The humble brake van was an every part of the railway scene up until the advent of continuous brakes for most freight stock in the early 1970’s. They initially served two purposes: to provide additional braking for ‘unfitted’ goods trains and of course somewhere for the guard to travel; later vans were also ‘fitted’ for working on such vacuum brake fitted formations. They were a weighted wagon equipped with a hand internally operable brake acting on all wheels they ranged from the 4 or 6 wheel type to sometimes 8 wheels and also bogie types. The ‘fitter’ versions having vacuum cylinders and able to operate the brakes on the fitted stock that make up the train (some vans were simply through piped to allow continuity of the braking system without being able to actually operate it, in such such cases just the hand brake was available for use.
The guard’s accommodation often included one or two verandas, or closed ends with windows and many also incorporated side lookouts or duckets to allow a guard to look forwards along the side of the train.
This post follows on from the announcement by Kernow models of their ready to run version of the ex LSWR 10T Road van to diagram 1541 and will look at a few kit built examples of brake vans that can be found running on Fisherton Sarum.
The ex LSWR 10T road van mentioned above was known as a road van as in addition to the guard’s accommodation and single veranda it has side opening doors on each side and the van could also be used the carrying of goods. This van is currently available in resin kit form from The Smallbrook Studio. To the left can be be seen my model of the 20T Diagram 1545 Road Van also a resin kit form from The Smallbrook Studio. As well as being heavier that the Diagram 1541 road van they were also larger, had a veranda at both ends and side duckets.
Staying with the LSWR seen left is my model 20T brake van to diagram 1543. This is built from a Jedenco / Falcon Brass etched brass kit. 75 of this this type of van were built between 1915 and 1921. They were known to staff as ‘new vans’ a name which they kept well into the 1950’s!
Moving further east, I have a couple of ex SECR brake vans firstly is one that is perfectly at home on the ex LSWR metals as it is ex SECR 20T Ballast Plough brake van, diagram 1748, in the civil engineers fleet. The first lone prototype was built in 1914 with 3 more being built by the SR in 1932, a further 8 with slight detail differences were built in 1949. In addition to the brakes it also had ploughs to rake freshly applied ballast from hoppers in the same train. These ploughs could be raised or lowered as required from inside the van. This particular model, also built from a Jedenco etched brass kit, has already featured on these pages here along with its companion rake of 40t Ballast hoppers.
Finally for this post we see an ex SECR ‘Dancehall’ 25T brake van to Diagram 1559 First introduced in 1921., The SR built a further batch between 1923 and 1927 but these had deeper 15” instead of 12” channel underframes and were given the diagram number 1560. These vans gained the nickname ‘Dancehall’ due to the large amount of space inside them. They were long lived vans surviving, albeit modified, in departmental use right up until the 1970’s. This is built from a Cambrian Models plastic kit.
There are of of course other SR related kits and ready to run brake vans available and some of these may well feature in future posts, although my review of the Bachmann RTR 25T ‘Pill box’ brake van can be read here.