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The Suburban B Set Coaches?


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B-sets were designed primarily with rural usage in mind so were commonly seen on branch lines. I can't think of examples of their use in urban areas but it may have happened. The GWR's urban commuter services normally needed more capacity than a B-set could provide. The London, Birmingham and Bristol areas had 4-coach rakes that were sometimes doubled up to give 8-coach trains in the rush hour. Although some of these were a similar design and vintage to B-set coaches, they were different diagrams. I have seen them reffered to as D-sets in some places but I am not sure if this was a consistent term. The Cardiff and Plymouth areas favoured auto-trains for their local services with 6400 and/or 4575 auto-tanks working with sets of up to 4 auto-coaches.

 

B-sets could be seen on the mainline however. The Swindon to Didcot service was often a B-set. It was also a service often used to "run-in" locos after overhaul meaning there are photos of freshly outshopped Kings hauling B-sets on the mainline. Here is a Castle with a B-set on this service in 1961.

 

http://album.atomic-systems.com/showPic.php/45092/0478.jpg/6

Edited by Karhedron
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Quite so, though the running-in turns went further afield. Throughout most of the fifties there were two each way between Swindon and Bristol. These were often the highlight of my day as a young spotter at Saltford or Keynsham during the school holidays and made up for the all too rare visits to TM. Freshly outshopped Kings, Castles, and even the ocasional Britannia hauling anything from a B-set to a four or five coach rake.

 

As to the more local Bristol-Bath services, and sometimes points beyond, B-sets were quite common during the off-peak periods, usually behind a 4575 or BR standard tank.

 

Nick

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In the interests of pedantry, I'd just remind people that a B-set in the meaning of two close coupled Van Composites is only a B-set in the Exeter Division. There was no company-wide system, and every traffic Division had their own scheme and, indeed, these could change over time. What you really need is the Local Carriage Working Programme for your area, but these are like hen's teeth. The only comprehensive set I knopw about is in the Exeter Diary at The National Archives (can't locate the reference at peresent).

 

Leading on from that, if anyone knows where there is such a beast for the lines West of Swansea, I'd love to  know. Preferably late 1920s, but really any time from the Grouping to the '50s would help.

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In the interests of pedantry, I'd just remind people that a B-set in the meaning of two close coupled Van Composites is only a B-set in the Exeter Division.

Much as I hate to take issue with my old friend Mark, this statement needs to be qualified. The expression "B set" is used to refer to pairs of non-corridor brake composites in the Bristol CWP for winter 1951-52 and the Plymouth CWP for winter 1956-57. The Birmingham Division described this formation as D sets - the term "B set" referrred to four-coach sets there. Other CWPs do not use the term at all.

 

It should also be remembered that the stereotypical pair of non-corridor brake composites originates from the 1920s - the E140 as modelled by Airfix and successors dates from 1929. Before that, were trains of elderly four-wheelers called B sets?

 

Oh, and not all B sets were close-coupled. Some of the more recent brake composites had proper buffers at each end and could be run singly. This came in handy on the Kingsbridge branch where one coach appears to have been quite sufficient from the mid-50s.

 

I endorse what Karhedron says about the BRCS Yahoo group - a most useful resource!

 

Chris

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 It should also be remembered that the stereotypical pair of non-corridor brake composites originates from the 1920s - the E140 as modelled by Airfix and successors dates from 1929. Before that, were trains of elderly four-wheelers called B sets?

Quite possibly. Another variation is given in the second part of the branch line modelling series for a B set in 1911 comprising van, compo, third, third, compo, van. It does not say whether these were 4, 6, or 8 wheeled.

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 Much as I hate to take issue with my old friend Mark, this statement needs to be qualified. The expression "B set" is used to refer to pairs of non-corridor brake composites in the Bristol CWP for winter 1951-52 and the Plymouth CWP for winter 1956-57. The Birmingham Division described this formation as D sets - the term "B set" referrred to four-coach sets there. Other CWPs do not use the term at all.

