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RCH 10' wheelbase wagon underframe drawings


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I am working through producing the CAD for some RCH underframes and components (as part of a wider project!) and as I work through it I don't recall seeing any RCH drawings for 10' wheelbase wagons. Did the RCH not produce drawings for this (and perhaps other longer) wheelbases, perhaps leaving it to the companies to derive, or is it that I have not looked far enough for drawings?!

 

I have drawings for 17'6" wooden and steel (1923 spec) plus 16'6" steel (1944 revision) underframes but haven't seen any for any 10' wb underframe other than in books showing underframes for this wheelbase that seem to be derived from the 9' version. There doesn't seem to be any immediately obvious changes from adding the extra foot but it would be nice to be sure!

 

Many thanks

Andy

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Are you familiar with this site: http://www.cs.rhul.ac.uk/~adrian/steam/RCHWagons/index.html?

 

I've not actually looked to see if it has the information you are after. But remember that the RCH specifications were primarily for private owner mineral wagons, so may not have covered such things as 10' wheelbase vehicles. (But I'm only really familiar with the pre-1923 specifications.)

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There are a LOT of drawings on that site but they're probably exactly the ones the OP already has - up to the 1944 16'6'' revision. Plate 10 of the 1998 Great Western Wagons book shows development of metal underframe structure including the 1939 revision - by which time the GWR were using 10' WB for all 'conventional' wagons.

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4 minutes ago, Wickham Green too said:

Plate 10 of the 1998 Great Western Wagons book shows development of metal underframe structure including the 1939 revision - by which time the GWR were using 10' WB for all 'conventional' wagons.

 

That's the point on which I am ignorant. To what extent were RCH specifications being laid down and adopted by the railway companies for merchandise wagons? Bearing in mind that the Wagon Superintendents' Committee (as it was in pre-grouping days; I presume it continued to function after 1923) was responsible for the specifications - the RCH was not working in isolation from the railway companies but rather was a channel for their co-operation.

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Hi Stephen

 

I am familiar with those both from Adrian's site and from a set @jim.snowdonsent to me directly (which may have a couple of extras - I haven't ever sat down and checked them individually against each other as I just use Jim's set).

 

I suspect that you are probably correct in that PO minerals at that time were likely all 9'. However, I know of at least one vendor advertising an RCH underframe kit that is 17''6" with 10' wb. Having been unable to find a drawing with this combination I thought it was time to call on the collective knowledge of RMWeb. If I had to guess, I would suspect that any 10' wb version was derived from the 1944 version of the steel underframe but it would be nice to sure.

 

EDIT: I have just checked the set I have against Adrian Johnstone's set and there is actually one extra drawing on his web site (1028 for sheet rails) so the mystery lives on!

Edited by Andy Vincent
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The HMRS seem to have added more thumbnails for RCH drawings since I last looked. The resolution is not well suited to trying to discern underframe details but this one - https://hmrs.org.uk/drawings/20-ton-standard-mineral-metal-underframe-348994.html - seems to be for a 12' wb wagon. It is drawing 1100 from 1927. I will continue peering at their thumbnails . . . 

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As even the 1923 RCH specifications apparently only covered 9 ft wheelbase wagons, albeit now 16 ft 6 in. over headstocks, my suspicion is that there was no spec for 10 ft wheelbase wagons. The railway companies were using 10 ft before 1923, but I don't remember any PO wagons with this wheelbase (other than things such as hoppers). Keith Turton may know.

But as stated, the RCH specs were effectively minimum standards, and wagon builders could get other designs approved by the registering railway company. That is how developments tended to happen which were then incorporated in future RCH documents.

Jonathan

PS A useful source of lots of RCH drawings, including buffers, axleboxes etc, is ":Private owner wagons from the Ince Waggon & Ironworks Company" by A J Watts, published by the HMRS and still in print. The chapter covering this topic is 21 pages.

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2 hours ago, Compound2632 said:

 

One could, I suppose, save one's eyesight and support the HMRS by buying copies!

Indeed - and I have several. One small criticism I would have of the archive, as an HMRS member, is that wheelbase isn’t always listed in the indexing information. Hence the peering to check that you are buying the right drawing! That said, the information the drawings archive holds is truly invaluable and the team is very helpful with scanning particular drawings that have yet to be scanned

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2 hours ago, corneliuslundie said:

.....  The railway companies were using 10 ft before 1923, but I don't remember any PO wagons with this wheelbase (other than things such as hoppers). .....

I think the Midland were using 10' ( before the LMS reverted to 9' ) but there were few other users and it certainly wasn't a common wheelbase. Post grouping, it was, though, standardised for non-convertible coke wagons.

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3 hours ago, Wickham Green too said:

I think the Midland were using 10' ( before the LMS reverted to 9' ) but there were few other users and it certainly wasn't a common wheelbase. Post grouping, it was, though, standardised for non-convertible coke wagons.

