Standing on the ground beside the car, left to right, are T. L. Hill, agent at Collierville; Clem Price, conductor'; C. F. Allen, general foreman car repairs, Sheffield, Ala.; M. S. Belk, general air brake instructor; and William A. Carlton, brakeman.
Few, if any, of the crew members, passengers and bystanders who clustered around to have their pictures taken with Motor Car No.2 at Collierville, Tenn., on the Memphis division 40 years ago recognized the gasoline-electric motor car for what it was-an idea destined to give the steam locomotive a bitter taste of real competition. For this car was one of the forerunners of the modern Diesel-electric locomotive.
A. M. Weatherly, chief clerk to the master mechanic at Atlanta, Ga., sent Ties the picture postcard from which this photograph of one of the early steps in the direction of Diesel power was reproduced. Ties' readers are further indebted to his interest and research for the names of several of the men pictured here. The man standing in the cab doorway is W. S. Gaden, superintendent of the Memphis, Tenn., Union Station. Leaning from the cab window, arm on the window cushion, is Richard Dilworth, then factory representative of General Electric Company and now engineering adviser in the Electo-Motive Division of General Motors Corporation.
How successfully they applied themselves to the lesson may be judged from the clipping, reproduced from a 1914 issue of the Southern Railway News Bulletin, which describes the trouble-free service of the car and its trailer.
One of 88 similar motor cars the General Electric Company built for 29 different railroads in the eight years prior to World War I, Motor Car No.2 must have been photographed sometime in the summer or early fall of 1910. Although the date on the postcard was May 10, 1911, the Southern's engineering department drawing is dated June, 1910--and the photograph must date from shortly after the motor car went in service since Mr. Dilworth, the factory representative, was still instructing Southern Railway men in the operation and maintenance of the car.
"On Time," the history of the Electro-Motive Division of General Motors, describes Dilworth as a "machinist, Navy electrician and all-round electrical wizard." It relates that he was one of the two former car service representatives who worked with Dr. Herman Lemp at General Electric's Erie, N. Y., plant in the early 1920's to develop the improved variable voltage generator for the fledgling Electro-Motive Engineering Corporation which enabled this predecessor of Electro-Motive Division of General Motors to provide simpler controls for the electrical transmission of mechanical power. (Hard-to-operate controls were at least partly responsible for General Electric Company abandoning the manufacture of gasoline-electric motor cars after World War I).
Answering a request for specifications and history from the Association of American Railroads' Bureau of Railway Economics in November, 1915, General Electric reported that there were 87 gasoline-electric motor cars in service at that time and one under construction. Southern Railway was reported as having two of them in service (probably this motor car and trailer car) .
The cars were intended for branch line and interurban passenger service, the Company reported, and body styles were designed to the request of the companies that bought the cars. According to some of the sample photographs and detail drawings of cars used on other railroads, the Southern's Motor Car No.2 was smaller than most of the others, due to the absence of a baggage compartment. Body styles varied. Some had center doors and end doors like No.2, others had no center doors but an observation-type platform oil the rear of the car. In actual dimensions the Southern's motor car was 56% feet long over coupler pulling faces, 9% feet wide and 13% feet high. Empty, it tipped the scales at a little less than 40 tons and its top speed on level track was about 60 miles per hour. Its passenger compartments seated 52 persons.
Mechanically and electrically, Motor Car No.2 probably corresponded very closely to the specifications listed by General Electric for all its motor cars-and here its experimental contributions to the development of Diesel power are more readily recognizable. If so, it was powered by a gasoline engine directly connected with an electric generator which supplied current to two standard railway electric motors geared to the axles of the front trucks. (In that description, merely substitute "Diesel engine" for "gasoline engine" and you have a rudimentary Diesel-electric locomotive.) The main generator was powered by a 550 RPM, four-cycle, V -type gasoline engine, directly connected to the generator. It supplied power for the motors and compressed air for starting and braking. Speed was controlled by variation of the generator voltage. An auxiliary two-cylinder engine with air compressor and generator furnished the initial charge of compressed air and braking reservoir and supplied current for the headlight and interior illumination.
The motors attached to the front axles were standard GE 600-volt, 100-h.p. box-frame railway motors with standard gears and gear cases ( not unlike a diesel's traction motor in appearance). Except for trimmings, the motor car body was steel. Passenger compartment interiors had a mahogany finish, stationary seats, hot water heat and incandescent lights.
Motor Car No.2 and its trailer were assigned to the run between Memphis and Collierville, Tenn., and apparently remained in service until 1934, long after the two other motor cars which our records indicate that the Southern once owned had been sold. One was a McKeen car, gasoline-powered and with a mechanical transmission, which was used in Atlanta from 1911 to 1914. About the other, Ties has been able to discover very little.
Motor cars like the Southern's No.2 were early forerunners of Diesel power. Some of the service representatives who accompanied them to the railroads that bought the cars were later instrumental in the early development of the Diesel-electric locomotive. And in the internal combustion engines, generators and electric transmission of power to traction motors, the cars themselves gave notice of the Dieselized shape of things to come.