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LNER fish vans

I have a fish train on my 1930s layout and have been building fish vans for some time, pre-Grouping types in the main as shown in the topic about fish traffic. They dominated before WW2 despite the LNER constructing its own designs to four different diagrams:

D.23
D.37
D.83
D.134

- three of which can be modelled, beginning with D.23.


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LNER 10T fish van to D.83

In 1932-37 further development changed radically. A near normal length was chosen (actually slightly longer than D.23), the body was sealed with no ventilation at all, the framing was internal (outside framing on D.23 had been really old-fashioned), and the wheelbase was increased from 9' > 10'. Peter Tatlow's Vol.4A, page 147 has two good pictures: this one taken on a misty day he didn't use:

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Built in 1936, D.83 No 184014 poses for the camera on a misty day. Where would we be without Photoshop? Interesting to note that two clips for wagon labels were now being provided. Photo: Peter Tatlow collection.

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There is no kit but it can be made by reworking the plastic kit from Parkside for the next version which was to D.134 (with another slight increase in length and significantly longer wheelbase).

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One of the sides marked up with a felt tip pin showing where the cuts will take place to reduce the D.134 version to the preceding D.83. A plank has to be removed on each side of the sliding door. Make the cuts slightly under-size and then sand the parts until they fit nicely. It's easier than it may sound. Assemble on a rigid flat surface and leave to go hard.

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One of the ends with the buffer housings drilled out for MJT sprung buffers and whitemetal hoses added. The steam heat pipe (the one hanging below the headstock) is on a piece of wire and is shown for effect. It will be one of the final pieces to be fitted.

Two bodies take shape around a floor of .060" Plastikard. The solebars will be next.

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The solebars need several changes to reduce the wheelbase from 12' to 10' and the overall length to fit between the body ends. The upper one shows where cuts are to be made. Beneath is a completed solebar with with short red lines showing where the joins were made. As can be seen, a short piece becomes scrap while two others are transferred from the middle to near the ends. It's important to get the wheelbase right first, then do the ends and get the overall length to fit between the body ends.

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The body complete with a chunky piece of .060" Plastikard between the sides just under the roof. This is a precaution in case your assembly of the sides should want to go skew-whiff.

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I didn't take any pictures of the underframe because it's a pretty standard procedure around MJT etched brass W-irons, as with the ABS-based fish van above. Axleboxes were now the LNER type. I have some more taking shape but will describe pre-Grouping fish vans next as they are the majority in my 1930s fish train.

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The model complete but for the door handles. The roof looks curved because it hasn't been glued down yet; always the last thing to do...

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LNER 10T fish van to D.134

This was the final LNER design with a slightly longer body and a big wheelbase of 12' the value of which it had taken the LNER fifteen years to appreciate and was so keen to introduce that construction was spread over six different builders and numbers quickly exceeded the total of all the previous LNER designs added together. They carried the smaller lettering from the outset and, unlike the cattle wagons, for example, they remained in BR service until the transport of fish was axed in 1968.

There is an excellent kit from Parkside, which I am unlikely to build for my layout 1930s layout, but some have already been converted to the preceding Diagram, as shown above.

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E229768 is seen on 31st August 1962 at Bournemouth Central, carrying LNER-pattern axleboxes. Photo: author's collection.

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The other side can be seen of E229768, at Birmingham Snow Hill, in May 1958. This one has received replacement BR axleboxes. Photo: RS Carpenter.

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LNER 10T fish van to D.23

Fish traffic on the LNER was so prosperous that despite the LNER inheriting many fish vans at the Grouping, I suspect that there weren't enough and the company quickly set about adding to the fleet and replacing the older types, a transition which can be seen in the train photographs (see link below). There were four LNER Diagrams.

Diagram 23 was introduced in 1924 and built until 1931. Being an express-rated traffic that was carried by passenger trains they were all fitted with AVB and a steam heat pipe. The wheelbase, however, was old fashioned and only 9ft. Developments during these seven years were minor, the most visible one being in the axleboxes - RCH at first, then an early version of the LNER open-fronted box, and eventually the well-known flat-fronted design. All three are shown in Peter Tatlow's "LNER Wagons, Vol.4A", Wild Swan Publications, 2012.

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This illustration shows the general design well. This one was built in 1930 and the axleboxes are the intermediate, early LNER type. Positioning of the livery had also changed slightly. Photo: LNER, author's collection.

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After WW2 when these fish vans were replaced by newer designs they were cascaded for use as ordinary vanfits. 151657 was captured at Doncaster c1946. Fitted with LNER axleboxes and retaining the framed slate board, but no longer the cast iron "FISH" plate. Photo: RS Carpenter.

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A general view of a D.23 model based on the excellent ABS model, which I believe that Adrian Swain acquired from D&S, so it's possible to come across either packaging. Modifications to the body of the kit are relatively few:

- framed slate board made out of PK.
- buffers drilled out and MJT sprung buffers fitted.
- steam heat hoses using castings attached with brass wire through the headstocks for flexibility.
- livery is the one applied between 1924-30 and would have lasted well into the 1930s.

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The underframe saw most tweaking, the two aims being reliable geometry of the wheels and try to capture a certain solidity of the mechanism rather than spindly bits of wire.

- The foundation for the wheel sets was units using etched brass w-irons from MJT. Axleboxes and spring castings were also from MJT, and brake shoes from ABS. Shafts between the latter aren't just for appearance - they aid setting up and give strength when handling the model. When assembled, the units were dropped in place.
- Most of the brake linkages were made from scratch, beginning with the transverse shaft which was 3" thick, a scale 1mm.
- The lever to the vac cylinder taken from the MJT vac set castings because it's so gloriously three-dimensional. The piston shaft (which had a leather or canvas sleeve around it) was made from thick brass wire.
- Details between the wheels normally out of sight were simplified.
- Wheels: photographs show 3-hole disc wheels as well as older spoked wheels (including split spoke) through re-use. This model has the disc wheels.

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Two further models, in varying degrees of weathering, which is sprayed on. I mix the toned-down colours randomly so no two are alike. One of the vans has spoked wheels. I haven't got round to the steam heat pipes!

Further variations are possible by the use of slightly revised lettering in 1930-31 and in the last year of construction, the LNER flat-fronted axle-box. As you can see, I went for the majority version.

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LNER 10T fish van to D.37

While D.23 was being built an extended version was produced in 1927 with a slatted upper body and a 14' wheelbase, but only 50 were built and there is no kit. For a picture see Peter Tatlow's Vol.4A, page 146.

Related links:

GCR bogie fish vans and traffic - are here.

Building the models - is here.

Fish traffic: is here.

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