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The Scarva branch Railcar trailer vehicle

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Lambeg man
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Here's another conundrum I've struggled with for years. In 2015 I received a copy from the IRRS of the drawing for the single classification K 19 carriage.

Sources have stated it was built for service on the Scarva-Banbridge branch as; a) a Railcar Trailer when traffic demanded and b) as a locomotive hauled coach to cover any Railcar failure.

Apart from the fact it was built in 1936 with a wooden paneled body, a year after the GNR began building new 'All Steel' carriages of classifications F 16 and K 15 (the last previous wooden paneled vehicles having been produced in 1932), there is a note on the drawing that is of interest.

Written on the drawing is the following "KERR STUART CONVERSION"

The firm of Kerr Stuart were locomotive builders, not coach builders. Another point is that the 43' 6" body length was unique in respect of other GNR built carriages. The body paneling APPEARS to be GNR standard as seen in the Des Coakham photo below (with acknowledgement to Midland Publishing).

image.png.b257603c0b6ec4ce1704760073d9f62b.png

So my question is if anyone could shed more light on why the drawing has the remark  "KERR STUART CONVERSION" written on it?

   

Edited by Lambeg man
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Kerr Stuart built a considerable number of railmotors, before being wound up in the early 30s. Could it be that the coach was built using significant KS components acquired in the liquidation sale? Might explain the unusual length.

Just before the firm collapsed, the GN did actually cross paths with KS. As engineering advisers, G T Glover and Dundalk had been loosely involved with KS in 1930 through the unsuccessful trials of a KS loco on the Castlederg and Victoria Bridge Rlwy….intriguingly, that loco still survives, the only Castlederg loco still with us. And, more notably, it’s the first Irish diesel locomotive….

The KS works were purchased by George Cohen and sons, and the goodwill acquired by Hunslet. Perhaps the chassis of a Railmotor went to Dundalk via either of them…Tom Rolt’s book ‘Landscape with Machines’ provides some background on the details of what happened to some KS assets. 

4C1FCBF7-6A1D-471B-A17C-FA5571DEDF00.jpeg

Edited by Galteemore
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Very interesting post, Steve.

Why it was built to a length which was non-standard not only to the GNR, but to every other railway too,is something I would have no notion about.

However, I would discount any idea that it was built using railcar / railbus parts or chassis, or as something specifically to be hauled by one. It would be too heavy, despite its length, for a glorified road bus to haul.

It might well have been built for that branch, though. My best guess would be that somebody decided that a full-length coach was an extravagance, as passenger traffic on this picturesque little branch line never amounted to that much.

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14 hours ago, Galteemore said:

Kerr Stuart built a considerable number of railmotors, before being wound up in the early 30s. Could it be that the coach was built using significant KS components acquired in the liquidation sale? Might explain the unusual length.

Just before the firm collapsed, the GN did actually cross paths with KS. As engineering advisers, G T Glover and Dundalk had been loosely involved with KS in 1930 through the unsuccessful trials of a KS loco on the Castlederg and Victoria Bridge Rlwy….intriguingly, that loco still survives, the only Castlederg loco still with us. And, more notably, it’s the first Irish diesel locomotive….

Many thanks for that Galteemore. I never knew of that link. You have certainly given me an avenue for exploration. When built it was classified as an All Third and it appears the brake facility was added in 1943. Had it had the brake compartment when built it should have been classified as an 'L'. So the end compartment that became the Guard's MAY have been a driving compartment IF and WHEN it was a Railmotor. Off with my shovel to do more digging. LM

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2 hours ago, Lambeg man said:

Many thanks for that Galteemore. I never knew of that link. You have certainly given me an avenue for exploration. When built it was classified as an All Third and it appears the brake facility was added in 1943. Had it had the brake compartment when built it should have been classified as an 'L'. So the end compartment that became the Guard's MAY have been a driving compartment IF and WHEN it was a Railmotor. Off with my shovel to do more digging. LM

It wouldn’t have been an actual railmotor as such, LM - though possibly the chassis alone was made at some stage with that notion in mind.

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16 hours ago, jhb171achill said:

Why it was built to a length which was non-standard not only to the GNR, but to every other railway too,is something I would have no notion about.

