Saturday, January 29, 2022

HBS Sweeper Car

HBS track sweeper car with unknown number (in collection of author)

HBS track sweeper car with unknown number on June 13, 1933 (in collection of author)

The HBS tracks ran mostly in the cobblestone and later asphalt streets of Hoboken. In order to keep the rails clear of debris and snow, track cleaner and sweeper cars were employed to keep the railroad running. The two photos above show one of the sweeper cars with no known number and a faded HOBOKEN lettering on the car side. The bottom photo is from a large format negative I just acquired and appears in Benjamin L. Bernhart's Hoboken Shore Railroad book.

The sweeper is fashioned from a trolley car body with two large brushes suspended under the front and rear and sandwiching a lone truck. Outboard blades extend the clearing width of the car. I have not researched what trolley line nor manufacturer this came from.

In Berhart's book, there are two other track cleaners/sweepers shown. One is HBS 350 sweeper built from a rehabilitated interurban trolley, and the other HBS 1 newly constructed using parts from the 350 in 1955-56. The HBS also used a truck with plow attachment after 350 was decommissioned and before HBS 1 was built. For images of those, see Berhart's book pages 12-17.

On my layout, these will provide excellent battery cars for my locomotives. At the moment, I use boxcars that trail my 44 tonner locomotives, but I guess these will have to precede the locomotives. This should assuage the battery haters amongst my friends who don't like operating on my layout with trailing cars!