I am presently cracking on with a batch of NER hoppers for Benfieldside. Having acquired the layout, Tim and Julian have very little stock to run on it, so as part of the repayment for the use of their facilities and expertese on my boards, I thought I would help to correct this shortfall.
The origins of all of this present batch of hoppers all go back to the Slaters’ injection moulded kit, which is of diagram P7 wagon. There were around 17,500 of these wagons at the time of the grouping and the LNER carried on building them for some years thereafter with only subtle differences; so not unsurprisingly there were quite a lot of variants. Thus, I have been doing a lot of modifying!
In each case, I replaced the very clunky W irons with Bill Bedford replacements; even though these were to be to EM, I felt that they would improve their performance. The first examples were essentially built as the kit was intended with fairly traditional brake gear (which was to one side only). However, having built my first one, I decided to refine the brake gear by drawing an etch for replacement steps, V hangers, morton brake mechanisms and brake levers. This (along with a comparison with the plastic equivalent – the painted wagon), is below:
However, a significant proportion were modified with end levers that operated a crank that was connected to the Morton gear. At the ends, there was a much more chunky ratchet arrangement to retain the lever in position. Again, I drew this up on the etch, and the arrangement looks like this:
The NER undertook a number of experiments with these vehicles to attempt to reduce rolling resistance and this was the subject of my next modification. On the right (below), shows the provision of a second outside set of W irons. This was to add stiffening to the axles. There is a set of Bill Bedford W irons to cater for this, but I chose instead to create a fresh set on the etch. On the left is a further variant, where an anti-friction bearing was added in addition to the outer W irons. This was a wheel that ran on the top of the axle and I presume the idea was that as it rotated less, there would be less friction. I suspect that the introduction of an open bearing surface that would instantly get contaminated with coal and grot would actually have the exact opposite impact – as these were removed by the grouping era, I may well be right!
The final variation of construction that I have modelled was a slot cut into the ends, which appeared on some vehicles. The NER used these on vehicles that were hauled up rope inclines – of which they had many. A plank of wood was inserted into the hole and wedged such that it was secured behind the end posts to ensure that the haulage point was close to the centre of the wagon. They found without this that there was a tendency to pull the end posts loose due to the uneven point of pressure.
Next up will be the painting and lettering of these; where I have three eras to chose from that would have all been apparent immediately pre- first war, which is when Benfieldside will be set. More on this in a future post.
If there is a desire from anybody for the etches, I would be able to offer them; so drop me a note?