Gas tank wagons - how did they work?

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Pyewipe Junction
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Gas tank wagons - how did they work?

Post by Pyewipe Junction »

I remember there was a two-cylinder ?propane gas wagon parked for many years in the Sandy Lane siding next to Lincoln Central station, no doubt in case a restaurant car needed topping up. I always thought the tanks were black, but I understand they were actually a very dark blue (not that that really mattered in the 1950s and 60s - everything was dirty).

My question is - how were they used? I am assuming a long hose would be run from the wagon to the restaurant car, as using a steam loco to shunt the wagon next to the restaurant car would have been too dangerous, even for those days.
John Palmer
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Re: Gas tank wagons - how did they work?

Post by John Palmer »

Not an expert so can't be sure, but I think it likely that propane came into use as a restaurant car fuel as the successor to Pintsch gas, a derivative of naptha, which was certainly used for carriage illumination. Most if not all railway gas tank wagons were, I suspect, originally designed to convey Pintsch gas to the intended point of use.

I can't speak as to the practice elsewhere, but a gas tank wagon remained in use into the 1950s for the charging of restaurant car reservoirs at Bath Green Park, the Midland Railway station that served as northern terminus of the Somerset and Dorset network. By way of illustration, plate 43 in Ivo Peters' "S&D in the 1950s Volume 1" shows a gas tank adjacent to a southbound Saturday relief train, ready to top up the restaurant car's gas containers. It is apparent that the gas tank is coupled directly to an LMS standard shunting tank (a Bagnall in S&D parlance), so no question of interposing barrier wagons between locomotive and laden tank wagon.

Hope that goes some way to providing an answer.
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