 

Yes, but not for mineral wagons. For those the Midland had standardised on 9'6" wheelbase, 16'0" over headstocks, 12 tons capacity from 1906, building 20,000 to various diagrams up to 1923.

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There was an earlier (1903) RCH specification for a 15 ton, 18 ft long mineral wagon with 9 ft 9 in. wheelbase, but it never became popular. Cory Bros had some but sold them back to the builder. The Rhymney and Cambrian used them for loco coal. I don't know about other users. On the whole there was strong resistance from the collieries to larger wagons because of the cost of changing screens etc. By the time the main-line companies started using 10 ft wheelbase wagons in larger numbers the coal industry was in decline and even more reluctant to spend money. And coal merchants would often have preferred to stay with 8 ton wagons. So was there actually any demand for an RCH specification?

There is a history of the RCH. Does that have anything?

Jonathan

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58 minutes ago, corneliuslundie said:

So was there actually any demand for an RCH specification?

 

Remember that the RCH Specifications were a statement of what the railway companies would accept. So an RCH Specification for a larger-capacity wagon is, effectively, the railway companies saying: "come on, trade, come on, coal owners, this is what we'd like you to move on to."

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A key point is that the RCH drawings do not define what you had to build, only what you could build if you wanted to avoid having to get specific approval from the RCH wagon committee. If a customer wanted, they could have, say, an 18T 6-wheel mineral wagon with drop sides, but before it could be registered, the design would have needed scrutiny by the Wagon Committee. The virtue of the 'standard' wagons was that their designs were effectively pre-approved; all that the resident Inspector at the builder's works needed to do was confirm that they had been built to the design and that the materials and workmanship were up to the required standard.

 

The real purpose of the RCH was, first, to set minimum design and maintenance standards so that wagons were up to a standard that would not put at risk the operation and safety of the railways over which they ran. That originated from a series of railway accidents involving poorly built and/or maintained private owner wagons over which the railway companies had relatively little control. The other significant purpose was that it allowed the standardisation of all the major components, which would have simplified the process of getting wagons maintained and repaired. Parts, particularly in regard to the running gear, became interchangeable and easily obtained without the delays and costs incurred in having to send off to the original builder for parts that were non-standard.

 

There are RCH drawings for 10' wheelbase underframes for merchandise wagons, dating from the 1920s, so the option was there for a 10' wheelbase coal wagon if anyone had wanted one. That there aren't any really only indicates that the coal mining industry didn't want them, potentially, I would suggest, because the 9' wheelbase coal wagon had become entrenched in the industry's infrastructure, in regard for example to wagon turntables, tipplers and traversers in coal depots, coupled with there being no purpose to changing from the established 9' wheelbase.

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I was fortunate to see the 5 huge tomes of RCH drawings that BP had at their archive in Hemel Hempsted some 30 years ago. Wood bound and some imperial size possibly equivalent to A2.  I have no idea what happened to them, but no one has come close to publishing or apparently archiving the RCH drawings. There were hundreds of them. As mentioned Tony Watts came closer than most but it is only a tiny proportion of what the RCH published. And it didn't 'die' in 1948. There are a whole series of 'how to write your wagons' in the early BR period and they are all RCH. I have a few copies, but there are a lot more at the Scottish museums. 

It is unfortunate but there is no clear publication on what the RCH actually did for wagons but it is very complex. 

 

And then there is the ignoring of the requirements. Wood frames for tank wagon was unacceptable after, what 1927, but these wagons are plated a decade later https://PaulBartlett.zenfolio.com/rofbishopton/e11c95b07  https://PaulBartlett.zenfolio.com/rofbishopton/e148fb70 We concluded they were hanging around the back of Chas Roberts and then were permitted for use with the WW2 shortages - but pure guess work. 

 

Paul

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One of the aspects of this which interests me most (aside from wanting to produce accurate CAD files for a range of rolling stock with their historical context) is the progression of ideas. I was never great at history but virtually a lifetime working closely with Silicon Valley really brings home the progression of successful ideas (some get improved on or just plain copied) and those that fall beside the wayside. I think you can see signs of this in the way the various railway companies competed with their engineering and this really interests me yet the relative difficulty in accessing what material exists (or even knowing what exists) means relying on secondary sources to form this impression.

 

The digitizing of the HMRS archive is throwing up some interesting insights (even just seeing where the Fox/Leeds Forge pressed steel underframe turns up is interesting) and will hopefully lead to a new generation of books (or at least extensive articles) although I am acutely aware that we are losing many of those best placed to interpret and contextualize these drawings.  

 

As Paul notes, not knowing exactly what the RCH produced is just one of the many challenges, as - for me anyway - is not really knowing where to start looking if one had the time to set out on trying to find and catalog the RCH output. In terms of those I have spoken to, Jim has been able to help the most with his set of drawings. The HMRS now lists over 300 RCH drawings and whilst the indexing is helpful, it probably needs a few days (at least) in Butterley to fully understand what even the HMRS holds before trying to even reconcile just these two sources!

