Modelling Queensland Railways in H0n42 and NSWR in HO.
Sunday, 11 October 2020
B class Containers Wagon
Weekly Notice 24/77 dated 15th June 1978 advised the entry into service of five
(5) new wagons. These wagons are of skeletal flat wagon design designed
specifically to carry two (2) “QRRC” Containers, but provision is made to carry
two (2) standard 20 ft containers or one (1) 40 ft container. The wagon is
provided with angular paten floor plates at the centre and ends.
Basic features:- Running numbers 40128 – 40132 Tare - 16.7 tonnes. Carry 23.9 t
all lines, 46.3 t “S” and “A” class lines, 32.1 t Some “B” class lines (Roma to
Charleville for example). Length Unit – 3.5 Bogies – Cast steel roller bearing –
QR 37 with 760 mm dia. wheels. Red Circle wagon available for Express freight
trains (80 km/h). Drawgear classification - D1. Draft Equipment – Automatic
Couplers and Transition Couplings. Wagon diagram No.352. The wagon length was 16
460 mm over headstocks and 17 520 mm over coupling lines. Bogie centres at 10
970 places the bogies some distance back from the headstocks. Loaded, the floor
height was just 933 mm above rail. The floor on timber floored wagons was around
1030 mm above rail level. At the time “B” wagons were the longest wagon in
When ISO containers entered traffic they were eight feet (8’) / 2.438 mm wide,
eight feet (8’) high and twenty (20’) feet long, some were forty (40’) feet
long. These containers exceed the maximum height dimensions set out in the
General Appendix and as such represent “Out of Gauge” loading. It didn’t take
long before the height of containers increased providing many issues for a 100
year old rail network. The 1979 Supplement to Working Time Tables was the first
to provide information on the conveyance of containers on the QR network.
Containers had been on the network for over 10 years on set allocated wagons and
routes. Eight foot (8’) high containers were allowed to travel on most lines
without restrictions, except locations like between Park Road to Roma St, Roma
St to Brunswick Street, lines west of Cairns etc. Additional restrictions were
placed on 2.591 m (8’ 6”) high containers. Ipswich to Helidon unless loaded on a
PC, B or PFCC wagons. For travel in the South-West Division (SWD) on the same
class wagons, but not between Helidon and Toowoomba. (With restrictions and
permission they did travel on these wagons between Helidon and Toowoomba). Other
restrictions in the SWD included not to travel the platform roads in Toowoomba
and Dalby, speed not to exceed 15 km/h passing through platform roads at Warwick
and Roma or over the Condamine River Bridge at Warwick. What I recall, ISO
containers conveyed grain and cotton from Toowoomba, Oakey, Dalby and the
Goondiwindi area in the SWD. In later years export meat from northern New South
Wales was conveyed from Wallangarra to Fisherman’s Island. Small numbers of
export goat meat came out of Charleville. Most of this traffic was in 8’ 6” high
containers. I could tell a story of a 9’ high container that went to Toowoomba
more than 20 times before tripping the Container Gauge at Rosewood. Yet, from
time to time loco cabs on coal trains would activate the gauge.
New domestic containers including R.A.C.E. (Railways of Australia Container Express)
containers with a height of 2.650 m (8’ 8½”) and 2.502 m (8’ 2½”) wide were
given set routes they could travel, mainly the North Coast Line, Mt Isa Line and
the Central line Rockhampton to Winton. These containers were not allowed west
of Ipswich in the SED and SWD. The wider containers (8’ 2½”) allowed two (2)
Australian pellets to be loaded across the container. In the years to follow,
the height of containers grew higher. 2.74 metres (9’) by 2.5 metres, 2.9 metres
(9’ 6”), 3.0 metres (9’ 10”), 3.05 metres (10’). Over time with modifications to
bridges, tunnels, platform awnings and a new fleet of container wagons, 2.65
metre (8’ 8½”) high containers could travel on most lines on the network (except
Roma St to Mayne via Central) on selected wagons. Loads on flat racks was
subject to the loading gauge in the General Appendix or Operational Route
Manual, today called the loose loading gauge my many rail operators. Box type
containers are a fixed load, most networks have maps showing route available for
containers of a particular height.
In the original wagon classification code,“B” class wagon was a six (6) wheeled box wagon.
