Tag Archives: irish

News and Views

Peter Swift writes from Derby, with more information following last time’s editorial:

You suggest that Bonds had moved out of London during the war. They were certainly still in Euston Road when I was at University in London in the early 1960s, on the south side of Euston Road near the top of Tottenham Court Road. They may have started the Midhurst premises during the war and then retreated to it again in the 1970’s when London prices drove them out. Re the “oldest model making company” title, I think Bassett Lowke win the British title but there were certainly earlier ones in Germany. As Historical Model Railway Society (HMRS) Archivist, I have access to a wide collection of material including model company catalogues* in the HMRS collection, and also working and public timetables, as well as many other working instructions etc for the railways, which are listed in the open access part of the HMRS website hmrs.org.uk. Unfortunately, there are not many Irish items.

*Peter has kindly provided me with a list of these, some undated, but going back to 1912, and including other pioneers such as the Leeds Model Co and Mills Brothers. If anyone wants more details, they can contact Peter at: archivist@hmrs.org


Amsies Models have recently added vinyl overlays for Irish mark 2 coaches to their N and 00 ranges. More designs will follow if sales show there is a demand for these products. Amsies Models, 1 Burgundy Gardens, Burnt Mills, Basildon, Essex SS13 1NP Tel: 01268 470712 Mobile: 07534 211694 E-mail: paul.amestoy@blueyonder.co.uk Website: http://www.amsiesmodels.co.uk/index.htm


Patrick O’Sullivan sends the following notes on these overlays:  
These are a new venture into the world of model railway for Paul and Victoria Amsie, and cover coaches in 4mm, 3.5mm and N-Gauge/2mm. with various liveries to suit ready-to-run vehicles.   The overlays can be produced in any livery regardles of how complicated it is, and made to suit the customer’s donor coach.  The finished colours are in good, strong colours and look superb.  Any Irish coach livery can be provided to suit the customer’s requirements, in any of the standard scales, i.e. 4mm, 3.5mm, 2mm, and N-Gauge, and with the required livery, and running numbers etc. The vinyl overlays are best suited to modern flat sided vehicles, having said that there is no reason that they could not be adopted for raised sided coaches, if one is prepared to file off the raised detail, stick on the self-adhesive vinyl overlay and then glue on pre-painted strips. This seems to be a big break through in the world of model railways, especially for those of us who model Irish rolling stock.  I have no doubt  that, while this is a new product, it will transform railway modelling.  Having seen this product first hand, I have no doubt that with a bit of forward thinking that overlays for  Irish private owner wagons could be produced. Paul is going to forward me some samples to review, and once I have done this I will post my findings and include a copy for the next editon of New Irish Lines. A full demonstration of the technique of vinyl overlays with photographs is available on Paul’s website at  http://www.amsiesmodels.co.uk 

Patrick has also come across a new photographic collection, and is at present sifting through the Irish section: Transport Treasury,  Logie Shannoch, Drumrossie, Insch, Aberdeenshire AB52 6LJ Tel: 01464-820717 Mobile: 07867 645410 E-mail: info@transporttreasury.co.uk Website: http://www.transporttreasury.co.uk/ 


David White (Whiteeno@aol.com)  writes from Scotland:
Perth Model Railway Club to go Irish: The members of Perth Model Railway Club (Scotland) have decided to commission two new model railway layouts. One of the two new layouts to be built by the members of Club will be an Irish model railway. The Club made their decision to have something different after they viewed a range of Irish rolling stock owned by David White who lives in nearby Newburgh, Fife. David owns a variety of Irish rolling stock allowing him to run trains from 1945 through to today. The building of this new layout will commence in July 2008, its first showing is expected to be at the Perth 2009 Exhibition. Would any Irish Club be interested in exhibiting at Perth in 2009?


