1 - Goods rolling stock

(click here for part 2 - Passenger rolling stock)

Up to about 1980 I used card and wood for goods rolling stock construction. The pre-computer age railway tickets in use on the Netherlands Railways until the mid-1970s were a good source of small square pieces of card which I used as van and wagon floors and sides. Van roofs were made from laminated card, and iron framing from thin card strip, or stripwood or even matchsticks for heavy outside wooden framing. Most of these have now been phased out and replaced by styrene and kit-built models. A few early models were built using 1mm plywood sides and ends, with the planking pattern scored into the surface. In this case, styrene strip framing was welded to the plywood using solvent. A number of flat wagons were built using a stripwood deck. Years ago a few coal wagons were built up using stripwood as well, but this process proved to be a bit too time-consuming for mass production.

Card may be considered inferior in these days of highly detailed plastic and etched kits, but given careful work with a sharp knife the result is reasonably satisfying, as demonstrated in a series of cattle vans. These have slatted sides and even incorporate iron strapping represented in thin card. Even very recently I built a model of a Tralee & Dingle brake van using a card kit produced by Paul Titmuss. Apart from that, recent scratchbuilt construction has always been in styrene sheet with a planking pattern, with microstrip overlay for frames and steel strapping. A good example is the West Clare six-wheel brake van.

I obtained good results using sides and ends of standard gauge kits, like some of the old Airfix kits which have been used for brake vans, cattle vans and a bogie box van. Using standard gauge kit parts means excellent value for money because of the fine detail and the reasonable price of these kits. The sides must be shortened and the ends narrowed using a razor saw, and usually a new roof fitted using laminated styrene sheet. All of these are mounted on second-hand N gauge underframes or bogies, and fitted with brake gear underneath.

Over the years some kit-constructed models have appeared on the C&DR - L&B bogie vehicles and County Donegal four-wheelers from Nine Lines, and very recently the excellent Parkside Dundas Tralee & Dingle four-wheel vans, which can be adapted to 9mm gauge by pushing in the wheels.

The six-wheel brake van 36C is an interpretation of one of the heavy West Clare Railway ballast brake vans. These were built for ballast trains and their outside wooden frames, roof lookout ducket and Cleminson chassis appealed to me ever since I bought the book on the West Clare by Patrick Taylor. The model was made of styrene and features a working Cleminson chassis. The outer wheels each are half an N gauge wagon, fixed on a sub-frame with a pivot slightly towards the centre of the vehicle. Each sub-frame is allowed to tilt as well as swivel, and transfers some of the load from the wheels towards a centre wheelset which is allowed to slide sideways, and move up and down. Thus a fully compensated six-wheel chassis results that runs through 9 inch curves without any drag. The van is used on the coal trains exclusively instead of the light four-wheel vans used previously.

Views of the Cleminson chassis, showing the centre wheels on a sliding sub-frame steering the outer wheels. The outer units tilt on the cantilever principle and transfer part of the load to the centre unit.

Left: four new Tralee & Dingle vans being shunted by Atlantic. These vans replaced some older stock some years ago. The vans were built from Parkside Dundas kits and have very fine and crisp detailing. The main drawback is the spoked wheels which aren't always very concentric. Turning the wheels on the axle will help eliminating a sideways wobble. What remains is a slight up and down movement. Right: a Parkside Dundas T&D 'butter van' was converted into a fish van by adding a printed legend on one of the planks beside the door. Next to it is Mick Thornton's scratchbuilt fish van, a present of some years ago. Mick's detailing doesn't compare very badly with the Dundas model.

Left: no. 35 is a standard T&D van without the side ventilators that makes a 'convertible' cattle van of that railway, made from a Parkside Dundas kit. Evident in this close-up are the very fine bolt heads and the underfloor brake gear. This really is an excellent kit and very useful also for 9mm gauge modellers. Note the sprung N gauge couplings and the safety chains fitted to the headstock. Slight weathering produced a drab-looking model which is exactly what I wanted. Right: three legacy vans that were replaced by the Tralee & Dingle models. No. 35 is a styrene model built around 1980. No. 32 was made of plywood and card in 1969, and fitted with styrene diagonals at a later stage. No. 33 is one of a pair of card-built vans with matchstick framing which I made at sea in 1976. Mick Thornton has its twin, no. 34, and built the fish van in exchange.

