In the summer of 1988, the Southern Michigan Railroad Society was experiencing its highest-ever ridership levels. The motor car train in service was often full, and there was a need for more equipment—fast.

We had several former-N&W “gang” motor cars stored away for future used, and it was decided to pull one of these and give it a quick overhaul to serve as a passenger car. For expedience, the car would only be made road-worthy and painted. It wouldn’t be overhauled mechanically, and the engine wouldn’t be prepared for use.

A Fairmont A-5 motor car with cab ends on front and back was chosen, and rolled into the Clinton motor car shop. New glass was installed, woodwork was attended to, and a coat of glossy SMRS “motor car red” was applied. On 21 July 1988, the car was out of the shop and receiving finishing touches before a trial run:

SMRS trailer car

SMRS trailer car #T-516 at Clinton, Michigan on 21 July 1988. (Jeffrey Dobek photo)


The car’s Waukesha engine didn’t appear to be in bad condition, and it’s possible it was later restored to service:

The engine in SMRS T-516. (Jeffrey Dobek photo)

The engine in SMRS T-516. (Jeffrey Dobek photo)


This post is part of an ongoing series highlighting the “golden age” of the Southern Michigan Railroad Society in the 1980s. Too see more posts from this series, click on the SMRS tag at the bottom of this post.



  1. Kerry Scaife October 17, 2016 at 6:51 pm

    This appears to be the car I am currently getting back to operation, Unless we had more then one double ended car. Was the double end done by SMRS or did it come this way from N&W?

    • Jeffrey Dobek October 17, 2016 at 8:15 pm

      I can’t remember the specifics on this car. It may well have been double-ended from the N&W. Is there any number visible under the paint? Was the car painted red at one time?


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