Railways‎ > ‎Dingle Leigh Railway‎ > ‎

Rolling Stock

by Dai

Here is a description of the rolling stock currently seen on the DLR

Passenger stock

 Directors' Saloon

 Four wheel two compartment Second class.

Full luggage brake

Luggage compartment interior
Guard's brake cabin interior
Composite First and Third

The Schull and Skibbereen carriages

In 1888. Dick, Kerr of Gloucester,made a series of small four-wheeled coaches which were subsequently adapted in the Skibbereen workshops. One of these, the 4s had a simple 12 foot long all-third class compartment with most uncomfortable slatted seats running lengthwise. It also had balconies at both ends which, I suppose allowed extra standing passengers, bicycles, crates and, for all I know, dogs, crates of poultry and goats. Sadly, one  Denis W O'Regan, a Cork County farmer, fell off a balcony and was killed.

Atropos offer four different kits that make up into very reasonable representations of this era of a long defunct and quirky Irish narrow gauge line. They are designed to be 16mm scale and can be made up for 45mm or 32mm.

Schull & Skibbereen No 2 with No 4 behind. No 2 as a two compartment vehicle, divided into smoking and non-smoking. Enlightened for the late 19th Century

The Railcar

I had bought this gypsy caravan, made out of matchsticks, for £4 from a street market stall in Ludlow, having realised that it was about to scale. I only had the vaguest idea of how it could be used but I enjoyed covering the roof and otherwise mucking it about to disguise its origins. A brief flirtation with slate wagons showed them to be more or less useless as rolling stock and, besides, no slate is mined on the DLR. I was keen to buy a set of platelayers' tools which sat in the bag awaiting a purpose.

Most of my motivation in garden railway is the theatre of it. The permanent way is only there to serve the population who have a story to tell. In this vignette, all the collected white elephants come together for a common purpose. Our travelling friend has come across the tools (their handles still warm, no doubt) loaded them into his handcart and made off.

The Tralee and Dingle Railcar is the perfect vehicle for Sergeant Eaner to keep an eye on things.

The horse is a Schleich with added leg feathers and head collar in Miliput and piebalded to look more suitable. The disused loco shed in the background is by Robert Silkstone.

Goods vehicles

Three box vans at the Silkstone Foundry

It took me a full two years of messing about with my eyes half shut before I woke up to the realization that I wanted to have rolling stock that looked cohesive and as if it had a purpose. Building the coaches as a matching rake was probably the biggest influence on me. Up to then, I had amassed a revoltingly varied mishmash of stock, often crude stuff, badly made. It did run but not well. I soon realised that my line was not suited to bogie vehicles.

Having conquered my fears about construction, I then turned my attention to the goods vehicles I needed and the first of these was a pair of John Campbell cattle trucks. I enjoyed making them and they obliged me to learn a new bunch of skills as, with all respect to JC ( and I have an immense amount) they are not easy kits to finish well.

Cattle wagons under scrutiny at Elsden Parva

Until the cattle wagons graced the scene, I had been rather more attracted to a brown finish as shown above with the brake van.It was a purely aesthetic thing with no background of experience or logic whatsoever. The cattle wagons led me to explore the world of the Tralee and Dingle Railway and from there on it was a short step to investigating the entire Irish Narrow gauge world. How like a garden railway they were. No fences or frippery. All done on the cheap and often nasty. Magnificent amounts of corrugated iron and rust! Lovely for a modeller. Nothing looks worse to me than a new clean van. Weathering on brown looks.....OK. Weathering on grey....WOW!! And,let's not be prissy about this; cattle wagons are liberally coated with you know what!

Another big change that was an inevitable consequence of the cattle wagons was the raising of coupling height due to the 30mm wheel diameters. All previous stock had been on 24mm. Yet another change was the recognition that chopper couplings were more appealing than bath chain. OK. bath chain is simple and copes with sharp curves better than badly fitted choppers. So fit the choppers properly the first time, stupid! Make sure they swivel freely from side to side. Dump the safety chains or at least shorten them up so that they do not snag on the track, Dumbo!

