The first standard gauge locomotive was produced in 1919. Tramcars and railcars continued to be produced, but standard and narrow gauge locomotive manufacture dominated in the 1920s. The first discussions about diesel locos took place in about 1928. The directors appreciated the benefits of the new form of power unit and were investigating the offerings of various suppliers, including Lister, Ailsa Craig, McLaren, MAN and Dorman. Although some early locos used other types, by far the most successful was the Dorman 2HW (later 2DW and 2DWD). In a shrewd business move, Motor Rail negotiated an exclusive licence to use this engine in their locomotives. This proved particularly important when competitors started trying to make pirate copies of Simplex locos. Diesel conversion kits were also supplied to existing petrol loco customers, allowing the economy benefits of a diesel to be realised in the early bent frame Tractors. The production of diesel locos once again boosted demand and the production numbers that had settled down to about 100 per year after the war started to rise again in the mid thirties. The War Department also placed orders in the Second World War, generally for the 20/28 B.H.P. type, although this time the locos were mainly used in Army depots and the like. Many of these locos remained in store until the end of the War, once again being sold into industry as war surplus. Once again, a number of these were bought back for “reconstruction,” although in practice this could amount to little more than a fresh coat of paint.
Advertisement from the 1950s.
In 1939, the company introduced a completely new product, the Motor Rail Dumper. This utilised the same Dorman twin cylinder engine and clutch arrangement as the locos, together with a similar Dixon Abbott gearbox. Dumpers were also made available for hire.
A Motor Rail dumper.
A Change of Name
In 1931, the directors decided to change the name of the company from Motor Rail & Tram Car Co. Ltd. to Motor Rail Ltd. The name was officially changed by the Registrar of Companies and certified as such on 16th April 1931. George Gale, the surviving company founder, died in January 1942. He had been company secretary since the establishment of the firm in 1911. Joint general manager Alexander Harris-Brown resigned in 1945 on the grounds of ill health, leaving Tom Dixon Abbott in sole charge.