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A Coal Wagon for Bullo Pill




When I started to build my model of one the Broad Gauge ‘Bogie-class’ engines, it was purely on a whim, because I was attracted by their jolie-laide appearance. At that time, I thought they were South Devon engines, generally confined to the West Country.


I had brought my model close to completion when some further research revealed that they were also familiar engines in the Bullo Pill area, which was exactly where I had started my Broad Gauge modelling!



My model of ‘Bogie-class’ 4-4-0ST


While reading Ian Pope and Paul Karau’s book “The Forest of Dean Branch, Voume One”, I found a list of locomotives shedded at Bullo Pill between 1854 and 1861. To my surprise, no fewer than 11 of the ‘Bogie-class’ engines were deployed there over that period! Two engines, with a third as a spare, were regularly allocated to handle traffic through the long Haie Hill tunnel and along the Forest of Dean Branch, which was used to bring minerals down from the various workings around Cinderford to the quay at Bullo Pill.


My wife’s ancestors started working on the GWR at Bullo Pill in the 1860s. The family had lived near the line at Soudley from the early 1850s, so these engines must have been familiar sights for them. Thus, what began as a ‘whim’ turned out to be an integral part of train-working in the very area which had inspired me to start building broad gauge models!


Now, I had to start looking for more information about the trains which used to work this Branch. I found that there had been an accident in 1863, when a train of 70 wagons broke free and led to a ‘pile up’, said to be 15 wagons high, which took 5 days to clear!  After that, trains were limited to 45 trucks, although these were reported to be ‘12 tonners’.  In 1869, about 1,500 tons passed down the branch daily.  Coal was shipped from Bullo Pill , chiefly to Bridgewater and Dunball, while pig iron from Cinderford and Soudley Iron Works was shipped to Newport.  Later, coal trains were assembled in the evening, to travel onward via Swindon to Salisbury, where much Forest of Dean coal was used.


A later photo, from the end of the 19th century, shows a Midland Railway wagon (type D351 – identified for me by @Compound2632) tipping coal into a barge at Bullo Pill dock. The tipping apparatus looks similar to those used at other docks along the South Wales railway route.  The Broad Gauge Society (BGS) Magazine ‘Broadsheet’ No.38 (1997) contains an article by Terry Powell about the wagon hoist at Cardiff Dock, with an isometric drawing of the apparatus.



Wagon Hoist at Bullo Pill Dock c.1900


I couldn’t find anything about 12-ton coal wagons in the BGS Data Sheets, which are my usual source of information. Fortunately, however, I found an article in the BGS Magazine ‘Broadsheet’ No.9 (1983), which described such a wagon and included a sketch. These wagons had a hinged door at one end, for tipping, as well as side doors. In addition, there is a BGS kit, available in both 4mm and 7mm scales, for a wagon of this type but, as my readers will know, I always prefer to ‘roll my own’. I continued to search for more information and eventually found some dimensioned drawings in Alan Prior’s book ‘19th Century Railway Drawings’.


Modelling the Body

Following my now usual methods, I started by importing Alan Prior’s drawing as a ‘canvas’ into my ‘Fusion 360’ modelling software and sketched over the main features. I then extruded these sketches, to form the sides and ends of my planned model. I added detailing, such as plank lines, straps, rivets, hinges etc. to the sides and ends, making considerable use of the ‘Pattern on Path’ command to create multiple lines of rivets, as required.



Designing the Body in ‘Fusion 360’


Whereas I often print my models in sections and then assemble the parts after printing, in this case I felt that, as the entire vehicle was relatively small and there were no features to create overhangs, such as carriage windows, it would be appropriate to print the whole body as a single print-job. I still drew out the parts separately and then used the Move and Combine commands, to assemble the complete wagon within ‘Fusion 360’, before passing the design to my 3D printer.


The print time was only just over 1 hour and I was pleased to find that the rivet detail printed cleanly:


My 3D-printed 12-ton Broad Gauge Wagon Body


Modelling the Chassis

After creating the body, I proceeded to the chassis. According to the ‘Broadsheet’ No.9 article referred to above “The main feature is a standard under-frame applied to many different types of wagon such as Van Trucks, Rail Trucks, Tilt Wagons and Box Wagons etc.”. This will encourage me to make other wagons that can make use of this common chassis!

The side-frames were of outward facing 8" x 4½" angle iron and the end frames were of 6" x9" timber. The wheels were 3’ 6” diameter with 9 spokes. The buffers were Brown's Patent 10" type and the running gear included Normanville's Patent axle boxes with the springs behind the 'W' irons. Brake gear was operated by an end lever.


I used exactly the same methods as for the body, tracing the main members over the Alan Prior drawing and then adding surface details as required. I extruded two side frames and then set these the correct distance apart by adding headstocks between them.



