model train set on track

Railbus No. 10

e*Train Issue: Mar 2003   |   Posted in:

By The Whippany Railway Museum and photos by Bob Mintz

“Railbus No. 10 was originally built in 1916 by the White Motor Co. of the Morristown & Erie Railroad. The purchase of this unique vehicle was a logical choice for a road of the M&E’s size and passenger load. In mid-July 1918 No. 10 was placed into service between Morristown, Whippany and Essex Fells. Through a decade of hauling passengers on the M&E, No. 10 averaged eight trips over the eleven-mile line each day. The patrons seemed to like the service provided but continued and aggressive competition from automobiles and motor buses put an end to all M&E passenger service on April 28,1928. In late 1929,the bus body was removed and No. 10 was converted to a self-propelled track maintenance vehicle. By the mid-1950s, all that remained of the original Railbus…now an unpowered trailer…was the frame and wheels. In 1966, Earle Gil, founder of the Morris County Central Railroad (which operated steam-powered excursion here Whippany until the end of 1973), began the three-year task of recreating the original 1918 M&E vehicle. To construct this version, he used components such as the original frame and wheels, a motor and transmission from a 1928 White-built fire truck, and a 1920’s style bus body purchased at a local junkyard. Gil also engineered and built a very unique turntable that hangs under the body of the Railbus. The turntable drops to the crossties via a trunk-trailer support mechanism and hoists the entire bus aloft. The operator is then able to turn the vehicle completely around so that the bus can travel in the opposite direction. During the original 1918-1928 passenger operations, the M&E had two small turntables installed at the Morristown and Whippany stations. At Essex Fells, the bus was turned on the Erie’s locomotive table. The Railbus, as rebuild by Earle Gil, is 20 feet long, 8 feet wide, 10 feet high, and weighs approximately 4 tons. It is gasoline-powered has four cylinders, and can travel at 35-40 MPH. The Morris County Central version of the bus carries 19 passengers, plus operator. Railbus No. 10 returned “home” to Whippany on December 28, 1994. The Whippany Railway Museum has started work on the first phase of restoring this unique example of New Jersey transportation history back to its former glory for all to enjoy and appreciate.”