Sunday, June 20, 2010

Whiting Trackmobile

It's fun to learn of a new type of railroad locomotive. Not new in the sense that I had never heard of the mobile railcar mover, or Trackmobile.

To this point in my five-year tour with the El Dorado Western Railway, I'd never seen one up close. If you'd asked, "What's a Trackmobile" last month, I'd given a blank stare.

That changed about a month ago when the railway learned of an opportunity to accept the donation of a 1964 Model 3TM Whiting Trackmobile from Aerojet in Folsom, California. The transaction was completed Monday when railway president Keith Berry and board member Ed Chuna picked the unit up in Folsom.

The railcar mover is a lightweight combination road-rail vehicle that's used to move railcars on industrial spurs. Trackside operators typically use the Trackmobile as a cost-saving alternative to the costlier locomotive switcher.

The Whiting Trackmobile has two sets of drive wheels. The operator drives it on the rubber tires on normal road surfaces. To move one or more railcars, the operator mounts the Trackmobile on the rail and couples the unit to lead car. At this point, it becomes a locomotive.

The El Dorado Western will use the Trackmobile on the Southern Pacific Placerville Branch and the new El Dorado County Historical Railroad Museum. According to Keith, the the Trackmobile will function in a variety of roles:
  • Maintenance-of-way tug to pull cars on the right-of-way
  • Rescue tug that'll pull stranded locomotives and cars back to the engine house
  • Crew training vehicle
I'll share more photographs of the Whiting Trackmobile once we mount it on the Placerville Branch. It's first assignment will be track rehabilitation on the right-of-way.


  1. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

  2. I got a question, what kind of motors are found in these? We have 3 of them at the Arkansas Railroad Museum and we are trying to find parts for the straight 6 motor. But we are not sure what kind of motor is in it. you can email me at thanks - Steve