- Transporter wagon
A transporter wagon, in
railwayterminology, is a wagon (UK) or railroad car(US) designed to carry other railway equipment. Normally, it is used to transport equipment of a different rail gauge. In most cases, a transporter wagon is a narrower gauge wagon for transporting a wider gauge equipment, allowing freight in a wider gauge wagons to reach destinations on the narrower gauge network without the expense and time of transshipmentinto a narrower gauge wagons.
This is an attempt to overcome one of the primary problems with a narrower gauge system—gauge incompatibility. However, it means that the narrower gauge network must be built to a
loading gaugelarge enough to accommodate a wider gauge equipment, negating one of the cost advantages of a narrower gauge construction. Additionally, a large wider gauge wagon balanced on a narrower gauge transporter wagon is not very stable, and is generally restricted to low speeds of 15 mph or so.
Transporter wagons have seen varying popularity. They were quite common on German and some Swiss systems; a transporter wagon is a "Rollwagen" in German.Transporter wagons were uncommon in
North America, where the practice of exchanging trucks was more common, as was at one time the case on CN's Newfoundland Railwayat Port aux Basques (or at North Sydney, Nova Scotia?). They were used on the Paw Paw Railroadof Paw Paw, Michiganfor a short time, and on a short stretch of track of the defunct Bradford, Bordell and Kinzua Railroadby lumberman Elisha Kent Kane.They were used in the United Kingdomon the Leek and Manifold Valley Light Railway.
Transporter wagons were used extensively for a great many years also in Austria (gauge 760 mm), Switzerland (1000 mm
Brünigbahn) and Sweden (gauges 802 mm, 891 mm, and 1067 mm). This was a boon esp. to exchange traffic on the extensive Swedish 891 mm network, which once comprised almost 2,000 km - in fact a number of local country areas in southern Sweden had nearly no standard gaugelines at all, just narrow gauge ones. On the other hand, "Rollböcke" were not much used there.
An interesting development of the original transporter wagon concept (with bar couplers between each wagon) was that the bar couplers were discarded in favour of connecting all Stephenson gauge wagons directly with each other by means of their ordinary buffing and draft gear. This was tried for a few years in Sweden just before the last narrow gauge freight lines were closed in the 1980s.
Special adaptors could be employed to couple a set of transporter wagons onto the end of an "ordinary" narrow gauge freight train. Continuous braking was no problem, either, as the train air line could be incorporated into the bar couplers, too.
Judging from early literature, the transporter wagon idea came about in Germany sometime around 1880 or 1890 (where in fact, later, "Rollböcke" were used a lot more than transporters). Transporter wagons with the unique "Heberlein" type friction brake system were in daily use in the old GDR (East Germany) well into the late 1980s.
In Britain, they were introduced to the
Leek and Manifold Valley Light Railwayin 1904 by Everard Calthrop, who also introduced them to the Barsi Light Railwayin India. They carried the bulk of the freight traffic on the Leek and Manifold Valley.
During an intermediate phase of the conversion of the Port Pirie to Marree railway from a narrower gauge to a Stephenson gauge, train lengths of Stephenson gauge flat wagons were fitted with narrow gauge rails, to allow a narrower gauge coal trains to by pass the difficult
Flinders Ranges. "The narrower gauge air brakes were connected to the Stephenson gauge train air brakes, to allow some flexing around curves" (???). A short ramp was installed to raise the narrow gauge trains about a metre onto the deck of the standard gauge train. There were no tight overbridges (overpasses) or tunnels to resrict operation of these double deck trains.
Also common on German and eastern European narrower gauge are transporter trailers, which are small-wheeled full trailers that fit beneath each pair of the wagon's wheels or each
bogieof the rail carand are hauled by a drawbar. These are "Rollböcke" in German. Some times "one long" small-wheeled full trailer carries the entire rail car.
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