Category Archives: Prototype

GNR Butter Van

Alan O’Rourke

 

In the days when everything went by rail, some companies found it worth while building highly specialised vehicles for perishable traffics, which attracted premium rates, even if it meant those vehicles must have spent half their time running empty. One such traffic was dairy produce, and the MGWR, GSWR and GNR all built special “butter vans.” In the era before electrical refrigeration, these vans employed various cooling mechanisms like double roofs and  multiple small vents in the body, presumably to make full use of the draft when in motion. I have not seen detailed plans of the internal layout of these designs, but I am guessing that they may have been “double-layered” with ice between two skins of planking, or may have used some sort of system where the evaporation of water from a porous surface (as in the older type of terra cotta milk or wine cooler), by taking latent heat of vaporisation from its surroundings, could effect considerable cooling.  I seem to recall a school physics experiment which demonstrated this phenomenon rather well. It involved bubbling air through ether in a copper beaker, the beaker sitting in a small pool of water on a wooden block. By the time all the ether had evaporated, the whole apparatus was so cold that the beaker was frozen to the block by a lump of ice! Alphagraphix now make a 7mm and possibly a 4mm kit for this vehicle. I am grateful to the IRRS archives and Mr Brendan Pender for access to the GNR drawing and permission to reproduce it.

GNR butter wagon

GNR butter wagon

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Lineside Details: GSWR Mileposts

Alan O’Rourke

 

Irish railways used a number of methods to mark distances: the symbolic steel sheet squares, diamonds, triangles and arrow-heads of the MGWR were probably the most original design. Other companies used metal, stone or wooden markers. The GSWR used substantial granite mileposts on its original lines, but later, and on the absorbed WLWR routes, used the smaller cast iron patterns shown here.  These diagrams come from drawing in the IRRS archives. I am grateful to the Society for permission to reproduce this and Brendan Pender for his help in accessing the archives.

Quarter-mile marker

Quarter-mile marker

 

Half- and three-quarter-mile posts

Half- and three-quarter-mile posts

Side and front elevations of the top section of a whole mile marker

Side and front elevations of the top section of a whole mile marker

Side and front elevations upright. Height from bottom surface of base plate to lower edge og the numeral plate is 3ft 4.5in

Side and front elevations upright. Height from bottom surface of base plate to lower edge og the numeral plate is 3ft 4.5in

GSWR stone milepost and cast iron quarter milepost, both from near Nenagh

GSWR stone milepost and cast iron quarter milepost, both from near Nenagh

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Station Survey: Abbeyfeale

Alan O’Rourke

 

We have already represented the North Kerry line in this series, but another station  will not come amiss, especially as elevations of the main building are to hand. Abbeyfeale station opened with the rest of the Newcastlewest-Tralee section on Dec. 20th, 1880. The original plan was for a single platform, but by July 1881,  the station was re-modelled with a passing loop and  second platform to make it suitable for crossing passenger trains. The station had a 293’ long down platform  (with a 3,530 gallon water  tank), 224’ up platform, carriage dock, a long shunting road and a crossover from the goods store to the platform road. In 1881, it acquired a Gloucester Carriage & Wagon Company signal cabin. In GSR days, staffing consisted of a station-master, clerk, two signalman, checker, porter and a guard. As with many smaller Irish stations, it really came to life for livestock traffic. Typically, for  Abbeyfeale fairs,  ten wagons were supplied in advance, with a special of another ten to twenty from Limerick about 7am, and a loaded train back to Limerick about 2pm. For bigger fairs, Limerick sent down a special of twenty-five wagons the day before, with the engine stabled at Listowel overnight, and  in the morning, there was a special from Tralee of fifteen  wagons and a buyers’ coach, and for the main Autumn fairs, which might generate three specials, there was an empty train of twenty wagons train from Limerick about 7am in the morning. If anyone wants a narrow gauge feeder, they can employ a little modeller’s licence, and conjecture that one of the numerous still born plans spawned by the 1883 Tramways Act had proved more successful. In 1884, the Abbeyfeale  & Brosna Tramway was promoted to run south from Abbeyfeale, with baronial guarantees from Glenquin in Limerick and Trughenacmy in Kerry, and in 1885 the Limerick & Kerry Light Railways and Tramway Company, prepared Bills for both Abbeyfeale-Brosna and Listowel-Ballybunion schemes. None of these ideas seems to have progressed beyond the planning stage.