Bert van Rhijn's masterpiece: the Tralee & Dingle Railway horsebox no. 1T, scratchbuilt from styrene on a Parkside Dundas chassis. Bert built two copies, a narrow one for his own rolling stock roster, and a wide one for the Craigcorrie & Dunalistair Railway. During a trip of four Dutch 009 Group members to Narrow Gauge South (Sparsholt) he brought me this surprise. Try and find the difference from the Parkside Dundas T&D van to the left of it....

Left: a pair of standard gauge grounded van body kits by Cooper Craft were narrowed to about 28mm and fitted on to a stretched N gauge chassis. They were fitted with brake gear and suitably weathered, resulting in well detailed modern narrow gauge vans that might have been built in the 1920s. The lettering is a black and white print made on the computer, cut out and stuck on, each part on a single plank. Right: no. 30 is Nine Lines County Donegal van, slightly lowered on its frames, with the wheels pushed in to 9mm and N gauge couplings fitted. The corrugated iron roof is an attractive detail. Still these vans are rather large for 009 use, so I didn't build more of these. This van has simplified brake gear, but it should be remembered the kit is much older than the Dundas Tralee & Dingle vans.

Left: no. 31 is a very old Airfix British Railways 'ventilated van' kit, narrowed, fitted with an end platform and N gauge bogies. The original doors of the kit were designed to open in a primitive way, hence the square holes in the doors. Despite these shortcomings and the addition of the very unusual end platform, this has resulted in a nice detailed model due to the quality of the original mouldings. Right: no. 39 is one of a pair of diagonally-planked vans, scratchbuilt from styrene sheet. They were inspired by similar 'herring-bone' vans on the Isle of Man Railway and put on modified Lima N gauge chassis. They have spoked wheels and run beautifully. The roof of both vans was made of laminated styrene with tissue paper welded on. At the time this seemed a good idea, but the roofs unfortunately sagged due to the solvent shrinking the top layer. Despite that, some of my fellow modellers tell me this is prototypical, so for the moment I'll leave them as they are!

Nos 42 and 44 are two card-built cattle wagons I built at sea in 1976. They are of the batch of 16 goods vehicles mentioned before, made of railway tickets of the 1970s. There are three of the open-top wagons. All were detailed with thin card overlays and the card sides were scribed more or less successfully to represent planks. All run on N gauge wagon chassis by Arnold or Minitrix, and they have been with the railway so long that they won't be replaced. I recently added weathering and brake gear which has improved them considerably: brake hangers, brake blocks and rods, a central operating shaft, hand levers and vacuum gear.

Wagon 28 which in the photo is shunted by the 'Ant' is one of a trio of 1mm plywood wagons made in 1969. Originally they were lettered 'CCC' like those at Campbeltown and supposed to be Craigcorrie Colliery wagons. The iron strapping is plastic strip welded to the ply using solvent. Note the diagonals are the wrong way round. After a period spent in a box minus wheels, they were mounted on new chassis and re-painted. Two of them were loaded with a dummy peat load.

Brake van 19 is one of the two vans made of the old Airfix brake van kit, being narrowed and mounted on N gauge wagon chassis. This one is fitted on a long chassis and carries a toolbox on one end. Both vans were fitted with brake gear and safety chains, and have rendered yeoman service over the years, both on the end of the coal train, as seen in the right-hand photo, and on goods trains. They were replaced on the coal train by the West Clare type six-wheeler.

Bogie flat wagon 21 was built of stripwood and fitted with four tensioning bars under the floor to replace an older bogie wagon. The locomotive boiler load was added a few years later, and recently the vacuum pipes and safety chains were fitted and the whole lot weathered. This is an unusual sight on the narrow gauge, but it makes a difference. The boiler load is carried around the layout on goods or special trains, or it is left waiting in a siding just looking good…

The Esso tank wagon was made around 1980, using a piece of card tube, a plastic ladder and strip, stripwood and various odds and ends. Hand brake gear and safety chains were added recently to make this into an unusual but attractive model. The Esso sign came from an Airfix oil tank wagon kit and is probably far too modern for the time modelled.

Cattle van 45 is one of a pair of conversions from the Airfix cattle van kit. They, like the bogie closed van 31, retain the holes in the doors associated with primitive hinge system of this kit. The wagons were narrowed and fitted with new diagonal strapping where needed. Having been painted and weathered in the same manner as the card-built cattle stock they fit in very well with them. These also were recently fitted with improved brake gear and safety chains, as shown in the right-hand photo.