After the cattle wagons, I wanted to progress and fell in love with Atropos who make the most wonderful kits to build. I made a Schull and Skibbereen passenger brake van which was, in any case, used with goods stock or on mixed trains. That's another lovely thing about the Irish; anything goes, if it works. Note the paired gas generators on the roof. How could you live happily without a vehicle as weird as that?

Atropos make a whole bunch of Schull and Skibbereen wagons but they also do a semi covered wagon. Again, whose line has many of those?

The doors are properly hung and latched and only the ends are roofed. I chose to roof mine with corrugated iron which was common. This van is not prototypical and has gone out of production by Atropos but soon to be replaced by a more accurate vehicle. It was a joy to build and even the roped tarp is provided. I decided to use this vehicle to act as a working brake van behind a coal fired loco with a tendency to escape. It carries a receiver servo and battery and operates a set of brake shoes that bear on all wheels individually. It works on its own but I have yet to put it to the test behind a loco.

12 foot box vans 25 and 26 are also from Atropos kits and come with a very practical and easily constructed sliding door system. Part of the entertainment value of these kits is the fact that you are obliged to scribe all the planking yourself and you an choose to build the box with vertical or diagonal bracing beams. This allows you to build up a nicely varied rake of wagons from the same basic kit and James Boyd's marvellous book about the Schull & Skibbereen is enough to fire you up to be as inventive as you like, taking all sorts of liberties with the kit and still stay true to the authentic feel of Irish Narrow gauge rolling stock.

17s was a truly awful little box van which may have started life as an IP kit. It was all wrong. The person who built it out a ridiculous number of brass pins to represent rivets but had not managed to centre them to the upright supports nor place them evenly. It had clearly been too much to scribe the planking but at least the glued diagonally placed axle-boxes could be prised from the non parallel sole-bars! A total strip down to the box, realign the wheels, scribe the planking, replace the uprights, add some ventilation louvring and finally some authentic riveting and I have another Irish truck.I bought it at the AGM for a tenner so I'm not complaining. Besides I had a lot of fun mucking it about. The big learning experience for this one was making strapping out of copper sheet and punching the rivet detail through

34L was another AGM cheapo, £10 find but had been better constructed than 17S. The planking had been done and the wheels were on straight. It too had suffered the death of a thousand rivets, almost none of which were centred to any plank!  Sadly,the prototypes did not have gurt rivets to hold the planking to the frames as nails had been invented! This only needed a little surface rebuilding and redesigning with ventilation louvres. I shall apply some strapping eventually but, for me, the biggest issue with this van is the doors. I have found little photographic evidence that internal split sliding doors were common in Irish NG. I may feel an urge to fit an outside slider or paired hinge-ers any minute.

Ex-Tralee and Dingle 31T covered cattle truck. Bert and Sid in attendance

In 2011, John Campbell introduced another Tralee and Dingle cattle truck, this time, a covered one. Like the open trucks, it comes complete with all the lovely brake details. Sadly, because they are designed at 15mm scale to run on 45mm track, representing 3ft gauge, John Campbell wagons need to be adjusted from the sole-bars down to fit onto my 32mm track. What else would I do to pass the time?

Actually, adjusting for 32mm is not too hard. I find that it works better to use blocks inside the sole-bars. Onto these the W frames can be glued with CA and the axle bearings then fitted onto the W frames. Brandbright sell sets of bearings which fit well into the axle-box castings once reamed out with a 5mm drill bit.Those four, completed units can then be offered up into their eventual positions and moved about to ensure good function. I find that sitting the wagon on its roof and running a spare piece of track up and down until I am happy with the freedom and centring works best. Only after the wheels are running freely and the axles perpendicular to each other and spaced as I want them do I glue the blocks to the sole-bars. 

After the glue has set well, I strengthen the bond with the pins (provided in the kit) which double up on the sole-bar as rivet heads. This technique was learned the hard way. I fix the sole-bars where they are designed to sit and use 4mm thick packing pieces inside those, just as Atropos do for their dual gauge kits. That way, the brake gear fits more or less as designed, the only adjustment required being to shorten up the cross beams that link the brake blocks. Oddly, the long casting that links across to the vacuum cylinder was too short and I had to extend it with copper tube and brass rod to fit to the V supports. All part of the fun of kit-building. 