The broad gauge line lost its passenger services in 1963, and Abbeyfeale closed to all traffic in November 1975, but the building is well maintained as a private residence with the water tower and platforms intact. The goods store still stands but when I walked through in 2002 was  labelled “dangerous” and the roof was beginning to decay. The town lies to the south. At the west (Tralee) end of the station, the line crossed the road north to Athea by a girder bridge, and then ran along an embankment, to cross the Oolagh River by a steel girder bridge with 40’ span,  which could provide some scope for scenic modelling, and where open-plan baseboards might help.

Details of North Kerry line locomotives, rolling stock and timetables were given in New Irish Lines, Nov, 2000. There are photographs in the O’Dea Collection in the National Photographic Archive of Ireland and Adrian Vaughan’s collection.

Abbeyfeale station above as opened, below as modified to be suitable for passing passenger trains, 1881: later additional trackwork shewn in broken lines. Line to Limerick and Newcastlewest to left of both drawings; line to Tralee to right.

Abbeyfeale station above as opened, below as modified to be suitable for passing passenger trains, 1881: later additional trackwork shewn in broken lines. Line to Limerick and Newcastlewest to left of both drawings; line to Tralee to right.

Platform Elevation

Platform Elevation

Floor Plan

Floor Plan

Section A-B

Section A-B

Bedroom Level

Bedroom Level

The elevation, plan and section are from GSWR 8″:1′ scale architectural drawings, courtesy of the IRRS. 

 

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GNR Hopper Wagons and Plough Vans

Alan O’Rourke

 

Until the end of the 19th century, the typical ballast wagon was a primitive short wheelbase vehicle, with low drop sides, leather flaps to try and keep the stone dust out of the grease-axle boxes and, possibly still, dumb-buffers. To go with these, there might be a “ballast brake van,” often derived from an even older four-wheel coach, and sometimes a sort of combined tool shed and mess hut on wheels. But, from the 1890’s, a number of companies, including in Ireland, the GSWR, MGWR and GNR(I), started to modernise their permanent way stock, introducing higher capacity steel hoppers, where instead of shovelling the ballast out of low-side wagons, it could be deposited directly onto the track through bottom doors, and also “plough vans” with steel shears underneath, which at least started the process of distributing the gravel. These drawings show the GNR designs of the period, and a very similar, but later, design for gypsum traffic. The plough vans and eighteen hoppers came from Hurst Neilson & Co. of Motherwell, and were of all-steel construction. The ballast wagons had self-discharging hoppers, which could be operated by screw mechanisms from either side.  The van had double plough-shears between the wheels, so it could operate running in either direction, a large veranda and a covered portion with stove and lockers. All this stock had vacuum and hand brakes, and oil axle-boxes. An unusual, and it seems only experimental change was the use of “GNR(I)” lettering, instead of the more usual “GNR” and later “GN,” although since this only appears on the Neilson maker’s photos, it may have been their whim, and rapidly replaced by the orthodox legend on arrival at Dundalk. Similarly, although the posed official shot shows the van running as number 120, the GNR drawing lists them as 8166 and 8167, both built in 1910, and costing £242 each. Similarly, the Neilson hoppers, all built in 1910 at £138 each, had running numbers  8097-8114. Another nine hoppers came from Pickering in 1912, at £149 each, running as 8139-8147.

GNR ballast hopper 149, a Pickering makers photo (Photo: Historical Model Railway Society Collection, no. W1007)

GNR ballast hopper 149, a Pickering maker's photo (Photo: Historical Model Railway Society Collection, no. W1007)

GNR(I) Ballast Plough & Brake Van

GNR(I) Ballast Plough & Brake Van.