 

It should also be remembered that the stereotypical pair of non-corridor brake composites originates from the 1920s - the E140 as modelled by Airfix and successors dates from 1929. Before that, were trains of elderly four-wheelers called B sets?

 

Oh, and not all B sets were close-coupled. Some of the more recent brake composites had proper buffers at each end and could be run singly. This came in handy on the Kingsbridge branch where one coach appears to have been quite sufficient from the mid-50s.

 

I endorse what Karhedron says about the BRCS Yahoo group - a most useful resource!

 

Chris

Chris is of course right. memo to me: think and check before you post. It was the Bristol Division that used B-set for the twin Van Composite sets, and, as he points out, it was also used in the West Country. For information, the Bristol Diary is in RAIL 253/527 (1904) to RAIL 253/829 (1945) and continued into BR days in AN 125. I believe there are more Carriage working books (through trains) in the RAIL 1000 group, but cannot locate the exact reference. I will check tomorrow when I'm there and update.

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A Bristol Division B-set, prior to the introduction of the bogie pairs, consisted of four 4-wheel coaches : Van/3rd, compo, 3rd, van/3rd a particular variation being to have three close coupled and with a loose Van/3rd to round things off. Occasionally two of these triplet sets would be run together as a six coach set though I don't think it had a name. It was equivalent to a K set but they were 6-wheeled.

 

A 1918 carriage working book shows these B-sets were the basis of most local services around Bristol.

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and, writing with some annoyance from the USA, just received the re-leased Hornby set from Hattons.  Alas, the bogies are incorrect - totally!  How Hornby hopes to compete with Bachmann and the energetic Dapol is a great mystery if they can't get the right wheels/bogies on a well-known coach!!

 

B-t-w, Hattons advises sitting tight until Hornby announces what it plans to do to rectify the error.

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It is worth mentioning that B-sets in later days were often strengthened with corridor brake composite coaches to provide toilets, for example on the Taunton-Barnstaple and Minehead lines.  In "The Country Railway" David St John Thomas says he was told this was done after an "unfortunate accident" on a long trip along the Taunton-Barnstaple line!

 

Surely it is time that an accurate RTR model of the E140 B sets was produced, given the inaccuracies in the Hornby model (and also in the Dapol N gauge version which seems to be a shrunk-down copy of the OO model).

 

Douglas

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It is worth mentioning that B-sets in later days were often strengthened with corridor brake composite coaches to provide toilets, for example on the Taunton-Barnstaple and Minehead lines.

 

Indeed. At least some of the BCKs at Taunton were built as slip coaches and were not immediately repainted out of chocolate and cream when no longer required for slipping.

 

Chris

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It is worth mentioning that B-sets in later days were often strengthened with corridor brake composite coaches to provide toilets, for example on the Taunton-Barnstaple and Minehead lines.

 

I'm not sure how that would help the passengers in the B-set van compos...  Now if you replaced the non-corridor coaches with a corridor pair...

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I'm not sure how that would help the passengers in the B-set van compos...  Now if you replaced the non-corridor coaches with a corridor pair...

 

I suppose passengers would have to plan ahead (!!!) or change coaches at a station on the way if required.  There were plenty of stops on the Taunton-Barnstaple line to allow this. 

 

I am planning to model the B-set and BCK combination for my N Gauge model of Dulverton, but it is a bit annoying that the new Farish Hawksworths coaches do not include a brake composite in what has been announced.

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I suppose passengers would have to plan ahead (!!!) or change coaches at a station on the way if required.  There were plenty of stops on the Taunton-Barnstaple line to allow this. 

 

I am planning to model the B-set and BCK combination for my N Gauge model of Dulverton, but it is a bit annoying that the new Farish Hawksworths coaches do not include a brake composite in what has been announced.

 

You could use a Dapol Collett brake compo.

 

Adrian

Edited by Adrian Wintle
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  • 1 month later...

I assume that they are meant for the after 1942 time period?

