Building a railbus (2005)

Ted Polet

For many years I used to have the old railbus no.1 which I was loath to use because it had to be turned at the end of the trip, didn't look very well with a single bogie carriage in tow and had too little seating capacity on its own. The ugly brute usually resided at the back of the carriage shed, much to the Management's chagrin. It was built many years ago as an incorrect interpretation of the Donegal cars 8 and 9 and gradually modified to an otherwise pleasing freelance model.

Last year, at the Valkenburg show, I ran across one of the old Davric vacuum-formed kits of a 1930s Leyland Tiger road bus. I never saw such an unsquare product in my life, but I decided to buy it and have a go at building a dummy companion bus to no. 1. I took the kit along on holiday and during the evenings I built the body , with some modification, and added two bogies. Mick Thornton, on seeing the final version, wasn't too happy about the two bogies and the wings of the road version which I left on the model, but the tale was that the CDR snapped up a road bus that had been bent in an accident and pushed it into service with only minimal modification. The bogie under the rear was needed to provide traction so the new bus can haul the old one uphill, including one or two vans. The shops at Rae Bridge put a concrete ballast weight inside the frame… well, let's not delve too deeply into all that.

The bus is unpowered, of course, and just jogs along with old no. 1. I fitted LED lights inside, and head and tail lights at both ends of the set. Thus an unusual railbus set has been created from two unmatched units, just the thing one expects from a remote railway that wants to cut fuel cost during the 1930s…

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