Railway Preservation News

Seeking single truck Birney
Page 1 of 3

Author:  twofoot [ Tue Jun 02, 2015 2:28 pm ]
Post subject:  Seeking single truck Birney

Hello folks. I've been asked to locate and restore a single truck Birney for a small (non-profit) transit project. Would anyone know of a suitable car located in the Northeast? I do not need a pristine car, nor would I like a chicken coop. LOL I also have no preference regarding its lineage. Are there any museums or preservation groups looking to clear some space and generate a little revenue?

Obviously, something with intact mechanicals would be most preferable, but I wouldn't turn my nose up at a good body alone.



Author:  artschwartz [ Wed Jun 03, 2015 12:23 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Seeking single truck Birney

Good luck!

There are only about 20 complete single truck Birney carrs in existence in North America. Most of these are prize possesions of their owning organizations, and are not for sale. Your options are to settle for another type of streetar, to find a body and go through the difficult process of finding or replicating the truck and electrical equipment, or to build a replica. The last two options will definitely be very expensive.

If you want more information, send me a PM with your phone number and real name, so that we can discuss this issue.

Author:  6-18003 [ Wed Jun 03, 2015 12:31 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Seeking single truck Birney

I know of a single truck Brill in PA, which would be very similar to a Birney, but it is more of a basket case than a complete car. You may have better luck finding and leasing a car from one of the transit museums in the Northeast. This would limit work to the infrastructure and you would be up and running a lot faster for less money upfront.

Author:  Dave [ Wed Jun 03, 2015 1:28 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Seeking single truck Birney

I'm working on sourcing replication of components for Belmont Trolley's coops now. Anybody who wants to share and participate in the process of gathering drawings, specifications and generally brainstorming, drop me a PM. Right now we're looking at trucks like the 76 for double truck cars, whatever we can find good information on for singles, and controllers like the brass oval topped Dick Kerr type useful for either application. I have some of the parts drawings for New Orleans walkover seats, but not a complete set, and of course brake systems, window latches and tracks, etc. are also in the works. Of course, other options are possible, depending on the quantity and quality of the information we can gather and provide for bids.


Author:  twofoot [ Thu Jun 04, 2015 11:54 am ]
Post subject:  Re: Seeking single truck Birney

UPDATE: So after talking with the group, they have revised their "wish list".

A "coop" would be totally acceptable, provided it can be restored within a reasonable time frame and cost. Their desire is not a Smithsonian-quality restoration, but more of a working restomod (to borrow from the hot rod car culture). If the running gear is lifted from say one of the Euro cars located in Canada, that would be fine. So would modern running gear and/or electronics hiding in a vintage style chassis. There is also the possibility of their using a vinyl wrap to allow the livery to be changed to better suit where the car is being run. Wraps have come a long way, and this seems to be quite doable.

So, I think this will help move the project along, as it leaves a lot more wiggle room than previously expected.

As for their ultimate goal? They are each members of different groups, and they plan on "going visiting" during the year to various open house events and running the car to "gain mileage" at the various museums. One of the members has a smallish Loboy trailer which would be used to transport the car, as well as the needed rigger's license. The Birney would make for affordable fun in operating costs, transportation logistics, and the restoration itself.

Sounds like a good idea to me.

Thanks to all. Keeps those cards and letters coming.


Author:  Dave [ Thu Jun 04, 2015 1:12 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Seeking single truck Birney

This also opens the door for consideration of self propelled cars - one shortline in Georgia built a doodlebug out of a single truck Birney body and a motor and tranny from a truck. I think a nice boxer engine and tranny from a Subaru could fit under the floor and work well in such an application today. Hardware from a heavy Fairmont gang car could be the basis for a truck using roller chain drive.

I'd very much doubt Claude would be willing to part out one of his Belgian cars.


Author:  eze240 [ Sat Jun 06, 2015 7:26 am ]
Post subject:  Re: Seeking single truck Birney

If you decide to go with the self propelled idea....
1: Don't underestimate what it will take to power the car reliably, take great care in the power train choice.
2: Don't just slap together the drive train mounts, if what you have in mind comes from a truck.....double it.
3: Expect the project to cost at least $300k.....if you're starting with a chicken coop and fabricating a truck or two and a drive train.