At the dissolution of the GNR, UTA got fourteen of the hopper vehicles, and the remaining thirteen went to CIE, for which the following details are recorded:

GNR No: Tare (Tons-CWT-Quarters): Date brake gear altered to take standard CIE KD block:
8098
8100
8102
8104
8106
8108
8110
8112
8114
8140

7-14-0
7-10-3
7-12-2
7-17-1

7-13-1
8-2-3
7-14-3
1962
1962
1962
1961
1962
1962
1961
1962
1962
1960

 

GNR(I) 20 Ton Hopper Ballast Wagon

GNR(I) 20 Ton Hopper Ballast Wagon

 

GNR ballast plough van no. 120, a Neilson makers photo (Photo: The Locomotive Magazine & Railway Carraige & Wagon Review, January 14th 1911)

GNR ballast plough van no. 120, a Neilson maker's photo (Photo: The Locomotive Magazine & Railway Carraige & Wagon Review, January 14th 1911)

 

GNR ballast hopper no. 107, a Nielson makers photo, showing GNR(I) lettering (Photo: The Locomotive Magazine & Railway Carraige & Wagon Review, January 14th 1911)

GNR ballast hopper no. 107, a Nielson maker's photo, showing "GNR(I)" lettering (Photo: The Locomotive Magazine & Railway Carraige & Wagon Review, January 14th 1911)

The gypsum hopper drawing does not have any notes about outside builders so I assume they represent Dundalk’s adaptation of the earlier ballast hoppers. Six of these were turned out in the Second World War (or did the GNR call it the Emergency, or like the Church of Ireland prayer book for “our leaders” have different rubric for each side of the Border?).  I am assuming that these worked from Kingscourt on the MGWR, being handed over at Navan and forwarded on GNR trains to Drogheda cement factory. These vehicles were built with hand brakes only but cost had risen to £477 each (£205 wages, £235 material, £37 other charges), and the following details apply:

No: Date: Tare: Brakes Altered: Brake Screw Protection Plates Fitted:
6015
6016
6017
6018
6019
6020
Oct. 1944
Oct. 1944
Oct. 1944
Nov. 1944
Nov. 1944
Nov. 1944
8-1-1
8-1-3
8-2-0
8-2-0
8-1-3
8-1-3
Nov. 1945
Oct. 1945
Oct. 1945
Oct. 1945
Oct. 1945
Nov. 1945
Apr. 1946
Apr. 1946
May 1946


 

GNR(I) 20 Ton Hopper Wagon (Gypsum Traffic)

GNR(I) 20 Ton Hopper Wagon (Gypsum Traffic)

 

 

Reference: Anonymous (1911) New Rolling stock. Great Northern Ry. (Ireland) The Locomotive Magazine & Railway Carriage & Wagon Review 17: 22 (January 14, 1911).

I am grateful to the IRRS archives and Mr Brendan Pender for access to the GNR drawings and permission to reproduce them.

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Lineside Details: GSR and CIE Tubular Post Signals

Alan O’Rourke

 

The traditional material for signal posts was either wood or steel lattice.  However, from the 1930s onwards, several companies tried more modern ideas, typically tubular steel, and these diagrams show the CIE design, including new light-weight metal arms, as opposed to the traditional wood design, with a heavy cast iron frame for the spectacle glasses.  The design may go back to GSR days; the late William South told me he saw the first of these designs of semaphores in the Limerick area in 1938.  The design had numerous variants depending on function and position, with differing heights to suit sighting and clearance, and including brackets, junctions and signals to protect level crossings.  Until recently, these tubular post designs, gradually replacing the older wooden post signals were a ubiquitous part of the Irish railway scene, but with the spread of colour light signalling, they have become something of an endangered species themselves in the last few years.

