W.A.G.RYS Wagon page

Introduction

This page includes a general description of the classification of W.A.G.R. narrow gauge wagons. Standard gauge wagons are not included. Underneath this page are a series of pages that group together the classes by the type of wagons. These pages can be reached via the hyperlinks on this page. Underneath the group pages are the pages that deal with each individual class. The class pages are where the photos of the individual wagons are located as well as the details of their building and withdrawal dates. A general description of wagon liveries is now on a separate page. If you know what you are looking for there is now an alphabetical list of all classes available. Latest additions are on the "What's New" page. Wagons that are known to have run on the three isolated sections are also listed on a separate page.

Pre 1900 Classifications

The first system for the classification of goods wagons on the W.A.G.RYS started in the early 1890's. This system developed in a rather haphazard fashion in the hectic years of the late 1890's as the W.A.G.RYS struggled to cope with a rapidly expanding network and the gold rush. One answer to the problems encountered was to order large numbers of wagons to established designs from the UK. The designs chosen as standard were those in use by the New Zealand Government Railways after the successful use of some second hand wagons from the same source. These wagons included 11 types of four wheelers on a standard chassis (classes E, G, Q, S, IW, JW, F, JW (with bottom doors), U, L and H) with a shortened version for the timber bolster wagon (Class M). This distinctive 15' composite underframe with channel steel solebars and wooden headstocks with the springs mounted within the channel could be seen on W.A.G.R. metals until the 1980's.

Post 1900 Classifications

By 1900 the gold rush had quietened down and with slightly less pressure on the W.A.G.RYS an attempt was made to bring some sort of order to the rather chaotic wagon classification system. Initially each broad group of wagons was given a single letter code. In nearly all of these cases there were other wagons in the classes of very different design as well as those with the N.Z.R. type frames. There were examples of the standard N.Z.R. type wagons in classes A, D, E, F, G, H, J, L, M, N and O with the shorter timber bolster wagons in class I. The descriptions used are taken from contemporary W.A.G.RYS annual reports. Four and six wheeled wagons were coded as follows:

A - Horseboxes

E - Cold storage vans

I - Timber trucks (swivel bolster)

M - Ballast tippers. Later coal box wagons

B - Cattle trucks

F - Louvre Vans

J - Water Tanks (later all tankers)

N - Timber trucks (rigid bolster)

C - Sheep trucks

G - Highside trucks

K - Ballast wagons (later opens)

O - Powder vans

D - Covered goods vans

H - Lowside trucks

L - Ballast Hoppers and ploughs

P - 4 & 6 wheel brake vans (later mail vans)

Bogie wagons filled the remainder of the alphabet:

Q - Timber trucks (later bogie flats)

T - Cattle trucks

W - Cold storage vans

Z - Bogie Brake vans

R - Highside trucks

U - Platform trucks

X - Coal hoppers (later all bogie hoppers)

 

S - Sheep trucks

V - Covered goods vans

Y - Powder vans

 

Initially wagons of different constructional characteristics, capacities and uses were given the same class letter but within a few years there was a need for more subtlety in the systems and so many new classes of wagons were given two letter codes. Finally three and four letter codes were used for some classes. To find out more about an individual group of classes click on the class letter. The system did develop some anomalies as time went on. The earliest of these was caused by the fact that all of the two and three letter codes beginning with A were reserved for carriages and so later horseboxes were in the B group. Many of the later bogie flat wagons probably should have had codes in the U group and similarly explosive wagons in the D and V groups should have been in the O and Y groups respectively. On the whole, however, the systems seems to have worked well until the demise of the four-wheeled wagons left half of the codes unused.

Reclassification and rebuilding

The W.A.G.R. records on what exactly was rebuilt, what was merely reclassified and what was replaced are rather vague and it was quite possible to have identical wagons in different classes and totally different wagons in the same class. Even write-off dates are not sacrosanct with some vehicles still in existence many years later. Photographic evidence is the only way to be sure. I have indicated in the text where I am uncertain about the characteristics of particular wagons.

Andy May's home page

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