I was involved in operating, maintaining and rebuilding several self propelled cars, all with automotive drive trains. A car that weighs 50,000 lbs with a poorly designed and constructed drive train will kill your business plan with constant breakdowns, etc.
On the other hand, a well done car with a good, well executed drive train can operate quite reliably and efficiently....
I can get you a car or two, depending on what you want to spend.....for $100-150k I can set you up with a two truck car, seating 30-50, with a diesel or gas engine.....turnkey, ready to operate.

Author:  Dave [ Sat Jun 06, 2015 9:13 am ]
Post subject:  Re: Seeking single truck Birney

I'd hate to have to ship the single truck Birney body that weighs 25 tons....

Author:  eze240 [ Sat Jun 06, 2015 10:05 am ]
Post subject:  Re: Seeking single truck Birney

The 25 ton car is a Brill built car that came from Philly, that's total weight with trucks. It still ships via lowboy truck with little trouble.
I also know a guy who has a smaller car, about the size of a Birney. It seats 20 and is not far from being ready to operate, but the owner will only lease the car out.

Author:  daylight4449 [ Sat Jun 06, 2015 2:51 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Seeking single truck Birney

Crazy idea... Go see one of the intact Birney cars, take measurements, draw up wiring diagrams as to how they were set up, maybe a floor plan of the interior, and build a new one. Might be easier than dealing with some of the surviving chicken coops, assuming you can find one...

Author:  eze240 [ Sat Jun 06, 2015 9:35 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Seeking single truck Birney

The problem with making a totally new car is that, if your operation falls under FRA rules and requirements, a new car has to meet current standards for things like crash worthiness, etc.....
Been there done that......bad deal. That's why most heritage systems use rebuilt cars when possible......

Author:  Dave [ Wed Jun 10, 2015 12:47 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Seeking single truck Birney

Looking for something else I didn't find, I did find it was the Collins and Glenville RR in Georgia that converted two Savannah Birneys into self propelled gas cars. They used 1920s-era Buick 6 cylinder motors, I'm figuring maybe 60 HP max, and put the single truck Birney cars on two double arch bar trucks, of all things......There's a radiator poking out below the center front window, and a wood slat cowcatcher beneath that end. they also built a wooden combine using an International gasoline power plant in their own shops.

The line connected with the Wadley Southern and SAL at Collins, and went through Mendes, Bradleys, Tootle, Hughland, and Reidsville on its way to the junction from the Glenville terminus.

Don't you wish you'd had a chance to ride?


Author:  Jennie K [ Thu Jun 11, 2015 11:10 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Seeking single truck Birney

Check out Brookville http://www.brookvillecorp.com/streetcar-replica.asp

Author:  twofoot [ Thu Jun 11, 2015 11:16 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Seeking single truck Birney

Jennie K wrote:

Gomaco also makes wonderful replicas. http://www.gomacotrolley.com/index.html

I must say, after all of the cars that I have been offered and the prices being asked, a replica is looking like a better deal.


Author:  eze240 [ Fri Jun 12, 2015 9:05 am ]
Post subject:  Re: Seeking single truck Birney

Gomaco did a number of cars for Tampa, they spent alot of money to come up with new controllers, etc.....last I heard the cars cost above $600k each.
If you only want one car or are operating on a small budget, most new replicars are a bit expensive....if you're buying 10 cars....
Depending on what you want, there are cars out there that range from turnkey to major project. The nearer you get to a ready to run car the prices can be pretty high, but not like buying new....
For your stated purpose, you're probably best off with either a turnkey or near such...a self propelled would probably be easier to deal with, if you plan to truck it from place to place.....
Even a non profit needs to pay for itself, so look for maximum capacity. A 50 pax car, with tickets sold at $10 each gives you a gross of $500 per trip, if you run at capacity.....you might be able to break even....
If you do a self propelled, reliability and durability are key. Don't just slap something together, a bit of extra thought and a bit extra money spent will pay off down the road.....

Page 1 of 3 All times are UTC - 5 hours [ DST ]
Powered by phpBB © 2000, 2002, 2005, 2007 phpBB Group