Monday, 29 January 2018

MG Sheep Van.

Drawing 2649, (P159 dated 5/1/14) shows MG sheep vans/wagons were 20’ long by 8’ wide. They were the lowest of all the sheep wagon on the network coming in at 9’ 7⅝” high. This is much lower than most wooden box wagons, some AG covered goods wagons were 10’ 5½” high. The wagon had an average tare of 7 T 10 cwt and carried approximately 110 sheep. The wagon were similar to most other sheep wagons, covered two decks, side and end gates. The two decks are less than three feet apart. Drop down gangs on the end allowed for strings of wagons to be loaded from a single end or side loading ramp without the need of a engine to move the wagons as loaded.

 Old style ramp, most were modified in the mid 80's for the new steel wagons.
The wagon was fitted with Grover’s Bogies with 2’ 2” wheels, with 8” x 4” journals. Many QR wagons around the 20’ in length had Grover’s Bogies. In short they had a single axle swivel bogie at each end which was diagonal connected with rods. This allows the two wheelsets to turn into curves together reduce rail and wheel wear.   

Chivers "AG" kit with working Grover's bogies.
Statement showing rollingstock in service for the 30th of June 1960 showed 127 wagons in service.  The class remained in service until the mid 80’s. The wagons were painted Red Oxide until mid-1969, after that date they were painted QR Freight Grey. During the early to mid-70’s, wagons of both colours could be observed working on the network.    
The wagons were mainly used for single orders to convey sheep, pigs and calves to sales and small goods processing plants/abattoirs. It was common to see three or four 4 wheeled sheep wagons sitting in most stations yards on the Darling Downs. They were regular visitors to KR Darling Downs at Willowburn in Toowoomba and in Brisbane they would turn up at Cannon Hill and Doboy.
MG Charleville  
The General Appendix to the Book of Rules has a lot to say about the conveying of live stock.
Clause 477 indicates staff generally must exercise special care in the transport of live stock and do everything possible to avoid bruising. Care must be taken to avoid undue shunting. The overcrowding of calves or pigs in MG and L vans must be given attention. Large calves must not be forced into wagons in which they are unable to stand. Calves and pigs must not be loaded in the same tier of a livestock wagon unless they are effectively separated by a hurdle. When the hurdles are not provided by the consignor, the calves and pigs must be loaded in separate compartments and charged accordingly.
Trucks containing livestock must be tightly coupled together. Wagons containing livestock must as far as possible be marshalled towards the front of the train and not in the rear of empty and lightly loaded wagons. Wagon containing pigs attached to trains conveying passengers must be placed as far as possible from the passenger vehicles. Drivers were not over happy with pig wagons being on the engine, generally these were to be marshalled towards the centre of the train.    
Small consignments of livestock must not be accepted for places beyond the direct train service (I.e. stations west of Brisbane must not receive small consignment to station north thereof or vice Versa), without clearly intimating to the sender the delay which must take place. Consignment of livestock must also have the attention of the guard who must show on his Time and Occurrence Sheet any instance of livestock travelling badly together with cause, if this be know. All livestock wagons must be in a clean condition and all cattle wagons ashed before being loaded. Smoke-box ash, when available, must be used in preference to fire-box ash. 
A permit to travel, issued by an Inspector of stock, must be presented for each consignment of stock (except pigs), including stock in crate and consignments of a single sheep or goat conveyed in dog boxes, before such are accepted for conveyance by rail. The permit must be held by the person travelling in charge of the stock, but if there is no attendant it must be attached to the waybill, invoice or consignment note, and handed over to the consignee at destination.   
Sheep Train at Wood Hill
Sheep vans gates were sealed in a similar fashion to box wagon doors. Lad Porters were given the job of seal all eight doors on each sheep wagon. Unlike box wagons, the old seal could be left in place. This task often took place during the shunt move to place the wagons on the train, it was an awesome ride with one foot on the end of each wagon with the wagons bunching up and then running out. The main role of the seal was to keep the door pin in place. However, if the seal was missing on arrival at the destination, there was a good chance the door had been open in transit and gave cause to check the wagon contents. Each seal press stamped a number on the seal. The General Appendix showed the allocated number for each location, should one go missing the replacement press would be shown in the Weekly Notice.  Larger stations had more than one press, i.e. Toowoomba station # 409, Toowoomba Goods Shed # 165 and # 257, Toowoomba (Downs Co-op Dairy Coy) # 3. The Ambulance Officer had # 1 and # A0 for sealing First-Aid boxes. 
Press 9F (Location not shown in General Appendix. ??
Lad Porter "Westgate" sealing the wagon.
Scale of Rates for livestock. “MG” vans shall be charged at “L” van rates plus 50 per cent. Half an “L” of sheep or pigs shall be charged two-thirds the rate for a full “L” van, provided only one tier of the van is used. But the charge shall not be less than the minimum charge for a full “L” van for 32.19 kilometres. Rockhampton to Cannon Hill is 664.92 kilometres, In 1973 that cost $ 68.40 for a “L” van of sheep and $ 67.45 for pigs.  I will let you can do the sums for one tier (½) a “MG” wagon of sheep. You can see why I didn’t work to many livestock stations.
Having grown up as a kid in Western Queensland where most stations had sheep/cattle trucking yards, it was a given for Westgate to have one. Most western locations had separate sheep and cattle yards, with most sheep yards having an end loading banks. Due to the limited area available on the layout a combined yard (sheep/cattle) was selected. Most combined yards had side loading for both cattle and sheep. I really wanted an end loading bank for the sheep yard. In the late 60’s I recalled a new set of private yards being built at Sommariva, about 30 miles east of Charleville.

