Panhard Railmotor RM 14

Production date
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Object detail

Open sided wooden bodied railmotor. Main body painted blue, underframes, running boards and seats painted black. Single carbide headlamp. Canvas covered roof. 3 section hinged windscreen. Retractable canvas weathershields on sides. 3 rows of seats.
Arch bar bogie at front. Leaf spring, chain driven single axle at rear. Steel subframe. Manual sander mounted in box beside front seat. Fuel tank has riveted construction.
CH classification TRANSPORT Railways railway vehicles
Production date
H 2667 x W 2133.6 x D 4697.4
Media/Materials description
Chrome (Metal Plating) Indeterminate (Metals - Ferrous) Indeterminate Hardwood (Woods) Plywood (Wood & Vegetable Products) Canvas (Textiles) Copper (Metals - Non-Ferrous) Indeterminate (Glass) Indeterminate (Synthetic Materials)
History and use
The Panhard, a small railmotor based on a Panhard Levassor road wagon, was built at the Ipswich Railway Workshops in 1918. Powered by a 20-22 hp petrol engine, it was given the running number 23. Weighing just under 4 tons it had a capacity of 11 people (10 passengers and a driver.)
The vehicle had a 4-wheel bogie at the front and a single fixed axle at the rear. It was opensided with pull-down canvas blinds and also had pull-out canvas awings.

The intention to reduce operating costs on the isolated Normanton-Croydon railway line saw No.23, along with a 4-wheel goods trailer, arrive at Normanton from Townsville, on 18 October 1922. Put to the test a day later, Railmotor No. 23 made a test run from Normanton to Croydon in 4 1/2 hours on 19 October 1922. Goods traffic only amounted to about 5 tons per week and passenger numbers averaged 16 per week during the 1920's - a perfect load for the small railmotor.

The railmotor became affectionately known as the 'Panhard' around the district and subsequent railmotors at Normanton were also called 'Panhards'. The name had such common use that Croydon and Longreach locals would cause confusion by referring to railmotors as 'Panhards' when visiting other parts of the State.

The light weight Panhard became an essential mode of transport between Normanton and Croydon, especially during local floods. The Panhard would still travel with floodwaters covering the the line (although, if the water got too deep, some vital parts would be removed from the engine and it would be pushed through the deeper water).

The little railmotor provided most of the line's services between 1923 and 1929, hauling its goods trailer as well as carrying passengers. The Panhard could only move 4 tons of goods per trip and in 1927 it took a fortnight to move a load of more than 30 tons to Croydon.

A larger railmotor arrived in 1929 displacing No. 23. During that year all railmotor stock in Queensland was renumbered, with the Panhard No. 23 becoming RM14 under the new system.

RM 14 was overhauled in 1932 and, with the exception of 1934 - 1935, worked until it was again overhauled in 1938, when following a test run, it apparently did not re-enter service. RM 14 was written off on 14 April 1941 after which time it was stored in the Normanton workshops.
In December 1968 it was towed to Croydon and transferred to its birthplace, the Ipswich Railway Workshops, where it was restored and placed on display in the open-air steam locomotive museum at Redbank. The museum at Redbank closed in 1992 and the Panhard was removed to under-cover storage.

The Panhard underwent restoration at the Ipswich Railway Workshops again in 2002 before being relocated to its current home in the "One of a Kind" exhibit at The Workshops Rail Museum.
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