Prototype information on some BR-period vans
BR standard vans
by Simon Dunstall
Of interest here are the 17'6" long, 10' WB ordinary vans and shock absorbing vans, of BR design with corrugated ends and double hinged doors in the sides. Fruit, Ale, Banana, Meat and Pallet vans (etc., including vanwides) are not included. Please advise if you think some of the information on this page is incorrect, or if you've got new information you want to add. There are many other places in which you can find information about BR wagons, but hopefully there's something here of interest.
The diagrams These are the diagrams relating to the vans of interest. This information has been taken primarily from Don Rowland's Book British Railways Wagons. By diagram, it is meant the page in BR's 'Diagram Book'. Using the table below, the total number of these vans is calculated as 24612 non-shock absorbing vans and 4475 shock absorbing vans, including the margarine vans. It is assumed that the 700 vehicles of Lot 3109 were built as diagram 213 vans, rather than diagram 218 vans as suggested in Don Rowland's book (see later).
Van Doors There seems to be two types of ply door – those with triangular reinforcement plates in the corners, and those without. From photos, it seems that the corner reinforcement plates were applied to doors of most vans (every van?) of diagram 1/213, 1/218, 1/220 and 1/224, presumably from new. Plate 57 in Don Rowlands book provides the only photo showing that diagram 1/208 vans were fitted with this style of ply door (and this van may have had modifications at the same stage as the autocoupler was fitted). I haven't seen Diagram 1/209 vans with such doors. Some 208 and 209 vans may well have received such doors, or had plates fitted to their existing doors.
Lot 3109 The appendices of Don Rowlands' book suggest that B779851 to B780550 were built to lot 3109 in 1958 at Ashford, to be diagram 1/218 vans (ply-sided shocvans). However, Plates 82 and 83 in Cheona Publishing's British Railways Vans show photos of vehicles from this lot, B779954 and B780203. These wagons are in fact ordinary ply-sided vans to either diagram 1/213 or 1/224. In addition, Duncan Wilcock has provided information showing that B779898, B779928, B780262 and B780379 were also standard ply-sided vans (photographed late '80s and early '90s). All of these six vans were seen fitted with BR 8-shoe brakes.
For an expert opinion on the "mystery" of Lot 3109, it's over to Paul Bartlett:
Dear Simon, Very pleased to hear from you, however that was quite a long email to ask if there is a typo in Don Rowlands book. BR was very consistent with its number blocks and 3109 is simply 1/213 vans.
As referred to by Paul, B779851 to B780550 is in the running number range for ordinary vans (B75xxxx-B78xxxx), as opposed to the B85xxxx range for shocvans. Ashford was building 1/213 vans in 1956 (1500 vans, lots 2855/6) and 1957 (80 vans, lot 3023). In 1958, when lot 3109 was built, it seems that they just kept on rolling them out.
A dissenting voice comes from Red Panda's instructions for their diagram 1/220 kit. These instructions give a summary of shocvan running numbers, building dates, builders and common detail variations. They list lot 3109 as B779851 to B780550 (as Don Rowland does), yet give the year as 1959. Anyway, they suggest that the typical spec. for a lot 3109 shocvan is: ply sides and doors, 4-shoe brakes, and Duplex, Dowty and Oleo buffers. They don't mention any ordinary vans being part of the lot. Most interestingly, Red Panda's instructions note that B780511 (within lot 3109) has been sighted as a diagram 1/218 van with 4-shoe brakes and Duplex buffers...
So, Ashford may have slipped in a 1/218 or two in Lot 3109 as a prank on modellers, but nevertheless it isn't advisable to build a model of a lot 3109 shocvan unless you have a picture of it! If you want to build a 1/218 with 4-shoe brakes and Duplex buffers, try a lot 3008 vehicle (e.g. B854136 has this combination, as seen in plate 85 in Cheona's Van Book).