Other glitches I encountered include:

* The etched brake handle has the end two of the bends in the opposite direction to that expected. This may mean some increased flimsiness over time. A blob of solder or CA would help.

* It is quite tricky to neatly drill the innermost receiving holes for the horizontal 'iron' safety bars after gluing the three elements of the laminated sides, simply because you can't get a drill bit to face up to it. 

In future, I would risk a 1mm horizontal saw-cut across the thin upright of the middle plate of the sandwich before gluing, thus leaving a neat hole at bar level. Of course, the outer hole may be drilled at any time.

* I have never worked out how to make the sprung bearings work well, so I glue them. Sacrilege! I wonder if JC will ever speak to me again?

 I believe the laser-cut laminated sides are made by IP and they are of high quality. I'm sorry to say that I take savage delight in taking these smart engraved parts and distressing them brutally to reflect the natural wear and tear on wooden doors beaten up by cattle and time.  John Campbell's intricate brass items are superbly etched, whereas any riveted strapping on Atropos kits is stamped, using a Metalsmith riveting tool. 

These cattle wagons have a good weight of course and run well. They look better than any other commercially available wagon as far as I am concerned and should look very fine behind a Tralee and Dingle No 6 loco when it arrives. I just hope that that day won't mean that I will spend the rest of my waking hours building new rolling stock to do it justice. On the other hand, what more fun is there to be had?

Atropos do a nice range of Schull & Skibbereen rolling stock, including some open wagons. I had already made several Brandbright wagons before but was never too happy with them. I guess they were good enough as a first attempt but the wheels were tiny and the detailing poor. I think I may now try to uprate them or knock them out at member to member sales.

These S&S wagons are simply the business. I decided to go for the bigger, spoked wheels and for a working handbrake, also from Atropos. The kit was a delight to build and has loads of strapping and rivet detailing, as well as a hinged central door on each side.

The chopper couplings are Brandbright's cheapest and for this wagon, look good enough. They are more or less couple compatible with John Campbells. I may yet fit chains.

Schull & Skibbereen large ballast wagon No 51

One enduring benefit of Atropos kits is that Martin Astin believes that, if a door is supposed to open or a side should let down, it jolly well will do if it's a kit of his. The hinges always work as intended and look right too. I'm a big fan. Had you guessed that already?

Horse Box No 28c

Of course, once you've made up a few Atropos kits, you get the general drift of the construction. It begins to dawn on you that, rather than restrict yourself to making rolling stock that Martin chooses for his catalogue, you could make your own, sparing the pain of design by nicking a few ideas. It occurred to me, shortly before Christmas 2011, that it would be easy enough to make a box from 3mm ply and dress it with lime wood, Strapping could be made of plasticard or, more to my taste, thin lime wood. And so it proved. Indeed, it was so simple, the West Clare horse box was finished by January 3rd. And when you realise this was often done in corners when I was supposed to be joining in seasonal festivities, it only goes to prove how easy the job was. Unlike M Astin, I have no compunction about building a horse box, the sides of which do not hinge.

I really must get on and make a mate for Bert who, as the only person on the DLR who pushes anything gets to do all the work.

So fired up by the way the horsebox turned out, I could hardly wait to get on with another project. I found some pictures in Desmond Coakham's book of narrow gauge Irish rolling stock which intrigued me for some reason. They were of LMS Northern Counties Committee brake vans. Big, plain things, painted bauxite brown, complete with look-outs with both windows and what appeared to be portholes above them. I could choose between a sliding door and a pair of hinged ones. I chose hinged as being more interesting. Although no lettering was evident, I shall probably add a DLR somewhere.

I have searched and serched but nowhere can I find another picture showing roof ventilators anything like those 'pigeon boxes'.

Make do and Mend

I bought a Lilla from Roy Wood. An absolute stunner to look at but because it is very tiny, it comes as manual. No problem, you might think, but the DLR has some wicked gradients so manual locos struggle or run away. The layout is now too complex what with all the planting and buildings to permit the leaping about required to keep constantly adjusting the regulator. Serves me right, I know. If I had my time again, it would be different. Or maybe not!

