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Almost reminds me of the Harry Potter hog warts cars. Maybe the flying Scotsman???


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I have some Bachmann spectrum PRR cars
and some AHM Alton Limited set with steam loco.

Are you modeling USA or British?
 

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What's a brake coach and what would the comparable North America car be?

From the Hornby Magazine site:

In the early days of railways each train carried a number of guards who would apply hand brakes on individual coaches. The driver would call for brakes by a special code on the whistle. There would always be a guard with a brake on the last coach so that if the train became divided both portions could be stopped. Assuming everyone was alert and the equipment worked.

From the 1880s passenger trains were fitted with continuous automatic brakes working by air or vacuum and arranged so that if the pipe was opened to atmosphere (by the driver, communication cord, or train becoming uncoupled) the brakes would apply in the whole train. However this brake could not be relied on to hold the train if it was left unattended, as eventually the brakes would "leak off" and release. For some reason in the UK only certain coaches were fitted with a mechanical hand brake which could be relied on to hold the train. The hand brake was located in a special area for the guard and baggage, also with a valve to apply the continuous brakes. Not surprisingly these became known as brake coaches, and to this day every loco-hauled train has to include a brake coach so the train can be secured if the loco is uncoupled. Most other countries fitted hand brakes to every coach (the brake handle is often in a cupboard in the vestibule) so they have no concept of a brake coach.

Up until the 60s trains normally had a brake coach at or near each end (there were rules about allowing a coach or two outside the brake) and the guard would travel in the rear one. Unlike the old fitted passenger or the unfitted goods trains that survived into the 80s, this wasn't necessary to make sure a divided train was stopped, as the continuous brake woud do this. I can think of three other reasons:

- The guard could lean out and watch the train ahead, for example to make sure nobody opened a door when pulling out of a station, whereas if they were not in the last coach they would have to look backwards which would be more dangerous.

- Putting the guard/parcels area at the end of the train means passengers don't have to walk through it.

- If the train does become divided then the guard is likely to be in the portion that breaks away and can more easily protect the train and assist with getting it re-coupled.

As pointed out above, a train that split or joined en route would have several brake coaches, some in the middle of the train, unless an extra brake coach was attached/detached at the station where splitting/joining was done.

Sometime in the 60s the rules were relaxed and since then trains only had to have one brake coach somewhere in the formation. This was still usually at one end. Modern multiple units have various equivalents to the old hand brake but none involves turning a large handle!
 

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Discussion Starter #7
I have some Bachmann spectrum PRR cars
and some AHM Alton Limited set with steam loco.

Are you modeling USA or British?
We're modeling freelance fantasy, in other words, anything we happen to like. The cars were given to me and happen to hook up to the steamer I got cheap off of Ebay. I got the steamer to be the power for a long black train inspired by the song of the same name by Josh Turner.

I did happen to find Harry Potter Hogwarts cars. They seem to be a close match but don't have the bumpers. I didn't check more than that.
 

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Thanks for the explanation Michael. Was this strictly a British requirement or did other European nations also do it?
 
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