Diagram #1: GSR/CIE tubular post signal (distant)

Diagram #1: GSR/CIE tubular post signal (distant)

Diagram #2: GSR/CIE tubular post signal (home)

Diagram #2: GSR/CIE tubular post signal (home)

Diagram #3: GSR/CIE tubular post signal

Diagram #3: GSR/CIE tubular post signal

Diagram #4: GSR/CIE tubular post signal

Diagram #4: GSR/CIE tubular post signal

Diagram #5: GSR/CIE tubular post signal

Diagram #5: GSR/CIE tubular post signal

 

I am grateful to the IRRS archives and Mr Brendan Pender for access to the CIE drawings, which seem to date from about 1956, and permission to reproduce them.

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Fond Memories

A Moyner

 

The signboard read “Rathmines & Ranelagh,” but although Rathmines was then generally as being what house-agents now describe as being “upmarket” to Ranelagh, the station was never known by any name but Ranelagh.  On any fine Saturday in summer, my father would hand me my bathing costume and a small bucket and then lead the way out through our back gate and to the lane which bordered the railway embankment, to the little wicket which admitted to Mr Walker’s nursery and a short cut to Dunville Avenue where was the station entrance.  Strategically placed outside to attract the custom of small boys was a machine by which for 1d one could emboss one’s name on a short metal strip.  No dalliance with this was allowed in our family while my father bought the tickets: “Return to Shankill please, Mr Carey.”  Mr Carey was the stationmaster, a kindly man who knew his passenger by name, and who was not offended if some over-burdoned mother asked for his help with her luggage up the long flights of wooden steps which led to the platforms.  His office was a snug one, with an iron stove glowing in the winter, and beside the hatch, carefully arranged rows of cardboard tickets for stations from Harcourt St to remote and romantic places like Woodenbridge and Wexford.  Below these was the machine which printed the date on the ticket with an impressive bang as Mr Carey stamped on the pedal.

The subway under the tracks to the down platform was well built with walls of white porcelain bricks into which were set some bearing the inscription “Ham Baker & Co, Westminster, London.”  I often wondered if this was an unusual address for a firm making porcelain bricks.  At the top of the stairs was a wooden partition with a heavy gate where “Andy” the station foreman, as attested by his cap band, checked the tickets and gave warning that the train was coming by banging the gate loudly off the paling.  This noise always caused some excitement because trains from Harcourt St were often full and it was a point of honour to get a corner seat for the half-hour journey.

Under two footbridges and past the allotments where Herton Rd was later built, we were soon in Milltown, a neat little station with a background of fields, over which there was a shortcut to the village.  Immediately, we would be high above the Dodder on the “Nine Arches” with the steaming laundry below and the view upstream to the narrow bridge and curiously named tavern the Dropping Well.  Dundrum was a busy station, larger than others: it boasted a notice “Station for St Columba’s College.”  I wonder if many of the pupils of that distant establishment travelled there by that route?  Between Dundrum and Stillorgan, we felt that we were really getting into the country, with the view to the Three Rocks, as the train toiled up alongside the reservoir, with its cut stone building perched on the embankment.  Hiding at the end was Stillorgan station, always clean and tidy, with its name showing in the evergreen topiary of a tiny box hedge beside the curve  of the granite boundry wall.  On to Foxrock & Leopardstown which could provide real excitement on race days, with horse boxes being shunted from the mainline to the numerous sidings and a dense crowd of race-goers hurrying across the long bridge which led to the course.

A quiet run then past the new houses of Torquary Rd and the lonely “Barrington’s Tower” to Carrickmines, where the blackberry bushes hung thickly over the high walls, and the station was the starting point for walks over the lark-loud golf course to Ballycorus with its secluded mill pond and wind-swept lead mine chimney.

