Wednesday, 13 March 2019

PE Wagons

Wagons on Train 209/309 continue from November 2018 blog

After the introduction of the MTW’s, the next Platform Wagon to enter service on Queensland Railways was the PX wagon in October/November 1959, built by Commonwealth Engineering at a cost of $5,522.91 per wagon. The classification code was changed in 1964 to “PE” following the introduction of the ROA interstate coding system. “P” was 8 wheeled Platform Wagon and “X” was being used for 12 ton axle load. In the new ROA code, “X” was for wagons suitable for bogie exchange. “E” replaced the “X” as the second letter for the 12 ton axle load (4 x 12 = 48 t gross). Running Numbers 31609 to 31618 were allocated to the class.

Partington 06 July 1999.

The wagon tare was 12.8 t and could carry 27.8 t on all lines and 36 t on “A” class lines. Dimensions, Imperial: 32’ long by 9’ wide. Metric: 9750 long by 2740 wide. The wagons could carry a symmetrical load, but unlike the QFX/QFC wagons, its full load is not intended to be supported in the headstock area. The smart looking wagon was fitted with QR 11 three piece cast steel bogies with spoke wheels (5’6” axle centres with 33½” wheels). The drawhooks were fitted with fixed screw coupling, thus a hook was provide under the headstock to carry the coupling then not in use. This type of couple came standard on other rollingstock for a few years, WHE’s, 1460 class DEL’s to name a couple. These coupling were very heavy and stiff without side movement, thus not very popular with shunters, in time most kind of came off.  The drawgear was rated as D2 or Premium in the old language. Later, (likely 1969) the wagons were fitted with red circles for express freight operations as 80 Km/h runners. Around the mid 80’s the wagons were fitted with container securing equipment and could carry a standard 20’ ISO container in the centre of the wagon and fitted with auto coupling, spoke wheels were replaced with disc along the way. The single slot wagons were used on Branch lines, containers where often stuffed/loaded across the wagon floor.  The truss rods were welded angle steel type arrangement.  Another feature of the wagon was the headstock hand brake wheel on one end, this was just “Micky Mouse” when shunting at Roma Street.

I guess I better explain shunting Roma Street, it was a gravity yard, all downhill just like Countess Street. After a train arrived at Roma Street all the Westinghouse air was bleed from the wagons. The shunt engine (PB in steam era or a DH after about 68) would hook on the pull the train up into Normanby. The Shunter in Charge would control the move using a set of traffic lights hanging under College Road bridge. There was 2 sets of lights, one for the North Yard (Roads 1 to 16, these were on the Park Land side of the yard) and the second for the South Yard. Red light was stop, Green light to go forward and a Yellow light to come back. The shunt engine would push the train back into the yard with the Shunter in Charge cutting off wagons for the various roads. There was a hand sign for day and a light sign by night for all roads. After the wagons were cut off, the Shunter in Charge would give a sign to the Shunter to which road the wagons were to be placed, by this time the wagons were rolling freely. The Shunter would change the points and ride the wagon operating the hand brake, sometimes you could have 6 or 7 wagons in the sting, hopping off and on to apply or release brakes. Didn’t take long to become a fit little digger I can tell you. The older wooden wagons with lever brakes were a lot of fun, the lever is only on one side. Sometime the Shunter in Charge would check them before letting them loose, if the lever dropped to the bottom he would stop the move, crawl under the wagon and place a dog spike in the hand brake chain. 

Back to PE wagons, it was like winning the casket if you got a PE, you would set the road and jump up on the floor, sit on the floor with your legs hanging over the headstock, apply/releasing the brake just like a ship’s captain, being roller bearing it didn’t take much time before you had the wind blowing through your hair. One afternoon I was taking one down 24 Road to place under the gantry, I think 24 Road was the longest road in Roma Street, the gantry crane was next to Platform 8, about were platform 9 is today. As I turn the corner I could see there were a couple of wagons on the stop blocks, Platform 8 was packed with passengers waiting for their train. They didn’t look to very happy and appeared half a sleep, so I decide I would wake them up and bring them into life. I release the brake, jumped off let it go, and found a place to hide so I could watch proceeding, a few seconds later the PE slammed into the other wagons, lots of noise and dust everywhere. The PE bounced into the air along with all the waiting passengers on Platform 8. Lucky for me the wagon stay on the track, I turned and walk back up towards College Road bridge for my next wagon/s. You can see why I pulled the pin, no more fun in the job anymore?????   This method of shunting is still in the Shunter’s Manual and is called “Controlled Shunting”, you need authority to do it. I think I may have been the last to have that authority. . The PE wagons were withdraw from service in 2000.

General Appendix 1962 clause 62;  Wagons for Heavy Machinery. 10 PX wagons to carry 35 tons 8 cwt have been allotted, 6 to SE Division, 2 to Rockhampton, and 2 to Townsville. They are available for conveyance of heavy machinery or heavy loading. This class of wagon must not be used without the author of the relevant General Manager. Their travel with a gross weight of over 40 tons shall be restricted to those sections available for B 18 ¼ or heavier steam locomotives. However, provided the gross weight does not exceed 40 tons, i.e. with a maximum nett load of 27 tons 8 cwt, PX wagons may travel on all lines available for steam locomotives.

