A rail car mover is a vehicle capable of travelling on both roads and rail tracks, and fitted with couplers for moving small numbers of railroad cars around in a rail siding or small yard. They are extensively used by railroad customers because they are cheaper than owning a switcher locomotive, more convenient and cheaper than paying the railroad operator to do the switching, easier and more productive than manual moving of cars, and in addition they are more versatile since they can travel on road wheels to the cars they need to move, instead of needing clear track.
Some have two drive systems and drive only on steel wheels on the rail, with their rubber tires lifted out of the way, while others have only one drive system and use steel rail wheels only to guide them and use their rubber tires on the rail, in a similar fashion to HiRail trucks.
Rail car movers are fairly lightweight, so in order to gain more traction some models transfer weight from the car they are hauling onto their own wheels. Other models that employ the rubber tire drive while on the rail do not require this "weight-transfer" from the railcar.
In Europe, trucks fitted with railway wheels and coupling rods are used as rail car movers (often called towing or shunting vehicles).
Numerous manufacturers produce rail car movers. Perhaps the best known, and one of the earliest, is Trackmobile, whose name is sometimes used inaccurately as a generic term for these vehicles. Other well-known rail car mover brands in North American include Rail King and Shuttlewagon. German brands are Unimog, Zwiehoff and Zweiweg. In Italy Zephir produces rail-road shunters since 1977, both diesel and electric (battery powered).
There are two basic technologies, one is weight transfer and two rubber rail, both have advantages and disadvantages.
Cartridge Valve Manifold Makes Light Work of Lifting: Electrohydraulic Cartridge Valve Manifolds and Controls Provide Stable Transfer for Railroad Car Movers
Jun 01, 2012; [ILLUSTRATION OMITTED] Railroad cars carry huge loads, typically 250,000 lb. That capacity makes them very economical for...
Cylinders move in single file: an innovative cylinder arrangement requires almost no external plumbing.(CUSTOM CYLINDERS)
Jul 01, 2011; [ILLUSTRATION OMITTED] When a section of rail cars enters a terminal for unloading, one method of moving freight cars from one...