 Combined Loading Ramp at Goondiwindi
Side loading Ramp Ulimaroa (Miles - Roma).
End loading Ramp Sommariva  (Morven - Charleville)
These yards were unusual in that they were a combined sheep and cattle yards with a end sheep loading ramp. I also had a set of photos for the yards taken in the early 70’s. On deciding to build the yards for the layout I started looking for some measurements, so next time I visited home I would stop and get a few more photos and run a tape over various areas. You guessed it, it had been knocked over, even the siding was gone. A few mates were able to dip up some plans of both sheep and cattle yards. The next trick was making them fit into the area I had allocated for the yards. Both sheep and cattle loading ramp was much longer than I expected.  With a pencil, some graph paper and a scale ruler a revised ramps were drawn up that looked right, selective reduction is the name given to the process. The ramps were reduced by about a half, the size of the holding yards were also reduced to fit the allocated space.

Sommariva Yards.  
Now in having sheep and cattle yards, wagons are required to provide operations on my railway. Over the years various cattle wagons have been available, the current cattle wagons on the layout are some of the first produced going back to the 70’s. For time being they are OK for now. The plan is to replace them one day. Very little has been available for sheep wagons resulting in various thinking sessions looking over plans and photos searching for a simple method to make them. Sorry to report nothing has come up to dated. Maybe a brass etch for the bars could be the go ???.
Charleville Mid 80's.
MG Kit.    The kit was first made available by Three Foot Six Models for a limited period in the mid 1990’s.  About three years ago the kit was added to the Caintode Flats Model range. The kit contains brass etches, white metal lost wax and resin components. The main body etch is made from 2 layers to achieve the correct profile. To assemble the kit the manufacturer suggests good soldering skills are essential. I put off purchasing the kit and was waiting for someone to do their first. One was available at the May Show last year so I took the punt.  Over Christmas I plucked the courage to have a go.  
A good soldering iron is required, instructions suggest a temperature controlled iron of at least 50 watts with a 3 mm tip. A good supply of drills is required, the following sizes are needed .3mm, .35mm, .4mm, .5mm, 2mm and 2.5 mm. Getting small drills is not easy, so I asked Gary where to get them. He suggested McJing Tools at Yagoona in Sydney. They have the small drills in packs of 10 for $ 10.00. Postage was $ 10.00. A phone call with credit card details had the drills in my hands within 24 hours. All up you drill out about 200 .3mm holes in the etch parts. I did break a few drills, overall not as many I was expecting, just take it slow. The instructions for assembling and fitting the sliding gates suggest you take your patience tablets as his where the fun starts.  
The kit starts by assembling the underframe / lower floor. You have a choice of fixed or compensating bogies, I made mine compensating, one end is fixed and the other end rocks.
During construction, some small parts did join the frequent flyers club, thus some changes were made with substitute parts. The wagon was completed with all side gates working. I didn’t think to much about this during painting, you guest it, I paid the price and they don’t open anymore. With the end gates I made one end top gates open with the gang down for the loading ramp. At times they did run in service with open gates and walkway down. The gangs on the other end still work after painting. Just take your time and test fit parts before soldering. I did fit the underframe etch the wrong way around, closing off the brake cylinder mounting hole. That’s just me, if there a choice of two ways in doing things, I always manage to do it the wrong way.   
The only sheep I had was Kerroby Models, I purchased them unpainted in a bulk pack, painted ones are available. These are white metal, thus have little weigh to them. Sheep was only add to he outer sides to give a full load look. They were a little high and needed to be kneecapped a little. The Signals Branch Shapeways shop have 3D sheep which could be a better choice. All up the wagon comes in at 70 g, which is about NMRA standard for a H0 model of that size. To date the wagon has been marshalled on the lead of all trains and has run and pushed back without any issues. 
The completed wagon was first painted with a etch primer. Dulux Metalshield etch primer (grey) available from Bunnings was used. The paint from a rattle can was decanted into a plastic cup and applied to the model with an airbrush for more control. The finish colour was PGC Oxide lacquer. Underframe and buffer heads were picked out in black by hand.

Over all I'm very happy with the end result, but I let you be the judge.     

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