Object number 3003


Type:                   M.G.

Simplex manufactured more than just bicycles and rail cycles: the company also sold motorized draisines. Some of these motorized draisines (also called speeders or railcars) were so big that they looked more like a tram than a motorized hand-car.

The example in the museum’s collection is modest in size: it can accommodate a maximum of two people and is equipped with a motor that generates only 2 horsepower. Simplex had developed this model for busier stretches of rail, where there was limited time to conduct inspections and so the supervisors had to get to the site in a hurry. Its engine makes this draisine relatively heavy, so other components were built to be as light as possible in order to reduce the total weight. A brochure from Simplex therefore warns against subjecting this model to ‘careless and rough’ treatment.

This draisine was used by the Noord-Brabantsch-Duitsche Spoorweg-Maatschappij (NBDS) around 1900. The NBDS operated a single rail line that connected Boxtel in the Netherlands with Germany and was used for international trains travelling from Germany to the port of Vlissingen. When World War I broke out, however, the rail line fell into disrepair. Nearly every stretch of rail itself has since disappeared; this draisine is the only one of the company’s vehicles to have survived. It was donated to the museum in 1959.

The Simplex M.G. in this photograph was manufactured around 1920 and differs slightly from the one in the museum: it has, for example, the lighter spoked wheels, different seats and raised handles for lifting the draisine.
In this Simplex promotional photo dating from around 1920, two gentlemen demonstrate how easy it is to lift the motorised draisine onto the tracks. The men do so at the train yard of the Amsterdam Willemspark station, which used to be located in Amsterdam Zuid. From this station, local trains departed to places like Amstelveen, Uithoorn and Aalsmeer. The station was shut down in 1972; today, it serves as the initial station for a museum tram line.
In all probability, shortly after the previous photo was taken, the two gentlemen took a seat on the draisine and departed the Amsterdam Willemspoort train yard heading south. To the right of the man with the bowler hat, a signal flag mounted on the draisine is visible. This flag was used by railway officials to signal engine drivers and other people operating on the rails.
In this promotional photo from the same period, the man in the grey suit has a different travelling companion: an official of the Hollandsche IJzeren Spoorweg-Maatschappij (HSM). They are driving their motorized draisine along a canal. It is just possible to make out the frame of a gasometer through the trees.