N Class Timber trucks (classes L and M before 1900) later Shunters' floats

This class is another of the early groups which incorporates wagons built to several different diagrams.

It is complicated by the fact that the distinction between classes L and M (Timber trucks and Timber floats respectively) was not clear cut .  Wagons with one, two or no bolsters were mixed up in these classes. 

This was not really sorted out until the wagons were re-organized into classes I (single swivel bolster) and N (twin fixed bolsters).  Even then the wagons with no bolsters at all present a  problem.

This leaves at least 8 types which I cannot, at the moment, fully separate.  What follows is my best guess at present.

 

 Above.  A blow up from a larger image.  Unfortunately the number of the wagon is unreadable.  However,  it is possible to identify the wagon as one of the group numbered 2037-2062 on the standard NZR type chassis.  These were the only twin bolster wagons on the NZR chassis without a low 1 plank side. Below. The more numerous version on the standard NZR chassis were the 1541-1590 batch seen in the postcard image below of 1542 at Fremantle.  Most of these were converted to coal box wagons in 1919.

The types covered by this page are:

1. Twenty or so early wagons supplied by Metropolitan RCWCo.  5 ton capacity18'-0" long.  At least one of these wagons lost the one plank sides but retained the low ends.   (Battye Library 5323B/1042,or 6423P).  These wagons were probably numbers L13-16, L60-63, L111-122. The diagram book suggests that 3 of these lasted to the 1920s but if so they must have been renumbered at some point as all of the numbers above had been re-used by 1908.

2.  Batch of 50 wagons M1541-1590.  6 ton capacity.  The wagons built to the NZR design.  Most of these were converted to class M coal box wagons in 1919.

3. Batch of 25 wagons 2037-2062 (21 by 1904) 6 ton probably converted from class H.

4. Six Bunbury railway wagons. Numbers unknown. Metropolitan RCWCo order 597A  3.5 ton capacity

5. One 1902 built wagon numbered N5945.  This was the only N built with vacuum brakes and was presumably on the 1901/2 all steel chassis rather than the NZR type. 6 ton capacity.

6. Wagons (at least nominally) converted from old GSR 14'-0" chassis

7. Wagons (at least nominally) converted from old GSR 12'-0" chassis class I

8. Wagons (at least nominally) converted from old 11'-0" NZR class I

9. Wagons reinstated where original numbers and chassis details unknown.  These include Jetty wagons reinstated during the second world war.

In 1899 a group of old M class wagons (20, 22, 24, 27, 28, 29) were listed as timber floats rather than timber trucks.  It seems likely that these were flats with no bolsters at all.  In 1900 they became class I rather than N and so drop out of the picture. A Battye library photo shows what seems to be one of these flats and bolster wagon in the foreground.  The diagram book suggests that 16 of the original twenty wagons went in 1902/3 with another being written off in 1904/5. It is not clear when the final 3 went .  The old numbers were re-used as below which gives a last possible date in service.  Note that it was 8 years before the number 1563 was re-used.  

Then there is then photo above.  It shows a twin bolster wagon which looks shorter than the 18  footers and has no sides or even an obvious floor.  The photo is very early as the wagon has the original bell buffers rather than the chopper type and the loco is Robb's 2-6-0 A3.  It may be one of the L13-16 group or perhaps belonged to Robb.

1900

L15, L16 renumbered N4912, N4893 respectively. All other wagons reclassified but retain their original numbers  except for 1563 which had already gone by that date.
1902 5945 built new
1905 62 number used for new GB
1907

13, 14,  60, 61, 63, numbers used for new D class

111, 112, 113, 114, 115, 116, 117, numbers used for new B class

118, 119, 120, 121, 122, numbers used for new C class

1908 1563, 4893, 4912   numbers used for new GC's

Between 1912 and 1914 fifteen single bolster ex GSR I class wagons were reclassified N.  It seems likely that these wagons had their single bolsters removed for use as shunters' floats.  The next major change was that 46 wagons were converted into class M coal box wagons .

