What is an RDC or "Doodlebug?"

Discussion about RDC's, "doodlebugs," gas-electrics, etc.

What is an RDC or "Doodlebug?"

Postby Richard Y » Sun Dec 18, 2005 6:40 pm

Here is a really stupid question:

Being new to this heading, I am not sure what a "RDC" or "Doodlebug" is.

A while back, I think in TRAINS magazine (but not sure), there was an article on people who configure automobiles, suv's, etc with rail wheels, with the idea of running the vehicle on abandon rail track. Some would even have vehicles "custom made" for this purpose.

Many of these enthusiasts would form clubs and partcipate in outings, creating a small convoy of vehicles. At destinations there would be picnics, barbecues, etc. before the trip back home.

Is this different from "doddlebugging" or RDC'ing? I tried to find some web sites regarding this type of activity. I could find little. Are there some good web sites for this hobby?

Richard
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Postby stilson4283 » Sun Dec 18, 2005 7:23 pm

Being new to this heading, I am not sure what a "RDC" or "Doodlebug" is.


A RDC or Doodlebug in it's simplest terms in a passenger car that can move on its own without a separate locomotive.


A while back, I think in TRAINS magazine (but not sure), there was an article on people who configure automobiles, suv's, etc with rail wheels, with the idea of running the vehicle on abandon rail track. Some would even have vehicles "custom made" for this purpose.

Many of these enthusiasts would form clubs and partcipate in outings, creating a small convoy of vehicles. At destinations there would be picnics, barbecues, etc. before the trip back home.


There are groups that do something similar to this with old track cars that they rebuild and custom paint. They go and run on different rail line around the country. I don't know their web address.

Chris
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Postby ACLfan » Mon Dec 19, 2005 10:40 am

"RDC" is an abbreviation for "Rail Diesel Car".

These were specially built self-propelled rail cars that could operate as separate passenger cars.

Many RDC's were designed with baggage compartments, and with the capability to pull one or more conventional passenger cars. Railroads used RDC's on their local passenger train operations.

"Doodlebug" was a nickname that somehow stuck around, and was generally applied to the rather large number of RDC design variations that were constructed over the years.

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Postby glennk419 » Tue Dec 27, 2005 12:23 am

ACLfan wrote:"RDC" is an abbreviation for "Rail Diesel Car".

Many RDC's were designed with baggage compartments, and with the capability to pull one or more conventional passenger cars. Railroads used RDC's on their local passenger train operations.
ACLfan


While many older doodlebugs or gas elecric cars were capable of hauling a non-powered coach, the Budd RDC's were never designed to pull anything other than themselves. The hydraulic transmissions and relatively small Detriot Diesel powerplants were optimized for the single cars in which they were installed. While some railroads attempted to combine conventional coaches with RDC's, most notably the CNJ, the practice was strongly frowned upon by Budd and the "offending" roads were threatened with warranty cancellations.

To add to the response to the original question, the term doodlebug or RDC refers to vehicles originally designed for or by the railroads. While some examples were modifications of highway vehicles, these were most often known as railbusses. RDC or Rail Diesel Car is a trademarked name that refers to a specific family of self powered railcars built by the Budd Company at their Red Lion (Philadelphia) plant in the 1950's.
Last edited by glennk419 on Tue Dec 27, 2005 12:43 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Postby Urban D Kaye » Tue Dec 27, 2005 12:40 am

Correct me here, but the term "doodlebug" dates to the old gas-electric cars of the 20s, wheras I've only seen the term "RDC" applied specifically to Budd self-propelled diesel cars.

* * *

Also, I'll attach a few links...

Classic gas-electric doodlebug

Budd RDC
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dumb question

Postby bill haithcoat » Wed Dec 28, 2005 8:22 am

Not sure if anyone specificallly mentioned this or not--my apologeis if I read over it---but RDC's were stainless steel cars, in some sense thus"streamlined". Though they did not necessarily operate on streamliner schedules. Most eventually wound up in commuter service.

The old "doodle-bugs" were heavyweight cars, though there may have been a few that were lightweight(though not stainless steel) in the late 30', not sure.
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Postby glennk419 » Wed Dec 28, 2005 8:30 am

That's a good point, although when RDC's took over the duties for the Reading's Crusader, that was certainly a streamliner schedule.