However, I would discount any idea that it was built using railcar / railbus parts or chassis, or as something specifically to be hauled by one. It would be too heavy, despite its length, for a glorified road bus to haul.

Hi JHB, it was clearly intended to be towed by either Railcar A or B which took over the Scarva branch services from 1935 on. They could shuttle between Banbridge and Scarva (no turntable) whereas a Railbus had to run to Goraghwood to turn. 

 

17 hours ago, Galteemore said:

Kerr Stuart built a considerable number of railmotors, before being wound up in the early 30s. Could it be that the coach was built using significant KS components acquired in the liquidation sale? Might explain the unusual length.

For the present I am going with this. Have spent the morning trawling the internet for information about Kerr Stuart railmotors. Can not find ANY direct link to Ireland. They did provide a 3' guage diesel loco to the C&VBT as you pointed out and Glover was involved. Before it was returned to K S, Henry Forbes broached Glover about buying it for the CDR but was advised against doing so. Now Forbes was always on the lookout for good second hand equipment. Did he spot a redundant KS product (say the chassis), or perhaps a cancelled order. KS in the past had built 5' 3" products for export to Australia. Did he then alert Glover to a "bargain"? I am guessing only a KS chassis was bought as the bodywork on this coach is pure GN, except for the length. But then why build it in 1936 in a style that that had not been used for 4 years.

16 hours ago, jhb171achill said:

My best guess would be that somebody decided that a full-length coach was an extravagance, as passenger traffic on this picturesque little branch line never amounted to that much.

I also go with this. By 1935 the GN decides it needs a trailer vehicle a Railcar can pull, it has a second hand (if short) chassis sitting in the yard and can therefore they build a coach weighing only 22 tons.

16 hours ago, jhb171achill said:

Why it was built to a length which was non-standard not only to the GNR, but to every other railway too,is something I would have no notion about.

Perhaps the unusual length was because it originally had a hollow locomotive section fitted at one end of the whole chassis which was removed?  

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2 minutes ago, Lambeg man said:

 

Perhaps the unusual length was because it originally had a hollow locomotive section fitted at one end of the whole chassis which was removed?  

I’d be with you on the lack of any real Kerr Stuart connection in this instance.

I wouldn’t think there was even the remotest likelihood of anyone thinking if a new-build railmotor at that stage. Way more likely it’s been intended to be towed - perhaps. Railmotors, per se, has already been widely discredited when this thing was built; all of the several railway companies in Ireland who had ever had them (DSER, GSWR, BCDR, GNR etc) had found them to be a disaster.

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Agreed. Why would the GN go to the trouble of drawing up a non-standard one off design unless they either:

a. had a bespoke requirement for short vehicles as per the Courtmacsherry bogies. I am not aware of such a restriction on this line.

b. Had a non-standard chassis or underframe in stock which could be used for a cheaper build. This may not even have been an old Railmotor chassis, of course. KS were also, apparently coachbuilders as well as loco builders. So there are a number of possibilities as to what it might have originally been intended for. 

 

Edited by Galteemore
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33 minutes ago, Galteemore said:

a. had a bespoke requirement for short vehicles as per the Courtmacsherry bogies. I am not aware of such a restriction on this line.

I think so. Now I think I’ve seen photos of 6 wheel coaches but my mind could easily be tricking me. Could have even been an Ex 6 wheeler turned 4 wheeler 

 

Went looking on flicker out of curiosity and sooner found a bandon tank pushing a Black and Tan laminate coach with 2nd class written on the doors and a bandon tank shunting a UTA coach before I found anything other then short bogeys in the courtmac section 

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1 hour ago, jhb171achill said:

I wouldn’t think there was even the remotest likelihood of anyone thinking if a new-build railmotor at that stage. Way more likely it’s been intended to be towed - perhaps.

Yes I would agree. It is therefore more likely to have been a coach chassis.

1 hour ago, Galteemore said:

ad a non-standard chassis or underframe in stock which could be used for a cheaper build. This may not even have been an old Railmotor chassis, of course. KS were also, apparently coachbuilders as well as loco builders. So there are a number of possibilities as to what it might have originally been intended for. 

