Swiss Army Knife on wheels!

As some of you know, one of my hobbies is model railroading. In following up on that I belong to a few Facebook groups that are in that vein. One is a group called “Switchers and Critters”. Switchers, (in England and a few other places called shunters), are small engines that are used to sort out the rail cars at a railroad yard, to organize them into trains in the order that they may be dropped off. The other, Critters, are a mixed breed, some are shop built, railroad shop that is, for specific purposes or uses. Some are rare special purpose bought by a railroad. In that group I found this “Critter”. With a tip of the Hat to John, I present a Swiss Army Knife on wheels! Seriously this is a vehicle used for maintenance on the Swiss Federal Railway.

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Author: G.D.

I'm from Pensyltucky. Can trace my ancestry directly to whom the present day national anthem of Poland is written about.

7 thoughts on “Swiss Army Knife on wheels!”

  1. Here is some information from a comment on this post at eWillys.com.

    – the CFF on the door means ‘chemins de fer fédéraux’ = Federal Railways
    – behind the man it must be written ‘SBB’ (Schweizerischen Bundesbahnen) which means the same but in German…
    – I can confirm that the top cab serves for workers (2 of them, 1 to check the line made out of copper and the second the pantograph clearance), John is correct
    – the spinners were to help changing wheels rapidly as those vehicles were moved by road to a specific railway section for light maintenance, Todd is correct
    – the license plate starts with a ‘P’ for Post Office vehicles, as at the time the Railways and Post were both joint federal institutions…
    – up top are various ladders as well as various earthing poles

    This probably dates from the 1950s through the 1970s, as the “P” license plates have not been used on CFF vehicles since the post office was split off from the federal railroads.  I have never seen anything like this since I arrived in Switzerland in 1991.

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  2. Great picture, @G.D.

    Are the “earthing” poles the (necessarily metal) ones on the regular roof, just above the man’s head?

    And wow, look at those really long skis!  Or: what all are we seeing on the very top layer? It looks like two of those old-style skis, wide and long and heavy, plus perhaps 4 ski poles.

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  3. jzdro:
    Are the “earthing” poles the (necessarily metal) ones on the regular roof, just above the man’s head? And wow, look at those really long skis!  Or: what all are we seeing on the very top layer? It looks like two of those old-style skis, wide and long and heavy, plus perhaps 4 ski poles.

    The earthing poles don’t need to be solid metal (which would be heavy), but could be wood with a wire running from the top to the bottom to carry the current.  It looks to me like the right side of the poles as shown in the picture is a clamp which would grasp the wire being worked on, with the bottom of the pole being planted in the ground to discharge any static on it and guard against it being energised during maintenance.  I see two such poles on the top of the vehicle.  Behind them, I see what looks like a ladder, seen from the side, which is about as tall as the poles.  This would have presumably been used by the crew in the top cab to work on the wires after they had been earthed/grounded by the poles kept on top.

    Note that there are similar, but shorter poles and a ladder on the right and left sides of the vehicle alongside the top cab.

    I remain disappointed that, from all accounts, the CFF/SBB have never operated a giraffe car.

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  4. Thank you!

    So those black things are the hot-wire clamps.  And the ladder has one curved corner on each side, maybe to hug the ground better at an angle.  Also, those rear-view mirrors are so stylish I am awed.

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  5. The long reach poles have either a loop or a “J-hook” which can be used to throw aerial disconnect switches.   They can also be used to put a trolley pole back in contact with a catenary wire if it has come loose and is riding the wire in an out-of-contact position.

    I am guessing the big wooden sled rails are permanently attached to the cab, to let the cab ride under a sagging catenary.

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  6. Personally I am impressed bu the smooth exterior of the vehicle body. Some great, creative body work was done to make this vehicle a reality.

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