Background

Brake Vans

The brake vans included in this pack highlight one of the challenges of creating realistic and accurate representations in model form for both simulations or a model railway where official records and other sources conflict with each other and photographs of the real thing! The models included conform to photographic evidence and they are all supported by some references in the various research sources used. The pack includes two variations of the BR 20T brake van based around two (different) diagrams and lots although in reality the differences are not as great would at first be assumed as the later diagram appears to have been updated to included features that had been included to a greater or lesser degree on new brake vans for a while!

Dia. 1/506 was the diagram given to the official British Railways 20T brake van based on a design by the LNER. With plain axle boxes, spindle buffers and just a handbrake. As construction progressed through a number of different lots at Darlington (Faverdale) Works various changes took place including lots (or parts of lots) that were vacuum fitted, vacuum piped or fully vacuum braked. Axle boxes were changed from plain to roller and various buffer types were used. By the time we get to lot 3129, built in 1958-9 and the basis for some of the brake vans in this pack, photographs show vans to be fitted with roller bearings and hydraulic buffers. The diagram book states a mixture of vacuum braked, vacuum piped and unfitted vans contained in the lot with photographs generally supporting this (only one vacuum braked example found) during the period of the stock pack. Other sources show the entire lot as vacuum braked or vacuum piped at the time of construction and as a result we have hedged our bets with the models included!

Dia. 1/507 was the last incarnation of the standard BR brake van, built (officially) with roller bearings and hydraulic buffers with the versions included in this pack are modelled on those built to lot 3394 at Ashford in 1963. Unfitted when built, but with a through vacuum pipe and brake valve the majority were later fitted with through air pipes to create the CAR variant. Intended to work with air braked trains, many were allocated to specific pools and flows. Some of these brake vans were in use in the late 1980s on traffic flows carrying dangerous commodities that still required a guard to travel at the rear of the train or where propelling movements were required as a part of the trains journey.

The one limiting factor for the use of a brake van as a part of a Speedlink service was the 50 mph speed limit imposed on them which could mean the higher speeds of the modern air braked wagons couldn't be taken advantage of.

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