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GWR Posting Carriage




After having constructed a range of models that were intended to replicate the two trains involved in the accident at Bullo Pill, in 1868, I have been casting around for ideas for new subjects.


The trouble with a 3D printer is that it opens up so many possibilities that it is hard to decide what to tackle next. It would be easy for me to continue modelling various carriages, wagons, and locomotives but I have been looking for something that’s a bit ‘different’.


One of the reasons that Brunel gave for advocating the adoption of the Broad Gauge, was that it would allow large wheels to be placed outside the bodies of the carriages. He considered that this would provide better running at the high speeds he envisaged for his new railway.  In fact, only one type of carriage was actually built on this principle, as it soon proved impracticable for carriages with several compartments, because the wheels would block access through the doors!


The exception was the so-called ‘Posting Carriage’, which was intended as a luxury carriage for a small party of 1st-class travellers. The name was apparently derived from the French term: ‘post-chaise’.  Whishaw described this carriage in his book ‘The Railways of Great Britain and ireland’, published in 1842, and he also provided a drawing:



Wishaw wrote: “The posting-carriage, which is calculated to hold eighteen persons, is fitted up in a style of elegance not met with in any other railway-conveyance in the kingdom (save only the royal railway-carriage) : it is furnished with cushioned seats all round except at the doorways, and a table extending down the middle, so that for a family party or party of friends it is a most excellent contrivance. The whole length of the body is 18 feet 6 inches, and on a level with the seats 18 feet; the width of body is 7 feet 6 inches, and below the same level it is diminished in a recurving line to 6 feet at bottom, the height of body being 6 feet 8 inches. In the middle of each side there is a glass: door 2 feet 4 inches wide and 6 feet high, the glass-square being 19 inches high and 21 inches wide ; affixed to the sole of the carriage, and furnished with two steps, is an iron-tree, the bottom of which is 14 inches above the rails. On each side of the door there are two lights ranging in height with that of the door, and above these are three smaller lights, which fill up the whole of the top spaces between the door and the ends of the body.”


There is another illustration of one of these carriages, included in a lithograph of Bath Station by J.C. Bourne, published in 1846.



Extract from lithograph by J.C. Bourne


Bourne’s illustration differs from the Wishaw drawing in several respects but it does serve to show the exaggerated curvature of the sides and the entrance door placed between the wheels.


This vehicle piqued my interest and presented some interesting challenges in designing a 3D-printed model.


First steps towards a model


Because of the curved nature of the sides, I decided not to use my favoured method of printing the sides separately and then assembling the model from a ‘kit of parts’. Instead, I started by drawing the end profile and then extruding this, using ‘Fusion 360’, to produce a solid body, the length of the model carriage.



Profiled Body of Posting Carriage


That was an easy first step. Next, I shall hollow out the interior and add the detailing on the sides and ends. I expect this to involve many more procedures than a simple extrusion but it feels good to have a new project under way … more to follow.



Edited by MikeOxon
removed incorrect scale on Whishaw plate

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Posted (edited)

You do know how to pick the interesting ones, Mike. It will be good to follow how you tackle it.


Designs like these do add a further dimension to our understanding of Brunel. For all his undoubted brilliance, the everyday practical issues of railway transport do not seem to have interested him much.


Edited by Mikkel
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Thank you Mikkel.  Brunel was indeed a fascinating character who seemed able to carry normally sober businessmen along with his enthusiasm for new and untried technologies.  He was without doubt a visionary but many of his visions were not very practical or cost-effective.  His baulk road, as originally conceived was a disaster and had to be re-worked considerably, while the less said about the atmospheric railway the better!


I'm enjoying addressing the challenges posed by this unusually curvaceous carriage.



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