1912 4340, 4347, 4348, 4349, 4350, 4352, 4353, 4354 converted from GSR class I
1913 4341, 4343, 4345, 4351, 4356, 4357 converted from GSR class I
1914 4346 converted from GSR class I
1919

1541, 1542, 1543, 1544, 1545, 1546, 1547, 1548, 1549, 1550, 1551, 1552, 1553, 1554, 1556, 1557, 1558, 1559, 1560, 1561, 1562, 1565, 1566, 1567, 1568, 1569, 1570, 1571, 1572, 1573, 1574, 1575, 1576, 1577, 1578, 1579, 1580, 1581, 1583, 1584, 1585, 1587, 1588, 1589, 1590 , 2061  converted to class M.

1929 4343, 4353, 4356 to JETTY 4, 6 and 8 respectively.
1934 4151, 4155, 4164 converted from GSR D class
1935 1582 written off
1936 4351, 4354, 4357 written off

From 1943 N class wagons were officially listed as "Shunter's floats" although it seems likely that many of these wagons were being used in this way well before this.  Presumably by this time the vast majority of the timber traffic was being handled by Q and QA class wagons.   It is not clear what the origins of the wagons reinstated from jetty stock were (and hence their size) as new numbers were allocated which bore no relationship to their original numbers. 

 

1941 753 ex Jetty stock
1944

590, 4310, 4334, 4356 ex Jetty stock

4310 is recorded as being former JETTY 4 ex N4343

1946 2044 written off
1947 2041, 2050 written off
1948

2048, 4164 written off

4340 to JETTY 516

1949 4346 written off
1950 4352 written off
1952

1973 converted from class H

2565  converted from class G

4201, 4285 converted from class G

1953

289, 399, 492, 767 converted from class I

753,  2043 missing at stocktake.

1954 897, 967, 990, 1238, 1513, 2251, 2306, 2318, 3051, 3052, 3104 converted from class H
1955

305, 312, 927, 938, 989, 991, 1940, 1970, 2254, 2268, 2354, 2781, 3102, 3926, 3977 ex H

4558 ex H

4559 ex I

2047 to H

In 1956 the wagons in class N that were being used as Shunter's floats were all reclassified NS.  The remaining few wagons were now listed as "Main Line Tailers" (sic).  Presumably they were used as spacers for overhanging loads.

N 897 photographed near the end of its life.  By this stage it had acquired full vacuum brakes (possibly quite late on as the V hanger reflects the 1950s style).  Some N's (e.g 2306) also had disc wheels in later life. Photo G R Watson

1956

289, 399, 492, 767 to NS

1555, 1586 to NS

2038, 2039, 2042, 2045, 2046, 2049, 2051, 2052, 2053, 2054, 2055, 2057, 2059, 2060, 2062, 2268, 2565, 2781  to NS

4151, 4155, 4201, 4285,  to NS

590, 4334  to NS

4341, 4345, 4347, 4348, 4349, 4350 to NS

5945 to NS

2056 written off

1973 to NS and then back again.

1957

2425 ex H

2040 ex NS

1967 1564 , 1970, 2037,  3926, 4310 written off
1968

1342 ex DW

305, 2040, 2425, 3977,4558 written off

1969 1488, 1492, 2632 ex NS

1940 written off

2632 to NS

1970

2251, 3052 written off

1138 ex NS

1971 312, 4559 written off
1972 897, 938, 967, 989, 991, 1238, 1342, 1488, 1492, 1513, 2254, 2306, 2318 written off
1973 990, 1138, 2354, 3051, 3104, 4356 written off
1974 927 written off
1975 2058 written off
1976 1973 written off
1977 3102 written off

 

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This final image shows N2058 towards the end of its life but still looking remarkably smart acting as runner for a QU.

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