Most were converted to Grover’s bogies “BG” wagons, in later years they were allocated to carrying explosives
and by the early 1970’s all were out of service. This left only one wagon group
with a “B” classification, the BLC class louvered box wagon. The classification
would be more correct to the code had it been called CLB, a few wagons had this
what I call reverse coding. Soon after the “B” wagons entered service came the
“BR” wagon. They were followed by the “BRM” container wagons being the first
three (3) slot container wagon, all following three slot container wagons have
carried the “B” classification. Container loading guide issued in the late
1990’s showed “B” wagons could carry 1 or 2 containers at 6.1 m and 7.6 m long
and one container 12.2 m, or 13.8 m or 14.7 m long. April 1987, around the time
when wheel/axle requirements for passenger vehicles was changed, and when most
of the red diamond wagon fleet (QLX’s) was being downgraded to red circle
status, B 40132 carried a red diamond.
Around 1990, QR commenced removing buffer and transition links from container wagon fleet including the “B” class wagons.
In the later part of the 1990’s, the class was listed for upgrade as part of the
North Coast Line 100km/h project, “BY” classification was allocated. However
with the entry into service of the new BEZY class wagons, this did not happen. A
few years later with PNQ commencing operations on the QR network with their own
fleet of container wagons, the class were placed into storage and later scarped.
To expand my modern wagon fleet these wagons looked to be a simple project and
would give me a uneek wagon for the layout. Plus I had recently purchase a
couple packs of SDS QRC refrigerated containers on special. A great choice for
this wagon as the wagon was designed around this type of container. These
containers on most other conventional wagons robbed a loading slot. Another
issue I wanted to test was the swing in the headstock given the bogie pivot beam
is some distance back from the headstock. Under certain conditions on the
prototype this has cause derailments which has resulted in modifications to
wagons or rules around marshalling of these vehicles. Rolllingstock on a model
railway layout operate on much smaller radius curves than the prototype and
without springs like the prototype which affects the wheel to rail interface at
the best of time. On top of this, most of my wagons have a smaller coupler yoke
than the standard “Kadee” coupler box.
The plan was for these wagons to convey
containers on both slots. This made construction easier, the skeleton section of
the wagon would be under the containers. The frame and fish belly sides were
made from .040 styrene sheet, open areas were covered with “Slaters” checker
plate. The wagons were fitted with Southern Rail bogies and weighted to 80 grams
using lead sheet under the floor. Once completed the wagons went to the layout
for testing and passed with flying colours, you just need to be carefully where
you leave them, there is a good chance they will roll away if you track is not
level on the layout.
These uneek container were built by Domino Industries between 1980 and 1983.
Thermo King refrigeration unit mounted on one end. 100 SRC containers were
jointly owned by NSWPTC and Queensland Rail. 100 QRC containers were owned by
Queensland Rail. The containers mainly carried perishable and frozen goods to
northern centres on the North Coast Line returning with fruit for both the local
and interstate markets. A small number were used on the Mt Isa as cool cars for
local perishable and frozen goods. There was a period where they could be found
on the front of the Inlander. 25 QRRC Containers were built between 1977 and
1979. Basically they were a 20’ container with a fridge unit and a fuel tank
attached. Q-Link allocated units (2012, 2022, 2023) had two compartments, one
chiller and the other a freezer. The first 10 (2011 – 2020) only has end doors.
Mainly, the containers were conveyed on early “B” series wagons (B, BR, BRM,
BMM) and QFC class wagons. Using these wagons, the container didn’t required two
loading slots. The container were maintained at Ipswich Workshops and conveyed
between Moolabin/Acacia Ridge to the shops on MPJS wagons. By the mid 1990’s 20
plus and 40 plus refrigerated containers replace them. There was a period where
longer containers were used, but these were to heavy for road transport when
This wagon is conveying COD fruit, both are SDS Containers.
The TNT Container is a Walthers SceneMaster HO 949-8650 20' Smooth Side
Container, Undecorated that has been painted and Chickadee Models decals
applied. The ASP container is a Lima Container repainted and specially made
decals by Ted Freeman added to complete the project.
Since starting modelling container trains, I have found not all 20’ container
models are the same size and vary considerably in the way in which they mount
onto the wagon. Some consideration needs to be given to how the containers are
on the prototype, you could end up with gaps when containers butt up in the
centre of the wagon that is not on the prototype if working from the ends
inwards. Trust you found the information helpful. It’s been great to have a
hobby in these trying times of late. Have fun in your modelling. Arthur Hayes.