I often meet some really interesting people in campgrounds. Bob Hastings easily meets that definition because he is an active railcar buff.
Bob and his Welch Terrier, Wellington, were glad to pose for a photo. In back of Bob is his auto carrier outfitted with an electric winch and square steel tubes that serve as rails to move his early 1980s railcar in and out of the trailer. “Orange Crush” is the nickname of Bob’s railcar and was originally built for the Canadian National Railroad.
Bob is an active member of the North American Railcar Owners Association (visit www.narcoa.org for more information). NARCOA has about 1000 active members who enjoy taking their railcars out for excursions on railroad lines. These excursions are usually on the tracks of short line railroads vs. such giant carriers as Union Pacific or CSX.
I asked Bob how he gets his railcar from inside his trailer onto a set of railroad tracks. He was more than happy to partially demonstrate how this is accomplished.
The easy way is to roll out his railcar so that it sits at a 90 degree angle to the tracks. Then he deploys this turntable to the ground and simply rotates his 1100-pound railcar until the wheels are above the tracks. He raises the turntable and the railcar wheels settle onto the rails.
Bob also has the option of manually lifting the railcar and muscling it sideway by using the built in handle bars seen in this photos. The handle bars slide under the car for storage and can also be pulled out the other side where leverage is better because the Onan 4 cycle 2 cylinder 20 HP gas-fueled engine is up front. This little engine can reach speeds of 45 MPH and gets about 30 MPG. but, Bob who is very safety conscious generally cruises in the 20 to 30 MPH range.
When I asked Bob what was it about owning a railcar that made it so much fun to do, he responded with: “It is the closest thing to being a railroad engineer without owning a locomotive.”
Bob’s seat is at right and the buddy chair is to the left. Note that Bob has tricked out his cab with a dual cup holder. He also has a CB radio for communications with excursion participants.
Here is a shot of Bob’s Canadian National railcar being winched out of the trailer.
And here is a rear view of Orange Crush.
Being a railcar owner takes some preparation. To belong to NAROA you need an association mentor and pass a written and a driving test. Orange Crush set Bob back about $2800 four years ago. They are in limited supply so their value increases over time.
Before Bob retired he was a production engineer for GE building jet engines, which explains his affinity for all things mechanical.
Bob lives in Cincinnati, Ohio
His two favorite excursions are on:
the West Virginia Central RR out of Elkins, WV up into the mountains where there are no roads and ends where they meet up with a steam locomotive, the Cass Mountain RR out of Cass, WV (and)
the Finger Lakes RR trip from Geneva, New York to western, NY
Generally about 30 members make up an excursion which has to be carefully arranged with the owner of the host railroad. All aboard!