Our subjects this week are a little less glamorous, but as the years go by are becoming ever more essential to the smooth running of the F&WHR system – the B wagons.
Eight of these were imported from South Africa at the start of the WHR project along with various other wagons. They didn’t see much use during the construction phase because some of the other types – the low-sided DZ’s and flat DZ’s – were more practical for those purposes.
After being overhauled by a volunteer team and repainted into SAR livery two of them were employed as bike carrying wagons, marshaled at the Porthmadog end of the WHR carriage rakes. The drop-down doors were modified into ramps and cycle racks were placed at each end of the wagons. For the 2011 season they have been relieved of these duties as passengers’ bikes are instead being stowed in the guards’ area of the Service Carrs.
As oil prices soared in recent years the FR began a converting some its fleet of steam locomotives back to burning coal and some of the other the B wagons, as the biggest load carriers on the system, are used to ferry coal from the storage area in Minffordd Yard to Boston Lodge and the re-fuelling area at Harbour Station.
They’re also being increasingly employed as general utility wagons. Due to its severe gradients the WHR rule book specifies that all trains must be fully fitted. Although the FR has a large fleet of wagons they are almost all unfitted. A couple of weekends ago Himself was riding in a B wagon on the‘Greasers Express’ when volunteers oil and fettle all the point mechanisms on the F&WHR system.
Our models are built using Worsley Works kits as the basis of the bodyshell to which we have added brass angle to complete the detailing.
Himself made the racks for the bike wagon from styrene strip while the ramp adaptations were made from brass and the luggage and bike symbols knocked up on the home PC from photographs of the signs on the actual wagons.