blogger CPRR Discussion Group said...

From: "Don Ball" dlball@jps.net

Exactly, Wendell. One or two were built for the CP and one was built for the Stockton & Copperopolis in 1882. These were just as you described and as pictured in the movie Around the World in 80 Days. I've not seen anything describing their operation, though. That would be interesting reading.
Don Ball

5/24/2005 7:20 PM  
Blogger CPRR Discussion Group said...

From: DSnoddy@aol.com

The Kansas Pacific had one as well. There is a good photo of it at Hays. I don't know if it was made for them or handmade but out there in the flat it should have worked well. Certainly there was nothing to stop the wind.

5/24/2005 9:06 PM  
Blogger CPRR Discussion Group said...

From: Hsweetser@aol.com

An item in the September 23, 1876 Ventura Free Press (4:3) stated that an editor of a newspaper rode from Modesto to Merced on a wind car used by section hands.

Regarding the Kansas Pacific, the following is from pgs. 15-16 of an article titled "Section-Car" in the March 1942 Railroad magazine:

"Back in the 1870's pioneer settlers at Hayes City, Kansas, along the Kansas Pacific lines, used to spend their Sunday afternoons scooting along the rails in a hand-car equipped with an eleven-foot mast and bellying canvas sail. With a brisk prarie wind behind her, the contraption could do up to forty miles per hour – a speed which, according to a contemporary journalist "rivals that of the fastest express trains."

"Sailroading received official recognition in 1875, when C.J. Bascom, a KP official, converted a hand-car by equipping it with eighty-one square feet of sail to convey repair parties to pumps, telegraph lines and section jobs along the pike. Bascom's railboat was six feet long, carried four thirty-inch wheels and weighed about six hundred pounds, yet she once made an 84-mile run in four hours, over a curving section of track with a full load!

"These sail-cars used on the KP were amazingly versatile. With their canvas properly set they could tack or point almost right into the wind. But they were not the first vehicle of their kind. Back in 1829 the Baltimore & Ohio had been rigging square sails on some of their push-cars to transport section gangs. The B&O sail-cars were not built as efficiently as were the later ones on the KP.

"Sail-cars are still in use in South America. At Antafagasta, Chile, each morning a section gang numbering about twenty-five men clambers aboard their two sail-rigged track-cars on the British-owned railway there and scoot along before a strong morning west wind to the place where they are working, five or ten miles from town. When their day's toil is finished the men climb back on their inland ships, reverse the sails and navigate back to camp - driven now by a prevailing east wind that springs up each evening."

The full article, about hand cars and motor cars, is on pgs. 6 to 34 of the issue.

—John Sweetser

1/02/2006 10:13 AM  
Blogger CPRR Discussion Group said...

From: "John White" jwengine@hotmail.com

... about the earliest sail car was on the B&O in 1830, not too successful. There is an illustration of the K P car on P 85 of Railroad History No 127 October, 1972 reproduced from Scientific American Supplement April 20, 1878. I suspect the idea was tested elsewhere.


1/04/2006 5:12 PM  

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