Model Rail (UK)
CREATE A UNIQUE SET OF BUFFERSTOPS
In the June issue of Model Rail (MR300), George created a bufferstop from a grounded gunpowder van. He wrote that he’d been unable to find photographic proof that these existed in reality – surely this could never have happened, as they would not offer proper protection compared to a ‘real’ set of stop blocks.
Ray Hoffmann, by email George says: The responses to my suggestion of utilising a grounded van as a bufferstop have been fascinating. A few readers insisted such a thing was unthinkable and, as I wrote at the time, I’d been unable to find any archive images to prove that they did really exist at Machynlleth goods yard in steam days.
However, David Watson advised that a suitable image could be found on the rear cover of a HMRS book,
All about GWR Iron Minks, by J. Lewis, M. Lloyd, R. Metcalf and N. Miller (published in 1980). I managed to order a copy online via Abe Books and, just after it arrived, Chris Barrett emailed a link to another useful image on The Transport Library website, which is reproduced below.
While the images proved that the EX-GWR van bufferstops did exist at Machynlleth, they also showed that
I’d made an error in my original choice of wagon type. Instead of a gunpowder van, the wagons in question were GWR Iron Minks, of a type built in the early 1900s. What really grabbed my attention was the addition of fully equipped headstocks, with buffers and even drawhooks, mounted on the ends of the van bodies. Lengths of flat-bottom rail are also visible beneath the vans, and I wonder if they formed part of the anchoring system.
Now that I had reference images to hand, a second attempt was made at recreating the scene in miniature. Despite its ubiquity, the GWR Iron Mink has not been available in true RTR format in ‘OO’, although Rapido
Trains UK is currently developing a wide range of variants. Cutting a pair of these wagons up would probably be a shame and, besides, I didn’t want to wait. Therefore, a pair of Parkside plastic kits was obtained, and these proved simple to modify and assemble. They’re still not exactly right, as they feature a different pattern of side doors, but they’re close enough for my needs.
For the headstocks and buffers, I found a Bachmann wagon chassis in my spares box, recovered from a china clay open which had received a superior kit-built underframe. The two bufferbeams were carefully cut free and the rear face filed flat and smooth. Buffers were already installed, but a pair of drawhooks was required. A set of whitemetal hooks from Lanarkshire Models Supplies was employed (who also offer suitable buffers if required), fixed into slots drilled and cut into the bufferbeams after installation to the van bodies.
At around £10 per bufferstop, they’re maybe a little indulgent, but they certainly make for an interesting scenic addition, and
I had great fun building and installing them on my new goods yard diorama. They would certainly create some lively discussion if installed on an exhibition layout!
Funnily enough, I recently remembered where I’d originally learnt about Machynlleth’s unique bufferstops. They were mentioned in a very brief article in Railway Modeller, although I’ve no idea which issue. I’m guessing it was from the late 1970s or early 1980s, as I’d been given a job-lot of issues from that period by a friend some years back. I do recall cutting out the image of the iron mink bufferstops, with an eye on recreating the scene, but it must have been misplaced. I’m just glad that it wasn’t a figment of my imagination after all!
With thanks to all of the readers who took the time to get in touch on this subject.