Ciarán Cooney (e-mail: harcourtstation@gmail.com) writes:
I was photographing some West Clare Railway stations a few weeks ago, and I photographed one at Blackweir, which strangely featured some pre-1950s style road signs. I recall in the newsletter you sent me a while ago an article written by a modeller, Doncha Cronin, regarding these type of road signs, and whether any were in existence today. I just thought I should inform you as he and possibly others may find the photos of use  which I took. You can view them on this link on the website: http://eiretrains.com/Photo_Gallery/B/Blackweir/A&Bindex.html


These two pictures from Tony Hewitt (hewittht@tiscali.co.uk) show a model of Schull & Skibereen Railway no. 4 which he has built from various woods, ranging from 1mm plywood upwards. The wheels are made from ash, two varieties of mahogany and cocktail sticks Smaller components are turned on a lathe, and there are some brass parts for the cow-catcher and smoke-box fittings. The builder tells me he became a grandfather while building the model, and the latest addition to his family also rejoices in the name Erin!


Recent writings on Irish railways include:Anonymous (2008) Red Line: longer trams, shorter line Tramways & Urban Transit 71(848): 294, 295 [news paragraph and photograph]

Anonymous (2008) TRAM Power proposes trams for Galway Tramways & Urban Transit 71(848): 296 [news paragraph]

Pulling N (2008) LUAS gets to The Point Tramways & Urban Transit 71(846); 216-7 (June) [includes photos of work at Sandyford]

Pulling N (2008) Dublin Expansion Tramways & Urban Transit 71(850): 376 [LUAS extension]Heritage Rail May-June 2008 CDR goes for Barnesmore

Jones B, Fearn D (2008) Ireland on the move. Rail no. 596: 46-52 (July 16-29

Flanagan C (2008) The Green Pullman Railway Modeller 59: 489 (July) [00 gauge model]For any one trying to find items listed in the IRRS bibliographies from  Linkline magazine, try the following website: http://www.businessandfinance.ie/client-publishing/ClientPublishingNewsletter.htm

For any N-gauge Irish modellers, there are now alternative and complementary group on MSN and Yahoo, so you can join in the debate whatever your preference for on-line groups:


Other potentially useful websites are:Ernie’s Irish Railway Photos: http://erniesirishrailwayphotos.fotopic.net/Irish station photographs: http://eiretrains.com/Stations_index.htmIrish  Model Railways: http://www.irishrailwaymodels.com/


Following Doncha Cronin’s picture of an Italian version of the CIE G-class (May issue, p.26 ), it seems that there may have been an Iberian branch of the family as well. I took the above photo at the railway museum at Gijon, in Northern Spain earlier this year: the museum has a fascinating collection of broad and narrow gauge and industrial equipment and is well worth a visit. This machine is Deutz no. 57706, built 1964, type B, DH, 140HP 20tons weight, eight cylinders, and it shunted private sidings in the nearby Trubia armaments factories. It runs on the Spanish broad gauge of 5’ 6” (1670mm).


Following Doncha Cronin’s picture of an Italian version of the CIE G-class (May issue, p.26 ), it seems that there may have been an Iberian branch of the family as well. I took the above photo at the railway museum at Gijon, in Northern Spain earlier this year: the museum has a fascinating collection of broad and narrow gauge and industrial equipment and is well worth a visit. This machine is Deutz no. 57706, built 1964, type B, DH, 140HP 20tons weight, eight cylinders, and it shunted private sidings in the nearby Trubia armaments factories. It runs on the Spanish broad gauge of 5’ 6” (1670mm). Foxrock Models first two kits for the Cork, Blackrock & Passage Railway brake van and open goods wagon are both now available (see may issue, p. 29). Both kits are also suitable for use in CIE days on the CLR section. The resin bodies and etched underframes are very well produced, and there is an excellent detailed instruction sheet including prototype information, and these should prove ideal modelling projects for the lengthening winter evenings for Irish narrow gauge modellers. The brake van kit costs £17 and the open wagon £15, both inclusive of postage there is a 10% discount on multiples of five kits.  Orders should be sent to Simon de Souza at: Foxrock Models, 7 Ennerdale Road, Reading, Berkshire, RG2 7HH (e-mail: simon.desouza@btinternet.com), cheques payable to “Simon de  Souza.” Simon has plans for future kits for  the Cavan and Leitrim open wagon and  milk-van/brake van, but clearly investing the time in producing these will depend on sales for the first two kits showing that this is a viable market.


