Sunday, 19 July 2015

Ubiquitous! [2]

And Still Ubiquitous.
Mostly built between 1928 and 1933 (but with one preserved candidate dated from 1912), these remaining coaches are popular with heritage railways.

This one is on the Pontypool and Blaenavon railway.
The Pontypool and Blaenavon Railway (Welsh: Rheilffordd Pont-y-pŵl a Blaenafon) is a 2-mile (3 km) volunteer-run heritage railway in South Wales, running trains between a halt platform opposite the Whistle Inn public house southwards to the town of Blaenavon via a two-platform station at the site of former colliery furnace of the Big Pit National Coal Museum.

And this one is photographed at Llangollen ...
... and again at Leicester ...
... where the Great Central Railway was, oddly, having a Great Western Railway weekend. The most celebrated location is probably on the West Somerset Line that tuns between Bishops Lydeard (near Taunton) and Minehead.
But this one is different.
It may look no different to he untrained eye, but ...

Look at the style and pattern of the windows. Despite its colours it is NOT a Great Western Railway autocoach; it is a British Railways autocoach built in the 1950s and based on a Mark I BR coach body design. The South Devon Railway has a collection of these, some in the more accurate maroon livery.

But thanks to the interwebnet and he sainted Wikipedia we can now see how trains using these little coaches could be driven from the wrong end. Forget hi-tech, forget electronics, forget hydraulic/pneumatic servo control.

The driver had a big lever (top centre) ...
... which via old-tech coggage turned the big black rod (left). Via more toothed wheelie bits, this turned another rod ...
... which ran the full length of the coach where, at the "back end" ot could be bolted onto even more rods and gears lo link it to the locomotive's regulator, i.e.accelerator lever.
If traffic on the line warranted two coaches,  these used to sandwich the engine in the middle because play in a double-length set of roddage made control ineffective.
Of course, the driver had brakes, mechanical and vacuum, but no access to a whistle, hence the great big bell on the front.
Note the vacuum brake lever, colored red.

When working "backwards", of course, the fireman plied his trade in lonely existence shovelling coal in the cab of the locomotive.

Approximately 14 of these vehicles are in use or undergoing restoration on preserved railways in the UK with more now devoid of their control systems. Whilst non push-pull short trains can (and did) run coach first, the driver in his steamy cab had a poor view of the line ahead, so, usually, the engine would be taken off one end of the train and coupled back on to the other. By giving the driver control and a cab at the "wrong" end, none of this palaver was necessary saving time, money and (in some cases) a signalman to change the points.

There trains were, effectively, the precursor of today's ubiquitous multiple units ...
... now so utterly ubiquitous that a locomotive shunted from front to back of a train for the return journey is almost unknown. Even big mainline trains can be driven from a cab at the "wrong" end, these days. This, for example, is a "Driving Van Trailer", i.e. a cab and an empty storage coach, for the "East Coast" main line.
You have to wonder what the engineers of the good old autocoach would make if the much extended principle on today's railway.

The third part of this series is postponed until next weekend.
 First Bus PR Non-Event 
 First Glasgow launches new hospital bus services  
 Reported Thursday 16 July 2015 

Starting this weekend, First Glasgow's new hospital services 15 and 16 will provide direct links from the northwest of Glasgow to Queen Elizabeth University Hospital.

Service 15 will operate up to every 30 minutes, seven days a week, connecting Summerston with Maryhill, Byres Road, Partick and the hospital.

Service 16 will operate up to every 30 minutes, seven days a week, connecting Drumchapel with Blairdardie, Anniesland Broomhill, Partick and the hospital.

 So, a quick click YESTERDAY (one day to go) to First's Glasgow web site to view timetables and maps.
Oh, there aren't any.

How helpful : useless : incompetent : inefficient : daft
Feel free to add any other adjectives!

It sticks in fbb's throat to say it, but; thank goodness for Traveline.
Surely - SURELY - First should have the resources to tell their web users what is happening in full detail?
 Next bus blog : Monday 20th July 


  1. I would question the statement about the 1953-4 autocoaches being based on a BR Mark I design. They were a purely Swindon product which had most in common with Hawksworth's post-war GWR coaches.

  2. The postwar autocoach is not based on the Mark 1, but it is to GWR diagram A38 (further explanation on the carriage survey of the excellent website). The carriage designs of the Big Four continued to be built under BR auspices, with the number carrying a suffix to indicate that it was not a BR design.

  3. Thanks for the corrrection. I looks like a Mark 1 to an inexpert like fbb. Apologies to GWR aficiandos.