07 December 2023
Hot on the heels of IRM’s Dublin Show announcement of the Bulleid Open wagons, we now have LB and Permanent Way Department Flat Wagons, which share the same underframe, in OO gauge.
As Corás Iompair Éireann (CIÉ) continued its programme of rolling stock renewal under the tenure of Oliver Bulleid as its Chief Mechanical Engineer, Inchicore Works turned its attention to the construction of a humble but useful flat wagon with a 12-ton capacity. Utilising a version of Bulleid’s patented triangulated chassis developed as the basis for a variety of CIÉ wagons, a total of 79 were turned out between March and April 1958. Given the designation ‘LB’, these diminutive vehicles soon found their way into mixed goods trains the length and breadth of the Irish railway network.
Featuring removable stanchions and anchor points for tethering chains, the wagons could be quickly adapted to carry a variety of large single-unit loads, and they were commonly spotted at yards and goods sheds with items such as cars, tractors and pre-ISO containers on board. They were also pressed into service on permanent way trains to carry equipment and even small amounts of ballast and spoil.
The winding-down of wagonload goods traffic in favour of more lucrative and efficient trainload ‘liner’ operations in the 1970s meant that the LB flat wagons became a rare sight as the decade wore on, but they could still occasionally be found in maintenance trains until the early 1980s.
The last development in the series of two-axle wagons produced by Corás Iompair Éireann (CIÉ) to feature Oliver Bulleid’s triangulated underframe design is one the company’s then Chief Mechanical Engineer likely did not envisage while overseeing design and production of ‘H Vans’ during the 1950s.
The rise of continuously-braked ‘liner’ trains in the 1970s heralded the demise of the quaint and old-fashioned wagonload approach and CIÉ found itself with hundreds of redundant wagons. The scale of this transition necessitated the establishment of a scrapping facility at the old Midland Great Western Railway permanent way yard in Mullingar, where most of these vehicles were broken up.
However, an opportunity was recognised to repurpose the chassis of some H Vans which were at that time awaiting their fate. By simply removing the wooden body and retaining portions of the brackets at either end to act as stanchions, CIÉ’s Permanent Way Department took charge of a small number of flat wagons to supplement and replace older types.
Quite likely a stop-gap measure until funding for fleet upgrades could be secured, these wagons remained in service for a further decade and found use carrying machinery, ballast and spoil in maintenance trains around the network.
A fully diecast floor makes up part of the underframe structure to allow the wagon to get some much-needed weight in and assist with delivering excellent running characteristics. A wealth of separate plastic detail consisting of all the braking and underframe gear, stanchions, sprung buffers and brass bearing cups to allow the smoothest of running complete the makeup of these beautifully detailed wagons.
Available in their typical triple packs, IRM’s first production run covers both the LB and PWD flats. Pre-orders can be made via the IRM website.
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