Sperry Rail Service

Discussion in 'Getting Started' started by c3node, Mar 5, 2003.

  1. c3node

    c3node New Member

    Anyone familiar with the old Sperry Rail Service aka Sally Rand Special rail test cars ? When I was in college, I worked for Sperry on the test cars during summer break. I saw many miles of track and trackside industries on the L&N, Southern and Seaboard. I worked between 2 jobs, either driver (no not engineer) or on the test equipment at the rear of the self propelled car. We were distinctive in our bright yellow paint job. The cars were almost all gas-electric manufactured by St. Louis car company.

    The primary task was to detect transverse defects in the rail and via magnetic and ultrasonic fields transmitted thru the rails. For those that arn't familiar with transverse defects, steel rail that flexes as heavy trains pass over start to crack from the inside out. The rail appears to be intact until it finally shears all the way through. This failure mode has put many a train "on the ground" which spoils everybodies day.

    I have seen HO scale SRS cars advertised in MR and other magazines. I am curious if anyone on the-gauge has seen any of the prototype cars operating recently ?

    Thank you
  2. MCL_RDG

    MCL_RDG Member

    Last time...

    ...(and only) I saw the Sperry Rail Service car operating was 8 or 10 years ago. It was working the east end of the Allentown yard leads across the river from Bethlehem Steel.

    I had my video camera and caught the rail grinding action that followed. I'm not sure when the grinders followed, a day, a week. I just remember that there was a lot of sparks and smoke with an occasional tie or brush fire doused by a crewman.

    Gee- now I'll hafta dig out that tape!

  3. Roger Hensley

    Roger Hensley Member

    I know that you'll find this disappointing, but here is the latest in Sperry Rail cars.

  4. Roger Hensley

    Roger Hensley Member

    Compare the SRS truck above with this old style Sperry Rail car.

  5. rockislandmike

    rockislandmike Active Member

    Saw one of the old style units in Edmonton a few weeks ago.
  6. jon-monon

    jon-monon Active Member

    Hey Rodger, care if I pinch you rpictures for my ~Sperry Rail Service~ page?

    C3, care if I use your story?


    This was in Lafayette IN last summer, more images and stories on my page, linked above.
  7. Roger Hensley

    Roger Hensley Member

    You have my permission. Just give me credit.

    Sperry Rail Car SRS823 was taken in Anderson Indiana on April 4, 2002 by Roger P. Hensley.

    The 119 'slide' is self-explanatory. I notice that you already have a shot of 119.
  8. cpr_paul

    cpr_paul Member

    Speaking of SRS 119 - I shot this car in Sudbury ON on Christmas Eve (posted here previously). I noticed it was sitting in Sudbury Yard two weeks ago as well - does anyone know if it has moved at all?
  9. c3node

    c3node New Member

    SRS Commnets


    Thanks for the comments. Roger yes I'm disappointed to see that it's all done in a rail-truck. We had air conditioned crew quarters with berths and dining area, shower and a cook/porter. I guess that the electronics got much smaller and crew costs much higher.

    I'm a bit fuzzy but I think that old 119 was uniquely named "Bob Owens" in memorium to Bob who was killed in a horrible head on crash with a scheduled freight on the CP in 1961. It's the only named car in the Sperry fleet that I know of.

    Jon you're more that welcome to record my recollections for posterity. I'm sorry I have lost all contact with all of the folks that I worked with. It would be fun to reminisce.

  10. jon-monon

    jon-monon Active Member

  11. hi-f

    hi-f New Member

    Sperry on the Big Four

    I live in Bellefontaine, Ohio. The CSX mainline is a tight curve through town and is ground and serviced often by similar units. My house is next to the track and we can smell the hot steel and sparks when they come through...quite a show. This is at the Tower 141, the old interlocked junction of the T&OC, NYC, CCC&St.L.
  12. MCL_RDG

    MCL_RDG Member

    Spotted today...

    ...SRS 125 in Lansdale, PA.

    I was pleasantly suprised to find SRS #125 in the yard in Lansdale, PA. I shot about half a roll but, since it's been 10 years since I shot print film I'll be anxious to see how good or bad the photos turn out.

    I hope to see where it'll be working if I see it working at all.

    I'll drop a note with any update- it may mean several things depending on which tracks it travels.

  13. csxengineer

    csxengineer Member


    Everytime they go on our line we get "slow orders" that last for days or weeks. When we get our train messages and it says:
    Track #2....10 MPH Milepost 60.0 - 100.00, I curse the sperry!! AAAUUUUGGGGGHHHHH, another long day ahead!

    Actually, they are kinda neat to watch...
  14. MCL_RDG

    MCL_RDG Member

    Spent the morning...

    ...at the hospital with my dad. He just went bionic with a pacemaker/defibulator. Had surgery at 12:01 PM today.I took him a few older copies of Model Railroader for easy reading, he's been in the hospital for a week and a half now (the older the better, I have several many years old copies in the bathrooms in my house- to ensure comfort).

    I mentioned the SRS car I saw and he asked for the MRs I'd left- as we (family) commenced further conversation- dad thumbed thru the mag he wanted. Then he pointed out an ad in Model Railroader. It was an ad from the Sperry Rail Service recruiting operators. I'm gonna grab that copy and scan in the ad and post it here. I thought it was pretty interesting. I was also amazed that my dad went right to it- apparently he's been reading the MRs down to the odd ball ads. The mag is 1998- not too long ago.

  15. TinGoat

    TinGoat Ignorant know it all

  16. Matthyro

    Matthyro Will always be re-membered

    There are sperry car pictures in the real thing Canada forum
    by Masonjar
  17. Russ Bellinis

    Russ Bellinis Active Member

    I saw a Sperry rail car operating on the old S.P. mainline along Valley Blvd in the Pamona-Walnut Valley right after U.P. bought the S.P.
  18. MasonJar

    MasonJar It's not rocket surgery

    Hi Robin - thanks for adding that to the list...!

    Jon - if you want to use my shots on your page, no problem.


Share This Page