NPCS lacking handbrakes

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Guy Rixon
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NPCS lacking handbrakes

Postby Guy Rixon » Tue Jan 08, 2013 3:43 pm

Some 19th-century NPCS didn't have any handbrakes when built; e.g. the GWR Siphon O4s didn't get handbrakes until refitted in the 1920s (according to historical notes in the D&S kit, anyway). Does anybody know what the rules were for shunting such vehicles in a passenger station?

I'm particularly interested in the case where such a vehicle arrives as tail traffic, is detached from its train and put into a bay for loading or unloading, where the bay has a connection to a running line. If I model this operation, can I just leave the van standing in the bay with no brakes, maybe protecting the running lines with catch points? Or does it have to be coupled to something that has a handbrake? Or should I assume that the shunters secure it with scotches of some kind?


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Russ Elliott
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Re: NPCS lacking handbrakes

Postby Russ Elliott » Tue Jan 08, 2013 6:18 pm

I think all the O4s were vacuum-braked, so the fitting of handbrakes merely enabled them to be shunted quicker (no need to connect and disconnect hoses, and no time required to make the vacuum in the cylinder), and by non-fitted engines if necessary.

Armchair Modeller

Re: NPCS lacking handbrakes

Postby Armchair Modeller » Tue Jan 08, 2013 6:59 pm

I believe sprags were used to make sure unbraked vehicles didn't run very far in the old days. Photos I have seen show long wooden sprags, parallel in the centre and tapering towards the ends, long enough to fit between the spokes of both wheels on one axle.

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Re: NPCS lacking handbrakes

Postby grovenor-2685 » Tue Jan 08, 2013 8:40 pm

I think all the O4s were vacuum-braked,

Note that a vac brake is not a substitute for a handbrake as it cannot be used to hold a vehicle that is detached, the vacuum will leak away after a while leaving the vehicle free to roll.
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Terry Bendall
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Re: NPCS lacking handbrakes

Postby Terry Bendall » Wed Jan 09, 2013 7:39 am

One method of preventing vehicles from rolling is the humble wheel chock. From my experiece of helping to restore 50026, I am aware that they are still in current use and take the form of a piece of hardwood timber about 16 inches long and 4 inches high with the top suface curved to roughly match the radius of the wheel. A round wooden handle projects from one side to enable the chock to be moved without getting too close to the vehicle. Difficult to make a working model of one however.

One of the important things is to remember that attaching or detaching tail traffic took time. There was obviously ther time needed to uncouple but also the need to detach/attach brake pipes, where fitted, and to restore the brake pressure, whether vacuum braked or air braked in the train afterwards.

On Pulborough we have a move where horse boxes are detached from the rear of a down train, collected by the branch train engine and moved back over the crossover to be attached to the rear of the branch train in the up loop. Not something that is seen very often on models of through stations. However the layout is c1912 so most NPCV would have had hand brakes by then. I hope you can include similar moves Guy, since they are not often seen at exhibitions.

Terry Bendall

martin goodall
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Re: NPCS lacking handbrakes

Postby martin goodall » Wed Jan 09, 2013 9:52 am

Some other GWR Siphons were not equipped with handbrakes.

I have a model of a Low Siphon (the old K's kit) (Diagram O1) which did not have a hand brake. Mine is modelled in early 1920s condition. I don't know whether this vehicle would have been equipped with a handbrake later.

On the other hand, my Siphon C (Diagram O8) does have a handbrake.

As to shunting, I am afraid I don't have an answer to that. My unbraked Low Siphon gets left at the milk dock overnight for loading in the early morning, and it is then attached to the first Up passenger train of the day. I am not sure how station staff would have ensured that the vehicle did not creep out of the platform during the night (!)

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