Diagram 88 18ft, 10 ton Covered Goods Van
These larger vans, which were similar in appearance to the D87 type discussed above, were introduced by the L&NWR in 1908 and construction continued through 1923 with the final batches emerging in 1923 in the new LMS livery rather than that of the LNW. They are readily distinguished from the earlier and smaller LNW vans by their length, external planking and by the lack of a roof door, which had been characteristic features of earlier ordinary covered vans, D32 & D33. A total of approximately six thousand D88 vans were built over this period, most of them as replacements for withdrawn 16ft. D32 vans. All these vehicles passed to the LMS in 1923.
Source Metropolitan Archive, Birmingham City Library
In 1912 a thousand D88 vans were ordered from five different private wagon-building firms. Photographs, drawings and written records of some of these contracts still exist and add considerably to the archive of information on this design. The above photograph of van No. 76019, built by Metropolitan Carriage & Wagon Co Ltd, Birmingham, illustrates their original appearance.
The constructional details of the vehicles are shown in the
accompanying drawing. Briefly, they measured 18ft long over headstocks, were 8ft wide
externally and the wheelbase was 9ft. 9in. The framework was less massive than before and
was built from 1¾in. thick timber of varying section. It was covered both inside and out by
¾in. thick deal planking. Externally the planks ran horizontally, but internally they were
fitted vertically from floor to roof level. The roof was formed from 6&fr½in x ¾in planks, laid
longitudinally over ten equally spaced ribs and covered with canvas sealed with white lead
paint. Arched metal strips were screwed over each of the roof ribs giving the roofline a
characteristic ribbed appearance. The side doors had a 1ft 8½in high drop-flap at the bottom
and an upper section consisting of a pair of 5ft. wide cupboard doors. Externally, the ends
were reinforced with 4¼in. x 4¼in. stanchions underneath which fitted steel diagonal cross
braces making for a very characteristic end elevation. The ironwork followed the usual LNW
progression. Originally, the 15in. long buffer castings were of the 3-bolt round base type
but these were quickly superseded by the 4-bolt square-based type, which first had one and
later two strengthening ribs. From the beginning brakes were fitted to all four wheels and
those on each side were independently operated by particularly long handles located in a
guard at the right hand end of the body. The 9in x 4in journals ran in oil filled axle boxes
of the three different types that co-existed from 1916 to 1923. Normally couplings were of
the three-link type but, where vehicles were provided with through vacuum pipes or full
vacuum brakes, screw couplings invariably were fitted.
Since construction only started in 1908 none of these vans would have carried the diamonds only livery. Those built between 1908 and 1912 would have carried the second livery with both diamonds and letters. But, as the photograph shows, those built from 1912 onwards had only the company's initial letters.
The vehicles built by contractors in 1912 mentioned above, were numbered between 76019 and 77018. Additionally, because earlier vans had been numbered as a group from 125xx to 145xx at the start of the system in 1863, many of those numbers too were eventually carried by revenue replacement D88 vans. The table below gives a list of 45 numbers taken from photographs or surviving grounded bodies. Many more can be discerned in a variety of surviving written records such as invoices and wagon labels.
Several of these vans have been preserved and restored at various preservation railways, but many of them, having spent their final years in various defence sites, were heavily modified to keep them functioning long after they would otherwise have been scrapped. Additionally a number of grounded bodies have been found, some of which are in process of restoration. In general these vehicles were in their final LMS condition when they were withdrawn so that they better represent vans in service stock in the 1940s and 1950s. Additionally they are often to be seen widely spread in archive photographs of goods trains and shunting yards published in the contemporary railway press. With plenty of these vans still in service in the late 1940s and early 1950s so they may safely be displayed on any layout set in that period.
This drawing is a reduction of the original Earlestown drawing No.97, which is preserved as HMRS 1117. To make it suitable for publication it has been cleaned and lightly restored by computer reinforcement of the major outlines. The original is dated 5th May 1908 and although only a few vehicles were built with full vacuum brakes, the drawing is otherwise representative of the original condition of the D88 design. The drawing appears to show 3-bolt round base buffers, but most were built with the square-base one or two rib versions. No axle boxes are shown, but photographs show all three types of oil boxes to have been fitted over the construction period. The screw couplings are as required for Express Traffic working. In general it is instructive to compare the details of this 1908 drawing with the photograph of van No.76019 as built in 1912.