In building the RDCs, Budd simply utilized its' expertise in building fluted stainless steel cars and incorporated it into the design. They actually followed the same line of thought with the ill fated SPV's which were designed around their successful Metroliner and Amfleet carbodies.
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dumb question

Postby bill haithcoat » Wed Dec 28, 2005 8:43 am

Yes, indeedy, the Crusader was an exception to what I said and certainly was a streamliner. Some other examples of longer distance RDC trains would be the Chocktaw Rocket from Memphis to, I think, Oklahoma City. Then there was B&O's train, called something like Daylight Speedser(???) from Washington to, I think, Cincinnati. Also C&EI 's Meadowlark from CHI to southern Illinois points was taken over by an RDC in the mid-50's. I do know that they ran "regular " cars attached to it at peak travel periods.
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Postby Ken W2KB » Wed Dec 28, 2005 8:55 am

glennk419 wrote:That's a good point, although when RDC's took over the duties for the Reading's Crusader, that was certainly a streamliner schedule.


Though by that time, the Crusader was really a commuter train. It made many stops from Bound Brook to Philadelphia.
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Postby Ken W2KB » Wed Dec 28, 2005 8:57 am

stilson4283 wrote:There are groups that do something similar to this with old track cars that they rebuild and custom paint. They go and run on different rail line around the country. I don't know their web address.
Chris


www.NARCOA.org

My avatar to the left, is a track car.
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dumb qeustion

Postby bill haithcoat » Thu Dec 29, 2005 8:28 am

To answer my own tentative information I provided. there is this. The B&O train was called the Daylight Speedliner and went from Philadelpha to Pittsburg. The Rock Island train was called the Choctaw Rockette(not Rocket--no doubt because of it being so small) and it went form Memphis not just to Okalhoma City but on to Amarilla.
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Dumb Question

Postby eddiebear » Fri Dec 30, 2005 11:29 am

While RDCs covered many branch line and commuter schedules, in New England, they covered many mainline routes:

Boston & Albany - Boston to Albany 200 miles
Boston & Maine & connecting roads - Boston-Montreal via CV and CP routings 325 to 340 miles, Boston-Troy, NY 191 miles, Boston-Portland, ME 115 miles, Boston-White River Jct, VT via Fitchburg, 153 miles and more.
New Haven - Boston-Hartford-Waterbury, CT 148 miles.

The NY Central had a few long runs too:
Syracuse-Buffalo-Niagara Falls, NY
Detroit-Bay City-Mackinaw City
Cleveland-Cincinnati

The RDCs replaced conventional trains, many of which had quite a bit more in the way of amenities than the RDC. However, the conventionals were on their way out with very low passenger counts. The initial B & A Albany-Boston run replaced the Boston section of the North Shore Limited, late night Chicago via Detroit to New York run. With a supper time departure from Albany, an 89 seat RDC replaced a locomotive powered train that had a Chicago-Boston heavyweight sleeper, a Buffalo-Boston thru coach, a diner and whatever other cars were in the consist.
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Postby NHRDC121 » Mon Aug 28, 2006 8:20 pm

Western Pacific probably had the longest regularly scheduled RDC run with it's Oakland, CA-Salt Lake City, UT. "Zephyrette"---928 miles-one way.
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Postby clehman » Sat Jan 06, 2007 9:22 am

To concentrate more on the second part of your question concerning people who run self-propelled rail vehicles on old or abandoned track - I have a friend here who owns a couple of "putt-putts." These are small, usually two to four man, gasoline engine powered cars that track inspectors and track maintenance men used to ride along their assigned section (usually several miles) of track. They got the nickname putt-putt because of the sound of their very small engines made as they travelled along the track, usually at a fairly slow speed so they could look the track over closely.
There are now clubs, some with many members, all across the country of people like my friend who own and run putt-putts. He frequently takes his putt-putt on a small trailer behind his car to meets all over the Southwest where they run them, with permission, on branch lines and short lines on the weekends when the owner railroad is not running trains. Often whole families are involved and they have picnics and lots of fun.
I know these small cars as putt-putts because that's what my Dad called them, and he worked for the railroad. Some owners do not use that name, but instead call them by their manufacturer name. I cannot remember any of those names at the moment, but Clairmont seems to come to mind.
For more information on these types of small self-propelled cars and the clubs, try entering "putt-putt" in a search on the Internet and see what comes up.
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Postby NHRDC121 » Fri Jan 12, 2007 8:18 pm

Re; "track cars, speeders, pop cars", just a few more of the names given to those "motorized hand cars, Fairmont is the name you're thinking of.
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