Anyway, Lilla deserved a close coupled box van to hold receiver and battery and I had already mangled an Accucraft one for that purpose. Ideal. Lilla being tiny, she deserves a suitable rake of stock of a similar delicacy. I had made half a dozen Binnie GVT wagons that I had never run. Why not? I have no idea, truly. They are small, narrow and would go beautifully behind Lilla. All with small wheels and all with bath chain couplings.

As well as those, I had bought, because they amused me, a dynamite truck, a tar wagon and a tiny box van I had labelled 'TEA'. All I now needed was a goods brake van and a small one at that. I wanted it to have an Irish profile and could have bought the Atropos kit but was feeling mean. I'll get round to it one of these days, but I already have two gifted Atropos kits I haven't yet built.

Then I remembered a vile little box van I had foolishly bought on ebay. It looked fine and Irish style as illustrated on ebay but when it arrived it was absolute pants. Just the job for this project, thought I. So it proved. An Easter weekend with nothing on the agenda and a wife streaming with flu only wanting to be left alone saw a transformation. Windows cut in framed and glazed. Security bars. Rivets where you'd expect them. Steps. The roof received some improvement by sweating on a covering of Solartex. An acetylene generator, knocked up from a section of plastic pipe, plasticard and brass strip. 

I like the acetylene generator on the roof and the super discerning reader will notice brakes, though evidently not actually applied!

This brake van is deliberately tiny so it needs a small guards person; the lovely Lil. Makes a lovely cup of tea, does Lil.

Now all that remains is a tail lamp!

7/8ths stock

2013 saw me developing an interest in 7/8ths scale. I put a Simply 7/8ths Dennis body on a RH Katie chassis and boiler so, naturally, I was obliged to build some rolling stock to travel behind it.

But, what's available in kit form? Well, as it turns out, not a lot. Modelearth offer some very highly detailed flats and bolster bogies, complete with excellent brass castings for couplings from Talisman. They are chunky and superb but rather expensive. When at Exeter show, I took stock of all that was available and, because I had made several Atropos kits, I decided it would be fairly simple to make up a cheapish Atropos flat and enhance it with Talisman hardware.

Flat created from a basic Atropos kit

 It worked nicely but it also allowed me to see how it looked when I coupled it up to a Modelearth 'real thing'. It looked fine. That allowed me to design my own flat wagons but this time with ends. You could say I was drawing, at this new scale from more than one source.

RMC single plank wagons

Raif Copley designed some single plank wagons which he offers as laser cut kits. I must say I have never built any kit better produced. They are truly excellent and I recommend anyone starting in 7/8ths scale to build some. Chris Bird has built some and  finished them in grey and while they look fine, I prefer their appearance in black, as shown in a photograph of the real vehicle delivering Purple Moose. That's the one on the right, by the way.

Although Raif provides the prototypical central buffer, I prefer to use the Talisman face mounted hook coupling. At this scale they are less fiddly to couple and uncouple and they work so well.

The Sand Hutton Parcel Brake

As far as I know this vehicle was built in the 1920s by Robert Hudson and it ran on 18 inch gauge track, was 15 feet long and a mere 4ft 6 wide. The only two useful photographs taken show it in a fairly new light grey livery which looks as dull as ditchwater and evidently out of service, in a shed looking as if it has been varnished. I far prefer the look of that. This image also seems to suggest that the verandah end was at least faced with a metal sheet gloss painted black.

From "18 inch Gauge Steam Railways" by Mark Smithers                                           My version of the van in B&W for comparison. Some poetic licence of course

I had made those Raif Copley one plank wagons from his excellent kits, but as I built the second one, I realised the potential of the undercarriage for building something a bit more exotic and appealing from a modelling point of view. I acquired the excellent volume by Mark Smithers called 18 inch Gauge Steam Railways. Though costing £19.99 when in print, you have to pay £65 for a copy now. I have to say that if you are toying with going 7/8ths and your track is 32mm gauge, this book is a 'must-have'. Its full of wonderful images of Chatham Docks and Woolwich Arsenal light railways but also has a good section all about the Sand Hutton Light Railway.