Chassis Frames for Broad Gauge Wagon


My 3D-Printed Wagon

As I have become more confident in the capabilities of my printer, I have started to try extruding finer details, such as the ‘W’-irons and springs (behind). On the whole, these have printed surprisingly well, as shown in the following photograph, which presents them under rather closer scrutiny than is appropriate for a 4mm scale model! These models are just as they were taken off the printer, loosely laid together and in the natural colour of the PLA filament. - no paint applied yet.




My 12-ton Broad Gauge Wagon on its Chassis


The break gear and release lever for the end-door have still to be added, to complete this wagon. Then, I don’t expect that I shall make 44 more of them, to re-create a typical prototype train on the Forest of Dean line :)


Edited by MikeOxon
Body moved in photo (Photoshop) - model to be adjusted

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Thank you for your appreciation, Douglas :)  I'm feeling a lot more confident now, when using my FDM printer and find it is adequate for most 4mm models.  Sometimes, I feel that the slightly rough finish reflects the actual qualities of prototypical 19th century constructions, built from wood and wrought iron.

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I'm pondering the 12 ton capacity. Evidently the volumetric capacity of this wagon is greater than that of contemporary standard gauge wagons by about 40%, just on the basis of the internal width being 9'9" (measuring off Prior's drawing) compared no more than 7'0" for a standard gauge wagon. On the other hand, were the journal sizes much bigger than on an 8 ton standard gauge wagon?


Looking at Prior's drawing, I note the brake lever across the fixed end, in a style I'm more familiar with from 20th century NER hopper wagons. I think this may have been a typical early way of arranging the brake that simply survived in the North East by continuity from the primordial years!


Does your wagon want to sit a bit lower on its wheelsets?

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13 minutes ago, Compound2632 said:

Does your wagon want to sit a bit lower on its wheelsets?

Yes!  I made the floor too thick - a problem apparently for the prototype too.  The Prior drawing shows metal plates above the wheels, presumably covering cut-outs in the planking.  I shall correct this in the next print.  I was too impatient to post.

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I suppose the larger than typical (for a coal wagon) wheels will have helped with the journal question, by reducing the rate of rotation.

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Earlier wagons had 4' wheels with boxes over them where they protruded through the floor - which must have been very inconvenient at times.  The wheels were changed later to 3'6" but clearance was still marginal so that plates were placed over apertures in the floor.  I selected just the body and axle guards of the wagon in the last photo and moved the all down a little, using Photoshop.  Later, I shall re-print the floor with apertures for the wheels.  It's all part of the learning curve!


The mention of the 12t load is in a contemporary reference and matches the tonnages reported for coal brought down to Bull Pill.  Incidentally, there were no Break Vans but a guard rode on every 15th wagon, presumably to pin down the brakes on the rather steep incline down through the Haie tunnel.



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One of the things I really enjoy about 3D- printing is the ease with which I can make modifications.  No messing about with razor saws, files, and the like, with all the resulting swarf.  Just some simple drawing tools, in this case a simple rectangle on the floor, which can be copied and pasted to sit over the four wheels.  I also added the brake hanger that I forgot the first time round. 


Just a few minutes with the computer and I have a new model to print :)



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My wife’s ancestors started working on the GWR at Bullo Pill in the 1860s. The family had lived near the line at Soudley from the early 1850s, so these engines must have been familiar sights for them. 


Must have been a nice discovery for you Mike. The BG often seems distant, but personal stories like these are a reminder that in the greater scheme of things it was just a few years ago, really.


Those W irons look nicely detailed, you really are using your machine "to the max". 



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40 minutes ago, Mikkel said:

Must have been a nice discovery for you Mike. The BG often seems distant, but personal stories like these are a reminder that in the greater scheme of things it was just a few years ago, really.

There's nothing like a personal angle to focus the mind.  We have all their GWR records as well, listing promotions, reprimands, etc.  It was from one of the latter that I discovered that at least two of the 'Sir Watkin' class found their way to Bullo Pill in the final years before local gauge conversion in 1872, after which they went to South Devon, the last bastion of the broad gauge, until 1892.  If these engines had kept their condensing gear from their time on the Metropolitan, it could have been useful for the stiff climb up through the long Haie Hill tunnel.  I have one of these engines on my 'to do' list.

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1 hour ago, MikeOxon said:

We have all their GWR records as well, listing promotions, reprimands, etc.


I bet the reprimands are more interesting than the promotions :)



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34 minutes ago, Mikkel said:


I bet the reprimands are more interesting than the promotions :)

and occasionally very amusing ... in retrospect.  I expect it took some time to live this one down, back in the shed:




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