M class coal box wagons

The M class coal box wagons of the W.A.G.R. were originally built at the request of West Australian Coal companies to foster the coal bunkering trade by enabling them to bunker steamers at the ports. They were an early, partially successful, attempt at containerisation. In later years the M and MA class wagons were mostly used for loco coal. On the surface they appear to be fairly simple group of wagons and only one official diagram was ever issued to cover the class. However, it is certain that at least two very different types of underframes were used, probably more.

In 1911 the prototype wagon M3780 was built at Midland Workshops. It was an unusual wagon with single plank sides and no floor. The sides were attached to the solebars by metal brackets. It was quickly followed by a batch of 99 wagons numbered M8138 - 8236 in 1912. The original diagram shows a length of 16' over headstocks and a 9'-0" wheelbase i.e. a GC type underframe. However this diagram was amended to read 15' over headstocks and an 8'-6" wheelbase i.e. a GB type wooden underframe. It is known that the entire 1912 batch was, in fact, built on GB type wooden underframes. The status of M3780 is uncertain and it is possible that the original diagram was incorrectly dimensioned.

This first group of wagons were disposed of as follows:

1929

8219, 8228, 8232 to MA

 

1963

8152/4, 8200, 8215/7/8, 8227 written off

1942

8141, 8172 written off

 

1964

8161 to JETTY 254

1946

8159 written off

 

1965

8138, 8146 written off

1948

8185, 8205 written off

 

1966

8148 written off

1952

8171/6 written off

 

1967

8147, 8169, 8180 written off

1953

3780, 8140/3, 8206-8, 8212, 8221/9 written off

 

1968

8162, 8170, 8191 written off

1954

8139, 8146/9, 8153/8, 8166, 8175, 8182/3/6/7,

 

1970

8165, 8199, 8201 written off

 

8192/6, 8210, 8233/6 written off

 

1971

8151, 8174, 8211 written off

1955

8214 written back

 

1972

8228 written off

1956

1957

8160, 8173, 8188/9, 8203 written off

8197 written off

 

1974

8140/2/4, 8155/6, 9163/4/7, 8179, 8181/4, 8190/3-5, 8202/9, 8216, 8220/3/4/6, 8230/1/5 written off

1958

8222 written off

 

 

8202, 8226 written back

1960

8222 written off

 

1977

8226 written off

1961

8198 written off

 

1978

8202 written off

1962

8145, 8150/7, 8177, 8204, 8213, 8234 written off

 

1983

8225 written off

 

In 1913 50 more wagons numbered 7847-7896 were converted from a group of J class tank wagons. Little is known about these tankers except that they were of all wood construction. Between 1920 and 1923 all of this group were rebuilt as either CX class sheep wagons or BD class cattle wagons. Both of these types had 16' GC type wooden underframes and so it seems likely that this particular group of M wagons were 16' long over headstocks. The conversions were as follows:

 

1920

7848, 7852/5, 7862/9, 7876/8/9, 7880/1/5/6, 7893/5 to CX

1921

7847, 7851/6, 7863, 78883/7/9, 7892/6 to CX

7849, 7850/3/4/7-9, 7860/1/4/6/8, 7870/1/3-5/7, 7882/4, 7890/4 to BD

1922

7865/7, 7872,7888,7891 to CX

 

Between 1913 and 1919 a further 147 wagons with standard 15' N.Z.R. underframes were converted from wagons in classes G, J and N although two of these wagons (508 and 5180) may have had 1902 type all steel 15' underframes. Most of these conversions did not have vacuum brakes when they were first converted as shown in the drawing of M1914. Later vacuum brakes were fitted to most if not all of these wagons as shown in the drawing of M2840. It is believed that the two I class replacement wagons 617 and 722 built at this time were standard M class wagons with 15' GB type underframes.  The wagons believed to have been built on the N.Z.R. composite 15'-0" underframe were as follows:

 

1913

468, 1294, 1297, 1525, 2025, 2031, 2401, 2755, 2759, 2763, 2780, 2791, 2805, 2807, 2810, 2811, 2825, 2840, 2841, 3710, 3713, 3720, 3902, 3970, 3993, 4015, 4026, 4033, 4045, 4078, 4080, 4112 ex J

1915

2434 ex J

1916

1275 ex J

1917

1102, 1511, 1522, 2325, 2524, 2713, 3068, 3162, 3904, 4014, 4040, 4047, 4071 ex J

1918

4122, 4134 ex J

1919

946, 951, 1029, 1087, 1088, 1452, 1475, 1914, 1944, 1946, 1949, 1983, 2033, 2063, 2358, 2391, 2461, 2480, 2711, 2724, 2751, 2756, 2757, 2765, 2794, 2795, 2800, 2812, 2832, 3038, 3045, 3711, 3714, 3722, 3745, 3787, 3802, 3805, 3814, 3934, 3952, 3959, 3985, 4012, 4042, 4054, 4107, 4114, , 4141 ex J

