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Southern Railway
14/15 Ton Motor Car Truck No. 39617

SR motor car truck 39617

SR 14/15 Ton Motor Car Truck 39617, Richard Salmon

Built in the Southern Railway's workshops at Ashford (Kent) between December 1932 and May 1933, 39617 was one of a lot of 75 wagons built to diagram 1383 and order A681. With a 14 Ton capacity and 18'7" wheelbase, the wagon was designed principally to carry wheeled vehicles; being fitted with a wheel restraining bar rack. The Southern Railway never built any vehicles intended solely to carry container traffic, so these vehicles were also used for that purpose. As built, 39617 had a handbrake only and was designated a "Conflat C". Between 1935 and 1937, it was fitted with vacuum brakes, which increased its tare weight to 8 tons 16 cwt. and it was re-designated a "Conflat D". A through steam heat pipe would have been fitted at the same time.

As built, its livery would have been SR wagon brown/umber body, headstock and solebars, with black running gear and white lettering. Not being intended for common use, i.e. for use only on traffic originating on the Southern Railway (returning empty unless it had a return load) it would have been branded with its SR telegraphic code and marked with a "N" at the bottom corners on each side. During World War 2 the carrying capacity was raised from 14 to 15 tons.

With the introduction of longer Carflat vehicles by British Railways, S 39617 became redundant and was put into departmental service with the Southern Region Chief Mechanical & Electrical Engineer to carry bogies between workshops, gaining an "ADS" prefix to its number. An air through pipe was later fitted.

Ultimately, it was placed into Internal Use in Selhurst Depot and allocated the number 083627, although this number was never carried. Eventually, it was withdrawn and was stabled in the remains of the down yard at Norwood Junction, destined to Hoo Junction for disposal. 39617 was purchased by donations from BRPS members, arriving on the Bluebell Railway on 21st. April, 1993. It was in the last raft of vehicles to leave Norwood Junction down yard before the track was lifted.

The wagon was used to store footbridge sections at Kingscote for some years. It was then brought down to Horsted Keynes, the footbridge sections were removed and it was used during the erection of a water crane on platforms 1/2. However, it was then moved back to Kingscote and was marooned there for some years. In early 2014, a film company enquired whether the Bluebell Railway would be able to assist by providing a number of 4-wheel underframes on hire and 39617 was one of those chosen. In May 2014 the side and end doors were carefully removed and put into store. It is anticipated that the vehicle will return from hire late in 2014 and it is hoped that the vehicle may finally be made available for restoration

Recommended reading:

An Illustrated History of Southern Wagons - Volume Four, by Messrs. Bixley, Blackburn, Chorley and King;
Published by The Oxford Publishing Company, 2002, ISBN 086093 5647.
This book may be available from the Bluebell Railway's shop

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Page last updated by Nick Beck, 15 September 2014.
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