Cookie Policy


Avoided the temptation to call this section Wagipedia, in case it attracted people with an unnatural interest in the partners, long-term or otherwise, of footballers. Now read on…


The ends (or journals) of the axles rotate in bearings inside the axleboxes. Older ones used grease as a lubricant, before it was replaced by oil. The journal length and diameter are larger on vehicles with a higher Tare/load capacity. Modern axleboxes have roller bearings.


"W"-shaped part locating the axleboxes, and thus the wheels. The side parts are sometimes solid.

Coke Raves:

Extra set/s of planks above the normal wagon body with horizontal gaps. Between one & three sets could be present. This allowed a larger volume of coke to be carried as it was lighter than coal. A "convertible" coke wagon could have the raves removed if coal was to be carried.

Curb angle or rail:

The lowest part of a wagon or van side. On a wood-underframed wagon, the curb rail covered the ends of the floor planks and part of the solebar. Steel-underframed vehicles, such as those below, had an iron or steel angle round the bottom of the body (1 in the first illustration, & 15 in the second)

Bottom doors:

Found on coal/coke wagons, both wood & steel bodied, and in later years denoted by two short diagonal lines on the side doors. Although much of the load would fall out, someone would still have to get inside with a shovel to move the remainder, as these wagons usually had flat floors.


Protruding box-shaped structure on the side of a brake van, with glazing in the sides to allow the Guard to see along the train without leaning out of a window (thus avoiding getting his head knocked off, or worse, his face being covered in soot. Later duckets were more tapered.

End door:

A door on the end of an open wagon, hinged at the top, allowing the load to be tipped out by lifting the other end of the wagon.

Requires javascript

Not a particularly efficient method, as the wagons had to be separated, although sometimes a crane lifted the wagon into a hold of a ship where it could be emptied whilst hanging on the crane ropes. Wagons with end doors quite often had a diagonal white stripe either on the side at the end with the door, or from one end of the side to the other end of the side. This made it easier to get all the wagons round the right way, as finding one facing in the wrong direction at unloading time could ruin your whole day.


or "Fishkind". Name, usually of a species of fish, used to identify types of British Railways' engineers' wagons. Pre-nationalisation companies also used similar systems, particularly the GWR, e.g. Bloater, as this simplified telegraphic messages.


Vehicle with vacuum or air operated brakes. Also when referring to a whole train, meaning all vehicles had such brakes. A "Partly-fitted" train only had some vehicles with continuous brakes, these being marshalled immediately behind the locomotive. See also "Piped".


The underframe member across each end of the vehicle carrying the buffers and coupling. Known as the Bufferbeam on a locomotive (and quite often referred to as such in our kit instructions).


Vehicle with a pipe along it (usually underneath) and flexible hoses at each end to enable running in any part of a "fitted" train, without "breaking" the continous braking status of the train. The brakes on a piped vehicle could not be operated remotely, limiting the number of such vehicles that could be included in an otherwise "fitted" train without requiring it to run at a reduced speed.


Low-sided (or no-sided) wagon used under an over-hanging load on another wagon, usually a bolster wagon.

Sack-truck Door:

Side door on an open wagon with bevelled top plank (inside). This made it easier to negotiate with a sack truck ((2-wheeled barrow). Some doors also had an angled (outwards) bottom plank, e.g. LNER 6 plank wagons (C81).


The side and end body planks of an open wagon.


The outer underframe member running from end to end of the vehicle, below the body.


The unladen weight of a vehicle. Shown as Tons/Hundredweight/Quarters (t/cwt./q). Quarters were later omitted. Modern stock has Tonnes/kilos (kilos usually in smaller superscript ending in "kg" e.g. 12760kg


Acronym for "Total Operations Processing System", used by British Rail to manage/locate wagons and freight/engineering trains. The TOPS code applied to a wagon consisted of three letters (the fourth letter for sub-classes was not actually applied to the wagon).


