S. Berliner, III's sbiii.com Critters Page keywords = rail road way critter model train "

Updated:   21 Oct 2015; 21:00  ET
[Page created 17 May 2004;

    original AT&T Worldnet Website begun 30 May 1996.]
URL:  http://sbiii.com/critters.html
[was at "home.att.net/~Berliner-Ultrasonics/critters.html"]

S. Berliner, III
Consultant in Ultrasonic Processing
"changing materials with high-intensity sound"

[consultation is on a fee basis]

Technical and Historical Writer, Oral Historian
Popularizer of Science and Technology
Rail, Auto, Air, Ordnance, and Model Enthusiast
Light-weight Linguist, Lay Minister, and Putative Philosopher

note - The vast bulk of my massive Web presence (over 485 pages) has been hosted by AT&T's WorldNet service since 30 May 1996; they are dropping WorldNet effective 31 Mar 2010 and I have to scramble to transfer everything by then.  Everything's saved but all the links have to be changed, mostly by hand.  See my sbiii.com Transfer Page for any updates on this tedious process.

S. Berliner, III's


Critters Page


On this page:

  Steam Critters.
  Internal Combustion Critters.

See also the Railroad page, et seq., and the Boxcabs page, et seq., and especially Rail-Auto Page, with "critters" you can model.

[I seem to have my Rail-Auto Page and this one fairly well scrambled; so what!  Enjoy them both!]

For weird prototypes to model, it's hard to beat Don Ross's "Critter" ( more photos) page, where you can find such gems as this one:

Palmer Critter
Palmer Sand & Gravel Co. - Don Ross photo

Take your tongue out of your cheek and visit D. Dickens' The Patiala State Monorail Tramway site; whooie (and it's for real)!  Nothing, but NOTHING can top this actual prototype predecessor of such as the old NMRA "Burdick Nightmare" 0-2-0!


Let's define a "Critter" as a vehicle, usually self-propelled and usually on rails (but I can deviate from these strictures) which is incredibly unusual, often just plain weird, or perhaps "cute".  Whatever, it is something that catches the eye and may pique the interest of a modeler.

The critter Don Ross shows (above) is a perfect example of both the "unusual" and "weird" categories.

Here's another:

B&O CT Trm Spdr 4 - Wayner 38b
(from Railroad Work Equipment and Special Service Cars, Robert J. Wayner, NY, ca. 1989)
[Thumbnail image - click on picture for larger image.]

It really isn't any oddity; it's just B&O Chicago Terminal Speeder #4, a perfectly ordinary track speeder with a box body on it.

Let me add this newer post ahead of most others; I saw the slide of this little gem on 19 Sep 2013 and fell in love with it instantly.  Happily, the photographer, Don(ald David) Nevin was incredibly kind and trusting and loaned me the original slide to scan [this is a crop of the full image (lotsa sky)]:   new.gif (19 Sep 2013)

(scanned and cropped from 1964 slide by, and courtesy of, D. D. Nevin - all rights reserved)
(click on thumbnailed picture for larger image.)
[The slide was somewhat marred by chemicals used to remove mildew.]

This little wonder is the elegant track speeder-cum-inspection car of the "DIRECTOR SUPERINTENDENTE" (division superintendant) of the R. F. F. S. A. (Rede Ferroviária Federal S.A., - Federal Railroad Network), the state-owned national railway company of Brazil, created on 16 March 1957 after several railroads were nationalized by the Brazilian government.  Don took the picture in 1964 on a fantastic combined steamboat-bus-rail trip from Lima, Peru, up along the Andes, and across southern Colombia and down the Putumayo River to Manaus, Brazil, on down the Amazon, and thence to Belem and up and down the coast.  This particular shot was taken in Salvador, the bi-level* capital of Bahia State.

    * - an 85m/280' escarpment divides the city,
            with a giant elevator, several funiculars, and a wild bus ride connecting the two levels!

If you look carefully, you'll see that this appears to be a left-rear quarter shot; note the windshield wiper on the other windscreen and what is probably one of a pair of huge floodlights facing away from the photographer, as well as a vestigial fender-cum-cowcatcher (and note also the staggered pitch, and the direction, of the seats!).

