ET&WNC Motorcar #1
Alexander Chapter NRHS
The Hobbs Reversing Gearbox
      (Upper Left) Uh-oh, a broken tooth on a gear from a long-forgotten manufacturer poses one problem for the restoration. However, with a bit of welding to build up the metal, a mill file can be used (right) for the final shaping.

     (Lower left). After the filing, the gear tooth is as good as new. 
     After machining and polishing (left), the main shaft and the pilot bearing are a perfect fit into the gear assembly (above).
    A broken main shaft (left) in the Hobbs Box was the major reason for the car's retirement in the late 1970's.

  Our main task included welding it back together  and machining off the excess material (below).
    As can be seen, the undertaking of this project is a hefty job indeed. Fortunately, the chapter has the manpower and expertise to make this happen, but we need YOUR help with the funding. So far, work has progressed on the car as far as its complete disassembly, as well as the discovery and repair of the rear-end defect which sidelined the car more than thirty years ago. The Alexander Chapter has also already purchased some repair parts and begun the cleaning and sandblasting of others.

How can you help??

Fortunately, there are a number of ways you can assist us in bringing this magnificent historical car back to life. For your convenience, you can make a donation to the Alexander Chapter-NRHS online by merely clicking on the Paypal button below. Funds will be transferred into our restoration account immediately. 100% of the proceeds of your donation will go to the preservation and restoration of this car.
Secondly, if the internet is not your cup of tea, you may send a tax-deductible donation to:              Alexander Chapter-NRHS
                                                                                                                                                  PO Box 1205
                                                                                                                                                  Hickory, NC 28603

Thirdly, you can join the chapter. Annual dues are $48. Click on the Paypal button and note your name and address, or send a check or money order to the chapter.

Fourthly, attend the NC Railroad Expo on Saturday, April 14th, 2012. Proceeds from this show will go towards restoring this car.

Lastly, send an email to if you would like to join the Yahoo! Newsletter from the Chapter. You will be advised on the progress of all projects, conventions, members, and activities.
     Both ET&WNC motorcars were based on Ford truck engines, transmissions, and rear axle assemblies. Of course, the problem inherent with this is that the cars possessed several gears for "forward" and only one gear for "reverse". Naturally, the motorcars needed to run on the railroad equally well in any direction.
     To accomplish this task, master mechanic Clarence Hobbs took an odd assorment of gears, shafts, and bearings, a home-made housing, and sprinkled in some mountain ingenuity. The result was a loss-less mechanical miracle which drove the rear axle in either direction, equally well, completely independent of the vehicle's transmission.

    Unfortunately, there are no plans on how this box was constructed, nor how it worked. To complicate matters, there were several broken parts inside the box including teeth on unknown gears, and a broken main shaft.

    Now, after more than 30 years, our own master mechanic Greg Carpenter has solved the riddle of the famed Hobbs Box, and has rebuilt it with new bearings, repaired gears, and a repaired main shaft.
The Hobbs Box in Action