We received a Christmas card from friends in Northern California.

"Our newest 1995 we bought a "Speeder". For those of you who are now saying, "a what?", a speeder is a motorized, fully enclosed railroad maintenance car, used by rail crews until the advent of the high-railer pickup. Some are 2-place; others are crew cars, like ours, and will hold 4-6. There are two ways to acquire a speeder: buy one already fixed up, for a lot of money; or buy a fixer-upper for a lot less."

"How this works: we belong to an organization called MOW (Motor Operators West). MOW members organize speeder trips, ranging from 1-to-several days. MOW rents rail-time from various lines, charging the members a share of costs. Trips are limited to 30-40 speeders; all travel together, accompanied by a hi-railer "scout", which the railroads provide. In the past couple of years, the group has traveled to British Columbia, Idaho, Oregon, and all over California."

We were delighted to read of their new hobby. Having never heard of a speeder, we pursued what information we could find just to see what a speeder looks like. Of course, we had to check the net, and we were rewarded with beautiful pictures from several web sites. And, we thought the rest of our friends would enjoy sharing these sights and learning about this new (to us) and exciting outdoor activity know as motorcar riding.

Speeders started out as hand pumpers or handcars. They are also know as Inspection Cars, Track Cars, Gang Cars and Poppers (because of the popping sound the small engines would make). 


Click on the photo above to go to

Recently Pat Coleman introduced us to the: 

North American Railcar Operators Association

We strongly suggest you visit the NARCOA web site if you have any interest in speeders at all. Their site is 

NARCOA is the National Association that provides the operation guidance and insurance for their speeder runs on various railroads. The NARCOA site has links to all the affiliate clubs that actually hold the runs and to Want Ads where folks can acquire a motorcar. So check it out. You will be glad you did. (Thanks again to Pat Coleman for introducing us to NORCOA.)

Also, check out and do a search for Fairmont Speeder and you will be rewarded with over 300 links about speeders including photos of course. Better yet we recently discovered an even better way to learn more about speeders. Go to  (click on this link -- don't bother typing it out) and you will be rewarded with 3,090 images of speeders. You can click on the images and you will be taken to the web site that contains that photograph. If clicking on the link didn't work you can go there by visiting  where you then click on the "Images" tab. Next type in the search area "speeder". It's that simple.

If you do find a website or two that you think we should link to for folks to continue their look into this exciting hobby please email us using the email links below. Thank you.



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This page was last updated:

Thursday, August 06, 2009

Changes: NORCOA information added thanks to Pat Coleman
made link to