M.R.W.A. Class FA brake vans. Later W.A.G.R. classes Z and ZJ

The M.R.W.A. bogie brake vans are one of the most confusing groups of M.R.W.A. stock. At least seven different diagrams are involved. In 1894 four vans numbered 1FA-4FA were built by the Lancaster Wagon Co. for the M.R.W.A. A fifth van was built before 1902 followed by two more before 1913. The seven vans were then renumbered FA274-280. These vans were all thirty feet long with an end platform. Eventually there were nine vans of this type when the whole sequence were then renumbered FA61-69 in numerical order (I think). It is possible that the last two were built without end platforms. FA65 at least in its later years lost its Clerestorey. In 1932/3 FA66 was written off and from 1948 FA67 was used for a period as a workmen's van.

Another pair (FA305/6) were built in 1913 and were turned out as shown in the RHWA collection photo above. These two certainly didn't have end platforms as built.  They were then lengthened by 11'-9" and 12'-0" respectively c1915. Both were fitted with electric light in 1922/3. In 1932 these two were renumbered FA56/7.  This pair would appear to have been the MRWA's pricipal passenger train brakevans until 1930.

In 1959 FA56 was re-bodied followed by FA57 in 1960. In 1964 they became Z40811/2. Z40811 was written off in 1971 whilst Z40812 lasted until 1982.

A new van (FA411) was built in 1927. This was 30'-0" long van had two sets of doors and no end platform so in one sense it was a shortened version of FA305/6. In 1932 it became FA70. It was given a new underframe in 1963 and the following year became Z40822. It was written off in 1967.

In 1930 a new 49'-2" long brake van comparable to the W.A.G.R. ZJ class was built numbered FA51. A second van (FA52) was built in 1932. These two vans became ZJ40801/2 in 1964 when the W.A.G.R. took over and they were both written off in 1975. I believe that one of these vans is shown in this Weston Langford photo and they are definitely in this blow up from the State Refernce library of WA 136017PD below.


The first four vans (FA61-4) were re-bodied at some point with wider bodies, which had no end platform. FA61 is shown below in May 1951 in this John Buckland photo.  The diagram suggests that they were rebuilt before 1946. In 1964 FA61-4 became Z40813-6.  Z40815 was the first to go in 1972 followed by 40814 in 1973 and the final pair (40813/6) in 1977.


In 1951 a new FA66 (originally to have been FA71) was built. FA67 was converted to this new standard in 1953 followed by FA65 in 1954. These three vans had angle iron strengthening to the underframe rather than the truss rods retained by the rebuilt FA61-4 and did not have the full length footboards of the earlier vans. The three vans became Z40817-9 in 1964. There is a photo of Z40817 in the Weston Langford collection. Z40819 was the first to go in 1972. Z40817 followed in 1977 whilst Z40818 survived to be the last ex M.R.W.A. van in traffic. It finally went with most of the W.A.G.R. Z vans in 1985. At some point in WAGR service the diagonal planking was replaced with plywood. 

As I said at the start of this page the MRWA brakevans are a confusing group because of the multiple renumberings and rebuildings. I have summarised what I know at the moment in the table below. I know that my information is incomplete and may contain errors.  Some of the rebuildings may effectively have been complete replacement vehicles deserving a line of their own, there were certainly vans that got both new frames and new bodies at different times.
Original No Built 2nd MRWA No. 3rd MRWA No. Rebuilt WAGR No. W/O
1FA 1894 FA274 FA61 (1915/6) before 1946? Z40813 1977
2FA 1894 FA275 FA62 (1915/6) before 1946? Z40814 1973
3FA 1894 FA276 FA63 (1915/6) before 1946? Z40815 1972
4FA 1894 FA277 FA64 (1915/6) before 1946? Z40816 1977
5FA Before 1902 FA278 FA65 (1915/6) 1954 Z40817 1977
6FA ? FA279 FA66 (1915/6) - - 1932/3
7FA ? FA280 FA67 (1915/6) 1953 Z40819 1972
? Before 1910? FA68 (1915/6) - 1960 Z40820 1967
? 1910? FA69 (1915/6) - 1959 Z40821 1977
FA305 1913 FA56 (1932) - 1915? 1959 Z40811 1971
FA306 1913 FA57 (1932) - 1915? 1960 Z40812 1982
FA411 1927 FA70 (1932) - 1963 Z40822 1967
FA51 1930 - - - ZJ40801 1975
FA52 1932 - - - ZJ40802 1975
FA66 1951 - - - Z40818 1985

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