Tiny little diesel switchers often fall into the "cute" category (in my eyes, at least); among those are this GE gem I spotted out at the Roaring Camp and Big Trees Narrow Gauge RR in Felton, California, on 06 May 2004:

06 May 04 RC&BTRR GE Switcher
(06 May 2004 photo by and © 2004 S. Berliner, III - all rights reserved)

Critter fanciers had better hotfoot it over to Tom Yorke's site; he is the publisher of the "Light & Industrial Railway Quarterly", with back issues available on a CD.

Steam Critters

A great example of a steam critter is the one shown on my Boxcabs page 5, from Dick Bolt's collection, the Boston & Albany's "Berkshire":

B&A Berkshire

She's probably an inspection engine; dig that boarding ladder fo'ard!

Internal Combustion Critters

It's hard to beat this IC one I show among(s)t other Odd Boxcabs on my Boxcabs page 5:

1923 BLW Dinger Sugar/Java gas

This unit hummed along at the Dinger Sugar Mill in Java; did that make it a "Humdinger"?  I claim it is either a motor car with a box cab or a boxcab with a motor - I'm not sure which; it looks like a boxcab that slipped backwards on its chassis (maybe the traction motor blower blew too hard or the radiator fan blew backwards?)!

The little GE above is matched well by the hard-working mini-switcher cranking away at Williams Grove, PA, in place of the 1901 PRR B4a class 0-6-0 #643 which was down for major repairs when I had last visited on 01 Sep 2003 but up and running again on Labor Day weekend, 2006:

2003 Wms Grv Switcher
(01 Sep 2003 photo by and © 2003, 2004 S. Berliner, III - all rights reserved)

As I recall, it's a Plymouth.

It's also hard to beat the Long Island Rail Road's Volkswagen Railbus(es?), even though they were brand-new when modified for Hi-Rail service:

LIRR #1040 VW Rail Bus
(Photo from collection of S. Berliner, III - all rights reserved)

The New York Central also ran at least one VW railcar-cum-critter, again with a built-in turntable (and modified rear fenderwell):   new (26 May 2015)

(Photo provenance lost - probably from from collection of W. Koch - all rights reserved)

Chrysler Corporation unwittingly supplied a lot of fodder for my various auto and rail pages, among(s)t which are this '46 Dodge critter from my Chrysler page 3, with a Pierce thrown in for good measure (I ran across the Dodge on an overcast, rainy day at the Mid-Continent Railroad Museum in North Freedom, Wisconsin (near Baraboo on 24 Aug 1999):

1946   1946   1946   1946
(photos © 1999 S. Berliner, III - all rights reserved).
[Thumbnail images - click on the pictures for the full image.]

It's sure a far cry from the Colorado Railroad Museum's Rio Grande Southern narrow-gauge
Rail Truck #6 (pictured at the CRM in 1986 by V. G. Aylward):


Image from George Elwood's Fallen Flag Railroad Photos
[Far from being a Chrysler, this gem was an old Pierce-Arrow 36 6-Cyl. car obtained 1/1934 and modified with a
Chevrolet 6-cyl. engine in 1952, and again with a 1957 Chevrolet 6-cyl. engine installed 6/1988
(I rode all around the museum grounds in one of these "Galloping Geese" ca. 1980).]

Then, there's this "thing" from my Chrysler page 5; I doubt a Chrysler can get more "crittery" than this U. S. Gypsum twin-Chrysler personnel carrier created for a 20-mile run from mine to plant.  More than just a rail critter, this is a Chrysler critter, and Hemi powered, no less!

53 Chry critter - Wayner 39b
(from Railroad Work Equipment and Special Service Cars, Robert J. Wayner, NY, ca. 1989)
[Thumbnail image - click on picture for larger image.]

The end facing us, at least, is a '53.  That crate must have FLOWN!