A group has formed with the objective of opening a preserved 5′ 3″ gauge line in the Republic of Ireland. Some of you may recall that in a previous editorial, I posed the question of which former lines might support such a scheme. For further details see:  http://www.heritagerailway.ie/index.html


Alistair Rolfe of No Nonsense Kits has re-introduced the cast ends for the GNR(I) AEC railcars (at £7-50 per pair) and cosmetic bogie sides (at £4-00 for four bogie sides i.e. enough for one vehicle, but will need an etched frame to produce a running bogie) from the old MTK moulds. The ends seem closer to the later CIE push-pull versions of these vehicles, but can be cleaned up to the original GNR form. It appears that these components complement the Worsley etches for these vehicles, and the cast ends may be easier to use than shaping the ends from the etched parts, although the inner end was (we think!) flat  and may be easier to make from brass than to clean up the MTK casting, which was copied from the GW Collett suburban Bow-end (without steps). However, Alistair can supply these at £5 per pair if bought with the cab fronts. Most of the MTK Irish locos are currently being re-tooled, as a mixture of etchings and castings. They should be re-released over the next few years and NNK is developing a six-wheel mechanism which will provide the correct wheelbase for the larger locos. For four-wheel bogies they suggest Black Beetles. All kits will be suitable for 21mmgauge. The MTK Irish coach kits were usually aluminium body shells with cast ends, though the Park Royals, and Mk.II air-conditioned stock were etched. The Dart was also etched, with cast ends, though much of the tooling is a bit too rough to re-use. Unfortunately it is not practical (or viable) to produce short runs of aluminium-bodied kits, while the tooling for the etched body shells is very scruffy. It is not expensive to replace the artwork for the etchings, but if re-drawing it would make sense to get everything right. So, at present Alistair trying to gather information on the rolling stock, with a view to releasing complete kits, but there are some technical limitations to what can be done for the moment. He hopes to expand his machine-tool range  to produce pre-formed body shells to the correct dimension, but this depends on a number of things, including finance and any specific demands from modellers may push specific items up the  priority  “to do”  list!

P&P to the UK is £2 for orders up to £20, 10% thereafter. P&P to Eire is a little more, and will be advised on ordering. No Nonsense Kits now has a PayPal account, and can accept on-line payments: this should save the cost of Sterling bank drafts etc. for customers in the Republic. Otherwise, payment is by cheques or Postal Orders,  crossed, payable to “No Nonsense Kits.” Contact details: No Nonsense  Kits, PO Box 1009, Cardiff CF23 7YB Tel. 029 2031 7212 E-mail:  nnk.website@ntlworld.com Website: http://www.nnkits.co.uk/


Worsley’s latest etchings are for the Schull & Skibereen Railway: http://www.worsleyworks.com. Etched sides for the GSR Pullman cars are expected shortly.


Denis Bates writes from Aberystwyth with further information on two items in the last issue: 

GNR (I) Drovers’ vans: I’ve actually made a model of No.3, using the photo of 1957, and the line drawings, which I got from Tony Miles. Interesting that the doors say “drovers” although there are no side windows, nor the pot lamps on the roof. Does the inscription mean that they were still being used for drovers at that date? The differences between the two are interesting also. No.3 has wooden frames, and the outside vertical pillars extend down over the solebars. Nos.97 and 98 have steel frames, and the bodies are wider. Tare weight is greater at 15T. 

UTA rail tractor: I have vague memories of one of these. I think it was actually built on a coach bogie, and didn’t have a “cab”. I think it was also used for a “goods train” – pulling a single wagon of coal from Queen’s Quay to Hollywood for a coal merchant based in the goods yard. I was in Sullivan Upper School there at the time. 

[from Bill Scott’s new book on NCC locos, p. 165, it seems that when NCC railcar no. 2, built 1934, was withdrawn in 1954, the chassis and engines were used to make two of these tractors. Ed]


Another supplier of card kits for Irish narrow gauge wagon bodies is Hamlin Industries, 79 Harlington Road, Hillingdon, Middlesex UB8 3HY 

Web-site:  http://www.hamlinindustries.com/


I am grateful to our member Jim Fogarty for the following more direct link to the An Post die-cast models, and specifically the Morris LD150: 


In addition to his gazetteer mentioned on p. 32 of the May issue, Ralph Rawlinson now also has produced A ‘Register of Closed Railways’ which is on line at: http://www.closedlines.free-online.co.uk/index.htm


