© 2018 Joe Fay.   This is probably one of the most interesting Checkers we have presented. This is clearly not a taxi, limo or family car. Its a Checker equipped with Fairmount Hy-Rail is a road–rail vehicle is a vehicle which can operate both on tracks and a conventional road.

Still used today, road-rail vehicles are often converted autos or truck, keeping their normal wheels with rubber tires. but fitted with additional flanged steel wheels for running on rails. Propulsion is typically through the conventional tires, the flanged wheels being free-rolling; the rail wheels are raised and lowered as needed.

NYC Checker Working the Hudson Division April 21, 1967 Photo by Phil Miller

Such vehicles are normally used for railroad right-of-way maintenance during engineering possessions of the line. They can be driven on roads near the site and then converted to a rail vehicle for the final journey to the worksite. This avoids the complex maneuvers that would be associated with a road vehicle accessing a worksite that is not near a road.

The Fairmount Hy-Rail enables an ordinary car or truck to operate on the rails or the highway whichever is more advantageous. A Fairmount Hy-Rail attached to a Checker Marathon wagon is just plain super cool.

The Checker depicted in the header and this blog was operated by the New York Central railroad. The New York Central operate in the Northeastern United States. Headquartered in New York City, the railroad served most of the Northeast, including extensive trackage in the states of New York, Pennsylvania, Ohio, Michigan, Indiana, Illinois, Massachusetts and West Virginia.

Maintenance Engineer Lawrence Baggerly circa 1965

Fairmount’s lightweight Model 0306 was equipped with loaded bearing rubber tread lined wheels with a independent rubber cushion torque unit. To operate, the driver could raise and lower the wheels and lock them into position secured by a safety pin. The Checker would use the standard Checker running gear as a mode of power, but the smaller wheels would secure the Checker on the track.

The actual unit was made of steel and heat treated lite aluminum. Each unit would be tailor made based on the automobile to be used so the model 0306 specification would vary depending on type of vehicle the model 0306 was installed on for Hy-Rail use.

Very limited information exists regarding this Checker, but we do know that the Checker served in the New York Central Hudson division. Larry Baggerly can be seen in one picture with the Checker.

Mr. Baggerly started with the New York Central in 1951. By the time the photo was taken in 1965, Baggerly was 31 years old, had earned a masters in engineering at the University of Chicago, was in charge of the Central’s major track modernization and commanded operations from a Checker Marathon Hy-Rail wagon.

The archive does not contain data from 1962-1965, but we do have production records up for 1966-1981.  It appears the six were produced in Kalamazoo in 1966, twelve in 1967 and 42 for 1968.  The production reports show none  being produced after 1968

1968 Production was high at 42


Beyond the awesome ability to ride the rails there is one other advantage to have a Checker Hy-rail.  You will never have to debate which looks better chrome bumpers or aluminum girder bumpers.  The Hy-rail does not have bumpers



Santa Fe unit 1971

Santa Fe unit 1971


Post 1967 Soo-Line Hy-Rail Checker