1541-1554, 1556-1562, 1565-1581, 1583-1585, 1587-1590, 2061 ex N

2492, 3803 ex G

 

There were in addition two other wagons converted during this period which probably had 15'-0" all steel 1901 type underframes. These were 508 (in 1915) and 5180 (in 1919). Number 5180 was the first M class wagon to be withdrawn (in 1935) whilst 508 lasted until 1954. The disposal of the wagons believed to have had N.Z.R. type underframes was as follows:

 

1929

4112 to MA (probably replaced)

 

1966

1565, 2063, 2794 written off

1942

1275 written off

 

1967

2765 written off

1947

1568 written off

2800 to JETTY 135

 

1968

1560, 2812, written off

1948

1546 written off

 

1970

1570/4, 1585/7/9, 4080 written off

1949

1580, 3904 written off

 

1972

1029, 1087, 1556, 1584, 1914, 2524, 2825,

1952

1953

1946 written off

468, 1542/5, 2325, 3720/2, 3959 written off

1575, 3952 to JETTY 890, 889 respectively

 

 

1974

2841, 3803/5, 4071, 4122 written off

1088, 1102, 1452, 1511, 145/7, 1550-2/8,

1954

548/9, 1567, 1571, 2033, 2061, 2391, 2756, 3745, 3802 written off

1545 written back

 

 

1566/9, 1572/7, 1583/8, 1590, 1983, 2031, 2434, 2461, 2480, 2492, 2759, 2763, 2810, 2832, 3710, 3787, 3934, 3985, 4033, 4040/5, 4054, 4134 written off 2759 written back

1957

1294, 1475, 1544, 1554, 2805/7, 3993, 4015, 4042 written off

 

1976

946, 2759 written off

1962

3162, 3713, 4014, 4026 written off

 

1977

2840 written off

1963

951, 1561, 1581, 3045, 4078 written off

3970, 4107 to NS

 

1978

1559 written off

2840 written back

1964

1541, 1562, 2757, 2795 written off

 

1982

2780 written off

1965

2791 written off

 

1983

1579 written off

This left only 2840 which was eventually preserved after being written off in 1991.

The real problem with all of these rebuilds is that the W.A.G.R. was very loose in its terminology and a rebuild could in fact be a completely new wagon, standard in every respect. From 1925 onwards a further variant began to appear with 22 wagons nominally converted from GB class wagons:

 

1925

6486/9, 6524/6, 6545, 6615, 6647, 6676, 6741

1929

6381, 6417, 6436, 6491, 6500, 6513, 6548, 6560, 6605, 6626, 6664, 6680, 6761

 

These wagons had four steel coal boxes each of which measured 3'-9" internally. These wagons had no sides and no end planking. Clearly it is impossible to fit these coal boxes on a 15' GB type underframe and therefore these wagons must have been new wagons with 16' GC type frames. In 1929 these wagons were reclassified MA and the official MA diagram correctly shows a 16' GC type underframe.

Some of these MA wagons were eventually reclassified M later in their lives. These were 6680 (1956), 6513, 76526, 6545, 6615, 6741 and 8228 (1957). 6513 and 6545 were written off in 1970 with 8228 following in 1972 and the rest in 1974. It is not known what this reconversion involved nor is the length of the wagon certain (they were probably 16'-0" long).

In 1948 thirty wagons, all of which were on G type underframes were converted to class MC. This conversion involved the removal of the sides and the fitting of a new single large cement container in the centre of the underframe. 

 

1297, 1522, 1525, 1543, 1553, 1557, 1573, 1576, 1578, 1944, 1947, 2025, 2358, 2401, 2711, 2713, 2724, 2751, 2755, 2811, 3038, 3068, 3711, 3714, 3814, 3902, 4012, 4047, 4114, 4141

 Today there are three survivors, M8171 at ARHS Bassendean, M8179 at Collie and M2840 at Boyanup.

LIVERY

All of the wagons mentioned above were painted in the W.A.G.R. Indian red livery with lettering in white. The position and style of lettering varied over the years as can be seen in the drawings. The white circle painted at the left-hand end indicated that the wagon had a vacuum cylinder. This was omitted after the second world war. A few wagons lasted long enough to get the Westrail yellow livery with black lettering.

Before the first world war the tare weight painted on the side of the wagon did not include the weight of the coal boxes. After 1918 the extra weight of three wooden coal boxes (12 cart 3qtr each) was included in the tare weight of the wagon. Similarly the Load weight was calculated differently so that before world war one the load was limited by the capacity of the underframe at 10 tons whereas later the capacity of the coal boxes (6 tons) was used as the load capacity. The MA type wagons always showed the capacity of the coal boxes (10 tons) as their load.

 

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