Weed-killing waggons

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Between the wars[edit]

There is an item in the Archives described as

XD97/21496c 1934 Oct. 26 BUNDLE: W. Austen to Morris Jones re sawing sleepers at Boston Lodge – why cannot an ordinary sleeper be cut in half?; The weed-killer and water tank truck derailed on the Boston Lodge end of Minffordd Siding who did it?; Must reduce the number of Carpenters employed at Boston Lodge – one or other must go – “I leave it to you … to retain the better man”.

This weedkiller and water tank truck was probably put together in the 1920s and was almost certainly the one shown in two photographs by H. F. Wheeller in 1935. For some information on railway weed-killing practice and chemicals see Weedkillers.

The weedkiller wagon and an old England tender at Boston Lodge. Source. HF Wheeler per R Carpenter 15/8 CJ Keylock Collection. iBase 898.

Alternatively iBase 898 (http://www.ffwhresource.com/ and enter 898 in the search box) if you want to zoom in on the details.

Photo 4 - H. F. Wheeller - 9 August 1935 - Photo 84 (FR Archives)

It can be seen (mostly from ibase 898) that a rectangular steel tank has been placed on a considerably older flat wagon, with inside bearings, wooden brake blocks and a generally antique air, possibly an old platelayer's trolley. The wheels are similar to those under Type 2 Quarrymens' Carriages. The tank is offset toward the uphill end leaving a small platform at the other end for the operator who it appears had control of the spraying as well as the handbrake. There is a spraybar outside the wheelbase at the top end and the tank is lettered 'F. Rly' in a style believed to be favoured by the FR Co in the 1920s. It is not clear if it has been dumped here because it had fallen out of use or just because it only went out annually. Its number (if any) is not known.

The weedkiller wagon should not be confused with The Brine Tank Waggon which had gone out of use with the decline of the sea-water traffic to Plas Tan-y-bwlch, and was eventually used to make the water tower at Pont Croesor in 1922, so was not available for weedkiller use.

The weedkiller wagon survived the dereliction period and may be seen in ibase 1450 (August 1955)[1] when it had been moved to the Bottom Yard. It had been turned round, and it may be seen that there was a handrail on the platform, similar to those on brake vans but with only one centre stanchion. It had by then lost the lever arrangement on the top which operated the release valve. (In the foreground is a Toastrack underframe which may or may not be 67.)

The original wagon was seen again in May 1956. A picture[2] shows it at Minffordd propelled by Prince. The platform has been repaired, the tank has been turned round (the circular plate is now at the platform end) and there is a new spraybar at the platform end. No number is visible.

Wagon 67[edit]

In 1957 the tank was taken off the old weedkiller wagon and transferred (with its securing bars) to Wagon 67, which was one of the Hudson Toastrack bogie underframes. It may have been the underframe seen in front of the old weedkiller wagon in ibase 1450, which may also have been the underframe seen in Harbour Station in 1949-51 in ibase 2389 and 2404. This version of the weedkiller wagon also carried a two-man hand pump, a small cylindrical tank and an additional tank of similar construction but different in details (including its means of securing). The valve and spraying arrangements are different from the pre-war system and the tank has been mounted sideways compared to the previous arrangement. This rather impressive contraption can be seen in ibase 723 and in action in the film in ibase 31 - this shows it in an early form before final painting and without the pump and cylindrical pressure tank. It may also be seen in the Weston Langford photo 111217 below - note the low level handbrake wheel on the bogie - this is a distinguishing feature of the bogies on the Toastracks, as distinct from the tall brakestaff of the standard WD wagon bogie as on the adjacent wagon (63).

<111217>:On the left is No 67

The next mention of weedkiller being applied in the revival period is in FRSL Newsletter No. 11 in July 1957 when it is stated "Whole line effectively treated with weed killer". No 67 spraying wagon was used for some years but was eventually dismantled and in recent years the underframe has been transferred to the Mosley Railway Trust where it has been very well restored as Hudson Toastrack no 40 and runs at Apedale in Staffs.
The flat wagon from the old version was with a lot of other interesting stock in the Top Yard at Boston Lodge in April 1958 looking rather sad (ibase 794). It has acquired a step to the end platform since Wheeller saw it, but the handrail from the platform may be seen lying on the deck, and the brake lever appears to have been broken off. The timbers which located the tank are still present.

This flat is not now believed to be in existence.

Modern Times[edit]

Nowadays there is a more compact set of powered spraying equipment which is normally loaded into a DZ Wagon. They are large enough to carry sufficient water containers and the spraying equipment with space to spare. They are fitted with vacuum brakes and can travel over the whole FR & WHR network.

In the past, the herbicide spraying equipment has been fitted to MoD flat wagons and locoal wagons.

Wagon 190[edit]

190 MoD flat wagon, loaded with herbicide-spraying apparatus Minffordd Yard. This wagon is no longer used as part of the spraying train, as it is not fitted with vacuum brakes.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ another picture in FRHG Journal 112 p35
  2. ^ "News from the Line 40 years back", Ffestiniog Railway Magazine, Issue 152, page(s): 298