We recently received an e-mail from a new member who has expressed an interest in modelling the wagon at Clearwell Caves which was featured at the end of our previous post. As our Chairman’s day job is at Milkwall just half a mile or so up the road from Clearwell, it was easy to pop down and get some measurements and extra photos.
The wagon is roughly rectangular in shape with slightly rounded corners. The body has straight sides at the top and then they taper down to a narrower profile to match the width of the chassis. There are two dumb buffers on each end with an eye for attaching a chain or rope for haulage. A stake is driven throught this eye into the ground to prevent the wagon from being moved.
Width at top of body: 113cm
Length at top of body: 160cm
Height of body: 92cm
Distance from top of body to start of taper: 47cm
Width over buffers: 78cm
Buffers: 21cm wide x 15cm high
Wheel diameter over outer tyre: 35cm
Wheelbase between centres: 51cm
Back-to-back inside flanges: 82cm
Approximate rail gauge: 84.5cm (nominal 2’10”)
There is also a wagon of the ex-NCB type at the end of the siding which has been sign written. At a glance it appears virtually identical to the manrider tub wagon at Lea Bailey before the latter had been modified. We shall look at taking some measurements of these wagons for a future write-up.
Since the early days of Lea Bailey Light Railway, our site has been home to a variety of wagons, some of which are more useful than others. Unfortunately as with many of the items preserved here, we don’t know the history of these two wagons — they appear to have been fitted with side hoppers which had subsequently been welded up. One of the pair had been modified by our volunteers by grinding off the weld and freeing off the bolts and had seen some use as a ballast hopper. However due to a combination of the long wheelbase, thin flanges, and the fact these wagons are slightly out of gauge, they are prone to derailment (especially on points) and as such had been taken out of use.
As a temporary measure they had been parked off the end of the running line with the intention of finding a more permanent home. Sadly one wagon had sunk in the mud and the other had been pushed over by some unwelcome visitors. On a dreary day in January the decision was made to move them.
Using a Tirfor winch and a handy beech tree (no shortage of these at Lea Bailey) the downed wagon was slowly pulled upright. The Simplex was used to gently pull it along the ground towards the end of the running line and into a space previously cleared of rocks. With the Stop Board (temporarily) removed and some short pieces of rail in position, a hi-lift jack was used to get all four wheels above the track before gently lowering the wagon and allowing the Simplex to pull it along. The Hudson easy-turnout was pressed into service to place the wagon onto a side track until more volunteers were available to move it somewhere else.
The second wagon was already upright but proved more difficult to move due to being up to its axles in mud. Once the Tirfor had pulled it out the Simplex was once again brought into use to get it close to the running line, with several handy rocks being used to prop the temporary rails up out of the mud. This wagon was carefully taken through the loop and down the new track onto the mine tip before being carefully moved using the traverser onto another piece of temporary track.
Once the warmer weather arrives, we are hoping to clean up and paint this wagon and display it on our mine tip, similar to the wagons on display at Clearwell Caves which are visible to drivers and passengers in vehicles passing by on the nearby road.