Ashes to ashes

The latest variations on Bachmann’s LNER clasp-braked chassis are also recently in the shops.   These were pretty obviously on the same boat as the SR brakes, but missed the boat when it came to getting my finger out with this post…

One of these variations is the LNER corrugated end van, albeit in its initial form without ventilator hoods; I’ve not bothered taking a pic of this as it’s so similar to the existing vans, which will now be familiar to most.  The other introductions comprise three variations on the beastie below:

Although cannily being marketed as ‘Highbars’ (which they undoubtedly are), the box label doesn’t quite tell the whole story.  Strictly speaking, they are an adaptation of the steel High Goods intended for soda ash traffic, and it’s not quite such a stretching of a point as Dapol coming up with their own use for the codename ‘Rectank’ a few years ago.

This designation can be seen from the exquisite lettering seen above, which I have every intention of keeping most of and will need some careful work whilst weathering.  Physical differences are essentially the provision of a sheet rail or bar, and the doubling of the crossmember across the side door.

The wagon itself, like the unvented van, shares all the virtues and vices of the initial models.  The   distinctive brakegear is well represented and detailed, the wagon body is good on the outside but has no interior detail.  Obviously a Parkside kit will provide some of the latter, but still needs work if it is to accurately portray the chequer-plated surface of the inside of the doors; and the chassis will take up a fair bit of time to finish to the standard of detail of the RTR example.

Quite a few batches of these soda ash carriers seem to have existed, some built thus from new and some (I think) by conversion, some in the regular number series and others in the B74xxxx series for bulk carriers.  Whilst it’s very likely that some found their way into ‘ordinary’ traffic, I do wonder what good they would actually have been, as soda ash is known to be a very corrosive substance.  Steel Highs in general tended to find their way into assorted mineral traffics in later life, and the modified door arrangements of the soda ash wagons might well have marked them out as particularly suited to such use.  There is some circumstantial photographic evidence to support the possibility of their use on the seasonal flows of rock salt (for winter road use) to Inverness.

Below is a closeup of the sheet bar arrangement, which has probably been adapted from that already in use on the firm’s Shock Highs.  It does pop out quite easily, should you wish to run a wagon that has lost the bar (and/or use it on something else).  Those moulding feeds are also more evident at this level of enlargement than on viewing the model.  The 180 degree quadrant that the bar pivots on is moulded onto the wagon, but looks effective, and could be carved off if required (often, but not always, this part was left on when wagons lost the bars in later life).

3 Comments

Filed under Mineral wagons

3 responses to “Ashes to ashes

  1. Photographic evidence of rock salt to Inverness? Don’t tease us tell us more!

    • Hehe, you’re awake at the back then Mike 😉

      If you have a look in Mr Bartlett’s gallery here, there are at least three of these, in a rake, on the same date. I know it’s very circumstantial but there are also photos of long trains of Highfits working salt out of Cheshire (refs to follow), but to me, it’s not too much of a leap of faith – it seems coincidental that three of the ex-Soda Ash vehicles would otherwise be in the same rake.

  2. Brian H Williams

    The ‘Congleton’ branding is curious; the Soda Ash traffic came from the Northwich area, and not Congleton, which loaded sand in Prestwins and sand tipplers for BIS.
    This type of wagon was also used for shingle/flint traffic from the Romney Marsh area (Lydd?) to various locations- wagons on this flow were branded ‘Door Sealed’. Another traffic worked by the ‘Soda Ash’ wagons was burnt lime from Dowlow and elsewhere in the Peak District.
    Apart from Inverness, block trains of rock salt were worked to Hexham as in this photo:- http://www.flickr.com/photos/irishswissernie/5853825803/in/set-72157626883846203 These wagons do look as though they’re probably wooden-bodied ones, though.

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