Re: Steam Era Spray trains

mofwcaboose <MOFWCABOOSE@...>

Some of the earliest weed burners were built by the McKean Motor Car Company around 1906, I believe.

John C. La Rue, Jr.
Bonita Springs, FL

-----Original Message-----
From: Don Burn <burn@...>
Sent: Tue, Jul 21, 2020 11:45 am
Subject: Re: [RealSTMFC] Steam Era Spray trains

On weed burners, I believe they were around before the 1940's.  See for a patent from the 1800's for a railroad weed burner.  I am trying to find the exact reference but I have a memory of interurban weed burners, that I believe were pre-WWII.

Don Burn

-----Original Message-----
From: [] On Behalf Of Douglas Harding
Sent: Tuesday, July 21, 2020 11:29 AM
Subject: Re: [RealSTMFC] Steam Era Spray trains

The M&StL converted a gas electric, GE-25, to weed spray duty in the late 50s. They added a control booth in the rear of the body with extra windows, spray arms, etc. The unit towed one or two tankcars. It was destroyed by fire in 1963. North American created a weed sprayer in the late 50s, which ran on several roads in the mid-west.

Fairmont Railway Motor Co (the speeder outfit) made weed sprayers, as well as weed burners and weed mowers. Fairmont purchased a weed mower in 1938, the Rawls Company. Their first weed burner was in the mid 40s, which took on a new duty during nasty winter in Chicago when the burner was used to "de-ice" switches in the yard. Their first weed sprayer was the late 40s. Though the little single piston engine was first developed in 1907 for ag use, including to power orchard sprayers.

I don't believe sprayers came into widespread use until weed killing chemicals known as herbicides were developed. 2, 4-D came about in WWII, and was made available after the war, but it did not kill grasses, just broad leaf plants. The next major development in weed control was atrazine in the mid-50s.

Doug Harding

-----Original Message-----
From: <> On Behalf Of csxt5555 via
Sent: Monday, July 20, 2020 12:39 PM
Subject: [RealSTMFC] Steam Era Spray trains

Can someone point me to some information on weed spraying trains of the mid 50’s?


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