One of the most distinctive wagon types to operate over the FR must surely have been the Gunpowder vans, which latterly conveyed the explosives from the Boston Lodge store to the quarries. The drawing (produced by my own hand and therefore with apologies to all competent draughtsmen) features one such vehicle, now a works van on the Rheilffordd Llyn Tepid, but rescued in 1971 from imminent scrapping at Oakeley quarries.
The date this vehicle was built is in some doubt. George Barnes, Gen Manager of the Rh.L1.7, is convinced that his vehicle was built in 1857, and certainly the method of construction and extent of corrosion would seem to confirm that period. It was in 1857 that the gunpowder store was moved from Rhiwbrifdir to Boston Lodge, but presumably the FR was moving gunpowder direct from Portmadoc to Blaenau prior to this move. Equally, the first batch of iron slate wagons was built in 1857 but frame construction would appear to be dissimilar. However, the use of 6 webbed spoke wheels and axleboxes with side bolts (similar to Binnie—box C40) again seems to confirm a date of c.1860, but I would welcome further comment. One thing is evident however, that of the 4 such vehicles to have remained latterly, no two are entirely alike. The vehicle at Raenofferen (photographed in 1970 but reportedly still in existence) is evidently shorter, having been mated up with an ex—GW slate wagon chassis. The FR's NO. 152 and that photographed at Llechwedd in 1971 have the most in common, but seem to be at least 2ft longer then the Rhal.T's.
So to review the drawing —The main frame is built up of 4” x 3” channel with one centre longitudinal. I have omitted couplings, wheel, axlebox and rivet detail for simplicity. The body is built up of three iron sheets riveted to hoops. The profile is not semi-circular on this example. The inside of the body is faced with timber presumably to minimise sparks end possibly reduce the effect of direct sunlight in summer Similarly the brake gear, using wooden blocks might be described in modern parlance as 'flemeproofed'! The quadrant in which the brake lever moves takes the form of a stirrup, secured at the top end only and notched for a ratchet on its longer edges. The stirrup is not shown on the end view but is reproduced in plan. What form of pawl was used I don't know as there is no sign of it today — evidently the brake gear was purely for parking purposes as it could only be operated by someone standing alongside the vehicle.
The end doors are secured by locking bar (drawn separately) which pivots into 2 'T' and and 'U' shaped bracket and receiving a padlock through the bottom r.h. pin. The other end of the vehicle is plain, with one central strengthening piece (approx 2" x 1/2", as are the hoops.
1. The Oakeley Van, photo—graphed at Llanuwchllyn in 1971 before track laying on the Rh.L1.T had commenced.
2. Opposite view to that in photo 1. (1974)
The Maenofferen Van, now mounted on a CW slate wagon chassis. (1970)
The Llechwedd Van, similar to Oakeley's but probably 1 1/2 times as long. (1971)