Copyright © 2018 Texas Bells and Whistles.  All Rights Reserved.      Austin, TX     (737) 777-0070

What makes our trains the best?

We know trains. We’ve been operating railroad entertainment for almost 20 years and we run what we build so we know what works and what doesn't. And we keep improving what works until we know it's perfect. The frustrations and difficulties we experienced in our early years are what pushed us to where we are today.
The initial motivation for us to develop our electric locomotive was to eliminate the heat, the noise, and the smell of the engine in our original gasoline-hydraulic locomotive. It was really obnoxious and our passengers didn’t like it either. It was insulting to hear parents tell their kids not to sit close to the engine because “it stinks up there” and it doubly hurt to know they were right. We had constant overheating problems, oil and grime was everywhere, and the controls felt awkward and sloppy.
Sound familiar?
So we set out to create a 100% electric drive that would outperform any internal combustion system in pulling-power, range, relaibility, and cost of ownership, and it had to fit in the space we had. Years of research and testing led us through a few imperfect solutions, but each step took us closer to the jewel we have now.
Our advanced technology traction drive uses a high torque A/C motor and sophisticated industrial motor controller coupled with a silent direct-connect axle drivebox and multi-button joystick to provide precise one-handed fingertip control of all drive and regen braking operations.
The result is clean, smart, and very powerful.
So when you're disappointed by the old standard, bulky, loud, inauthentic machines from the typical train supplier trying to masquerade their bulldozer as a steam locomotive, they may tell you "sorry, that's just how it is." 
Well, partner...,     it's not that way anymore.
Our electric drive offers standard safety enhancements that are simply beyond what any internal combustion locomotive can offer.
Our programmable motor controller allows the locomotive to be limited to a top speed. That’s nice…, but it goes beyond that. The controller limits the locomotive to that top speed even when heading downhill and automatically brakes the locomotive to stay below that speed without any action from the operator. Really nice.
But wait, there’s more!
When the train stops, the controller will hold the locomotive in position with no action from the operator… even on a hill!
And there’s even more!!
We also program our locomotives with a “dead-man” feature to automatically slow to a full stop in 30 seconds when the controls are released to avoid a dreaded runaway train.
And beyond the amazingly cool features of our programmable electric drive, our locomotives also:
  • Are ASTM compliant
  • Use safe Lithium-Iron-Phosphate battery cells
  • Include triple-mode (electric, pneumatic, and mechanical) fail-safe brakes
  • Include video monitoring/recording of rearward passenger areas
Economical operation is key for any business investing in railroad entertainment. Small and frequent costs add up quickly and extended labor for unplanned maintenance and repairs can wreck your bottom line without warning. Long-lived and reliable equipment is the key to productivity and profitability.
You need to pull passengers on schedule so instead of expecting you to recharge your batteries multiple times just to get through the day, we provide equipment that runs reliably on its own from start to finish on one full charge. Charging batteries overnight at a moderate charge rate is best for battery chemistry and promotes longer battery life. Also, many utility companies charge lower rates during off-peak hours so additional economy is gained by avoiding frequent daytime station charging.
Battery life is basically measured in number of times they can be recharged, or “cycled.” The Lithium-Iron-Phosphate battery cells we use are warranted for 2,000 charge cycles which is nearly 6 years if charge-cycled 365 days a year, or almost 11 years if charged every other day.
Our charge system is also fully packaged on-board so all you do is plug your locomotive into a standard 120V outlet to charge it. No additional bulky, expensive external charger or special track wiring is needed in your maintenance shop or station.
Labor cost savings with our electric locomotives is a huge benefit for your operation. Consider the time spent:
  • Refueling (and managing fuel storage)
  • Removing and replacing body panels
  • Changing engine/hydraulic oil and filters
  • Troubleshooting/replacing spark plugs, belts, and chains
  • Cleaning up oily, grimy residues from just about everywhere
  • Medical expenses for burns and cuts received while working in tight spaces
  • Walking the track to apply grease to curves by hand
We also minimize maintenance time needed to re-lubricate by using sealed-for-life axle bearings. You don't spend time lubing and everything stays much cleaner that way too!
Our manufacturing process uses leading fabrication technology to produce reliable and repeatable quality in every part.
High quality steel and aluminum is precisely cut to dimension with automated laser and water-jet machines.
CNC-controlled equipment handles tasks such as milling and turning.
Each sub-assembly is inspected by hand before it is allowed to proceed to powder-coat painting and final assembly.
The end result is a high-performing locomotive built to last for decades.
With a tractive effort of nearly 2,000 pounds, our Brazos locomotive can pull 6 fully loaded coaches up a 3% grade.
Our hardened 4140 steel wheels are crafted with a specialized profile designed to minimize wear and drag resulting in less maintenance and greater operating range.
We offer three power levels in our locomotives to suit your needs.
  • Our 13.8 KWh power package is designed to pull 6 coaches for 28 miles on one full charge
  • Our  27.7 KWh power package is designed to pull 6 coaches for 55 miles on one full charge
  • Our 41.5 KWh power package is designed to pull 6 coaches up to 85 miles on one charge! 
So, let’s say your track run is 2.5 miles on flat grade. That means you can run a fully-loaded train 34 times on just one charge.
That’s almost 13 hours!
Our locomotives offer spacious seating and ergonomically adjustable controls in a protected cab so you and your drivers can operate all day and all year in comfort.
No more sunburns!
Useful on-board features allow your operators to stay comfortably seated inside while they address track issues with the push of a button.
  • The on-board track sander remotely applies sand to the drive wheels for quick traction control.
  • Grease can be instantly applied to selective sides of a track curve to reduce drag and wear on wheel flanges – very useful for increasing your operating range.
And with that nice roomy cab, you can safely offer an Engineer for a Day program or earn higher ticket revenue for VIPs riding up in special-access seating with the engineer.
To be compatible with most existing equipment, we build our locomotives to 24-inch gauge, the most common narrow-gauge track dimension used in parks and zoos for railroad entertainment.
But with all this power and capability, you might think our locomotives are huge beasts that would never fit in the space you have. You may be surprised to find that our Brazos locomotive is only 12’-5” long from pilot to step, 6’-4” tall from railhead to the tip of the whistle, and 3’-5” wide at the cylinders. That is well within the dimensions of the common park train locomotive and actually gives you a little room back.
Our locomotives are also be easily adapted to connect with your rolling stock to control brakes, lights, and audio as needed.
Every day, you will likely hear from your customers: “is this a real steam locomotive?” For us, that’s the ideal complement and you will love hearing it too.
We focus on building a locomotive that is safe and simple to operate, pleasing to the eye (and ears and nose), and dependably productive for your business. We don’t sell boxes on wheels with lawnmower engines. We build stunning and affordable equipment for you to create great memories for kids of all ages. Our trains look, move, and sound like the opulent full-size beauties that roamed the earth over a century and a half ago, and your passengers will notice.