A Modeller's Comparison of Lot 3109 (Diagram 1/213) and Lot 3398 (Diagram 1/224) vans Don Rowland's book records lot 3398 as being the only order for diagram 1/224 ply-sided vans, these built in 1961. B786548, a diagram 1/224 vehicle (Plate 89 in Cheona's book) is representative of the diagram 1/224 fleet then it seems that all vans of both lots 3109 and 3398 were fitted of BR 8-shoe brakes. The photographs in Cheona's book (B779954, B780203 and B786548) also show that all three have two-part corrugated ends (8 corrugations below, 8 above the division).
Based on the photos, there appears to me to be little practical difference (at least for modelling purposes) between diagram 1/213 and diagram 1/224. It is possible that a difference lies in diagram 224 vans being fitted with Oleo buffers from new, whereas diagram 1/213 vans were not universally. Even if this were true three of the four lot 3109 vans had received Oleos by the time Duncan Wilcock had photographed them (20 years after building). The photographs of B779954 and B780203 show Dowty buffers, as did the fourth van photographed by Duncan.
Close inspection of the three photos in Cheona's book shows that all three vans have their cast number plates in different position on the solebars;
All the label clips appear to be just to the right of the spring stop above the left W-iron – a pretty usual sort of place really. Each seems to have three-part rainstrips too (although B786548 is a little beaten up in the roof department). Yes, these are pretty fiddly sort of details.
An interesting thing noticeable about B780203 and B786548 is that a new type of door bottom lock bracket seems to be fitted – that is, new compared to what is usually found on such vans (see the photos). However, the photo of B780203 dates from 1979, and the photo of B786548 was probably taken at the same period of time or later, so that maybe this was a later ('70s?) modification.
Modelling Geoff Kent, as always, provides a good dose of prototype information and modelling ideas in The 4mm Wagon Volume 2. Cheona's BR Vans and Don Rowland's British Railways Wagons also provides valuable prototype information.
Parkside Dundas recently upgraded their kits for planked and ply standard vans. This is a good thing, as the old kit has its problems.
When building the old kit, I have found that I needed to put 10 or 15 thou plastikard between the mitres of the end and side mouldings in order to get the wagon-end wide enough (compare a Parkside 1/208 to their planked shocvan for example). With this widening of the ends, the wagon measures up better against prototype dimensions (and, more importantly, the appearance is improved).
The body of the upgraded kit is certainly an improvement, and use of the upgraded kit can certainly be recommended. It provides choices of door (planked or ply) for both planked and ply diagrams, as well as mouldings to represent the air scoops on ply-sided fruit vans. An annoying feature of the kit for the plank-sided vehicle is that the ply doors, if used, need to be thinned by a couple of millimetres. This is a dull and horrid job.
See also BR Diagram 1/218 and 1/220 Shocvans.
Duncan Wilcock's Photographs This list has been provided by Duncan Wilcock, compiled from his own photographs.
B779898 (041588) – Lot 3109 (Diagram 213) – Doncaster 29.12.91. Standard ply-bodied van, 8-shoe clasp brakes, split axleboxes, Oleo pneumatic buffers.
KDB779928 (ZRV) – Lot 3109 (Diagram 213) – Kings Lynn 21.10.88. Standard ply-bodied van, 8-shoe clasp brakes, plate front axleboxes, Oleo pneumatic buffers.
B780262 (ZRV) – Lot 3109 (Diagram 213) – Barry Docks 11.10.87. Standard ply-bodied van, 8-shoe clasp brakes, split axleboxes, Dowty hydraulic buffers.
LDB780379 (ZYV) – Lot 3109 (Diagram 213) – Doncaster 29.12.91. Standard ply-bodied van, 8-shoe clasp brakes, split axleboxes, Oleo pneumatic buffers.
Also, B780140 (Lot 3109, Diagram 213), TOPS coded VVV, was a grounded body at Barry Docks in July 1990.
Additional Photo Notes B855033 – Lot 3224 (Diagram 220) – Photographed in 1969 (Photo in Cheona Publishing's Railways in Profile Series – Number 3 – BR Vans) has Dowty buffers rather than Oleos, which makes it an exception to the data provided in Red Panda's instructions for the 1/218 and 1/220 shocvan kit.