According to British Railway Engineering Encyclopaedia compiler Iain Ellis, British Rail Engineering Limited (BREL), was the engineering division for railway systems, until company privatisation in 1989. BREL produced many railway wagons and many wagon types, for general and specialised roles. Many of these are still in operation, partly because of rigorous maintenance regimes, even though, according to the Competition Commission, the practice has now switched to "in the field" maintenance.
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A bogey wagon is one of British Rail Engineering's most flexible wagons, as it can be lifted off one set of bogeys, or wheels, with a crane, and placed on another set. This is especially convenient where there is a need to transfer rolling stock or loads between different lines or even different gauges of railway. The National Railway Museum has several bogey wagons in its collection, including the 30-ton bogey bolster C wagon, of which 5,600 were built in total.
China Clay Hood Wagon
An example of a wagon with a specialised role is the China Clay Hood Wagon. These were used to transport kaolin from near its source in the West Country, to the Potteries, an area in Stoke-on-Trent which became famous for its ceramics. According to Phoenix Locomotives, British Rail's fleet of China Clay Hood Wagons was manufactured in the 1950s. They gradually replaced the original Great Western Railway wagons, whose line had been engineered by leading British civil engineer, Isambard Kingdom Brunel.
Large, heavy or awkwardly shaped loads were often transported on "Weltrol" wagons, of which there were several different varieties. "Weltrol" is an abbreviation of "Well Trolley" on account of the distinctive, lower central portion, that forms a shallow well. The wagons were often referred to as "Crocodile Wagons" as this was their original code name. The well was useful for accommodating parts of objects supported by the two, higher-end sections, which sat over the wheels.
Other BREL wagons include covered bulk wagons, such as the "Presflo" covered bulk cement wagon, which has four wheels and weighs 20 tons. The "Conger" is a departmental six wheel bogey wagon that was used in pairs to transport very heavy loads including metal girders. Mineral wagons of four basic types were used to transport coal and other rocks and minerals. There was even a banana van for the transportation of this very popular fruit.
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