Busta

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Not to be confused with the visiting locomotive of the same name.

Originally built for the US Army by Fairbanks Morse.

Used on the WHR as a platelayers trolley during the 1920s and 30s. It was one of 970 similar vehicles built in 1917 or 1918 by Fairbanks-Morse in the USA to serve the American army in France in World War 1. Their role was to convey officers to and from the front line. They were fitted with a reversible single-cylinder motor-cycle type engine. The 60 cm gauge version seated four people (or six if they were friendly) and since there was no clutch they were started by pushing and leaping on when the engine fired. The lack of a clutch also meant they could not be driven slowly without stalling. The brakes were rudimentary and they were probably stopped by switching off the engine. Because of these faults they were widely disliked. It is suggested Colonel Stephens probably bought them in sales of ex-army material after the war to increase the efficiency of track gangs on the WHR.[1]

It was re-engined in 1954/5 by Ian Smart with a Petter petrol engine (from a sawbench) and a motorcycle gearbox.[2] This was quite overpowered for such a light vehicle, and rides on it were the stuff of legend and mystery (most of the mystery being how they stopped it and why no one died!). The FR's example was christened Busta by Bill Hoole in early 1955. The name was painted on the fuel tank.[3]

It was removed from service by order of the Management in the early 1960s because it was considered dangerous, and was dismantled. Only the wheels and axles survived.

From late 2005, it was rebuilt in slightly more original form by a group of volunteers, and powered by a Douglas flat twin motorcycle engine, which whilst not completely accurate is contemporary and available...[video 1] It has since appeared an many special events on the Railway and elsewhere.

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References[edit]

  1. ^ ""Busta" Rises Again", Ffestiniog Railway Magazine, Issue 189, page(s): 533
  2. ^ "Ian Smart 1920-2018", Ffestiniog Railway Magazine, Issue 240, page(s): 906
  3. ^ "1954-55: The Railway Reawakens - Part III", Ffestiniog Railway Magazine, Issue 189, page(s): 543