Brake van no. 2D was made of a photo-reduced card 'kit' of a Tralee & Dingle van made by Paul Titmuss. Paul's 1:76 originals were reduced to 1:80 scale so the van wouldn't be too much out of scale with the T&D locomotive no. 3D. I built the kit following Paul's instructions, and it turned out quite well despite being a card model, which says something for card as a modelling material. Most important is the scribing of the card, which had to be done twice - once before painting, and once after. The right-hand photo is a nice comparison between the 1:87 scale locomotive, a 1:76 scale cattle van and the brake van. The loco and the brake van should really be a bit taller than the cattle van, but somehow it seems to work out all right…

Left: two open wagons on the quay at Dunalistair. The left-hand one is a single specimen built in the early 1990s, the right-hand one is one of four, also made of planking patterned styrene sheet. These wagons are very simply made, usually in batches, and mounted on adapted N gauge chassis. The chassis for the right-hand one for instance was simply cut in half and shortened before being glued between the frames under the wagon floor. Right: Low-sided open no. 52, accompanied by the 1969-built plywood high-sided open described before, was made by cutting a Tri-ang TT steel ballast wagon in half, shortening it and gluing it to an N gauge chassis. The container is a styrene box with a printed card overlay and card strapping. The printed side is a very early form of digital modelling, made with MS-DOS based software, and printed with one of the first inkjet printers I ever encountered (in the office of course, at the time they were far too expensive for home use…!).

Above left: on the coal pier in Dunalistair are shown the four types of coal wagon in use on the railway around 2011. From left to right: a Roco inside-frame steel-sided coal hoper wagon, a wooden version with an additional plank added to the top, a dumb-buffer open with an end door, and a side-unloading 6-plank wagon of a slightly different type. The Roco wagons are run in sets of 7 or 8 with N gauge couplings each side. I have a total of 17, 6 of which were fitted with N gauge couplings. They run noisily and are really unsuitable for long-distance coal trains. They have been largely withdrawn after the introduction of more conventional wagons in 2013. The dumb-buffer type of wagon is one of a batch of 8 made on Lima BR mineral wagon chassis. They were all made of styrene sheet, as were the 4 of the type shown behind. These run on Minitrix chassis though. Above right there is a string of new Colin Ashby wagons at the colliery, next to the Baldwin recently put to work as the colliery shunter.

A trio of brake vans, two of which are the Airfix conversions nos. 16 and 19. No. 15 is a six-wheeler built at sea in 1976, which ran in the coal train until superseded by the Airfix ones. No. 15 has been withdrawn but is still in existence. This brake van was built of card like the other 1976 goods stock, which for years formed the mainstay of the C&DR goods workings. Added to these were 12 card-built coal wagons of 1978 vintage, on the chassis now occupied by styrene coal wagons.

Three private owner wagons in the CDR numbers list are the distillery vans. The bogie van was made in the conventional way, from a Nine Lines Lynton & Barnstaple van. The lettering on the side was applied using dry printed transfers in two stages (first the black shading, then the white letters superimposed), which drove me nearly out of my head. For that reason the van ran with one side lettered only for many years, until I could sum up the courage to do the other side… The four-wheeler is one of a pair numbered 35A and 35B. These were built on the same principle as the yellow container described above: a computer-printed card overlay on a styrene box. The different green colour was the nearest to the colour of the bogie van which was available in the limited colour system at the time.

Another view of Mick Thornton's fish van no. 34, accompanied by an explosives van for the colliery, also made by him, using the same printing technology I described before. Only Mick used Windows 95 whilst I was still working in MS-DOS! Anyway, the explosives van is there, although it is usually shunted far out of the way because of the danger it imposes on the rest of the railway. Which really is a shame, as it is such an attractive model.

The bogie open no. 77 and the four-wheeler no. 70 are Nine Lines models. The first is one of the Lynton & Barnstaple bogie vehicles, built as intended from the kit, and fitted with N scale couplings to the bogies. The other is a County Donegal open, companion to the van no. 30, and also lowered on the frames as it would have been far too tall for the C&DR. Both were weathered a year or so ago when I finally weathered all my goods stock, that had hitherto been far too clean.

All of this trio of 4-wheel flat wagons were built before 1980. They all carry loads for the Foundry, and all were fitted with better brake gear and safety chains recently to bring them in line with the rest of the rolling stock. No. 22 (on the right) and 23 (on the left) were built at sea in 1976 and are part of the batch of 16 vehicles mentioned before. All these flat wagons run on N gauge chassis.

PART 2 - Passenger rolling stock