The first letter indicates the basic wagon class, e.g. B - bogie steel carrying; Z - four wheel departmental. The second letter indicates the wagon type, usually with no meaning e.g. BAA/BBA; but BDAs were former Bolster Ds. The third letter is the brake type: A is air-braked, V is vacuum fitted, X dual air/vacuum braked, and O is unfitted. Other letters after A, O, & V, indicate brake variations: B (e.g. BAB) - air-braked, vac. piped, F,G H are types of AFI (accelerated freight inshot) systems; P - unfitted, vac. piped, Q - air-piped, R - dual piped. W - vac. brakes, air-piped.
Coaching stock had (or perhaps still has) its own system known as POIS, with a much more complicated coding system.

Vee (or "V") hanger:

Support for the pivot point of the brake lever, usually, but not always, at the mid-point of the solebar.

requires javascript

Some brake lever layouts have more than one "V" hanger each side, more likely on vacuum fitted vehicles. Independent brakes (no cross shaft) usually have a pair of "V" hangers each side, in front of and behind the solebars. Occasionally, the second "V" hanger on independent brakes is in-board of the brakegear, and may on first glance, give the impression that the brakes can be worked from either side (due to there being a cross shaft, which does not however, go right across the wagon).


Vehicle without continuous brakes worked by a vacuum or air pipe running the length of the train. Brakes could only be applied manually when the vehicle was stationary (or nearly so).

"W" iron:

– see Axleguard.


Labelled photos of wagons to identify their components.
There's also a coach underframe & passenger brake van interior, however, coaches will eventually have their own page.

17' 6' Steel Underframe:

           wagon underframe image

Although this is a "modern" underframe (when the picture was taken in the 1930s) for a van, the wheels fitted are the "open" spoked (24) type normally found on much earlier wagons than this. Railway Companies were not averse, though, to re-using wheels if they still had some life left in them.
The note below the picture about "most LMS open goods…" refers to the large numbers of D1666 wagons (our kit C58) as shown lower down.
The braking system on this wagon is the "Morton" type with brake shoes etc. on one side (not visible – on the other side). The lever this side has a "simple" clutch, allowing the lever on the other side to be used, without this one moving.

Top View of Underframe

                       wagon underframe

This shows that on a real wagon, the coupling hooks (23) are joined by a rod and spring (12). This avoids the structure of the wagon being affected by the pulling forces of wagons/locomotive in front and the weight of the wagons behind.

LMS 5 Plank Open

                       LMS 5 plank wagon

A D1666 wood-underframed wagon, with pre-1937 large "L M S".
This also shows the "unbraked" side.

LMS D1976 Ventilated Van

                       British Railways plate frame bogie

A typical type of van on the underframes shown in the top two pictures. This does show the braked side of the underframe, with the "Morton" clutch (37) which reverses the action of the brakelever (22) and also allows the brakelever on the opposite side to be used.
This wagon only has brake blocks (28) and pushrods (26) for the wheels on this side.

requires javascript

Wagons did sometimes have "Morton" brakes with four brake blocks, in which case the lower pushrod on the other side would still be at the same end of the vehicle. If viewed from that side, the lower pushrod would be on the left. Other wagons, particularly open wagons with discharge doors in the floor, had "independent" brakes with brake gear both sides, each with its own lever (and usually two "vee hangers" - 36). In theory, all the brakes applied on these wagons would be on the same side. Crossing the track between wagons to apply brakes was a hazardous activity (and could be fatal). This was why it became compulsory to be able to apply wagon brakes from either side of the vehicle (even if only one set of brakes could be applied).

57' Carriage Underframe

                       Bogie underframe image

Much extra diagonal bracing (13) to keep the underframe square. Parts have similar names to wagons, but the transome (5) is called a crossbar (18) on the wagon underframe (2nd picture).

Bogie Brake Van Interior

                       brake van interior

The spacious interior, although of course there are no piles of mail bags or station-to-station parcels. There is a steam heater (16), but whether this large space would have felt very cosy in winter is debatable. There were Duckets (look-outs) either side above the seats (26). These protruded from the sides to let the guard look along the train, without endangering life and limb (or more correctly, his head), if he looked out of a window.