See above. I wonder if the GN Minute Books might reveal something. New coach building had to be approved by the Board. Though the coach was built in 1936, had the chassis been acquired (by whatever means) in say 1932 for some project which the Board initially approved, but it then got kicked into the long grass when the post strike two year moratorium on new carriage building began. As all GNR carriages were usually planned about a year or so before actual construction, perhaps the design for this "planned" one was drawn up in 1932 to be built in 1933? This would explain why it was built with a wooden panelled body a year into the "steel" era.

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2 hours ago, Westcorkrailway said:

I think so. Now I think I’ve seen photos of 6 wheel coaches but my mind could easily be tricking me. Could have even been an Ex 6 wheeler turned 4 wheeler 

 

Went looking on flicker out of curiosity and sooner found a bandon tank pushing a Black and Tan laminate coach with 2nd class written on the doors and a bandon tank shunting a UTA coach before I found anything other then short bogeys in the courtmac section 

That can only have been in late 1962 / early ‘63; no BnT before that, no steam after….

The chassis - most definitely not a six-wheeler; other than on the BCDR (where the very last few alone were up to 37ft), the standard six-wheel coach length was 30ft.

In fact, the very term “six-wheeler” is a construct of railway enthusiasts, like that ridiculous term of “wok-through” for 6-car railcar sets on NIR. Railwaymen always referred to them as “thirty-foot(ers)”.

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On 20/11/2022 at 2:21 PM, jhb171achill said:

I wouldn’t think there was even the remotest likelihood of anyone thinking if a new-build railmotor at that stage

Have been thinking... The GNR had Railmotors built in 1906 that were by 1913 "converted" into ordinary carriages. These in turn lasted into the 1950's. I go back to the marking on the drawing "KERR STUART CONVERSION". This suggests it was "converted" from something else into a carriage. So the possibility is a second hand redundant Railmotor chassis with engine removed? But then why go the shipping expense of basically buying a heap of scrap and bringing it to Ireland? One other thing, the drawing was produced by Dundalk Works in 1936, which is not to say the vehicle was actually built there. But then any purchase of a 'foreign' vehicle by the GNR in 1936 would surely have been noted by now?

Edited by Lambeg man
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1 hour ago, Lambeg man said:

Have been thinking... The GNR had Railmotors built in 1906 that were by 1913 "converted" into ordinary carriages. These in turn lasted into the 1950's. I go back to the marking on the drawing "KERR STUART CONVERSION". This suggests it was "converted" from something else into a carriage. So the possibility is a second hand redundant Railmotor chassis with engine removed? But then why go the shipping expense of basically buying a heap of scrap and bringing it to Ireland? One other thing, the drawing was produced by Dundalk Works in 1936, which is not to say the vehicle was actually built there. Bit then any purchase of a 'foreign' vehicle by the GNR in 1936 would surely have been noted by now?

Those things had completely different body details and (especially) window spacing and shapes. It’s definitely been built as a carriage rather than even a comprehensive conversion of a railmotor.

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28 minutes ago, jhb171achill said:

Those things had completely different body details and (especially) window spacing and shapes.

Hi JHB, I wasn't suggesting it was one of the former GNR Railmotors, rather that there is a history (probably on quite a few railways) of Railmotor bodies/chassis being recovered for further use having had the unsuccessful (in nearly every case!) gubbins removed.

In an effort to try and resolve this I am putting the original drawing up here as maybe someone will spot something I've missed.

image.thumb.jpeg.b1749cc0aef780ca06d8b31231c380b5.jpeg 

Edited by Lambeg man
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40 minutes ago, Lambeg man said:

Hi JHB, I wasn't suggesting it was one of the former GNR Railmotors, rather that there is a history (probably on quite a few railways) of Railmotor bodies/chassis being recovered for further use having had the unsuccessful (in nearly every case!) gubbins removed.

In an effort to try and resolve this I am putting the original drawing up here as maybe someone will spot something I've missed.

image.thumb.jpeg.b1749cc0aef780ca06d8b31231c380b5.jpeg 

Interesting!

 

 

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