 

The Colletts? They are 1938 builds, and have been released in both shirtbutton and Hawksworth liveries. The Hawksworths are really BR coaches  - only a few ran in GWR days*

 

*lets not get back into that discussion ;)

 

Adrian

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The Colletts? They are 1938 builds, and have been released in both shirtbutton and Hawksworth liveries. The Hawksworths are really BR coaches  - only a few ran in GWR days*

 

*lets not get back into that discussion ;)

 

Adrian

 

The Suburban B Set's...

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The Suburban B Set's...

 

The most recent ones (with the bogie issues noted above) appear to be in pre-1935 livery, with the script GWR over the crest and a white roof. I'm not sure about the double lining, though. Note that some coaches reverted to that style of livery post-1942, but the roof would likely have been grey.

 

Adrian

Edited by Adrian Wintle
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Brake compo (Non corridor) twin sets were often seen on the main line in the Westbury and Taunton areas. A Taunton set would traverse the four line section to Creech before turning off for Yeovil.

 

Bristol sets could be seen working through to Westbury from Frome having originally started from Bristol.

 

I was told the Looe Branch set was worked down the mainline to Liskeard from Plymouth one day a week as part of the rotation of sets for servicing etc. There is a published shot of this working with a Bulldog at the head.

 

Several of the corridor brake compo 'strengtheners' were through coaches from Paddington, dropped at Taunton and added to Barnstable trains to complete their journey.Simliar workings to Minehead.

 

Mike Wiltshire

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  • 7 months later...

Pardon my dragging up an old thread, but I'm a little short of info regarding use of these B sets. It's been mentioned that they were operated in more urbanised areas as fixed rakes of 4 coaches, what would the formation comprise though - two B sets, or a B set coupled at the outer ends and different coaches in the middle of the rake? And would these additional coaches be BCKs typically or something else like a pair of all 3rd coaches? What was used before 1938 Collett corridor stock was introduced?

 

Oh, and one last question - Karhedron mentioned that some areas favoured auto trains, what's the composition of the rake here, I'm guessing it was headed by an autocoach normally seen on its own with a tank engine, but what other 3 coaches were usually employed in those rakes?

 

Lots of questions, I can only apologise - I don't have nearly as much information available on GWR practices up here as some of you seem to have to hand!

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The most recent ones (with the bogie issues noted above) appear to be in pre-1935 livery, with the script GWR over the crest and a white roof. I'm not sure about the double lining, though. Note that some coaches reverted to that style of livery post-1942, but the roof would likely have been grey.

 

Adrian

 

Good thing that Bachmann have recently released the 45xx to match up with the B Sets.

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Pardon my dragging up an old thread, but I'm a little short of info regarding use of these B sets. It's been mentioned that they were operated in more urbanised areas as fixed rakes of 4 coaches, what would the formation comprise though - two B sets, or a B set coupled at the outer ends and different coaches in the middle of the rake? And would these additional coaches be BCKs typically or something else like a pair of all 3rd coaches? What was used before 1938 Collett corridor stock was introduced?

 

Oh, and one last question - Karhedron mentioned that some areas favoured auto trains, what's the composition of the rake here, I'm guessing it was headed by an autocoach normally seen on its own with a tank engine, but what other 3 coaches were usually employed in those rakes?

 

Lots of questions, I can only apologise - I don't have nearly as much information available on GWR practices up here as some of you seem to have to hand!

For the first question, the 4 coach sets would have had non-gangwayed brake third or brake composite coaches at the outer ends and non-gangwayed full thirds or composites as the two in the middle of the set. The actual BC (not BCK which was the BR code for gangwayed brake composites) would not have been the same as the one modelled by Airfix and Hornby, but this isn't an accurate model anyway. The Collett 1938 gangwayed stock wasn't normally used with non-gangwayed stock on suburban workings, but at the end they did form part of gangwayed sets to entirely replace the non-gangwayed stock on some Birmingham area workings, the ones that had/t already gone over to DMUs.

The 4 coach autotrains were usually 4 separate autotrailers coupled 2 each side of the loco.

Edited by Andy W
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