Edited by Andy Vincent
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7 hours ago, hmrspaul said:

I was fortunate to see the 5 huge tomes of RCH drawings that BP had at their archive in Hemel Hempsted some 30 years ago. Wood bound and some imperial size possibly equivalent to A2.  I have no idea what happened to them, but no one has come close to publishing or apparently archiving the RCH drawings. There were hundreds of them. As mentioned Tony Watts came closer than most but it is only a tiny proportion of what the RCH published. And it didn't 'die' in 1948. There are a whole series of 'how to write your wagons' in the early BR period and they are all RCH. I have a few copies, but there are a lot more at the Scottish museums. 

It is unfortunate but there is no clear publication on what the RCH actually did for wagons but it is very complex. 

 

The RCH falls between the gaps when archives, research, and publication are organised largely on railway company lines, although there are a few dedicated individuals pushing forward our knowledge of private owner wagons. In principle this is where the HMRS should come into play but that really means a group of members with the enthusiasm to push a project through...

 

Tony Watts' Ince book, published by the HMRS, is the source of pretty well everything I know about the development of the RCH specifications in the 19th/early 20th century (the period that interests me). It was from one of the drawings reproduced there that I gleaned the interesting information that Thomas Clayton was chair of the Wagon Superintendents Committee at the time the first standards were issued - the relationship between those drawings and what the Midland was building at the time is interesting. Do minute books of this committee survive at TNA?

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Never say never. I have just been browsing through the Ince Waggon Co. book, and lo and behold a 10 ft wheelbase coal wagon.

Page 108, St Helens Collieries. Length over headstocks 18 ft, wheelbase 10 ft, capacity 15 tons.

It was built to conform to the 1903 specification for 15 ton wagons I mentioned above. But the text says that the specification allowed for a wheelbase of between 9 ft 6 in. and 10 ft 6 in. The only drawing I have seen, also in the book, has the wheelbase as 9 ft 9 in., and that is what I had previously assumed was the requirement. (Though on page 48 when discussing the development of the RCH specifications, Tony Watts says that the permitted wheelbase for 15 ton wagons was between 9 ft and 10 ft, so take your choice.

The livery by the way looks very much like that later used by ICI with three wide diagonal bands.

And another in the same book, but this time 9 ft 6 in. wheelbase: John Riley & Sons.

Jonathan

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4 hours ago, Compound2632 said:

....... In principle this is where the HMRS should come into play but that really means a group of members with the enthusiasm to push a project through...

There was a time when the HMRS was known as the Historical Model Wagon Society in some circles !

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Also looking again at the Ince book - and to Jim's point yesterday - it is noticeable how many embellishments there were that went beyond the RCH specification. I don't have the 1903/6 drawings so can only go on those included in the book, but as an example, the RCH drawings show discrete washers on bolts but Ince used washer plates (straight and curved) to secure the axleguards. Similarly, the rope hook (not shown on the 1903 drawing - although maybe just hidden) is shown as discrete on the 1906 RCH drawings but often appears between the leg and crown of the axleguard using one or more of the same bolts in the Ince photos. Curb rail supports also appear to be widespread but aren't required by the specification

 

The pictures also show one other curiosity: there is an extra pair of bolts between the two 'stud plates' as we would likely call them today (the flat plate attached to a welded rod that holds the headstock to the solebar). The stud plates are both there (albeit the upper often hidden by the curb rail) as the nuts on the headstock are clearly visible. However, it isnt clear why there was this extra pair of bolts. The 1923 drawings show a bracket behind the solebar but this is shown as being retained by the bolts for the stud plate. If the designer was sufficiently keen to save on holes and bolts by combining the rope hook with the axleguard then there must have been a reason for these extra two bolts but I cant immediately think of one. I will have a look at other drawings and see if that sheds any light. Very curious

 

Andy

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Re RCH drawings, if what I recorded above from the Ince Waggons book is correct, there would not seem to be any need for a specific drawing for a 10 ft wheelbase mineral wagon as it would have been simply an adaptation within the allowed limits of one of the specifications/drawings we know about. 

I understood that though the RCH was driven largely by the railway companies, the impetus for improved designs often came from the wagon companies, first as "approved" one-offs and then when they had been proved being incorporated in updated specifications. Charles Roberts has been cited as having had a major input over the years to revised specifications.

Jonathan

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A similar enquiry on the HMRS email group elicited the comment that the 1903/4 RCH specification was covered in Railway Engineer, Dec 1905, pp. 357-64. This is actually available as a reprint (PDF for £6.50 or hardcopy) but you can actually read most of the specification online (they obscure pages at random in the free version) at https://www.forgottenbooks.com/en/books/TheRailwayEngineer1905_10867449 

 

The article teases with 'more details in a future issue' but the only other year that seems to have been reprinted is 1908 and that lacks a complete index as far as I could see.

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