As many will know, the very useful SSM range of kits and components has been in limbo for some time, but we now have good news from our member Des Sullivan:

SSM under New Ownership
I am delighted to formally announce that I have taken over Studio Scale Models from Paul Green as of last July.  A big thank you is owed to Paul as he has been most supportive and understanding in helping to get a handle on the various elements of the business.  The entire range will be re-released, with all instructions revised and updated (over time), fully sprung buffers on the larger engine kits and transfer packs comprising of numbering, lining and crests or icons as appropriate. Some of the models will not be available right away (T2, SG and brake van) as I need to get moulds remade for some of the castings, but I will be accepting pre-orders for these.  Prices will be finalised in the weeks to come. The full range is as follows:

GSWR/GSR/CIE J15 0-6-0 tender engine
GNR(I) S class 4-4-0 tender engine
GNR(I) SG class 0-6-0 tender engine
GNR(I) T2 4-4-2T
MGWR E class/CIE J26 0-6-0T

GSWR six-wheeled five coach set
GNR(I)/CIE K15 open third bogie coach
GNR(I)/CIE L12 bogie brake third coach

GNR(I)/CIE 20-ton brake van
GSWR/GSR/CIE convertible wagon
MGWR/CIE convertible wagon

GNR(I)/CIE 57′ or 60′ coach underframe
GNR(I)/CIE elliptical coach roof
GNR(I)/CIE coach castings pack
GNR(I) fishbelly bogie sides
Etched W-irons and brake gear

Contact me on dezsullivan@eircom.net or write to me at: 5 Radharc na hInse, Ballybeg, Ennis, Co. Clare.


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Locomotive Portrait: Cork, Bandon & South Coast Railway B4 Locomotive

Graham Bridle


I have liked the look of this loco ever since I took a greater interest in Irish railways. I know of no kits but Alan kindly sent me some 4mm and 7mm drawings. At the time I was modelled in 4mm.  I built a chassis for a B4 in 4mm but before I got any further I was at a small local show that was run by Gauge 0 Guild members. Although many scales were there, I was taken with gauge 0, which suited my eyes and ten thumbs better.  So I changed scales. I made a loco from an etched kit and bought a brass pannier, yes I know not Irish but GWR is next best! I also decided to go with the flow and stick to 32mm gauge using C&L products.  I decided to scratch build a B4. I made many mistakes as I went along for I am not good at working out all the pitfalls first. The chassis I built first and I will at some time make another.  I tried full spring suspension but found making sure all was level difficult. I had made the frames from too thick nickel silver and found the gearbox too wide. I fixed the axle bushes and after some filing it fitted. But I forgot to reassemble on the jig so the running was poor. I think I stripped and reassembled four  times, but it does run. The other main problem was with the bogie. Getting the right tension was difficult and I wonder if I should have used a swivel on a pivot set back.

The footplate and body were easier. The tank sides and cab were cut and soldered together to make sure they were symmetrical. There are flanges on the bottoms with captive screws so that the cab and tanks plus the boiler can be dismantled from the footplate separately although I now think this is not necessary. I invested in a riveter and roller.  Rolling the boiler was not too difficult, the riveting monotonous and not easy to maintain a line if a reversal in the riveter had to be done.  I do not have a lathe so I spoke to Laurie Griffin (Miniatures ). I sent the drawings to him and he did a good match with the boiler fittings. The chimney is not quite right but as all are screwed on I could change it if I find a better match. The boiler door also came from him and the darts.  Other proprietary fittings such as the buffers, jack, and couplings were picked up at trade shows. The sand boxes I made and are also screwed on. The coupling rods I think were universal ones from Slaters laminated at the right length.

My painting expertise is not brilliant but it will pass my inspection and as it is intended for my attic this is okay. The detail is not totally accurate because I noticed things after I had soldered up (e.g. the buffer mountings should be round and the bunker is not quite right) but overall I am pleased.  This has taken me several years to complete and I have enjoyed doing it. My better half said it was wonderful (honest!) but then it keeps me out of her way for many an hour. I bought a MGWR J26 kit on e-bay which will be my next engine. I do like the lines of the Neilson and Dubs engines supplied to the CB&SCR but I have no drawings. Anybody out there have any?

