Monday, 15 March 2021

HSA / HWA Wagons

 Between 1965 and 1981, 550 general traffic open goods/freight wagons entered service on the QR Network. The wagons were much the same size as the previous HJS wagons that entered service in the early 1950’s. The wagons entered service manufactured over five separate contracts with modifications being made to four of five contracts. The years that followed also saw various modification and changes in the classification.     

The wagons were a steel construction, the underframe was 32’ (9 750 mm) long, and 7’ 6” (2286 mm) wide. The outside frame of the wagon was 32’ 4¾” (9 875 mm) and 8’ 6¼’ (2 598 mm) wide. For loading, the width of the wagon across the floor was 8’ (2 438 mm) between the doors, and 7’ 6¼” (2 292 mm) between the stanchions. The inside length was 31’ 11¾’ (9 748 mm). The average tare was 10 Ton 2 Cwt (11 t), carrying capacity 25 Ton 18 Cwt (26.5 t) with a Gross weight of 36 Ton (37.7 tonnes). Capacity 672 cubic feet (19 m3). When built in 1965, the unit length was 2, changing to 2.1 when metric measure was introduced in 1973.  Estimated height of centre of gravity of the tare mass is 25.6” above rail when fully loaded.  

All wagons were Express Freight rated for 50 mph/80 Kmph running and carried a red circle. On the job the wagons were referred to red spot H’s.

Contract # 1.  HSA Class # 33119 - 33268, built by Scott’s of Ipswich in 1965. Fitted with QR 20 cast steel bogies.  This contract differed from the following contracts. Painted black, Premium hook drawgear, later known at D2. Stamping on the doors and ends were donut shape that finish just short of the top and bottom sills.    

HSA 33122 painted freight grey.

Contract # 2.  HSAT Class # 34667 - 34799, built by Scott’s of Ipswich in 1971. Fitted with QR 20 A cast steel bogies. This contract the stamping in the door and ends was U channel shaped, the wagons were painted freight grey. Automatic and transition couplings were fitted to the wagon increasing the wagon tare. Drawgear classification was D1. 

Contract # 3.  HWA Class # 35820 - 35969, built by Scott’s of Ipswich in 1972. Fitted with QR 20 A cast steel bogies. The contact had the same outside features as the previous contact except the wagon had a wooden floor. Wooden floors have a few advantages over steel, it was easier to secure loads. Wooden chocks could be nailed to the floor to stop loads from moving in transit. This method was used with the wooden wagons. Steel floor wagons required a frame to be constructed between the load and the end of the wagon. Friction plays are part in securing freight, wooden floors provide greater friction to steel.  Plus, during wet weather, water flowed out between the floor boards, instead of pooling across the floor to flow out under the doors. Tarpaulins often had holes in them and during rain water could blow in onto the load where the two tarpaulins jointed to cover the load. There was less damage to freight with water running out through the floor boards.    

HWA 35936 Wacol. 

Note the logo on the centre door. I think this was mainly on wagons coming from the manufacture. 

HWA wooden floor. At the time the photo was taken, the wagon was being used for conveying concrete sleepers. 

Contract # 4.  HWA Class # 36726 - 36775, built by Scott’s of Ipswich in 1972. Fitted with QR 20 A cast steel bogies. The wagons were identical was the previous contract. 

HWA 36732 Coopers Plains. 

Contract # 5.  HWA Class # 41036 - 41135, built by Vickers Ruwolt (a division of Scott’s) of Ipswich in 1980/81. Fitted with QR 24 A, 20 A , 17 and 17A cast steel bogies. The wagons were identical was the previous contract except the wagon was fitted with internal retractable securing rings for attaching chain.

Securing rings can be seen hanging down below the doors. Wool Load.

The wagons were used on all lines across the network and could be found on most goods/mixed/express freights trains carrying all sorts of loads, many covered with tarpaulins in various outline.

 The wagons were fitted with a “W” type freight brake equipment. 

It didn’t take long for other uses to be found for the class, many HSA wagons were used in Central Queensland Highlands grain traffic. Pipe supports for tarpaulin were added and the wagon were reclassified to HSAG. Custom made tarpaulins were used to protect the load.

 Around 1988 first contract HSA were fitted with auto couplings, then classed HSAT.

 Approximately 45 HSA were modified for magnetite traffic and classified HSM and HSAM in 1990 replacing HJS wagons used in this traffic. 

Early 1990’s the buffer were removed, all wagons were classified HSA.

Like the HJS wagons, workshops manufactured replacement doors when the original ones became damaged. Check photos as there were was a couple different types. Not uncommon to find a wagons with various door types as time went on.  

 Three HWA wagons became part of the weighbridge test in 1991, MHWA classification.

Mid 1990’s some wagon were modified for track maintenance work and to carry concrete sleepers HSAC / HWAC.   

Around the same time, the class was given Business Group Identification.  

HSAB / HWAB (Business Service. T.L.M)

HSAF / HWAF (Freight)

HSAI / HWAI (Freight Infrastructure)

HSAH (Heritage for coal, some of these wagon carried a red diamond and at times were part of country heritage excursions). 

HSAM / HWAM (Coal Infrastructure).

HSAG Primary Industries.

HWAO (Freight Operations tutor train).

HWAC / HSAC (Freight Operations).

HSAN (Citytrain Infrastructure)

HWAW (Workshops)

ITS timber sleepers. (Freight Infrastructure)

Wagon that have not been re-stencilled remain for Express Freight and Q-Link traffic only. 


