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I'm making a custom trolley passenger set It is headed by the Lionel 60 trolley and I have two custom passenger trolley cars behind it..

I like to add   Lionel flatcar and was wondering if ever in a real trolley line 

  That maybe...  A real trolley would of  help the town pulling a flatcar with some type of load or boxcar  around town using a trolley as the power source

thanks for letting me know ...daniel

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If "Trolley" = "Interurban" (both having rails under the wire), then, yes.  Interurban lines, basically heavy duty versions of the downtown people-movers, definitely hauled freight.  I'm not an expert in this corner of raildom, however, and most of the photos of such freight traffic I've seen were pulled by 'motors'...powered units...designed for freight hauling or carrying baggage/freight within themselves.  

Prototype for a 2-axle Birney (Lionel 60) hauling freight....a flatcar...?   Can't say I've seen or heard of that specifically.  Maybe something MOW-ish, but scheduled?....not in my memory.

OTOH, found this just now on a surf-search...

trolley hauly link

Traction-philes?....what say ye?


Edit 02AU20:  Just noticed in my linked photo....based on the trolley pole's position, I would say that the power unit was pushing those 2-axle cars at the time of the photo....whereas the OP was looking for verification of a pull.  Subtle, I know.  FWIW, of course.....


Last edited by dkdkrd

Most interurban roads hauled freight--IIRC, a few were freight only--though the usual method was with electric locomotives (most often just called "motors"), often steeple-cabbed, and often interesting in form and function.  Wide-swing couplers and round car end sills facilitated negotiating the sharp curves--you know, like 027 sharp!--involved in running freight inside city industrial districts.

Electric traction was once a very important and large niche in the world of 0 scale.  You can build a very realistic, uncompressed layout in a small space, even using 2-rail track track.  

Passenger trolleys rarely pulled freight cars; passenger trailers were pulled.

All sorts of freight motors of very diverse designs pulled freight cars of both routine freight car styles as well as rather specialized cars.

For a good overview see:

Not Only Passengers: How the Electric Railways Carried Freight, Express, and Baggage (CERA Bulletin 129) Hardcover – January 1, 1992

by Roy G. Benedict (Author), James R. McFarlane (Author)


@DanssuperO posted:

Just found this link  Duplicate Slide: L&WV Laurel Line Freight Motor Trolley -- Antique      

 have to copy and paste it  its shows a trolley pulling a freight car..

Parts of a passenger trolley that had seen better days rebuilt into a freight motor by the shop.  Not an uncommon action to take older pass equipment and rebuild into something else to do a MoW job or be a freight motor or some sort.  Take a look at some of the W&OD equipment - freight motors built out of box cars and some funky shop built motors, too.  One of the fun bits of traction modeling - there was a lot of creativity in play re-purposing whatever was on hand to make whatever was needed

My memory might be foggy on facts, so bear with me...I seem to remember the trolley line that went from Frederick Maryland to Thurmont, Md towed a flat car/gondola type to carry goods. I worked with a fella that would NOT grant passage or sell part of his property back to newer owners of said trolley line.  Additionally, he told me that when the line was initially abandoned, there is a flatcar "that was towed behind said trolley" abandoned, lying in his backyard. Just FYI, the new owners  were trying to restart the line for a tourist attraction.  Heard and discussed this @ 25 years ago!

The Washington Baltimore and Annapolis Electric Railway used inter-urban cars as the power for freight trains.  The railway also served a gravel pit.   This is all documented in the book; Every Hour on The Hour by John Merriken.  This book contains many photos of freight cars ( even flat cars ) being pulled by Inter-urban cars.  ( not steeple cab motors ).   There is at least one photo in this book showing a baggage type inter-urban pulling a string of flat cars from the gravel pit.  There are other photos showing strings of boxcars being pulled by inter-urban.  This railroad was the only railroad to serve the city of Annapolis, Md. and therefore provided vital freight service to the state capital of Maryland, which included coal for the US Naval Academy.  The WB&A interchanged with the B&O in Baltimore and Annapolis Junction, Md. and the Pennsy in Odenton, Md. and perhaps Washington DC.     This railroad connected the downtowns of Washington DC, Baltimore, and Annapolis.  It hauled passengers as well as freight.   