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Scratch Building a CIE Cement Bubble

Des Sullivan


Prior to its gradual demise, the freight section of  Irish Rail produced some very distinctive and unique rolling stock that just begs to be scratch built.   We have also been blessed that MIR has provided several quality kits in the past few years to recreate them.   The cement bubble has been one of these. However, when I decided to build an eleven to twelve  unit rake of them over twelve months ago, the euro-exchange rate at the time proved to be something of a disincentive.  I also wanted to capture some of the finer detailing that the existing kit as seen from the photo on Steve Johnson’s site didn’t seem to cover.  Since having built them, the euro has strengthened significantly and the kit has been superbly revised (what with a very solid new resin casting of the bubble and gangway and ladder brass etchings).  Oh well, c’est la vie.  I was fortunate in having the opportunity to photograph several of them at the old container sidings in Limerick station which revealed the finer detailing and colouring that would add to building a suitable model.

The basis for most 20’ four wheel CIE freight stock is the Dapol C043 cement wagon.  The distinctive springs, spring hangers and brake levers are all well captured on this model.  Also, because it is a plastic kit, there is much more “depth” to the brake mechanism than one would get with a single piece RTR moulding.  The dimensions are a little out, given that the model is a OO/HO hybrid, but this is really of minor importance compared to the abundance of chassis detailing.  Finally, there are several parts in the C043 kit that with minor alteration can be used to provide the extra detailing needed for the rest of the model.

Parts Needed
To build one you will need the following:
  • CO43 kit
  • Two Kinder Eggs – not the hinged type (yes, there are more than one) but the one with the two shells.
  • Guitar string (a light gauge “A” string).
  • A paper lollypop stick (c. 3.6mm diameter).
  • Transfer set (details later).
  • 0.35mm styrene sheeting 30mm x 80mm.
  • Scrap of net curtain material or K & S etched mesh 3/64 diamond.
  • Flexible 0.6mm wire.
  • Milliput.
  • Ratio signal ladder pack (#451).
  • Paint (beige, black, grey, white).

Chassis Construction
First, completely pare back and remove the raised rim on the wagon floor plate (part 6) using a sharp knife or blade.

Scribe and then remove the central part between the two holes.  I drill out several 6mm holes to make this easier.

Chamfer the straight sides of the hole at 45° to make for maximum surface and gluing contact between the bubble/egg and the base.

Construct the chassis as detailed in the Dapol instructions, make sure any flash or mould lines are pared and sanded back.  The main focus of these is at the buffer sides.

Remove the moulded chain from the end hooks prior to fitting as it will impede the coupling bars otherwise.

Widen out the wheels on the axles ever so slightly (0.2-0.3mm). Drill two holes on either side of the frames for the levers.

Base Detailing
The hole left after removing the central section of the plate is too long and will leave a gap at either side when the egg is put in place.  You will need to construct a new wagon floor sheet from styrene sheet that the bubble can sit into, see the adjacent diagram for the appropriate dimensions. 

Remember, fit-check-pare and repeat until a precise fit is got prior to gluing.  Then glue down the sheet onto the original chassis top.  It will take a bit of time, but once done properly, constructing another ten or fourteen can be done with assembly-line ease.   I made a stencil from styrene and used it to draw out and cut the other eleven chassis sheet covers once I was happy with the final dimensions.

Identify the plate (part 44).  This has raised diagonal detailing that matches the prototype closely.   Cut to size by removing paler material as shown in the attached diagram and remove the nodge on the top.  Fit at one end of the  wagon floor sheet, opposite of where the ladders will be.

Construct the cement pipes from chopped up parts 55 and 56.  Mark and drill 0.8mm holes in the floor sheet at the other end (opposite to where plate is on)  and fit.  Bend and then glue some 0.6mm wire to the back. Cut a 5mm length of lollypop stick at a 45° angle using a sharp knife, and mount near the pipes as shown.

Making the Bubble
One of the delights of scratch building this model is that the bog standard Kinder Egg is an almost exact scale replica of the bubble in terms of the hemispherical ends.    It does require lengthening and this is done as follows.Take a male section of one egg and carefully cut off the outer 4mm of the rim.  This is easy enough to do as the egg wall has a thin channel or groove here to act as a cutting guide.

