Rail Freight In The 1960's / Early 1970's

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RichmondCommu

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G'day everyone,

I have a few questions regarding rail freight operations in the 1960's (although the I guess the same questions can be applied to the 1970's).

1. Were loco's (both steam and diesel) allowed to enter goods sheds / warehouses in order to collect / drop off wagons. Or were the wagons towed in using wire / rope?

2. I've seen pictures of vans and occasionally containers covered with tarpaulin, I'm guessing because the van in question had a leaky roof. Does this pretty much reflect a run down railway and ever decreasing maintenance budgets? I only ask because it surely wouldn't have cost very much at all to repair wagon roofs.

3. Certain photographs show containers carried on open five plank (or similar) wagons as opposed to conflats. This has come as a surprise as I'd assumed that containers would be matched with conflats.

If anyone can help with these questions I'd be very grateful.

Kind regards,

Richmond Commuter!
 
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Dr Hoo

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The old-style 'BD' containers, as I seem to recall, were on their way out by the early 1970s. I didn't get much training on them but certainly 'sheets' were sometimes used for leaky roofs.

A container was sometimes placed in a five-planker for security reasons as you couldn't then open the doors.

Wagons were frequently 'placed' or 'picked' in goods sheds by attaching a rake of other wagons to the locomotive for 'reach' purposes. Capstans and horses were used in earlier years, or even pinch bars on level lines.
 
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Taunton

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1. Depended on what you had available. On the local pick up goods from Taunton a rake of wagons ahead was the favoured way because the loco could do it all. If you were delivering a wagon instead of picking it up, it could be loose shunted from outside, and the shunter/guard would then run alongside (yes, really) and apply the handbrake lever at the appropriate point.

If you had neither of these then a few places had capstans and ropes, but an alternative was a Pinch Bar, like a crowbar, inserted between wagon wheel and rail and levered upwards, which (extremely slowly) moved the wagon along.

If there was a delivery road lorry at the depot a length of rope would be used to pull the wagon.

As a last resort the loco would go inside, for as little time as possible.

2. Tarpaulins, known as sheets and fitted with ropes, were in widespread use for covering freight, as still happens with road goods vehicles. The well-known Sheet Stores Junction near Derby was the centralised stores location for just what you would therefore expect. Mostly freight in open wagons but also for covering anything else, like leaky wagons. George Behrend in his book Gone With Regret says that the two Corris Railway locomotives, which ended up on the Talyllyn, were tightly sheeted over and hidden at Machynlleth when the Corris closed because it was a time of shortage of steel and the old Corris staff didn't want anyone identifying them for scrap recovery.

3. There were far more open wagons than conflats around.
 
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