Now came the best scenery of all, the beautiful woods and corn fields at the head of Druid’s Glen with a glimpse of old Tully Church and nearby cross on the skyline.  Then, across the Bride’s Glen viaduct to glide down to Shankill with its arboured gardens and the signalbox from which the telegraph bell tinkled softly to the background of the murmuring pigeons which always nested on the station house.  Our way was across the main road, with perhaps a warning klaxon from an infrequent motor car, then down the beautifully tree-shaded Corbawn Lane with a triumphant cry of “I can see the sea!” as we toiled up the bridge over the Killiney line, then down the broken steps to the beach.  The reason for the bucket became obvious as my father set us to collect white stones for the garden path, for there was no hope of building sandcastles on this stark beach with its foot-torturing pebbles and tiny patches of sand.  After the compulsory swim, some of our time would be spent lazing on the cliff top, from which in recent memory, the railway had retreated because of the encroaching high tides, which had battered downthe magnificent sea wall, great lumps of which still provided some shelter from the goose-pimpling breeze, which always blew on that long stretch of shingle.

Tired, and sometimes unusually sunburnt, we would start for home, perhaps up what is called “the private way” or Quinns Lane, which had a shortcut – a narrow path alongside the track to the station wall.  The up platform, with a background of a field of golden barley, had some little wooden seats built into the sheltering embankment and, far from casual eyes, a well of the cleanest, coldest water anyone knew: it was part of the ritual to drink from it with the folding aluminium cup which was brought on every picnic.  The return journey seemed to be shorter than the outward one, with that awe-inspiring dash between the echoing walls from Milltown, but we could be sure that the train would stop at Ranelagh: ever since that day, which my parents remembered, when an impetuous engine had burst its way through the end wall of Harcourt St station, all trains had to pause there, even the mainline express, giving that normally somnolent place an undeserved importance for a few moments.

 

[Editor’s note: I am grateful to David Wynne for the above material.  The author, now deceased, used the nom de plume “A Moyner” and lived all his life on Moyne Road in Ranelagh]

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CIE Four-Wheeled Bulk Cement Wagons

Robert Drysdale

 

The four-wheeled cement wagons, or “bubbles” as they are popularly known, are iconic of the modernisation of Irish Railways in the 1960s.  They are continuously popular subjects for modelling, so in this article a few observations are offered with that use in mind.  One hundred and fifty of these wagons were constructed over a period of eight years and most, I guess, are still in service.  The batch numbers are as follows:

  • 25050 – 25069 (1964)
  • 25070 – 25094 (1965)
  • 25095 – 25099 (1967)
  • 25105 – 25119 (1967)
  • 25120 – 25139 (1970)
  • 25140 – 25199 (1972)

The sub-plot of the article is about what information can be extracted from the Worldwide Web.  With the advent of the web and the digital camera many excellent images have suddenly become publicly available representing an unparalleled information source.  Of course, lacking access to the prototype, a lot of “reverse engineering” is necessary to guess how things are.  A list of websites used is given at the end of this article: if the reader is not yet computer-literate then find an internet café, order a coffee and get started!  I started this work in order to gather information for creating a rake of cement bubbles.  The only drawing I had was the one which came with an MIR kit, which is quite good.  Then I started searching the web for photographs.  What became clear quite quickly was that although these wagons may seem to be standard, there are actually subtle differences which reflect the building batches and modifications carried out in service.  These details might seem a bit too trivial for most people, but I believe that a little variation adds considerably to the realism of a rake of standard wagons.  My notes on this aspect are as below.

Detail Variations
Solebars: it seems as though these wagons have been built with the stronger springs and spring-hangers of the later four-wheeled stock, presumably reflecting their load capacity of 20 or 21 tons.  There are many variations of lifting lugs within the class, which may be two, one or none per side and presumably not necessarily the same number on both sides.  Likewise the mounting plate for these lugs may be rectangular, notched or absent and in the latter case various stiffening ribs can be seen instead.

Buffers: two types can be seen on the photographs, both massive parallel items.  One (older?) type has a smaller base plate which fits inside the open channel section buffer beam.  Note that the buffer beam is arranged with the open channel outwards.  The larger buffer is attached to an additional plate welded across the webs of the open channel.  Whearas the larger buffer has a relatively plain housing, the smaller one is lumpy with a distal bulge on each side of the housing and a flat rectangle on the top surface next to the ram.

Axleguards: most of the axleguards are solid plate items, but some photographs show the earlier fabricated type with a triangular opening on each side of the spring.  This can be seen on other wagons of the same era.