Take the other egg and roughen the ends with sandpaper and then shape a small piece of Milliput so as to round the ends.  I recommend dampening the Milliput , applying to the egg end and then shaping it in the palm of your hand.  Leave to dry overnight. 

Fit the second egg ends together as shown and use the cut off piece from the donor egg (!!) to fill out the gap.  If the rim piece is cut carefully, it should be a perfect fit.  Glue the three pieces together.  Note that the plastic used does not take glue very well (even Superglue) so handle carefully.  It may be worth trying a more full-bodied epoxy glue though I haven’t done this to date. Glue the egg to the chassis base.  Glue some lead window strip underneath to add weight and ballast.

Other Detailing

Fit the manhole cover (part 51) as the Bubble cap.

Bend and glue the guitar wire as vacuum pipe.

The gangway can be made from net-curtain mesh (or K&S etched mesh) with a thin rim of styrene sheet .  Use double thickness styrene triangles as gangway supports and glue to the side of the bubble.

The ladder included in the kit is perfect, but there is only one in each kit!  I suggest Ratio signal ladder as an alternative.  It is also a little finer in scale. 

Fit the manhole cover (part 51) as the Bubble cap.

Bend and glue the guitar wire as vacuum pipe.

The gangway can be made from net-curtain mesh (or K&S etched mesh) with a thin rim of styrene sheet .  Use double thickness styrene triangles as gangway supports and glue to the side of the bubble.

The ladder included in the kit is perfect, but there is only one in each kit!  I suggest Ratio signal ladder as an alternative.  It is also a little finer in scale.

Given that a rake of fifteen  will probably remain permanently connected, for added realism I suggest using the coupling provided for the end wagons, and very light gauge wire loop glued to the hooks to connect each of the interim wagons.

Note: I will be producing a brass etch of the gangway and supports as an all-in-one bendable unit as an alternative to the above.  It will also include the ladders.  This should be available in January 2009.*

Painting and Transfers
Painting offers a few challenges as the model has had several liveries, including orange and beige.  However for the last decade and more, most of them are an interesting mottled shade of greyish white with algae green streaks.  The chassis originally was black but is now usually a non-descript grey-brown. If you are going to be building or repainting any volume of models,  I strongly recommend purchasing a good quality air brush, such as an Iwata HP-CS and a mini-compressor.  These can be got for quite good value off eBay.  The simple reason is you can paint a brace of kits in a matter of minutes using diluted acrylic paint with a smooth, uniform coat that covers even the most inaccessible parts, dries quickly and allows repainting almost immediately.

Paint the model in the following order:

  • Paint the entire kit in white primer.
  • Spray-paint the chassis and wheels in a lightish grey brown.
  • Spray the bubble beige (mask as necessary).
  • Fit the “Broken Circle” and cement decals. I made up my own stencil type transfers of the CIE circle, “Cement,” model numbers and wheel inspection dates. Contact me if you are interested in sets of these.*
  • From overhead, use a criss-cross alternating mixture of white and primer grey to get a non-uniform finish approximating to ten years of cement coating. Another option is to spray a thin mist of water and then sprinkle minute amounts of fresh dry Polyfilla powder through a very fine sieve to get the layered cement look.
  • Bend and attach the side levers using 0.6mm wire into the pre-drilled holes, paint white and then yellow.
  • Paint the cement pipes a darker shade of grey/brown.
  • Paint the ends of the brake lever white then red.
  • Paint the sole-bars at appropriate points as indicated in the picture and fit the chassis numbering and inspection stencils.

To Conclude…
Oh the hours of blood, sweat and tears that can be summarised in little over three pages!   However, taking the approach as laid out above and tackling them in an assembly line fashion, you can build a fifteen-unit rake for little over €100 in a matter of days.  The main points to re-iterate are: get plenty of pictures to be in that comfort zone about the detail locations and take your time to get the chassis cut out and chassis sheet dimensions and angles correct.  You’ll be well rewarded.  In a future issue, I’ll tackle how to build the 20’ beet wagon using Corrugated sheeting.  Nice!

[Ed: I once weathered a OO lime wagon with toothpaste, which looked like a thick coat of chalky minerals, but I would advises a test-patch, as some paint finishes may not tolerate tooth-paste.]


* dezsullivan@eircom.net

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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.

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

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

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