The three wheeled "Mechanical Horse" with it's trailer was a common type of vehicle from the 1930s until the 1960s delivering and collecting goods from railway depots and customers . During the early 1930s the cost to the railway companies of looking after thousands of horses and wagons that were used for local deliveries was becoming increasingly expensive. An alternative petrol vehicle was sought that could haul a similar size trailer to that of the standard railway horse drawn delivery wagon but with much greater efficiency. The L.M.S. railway developed with the Karrier company the "Karrier Cob" powered by a twin cylinder engine this vehicle is shown above and could pull a 3 tonne trailer. Many of the early trailers were in fact old horse drawn wagons with just the shafts for attaching the horse removed. These trailers could be easily coupled directly under the carts front axle due to the small diameter of the Cobs rear wheels fitted incidentally with solid rubber tyres. When the vehicles were first introduced the driver had to get out of the cab and use the long lever shown in the picture above to perform the uncoupling. In later versions the driver could perform this function without need for the driver to leave his cab. A trailer could be left for unloading or loading whilst another was hauled by the same driver and "mechanical horse."
The Meccano model, as you can see in the picture above, depicts this
vehicle very well, and is almost identical to a popular
Dinky Toys model introduced in 1936, see picture at bottom of the page. The Meccano model first appeared
the following year in the number 6 and 5a manuals. The Dinky Toys model
outlived the Meccano version by many years the version shown on the
right is from the late 1950s but used the same casting as when
introduced many years before.
L.N.E.R. poster below shows what must have been at that time, "state of
the art" handling of goods traffic in Manchester with Karrier Cob mechanical horse,
overhead gantry cranes and mobile cranes at work.
I photographed the prototype "Karrier Cob" Mechanical Horse at The national Railway Museum York June 2004. The vehicle behind is the Hindle Smart Jen-Helecs battery electric mechanical horse.
The Poster is on display at Mangapps Railway Museum Burnham on Crouch, Essex. June 08 2005
Photograph of L.N.E.R. Dinky Toys version is courtesy of Jacques Dujardin MECCANO DINKY-TOYS encyclopedia
Page revised May 18 2015