Axleboxes: on a few photographs heavily bolted wing-plates can be seen on the side of the axleboxes, while most wagons have plain wings.  Earlier wagons had a plain dished end-cover whereas most of the photographs on the web show the Timken boxes with the characteristic triangular three-bolt end plate.

Unloading Valves: on most photographs, two small yellow-painted handles emerge from holes in the solebar, which control the outlet valves from the tank.  Although the little holes seem to be provided on both solebars, the handles appear on only one side.  I can see no convention as to which solebar the handles should be on, but there seems to be about equal numbers on left and right-handed examples.

Vacuum Cylinder Covers: the cylinders are located at one end of the wagon and protrude slightly above the chassis, necessitating a chequer-plate platform for safe walking over this area.  In a large number of examples this plate has been removed, exposing the vacuum cylinders and chassis, which poses an interesting challenge for the modeller.

Unloading Pipe: at the opposite end of the wagon from the brake system is the unloading pipework.  The main unloading pipe of 6″ diameter emerges from the decking at about 60° and is provided with a loose cover, which may be either cylindrical or rectangular.

It is debatable how much variation in these details can be seen in one rake of wagons.  New wagons would probably have entered service in very uniform condition but over time modifications would have been made and the various batches would have become mingled.

Colour
According to advice gleaned from the Irish Railway Modellers web group, the bulk cement wagons have had three liveries so far.  Initially they ran in a light-to-mid grey, then were repainted into CIE orange and finally many were given the Irish Cement ivory colour.  Of course since the cement is dumped into the top hatch via a loose hose a lot spills over the tank and ditto for the unloading platform.  Given some rain this cakes nicely and holds track dust providing a glorious spectrum of very off-white to brown colours, interspersed with patches of virgin white where the cake has flaked off.  Many tanks show a haze of light brown over the lower half of the tank suggesting track dirt and/or rust.  A competition for the most realistically painted and weathered cement bubble would be in order!

Operating Practice
We are told we should try to run our model railways realistically, so with that in mind it is worth examining the photographs for operational purposes.  I have read various opinions about how many wagons rakes consist of, namely 12 wagons per rake originally later increasing to 20.  Photographs of an unloading operation at Adelaide show the wagons arranged in pairs, i.e. with the unloading pipes towards each other.  Presumably this is to allow the unloading pipes to be transferred easily from one wagon to the second.  However, most photographs show a more irregular order, presumably after some shunting.  Despite the apparent complexity, the air unloading system allows unloading the wagon into a lorry-mounted tank, which must be equipped with a suitable air blower.  Thus a large unloading installation is unnecessary and cement can be delivered at a simple siding – see the example at Waterside, page 66 in Ulster Transport in Colour by Derek Young.

For completeness I should mention my understanding of how the unloading system works, based on the information available for BR’s Presflow wagons.  “Fluidised bed” is common in industry to make a heavy mass of powder behave like a fluid by pumping high pressure air through it.  The bottom of the cement tank is formed into two cones and it seems most likely that compressed air is injected into each via some sort of distributor ring (I’m guessing here) to fluidise the cement in the bottom of each cone.  When the valve on the bottom of a cone is opened, the cement flows out into the large diameter unloading pipe, which emerges up through the decking of the unloading platform and into the unloading hose of the terminal or truck.  The instructions for the Presflow state that the pipe-work must be purged with air before opening the cement valves in order to clear any water which has collected in the system, which seems wise.  Loading is via the large hatch on top of the tank, most likely by gravity and since this is not a closed system, spilllage occurs.

If any reader is able to shed more light on my observations I would be very glad to receive them on merlin-x@online.no.

 

Reference Websites For Photographs
onirishrailways2.fotopic.net/c948803.html
railsceneireland.fotopic.net/c1365051.html
irishrailciefreightandrollingstockpics.fotopic.net/c1494361.html

[We hope to have scale drawings of these characteristic vehicles in a future issue. Ed]

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