Last edited by trumptrain
@DanssuperO posted:

Just found this link  Duplicate Slide: L&WV Laurel Line Freight Motor Trolley -- Antique      

 have to copy and paste it  its shows a trolley pulling a freight car..

While it may be loaded with windows and has trolley poles, that thing is still a freight motor.  There is no provision for boarding passengers.

Street railway trolley's (which is what the OP is indicating with the Lionel trolley) are built low to the ground to enable ease of passenger embarking and disembarking.


Can't speak for other systems, but Pacific Electric had freight hauling operations. During the early days, they actually serviced part of the Port of Los Angeles and owned 25% of the Harbor Belt Line along with Southern Pacific, Union Pacific and Santa Fe. I've never seen a photo of a passenger unit coupled to anything other than another passenger unit and as I recall, the couplers weren't compatible with a freight car anyway. Add to that the fact many of the interurbans had wood beam frames that would make them incompatible with hauling freight. PE had electric locomotives handling freight cars. I recall seeing a photo of a small "freight motor" that was basically close to a motorized box car, but I can't remember if it was for actual small, local freight delivery or part of the maintenance fleet.

@DanssuperO posted:

So what I thinking  is a regular electric trolley would of been converted with a gas or diesel motor and be called a "freight motor"?  It looks like that loading platform could put people on but  I'm thinking a freight motor trolley is or was converted to be only the power unit? thanks for the info..daniel

A freight motor would still be powered just like a passenger trolley from overhead wire; just pulls and/or hauls freight.

@DanssuperO posted:

Ok but was it a regular trolley that was gutted and refitted with a bigger  electric motor and did not have room or wanted passengers in it ..thanks! daniel

The electric traction motors are mounted in the trucks.  A diesel or gas conversion would definitely replace or remove seating capacity, but that wouldn't necessarily make it an effective freight motor.

Let's be clear about one thing:  Street railway equipment is smaller, lower, lighter and do not have "steam road" brake or coupler capability.

Even if there was some way to secure a standard freight car to a street trolley, there would have to be a brakeman riding the car, otherwise the coupler would likely punch its way through the street railway trolley's rear end when stopping. (Assuming the traction motors didn't burn up trying to haul something it wasn't designed for.)

Systems like Illinois Terminal operated both light street railway type equipment, heavy passenger interurban equipment and freight motors compatible with steam road equipment.   Heck, the IT even had some 0-8-0's...


Last edited by Rusty Traque

GREAT soon Ill have my small project down and show it under modified engines or cars here.. what I learned here....  was if anything was going to get pulled (more of than anything else ) would of been another empty trolley non motorized unit..

so that's what my 60 trolley will have two passager cars with a motor man in the back to help stop  it !

thanks for the info! daniel

In the same series of photos whence my "Trolley Hauly Link" came from  (above), was this one...

Trolley Folly Link

Appears to be some sort of excursion event.  Unless my eyes deceive, I see one (1) power pole to the wire on that front-end Birney-looking unit, but the following NINE () fully loaded cars seem to be all connected to that front-end unit.

I'd say that's a hauler for sure!  

Brakeman on the rear?   Who knows?

Stopping mode for the whole shebang?   Maybe everyone seated on the outside of the nine cars had to drag their feet in the ballast (?) upon some signal...flag...banner...bugle call.....whatever...from the power car?

Deemed so wrong in so many ways by today's standards, regulations, laws, ethics, yada, yada, yada.....the whole simplicity and apparent enjoyment in this photo...fancy dress and all....makes me rather envious.

"Special" (sign on the front), indeed!

How about you?


Last edited by dkdkrd

There were instances of electrically powered passenger equipment pulling flat cars or even box cars.  This would not be the preferred method of handling freight.  The passenger cars did not have as much pulling power.  Plus they could be more delicate than a freight car so if something went wrong you'd have a busted passenger car.  Still if the line did not have freight motors available then passenger equipment would have to do.

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