HWAI (note; replacement door stop unpainted)

HSAT 34753 with a mix of door types, replacement door stops. 

HWAC 36741 

This wagon was taken off a train due to flat springs (In other words the wagon over loaded).

I wonder who did that ??

Warwick. Oct 1996 with Workshop replacement ends.

 By 2010 less than 100 were left in service, most being used on the SEQ spoil trains in a poor condition. Around 2015 these wagons were replaced with containers on PCUY wagons bring the life of the class to an end.  

 Models on the Layout:- Being a 32’ wagon, they are a great size for most layout.

All wagons are mounted on Wuiske Models QR 20 bogies. After reading Joe Fegates book “Make it run like a Dream – Rollingstock” I have developed a standard for my rollingstock that suits my track. These days, all wheelsets are bench tested on the workshop test track. Wheelsets not meeting this standard are refined before going to the layout. Having a good wheel/track interface is important to having a trouble free operating layout. Having trouble free operations makes a layout so much more enjoyable. On the weighbridge, all wagons were weighted to 50 grams. Coupling are Kadee # 158, on the scratch build wagons the coupler box was built into the underframe during construction, another feature I have come up with to improve operations. 

Far North Hobbies Kit. Grain bins are scratch build.

Wuiske Models Kit. Bricks and pallets are scratch build. The securing web straps are plastic shopping bags painted yellow and cut into strips.

 The following wagons fitted with tarps were all scratch build, just a simple styrene box with below floor detail only. Tarps were made from used tea bags. 

The standard QR tarpaulins were made so one size fits all applications, for lower loads the sides could folded up to keep the tarps away from the running equipment on the wagon.   

Modelling the early 1970’s there was a mix of tarpaulins in use. The green canvas were being replaced by yellow PVC type. Late 1960’s there was a few trial orange PVC traps.

Vallejo acrylic # 70.915 Deep Yellow, and # 70.922 Uniform Green was used to paint the tarps. 

Each wagon could be made different by altering the colour of the tarps by added a drop or two white paint to the base colour being used to produces various shades of fading.  

Wagons fitted with tarps in this manner could be conveying general freight, grain and other products.

Where loads were below the sides, portable tarpaulins supports (one each end) was used to make a water shed. Otherwise in wet weather water would pool in the tarps between the sides and at some stage, water would enter the covered area damaging the freight.  

The HSAG used in the Central Queensland grain traffic had pipe tarp support fitted and a custom one piece tarp manufacture to suit the wagons much the same as the WH and WHE wagons. Due to the smaller size tarps, door ribs were added. 

The tarpaulins signage is homemade decals made up using “Word”. Thanks Ken E-W.   

Another plus for modelling the early 1970’s, is that both black and freight grey coloured wagons were running on the network for a few years. 

Now the wagons have decals added, it’s just finding time to lightly weather them next time the air brush is out. Talking of weathering, if you model a later era around 2000, boy, I think you could have lots of fun with a few different shades of rust.

All the covered wagons can be found at work on my Central Queensland Grain Train, check out my YouTube channel 

Trust you find the information helpful and assists in making a prototypical railway.

Happy modelling.                                

Arthur H. 


  1. Hi Arthur, great post - love the blog as a reference for my QR modelling.

    From the Video: Were VJMs with Tarps only seen on Central Queensland / Biloela Grain? I have only seen steel top VJMs in photos for Kingaroy and some other SEQ branches.

    Thanks. Neill

  2. Hi Neil,

    Many thanks for our kind words and enquire.

    Sorry about the delay in coming back to you, have been up in Bundaberg lending a hand with Covid requirements for their show. Plus I needed to look at a few notes.

    In the early 1960’s Central Division had two types of four wheeled steel coal hoppers.

    VJM wagon had a removable body.

    Approx. 400 VJM were fitted with tandem dump door and classed VJD. The door mechanism was outside the underframe making the hopper body fixed to the underframe.

    For grain traffic in 1967/68 VJM’s fitted with steel top were classed VJMG’s, these wagons still had their removable hopper bodies. The 1982 Blue book show 315 in service.

    VJD’s fitted with steel top for grain were class VJDG’s. I show these being converted around 1972. The 1982 Blue book show 151 in service.

    In 1976 a 100 VJD’s were modified for grain traffic using tarpaulins instead of steel as previously, these were classed GVJD’s. The 1982 Blue book show 67 in service.

    VJMG’s were used on the Kingaroy branch in corn traffic for Kellogg’s in Sydney. At Clapham the VJMG hopper was lifted up over the top of NSWR “BWH”/ WHX wagon. Five (5) QR four wheelers to one (1) NSWR bogie wagon.

    VJM’s used in the Tamaree – Brisbane lime traffic had tarpaulins tops and were classed VJLS. The plans shows 10 in traffic from 1969. Mt Morgan lime wagons with a steel top were VJL class. VJC wagons were used for Brisbane cement traffic with steel tops.

    Sunshine Express Jan 1990 shows GVJM’s being used in Rosewood – Petrie Paper Mill traffic. Sunshine Express July 1990 shows VJMG/GVJD/VJDG wagons to be phased out by Christmas.

    Sunshine Express July 1986 also shows HSAG wagons at Wacol in SWD Grain traffic.

    Neil, trust I have been of assistance.


    Arthur H.

  3. Hi Arthur, just checking, are you the Arthur Hayes that worked at the Gabba Yard? Regards Ken McHugh

    1. Hi Ken,

      Yes that's me, Engine Cleaner/Acting Fireman 1966/67, then to Mackay Sugar season returning to Mayne in 68.