This is a perfect set for a scene of Maintenance-if-Way (MofW) work along the model railroad’s line.
C&O used motor cars starting in the late 1920s, and they were common up until the advent of “Hi-Rail” vehicles in the late 1970s. Any section force would have one or more of these, along with trailers for carrying tools and materials needed in their normal work. The section crews were headquartered in a tool house (see MD-15-757
), which also housed their motor car(s). Larger crews had more than one motor car. Trailers were used to transport tools and sometimes materials such as barrels of spikes, tie-plates, etc., to work areas. The small crane on a trailer provided in this set wasn’t always present, but could be used to set replacement lengths of rail in place when needed.
The section crew (or “force”) was a foreman and a number of laborers who were responsible for maintaining a stretch of track on a routine daily basis. This was important in the steam era when the “pounding” (dynamic augment) of locomotives constantly eroded the track structure. On a heavy mainline of double tracks, a section might be only 2-3 miles long and employ 8-12 men. On a lightly traveled branch, a section might be 10-miles long, or longer, and have only 4-6 men. The length of the section and size of labor force was based on the traffic carried by a particular stretch of roadway.
The “Section Force” was always out on line during the day patrolling, looking for defects, tamping, repairing lose bolts, checking the gauge, etc., so in a modeling scene a group of equipment such as this set could be seen positioned either partly next to the tool house and partly out on the line, or all out at work.
For a detailed story about sections and section tool houses, see the Oct. 2004 issue if C&O Historical Magazine (available as a digital download at $8.95 – must be ordered by telephone 540-862-2210 (9am-4pm weekdays).
This is another of those work-a-day aspects of railroading that is often overlooked in modeling. – This is a great, accurate model set of equipment for this use.
For more about motor cars and trailers, much can be found in our publication Maintenance-of-Way Standard Drawings, (cat. No. DS-7-034), and in the quarterly book Chesapeake & Ohio Motor Cars (cat. no. BK-14-825).
For reference, some railroads, the Pennsylvania in particular called motor cars “speeders” but their manufacturers called them “motor cars” and that term was always used by C&O.