It's not just a '53, it's a '53 Imperial, which makes the photo I spotted in the Oct 2013 MassBay RRE's "The Callboy" so funny; they got an elongated photo captioned as a pair of ca. 1947 Chryslers   Can't blame ye Ed.; that's what he was given.  The picture originated from JustACarGuy's blog about Inspection Cars for Railroad Inspectors.  [This guy's got a site even more complex than mine (didn't know that was possible)!]  Anyhow, here's the picture as posted: (29 Oct 2013)

["ca. 1947" railcar(s) from JustACarGuy - Inspection Cars for Railroad Inspectors]

Now, that photo is desperately elongated, ludicrously so, so I shrank it down to approximately what 1953 Chysler Imperials should look like:

[1953-based railcar(s) from JustACarGuy - Inspection Cars for Railroad Inspectors]

Walter Sapolsky passed the picture along; Steve, a former curator at the Imperial Valley Transportation Museum, wrote that this railcar was used to transport crews 25 miles between a gypsum mine in the Fish Mountains* and the processing mill in Plaster City, California. 

[* - I can't find any such and winder if they don't mean the Fish Creek Mountains east of Escondido and about 30 mles north-west of El Centro?  Seems rather likely, since Plaster City is a dot on the map about 15 miles west of El Centro.]

The rail line was the last NG industrial line in Califrnia, if not the whole country.  The "car" eventually wore out and passed to the owner of the trucking firm that hauled finished sheetrock from the mill; he returned it to the milling company ca. 2001.

    [Info. from JustACarGuy and MassBay RRE Callboy.]

While we're on Chrysler critters, although I don't know if such elegant railcars should be relegated to the "critter" category, here are a 1954 Chrysler 6 (8s had a "V" on the front of the hood) and a 1956 Chrysler Crown Imperial (see the "gill slits" on the rear fender) fitted out as President's cars for the New York Central's Alfred E. Perlman (who may well even be in one or both pix):   new (26 May 2015)

NYC Pres. 1954 Chrysler Railcar  NYC Pres. 1956 Chrysler Imperial Railcar
(Photos' provenance lost - probably from collection of W. Koch - all rights reserved)

Whoa, Nellie!  Wayne Koch, Metro-North desk engineer extraordinaire, just (21 Oct 2015) sent me another shot of a/the '54 Windsor and they DON'T match!  Look at the grille; the crossbar is displaced differently in each photo and there are two horns peeking out in the "new" one.  Here's the "new" picture and a '54 Windsor as it should appear:   new (21 Oct 2015)

NYC Pres. 1954 Chrysler Railcar 3  54WindsorGrille
(unprovenanced leftt photo from collection of W. Koch - all rights reserved)

Also, the triple-star bar is missing in the "old" shot.  Are these pix of two different cars or two shots of the same car at different stages in its life?  Neat shot; two of my favorites, a Chrysler and an ALCo (FA-1 in this case).

This belongs here, under Critters, and under "Odd Locomotives" (they don't get much odder):

(sent to me without provenance)

[BIG turntable girder, anyone?]

Many geared steam locos were converted when they reached the end of their useful life by removing the boiler and cylinders and hooking a gas or diesel engine to the drivetrain; this example, a converted Heisler, is a real doozie!

Here's a neat lil' critter I stumbled across while visiting Eastern Arizona College's Discovery Park Campus at 1651 W. Discovery Park Boulevard in Safford, Arizona, near Mt. Graham International Observatory, on 24 Oct 2014:   new (31 Oct 2014)

61Greensburg79-1   61Greensburg79-2

61Greensburg79-3   61Greensburg79-4
(24 Oct 2014 photos by and © 2014 S. Berliner, III - all rights reserved).
[Apparent the lower left photo was intended to show the whole engine but I was
sun-blind and couldn't see the cell phone camera screen in the glare.]

It's actually 1961 Greensburg mine loco #79.  According to the Ohio Vintage Coal Co. site (quoting liberally), Greensburg Machine Co. started producing battery and trolley locomotives in the 1920's, at their machine foundry, in the town of Greensburg, Pennsylvania, offering a line of economical locomotives, ranging from 1.5 to 15 tons, for all types of industrial applications.  In the late 1950's, former competitor National Mine Service acquired Greensburg and relocated their operations to Ashland, Kentucky.  Since NMS had some experience manufacturing diesel-torque converter locomotives, they continued to offer these units, plus battery and trolley products under the Greensburg brand name.  Around the mid-1980's, EIMCo took over NMS and later A. L. Lee did so.

My many RR pages are full of such as these; browse away!


  What happens to all this when I DIE or (heaven forfend!) lose interest?  See LEGACY.


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