Chris Bird has another book devoted to the same material and in that he found some drawings of this wagon. Heaven! 

Once I had studied those drawings it became clear that the RMC chassis was very similar to that of the parcel brake. Whie the parcel brake wheelbase was 6 feet whereas raids wagon is a scale 5ft 6. It would do nicely, particularly as I preferred to model to slightly under scale so that it was less massive around my track.

Raif supplies two sets of chassis spacers so that you may chose between 32 and 45mm gauge, simply by setting the Binnie wheel sets to the back to back measurement you want. Pity to let those gluelams go  to waste. I used them to extend the chassis to the full length of the parcel brake.

I chose to build the frame by making the long sides from 6mm square limewood rod and 12mm by 3mm strip, bought specifically for the purpose. I knew that I wanted the planks to fit neatly between the uprights and I managed that by using a newly acquired chop saw with a 60 tooth blade. In essence, I cut nine planks in one pass. The chop saw, one of my more intelligent purchases, gave me identically long sweetly cut planks which made for a very easy building of each side with long square section tops and bottoms. I assembled the sides on a pane of glass under which I had placed a print out of the scale plan, brought up to full scale using photoshop with its easy guides.

Always good to remember that the other side is a mirror image, unless you plan to
build a pair, of course!

Because I was modelling the older, more distressed version I elected to distress the edges of those very accurately cut strips. Had I wanted the van to look new, I wouldn't have bothered. As it was I sanded some edges and actually carved away at some outside edges with a scalpel in a random sort of way.

Once the sides were solid the sides were offered up to the chassis and fixed with carefully cut cross members at both ends. PVA is a great wood glue but it can fool you into believing it is solid well before it is enough to hold under pressure.

The sliding doors were suggested merely by gluing more planks inside the shell, across the gap. I had no ambition to have working doors

The ends were simple enough. The rear was nine identical planks cut to fit between the end uprights. The front end has a door and so I made that up separately first and fixed it in place. That left a space to the left to be filled by three equal vertical planks and since the gap was just too narrow for three full sized 12mm wide planks, I sanded these down.

All that remained was to carve five roof curve profiles to finish the ends and support the roof. I followed the shape illustrated on the plans, made a card template then marked out some 12x3mm planking. Limewood is a delight to carve to an approximate shape but I then clamped the five together and sanded them as a block to be identical.

The roof is of 3mm ply, soaked and held to dry bent round a former. I actually use dozens of rubber bands and a round section wooden block we have in the kitchen to hold knives but a couple of ground coffee tins would do as well. After the roof was dry and fixed in its curve, I ironed on black solartex then lightly sprayed the top surface with Ford Ivory, not thick enough to fully obscure the black or leave a gloss finish. I saw no reason to gain access to the interior ever again so I glued it firmly in place. In this view, you can also see the door handle, a dollhouse wonder, and the Talisman hand grabs from the 7/8ths section of their catalogue.

It seemed clear from the photographs of the original van that the construction of it depended on angle iron. To simulate that I pinned L section plastruct onto the uprights. I decided to spray them before hand with Halfords red primer then satin black. Although the pinning was initially with brass snap head rivets, once I had the Russian resin bolt heads on washers, they were replaced. OK, so at a distance you might not see any difference, but close up they look so much better.

The vehicle is a bit light so it could use a piece of lead between the wheels. I am now patiently waiting some castings from ModelEarth to make the brake wheel assembly that should protrude above the  verandah end. That, incidentally, is being held on at the moment with black duck tape because I just know that if I complete the assembly before I mount the brake wheel, it will be a nightmare to manage a retro-fit.

Though you can't really see underneath, it seemed necessary to acknowledge the fact that this was a brake van with brake pads on all four wheels. I cut and assembled a pair of silhouettes out of 3mm ply and used paint to suggest some of the highlights. I think it works well enough.

Similarly, the prototype looks as if it had solid wheels, not curly spoked but, quite frankly, though I could glue some backs onto the wheels, I really don't think anyone would see that I had done so unless they were lying down next to the track. Oh, I don't know. The more I look, the more it bugs me! Where's that black plasticard?