Back to 309/209 on Westgate, the train has 2 “PE” class wagons in the consist conveying farm machinery. Some time ago, I purchased two GHQ farm equipment kits. # 60-0 13 Hay Baler and a # 60-006 1940’s Green 12 A Harvester. Austral Modelcraft has some GHQ kits. The biggest concerns I had was the overall width of the plant.  The harvester was going to stretch the limits, the widest platform wagon on the QR network is a QFX/QFC which is 9’ 4” across the floor. On completing the harvester kit the overall width across the wheels came in as 10’ 6’’ (bugger). I did consider adding a wider floor using crossing timbers across the top of the wagon floor, 10’ 6” was OK for a wide “Out of Gauge” load, but in jacking up the floor I was going to be to high. The grain elevator would arrived at it destination in a different shape, I don’t think the customer would be to happy. It was common practice to load caravan on their axles without wheels to reduce the height. Removing the wheels the harvester came in at 9’ 3” wide.  I did not have a QFX and didn’t feel like building one, so I decided to build at PE making the floor 9’ 3” wide (3” modellers licence, if I didn’t tell you, you wouldn’t pick it). The wagon was built from evergreen styrene and fitted with Southern Rail bogies. Most QR manufactures have bogies that could be used. The coupling are Kadee whisker scale head type # 158. I make my own couple boxes as part of the floor which allows for the buffers and give plenty of clearance around the wheels. The harvester was placed on old sleepers and chained to the wagon, some old sleepers were also used to stop any movement along the wagon. The old sleepers are match stick painted, the pine chock are the same cut with on an angle and left unpainted. 

 Scratch build PE

The Hay Baler was loaded onto a 3’ 6” Models PE wagon, the wagon has been on the layout for some time conveying a tractor with a slasher attached, not the best use of a PE wagon. The bogies are Steam Era XSC bogies cut back (At the time I was able to buy bogies without wheels) and regauged with K & S brass rectangle tube # 8262 (3/32 x 3/16) cut to 15.5 mm long, Steam Era spoke wheels were added making a very free running wagon. The couplings are Kadee H0n3 # 711/714. The method in my madness at the time was to use these couplings on hook wagons which should be marshalled towards the rear of the train. If I didn’t marshal them correctly, the same thing would happen as the prototype. ???  A good one hey. They don’t work the best, plus I want to run trains, not repair wagons, thus over the past few years have changed to using whisker couplings. I has since changed then over using a the Kadee # 262 narrow boxes with a # 158 scale whisker coupler,  mainly buy the bulk packs without boxes.    


3' 6" PE Kit. 
Steam Era bogies modified for 12mm tracks with # 711 Couplers.

Both wagons were weathered using Doctors Ben weathering powers applied with Isocol (rubbing alcohol available from the supermarket).    

I was talking to Peter Kennedy who was Manager of Special Loads in QR for many years. Here is some of what Peter had to say about modifications to PE wagons to carry special loads. You may recall I modified one for the harvester load.

 In their early days I had some control of PE wagons which didn't count for much after QFC wagons were introduced. However in the early 1960s QR was asked by the Army to transport Centurion tanks (52 ton stripped for transport) from Clapham to Gympie for Tin Can Bay. PE Wagons were unsuitable as is, but I never gave up easily. I asked the CME design staff could PE wagons be strengthened to carry these 11ft 6 ins wide and 52 tons tanks. The answer was yes with considerable strengthing of the underframes, increasing the floor timbers to 2 1/2 inches thick and 9ft 4 wide. The extended timbers to be further supported by a heavy angle steel welded on the outside of the solebar. It would be necessary to change the 12TAL bogies by 15 ton axle load bogies. I arranged this by using new 15 ton axle load bogies being built for the new WHO wagons for the Mt Isa line.​

The next issue was bridge loading. The loaded modified PE would be just over 16 TAL but also considerably exceeded the linear limit of 1.5 ton /ft. After lengthy consideration the Bridge Engineer approved the movement with restrictions including each loaded PE must have an empty wagon before and after over certain bridges.  It was all in vein as the transport dept. would not allow the army tank transporters over the road bridges between Gympie and Tin Can Bay.  The Army took the tanks by sea on LSM barges to the Bay. 

Some months later the Army approached QR, this time they wanted to take 4 Centurions from Tin Can Bay to the Army tropical trials near Innisfail. They would take them to Lucinda by an LSM and hoped to road transport them to their tropical trials unit. But!! the transport dept. refused to let their loaded army tank transporters over the Herbert River Bridge. Could QR carry them the short distance from Ingham over the river and then unload them at the next suitable unloading station, the name of which I cannot remember.  QR agreed to do it, but to modify only one wagon PE31612 and conduct a shuttle between the two stations. A  B18 ¼ did the 4 shuttles and was supervised by Harvey Bamford from my section.  I cannot recall if the tanks were ever returned by this method but PE31612 remained in the modified condition for the rest of its life. Whether its original bogies were returned I am unaware but this movement brought home to QR the serious need for a much heavier flat wagon and I was privileged to work in conjunction with the CMEs design staff the outcome was the QFX/C wagon.  Originally, I asked for 10 QFX wagons, they were so popular QR built several hundred of them.  Hope this added a bit more to Arthur’s great story.  


 PE Ipswich, Auto Couplers, Container spigots, disc wheels, painted grey.  

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