Class R (Class IB before 1900)

Unlike many of the other W.A.G.R. wagon classes there was only one major group of wagons that became class R in 1900. These were the 931 30'-0" bogie open wagons built between 1894 and 1901 as class IB. In fact the last 154 wagons entered service as class R rather than class IB. There is, however, a complication. Between 1901 and 1910 541 wagons were rebuilt with two small doors per side rather than one large door. In the documentation these wagons were known as class RX but I have yet to see a photograph of one so labelled. Some R class wagons were added to the class as a result of conversions from classes J, V, Q and U.

Class RD was created in 1910 by the conversion of thirty R class wagons with full length doors. Later some of these wagons were widened to carry motor cars and reclassified RM. The last survivors in this group were written off in 1972.

One R class wagon was fitted with a ridgepole for glass traffic in 1936 whilst another wagon became the sole member of class QR from 1954 until 1961. In the fifties many R class wagons were re-bodied with only one door per side but many of the RX wagons remained in this condition until written off. Some wagons were also converted to Q class bolster wagons in the fifties.

Class RO was the result of the conversion of 27 R class wagons to flat wagons to carry nickel containers in 1969. Unlike most flat wagon conversions they did not get a code Q class group and had all gone by 1976. A further group of R class wagons were converted to class QBB bolster wagons in 1970. The remaining R class wagons were written off with the last survivors going in 1983.

A single experimental 35'-0" RX class wagon was built in 1897 as class IB. In 1904/5 the X class hopper wagon was converted to match it. In 1968 one of these two wagons was fitted with a well and became class RY. It was finally written off in 1979. The remaining RX class wagon was written off in 1972.

The next major group of wagons was the RA class. These were built in two groups. Two hundred and fifty wagons were built by Oldbury Carriage and Wagon Co in the Britain whilst 60 wagons were built by Duluth Smith McMillan & Co in America. The British wagons had Fox bogies whilst the the American built wagons had diamond frame bogies but otherwise the wagons were similar. During the Second World War wagons of both types were converted to RAA class flat wagons. They were reconverted towards the end of the war and withdrawals started during the late forties. A re-bodying programme was started and 120 of the RA class wagons were rebuilt with slightly lower sides by 1957. The last of the American wagons survived until 1974 whilst the last of the British built wagons went in 1985. Class RAB was a conversion of one of the British wagons as an equipment wagon for the 60 ton breakdown crane in 1954. This was replaced by another converted wagon in 1985. A final conversion of this group was the single RAC class wagon.

A total of 177 steel-bodied open wagons built in 1930 formed class RB. A total of forty were soon altered to carry bulk wheat and reclassified RBW. Some fifteen RB's were sold to the Commonwealth railways in the war and the chassis used for tanker wagons. In 1953 thirty RB's were converted to QRB class flat wagons. Deterioration in the steel bodywork lead to replacement with new wooden bodies for 49 wagons in 1959-60. These were reclassified reclassified RBT. A further seven RBs (and one RBT) were rebuilt as RBC class bulk cement wagons in the sixties whilst one wagon became the QRT class ballast plough in 1967. Only two of this entire group were actually written off as RB class wagons and the class ceased to exist when the remainder were rebuilt as QRC class flats in 1970-71. A wooden bodied version of class RB appeared in 1937 as a batch of twelve wagons. These were all sold to the C.R. in 1942. A further fifty appeared in 1947. One was converted to an RBC class cement wagon in 1963, forty-nine became QRC class flat wagons in 1970-71 and the final wagon was written off in 1983.

Ninety six plank RC class wagons were built in the Britain and Western Australia in 1954 and 1958 respectively. These used the post-war standard 36'-0" bogie chassis. Only three wagons were written off as RC's. Twenty-five were converted to QRA class flat wagons in 1973 whilst the rest were rebuilt to the higher sided seven plank class RCA in 1983. A total of 120 RCA class wagons were built as such between 1959 and 1961. These were followed by the 400 even higher sided RCB's in 1961-1965. Two hundred RCB's became RCW class wheat wagons in 1965 and most of the remainder gained glass fibre roofs to become class RCH between 1977 and 1982. Some RCW's were converted to RCH and Class RCWA was produced by the conversion of RCW class wagons from 1986. The last RCW conversion produced the RCWR (which had a roof) whilst some of the RCH's had their roofs removed to become class RCC.

The conversion of redundant VD, VF and VG class vans produced the all steel RCJ class opens from 1986 whilst class RCK was the result of the conversion of an RCA in 1986. Both of these classes were written off in 1996.

The seven bogie open wagons absorbed from the Midland Railway of Western Australia in 1964 were initially coded RBM (apart from two wagons coded RB in error. In 1973 they were all re-coded RAM but had been written off by 1983.

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