From the workbench

British Rail Diesel Brake Tender.

A what?

In the late 1950s, as the 1955 Modernisation Plan began to take effect with new diesel traction coming into service, the new machines were found to be a little lacking in braking force. At the time, many freight trains did not have any form of automatic braking on the wagons, so the only way to control and stop a train was by the locomotive brakes and a handbrake in the brake van at the tail end.

Not surprisingly, there were a couple of incidents where a diesel was literally pushed along by its train, out of control simply because it hadn’t got braking force comparable with a steam loco. As a stop-gap measure, until continously braked freight trains were commonplace, withdrawn passenger coaches were converted into extra braking capacity for the diesels.

Dubbed Diesel Brake Tenders, the vehicles were made from cut-and-shut coach underframes of ex-LMS or LNER origins with something like 36 tons of scrap metal and concrete added. Attached to the diesel loco, either towed behind or propelled in front, and connected to the loco’s vacuum train brake, the extra four axles with braking helped control the heavy trains.

Brake tenders were generally unloved creatures. They began to arrive in traffic from about 1961, and were finally withdrawn from service and scrapped by the late 1980s. The example modelled is an amalgam of several tatty specimens photographed by Paul Bartlett in the 1970s and 1980s. The model was built for a client from a Just Like The Real Thing kit, with some additions and modifications, to S7 standards. 

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